Ruth Chapter 4

ebe-c-lodalisque-et-le-sultanAnd Boaz went up to the gate and sat down there; and behold, the next of kin, of whom Boaz had spoken, came by.

So Boaz said,  “Turn aside, friend; sit down here”; and he turned aside and sat down.  And he took ten men of the elders of the city, and said,  “Sit down here”; so they sat down.  Then he said to the next of kin,  “Naomi, who has come back from the country of Moab, is selling the parcel of land which belonged to our kinsman Elimelech.  So I thought I would tell you of it, and say, Buy it in the presence of those sitting here, and in the presence of the elders of my people. If you will redeem it, redeem it; but if you will not, tell me, that I may know, for there is no one besides you to redeem it, and I come after you.”

And he said,  “I will redeem it.”

Then Boaz said,  “The day you buy the field from the hand of Naomi, you are also buying Ruth the Moabitess, the widow of the dead, in order to restore the name of the dead to his inheritance.”

Then the next of kin said,  “I cannot redeem it for myself, lest I impair my own inheritance. Take my right of redemption yourself, for I cannot redeem it.”

Now this was the custom in former times in Israel concerning redeeming and exchanging: to confirm a transaction, the one drew off his sandal and gave it to the other, and this was the manner of attesting in Israel.

So when the next of kin said to Boaz,  “Buy it for yourself,” he drew off his sandal.

Then Boaz said to the elders and all the people,  “You are witnesses this day that I have bought from the hand of Naomi all that belonged to Elimelech and all that belonged to Chilion and to Mahlon.  Also Ruth the Moabitess, the widow of Mahlon, I have bought to be my wife, to perpetuate the name of the dead in his inheritance, that the name of the dead may not be cut off from among his brethren and from the gate of his native place; you are witnesses this day.”

Then all the people who were at the gate, and the elders, said,  “We are witnesses. May the LORD make the woman, who is coming into your house, like Rachel and Leah, who together built up the house of Israel. May you prosper in Ephrathah and be renowned in Bethlehem;  and may your house be like the house of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah, because of the children that the LORD will give you by this young woman.”

So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife; and he went in to her, and the LORD gave her conception, and she bore a son.

Then the women said to Naomi,  “Blessed be the LORD, who has not left you this day without next of kin; and may his name be renowned in Israel! He shall be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age; for your daughter-in-law who loves you, who is more to you than seven sons, has borne him.”

Then Naomi took the child and laid him in her bosom, and became his nurse.  And the women of the neighborhood gave him a name, saying,  “A son has been born to Naomi.” They named him Obed; he was the father of Jesse, the father of David.

Now these are the descendants of Perez: Perez was the father of Hezron,  Hezron of Ram, Ram of Amminadab,  Amminadab of Nahshon, Nahshon of Salmon,  Salmon of Boaz, Boaz of Obed,  Obed of Jesse, and Jesse of David.

In this final chapter Boaz typologically represents Messiah as Kinsman Redeemer.  Where Boaz redeems just one woman, Messiah redeems all the “who so ever wills”.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. John 3:16-17

It was the custom of the day for the old men of the city would sit in the gateways and judge all the small local issues. So Boaz goes and sits down in the gate of the city, this is to them the local courthouse.  And since Boaz has a complicated legal matter to address he naturally turns to these elders.  There are three laws that need to be addressed, one of which is at conflict with the others.  It is interesting to note that all this is happening at a time when few in Israel know or keep the laws of God.

In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes. Judg. 17:6

Boaz is making sure that what he does is right and proper.  And that the needs of these two widows is being met.

For review, the laws of redemptions:

The law of the redemption of the land:

“If your brother becomes poor, and sells part of his property, then his next of kin shall come and redeem what his brother has sold. Lev. 25:25

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and the problem presented by a Moabite woman:

“No Ammonite or Moabite shall enter the assembly of the LORD; even to the tenth generation none belonging to them shall enter the assembly of the LORD for ever; Deut. 23:3   

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There is the law of the Kinsman Redeemer:

“If brothers dwell together, and one of them dies and has no son, the wife of the dead shall not be married outside the family to a stranger; her husband’s brother shall go in to her, and take her as his wife, and perform the duty of a husband’s brother to her.  And the first son whom she bears shall succeed to the name of his brother who is dead, that his name may not be blotted out of Israel.  And if the man does not wish to take his brother’s wife, then his brother’s wife shall go up to the gate to the elders, and say,  ‘My husband’s brother refuses to perpetuate his brother’s name in Israel; he will not perform the duty of a husband’s brother to me.’  Then the elders of his city shall call him, and speak to him: and if he persists, saying,  ‘I do not wish to take her,’  then his brother’s wife shall go up to him in the presence of the elders, and pull his sandal off his foot, and spit in his face; and she shall answer and say,  ‘So shall it be done to the man who does not build up his brother’s house.’ And the name of his house shall be called in Israel, The house of him that had his sandal pulled off. Deut. 25:5-10

It has to be only an hour or two since he spoke to Ruth.  He is not wasting any time.  Just as Naomi had predicted.

The first one to appear is his near relative.  Whether a brother, cousin, or uncle we are not told.  It seems that the author of this family history does not want to hurt anyone’s feelings, by mentioning names.  They sit down and discuss the matter.  He is willing to buy the land, but not the woman.  He claims that she will encumber his own inheritance.  This makes no sense.  Many have suggested that he may already have been married.  However polygamy was common in ancient times.  It is Roman law that prohibits multiple marriage, not Torah, and Roman law is 1000 years later than this event.  How could she have any effect on his own inheritance?

1. It is the same excuse that Onan gave, it is one of selfishness.  He is not willing to raise up children not considered his own.  There is no point in buying a field that must be left only to Ruth’s offspring and none of any others he might have.

2. There is also the possibility that this man does not think that Ruth’s conversion is sufficient or real.  He seems to know of Naomi and her field, but he seems not to even have considered Ruth.  She seems to be in his eyes less than human.  She is in his eyes a Moabite, and a Moabite should not be redeemed.  Or perhaps he knows his own father is of this opinion, and he would therefore risk being cut off from his own inheritance.

The children of God often feel this way about others.  The Jews considered Gentiles as dogs.  But they are not the only ones.  History is full of time when Christians have preyed on others because their faith was deemed less.  One of the arguments for slavery in our country was that these Africans were not Christians.  However as those who opposed slavery pointed out, most had become Christians.  It took a bloody civil war to make the point; you cannot enslave your brothers.  As the law states, your brother and his estate must be redeemed.

Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13

3. The last option is a little more noble than the text really supports, and that is that Bethlehem is a small town, and everyone knows everyone business.  This near relative is willing to step aside because he knows how much Boaz wants the woman.  But that seems unlikely because Boaz seems to have gone to some lengths to conceal their meeting the night before [Ruth 3].  At any rate this near kinsman refuses to be the kinsman redeemer, missing out on the greater blessing.

If we don’t know the laws of God, we cannot hope to follow them, and we will not receive the blessings that come from them.  If we let are personal preferences and prejudices get in the way, why would god bless us.  Many make up rules they say are from God, e.g. tithing, not drinking, not smoking, not marrying, etc.  These are not God’s laws, they are men’s rules, they may or may not be good for you, but there is no blessing in them.

There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death. Prov. 14:12

Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. Matt. 5:19

But he said,  “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” Luke 11:28

Boaz knows the law and is willing to be the kinsman redeemer.  He does not see a Moabite.  Boaz sees a woman of God, a woman of valor [Prov. 31].  A woman who has left family and friends to follow her mother-in-law back to the land with nothing, but God, and a rather worthless piece of land.

But Boaz answered her,  “All that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband has been fully told me, and how you left your father and mother and your native land and came to a people that you did not know before.  The LORD recompense you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge!” Ruth 2:11-12

For this he forever is a type of Messiah.  His blessing is to never be forgotten.  He saw a woman of valor when everyone else saw a dirty vile Moabite.  That is just the way God loves us.  Even though everyone else may have rejected us, he paid the price for our redemption.  He does not see dirty sinners, He sees His beloved.

God’s wings are always a metaphor of His protection.

How precious is thy steadfast love, O God! The children of men take refuge in the shadow of thy wings Psa. 36:7

Let me dwell in thy tent for ever! Oh to be safe under the shelter of thy wings! Psa. 61:4

for thou hast been my help, and in the shadow of thy wings I sing for joy. Psa. 63:7

he will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. Psa. 91:4

He is no little sparrow.  The largest birds of flight are the vultures.  They fly all day with very little effort, because their wings are so large.  When they teach their young how to fly, they fly beneath them, incase they fumble, and quickly come under them to bear them up, so they can try again.

but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like vultures, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint. Is. 40:31

The Moabite religion was one of temple prostitution and orgies.  This is why they have been rejected by God, for they sought to teach this form of worship to the Israelites as they passed by Moab on the way to the promised land [Num 25].  Ruth is leaving all that, for a God that is husband and lover.

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Gal. 3:28

So the man who would not redeem handed Boaz his sandal, but there was no spitting.  No one seems to want hard feelings in the family. Boaz buys the field and with it the widow Ruth. (see Three Kinds of Wives)

The elders turn and bless Ruth bysaying may she be like the two wives of Jacob, Rachel and Leah, the ancestors of all those present.  For Bethlehem was in the tribes of Judah and Benjamin.

Then the story has the happiest ending of all, Naomi has a grandson, a baby boy named Obed; he was the father of Jesse, the father of David. Who would ever have thought that a Moabitess could be in the line of the Messiah.

FYI

Then the whole lineage of David is listed from Perez the son of Judah.  This is here to make another point about the law and forgiveness.  Perez and his brother Zerah were the bastard sons of Judah [Gen. 38:12-30]

“No bastard shall enter the assembly of the LORD; even to the tenth generation none of his descendants shall enter the assembly of the LORD. Deut. 23:2

David is that tenth generation.  He is no longer under this curse. He not only walked into the assembly, he walked into the Holy of Holies.  For he is a type of Messiah also.

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FYI

Ruth may have been a Moabite princess.  Why else would David turn to the king of Moab when Saul was seeking to kill him, if he were not some kind of relative?

And David went from there to Mizpeh of Moab; and he said to the king of Moab,  “Pray let my father and my mother stay with you, till I know what God will do for me.” And he left them with the king of Moab, and they stayed with him all the time that David was in the stronghold. 1 Sam. 22:3-4

One thought on “Ruth Chapter 4

  1. Pingback: Shalom as Friendship | The Song of Songs

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