A famine occurs, and an Israelite man from Bethlehem goes to Moab to ride it out. He takes his wife, Naomi, and his two sons, and promptly dies. The two sons take Moabite wives, Orpah and Ruth. Then, ten years later, the sons die and Naomi decides to go back to the land of Judah. She urges her daughters-in-law to stay behind and remarry. They protest, but Naomi doesn't have any other sons that they could have children with, and points out that even if she got pregnant that night, they'd have to wait a long time for the sons to grow up.
Orpah decides to stay behind, but Ruth really likes Naomi and goes with her. They go back to Bethlehem, where people recognise Naomi, who is now calling herself Mara.