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Bible Commentaries

Kingcomments on the Whole Bible

Ruth 4

Verses 1-2

Introduction

Ruth 4 is the chapter of Boaz. Here he is central. It’s only about him. After Ruth took the initiative in Ruth 2 and Naomi took the initiative in Ruth 3, Boaz takes the initiative in this chapter. He starts acting to finally be able to take Ruth to his wife. We do not hear a word from the mouths of Naomi and Ruth. They are silent. They have handed over the case and put it in his hands.

The Two Redeemers and the Witnesses

As Naomi said at the end of the previous chapter, wait while it happens (Ruth 3:18). Boaz acts immediately. While Ruth reports to Naomi about her encounter during the night with Boaz, he goes to the gate. Throughout his performance, we see that he does everything with consideration, masterfully and patiently. Everything he does, he does it as it should be done, even though it was in a time characterized by ‘everyone doing what is right in their own eyes’. He is not like Samson who wants to have a wife and wants her NOW. Nor does he ignore the right of the first redeemer. In all things he is in step with the LORD.

Boaz goes to the gate, for that is the place where public justice is spoken (Deuteronomy 16:18; Genesis 19:1; Genesis 34:20). It is a matter that will be noticed by the all the people. Boaz acts in everything, in full public view. Matters of law and marriage should not in any way create the appearance of secrecy. Everyone should be able to see what is happening.

Boaz first looks for the redeemer. He patiently waits until the other, closer redeemer passes-by. When he appears, he calls him, but not by his name. His name is not mentioned at all. Boaz must have known his name, because he knows he is the redeemer who is in an even closer relationship to Naomi than he is. It seems that Boaz appeals to him in that way, because of the indifference the man displays in Naomi’s case. Although Naomi has been back for so long, he hasn’t made himself known yet. Even now he does not come to fulfil his duty as a redeemer. He is just on his way somewhere. Boaz must call him to remind him of his obligation as a redeemer.

The man listens to Boaz and sits with him. He probably realizes that he does have a responsibility. If Boaz had not called him, he would have walked on. He doesn’t want to have anything to do with Naomi and Ruth. He can’t do anything with Naomi’s land and doesn’t want anything to do with it. This attitude comes to light through his conversation with Boaz. Boaz calls him to sit down, so he can show that this redeemer cannot and will not redeem.

When the first redeemer has taken his place in the gate, Boaz takes “ten men from the elders of the city” and they too sit in the gate. It is always Boaz who acts. He exercises authority, he decides what needs to be done. The other attendants agree because his instructions and orders are justified.

These ten men are the witnesses of the negotiations about the possessions of Naomi, between Boaz and the first redeemer. We can see in them a picture of the law of the ten commandments. Also, in the first redeemer we see a picture of the law. The law has not been able to free man. The law sets the conditions for man to get rid of his guilt. Only when these conditions are met can a person receive the promised blessing.

In short, the law comes down to this: Do this and you will live. However, man is not able to keep the law. There has never been a human being who has kept the law and thereby earned life. Every human being is subject to the judgment of the law and that is the curse. To receive the blessing of the promise of life, another redeemer is needed. The other redeemer is the Lord Jesus, of whom Boaz is a picture. The Lord Jesus did what the law could not do. Yet at the same time, He has fully met all the holy requirements of the law. The ten witnesses Boaz has summoned are a picture of this.

The law can only agree with the sinner who knows that the Lord Jesus is his Redeemer. All the requirements of the law are fulfilled by what Christ did on the cross: “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”— in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith” (Galatians 3:13-2 Chronicles :).

The law cannot bring Ruth into the place of blessing, but will first become clear in the presence of witnesses. These ten witnesses – a picture of the ten commandments – can only agree with the fact that the first redeemer cannot redeem.

Three questions must be answered with a view to redeeming:
1. Does the redeemer have the right, i.e. is he a relative?
2. Can he do it, that is, does he have the capacity, can he pay the price?
3. Is he willing to do it, does he want to?

The Lord Jesus is the answer to each of these questions.

1. The Lord Jesus can be the Redeemer because He has become Man, like us, although without sinful nature (Philippians 2:7; Hebrews 4:15). He took part in blood and flesh (Hebrews 2:14).

2. No one can pay the ransom price for another person. Each must keep the law himself to be saved and receive life. This is impossible because the flesh does not submit to the law and cannot do so (Romans 8:7). The Lord Jesus has answered perfectly to God’s will and has therefore been able to pay the price of His blood for others (1 Peter 1:18-Psalms :).

3. He has also been willing to do it and He has done it. He said when He comes into the world, “Behold, I have come … to do Your will, O God! (Hebrews 10:7; Hebrews 10:9). By what He has done, He has fulfilled the claims of the law. What He has done is ascribed to everyone who believes in Him. Whoever believes in Him may know that he has been sanctified by the will of God which He has fulfilled, that is to say that he may know he has been set apart for God.

The two redeemers – the law and Christ – are beautifully contrasted by Paul when he says: “For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God [did]: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and [as an offering] for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh“ (Romans 8:3). He says this after he has shown in Romans 7 what the law does with someone who desires to do God’s will, but takes the law as the norm: it leads to great inner misery instead of liberation and salvation.

Verses 3-6

Negotiation on the Redemption

Boaz explains to the redeemer, who so far has not shown any interest in Naomi, what is going on. He tells him that Naomi has sold the land of “our brother Elimelech”. He hereby acknowledges the right of the other redeemer to redeem. It is about the land sold being returned to Naomi. Naomi probably sold the land to get money to support her. Such a sale is regulated by law (Leviticus 25:25).

In fact, it is not the land that is sold, but the number of harvests. But because the land actually belongs to God, it can only be pledged. That’s why God has arranged that in the fiftieth year, the year of jubilee, the land returns into the possession of its original owner.

This can make it appear that it is not as bad as having to sell your land, because you’ll get it back one day. But for the Israelite who appreciates God’s blessing, it is a great loss and a great sorrow, that he has been driven from his possessions until the year of jubilee and cannot enjoy the harvest. How great the appreciation is of the God-fearing Israelite for the inheritance that the LORD has given him. We see this in Naboth (1 Kings 21:1-Leviticus :) and Jeremiah (Jeremiah 32:6-Ruth :).

If Boaz has declared the case to the man and reminded him of his obligation and at the same time of his right, he also presents the choice to him. The man feels obliged to redeem. He can’t get out of it because that means loss of face. That is why he promises to redeem the land. That doesn’t have to be a bad thing at all. If it pays more than he has to pay for it, he will earn a lot from it. In addition, Naomi and Ruth have no children. If this situation continues, he will ultimately become the owner of the land and not just of the harvests.

Then comes Boaz with the decisive condition. The land cannot simply be bought, but the redeemer must also take Ruth with it. It seems that Naomi has made this a condition. Elimelech’s inheritance became the property of his sons after his death. However, his sons also died. But because both sons were married, the right of ownership has passed to their wives.

Because Orpah wanted to stay in Moab, she has expressed no interest in the land of God. There can be no question of her right to land here. This means that Ruth is the sole entitled party. Naomi wants the land to remain in her offspring’s possession. That is why she will have bargained that the person who redeems the land should also take Ruth as his wife. Children born from that marriage are ascribed to the deceased Mahlon, and in this way the inheritance is preserved within Elimelech’s family.

The additional condition, which Naomi as owner was allowed to impose, that the redeemer will also take Ruth to be his wife, makes it clear that it is not only about the redemption of the inheritance, but also about the begetting of an heir. The redeemer understands that any son will not be ascribed to him but to the deceased. He will then lose everything again.

For those who are guided by love in these cases, that is not a problem. Love sees only the interest of the other person and does not look after its own interest. With the first redeemer, however, there is no love. The thought that he should marry the Moabitess Ruth is horrible for him. He feels too good for that. He quits. This is the language of the law.

As mentioned earlier, the first redeemer represents the law. The law has the first rights to Israel. Israel has first voluntarily placed itself under this in order to receive God’s blessing in that way. But it has become clear that the law has no power to bring life out of death. The law can only condemn, but does not give strength to comply with what it says. The law cannot deliver those condemned by it. If the law could deliver, the law would no longer be the law. The law is rightly called “the ministry of death” and “the ministry of condemnation” (2 Corinthians 3:7; 2 Corinthians 3:9). This is not due to the law, but to man. Because of the weakness of man, the law, which does not take weakness into account, is powerless. Only those who keep the law, deserve and receive the blessing. That makes the human condition hopeless.

The only solution is to recognize the judgment of the law. He who does so sees himself as having died by the law to the law, with the result that the deceased is free from the law (Romans 7:3-Joshua :). Therefore, anyone who is connected to the Lord Jesus, the true Boaz, has nothing to do with the first redeemer, just as Ruth never had anything to do with it. Again: Whatever was impossible for the law, God did through His Son (Romans 8:3).

Verses 7-8

The Redemption Sealed

Because the first redeemer cannot and does not want to redeem, he gives Boaz the right of redemption. There is no enmity between Boaz and the first redeemer, nor is there any enmity between the law of God and the grace of God. God’s righteousness and God’s love never conflict with each other. They both have their own fields of activity, where grace can come into the realm of the law, but the law not into the realm of grace.

In order to confirm the case, an existing practice is followed. According to the old custom, the shoe is removed as proof that the right of redemption is waived. That is the opposite of the picture where any place on which a person’s shoe is placed becomes their property (Joshua 1:3; Joshua 10:24; Psalms 60:10; Psalms 108:10).

Verses 9-10

What Boaz Has Redeemed

Now that the first redeemer renounces the purchase, Boaz can openly testify of his desire to take Ruth as his wife. He does this to maintain the name of the deceased. In this we can see a spiritual meaning. What Boaz says, means that the name of the deceased owner is preserved in new life that will result from the new relationship.

In this we see the resurrection from the dead of God’s people. When God will accept His earthly people again to be His people, “what will [their] acceptance be but life from the dead?” (Romans 11:15). God will bring His people to life, that He may fulfil all His promises to them. All the people are witness to this action. Boaz begins and ends with the determination that the people are witnesses.

Boaz gets Ruth, as was included in the terms of sale. He doesn’t take her however as a slave, but he takes her to be his wife. For Ruth this is an overwhelming goodness. She, who at first was not entitled to anything, gets through the redemption by Boaz, right to the full inheritance of Elimelech and Mahlon and Chilion. And not only that. Because Boaz takes her to be his wife, she also gets all the wealth of Boaz at her disposal.

That will be the surprise of the remnant in the future. They will realize that they have forfeited any right to possession in the land. To their surprise they will see that they are back in the land and enjoy all the blessing that the LORD has promised them. Above that, however, they will know that they are closely connected to the Giver of blessing. Their Messiah is also their Husband (Hosea 2:15).

Verses 11-12

Blessings for the House of Boaz

The inhabitants of Bethlehem declare their consent to the joining of Ruth in her position of privilege as associated with Boaz, the man of Bethlehem. They are witnesses. Marriage and preparation for it, is a matter where witnesses – like parents, friends, neighborhood – are present who rejoice at what they see and agree to it. They see that there is a new beginning. They rejoice so much about this that they make a comparison with Rachel and Lea, who form the beginning of the house of Israel. Rachel is mentioned first, Jacob’s beloved wife, but both women have built Jacob’s house. Thus, the importance of offspring in building a house.

In addition to the blessing with a view to offspring, the people and the elders also mention places in their blessing. With these places they connect powerful deeds and a glorious name. Ephrathah means ‘the fertile’ and Bethlehem means ‘house of bread’. The people wish Boaz a powerful performance that will bear fruit, that is a performance in the power of the Holy Spirit. The people also wish him to make a name for himself in Bethlehem, that is the name of David and beyond it the great David, the Lord Jesus, by which there will be food for all the people of God. Fruit is especially for God and food especially for God’s people. The Lord Jesus provides for both the desires of God and the needs of His people.

After the comparison with Rachel and Lea the people also draw the comparison with the house of Perez. Perez was born of an adulterous relationship between Judah and Tamar (Genesis 38:13-Amos :). The people know history and see the comparison between Tamar and Ruth. The memory of Tamar is revived through the history of Ruth. Tamar was also involved in the so-called duty of a husband’s brother. Because Judah did not take this into account, Tamar came to an action that cannot be approved. Tamar gave up her honor because of Judah’s infidelity, who failed to give his son Shelah to her as a redeemer. She then seduced Judah by deceit to beget a descendant with her. Boaz works in a completely different way. He does not use trickery and deceit, but acts completely in the public view.

The resemblance between Tamar and Ruth lies in the area of grace. The offspring that Boaz desires is granted him by the LORD, and that from one who belonged to a cursed people. God’s grace triumphs over a sinful act (Tamar) and over a cursed people (Ruth).

Verse 13

The Son of Boaz and Ruth

After Boaz has openly and in accordance with the law acquired her to be his wife, he marries her. The rich man marries the poor Moabitess. She is one with the great man of wealth. The LORD blesses their intercourse with pregnancy, and the birth of a son. The LORD enabled pregnancy, so it is said here. This indicates that pregnancy is a gift from Him and not a personal achievement. People don’t make life. God gives it, even though unbelievers do not acknowledge it.

Ruth has been infertile so far. No child was born of her marriage to Mahlon. Only in relationship with Boaz does she become fertile. Spiritually, we can only bear fruit for God if we have a relationship with the Lord Jesus if we abide in Him (John 15:4-Deuteronomy :).

By the birth of her son, she helped lay the foundation for the birth of the Messiah. Thus, are the counsels of God fulfilled. It begins in Moab with showing mercy to a single sinner who is completely outside of blessing. From her the river of grace begins to flow, flowing into an ocean of endless glory that originates from the Son of God.

Verses 14-17

The Son of Ruth Is the Son of Naomi

When Boaz and Ruth’s son is born, we no longer hear about Ruth, she is no longer spoken about. It is only about Naomi. The women again speak about Naomi (Ruth 1:19). They show insight into God’s thoughts and praise the LORD for what He has done with Naomi. Her condition was hopeless. But through Ruth she receives new life.

The son of Ruth, whom she has in her arms, is for her the redeemer, the savior from her misery and hopelessness. In Boaz she gained hope for redemption. Ruth’s son is the fulfillment of that hope. They speak of the redeemer as a refresher or restorer of the soul. Naomi, who didn’t like life , who returned from the plains of Moab as a destitute and bitter woman, now springs up refreshed through her experience. In her old age she gains an awakening of life and joy.

The “women” (Ruth 4:14) not only point to Ruth’s restoration, but also to Ruth’s love for Naomi. Ruth has not taken Naomi’s place. For Ruth, the current blessing is linked to her attachment to Naomi. She doesn’t forget this, despite her loving relationship with Boaz. The remnant of Israel will always remember its relationship with ancient Israel. They are a new people, but they were born in ancient Israel. They receive the blessings promised to ancient Israel. In them, ancient Israel is restored in accordance with God’s thoughts about His Israel.

Naomi recognizes the child as her own child and takes care of it. One day the remnant like an abandoned widow will embrace the Lord Jesus and say: “A Child is born to us” (Isaiah 9:5). In Him, is all their salvation, and all the promised blessings will be given to them, “for as many as are the promises of God, in Him they are yes; therefore, also through Him is our Amen to the glory of God through us” (2 Corinthians 1:20).

The “neighborhood women” (Ruth 4:17) – a smaller, more intimate circle than the women of the city (Ruth 4:14) – give the son the name Obed, which means “servant” or “worshipper”. In the union of the two meanings we see that the true service of a believer is to worship God. At the same time, there is also a practical side to serving. The son of Ruth will be a servant of Naomi. In spiritual terms, it is also true that the Lord Jesus, the great Son of Boaz, the true Servant, will serve His people. Both Boaz and Obed are pictures of the Lord Jesus.

The neighborhood women are in a broader sense a picture of the surrounding peoples, the neighboring peoples, who will come to the acknowledgement that there is a God who serves and invigorates His people. The old Israel – the Israel under the law or the old covenant, and not the apostate Israel – is finally free of worries and enjoys what the true Boaz has done for her. At the same time, it is a new, young people who are connected to this Boaz and not to Mahlon, although the son must be ascribed to him after the duty of a husband’s brother. This is the situation for Israel in the kingdom of peace under the reign of the great Son of David.

Verses 18-22

David’s Genealogy

This genealogy is an appendix. The end of the book is reached. Yet the genealogy is part of it. It makes clear that the book of Ruth describes events that fit into God’s plan of salvation. He carries out this plan of salvation throughout the generations. This plan of salvation from God also incorporates our responsibility. Ten names are mentioned here, ten, the number of responsibility.

Of the last two names we can make the following remarks. Jesse means “the LORD confirms”. He has shown this in this book. Out of Jesse is born David. His name means ‘beloved’. That ends the book with: love. This can be seen throughout the book. Love is the theme of this book, in which we can see the love of Boaz for Ruth, and the love of the LORD for His people. That love can be seen in the great Son of David, the Lord Jesus. He is the Beloved of the Father, and He is the Beloved of all who belong to His people.

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Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Ruth 4". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kng/ruth-4.html. 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniƫl', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.