The Men of Ruth

Ruth 4:

Now Boaz went up to the gate and sat down there, and behold, the close relative of whom Boaz spoke was passing by, so he said, “Turn aside, friend, sit down here.” And he turned aside and sat down. He took ten men of the elders of the city and said, “Sit down here.” So they sat down. Then he said to the closest relative, “Naomi, who has come back from the land of Moab, has to sell the piece of land which belonged to our brother Elimelech. So I thought to inform you, saying, ‘Buy it before those who are sitting here, and before the elders of my people. If you will redeem it, redeem it; but if not, tell me that I may know; for there is no one but you to redeem it, and I am after you.'” And he said, “I will redeem it.” Then Boaz said, “On the day you buy the field from the hand of Naomi, you must also acquire Ruth the Moabitess, the widow of the deceased, in order to raise up the name of the deceased on his inheritance.” The closest relative said, “I cannot redeem it for myself, because I would jeopardize my own inheritance. Redeem it for yourself; you may have my right of redemption, for I cannot redeem it.” Now this was the custom in former times in Israel concerning the redemption and the exchange of land to confirm any matter: a man removed his sandal and gave it to another; and this was the manner of attestation in Israel. So the closest relative said to Boaz, “Buy it for yourself.” And he removed his sandal. Then Boaz said to the elders and all the people, “You are witnesses today that I have bought from the hand of Naomi all that belonged to Elimelech and all that belonged to Chilion and Mahlon. Moreover, I have acquired Ruth the Moabitess, the widow of Mahlon, to be my wife in order to raise up the name of the deceased on his inheritance, so that the name of the deceased will not be cut off from his brothers or from the court of his birth place; you are witnesses today.” All the people who were in the court, and the elders, said, “We are witnesses. May the LORD make the woman who is coming into your home like Rachel and Leah, both of whom built the house of Israel; and may you achieve wealth in Ephrathah and become famous in Bethlehem. Moreover, may your house be like the house of Perez whom Tamar bore to Judah, through the offspring which the LORD will give you by this young woman.” So Boaz took Ruth, and she became his wife, and he went in to her. And the LORD enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son. Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed is the LORD who has not left you without a redeemer today, and may his name become famous in Israel. May he also be to you a restorer of life and a sustainer of your old age; for your daughter-in-law, who loves you and is better to you than seven sons, has given birth to him.” Then Naomi took the child and laid him in her lap, and became his nurse. The neighbor women gave him a name, saying, “A son has been born to Naomi!” So they named him Obed. He is the father of Jesse, the father of David. Now these are the generations of Perez: to Perez was born Hezron, and to Hezron was born Ram, and to Ram, Amminadab, and to Amminadab was born Nahshon, and to Nahshon, Salmon, and to Salmon was born Boaz, and to Boaz, Obed, and to Obed was born Jesse, and to Jesse, David.”

Boaz wakes up from his eventful evening at the threshing floor, and goes to the gate to take care of business. He goes to the gate because the gate is the center of town where all things that matter happen. “It just so happens” that as Boaz sits down at the gate, the other redeemer walks up. Boaz seems to have the “midas touch” here, he tells him to sit down and the other redeemer sits down. Boaz goes and gets 10 elders of the city, tells them to sit and they sit down. Now the stage is set for the legal transaction to take place concerning Naomi, Ruth, and their land.

But before I move on, notice this other redeemer. He’s not given a name in this story. Why? I think it becomes clear when you compare this man with Boaz. This unnamed redeemer was legally obligated to take care of Naomi and Ruth because he was their closest family, and to this point in our story he’s done nothing for them at all! Naomi and Ruth arrived in Bethlehem with no home, no food, and no hope, and this man didn’t do a thing for them. He didn’t go visit them, didn’t feed them, shelter them, didn’t listen to them, or grieve the death of their husbands with them, he did nothing, he didn’t lift a finger for them! Boaz, on the other hand, has no legal obligation to Naomi or to Ruth at all, yet we read in the story that Boaz was the man doing everything for these two widows!

Think about the 3 main men of the book of Ruth:

a) We have Elimelech who took the family out of the promise land to go back into the pagan wilderness of Moab, he was a risk taker, but he was a fool.

b) We have the other unnamed redeemer of chapter 4 who doesn’t do anything and who’s not responsible at all.

c) Than we have Boaz, the dude of dudes, who is not only picking up the mess that these other two men made but is freely and willingly giving over and above what he was required to do. He lavishes gifts upon Ruth and Naomi, he makes sure they’re well fed, and that they won’t have to worry about things.

Boaz is a dude, the other two are not. That’s why we don’t get a name for this other redeemer in chapter 4.

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