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Ruth 4

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Verses 1-4

  1. Then went Boaz up to the gate, and sat him down there: and, behold, the kinsman of whom Boaz spake came by; unto whom he said, Ho, such a one! turn aside, sit down here. And he turned aside, and sat down.

  2. And he took ten men of the elders of the city, and said, Sit ye down here. And they sat down.

  3. And he said unto the kinsman, Naomi, that is come again out of the country of Moab, selleth a parcel of land, which was our brother Elimelech's:

  4. And I thought to advertise thee, saying, Buy it before the inhabitants, and before the elders of my people. If thou wilt redeem it, redeem it: but if thou wilt not redeem it, then tell me, that I may know: for there is none to redeem it beside thee; and I am after thee. And he said, I will redeem it.

Boaz, true to his promise, went to the city gate of Bethlehem. This is where judges sat to administer justice and others gathered to do business and political agreements. As Boaz sat in the gate (a space between an outer and inner gate, with benches. We see good example of this in old British castles), the next of kin of Naomi’s dead husband passed by. Boaz called to him to sit on the bench near him. Boaz then asked ten city elders to join them, as witnesses.

Boaz spoke up and told him that Naomi was selling a plot of land that belonged to her dead husband, Elimelech. He asked the kinsman if he would buy it. That is, redeem it. this combines two concepts – that of the ‘kinsman-redeemer’, ga’al. This means acting the part of a near-family member, by marrying a brother’s widow, so she would have a child in her dead husband’s name. Here, the first question was to do with buying Naomi’s land, which was a separate issue. This is connected to God redeeming the people out of slavery in Egypt to freedom, from Babylon, etc. When Boaz said “our brother” it does not necessarily mean a blood-brother of the same close family, but simply a fellow tribal member.

Boaz asked the brother if he would buy the land, because he had the immediate right to do so. The brother agreed to buy it.

Verses 5&6

  1. Then said Boaz, What day thou buyest the field of the hand of Naomi, thou must buy it also of Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of the dead, to raise up the name of the dead upon his inheritance.

  2. And the kinsman said, I cannot redeem it for myself, lest I mar mine own inheritance: redeem thou my right to thyself; for I cannot redeem it.

Boaz then added that if the brother bought the land he also bought it not just from Naomi, but from her daughter-in-law, too, so that she would have a son to carry on the family name. The brother, however, rejected this part, saying he was unable to redeem the widow. He said that to do so would damage his own line of inheritance. He therefore asked Boaz to take on the redemption of Ruth, for he could not. (He gives no other reason), and so backed out of buying both the land and Ruth. In this way he made the path clear for Boaz.

Verses 7-12

  1. Now this was the manner in former time in Israel concerning redeeming and concerning changing, for to confirm all things; a man plucked off his shoe, and gave it to his neighbour: and this was a testimony in Israel.

  2. Therefore the kinsman said unto Boaz, Buy it for thee. So he drew off his shoe.

  3. And Boaz said unto the elders, and unto all the people, Ye are witnesses this day, that I have bought all that was Elimelech's, and all that was Chilion's and Mahlon's, of the hand of Naomi.

  4. Moreover Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of Mahlon, have I purchased to be my wife, to raise up the name of the dead upon his inheritance, that the name of the dead be not cut off from among his brethren, and from the gate of his place: ye are witnesses this day.

  5. And all the people that were in the gate, and the elders, said, We are witnesses. The LORD make the woman that is come into thine house like Rachel and like Leah, which two did build the house of Israel: and do thou worthily in Ephratah, and be famous in Bethlehem:

  6. And let thy house be like the house of Pharez, whom Tamar bare unto Judah, of the seed which the LORD shall give thee of this young woman.

Though the account of Ruth took place in the early days of the judges, it looks like the Book itself was written later: “this was the manner in former time”. When a deal was done in Israel, the one who agreed to the deal took off his shoe and handed it to the other person. This, witnessed by others, sealed the deal legally. The brother then asked Boaz to redeem Ruth and Boaz agreed to it, taking off his shoe as a sign of the agreement before witnesses, “a testimony in Israel”. Boaz called on the witnesses to say that he had legitimately bought the land belonging to Elimelech and his two sons, from Naomi. In this way he bought all rights to Ruth (including marriage) as well, so that she might have a child to whom would pass an inheritance in the name of her now dead husband. The people around him all agreed that they were witnesses.

The witnesses then related what had been done, to Rachel and Leah, and hoped Ruth would be just as good a mother and wife; they also helped to build up the nation of Israel by their goodness. They hoped Boaz’s house (family) would be like the “house of Pharez”. Thus, may Boaz and Ruth produce many children just as Pharez did… the people of Bethlehem were his descendants.

“… and do thou worthily in Ephratah”. This is another name for Bethlehem. Let the name of Boaz be well known in Israel.

Verses 13-17

  1. So Boaz took Ruth, and she was his wife: and when he went in unto her, the LORD gave her conception, and she bare a son.

  2. And the women said unto Naomi, Blessed be the LORD, which hath not left thee this day without a kinsman, that his name may be famous in Israel.

  3. And he shall be unto thee a restorer of thy life, and a nourisher of thine old age: for thy daughter in law, which loveth thee, which is better to thee than seven sons, hath born him.

  4. And Naomi took the child, and laid it in her bosom, and became nurse unto it.

  5. And the women her neighbours gave it a name, saying, There is a son born to Naomi; and they called his name Obed: he is the father of Jesse, the father of David.

Ruth was waiting nervously at home, and then came the news, probably brought by Boaz himself. All we are told is they got married, and Ruth became pregnant. The other women of the city all praised Naomi for having her part in the marriage. She was now rejoined to the clan and could be known for her link to Boaz. Any child, they said, would be famous. Both she and Ruth came to Bethlehem poor and with little prospect. Now, Naomi shared in the glory of a daughter-in-law who married a prince.

In this way, and through Ruth’s pregnancy, Naomi would have her life restored by Ruth, who would help keep her from poverty in “thine old age” The city women even said that Ruth was now better to Naomi than seven sons, because she had produced a son herself.

The son was given to Naomi, who became his nurse-maid, and, as was custom, the women said that Ruth’s baby was also Naomi’s baby by association. Thus Naomi was saved from penury by Ruth’s marriage, a marriage given to her for being virtuous and godly. The baby was named Obed, which is significant, because his son was Jesse, the father of David.

Verses 18-22

  1. Now these are the generations of Pharez: Pharez begat Hezron,

  2. And Hezron begat Ram, and Ram begat Amminadab,

  3. And Amminadab begat Nahshon, and Nahshon begat Salmon,

  4. And Salmon begat Boaz, and Boaz begat Obed,

  5. And Obed begat Jesse, and Jesse begat David.

As we already know Israelites/Jews guard their genealogies with fierce loyalty. So, in Ruth, we see confirmation that she was now part of a loved and notable blood-line. Pharez (Perets – ‘breach’), whose mother was Tamar, had a son named Hezron (Chetsrown – ‘surrounded by a wall’).

Hezron had a son named Ram (‘high’ or ‘exalted’), who himself had a son named Amminadab (‘Ammiynadab – ‘my kinsman is noble’). All were princes of the Hebrews. His famous son was Nahshon (Nachshown – ‘enchanter’), already mentioned in Ruth. Nahshon had a son named Salmon (Salmown, said sal-mown – ‘garment’). This brings us up to date with Boaz, who was son to Salmon.

Boaz and Ruth had a son named Obed (‘Owbed – ‘serving’), who became father of Jesse (Yishay – ‘I possess’). And his son, one of the most famed, was David (‘beloved’). The writer took pains to establish both David’s and Boaz’ genealogy, and to show that God took a woman out of a pagan tribe, allowed her to be a full proselyte, and then to be raised up by marrying a prince of Judah, Boaz, who became her kinsman-redeemer. They were grandparents to David and thus were direct ancestors of Jesus. Because princes usually beget princes, it is highly likely that Jesses was also a prince and wealthy.

It is thought that Ruth married Boaz in 1283BC, when she was about 25 years of age. The idea that she remarried at age 20 is not feasible, for she had been married previously to Naomi’s son for ten years. I doubt she married him at age 10, which would have been before the age of womanhood. The dates of her life time can be at least roughly assumed by looking at the death of Nahshon and the birth of David, and working forwards and backwards respectively. They appear to have lived in the time of Ehud, the second Judge.

(Note: More details on the Book of Ruth are contained in my publication, ‘The Book of Ruth: a Commentary’).


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Bible Theology Ministries - PO Box 415, Swansea, SA5 8YH
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