Smelling the rosesHere’s the second in my series on Ruth.  As I mentioned before my goal is not to find answers but to ask questions that will help me to engage with this very interesting story…  Feel free to add any other questions of your own or any insights/answers you may have.

Ruth 1:2

The man’s name was Elimelech, and his wife was Naomi. Their two sons were Mahlon and Kilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem in the land of Judah. And when they reached Moab, they settled there. {Ruth 1:2}

Question Time

Family Ties?

What do the names Elimelech and Naomi mean?  Were they common names in the time?  Did Elimelech or Naomi have much extended family?  Where were they living?  How would they have felt about them moving?   Would they have moved with them?  What were the customs for families in that time – did they live close to the wife’s family or the husband’s?
What do Mahlon and Kilion mean?  Would they have been close to each other – ie friends?  Would they have depended more on each other or their parents for support during the move to Moab?  Would they have made friends along the way?
What is an Ephrathite?  How many were a part of this tribe?  What set them apart?  What were the common stereotypes of this tribe?  How did this tribe originate – did they have any closely related tribe?  Would they have looked the part – unique clothing, accessories, facial features, body build, or other external appearance?  Would it have been an easy or hard life as an Ephrathite?  What sorts of things did they deal with on a day to day basis?  Did they integrate well into their surrounding culture in Bethlehem?  Would they settle well into their new culture in Moab?  What types of stress would this bring to the family?  How would they cope?  Would they be persecuted for their differences?  Or would cultural difference be a normal encounter in Moab?
When they ‘settled’ in Moab – what sort of accommodation would they have had?  What was a typical Moabite’s house like?  Would it have been much different to and Ephrathite’s?  If much different, would Elimelech and Naomi  choose to use this style of house – or a similar one from their homeland?  Where would that decision put them socially?  How much pressure in everyday life would cause them to choose the path of least resistance in regard to assimilating?  Could they join a community of ‘foreigners’ who chose to live separately – with a general acceptance that they would all be different, even from each other?  How would their sons cope with the attitudes about different customs?  Would this add to their parents’ pressure?