The Book of Ruth, The Man with a Shoe Loose and The Marriage of the Bride! Chapter 4
(Ver 1.1) We are now in chapter 4 of the book of Ruth. If you have not been reading this series from the beginning you should go back and start with “Part 1“. As you read chapter 3 of Ruth you should have noticed that Boaz tells Ruth that there is a closer relative than himself and he will have to see if the closer relative is willing to fulfill the law and marry her. You should remember that the law gave a specific order of precedence for the fulfillment of the requirement of the law. The order went from the closest or nearest relative to the most distant relative and always included the oldest male first down to the youngest male. So Boaz was not the first in the line of living relatives to marry Ruth according to the law of Moses. Therefore, Boaz in chapter 4 goes to the city gate and finds the nearer relative to discuss the situation with him. Boaz at this point must already know his intentions because Boaz has gathered the elders of the city to witness the discussion between himself and this closer relative.
Rth 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:
Boaz starts with the good news first. Naomi the widow of our dead brother, is come back and she is selling his property. So far this is a deal for any man that has money to buy it. To own land is a sign of wealth and to own a lot of land is a sign of great wealth. But, that was the good news and not the complete picture so here goes Boaz to explain what else is required.
Rth 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.
So Boaz before the witnesses of the elders of the city informs this relative that it is his responsibility and his decision to make. He then informs him that besides them, there are no other relatives that are able to redeem the land of Naomi. This means that they are all either dead or there were just no other living male relatives born in the family.
Rth 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.
Now Boaz starts in with the potential bad news. I guess it depends upon your point of view, but it is either good or bad based upon how it will affect you personally. Since Boaz was the younger brother in this relationship, it affects him differently than the older brother. Let’s think about this and how it affects each man. Boaz says that by buying the land from Naomi, they must also buy it from Ruth since she was married to the son of their brother. According to the law of Moses, this involves marrying the widow of the dead so that the family name is not removed from the face of the earth. Whatever son that Ruth and the redeemer has, becomes the heir of Elimelech ‘s land. You see it starts to get a little complicated at this point, since the future heir is now the owner of the dead family’s property, the relative that married the widow has no family or heir. I know this is not technically correct, but yet this is the way that these people viewed the situation. You can see that by the reaction of the closer relative to the news of marrying the widow Ruth.
Rth 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.
Did you see what the nearer kinsman said? He told Boaz I can’t redeem this land or marry the widow, because it will mess up my inheritance. In other words everything that he is in line for and everything his heirs are in line for will revert to the dead brother’s family and he would end up with nothing, so he thinks. So the nearer kinsman tells Boaz, I won’t redeem it, so you redeem it. This is of course what Boaz wanted to hear happen, yet the process had to be followed in the law and the procedures must be satisfied in the eyes of God and all legal actions satisfied with the elders of the city who were the witnesses.
Rth 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.
Rth 4:8 Therefore the kinsman said unto Boaz, Buy it for thee. So he drew off his shoe.
As you can see, the nearer relative’s house is now called “the house of him who has his shoe loosed”. In the eyes of the law, Boaz has satisfied all requirements and responsibilities and is now free to legally marry Ruth. Boaz tells the elders and the people of the city that they are all witnesses to the fact that he has bought the property of Naomi and Ruth.
It might help you to understand what just happened based upon another story found in the Bible. In Genesis chapter 38 there is a story of another family who is directly related to our story. The story of the son of Israel named Judah. He has three sons and the firstborn is named, Er. When Er grows up big enough to marry, Judah gets him a wife named Tamar. Remember Tamar? The Bible says that Er was wicked in the eyes of God and so he died very young. Judah then told Er’s brother to take the dead brother’s wife and have an heir for his dead brother, the firstborn Er. But, the Bible says that Onan knew if he had sex with Tamar and had a child that it would be for his brother and he would not get anything. So Onan basically refused to fulfill his requirements and the Bible says that he was found to be evil in the eyes of the Lord and he also died young. So far not a good story, but yet this is how those in the Bible dealt with these matters. Judah tells the widow Tamar to wait for the third and last son to grow up and she would become his wife and then that son would raise up an heir for the dead firstborn. In the process of time, Tamar waits, but nothing happens. Apparently Judah was not a man of his word. Judah’s wife died and one day he went up to the city to do some business. Tamar hears about this and takes off her widow garments and dresses up like a prostitute, covers her face and waits for Judah to come by. She deceives Judah into having sex with her and she becomes pregnant. Judah did not have the payment for the sex, so he left her his signet ring, a bracelet and his staff as collateral security until the agreed payment could be sent to her.
Tamar was not there for the sex or the payment that was promised to her. She was there because Judah had not fulfilled what he had spoken to her and her dead husband, Judah’s firstborn had no heir to continue the family name. So even though her methods were not very admirable her intentions before God were highly commendable. So Judah eventually sends the payment back for the harlot that he could get back his collateral, but they could not find any prostitutes to pay.
Then time passes and three months later Judah is informed that Tamar has played the harlot and has become pregnant by harlotry. Judah is outraged and tells them to get her and she will be killed for her error. So she appears before Judah and tells him that before you do anything, I am guilty of nothing. Here is the father of my child and she shows him, his signet, bracelet and staff. Judah’s reaction is shock and immediately says she has been more righteous than him, because he had not given her to his younger son to be his wife. Like I said, this is not a great or a highly positive moral standard Bible story that you want to teach your children in Sunday School, yet it has great significance to the story in the book of Ruth. It helps to explain the dilemma that the nearer relative was experiencing. Tamar is also a name mentioned in the Genealogy of Jesus so it must have some relevance to something we need to know. If you search the Bible, you will discover that the term “daughter-in-law” is not widely used. In fact Tamar and Ruth are only two of four women in the Bible called by this title. So they are directly related and tied together meaning they share some commonalities that are very distinctive. As we continue through Ruth chapter 4 you will see why I went over this story.
Rth 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.
Boaz tells everyone to be witnesses to the fact that he has bought the land of the dead husband and he will marry the widow wife to raise up the name of the dead.
Rth 4:12 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 people of the city now speak a blessing on the actions of Boaz. Did you notice the name of Tamar being mentioned? You see if it was not for the illicit actions of Tamar there would be no Bethlehem or people to witness these deeds of Boaz. There would be no elders of the city, there would be no Elimilech, in fact there would be no Boaz. Everyone present was a descendant of the house of Judah whom Tamar his daughter-in-law bore to him. All of these people recognized that they would not be present if it were not for Tamar and they could foresee that down the road in the future there would be many people born on this planet who would be grateful that Ruth was there to raise up and continue the family name of the tribe of Judah. In fact looking at the genealogy found in the Bible, if not for Ruth and Boaz, there would have been no King David and eventually no Jesus Christ.
Rth 4:15 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.
Boaz fulfills the requirements of the law and marries one of the few women in the Bible that get mentioned by name in the genealogy of Jesus our Savior. Boaz is called the redeemer, the restorer of life. and a nourisher. These are all terms that could describe Jesus to us today. The story of Ruth is different than what many people think of when thinking of Jesus and the church. Yet it has many natural patterns in it that are very significant to this spiritual reality. In my next blog I will try to explore more of these patterns given to us in the Book of Ruth.
You can continue reading this series, by going to “Part 5“.
Posted on June 13, 2010, in Bible Study, Ruth and tagged Bible, Bride, Christianity, Church, Covenants, God, Holy Spirit, Interpretation, Jesus, marriage, Prophecy, Revelation, Ruth, Symbolism, Truth, understanding. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.