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CHAPTER 4

Boaz Marries Ruth. 1Boaz 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. 2Then Boaz picked out ten of the elders* of the town and asked them to sit nearby. When they had done this, 3he 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. 4* 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.”

5* 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.” 6The 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.” 7d 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. 8So the other redeemer, in saying to Boaz, “Acquire it for yourself,” drew off his sandal. 9Boaz 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. 10I 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?” 11e 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! 12With 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.”*

13Boaz took Ruth. When they came together as husband and wife, the LORD enabled her to conceive and she bore a son. 14Then 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! 15He 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!” 16Naomi took the boy, cradled him* against her breast, and cared for him. 17The 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.

18g These are the descendants of Perez: Perez was the father of Hezron,h 19Hezron was the father of Ram, Ram was the father of Amminadab, 20i Amminadab was the father of Nahshon, Nahshon was the father of Salma, 21Salma was the father of Boaz, Boaz was the father of Obed, 22j 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 25:79.

* [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.

* [4:56] 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 25:810 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 29:3130:24; 35:1619.

f. [4:17] Lk 1:58.

g. [4:1822] 1 Chr 2:415; Mt 1:36.

h. [4:18] Gn 46:12; Nm 26:21; 1 Chr 4:1.

i. [4:20] Ex 6:23; Nm 1:7; 2:3; 7:1217; 10:14.

j. [4:22] 1 Sm 16:213.


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