Orpah: My Story

“Look,” Naomi said, “your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and her gods;” Ruth 1:15

I realize you don’t know much about me, yet please hold your judgement until you’ve heard my story. No one came back to ask so it is not written. But it seemed right to share with you now.

There is a theme throughout your God’s word of his people turning and re-turning – turning away from Him and his teaching and re-turning to Him after straying away. Adam and Eve, the Israelites (many times!)

Naomi, whose son I married, turned away from her people. Led by my father in law, Elimilech, her family left the place of God fearing there would not be enough for them there. They came to my country, Moab.

My people, the Moabites, were hated by the Israelites and their descendants, Naomi’s people. There was great reason for such deep emotion. The father of our nation, Moab, was born to Lot and his daughter, not a very noble beginning to say the least. (Genesis 19:36,37)

Then there was the hostility of my people to the Israelites when they came out of Egypt. We did not offer food and water instead heaped curses on them. But your God turned those curses into blessings. (Deut. 23:3-6)

And the most ironic reason for hatred of Moabites was our luring the Israelites into spiritual and physical adultery. Ironic because they had been warned by their God not to mingle with my people but they chose to. And as Moabites we are to blame?

After losing her husband and two sons in Moab, Naomi re-turns to Judah and her people. Ruth and I follow, leaving everything we have ever known and loved. Before we are too far away, Naomi begs us to go back to our parents, she had nothing more to give us. Though I protested, she insisted again.

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So, yes, like Naomi I re-turned to my people. Many judge me harshly for not clinging to Naomi as Ruth did. But Naomi twice told me not to come with her but to re-turn to my family. She knew what Ruth and I would face in Bethlehem.

It was not an easy 10 years for Naomi’s family in Moab. It was difficult for Ruth and me. We had turned from the gods of our people, our parents. We were ostracized and belittled. And now to be faced with that same possibility in Judah? It was too much for me! There were no prospects for me in that foreign land. At least none that I could see. In Moab I was familiar to the people and them to me. There was comfort in that.

Yet here is what I know, looking back. Naomi’s God gradually turned her mourning into dancing when she re-turned to the place where He was. He proved he can turn curses into blessings. And now it is evident to me that God calls us from our places of comfort to be with Him – wherever that may be.

Hard learned lessons are one’s not easily forgotten. If at all possible, please learn this one from me and not through your experience. When He calls, go.  If He gives me another chance, I will be ready. Will you? Selah… Orpah.

In the Book of Ruth, there is not much detail on Orpah and what happened to her. This is what I imagine were her thoughts written in her voice.  Andrea

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Hey there friend! Andrea McCaskey here. I believe everything happens for a reason, life is meant to be lived in relationship with others and there is beauty to be found everywhere if we look. I am a friend of God, wife of Jamal and mother of Brandon and Madison.

To read more of Andrea’s Breath on Paper bio, click here.

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