Biblical People

Biblical People: Elimelek

During the time of the judges, we come across a man named Elimelek. Scripture tells us little about him, covering his story in a scant three verses. 

He’s married to Naomi, and they have two sons. They live in Bethlehem, which is part of Judah. There’s a famine, so they head off to Moab. There Elimelek dies.

His sons both get married, one to Orpah and the other to Ruth. Then they die too.

This leaves widowed Naomi with no sons and two daughters-in-law. We’ll cover them in the next few chapters.

Elimelek’s life seems like a most unremarkable one. He marries, has two kids, and struggles to make a living. Then he dies.

It’s depressing.

But there’s more to his story. Though Elimelek dies without having done anything noteworthy in his life, he does play an essential role in Jesus’s family tree. Had he not taken his family to Moab, Jesus wouldn’t have been born. The following chapters, building up to Ruth, will explain.

Though we all want to make the most of our life and impact our world, we may not see the results we want. Yet our influence can continue after we’re gone.

Are we making the most of our life in how we live each day? Do we believe God can use the things we do now to define the future?

[Read Elimelek’s story in Ruth 1:1–3.]

Learn about more biblical characters in Old Testament Sinners and Saints, available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover. Get your copy today.

A lifelong student of the Bible, Peter DeHaan, PhD, wrote the 1,000-page website to encourage people to explore the Bible. His main blog and many books urge Christians to push past the status quo and reconsider how they practice their faith in every area of their lives.

By Peter DeHaan

Peter writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and make a faith that matters. Learn more at