Ruth and Boaz
The story of Ruth and Boaz, Naomi and her husband Elimelech and their sons Mahlon and Chilion has much to teach about the important theme of the kinsman-redeemer.
Below is the family tree to show the relationship between the people in this story.
This page is page 2 a continuation of a study on the kinsman redeemer (back to page 1) theme in scripture especially as it relates to the book being opened in Revelation 6.
The story starts with Elimelech moving with his wife Naomi and two sons Mahlon and Chilion to Moab in a time of famine in Israel. While there, Elimelech died and the sons married Moabite women. Then the two sons died leaving Naomi with her two daughters-in-law Ruth and Orpah. Naomi, learning that the drought in Israel had ended, decided to return to her homeland. While Orpah elected to stay in her own country, Ruth made a different decision:
"And Ruth said [to Naomi], Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God:" (Ruth 1:16)
This is a good verse showing that anyone can be joined to Israel. After they returned to Israel, probably just about penniless, Naomi wanted to find a husband for her daughter Ruth and did what she could to arrange something.
"And Naomi had a kinsman of her husband's, a mighty man of wealth, of the family of Elimelech; and his name was Boaz. And Ruth the Moabitess said unto Naomi, Let me now go to the field, and glean ears of corn after him in whose sight I shall find grace. And she said unto her, Go, my daughter" (Ruth 2:1-2)
The story reveals that there was some interest between Ruth and Boaz. The question of the rights to land previously owned by Elimelech also came up. Again, the custom of the kinsmen redeemer having the right to redeem land enters into the story.
"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. And he took ten men of the elders of the city, and said, Sit ye down here. And they sat down. 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: 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." (Ruth 4:1-4)
The closest relative (as in Jeremiah) had first opportunity to buy the land and, at first, was happy to do so as he could gain a profit from the use of the land but, in this case, there was another factor involved:
"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. 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 (Ruth 4:5-6)
With this land, came a widow who had rights that needed to be fulfilled and the next of kin didn't want to marry her.
"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. Therefore the kinsman said unto Boaz, Buy it for thee. So he drew off his shoe. 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. 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. 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: (Ruth 4:7-11)
So Ruth and Boaz were married with Boaz fulfilling the role of the kinsman redeemer both in the matter of the land and in perpetuating the family line of Mahlon. Of course, this is a type of what Jesus would do both with the land (this earth) and the bride (the descendents of Adam). We could make the comparison like this:
In connection with this 3-part study on the kinsman-redeemer, we first looked at the concept of the kinsman-redeemer (part 1) in connection with the story of Jeremiah and then at the story of Ruth and Boaz on this page (part 2). On the next page we will look in more detail at Jesus Christ as Redeemer (part 3) as the fulfillment of what the previous stories pointed to.
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