© 2004 by Jerry L. Croasmun
READ -- Ruth 3:8-13; Ruth 4:1-17
"Then Boaz announced to the elders and all the people, 'Today you are witnesses that I have bought from Naomi all the property of Elimelech, Chilion and Mahlon.'"
-- Ruth 4-9 (NIV)
In Ruth 1:1-2 we read, "In the days when the judges ruled, there was a famine in the land, and a man from Bethlehem in Judah, together with his wife and two sons, went to live for a while in the country of Moab. The man's name was Elimelech, his wife's name Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion." Naomi lived in the foreign land of Moab for nearly ten years; during this time, her husband and both sons died.
She was close to losing hope when in Ruth 1:6 we read, "When she heard in Moab that the LORD had come to the aid of His people by providing food for them, Naomi and her daughters-in-law prepared to return home [to Bethlehem]." And in Ruth 1:22-2:1 we read, "So Naomi returned from Moab accompanied by Ruth the Moabitess, her daughter-in-law [Mahlon's widow], arriving in Bethlehem as the barley harvest was beginning. Now Naomi had a relative on her husband's side, from the clan of Elimelech, a man of standing [or great wealth], whose name was Boaz."
Ruth loved and was committed to Naomi, so after arriving in Bethlehem she sought work gleaning in the barley fields. In Ruth 2:3 we read, "So she [Ruth] went out and began to glean in the fields behind the harvesters. As it turned out, she found herself working in a field belonging to Boaz, who was from the clan of Elimelech."
Naomi's circumstances did not look good. She still had her daughter-in-law, Ruth, and a field or property in Bethlehem. Yet, in Ruth 4:3 we read, "Then he [Boaz] said to the kinsman-redeemer, 'Naomi, who has come back from Moab, is selling the piece of land that belonged to our brother [relative] Elimelech.'" The scene here is of two poor widow women who are in desperate need of someone who is able to redeem or purchase back their property.
In order to keep the property in the family, they could not sell it to just anyone. The problem Naomi and Ruth faced was not a simple one. They had to find a "kinsman-redeemer." A kinsman-redeemer, first of all, had to be kinfolk; a blood relative. Boaz certainly met this first requirement as outlined in Ruth 2:1; 2:3; and in Ruth 2:20 where we read, "'The LORD bless him!' Naomi said to her daughter-in-law. 'He [Boaz] has not stopped showing his kindness to the living and the dead.' She added, 'That man is our close relative; he is one of our kinsman-redeemers.'"
Second, a kinsman-redeemer had to have the ability or financial means and resources to be able to redeem the property in question. They could not be struggling to pay their own bills; therefore, making them unable to redeem their relative's property. However, Boaz certainly was able to meet this requirement.
Third, a kinsman-redeemer had to be willing to redeem. They were not merely obligated to serve as a kinsman-redeemer, but had a choice. Boaz in meeting with Ruth at the threshing floor verified that he was a relative of Elimelech. He also revealed that he was not the only eligible kinsman who could redeem Naomi's property. In Ruth 3:12-13 we read, "Although it is true that I [Boaz] am near of kin, there is a kinsman-redeemer nearer than I. Stay here for the night, and in the morning if he wants to redeem, good; let him redeem. But if he is not willing, as surely as the LORD lives I will do it. Lie here until morning." The willingness of Boaz must not be overlooked.
In the fourth chapter of Ruth, Boaz meets with the nearer kinsman at the Bethlehem city gate and informs him of Naomi's dilemma. In Ruth 4:4 the nearer kinsman said, "I will redeem it." He met all three of the requirements. He was a close relative, he had the financial resources, and at first was a willing participant. The problem was the nearer kinsman was focusing only on the property. When he learned or realized the second part of the redemption agreement he was no longer interested. (See Ruth 4:5-6).
Boaz was a wealthy man and did not need more property. He, unlike the nearer kinsman, chose to focus on the people, Naomi and Ruth, who were in need of a kinsman-redeemer. In Ruth 4:9-10 we read, "Then Boaz announced to the elders and all the people, 'Today you are witnesses that I have bought from Naomi all the property of Elimelech, Chilion and Mahlon. I have also acquired Ruth the Moabitess, Mahlon's widow, as my wife, in order to maintain the name of the dead with his property, so that his name will not disappear from among his family or from the town records.'"
Likewise, Jesus Christ is our kinsman-redeemer. He gave all He had so that we might live. And may we say, as the women of Bethlehem said to Naomi long ago, in Ruth 4:14, "Praise be to the LORD, who this day has not left you without a kinsman-redeemer." Amen.
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