Notes on Ruth chapter 4

by Jonathan Spurlock
(Holts Summit, MO)

Ruth 4:1, KJV 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.

“The gate” of a city is mentioned many times in the Old Testament. That was where many transactions took place: Lot had sat in the gate in Sodom (Genesis 19:1) and Abraham dealt with Ephron the Hittite at the gate of Kiriath-Arba, or Hebron, in order to purchase a burial site for Sarah (and others, as it turned out) in Genesis 23. Even the husband of the “virtuous woman” in Proverbs 31 was “known in the gates (Pr 31:23)”.

Boaz also saw the nearer kinsman coming into town. Keeping his promise to Ruth, Boaz was determined to get the matter settled that very day (see 3:13).

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

Why Boaz chose 10 men of the city’s elders is nowhere stated. The testimony of two or three witnesses was deemed more than sufficient for evidence (Deut. 17:6-7, Matt, 18:16). Perhaps Boaz was making sure beyond any shadow of doubt that his transaction was valid.

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:

Here Boaz reminds the nearer kinsman of Naomi’s situation. The size of the property is not given. One thing that was supposed to happen, and there is no record it ever occurred, was that in the year of Jubilee all property was to return to the original family (Lev. 25).

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).

Now Boaz honors the principles of the Law, acknowledging the nearer kinsman had a right to the property. He does not mention Ruth at this time. The other kinsman agreed, here, to redeem the property and fulfill the duties of the kinsman.

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.

Boaz then adds the matter of Ruth to the situation. Again, if the nearer kinsman agreed to marry Ruth, Boaz would not have stopped it. He gave no indication here that he would interfere in any way. The duties here of the kinsman were spelled out in Deut. 25:5-10. The kinsman was to marry the widow, and name the firstborn after the first husband. Judah had commanded his son Onan to do this in Genesis 38.

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).

The man tells Boaz he couldn’t, or wouldn’t, redeem the property and marry Ruth “lest” he would “mar his own inheritance”. The meaning is unclear. Regardless, he now gives Boaz the right to redeem the property and to marry Ruth.

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.

This states that during the time of Boaz, this custom (law, actually) was followed, albeit modified. We do not read that anyone spat in the other kinsman’s face. The reference to “former time” may imply that the custom or law was no longer being followed.

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

When the other kinsman took off his shoe and gave it to Boaz, he formally renounced his claim to Naomi’s property and any chance of marrying Ruth. Between the time of Moses, when the Law was originally given, and this time, there are no records of such transactions taking place. What did happen here showed some deviation from the letter of the Law: nobody spat in the man’s face, and there is no record he would be living in the house called “the house of him that hath his shoe loosed (Dt 25:9-10).”

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.

Boaz announces he is taking title to all of Naomi’s property. This included what had belonged to her late husband Elimelech plus her late sons, Mahlon and Chilion.

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.

Now Boaz announces his intent to marry Ruth, the wife (widow) of Mahlon, and fulfill the duties of the kinsman. He states his intentions before the ten elders of the city.

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 Bethlehem:

All the people, more than just the ten elders, were here by now and replied to Boaz that they were indeed witnesses to what he intended to do. The blessing the people gave Ruth is touching! Indeed, the descendants of Boaz and Ruth were famous in Bethlehem, and elsewhere: David, Israel’s greatest king was their great-grandson and hundreds of years later, the Messiah, Jesus Christ, was born in Bethlehem as well!

12 And let thy house be like the house of Pharez, whom Tamar bare unto Judah, of the seed which the LORD shall give thee of this young woman.

The story of Pharez is found in Genesis 38. Read the narrative carefully. Judah, son of Jacob, was living away from his family long enough to have sons old enough to marry but returned to his father sometime afterwards. Judah was one of the 10 sons of Jacob who went to Egypt to buy food during the famine (Genesis 42). Boaz was a direct descendant of Pharez, also called “Perez”.

13 So Boaz took Ruth, and she was his wife: and when he went in unto her, the LORD gave her conception, and she bare a son.

Boaz fulfilled his promise to Ruth and to Naomi. God blessed him, and them, with a son.

14 And the women said unto Naomi, Blessed (be) the LORD, which hath not left thee this day without a kinsman, that his name may be famous in Israel.

They were probably speaking about Boaz, naming him the kinsman in this verse. Or, they could be talking about the baby, not named as yet, and their hope the child, too, would be famous in Israel.

15 And he shall be unto thee a restorer of (thy) life, and a nourisher of thine old age: for thy daughter in law, which loveth thee, which is better to thee than seven sons, hath born him.

Now they’re probably talking about the baby. These women had also remarked about Ruth’s love for Naomi, saying not only did Ruth love her but that she was better than seven of Naomi’s own sons!

16 And Naomi took the child, and laid it in her bosom, and became nurse unto it.

It is doubtful whether Naomi could actually nurse the baby but there is no doubt she treasured that child with all the love she had!

17 And the women her neighbours gave it a name, saying, There is a son born to Naomi; and they called his name Obed: he (is) the father of Jesse, the father of David.

Boaz and Ruth may not have understood at the time, but their child, Obed, was the direct ancestor, not only of King David but the Messiah, Jesus Christ, also! What a blessing!

18 Now these (are) the generations of Pharez: Pharez begat Hezron,

Pharez is first mentioned in Genesis 38, He was the son of Judah and Tamar, a Canaanite woman. Hezron is mentioned only as the son of Pharez.

19 And Hezron begat Ram, and Ram begat Amminadab,

Ram and Amminadab were only mentioned a few times in the genealogies. Interestingly, Aaron, the brother of Moses and Israel’s first high priest, married Amminadab’s daughter Elisheba (Ex. 6:23).

20 And Amminadab begat Nahshon, and Nahshon begat Salmon,

Nashon became the leader of the tribe of Judah. He is mentioned several times in the OT: He, as leader of Judah, was the first one to bring the Lord’s offering in Numbers 7.
Salmon, his son, married Rahab, the former harlot of Jericho. Boaz was their son.

21 And Salmon begat Boaz, and Boaz begat Obed,

As mentioned in this chapter, Boaz was the son of Salmon and father of Obed.

22 And Obed begat Jesse, and Jesse begat David.

This verse takes us from the time of Boaz to the time of David. The number of years between these men is not specified. David is not yet mentioned as king, but the readers by this time may not have needed to be reminded of this.

So concludes a beautiful story: a foreign girl comes to Israel, alone except for her mother-in-law, becomes a believer in the God of Israel, and had the distinct privilege of being in the line of Israel’s kings (except Saul) and eventually the Messiah Himself, the Lord Jesus Christ! Could any woman be more blessed than those who chose to find and follow the will of God for her life.

Scripture quotations taken from the King James Version of the Bible (KJV)

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