Ruth 4:1-11

Ruth 4:1

Then went Boaz up to the gate, and sat him down there: and, behold, the kinsman of whom Boaz spake came by; unto whom he said, Ho, such a one! turn aside, sit down here. And he turned aside, and sat down.


Boaz then continued to the gate of the city which is where the elders of the city would sit.  Boaz then sat down there with the elders and the other kinsman came also and Boaz yelled to him to turn aside, that is, to come here.  The name of other person is not given so we do not know exactly who he was.  So the relative came and sat down with Boaz and the elders.


Ruth 4:2

And he took ten men of the elders of the city, and said, Sit ye down here. And they sat down.


So Boaz had requested that ten men of the elders sit down to help adjudicate this matter and be witnesses.  The law only required two or three but in weightier issues they always used more than the two or three.  Ten was the normal number used among the Israelites. 


Ruth 4:3

And he said unto the kinsman, Naomi, that is come again out of the country of Moab, selleth a parcel of land, which was our brother Elimelech's:


Elimelech had a parcel of land in Israel before he left for Moab.  Now that the field had lain fallow for all these years and Naomi was probably too old to work it or too poor to hire servants, so she decided to sell the land but under the law it could be redeemed only by a kinsman.  If thy brother be waxen poor, and hath sold away some of his possession, and if any of his kin come to redeem it, then shall he redeem that which his brother sold.  (Leviticus 25:25)  The land was once owned by Elimelech who died in Moab and left Naomi as the sole owner.  The land granted to the Israelites were to stay in the possession of the family.  The land shall not be sold for ever: for the land is mine; for ye are strangers and sojourners with me.  (Leviticus 25:23)  This is why the family was to redeem it so they would not be in violation of the law of God.


Ruth 4:4

And I thought to advertise thee, saying, Buy it before the inhabitants, and before the elders of my people. If thou wilt redeem it, redeem it: but if thou wilt not redeem it, then tell me, that I may know: for there is none to redeem it beside thee; and I am after thee. And he said, I will redeem it.


Then Boaz goes into negotiations with the relative and states that if you are going to redeem the parcel of land which belonged to Elimelech than you shall do it before the elders of Israel as a witness before them that the transaction was legal.  If he was not going to redeem it, then he was to make that declaration in the presence of the elders.  This relative had the sole right to redeem the land or to refuse to redeem the land.  If he refused and Boaz redeemed it then that would still be in accordance with the law of Leviticus.  Then the relative stated that he would redeem the land.  However, at this point Boaz left out a very important addition to the parcel, Ruth.


Ruth 4:5

Then said Boaz, What day thou buyest the field of the hand of Naomi, thou must buy it also of Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of the dead, to raise up the name of the dead upon his inheritance.


Then Boaz raises the issue of Ruth.  Boaz then tells the relative that if he redeems the land then he must also redeem Ruth who would have been a co-owner of the land by means of her husband.  However, the responsibility of the redeemer went beyond the land and he also had to take Ruth with it.  If brethren dwell together, and one of them die, and have no child, the wife of the dead shall not marry without unto a stranger: her husband's brother shall go in unto her, and take her to him to wife, and perform the duty of an husband's brother unto her.  (Deuteronomy 25:5)  In fulfillment of the law, the one who redeems the widow must raise up children with the widow, after marriage, upon the name of the dead relative.  This may have been the reason the man hesitated.  Redeeming the parcel of land was fine but to have another wife, especially one who is a Moabitess would bring unwanted change to his life.


Ruth 4:6

And the kinsman said, I cannot redeem it for myself, lest I mar mine own inheritance: redeem thou my right to thyself; for I cannot redeem it.


Then once the relative found out that Ruth came with the land, then he refused to redeem it because two wives would have caused contention in the family.  Then if he redeemed Ruth and they had a son, then the parcel of land which belonged to Mahlon would revert back to the son and the redeeming relative would no longer be able to profit from that land even though it would still be in the family.  It would also mean that his finances would now be spread thinner since there would be two more to house and feed.  When he took all those things into consideration, he then had to refuse.  There is a spiritual parallel here in that the relative represented the law because the law cannot redeem even with all its rituals and ceremonies.  Boaz, as a type of Christ, was able to redeem Ruth, the Gentile.


Ruth 4:7

Now this was the manner in former time in Israel concerning redeeming and concerning changing, for to confirm all things; a man plucked off his shoe, and gave it to his neighbour: and this was a testimony in Israel.


There was no written law concerning the removal of the shoe but was only an ancient custom.  When the shoe was removed from the foot, then it was given to the other party as a reminder of the fact that in front of witnesses he refused to take the part of the kinsman redeemer.  In Psalm 60:8, God states that he will take over Edom for himself.  He will change it from heathen to the truth.  Moab is my washpot; over Edom will I cast out my shoe: Philistia, triumph thou because of me.  (Psalm 60:8)  He used the casting off of the shoe to solidify the deal. 


Ruth 4:8

Therefore the kinsman said unto Boaz, Buy it for thee. So he drew off his shoe.


Then the kinsman told Boaz to purchase the field for himself and with that the relative  drew off his shoe and gave it to Boaz as sort of a handshake or an oral agreement thus concluding the matter.


Ruth 4:9

And Boaz said unto the elders, and unto all the people, Ye are witnesses this day, that I have bought all that was Elimelech's, and all that was Chilion's and Mahlon's, of the hand of Naomi.


The Boaz spoke to the people who were also witnesses to the transaction that he probably held up the shoe and told the people that they were witnesses that he now had possession of all that belonged to Elimelech including all that belonged to Mahlon and Chilion.  Since Naomi had the land in her possession, she received the money for it and Boaz received the land.


Ruth 4:10

Moreover Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of Mahlon, have I purchased to be my wife, to raise up the name of the dead upon his inheritance, that the name of the dead be not cut off from among his brethren, and from the gate of his place: ye are witnesses this day.


Then he continued on with his public declaration that not only did he purchase the land he also purchased Ruth to be his wife and his intention was to raise up progeny in the name of Mahlon so that his name would not be cut off from his brethren and from Israel.  The gate of this place would have been the city of Bethlehem which was represented by the elders who sat in the gate as leaders of the city.  The people in attendance were witnesses to all that transpired.


Ruth 4:11

And all the people that were in the gate, and the elders, said, We are witnesses. The LORD make the woman that is come into thine house like Rachel and like Leah, which two did build the house of Israel: and do thou worthily in Ephratah, and be famous in Beth-lehem:


Then the people who were in attendance and all the elders who were there made a unanimous declaration that they were witnesses to the entire transaction.  The elders then pronounced a benediction upon them that Ruth would be like Rachel and Leah who between them brought forth the twelve sons and one daughter who were the progenitors of Israel.  Ephratah was another name for Bethlehem.  And Rachel died, and was buried in the way to Ephrath, which is Beth-lehem.  (Genesis 35:19)  The name “Ephratah” means “abundance, bearing fruit.”  The fame they desire for Boaz is that his credibility and his name would be famous for being fair and equitable and a helpful and godly neighbor.