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CHAPTER V.

THE RETURN.

RUTH 1. 19—22. So they two went until they came to Bethlehem. And it came to pass when they were come to Bethlehem, that all the city was moved about them, and they said, Is this Naomi ?

And she said unto them, Call me not Naomi, call me Mara : for the Alinighty hath dealt very bitterly with me.

I went out full, and the Lord hath brought me home again empty: why then call ye me Naomi, seeing the Lord hath testified against me, and the Almighty hath afflicted me ?

So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabitess her daughter-in-law with her, which returned out of the country of Moab: and they came to Bethlehem in the beginning of barley harvest.

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Orpah having turned back, Naomi ad Ruth proceed onward on their nely journey. What a helpless pair ! y this time Naomi must have been dvanced in years; and her strength ad been pulled down by the many Ind severe trials which she had passed hrough. Ruth was young; but she too had drunk of the bitter cup of affliction. Both of them were poor. And many a one, who met them on their

way, must have wondered what could be the errand on which these two widows could be going. Anxiety and distress were marked upon their ountenances; and there was somehing in their manner and appearance, hich plainly shewed that they had en better and happier days. After many a weary step, they come

within the borders of the land of Israel. This was a strange land to Ruth: but Naomi felt she was treading her own native soil, the land of her earlier

years. As it was now the time of year when the season of harvest was just beginning, every field proved to them that the report which had reached them in the country of Moab was true - that the Lord had once more" visited His people in giving them bread.” At length they come within sight of Bethlehem, Naomi's home, the city she had so often spoken of to her daughtersin-law, when living in the land of Moab—the home too to which she had so often wished to return.

They had not been long in the city, before the news of their arrival got noised about; and Naomi's old acquaintances soon gathered around her, to inquire concerning her state, and to bid her welcome to Bethlehem again. The arrival of the two women was the talk everywhere. It was in everybody's mouth that Naomi, who had been so long away, and was thought to be dead perhaps, and whom they never expected to see again, was now come among them. And great was the surprise of her friends to see her in so altered a condition. She was so much broken by her afflictions, and so reduced in circumstances, that they could scarcely believe their own eyes, or think that this was the same person whom they had formerly seen so fresh, and fair,

“ Is this Naomi ?" they exclaimed. Is this the wife of Elimelech, and the happy mother of a family, who

and gay.

used to be clothed so well, and is now clad in such a poor and sorrowful dress ? who used to be attended with maidens to wait upon her, and is now alone ? Can a few years have made such a change in her ? 'Is this Naomi ?" So unlike is the rose when it is withered, to what it was when it was blooming!

And so it may be with any one of us. How great a change may a few years make in our condition ! The man, who is now in the full enjoyment of health and strength, may soon be bowed down, and may be called to pass the remainder of his days in pain and weakness. Some one who is now doing well in the world, and “flourishing like a green bay tree,” who says in his prosperity," I shall never be moved,"

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