Boaz Marries Ruth, 1-12

Ru 4:1 Meanwhile Boaz went up to the town gate and sat there. When the kinsman-redeemer he had mentioned came along, Boaz said, “Come over here, my friend, and sit down.” So he went over and sat down.

‘Boaz knew he could find his relative at the town gate. This was the centre of activity. No-one could enter or leave the town without travelling through the gate. Merchants set up their temporary shops near the *gate, which also served as the town hall. Here city officials gathered to transact business. Because there was so much activity, it was a good place to find witnesses (4:2) and an appropriate place for Boaz to make his transaction.’ (Life Application Bible)

‘But why was Boaz so hasty, so fond of the match? Ruth was not rich, but lived upon alms; not honourable, but a poor stranger. She was never said to be beautiful; if ever she had been so, we may suppose that weeping, and travelling, and gleaning, had withered her lilies and roses. But that which made Boaz in love with her, and solicitous to expedite the affair, was that all her neighbours agreed she was a virtuous woman. This set her price with him “far above rubies,” Pr 31:10.’ (M. Henry)

‘The city gate was the place for important assembly. It was also the place where legal business could be publicly transacted, as here. The elders acted as witnesses. In addition to his obligation to raise an heir to carry on the dead man’s name, the next of kin also had to buy his land, to keep it in the family. Boaz discusses the land first, then the widow. The kinsman would have bought the land to add to his own inheritance. But when he hears it will in fact go to Ruth and her son, and that he will have Ruth to provide for, he declares himself unable to purchase.’

Ruth 4:2 Boaz took ten of the elders of the town and said, “Sit here,” and they did so.

Ru 4:3 Then he said to the kinsman-redeemer, “Naomi, who has come back from Moab, is selling the piece of land that belonged to our brother Elimelech.”

“The piece of land” – ‘There has been no mention of the land up till now, and no indication of how and when Naomi told Boaz about it. This is a further indication that there were contacts between Boaz and the widows which are not recorded.’ (Leon Morris)

‘It is curious that Boaz speaks of the land before mentioning Ruth. It is possible that the land was in some way bound up with the marrying of Ruth.’ (Leon Morris)

M. Henry suggests that the land ‘had been mortgaged for money to buy bread with when the famine was in the land.’

Ru 4:4 I thought I should bring the matter to your attention and suggest that you buy it in the presence of these seated here and in the presence of the elders of my people. If you will redeem it, do so. But if you will not, tell me, so I will know. For no one has the right to do it except you, and I am next in line.” “I will redeem it,” he said.

Ruth 4:5 Then Boaz said, “On the day you buy the land from Naomi and from Ruth the Moabitess, you acquire the dead man’s widow, in order to maintain the name of the dead with his property.”

Ru 4:6 At this, the kinsman-redeemer said, “Then I cannot redeem it because I might endanger my own estate. You redeem it yourself. I cannot do it.”

Perhaps he was already married, or thought it would be a disgrace to marry a poor foreigner, or that any children produced from the union might expect shares in the inheritance.

Ru 4:7 (Now in earlier times in Israel, for the redemption and transfer of property to become final, one party took off his sandal and gave it to the other. This was the method of legalizing transactions in Israel.)

Ru 4:8 So the kinsman-redeemer said to Boaz, “Buy it yourself.” And he removed his sandal.

Ru 4:9 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, Kilion and Mahlon.”

Ru 4:10 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. Today you are witnesses!”

“I have…acquired Ruth the Moabitess…as my wife” – But has not Boaz thereby broken God’s law , but marrying a foreigner (Deut 23:3; cf. Neh 13:23–27; Ezra 10)?  The key point is that Ruth (like Rahab before her, Josh 2:11–12; 6:25; Jas 2:25), had embraced Israel’s God as the true God (Ruth 1:16).  There is no mention of conversion in the accounts of intermarriage in Ezra and Nehemiah.

Ru 4:11 Then the elders and all those at the gate said, “We are witnesses. May the LORD make the woman who is coming into your home like Rachel and Leah, who together built up the house of Israel. May you have standing in Ephrathah and be famous in Bethlehem.

Ru 4:12 “Through the offspring the LORD gives you by this young woman, may your family be like that of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah.”

‘It is at first sight curious that they ask for his family to be like that of Pharez, for this man is not usually regarded as an outstanding example of fruitfulness or of anything else. But there are several reasons. As the speakers here point out Pharez was one “whom Tamar bare unto Judah” (AV, RV). The story is told in Gen 38, and, since Tamar”s situation had been not unlike Ruth’s the story may be very relevant. Then we must bear in mind that Pharez was apparently the most important of Judah’s sons. At any rate, he seems to be mentioned more prominently than Shelah who was older. And of the twins, though he was not marked with the red cord meant to signify the first-born, yet he “came out first.” (Ge 38:28f) The tribe of Judah apparently depended on Pharez’ descendents more than on those of others. As the book of Ruth is set in the territory of this tribe the comparison becomes apt. Moreover, as we see from 4:18-21 Pharez was one of Boaz’ ancestors and thus a most suitable person to be mentioned. Indeed, it seems that Pharez was the ancestor of the Bethlehemites in general. (1 Chron 2:5,18,50f) Moreover, Pharez gave his name to the section of the tribe of Judah that was descended from him. (Nu 26:20)

The Genealogy of David, 13-22

Ru 4:13 So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife. Then he went to her, and the LORD enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son.

‘The conclusion of this story balances the introduction (Ruth 1:1-5):

  1. in the Hebrew both have the same number of words 71;
  2. both compress much into a short space;
  3. both focus on Naomi;
  4. the introduction emphasises Naomi’s emptiness, and the cnclusion portrays her fulness.’ (NIV Study Bible)

‘So Boaz fulfils his own prayer of Ruth 2:12. God rewards Ruth with the gift of a husband and a son. And Naomi finds solace for her grief in this grandson. When God steps in, the ordinary events of life take on extraordinary significance. The child Obed became grandfather to the founder of the royal line of Israel from which Christ himself took human flesh, in another birth at Bethlehem.’ (Lion)

The Lord enabled her – ‘Notice that the son that was born is regarded as God’s gift. Throughout this book there is the consistent thought that God is over all and works out his will.’

She had given up more than her sister Orpah; but in the end she gained far more, cf Ps 113:7-8. ‘He that forsakes all for Christ shall find more than all with him; it shall be recompensed a hundred-fold in this present time.’ (M. Henry)

Ru 4:14 The women said to Naomi: “Praise be to the LORD, who this day has not left you without a kinsman-redeemer. May he become famous throughout Israel!

“Kinsman- redeemer” – ‘Up till now we should have thought that “kinsman” would refer to Boaz, but this statement carries on till it culminates at the end of the next verse with a reference to Ruth’s having borne him. This makes it plain that the women are speaking about the new baby.’ (Leon Morris)

‘See here what an air of devotion there was event then in the common expressions of civility among the Israelites. Prayer to God attended the marriage, v11, and praise to him attended the birth of the child. What a pity it is that such pious language should either be disused among Christians or degenerate into a formality.’ (M. Henry)

Ru 4:15 he will renew your life and sustain you in your old age. For your daughter-in-law, who loves you and who is better to you than seven sons, has given him birth.”

“Better to you than seven sons” – This tribute ‘is all the more striking in view of the place usually given boys in comparison with girls. A numerous male progeny was the ambition of all married people and thus to speak of Ruth as being worth more to Naomi that “seven sons” is the supreme tribute.’ (Leon Morris)

Ru 4:16 Then Naomi took the child, laid him in her lap and cared for him.

‘One imagines there would have been no difficulty in obtaining a nurse for the son of Boaz. But for Naomi this child was special. She had expected a lonely old age when her husband and sons died. With none of those near to her left her future had indeed looked bleak. But thanks to Ruth’s devotion everything was now different. She belonged to a family once more. She was loved and she had a recognised place…Naomi recognised the child as in some sense hers (cf v17 where the neighbours say this in so many words).’ (Leon Morris)

Ru 4:17 The women living there said, “Naomi has a son.” And they named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David.

Ru 4:18 This, then, is the family line of Perez: Perez was the father of Hezron,

David’s links with Moab are attested in 1 Sam 22:3-4, when during a time of danger he entrusted his parents to the care of the King of Moab.

The genealogy appears to be somewhat compressed. It covers a period of about 640 years with a list of but ten names. Mt 1:5 says that Salmon was Rahab’s husband: this dates him near the exodus, but there is no name between Salmon and Boaz.

‘Throughout the book in all its artless simplicity there runs the note that God is supreme. He watches over people like Naomi and Ruth and Boaz and directs their paths. God never forgets his saving purposes. The issue of the marriage of Boaz and Ruth was to lead in due course to the great King David, the man after God’s own heart, the man in whom God’s purpose was so signally worked out. These events in Moab and Bethlehem played their part in leading up to the birth of David. The Christian will think also of the genealogy at the beginning of the Gospel according to St Matthew. He will reflect that God’s hand is over all history. God works out his purpose, generation after generation. Limited as we are to one lifetime, each of us sees so little of what happens. A genealogy is a striking way of bringing before us the continuity of God’s purpose through the ages. The process of history is not haphazard. There is a purpose in it all. And the purpose is the purpose of God.’ (Leon Morris)

Ru 4:19 Hezron the father of Ram, Ram the father of Amminadab,

Ruth 4:20 Amminadab the father of Nahshon, Nahshon the father of Salmon,

Ruth 4:21 Salmon the father of Boaz, Boaz the father of Obed,

Ru 4:22 Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David.