4 1Now Boaz went up to the gate and sat down there, and behold, the redeemer of whom Boaz spoke was passing by, so he said, “Come over here, friend, sit down here.” And he came over and sat down.
Boaz didn’t waste any time, and started immediately about the business of redeeming, that very morning.
Boaz went up to the gate for two reasons. First, he must find this closer relative who has the first right of redemption in order to talk to him about it. Second, in ancient cities, the city gates were where legal transactions would take place.
So, once again, we see God’s providence . The one person in the entire city that Boaz needs to find before he can even start this business of redemption, and BEHOLD, this nearer relative was just passing by.
2 Then he took ten men of the elders of the city and said, “Sit down here.” So they sat down.
The elders of the city were like the city counsel—they heard legal disputes, and witnessed important legal transactions, like this one.
3 And he said to the redeemer, “Naomi, who has returned from the land of Moab, has to sell the plot of land which belonged to our brother Elimelech.
Boaz begins with talking about the piece of property for sale. The part of the transaction foremost in Boaz’ mind is Ruth, but he knows that this nearer kinsman doesn’t feel the same way. The nearer relative is concerned about the land, so Boaz brings it up first.
But he is letting this nearest relative (and probably they’re cousins) know that Naomi is in need of a kinsman-redeemer to step up and redeem this land now that she’s back in Bethlehem.
4 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 [e]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.”
The relative can never say that he didn’t know about this chance to redeem the land. He’s giving him every opportunity—in fact Boaz says “Buy it now in front of these 10 elders.
And so, when Boaz makes this announcement that he’ll buy it, if the nearer relative doesn’t, it’s just begging the man to decide to redeem the land.
What Boaz is doing, in a very clever manner, is making sure that at least someone will redeem Ruth, just as he’d promised her would happen.
And [the nearer kinsman] said, “I will redeem it.”
Now Boaz had made sure that this was what was going to happen, and he’s been very clever, but imagine how Boaz felt, hearing these words.
Now the nearest kinsman is probably is thinking he can get some land at a good price. Since Naomi has no heirs, and wasn’t going to produce any more, the land would then permanently become his, and enlarge the estate of himself and his own family.
5 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.”
So Boaz brings up the fact that this is a package deal. “On the day that you buy the field from Naomi, you also acquire and obligation to marry Ruth the Moabitess. And since she’s the widow of the heir of the land, who has died without children, you must produce an heir for that relative.
Now the requirements to be a Kinsman-Redeemer (GOEL) were:
- He had to be eligible to redeem. He had to be a near kinsman.
- Had to be able to redeem—have the means to redeem the land.
- Had to be willing to redeem—he could choose to redeem or not to redeem.
- It was a package deal—he must assume all of the obligations involved—
6 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.”
Yet notice how Boaz’s clever withholding of this fact has made it clear that the reason this kinsman will not redeem it is not because he is unable to buy the property, but only because he is unwilling to marry Ruth. He is not willing to sacrifice his inheritance for Ruth, the foreigner.
If the nearest kinsman married Ruth and raised up a son for Mahlon, the dead husband, then the land that he purchased would belong to the son someday, not to the nearest kinsman. So he would lose the money he’d spent redeeming the land. Not only that, Ruth and his son would have been his heir, just like his other children, so each of them would have received less inheritance because of the additional child, to say nothing of the cost of raising the child.
Now, everyone knows that this nearer relative is able, but not willing to buy the land, since he’d just said that he would before he knew about Ruth, but is unwilling to buy the land since it comes with these additional obligations.
The man wants the land, but not the obligations that come along with it.
We do know that he officially gives up his right of inheritance here.
Now, to understand the next verse, we’re going to have to go back to Deuteronomy chapter 25:7-10
So, we learn that if a man refuses to establish his brother’s house by marrying his dead brother’s wife and raising up children for his dead brother, then this is considered a great shame for him.
The pulling off of the sandal is also a mark of disrespect—it’s basically saying that this man is lame, unable to walk, unable to perform the duties that he’s supposed to perform.
7 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. 8 So the closest relative said to Boaz, “Buy it for yourself.” And he removed his sandal.
This was the formal attestation, that he would waive his right of redemption, and give that right to Boaz, saying redeem the land yourself.
Ruth should have been the one there, but she really doesn’t have a way to do this herself. But Boaz steps in and does this part.
Ruth had No redemption value to the closer relative
Cared more about his position/inheritance than redeeming Ruth—no love for her.
We can’t redeem anyone, but we can introduce them to their kinsman-redeemer.
Some people think that the nearest kinsman is representative of the Law, remember the Law could not redeem us, only condemn us. Salvation is not by keeping the law, but on the basis of what Jesus has done. In Redemption, there’s nothing we can do to earn it, nothing we can do to add to it, it’s the finished work of Jesus on the Cross.
Now remember, it was a mark of shame to remove the sandal, that he would not redeem Ruth. To the nearest kinsman, the removed sandal was a mark of shame, but to BOAZ it was a marriage license. The cross—to the world a mark of shame, but to Christians a marriage license, the way for the Kinsman Redeemer to claim us.