Ruth and Boaz
1In the meanwhile, Boaz had gone to the meeting place at the town gate and was sitting there when the other close relative came by. So Boaz invited him to come over and sit down, and he did. 2Then Boaz got ten of the town leaders and also asked them to sit down. After they had sat down, 3he said to the man:
Naomi has come back from Moab and is selling the land that belonged to her husband Elimelech. 4I'm telling you about this, since you are his closest relative and have the right to buy the property. If you want it, you can buy it now. These ten men and the others standing here can be witnesses. But if you don't want the property, let me know, because I am next in line.
The man replied, “I'll buy it!”
5“If you do buy it from Naomi,” Boaz told him, “you must also marry Ruth. Then if you have a son by her, the property will stay in the family of Ruth's first husband.”
6The man answered, “If that's the case, I don't want to buy it! That would make problems with the property I already own. You may buy it yourself, because I cannot.”
7 To make a sale legal in those days, one person would take off a sandal and give it to the other. 8So after the man had agreed to let Boaz buy the property, he took off one of his sandals and handed it to Boaz.
9Boaz told the town leaders and everyone else:
All of you are witnesses that today I have bought from Naomi the property that belonged to Elimelech and his two sons, Chilion and Mahlon. 10 You are also witnesses that I have agreed to marry Mahlon's widow Ruth, the Moabite woman. This will keep the property in his family's name, and he will be remembered in this town.
11 The town leaders and the others standing there said:
We are witnesses to this. And we pray that the Lord will give your wife many children, just as he did Leah and Rachel, the wives of Jacob. May you be a rich man in the tribe of Ephrath and an important man in Bethlehem. 12 May the children you have by this young woman make your family as famous as the family of Perez, the son of Tamar and Judah.
Sometimes the Old Testament makes for tough reading, but don’t miss the gold nuggets.
Here, Ruth is considered property to be purchased, a vessel by which a piece of land can be secured by men. Yes, that is how the men saw it. Which might irk some of us.
But note that Boaz was different. He saw Ruth as a person. He had earlier asked God to bless this young woman (2:12): “I pray that the Lord God of Israel will reward you for what you have done. And now that you have come to him for protection, I pray that he will bless you.”
Surprise: The Lord is about to fulfill the prayer, through Boaz himself! The kinsman redeemer, who should have redeemed Naomi, has refused. It’s the 18th century Bible commentator Matthew Henry who points out a profound truth about this transaction: In an attempt to protect what he already had, the would-be redeemer missed out on the deal of a lifetime in the ancient world! He does not become an ancestor to King David. Even his name disappears into the mist of history.
After Boaz completes the deal, he announces his intention to further the name of Ruth’s dead husband. It is noble and selfless. And it is godly. Immediately, the men recognize the Lord’s hand in the situation, and pray Boaz will be richly rewarded (vv 11-12).
Boaz, with Ruth, stands as an example of what righteousness looks like, and how unusual it is. The nameless kinsman reminds us of the blessings we miss when we fail to follow the will of God. Ever wonder if you’ve missed any blessings, because you decided to do things your way?
Remember the story of Ruth, Boaz and the nameless kinsman. It was recorded and retold, an ancient treasure for our hearts.
Heavenly Father, you have blessed us abundantly with salvation. You have redeemed us through your Son, Jesus. Give us the will to obey his commands and to listen for the Holy Spirit’s guidance in our lives, that we may be a blessing to others. In Christ’s name, Amen.