In our study of the book of Ruth we now find Naomi facing another decision. She was widowed as were her two daughters-in-law. In addition she heard that the famine in Bethlehem was over. She had little reason to stay in Moab now.
But what to do about her two daughters-in-law? If she takes them with her back to Bethlehem, being Moabite women would mean there would not be many good options for them. In fact she didn’t see any good options for herself. At first all three of them left for Bethlehem, but soon on the road Naomi talked to them about their options.
She had very little to offer them. They would have better possibilities of finding a husband by staying in Moab, so she told them to go back, pronouncing a hoped for blessing upon them. They hesitated, but Naomi spoke more firmly, “Return home, my daughters. Why would you come with me? Am I going to have any more sons, who could become your husbands? Return home… At this they wept again. Then Orpah kissed her mother-in-law goodby, but Ruth clung to her” (Ruth 1:11-14).
At this juncture Naomi affirmed Orpa in her decision to go back to her people and her gods. She was complicit in Orpa’s decision, knowing whatever Orpa’s understanding was of having a relationship with Israel’s God she had encouraged her to go back to her gods.
Orpa too, made a choice. She was exposed to the true and living God, married into a possible small inheritance, but chose to go back, rejecting what little she had. She was never mentioned again in the Bible. Choices matter!