Bethlehem, Judah, June 7 - The widow of the late tribal leader Elimelech came back to her hometown today after ten years in the land of Moab, marking the final time for about three millennia that a Jew will enter the city without need of an armed escort, local sources are reporting.
Naomi and her daughter-in-law Ruth, also widowed from Naomi's son Mahlon, returned to Bethlehem this morning now that the famine that drove her and Elimelech away has subsided, and hunger no longer hovers over the land. The pair entered the town by themselves, causing a stir, both because the people were shocked to see how Naomi had aged and that they were witnessing the last time a Jew would be able to enter Bethlehem safely not in the company of several men carrying weapons to fend off Arab attackers, at least for three thousand years.
"Is that Naomi?" the townspeople were heard to exclaim, surmising that the withered old woman, once so vigorous and youthful, had decided to come back into the town while it was still possible to do so unaccompanied by soldiers. "Don't call me Naomi," she responded, according to witnesses. "Call me embittered, for the LORD has made it exceedingly bitter for me," presumably referring to her dire economic circumstances and the fact that for many centuries hence, a Jew would need serious protection upon entering her beloved hometown, lest he or she be attacked by hate-filled Palestinians bent on making Bethlehem judenrein again.
"She doesn't look too good, she and that Moabite woman," said a bystander who asked to remain nameless, but who described himself as a relative. "They're going to have a tough time of it now. I imagine they'll have to sell some of the family's ancestral holdings, which will eventually be taken over by Arabs as if it had always been theirs, and then those Arabs will resort to violence to keep Jews from reestablishing their presence here. Also, that daughter-in-law of hers is from Moab, and that's not such a popular thing around here. At least not with me."
Other observers had a more favorable assessment. "That takes guts, coming back here under such embarrassing circumstances," said an elder named Boaz. "I imagine that many, many years from now, the descendants of these fine women will similarly disregard the physical dangers of reestablishing their presence in their ancestral homeland. Of course, it can't hurt to to have a few strong youths, like my field hands, for protection."
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