During the days of the Judges, Elimelech and his wife Naomi took their two sons from Bethlehem to Moab to escape a famine. Ruth 1:2 says, “The name of the man was Elimelech and the name of his wife Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem in Judah. They went into the country of Moab and remained there.” In Hebrew, the word Bethlehem means house of bread. The place named for an essential staple of food did not have enough of it to sustain this family. So they moved to Moab, of all places. Israel and Moab did not have a happy relationship. Moab, the founder of this city, was the son of Lot’s daughter through her incestuous relationship with her father. When Israel was exiting Egypt, the Moabites would not let them have safe passage through their land. In the book of Numbers (25:1-9), Moabite women seduced the men of Israel into worshipping Baal. Eglon, the king of Moab, was one of the kings that oppressed Israel and God raised Ehud, the left-handed Israelite, to deliver them from his oppression. One more thing, Balak, the king of Moab, hired Balaam to curse the Israelites as they moved toward the promised land.

The name “Elimelech” means “God is my king.” He had a good reputation, and I expect he was an honest man who wanted to provide for his family. His two sons had interesting names. Mahlon means “to be sick.” Kilion means “failing or pining.” It could be that the poor health of his two children moved Elimelech to move to where food was available. It may have been his motivation in moving to save the lives of his two sick sons. He would be terribly disappointed if his motive was their lives.

The family was an Ephrathite family from Bethlehem. This was important to mention because David was also an Ephrathite from Bethlehem. This is an important point because we’ll see that a Moabitess, Ruth, will become Jesse’s grandmother, the father of King David through whom the Messiah will come. This is a remarkable fact. Moab, the son of one of Lot’s daughters through incest, had an ancestor who became an heir to God’s promises.  Lot had another son through his incestuous relationship with his other daughter. Her son was named Amon. Amon had a female descendent named Naamah. She ends up as one of the wives that Solomon took to seal peace treaties with the nations around him. Whereas David tamed the nations around him through conquests, Solomon tamed the nations through treaties sealed by marriages. Solomon and Naamah have a son named Rehoboam. He became the first king of the divided kingdom and reigned in Jerusalem. He also finds his way into the genealogical line leading to the Messiah. There are four women in the genealogy of Jesus. All of them are Gentiles. Saving the world was never an afterthought in God’s mind. It was always part of His glorious plan. You and I are also part of God’s plan. We are not afterthoughts either.