Ruth Chapter 4 (Bible Marathon Day 118)
Boaz Marries Ruth.
Boaz went to the gate* and took a seat there. Along came the other redeemera of whom he had spoken.
Boaz called to him by name, “Come, sit here.” And he did so.
Then Boaz picked out ten of the elders* of the town and asked them to sit nearby. When they had done this,
he said to the other redeemer: “Naomi, who has come back from the plateau of Moab, is putting up for sale
the piece of land that belonged to our kinsman Elimelech.
* So I thought I would inform you. Before those here present, including the elders of my people, purchase the
field; act as redeemer.b But if you do not want to do it, tell me so, that I may know, for no one has a right of
redemption prior to yours, and mine is next.” He answered, “I will act as redeemer.”
* Boaz continued, “When you acquire the field from Naomi, you also acquire responsibility for Ruth the
Moabite,c the widow of the late heir, to raise up a family for the deceased on his estate.”
The redeemer replied, “I cannot exercise my right of redemption for that would endanger my own estate. You
do it in my place, for I cannot.”
d Now it used to be the custom in Israel that, to make binding a contract of redemption or exchange, one
party would take off a sandal* and give it to the other. This was the form of attestation in Israel.
So the other redeemer, in saying to Boaz, “Acquire it for yourself,” drew off his sandal.
Boaz then said to the elders and to all the people, “You are witnesses today that I have acquired from Naomi
all the holdings of Elimelech, Chilion and Mahlon.
I also acquire Ruth the Moabite, the widow of Mahlon, as my wife, in order to raise up a family for her late
husband on his estate, so that the name of the deceased may not perish from his people and his place. Do
you witness this today?”
e All those at the gate, including the elders, said, “We do. May the LORD make this woman come into your
house like Rachel and Leah, who between them built up the house of Israel. Prosper in Ephrathah! Bestow
a name in Bethlehem!
With the offspring the LORD will give you from this young woman, may your house become like the house of
Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah.”*
Boaz took Ruth. When they came together as husband and wife, the LORD enabled her to conceive and
she bore a son.
Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed is the LORD who has not failed to provide you today with a
redeemer. May he become famous in Israel!
He will restore your life and be the support of your old age, for his mother is the daughter-in-law who loves
you. She is worth more to you than seven sons!”
Naomi took the boy, cradled him* against her breast, and cared for him.
The neighbor women joined the celebration: “A son has been born to Naomi!”f They named him Obed. He
was the father of Jesse, the father of David.
g These are the descendants of Perez: Perez was the father of Hezron,h
Hezron was the father of Ram, Ram was the father of Amminadab,
i Amminadab was the father of Nahshon, Nahshon was the father of Salma,
Salma was the father of Boaz, Boaz was the father of Obed,
j Obed was the father of Jesse, and Jesse became the father of David.
* [4:1] The gate of an Israelite town was the place where commercial and other legal matters were dealt with
in publicly witnessed fashion.
* [4:2] Ten of the elders: to serve as judges in legal matters as well as witnesses of the settlement of
business affairs; cf. Dt 25:7–9.
* [4:4] Although the laws governing inheritance by Israelite widows are not specified in the Bible, Naomi
seems to have the right of disposal of a piece of Elimelech’s land. The redemption custom in Lv 25:25 would
then guide the procedure.
* [4:5–6] Although redemption and levirate practices are not otherwise linked in the Bible, they belong in the
same area of need. Boaz claims that buying Elimelech’s field obligates the other redeemer to produce an
heir for Mahlon, who would then inherit the land. That would jeopardize this redeemer’s overall holdings,
since he would lose the land he had paid for. He can afford the first step but not the second, and cedes his
responsibility to Boaz, who is willing to do both.
* [4:7] Take off a sandal: the legislation in Dt 25:8–10 provides that if a “redeemer” refuses to carry out the
obligation of marrying his brother’s wife, the woman shall strip off his sandal as a gesture of insult. In later
years, when the obligation of carrying out this function of the “redeemer” was no longer keenly felt, the
removal of the sandal may have become a formalized way of renouncing the rights/obligations of the
“redeemer,” as in this text.
* [4:12] Gn 38 contains a story about Tamar similar to Ruth’s in levirate marriage. Judah, under less
laudable circumstances, fulfills the same role as Boaz will, and Perez, son of Judah and Tamar, perpetuates
the line. Thus two non-Israelite women, Tamar and Ruth, are important links in David’s genealogy.
* [4:16] Cradled him: the child belongs to Naomi in the sense that he now becomes the redeemer in the
family, as stated in 4:14. This tender act by Naomi is not necessarily adoptive and differs from the relationship
in Gn 30:3; cf. Nm 11:12. Naomi now has a “boy” to replace her two lost “boys” in 1:5.
a. [4:1] Ru 3:12.
b. [4:4] Lv 25:25.
c. [4:5] Ru 3:13.
d. [4:7] Dt 25:9.
e. [4:11] Gn 29:31–30:24; 35:16–19.
f. [4:17] Lk 1:58.
g. [4:18–22] 1 Chr 2:4–15; Mt 1:3–6.
h. [4:18] Gn 46:12; Nm 26:21; 1 Chr 4:1.
i. [4:20] Ex 6:23; Nm 1:7; 2:3; 7:12–17; 10:14.
j. [4:22] 1 Sm 16:2–13.