After Ruth left Boaz and returned to the place where she and Naomi were staying, Boaz went to town. He stopped at the town gates where the Elders were to be found, which was a customary place for them to conduct their duties. When the other kinsman-redeemer came along, he asked the man to sit with him in the hearing of the Elders to discuss the situation. You will no doubt recall that the night before, Boaz had mentioned to Ruth that there was a closer relative who was first in line as kinsman-redeemer, and this is the matter Boaz brought up that morning.
It would seem, from verses 3 and 4 that Naomi had inherited her husband’s property, so Boaz mentioned this to the man first. Previously, I mentioned that a kinsman-redeemer would buy the land of the dead husband from the widow so that she would have money in her old age with which to live, since she probably wouldn’t be able to make a living from the land by herself, and this other kinsman-redeemer, whose name is never mentioned in the text, agreed to buy it. If he had the cash, then why not buy it? He could do his duty to the family and add to his own income in the bargain; so far, so good. Then something strange happens:
Then Boaz said, “On the day you buy the land from Naomi, you also acquire Ruth the Moabite, the dead man’s widow, in order to maintain the name of the dead with his property.” (3:5)
Oh dear, there’s a catch – that Moabite woman!
At this, the guardian-redeemer said, “Then I cannot redeem it because I might endanger my own estate. You redeem it yourself. I cannot do it.” (3:7)
Did you notice that as long as Boaz just mentioned Naomi and her property, the other guy was willing to redeem, but when he mentioned the Moabite woman was part of the deal, the other guy backed out? Why do you suppose Boaz mentioned that she was a Moabite, of all things?
For an Israelite to have a gentile in their household was problematic enough, but a Moabite woman was really too much; they had experience with Moabite women in the past; these women were trouble! No way, the man was not going to redeem, even though it was his duty; Boaz could have the deal. Thus, with all of the Elders as his witnesses, Boaz acquired the right to redeem, and bought the land and Ruth from Naomi, and Ruth thus became his wife. I know that to the modern reader, this transaction sounds pretty weird, but this took place a very long time ago, and was proper and binding. The Elders agree and gave their blessing to the arrangement: Done.
Boaz was a very sharp man; he knew how to get things done in this world. He did so with wisdom and intelligence, and by the rules of the day. In the process, he did his duty to his family, to Naomi, to Ruth and to their husbands’ family line, and he did it with justice for all concerned. In so doing, he provides all of us with an excellent example of what it means to be a godly man.
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