When we left our study last time Ruth was waiting with Naomi for Boaz to resolve the situation of Ruth needing a husband. Of course we know that Naomi and Ruth would both like to see Boaz as Ruth’s husband, but Boaz has brought up the fact of a kinsmen who has a higher claim to the possibility of marrying Ruth than he does.
I can only imagine the emotions Ruth and Naomi went through as they waited. I think Ruth would have been quiet and calm. Something tells me Naomi, being a more flamboyant personality, would have been more anxious and vocal during their wait. In spite of telling Ruth to “sit still and wait”, I think Naomi would have had a hard time doing the same herself (just my opinion).
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.
5 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.
6 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.
7 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.
8 Therefore the kinsman said unto Boaz, Buy it for thee. So he drew off his shoe.
9 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.
10 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.
11 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:
12 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.
Boaz didn’t waste any time looking for the kinsmen. He no doubt went to the gate for two reasons: 1) to easily find the kinsman and 2) the gate was the place for legal transactions. It doesn’t seem like it took too long before Boaz had found the kinsman and gathered a group of witnesses.
With the elders and a group of people from Bethlehem watching Boaz doesn’t beat around the bush – he is a man of action. He immediately tells this man that a kinsmen needs to redeem Naomi’s land and that it needs to be himself or this kinsman. No one else is available.
Right away the kinsman agrees. He is willing to buy Naomi’s land. Did Boaz’s heart sink? Or did he know something of the character of this man and know that what he said next would change the man’s mind? At this point Boaz points out that to redeem the land from Naomi includes taking Ruth who had been married to Naomi’s son.
We don’t know why, but at this point the kinsman backed out. Maybe he realized any land he gained would revert back to any son Ruth had, or maybe he worried about the extra mouths he would have to feed or he worried that children from Ruth would take away from the inheritance he would leave to his own children.
Interestingly we never learn the name of this man. Could this be because the community lost respect for him because he didn’t “step up to the plate” as it were? Whatever the reason, he remains nameless and our focus remain on Boaz.
Boaz now calls upon the elders and the people gathered at the gate to witness his redemption of Naomi and Ruth.
I can never read verse ten without hearing a note of triumph in Boaz’s voice, “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.” Boaz didn’t mind raising a son for Mahlon although I find it interesting that God in His grace never delineates Obed as Mahlon’s son but always as Boaz’s. Love has triumphed!
The people return with a blessing for Boaz that was fulfilled – Boaz did become famous in Bethlehem. Boaz is listed in the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew chapter 1, “And Salmon begat Booz of Rachab; and Booz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse;”
I find it interesting that Tamar is also mentioned in this blessing. Tamar played the harlot to force her father-in-law’s hand, yet God in His grace used it all for His glory allowing the son Tamar had to be part of the ancetry of Jesus. I think God wants us to know that no matter what we do in our life nothing is irredeemable if we give it to Him. Tamar a harlot and Ruth a Moabite are both named in the geneology of Jesus in Matthew chapter one. God’s grace is always sufficient and always good.