Sunday, May 06, 2007

Ruth 4

4:1-10 Boaz At The Gate

1 Meanwhile Boaz went up to the town gate and sat there. When the kinsman-redeemer he had mentioned came along, Boaz said, "Come over here, my friend, and sit down." So he went over and sat down.

2 Boaz took ten of the elders of the town and said, "Sit here," and they did so. 3 Then he said to the kinsman-redeemer, "Naomi, who has come back from Moab, is selling the piece of land that belonged to our brother Elimelech. 4 I thought I should bring the matter to your attention and suggest that you buy it in the presence of these seated here and in the presence of the elders of my people. If you will redeem it, do so. But if you [a] will not, tell me, so I will know. For no one has the right to do it except you, and I am next in line." "I will redeem it," he said.

5 Then Boaz said, "On the day you buy the land from Naomi and from Ruth the Moabitess, you acquire [b] the dead man's widow, in order to maintain the name of the dead with his property." 6 At this, the kinsman-redeemer said, "Then I cannot redeem it because I might endanger my own estate. You redeem it yourself. I cannot do it." 7 (Now in earlier times in Israel, for the redemption and transfer of property to become final, one party took off his sandal and gave it to the other. This was the method of legalizing transactions in Israel.) 8 So the kinsman-redeemer said to Boaz, "Buy it yourself." And he removed his sandal. 9 Then Boaz announced to the elders and all the people, "Today you are witnesses that I have bought from Naomi all the property of Elimelech, Kilion and Mahlon. 10 I have also acquired Ruth the Moabitess, Mahlon's widow, as my wife, in order to maintain the name of the dead with his property, so that his name will not disappear from among his family or from the town records. Today you are witnesses!"

To begin the process of redeeming Ruth, Boaz went to the gate of the city of Bethlehem. Why did he go to the gate? The gate was where legal matters were settled. In Deuteronomy 15:7, the widow who is childless is told to go to the gate to settle the matter if her husband’s brother won’t marry her.

It was also be common for businessmen and elders to come to the gate during the day, either to transact business or to take part in settling disputes. So, Boaz sat and waited, and the nearer relative showed up. Boaz had him sit down, then conscripted 10 elders to sit with them. Once they were assembled, Boaz told the relative that Naomi was about to sell Elimelech’s property. The relative was first in line, before Boaz, to buy it. Evidently, the custom was to allow the closest relatives the first chance to purchase the property as part of this right of redemption. In Jeremiah 32:6-12, for example, Jeremiah’s relative offers him the first chance to purchase his property.

6 Jeremiah said, “The word of the Lord came to me: 7 Behold, Hanamel the son of Shallum your uncle will come to you and say, ‘Buy my field that is at Anathoth, for the right of redemption by purchase is yours.’ 8 Then Hanamel my cousin came to me in the court of the guard, in accordance with the word of the Lord, and said to me, ‘Buy my field that is at Anathoth in the land of Benjamin, for the right of possession and redemption is yours; buy it for yourself.’ Then I knew that this was the word of the Lord.
9 “And I bought the field at Anathoth from Hanamel my cousin, and weighed out the money to him, seventeen shekels of silver. 10 I signed the deed, sealed it, got witnesses, and weighed the money on scales. 11 Then I took the sealed deed of purchase, containing the terms and conditions and the open copy. 12 And I gave the deed of purchase to Baruch the son of Neriah son of Mahseiah, in the presence of Hanamel my cousin, in the presence of the witnesses who signed the deed of purchase, and in the presence of all the Judeans who were sitting in the court of the guard.

The relative said he could indeed redeem the land of Naomi, or purchase it. Somehow the redemption of Ruth by marriage is tied to the sale of the land. Boaz said if he acquired the land, he also acquired the widow, Ruth. It is not explained in this text. But it creates a double burden, paying for the land and supporting Ruth for life. Also, he will not be able to keep the property for a long time, as any son he has with Ruth will be able to redeem the property. We do know, from Leviticus 25, that Israelites could not sell land forever, they had to allow for redemption of the land so that it was kept in its original allotments by tribe and clan.

When the relative passed on the right of redemption to Boaz, he solemnized it by removing his sandal and giving it to Boaz. Boaz announced to the elders and to all the people that he had acquired the land and Ruth. He said he was fulfilling the purpose of the law by maintaining Elimilech’s family name in Israel.

Although the attention is on Boaz here, we know the Lord is at work. Naomi has previously acknowledged that the Lord was responsible for bringing Ruth and Boaz together, and that the Lord was providing for Ruth and Naomi in this manner.

In addition, we know from Leviticus 25, that the Lord considered the land to be his. We also know he considered the people of Israel to be his special possession. So, through Boaz, we see the Lord working and accomplishing his will through faithful and obedient people.

4:11-12 The Elders’ Blessing

11 Then the elders and all those at the gate said, "We are witnesses. May the LORD make the woman who is coming into your home like Rachel and Leah, who together built up the house of Israel. May you have standing in Ephrathah and be famous in Bethlehem. 12 Through the offspring the LORD gives you by this young woman, may your family be like that of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah."

The elders witness the transaction and approve. They bless the marriage, blessing Ruth to be the mother of many children, as Rachel and Leah. They bless Boaz with standing and fame. They also acknowledged the link between Ruth and Tamar. They were both widows who married and produced children in the line of Judah.

4:13-22 The Genealogy of David

3 So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife. Then he went to her, and the LORD enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son. 14 The women said to Naomi: "Praise be to the LORD, who this day has not left you without a kinsman-redeemer. May he become famous throughout Israel! 15 He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age. For your daughter-in-law, who loves you and who is better to you than seven sons, has given him birth."

16 Then Naomi took the child, laid him in her lap and cared for him. 17 The women living there said, "Naomi has a son." And they named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David.

18 This, then, is the family line of Perez:
Perez was the father of Hezron,

19 Hezron the father of Ram,
Ram the father of Amminadab,

20 Amminadab the father of Nahshon,
Nahshon the father of Salmon, [c]

21 Salmon the father of Boaz,
Boaz the father of Obed,

22 Obed the father of Jesse,
and Jesse the father of David.

Boaz and Ruth had a son and named him Obed. Again the author attributes this blessing to the LORD. The women of Bethlehem give God the credit, breaking into praise for the Lord who provided her a kinsman-redeemer. They are referring here not to Boaz, but the baby, Obed. They pray that he will be famous in Israel. He is such a blessing that he will renew her life. In a way, the blessing is further fulfilled in the more famous son, David, and in the most famous son, Jesus.

So, the story actually closes with Naomi and not with Ruth. It began with Naomi, and her abandonment of Israel with her husband, her loss of her husband, her suffering, her return to Israel, and God’s blessing. She is somewhat like Job, who both suffered and received blessing from the Lord.

Ruth is acknowledged for her love for Naomi. The women say she has been better to Naomi than 7 sevens. This is a remarkable testimony to a woman at a time when men and sons were normally preferred.

Finally, note that Obed becomes the grandfather of King David. In all things God continually worked to bring about the success of the seed of Eve against the seed of Satan, and to bring the Messiah to Israel for its redemption.

Boaz is a type of Christ. He is a redeemer for Ruth. He rescued her from her dire circumstances. He also reached out beyond Israel to a Gentile who desired to come under the protection of the Lord. Ruth could not come into the congregation of the Lord under the strict interpretation of the law, since Deuteronomy 23:3 said a Moabite could not come into the congregation for 10 generations. However, through the process of redemption, Boaz accomplished what the law could not, the redemption of a Gentile. "…what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son…” (Rom. 8:3).
Post a Comment