Ruth 4

Ruth 4 begins with Boaz going to the gate at the city entrance and waiting for the relative who was ahead of him in line to redeem Elimelech’s heritage.  According to the custom of the day, the nearest relative has first right to purchase the land and also fulfill the care of the widow and her family.  The previous chapter left us at a dramatic point. Ruth and Boaz were obviously in love and wanted to get married, with Boaz exercising the right of the goel – the kinsman-redeemer. Yet, there was a kinsman closer to Ruth and he had priority.  So Boaz calls ten elders to sit with himself and the other kinsman as they work through the options.

Boaz raises the question and the first response was that the closer kinsman wanted to redeem it.  “Then Boaz said, The day you buy the field from the hand of Naomi, you also acquire Ruth the Moabite, the widow of the dead, in order to perpetuate the name of the dead in his inheritance”.  Ah, but there was more to it than just buying the field from the hand of Naomi.  A woman came along as part of the deal.  The duty of the goel – the kinsman-redeemer – was more than the duty to preserve the family name of his brother in Israel. It was also to keep land allotted to members of the clan within the clan.  But he had to agree to both.

Upon second thought, the kinsman changes his mind.  He didn’t want to “impair my own inheritance”.  Because Naomi was older and unable to bear children, the kinsman was not expected to marry Naomi and raise up children to the family name of her deceased husband Elimelech. But Ruth was another matter – she was able to marry and bear children.   So if he purchased the land, he would be expected to marry Ruth and carry on the family lineage.  That changed the game and he declined as to no change the inheritance for his current children.

So the deal is done.  Boaz becomes the redeemer and buys the land and takes Ruth to be his wife.  And God blessed them with a child.  Naomi was proud grandma and cares for him.  The child was named Obed.  And this man becomes a pretty important part of scripture and God’s plan.  “Obed fathered Jesse, and Jesse fathered David”.  He is David’s grandfather.  The family line is not only carried on, but done in a rather amazing way as this child, born to the kinsman redeemer, becomes the grandpa to one of God’s dearest leaders of all time.  God has a plan, always.  I’m sure Ruth wondered what it was on the journey she took, but her faithfulness led her to a redemption that gave her the opportunity to be great grandmother to a king!

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