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Bible Commentaries
Ruth 4

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verses 1-6

Ruth - Chapter 4

Redeeming the Land, vs. 1-6

As he had promised Ruth Boaz went promptly about the business of fulfilling her request of the kinsman redeemer. He came to the gate of Bethlehem very early, before men started departing from their houses to go out to work in their fields. When the nearer kinsman came along Boaz stopped him and asked him to sit down in the gate, indicating by this that he had a business proposition for him. He next selected ten men of the elders of the city and asked them also to sit there to witness the transaction between the two men. This was the custom during those days.

When all was set Boaz stated his business. He may be considered to have been somewhat sly and subtle in the order in which he presented it. First, he said that Naomi, having returned from Moab, wished to sell a parcel of land which belonged to her deceased husband Elimelech. This man had the prior right to redeem it, but if he would not do so the right then fell to Boaz. He wished to know what the man would do in that regard. The man promptly said he would redeem the land.

It was then that Boaz divulged the whole story. Not only were the rights of Naomi to be considered, but Ruth also entered the picture. The women were demanding that the right of levirate marriage be performed in regard to Ruth, to raise up seed upon the inheritance of Elimelech and Mahlon; When the nearer kinsman heard this he quickly demurred and suggested that such would mar his own inheritance. What he meant by this is not clear. Perhaps he had all the family he could afford to care for already. So he gave Boaz permission to redeem the land.

Verses 7-12

Ruth Redeemed, vs. 7-12

The law concerning the levirate marriage (which is the marriage of a younger brother to the widow of his older brother, who has died without an heir, so that he can beget a son of her to receive the inheritance in the name of the dead brother) is found in De 5:5-10. The younger brother was not compelled to marry her, but if he refused it would be made very embarrassing to him and would place him in an unfavorable position with the citizens of his town.

The young widow would report him to the elders, who would then try to reason with him and get him to go through with the levirate marriage. If they failed in this, the woman would take off his shoe and spit in his face, and say, "So shall it be done unto that man who will not build up his brother’s house." He would become known as the "house of him who hath his shoe loosed."

This explains why the nearer kinsman of Naomi pulled off his shoe and gave it to Boaz. It was testimony that he relinquished his right to redeem the land. In this case the severity of the law was not carried out, for neither Boaz nor the nearer kinsman was actually under this law, for neither or them was a brother to Mahlon. Consequently Boaz called on the leaders to bear witness that he was buying everything that .had belonged to Elimelech and his sons. He mentions Chilion first, implying, it seems, that Mahlon was the younger. This puts the likelihood of redemption through the marriage of Ruth even a step farther from the requirement of the law.

The elders and others who witnessed the transaction were obviously pleased with the matter. They commended Boaz and uttered their blessing upon his marriage with Ruth. They prayed that he might have such offspring of her as had Jacob from his wives, Rachel and Leah (read Genesis, chapters 29, 30), or of Pharez, their ancestor, the son of Judah and Tamar (Genesis, chapter 38).

There is a beautiful analogy in these things to the saved and Jesus Christ, their Kinsman Redeemer. Like Naomi and Ruth men were in destitution and helpless, facing eternal loss. There was a prior kinsman in Adam, but he failed in the Garden of Eden, and could not redeem mankind, (1 Corinthians 15:22). But Jesus became a man, took upon Himself human form (Philippians 2:6-8; John 1:14; Galatians 4:4-5), became man’s near Kinsman, and was able to fully redeem man. This He did, though not compelled to do so, because He "so loved the world" (John 3:16).

Verses 13-22

David’s Ancestry, vs. 13-22

So Boaz and Ruth were married, and the Lord blessed the marriage by giving them a child, a son. According to the legal course he was counted the heir of Elimelech, and thus legally the grandson of Naomi. The neighbors of Naomi rejoiced with her in the birth of her grandson. They praised the Lord as being very good to Naomi in giving her a kinsman redeemer, though she might not ordinarily expected it. No longer should she be Mara (bitter), but she could be Naomi (pleasant) again. The little baby would give her something to live for and would be her provider in her old age.

The women also praised Ruth to Naomi, as a daughter who loved her so dearly. They estimated that such a daughter in law was more to be esteemed then seven sons. Naomi took the baby into her arms and cuddled it and became its nurse, to care for its needs, to be a real "granny" to him. So the news was spread abroad, "A son is born to Naomi." The women gave the baby his name, Obed, which means "serving," for he would serve the aging Naomi.

The closing verses of the chapter, and the Book of Ruth, give the genealogy of Pharez, the son of the patriarch Judah, down to King David. It includes several interesting names. Pharez himself was the illegitimate son of Judah by incest with his daughter in law, Tamar, who portrayed herself as a harlot to him because he would not carry through his promise concerning the levirate marriage of his younger son. Pharez went down into Egypt with Jacob’s family (see Genesis, chapter 38, and Genesis 46:12). Hezron, Ram, Amminadab all lived and died in Egypt. The Israelites came back to Canaan in the generation of Nahshon, and Salmon was an adult soldier in the army of Joshua when Jericho fell. It was Salmon who married Rahab, who had been a harlot (see Matthew 1:5), and they were the parents of Boaz. The Bible implies that the men of this line lived exceptionally long lives (see 1 Samuel 17:12).

It is interesting to note that the line of Pharez reached the tenth generation in David. De 23:2 barred the descendants of an illegitimate son from the privileges of the congregation unto the tenth generation. While there is no indication elsewhere in the Scriptures that this was applied to the descendants of Pharez, yet the Lord was not ready for a king in Israel until David, when the line through which would come the Messianic King, had fulfilled the prohibition.

Some lessons: 1) When promises have been made one should be prompt to keep them; 2) honest, godly character demonstrated in a person will bring that person the commendation of others; 3) Christ is our Kinsman Redeemer, who provided our redemption when we were without hope; 4) God can turn our bitterness to happiness if we will let Him; 5) the Lord holds sway over the affairs of men and will work out His own will, even without our recognizing it.

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Ruth 4". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/ruth-4.html. 1985.
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