RUTH 3 – 4:11
This next passage has always been a little difficult for me to explain. I think I understand it, but it’s the explaining it that I struggle with. Let me just begin by saying that I am not a Biblical Scholar. Yes, I’ve been to seminary, but that doesn’t change the fact that I’m really just simple guy. So I am going to try to explain this passage in the simplest way I can according to my understanding.
This passage contains elements of the Hebrew Law that biblical people call the “kinsman redeemer”. Now here is my understanding of the what the kinsman redeemer was all about. It was a law designed to protect the inheritance of a family should a certain generation not have any male heirs. (actually “male heirs” would be redundant in that ancient culture because only males could be heirs.) So, if a man died having no male children then his nearest of kin could redeem everything in order to keep it in the family. He could redeem (buy back) any property that the man had owned. He also could take the widow of the dead man to make heirs for him even after he was dead. The closest relative had the first shot at being this redeemer. If he should decline then the next closest and so forth and so forth. Boy, I said I was going to make it simple. I think I’m confused! I hope you’re not.
If you noticed, at the very beginning of chapter 2, right before we are introduced to Boaz, the writer makes sure to point out that Boaz is kinfolk. Your translation my call him a relative, close relative or something like that. I just call them kin, or kinfolk. In chapter three Naomi realizes that Boaz is kin. She knows he can redeem them. She suggests that Ruth should get cleaned up, put on some make up and put on her best dress and to go the threshing floor where Boaz is working and let him know that she is available. Now, don’t try to read anything immoral into chapter three. I feel certain what was done was some sort of custom. Ruth was simply letting Boaz know that if he wanted her, then the feeling was certainly mutual.
Boaz has apparently looked into the matter already because he tells Ruth that there is a closer relative than him who would have first shot. He sends Ruth home however with the assurance that he will take care of the matter. Boaz approaches the nearest of kin to give him an opportunity to redeem Naomi and Ruth. Of course the man wants any property that Elimelech had owned and was willing to redeem it. However, when he found out that Ruth was also involved he did not want to be the redeemer. He was afraid that any heirs through her would cut into his inheritance. So he declined and passed it on to Boaz. So of course, Boaz redeems Ruth, marries her, and they have a child. As a result of Boaz’s redemption Ruth can live the rest of her life enjoying a wonderful love relationship with her redeemer.
This whole thing always reminds me of another favorite “Christmas” verse of mine. Galations 4:4-5 “But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born[a] of a woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.”
You see I think a part of Jesus becoming a man was to be our near kin. To be like us. Tempted like us. Under the law like us. Then He could be our Redeemer. He could redeem us. He is our kinsman Redeemer. He did it at just the perfect time.
That what the baby in Bethlehem is about. Our God, becoming our kin so that He could redeem us, so that we could live in a love relationship with Him!