Ruth and the Kinsman Redeemer
In the Eastern Culture it is a disgrace to not have children. You are considered to be out of God's favor if you were barren. So, for Ruth to have been gleaning in Boaz's field and for him to take notice of her is awesome. When Naomi finds out that Ruth is working in Boaz's field she recognizes him as a kinsman and he has the right to redeem them. Imagine their elation at this discovery. We can now better understand Naomi's exclamation:
:20 And Naomi said unto her daughter in law,
Blessed be he of the LORD,
who hath not left off his kindness to the living and to the dead.
And Naomi said unto her,
The man is near of kin unto us, one of our next kinsmen.
In chapter 3 Naomi instructs Ruth to make herself known unto Boaz, but she doesn't tell Ruth to just go knocking on his door. Naomi tells Ruth to go to the threshing floor and after the harvest celebration, find out where Boaz goes to sleep, and then sneak in and lay down at his feet.
I have come to realize that God frequently does things with a flourish. This is a shock to my rigid, well ordered, compartmentalized life. So, my challenge is always to let go and let God handle things. For all you impetuous people out there you probably cannot relate too well but I know that I am not the 'Loan Ranger' and some of you understand. We can rest assured that what God does and inspires us to do works. Let us continue with Ruth and Boaz.
At the end of the harvests Boaz celebrates and retires where the grain is stored to guard it. After he goes to sleep Ruth comes in (being so instructed by Naomi) and lays herself down at his feet.
:7 And when Boaz had eaten and drunk,
and his heart was merry,
he went to lie down at the end of the heap of corn:
and she came softly,
and uncovered his feet,
and laid her down.
:8 And it came to pass at midnight,
that the man was afraid, [you would be startled too if you found someone sleeping at your feet]
and turned himself:
and, behold, a woman lay at his feet.
:9 And he said,
Who art thou?
And she answered,
I am Ruth thine handmaid:
spread therefore thy skirt over thine handmaid;
[skirt: wings in several older texts; figure of speech Metonymy]
for thou art a near kinsman.
:10 And he said,
Blessed be thou of the LORD, my daughter:
for thou hast shewed more kindness in the latter end than at the beginning,
inasmuch as thou followedst not young men,
whether poor or rich.
:11 And now, my daughter, fear not;
I will do to thee all that thou requirest:
for all the city of my people doth know
that thou art a virtuous woman.
Another great figure of speech is used here called Synecdoche - a part used to represent the whole. The word city is the Hebrew word sha?r meaning gate or city gate. The renowned people of the city is given to represent all those that know Ruth, that are assembled there at the fields and threshing floor. They all know that Ruth is a virtuous woman because she has forsaken her own family and country to follow God and help take care of Naomi her Mother in Law.
:12 And now it is true that I am thy near kinsman:
howbeit there is a kinsman nearer than I.
:13 Tarry this night,
and it shall be in the morning,
that if he will perform unto thee the part of a kinsman, well;
let him do the kinsman's part:
but if he will not do the part of a kinsman to thee,
then will I do the part of a kinsman to thee,
as the LORD liveth: lie down until the morning.
:14 And she lay at his feet until the morning:
and she rose up before one could know another.
[one; Heb. ish a male - before any man could recognize another]
And he said,
Let it not be known that a woman came into the floor.
:15 Also he said,
Bring the vail that thou hast upon thee, [vail: cloak or cover typically worn by peasants]
and hold it.
And when she held it,
he measured six measures of barley,
and laid it on her:
and she went into the city.
This is a good thing that Boaz is doing. Remember, Ruth is a foreigner-a Moabitess. She is not of the household if Israel. But Boaz recognizes that she has decided to follow God and keep His commandments. So Boaz overlooks her ethnicity and agrees to be Naomi and Ruth's Kinsman Redeemer. There is a hitch however, there is one person that has a right to be the Redeemer that is a closer kinsman to Naomi than Boaz.
:1 Then went Boaz up to the gate, and sat him down there:
and, behold, the kinsman of whom Boaz spake came by; unto whom he said,
Ho, such a one! turn aside, sit down here.
And he turned aside, and sat down.
:2 And he took ten men of the elders of the city, and said,
Sit ye down here. And they sat down. [as witnesses]
:3 And he said unto the kinsman,
Naomi, that is come again out of the country of Moab,
selleth a parcel of land, which was our brother Elimelech's:
:4 And I thought to advertise thee, saying,
Buy it before the inhabitants,
and before the elders of my people.
If thou wilt redeem it, redeem it:
but if thou wilt not redeem it,
then tell me, that I may know:
for there is none to redeem it beside thee;
and I am after thee.
And he said,
I will redeem it.
:5 Then said Boaz,
What day thou buyest the field of the hand of Naomi,
thou must buy it also of Ruth the Moabitess,
the wife of the dead,
to raise up the name of the dead upon his inheritance.
:6 And the kinsman said,
I cannot redeem it for myself,
lest I mar mine own inheritance :
redeem thou my right to thyself;
for I cannot redeem it.
He has a change of heart after he learns a Moabitess will be tagging along also. He is afraid of marring his own inheritance, he didn't know what he was passing up, but God knew, Boaz calls her a virtuous woman.
:7 Now this was the manner in former time in Israel
concerning redeeming and concerning changing,
for to confirm all things;
a man plucked off his shoe,
and gave it to his neighbour:
and this was a testimony in Israel.
:8 Therefore the kinsman said unto Boaz,
Buy it for thee.
So he drew off his shoe.
:9 And Boaz said unto the elders,
and unto all the people,
Ye are witnesses this day,
that I have bought all that was Elimelech's,
and all that was Chilion's and Mahlon's,
of the hand of Naomi.
:10 Moreover Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of Mahlon,
have I purchased to be my wife,
to raise up the name of the dead upon his inheritance,
that the name of the dead be not cut off from among his brethren,
and from the gate of his place:
ye are witnesses this day.
:11 And all the people that were in the gate,
and the elders, said,
We are witnesses.
The LORD make the woman that is come into thine house like Rachel
and like Leah,
which two did build the house of Israel:
and do thou worthily in Ephratah,
and be famous in Bethlehem:
:12 And let thy house be like the house of Pharez,
whom Tamar bare unto Judah,
of the seed which the LORD shall give thee of this young woman.
This is a great blessing that the elders and witnesses bestow on Boaz. Leah and Tamar's sons were of the Christline. They also were married to wealthy and influential men, Judah and Pharez respectively.
:13 So Boaz took Ruth,
and she was his wife:
and when he went in unto her, the LORD gave her conception,
and she bare a son.
:14 And the women said unto Naomi,
Blessed be the LORD,
which hath not left thee this day without a kinsman,
that his name may be famous in Israel.
:15 And he shall be unto thee a restorer of thy life,
and a nourisher of thine old age:
for thy daughter in law,
which loveth thee,
which is better to thee than seven sons,
hath born him.
:16 And Naomi took the child, and laid it in her bosom,
and became nurse unto it.
:17 And the women her neighbours gave it a name, saying,
There is a son born to Naomi;
and they called his name Obed:
he is the father of Jesse,
the father of David.
So why did God mention Jesse and David here? Obed, Jesse and David are all of the Christ line. Ruth was an instrumental part in the lineage of Jesus Christ. She was a believer that taught her son the ways of God which had an effect on Jesse and David; that they could believe and rise up to be great men of God.
Naomi and Ruth's circumstances were less than ideal. They had to move to Moab (west of the Dead Sea) due to a famine in Judah. While in Moab Naomi and Elimelech's two sons marry Moabite women. Then the men all die and leave Naomi and her two daughters-in-law. This is a great hardship. Ruth decides to stick with Naomi and believe God (even though their circumstances are dire) and they return to Judah; east of the Dead Sea. God rewards their faithfulness with a kinsman redeemer. Even though the circumstances are tough they didn't give up on God. And even though the circumstances can be tough in our lives, God is always there for us. Be faithful to Him and His Word.
The LORD recompense thy work,
and a full reward be given thee of the LORD God of Israel,
under whose wings thou art come to trust.