Ruth 4:1-10

Sunday Morning Bible Study

December 23, 2001


An unlikely love story between an older man and a young woman. The town of Bethlehem. A baby is born. The promise of a King. A story of redemption.

Sounds like a Christmas message, doesn’t it?  It is, but not the one you might think.

Background of redemption

There were two things important to the Israelite, family and land.  Both play a part in our story.  Pay attention, there will be a quiz at the end of the sermon …

1.  Family

The Levirate Law – (levir means “brother-in-law”, this is the “brother-in-law-law”)

(Deu 25:5-6 NLT) "If two brothers are living together on the same property and one of them dies without a son, his widow must not marry outside the family. Instead, her husband's brother must marry her and fulfill the duties of a brother-in-law. {6} The first son she bears to him will be counted as the son of the dead brother, so that his name will not be forgotten in Israel. {7} But if the dead man's brother refuses to marry the widow, she must go to the town gate and say to the leaders there, 'My husband's brother refuses to preserve his brother's name in Israel--he refuses to marry me.' {8} The leaders of the town will then summon him and try to reason with him. If he still insists that he doesn't want to marry her, {9} the widow must walk over to him in the presence of the leaders, pull his sandal from his foot, and spit in his face. She will then say, 'This is what happens to a man who refuses to raise up a son for his brother.' {10} Ever afterward his family will be referred to as 'the family of the man whose sandal was pulled off'!

The idea of taking a shoe off seems to be that of reducing a person to the status of a slave, being shoeless. It was to be a humiliation.
It was important to keep the family name alive. If your brother died without an heir, it was up to you to step up to the plate and help out to keep your brother’s name alive.  You took a bride to keep things alive.

2.  Land

With the land, the idea was to keep the land within the family.

(Lev 25:23-28 NLT) And remember, the land must never be sold on a permanent basis because it really belongs to me. You are only foreigners and tenants living with me.

No sale of property was to be considered permanent because God was considered the real owner.

{24} "With every sale of land there must be a stipulation that the land can be redeemed at any time.

Every time a real estate sale took place, it was under the condition that it could be bought back by the original owner.

{25} If any of your Israelite relatives go bankrupt and are forced to sell some inherited land, then a close relative, a kinsman redeemer, may buy it back for them.

If you sold your land to someone outside the family, a kinsman redeemer could by the land back at any time.

{26} If there is no one to redeem the land but the person who sold it manages to get enough money to buy it back, {27} then that person has the right to redeem it from the one who bought it. The price of the land will be based on the number of years until the next Year of Jubilee. After buying it back, the original owner may then return to the land. {28} But if the original owner cannot afford to redeem it, then it will belong to the new owner until the next Year of Jubilee. In the jubilee year, the land will be returned to the original owner.

The year of Jubilee came every fifty years. Even if you sold your land and were unable to buy it back, it would still come back to be yours at the year of Jubilee. Because of this, land was pretty cheap the closer you got to the Jubilee.

Jeremiah was also involved in a property “redemption” (Jer. 32:6-12)

An interesting thing about Jeremiah’s “redemption” was that when he made the purchase, he wrote out a deed and sealed it.

(Jer 32:10 NKJV)  "And I signed the deed and sealed it, took witnesses, and weighed the money on the scales.

The ideas of redeeming the family and the land will be woven into the story of Ruth.

The story of Ruth started when a man from Bethlehem named Elimelech took his wife and two sons to Moab during a time of famine.  While in Moab, Elimelech dies, his sons marry, then die, and Naomi his wife decides to come home to Bethlehem.  She is accompanied by one of her Moabite daughters-in-law, Ruth.

As Ruth struggles to support her mother-in-law by helping out in the barley fields, Ruth just happens to find herself in the field owned by a man named Boaz.

Boaz is a relative, a close relative, a go-el, a “kinsman-redeemer”.  This is a man who was not only qualified to help with the field, but the family as well.

Ruth follows Naomi’s instructions and asks Boaz to be her “redeemer”.  We pick up the story in chapter four after the beginnings of what seems to be a budding romance between Boaz and Ruth.

Ruth 4

: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.

the gate – a roofed area without walls near the entrance of a city. This was where the marketplace was and where business transactions were made. The old men of the city, the elders, would gather there and serve as a type of court.

the kinsmanga’al – to redeem, act as kinsman-redeemer, the go-el. There was another relative who was closer to the family than Boaz.  Before Boaz can “redeem” Ruth, he has to give this other man the opportunity to do so.

Ho, such a one! – NIV translates this as “Come over here, my friend”, but it is literally translated as, “Whoa you certain somebody!” Apparently this became a catch phrase in Israel.  The Rabbinic writings used the designation for an unknown “John Doe.”

Why don’t we know this relative’s name?

His name is kept from us on purpose.  He lost his chance to be forever known as a redeemer in Israel, and so his name is not recorded.
He didn’t take his chance.


You won’t make a name by playing it safe

Sometimes you have to risk a little.  Sometimes you have to step out of your comfort zone.
When the army of Israel was being threatened by a nine-foot tall giant named Goliath, a call went out for someone to go head-to-head in battle.  For forty days the challenge was made, and no one stepped forward.  Until the day when a young man came to visit his brothers.  When he found out about the challenge, he jumped at the chance.  What was his name?  David.  Why do we know his name?  Because he didn’t play it safe.
“It is not the critic who counts, not the person who points out where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the person who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes up short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the devotions, and spends himself or herself in a worthy cause; who at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and at the worst, at least fails while daring greatly; so that his or her place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat.” - Theodore Roosevelt

:2 And he took ten men of the elders of the city

Two or three witnesses were enough to witness an agreement, but it was usual to gather ten elders if the matter was really, really important such as with a marriage, divorce, or purchase of property.

:3 Naomi … selleth a parcel of land, which was our brother Elimelech's:

the kinsmanga’al – to redeem, act as kinsman-redeemer, avenge, revenge, ransom, do the part of a kinsman

brother‘ach – brother; brother of same parents; half-brother (same father); relative, kinship, same tribe. The word used doesn’t mean that Elimelech was necessarily a full brother of either of these men, perhaps just a close relative.

sellethmakar – to sell

selleth a parcel of land – Boaz first brings up the land issue.  It is possible that Naomi has already mortgaged this property, and what Boaz is doing is buying it back from the one who mortgaged it, like buying it from the bank.

:4  he said, I will redeem it.

to advertise – two words - galah – to uncover, remove /‘ozen – ear, as part of the body

buyqanah – to get, acquire, create, buy, possess

redeem (5x) – ga’al – to redeem, act as kinsman-redeemer

When Boaz brings up the subject of purchasing the land, the other relative is willing to do his part.

:5 thou must buy it also of Ruth the Moabitess

By the way … There’s a catch in the deal. You have to take the girl with the land.


Treasure in the field

I don’t think Boaz really wants the field.  He wants the girl.
He is willing to buy the field in order to get the girl.  This reminds me of a parable of Jesus –
(Mat 13:44 KJV)  Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.
Jesus thinks YOU are a treasure. He purchased the whole world with His blood in order to get you.
There is a story of a father and son who worked for months to build a toy sailboat. Every night when he came home from work the man and his boy would disappear into the garage for hours. It was a labor of love—love for each other and for the thing they were creating. The wooden hull was painted bright red and it was trimmed with gleaming white sails. When it was finished, they traveled to a nearby lake for the boat’s trial run. Before launching it the father tied a string to its stern to keep it from sailing too far. The boat performed beautifully, but before long a motorboat crossing the lake cut the string, and the sailboat drifted out of sight on the large lake. Attempts to find it were fruitless, and both father and son wept over its loss.
A few weeks later as the boy was walking home from school he passed his favorite toy store and was amazed to see a toy sailboat in the window—his sailboat! He ran inside to claim the boat, telling the proprietor about his experience on the lake. The store owner explained that he had found the boat while on a fishing trip. “You may be its maker,” he said, “but as a finder I am its legal owner. You may have it back—for fifty dollars.” The boy was stunned at how much it would cost him to regain his boat, but since it was so precious to him he quickly set about earning the money to buy it back. Months later he joyfully walked into the toy store and handed the owner fifty dollars in exchange for his sailboat. It was the happiest day of his life. As he left the store he held the boat up to the sunlight. Its colors gleamed as though newly painted. “I made you, but I lost you,” he said. “Now I’ve bought you back. That makes you twice mine, and twice mine is mine forever.”

--James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) pp. 37-38.

:6 I cannot redeem it for myself, lest I mar mine own inheritance

It is thought that this relative may have already been married with children of his own. If he takes Ruth and has children by her, there would be another child to divide his inheritance among. Or, perhaps he was married already and his wife didn’t like the idea of him taking another wife!  Perhaps the man didn’t think he wanted to have to take care of two poor widows.  Perhaps he didn’t want to be associated with a Moabitess.  Perhaps he was afraid that if he married Ruth the Moabitess, he’d die like Mahlon!


What’s your excuse?

People have all kinds of excuses why they can’t do the things God wants them to do.  Perhaps it will change their plans too much.
Whatever his excuse was, he missed out on the treasure.

:7 a man plucked off his shoe

It seems to have come from the Levirate law (Deut. 25:5-10).

:8 he drew off his shoe

The kinsman will be spared the complete humiliation of Ruth spitting in his face (Deut. 25:9). Perhaps this is because they really don’t have a desire to humiliate the man, they just want him cleared out of the way so Boaz can step in.

:9  I have bought all that was Elimelech's, and all that was Chilion's and Mahlon's, of the hand of Naomi.

boughtqanah – to get, acquire, create, buy, possess

:10 Ruth the Moabitess … have I purchased to be my wife

As a result of Boaz’s love for Ruth, a baby would be born in Bethlehem.  That baby would be the grandfather to King David.  Boaz and Ruth would be in the lineage of another baby born in Bethlehem as well, Jesus.  There are some amazing parallels in this story of redemption

the wife of Mahlon – here’s where we find out which brother Ruth had been married to. She was married to the “sick” one (Mahlon means “sick”).

purchasedqanah – to get, acquire, create, buy, possess



Definition of Redemption:   To set free from bondage by paying a price
Prerequisite for redemption:  Bondage
Ruth and Naomi were in bondage

They were unable to pay their debts.  A picture of death, they were unable to have any offspring because their husbands were dead.

We were under bondage to sin and need a redeemer.

(John 8:33-34 KJV)  They answered him, We be Abraham's seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free? {34} Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.

Qualifications for a redeemer
a. He has to be a “near kinsman”. Jesus took on human flesh at Bethlehem in order to become our “near kinsman”.

(Heb 2:14-15 KJV)  Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; {15} And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.

b. He has to be willing to pay the price. Unlike the anonymous “relative”, Jesus WANTS to pay the price for us.

(Heb 12:2 KJV)  who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

c.  He has to be able to pay the price

It’s not just enough to be “willing”, but you have to be “able” to pay the price.  Is there enough money in the account?

(1 Pet 1:18-19 KJV)  Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; {19} But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:


A beggar stopped a lawyer on the street in a large southern city and asked him for a quarter.  Taking a long, hard look into the man’s unshaven face, the attorney asked, “Don’t I know you from somewhere?” “You should,” came the reply.  “I’m your former classmate.  Remember, second floor, old Main Hall?”  “Why Sam, of course I know you!” Without further question the lawyer wrote a check for $100.  “Here, take this and get a new start.  I don’t care what’s happened in the past, it’s the future that counts.” And with that he hurried on.

Tears welled up in the man’s eyes as he walked to a bank nearby. Stopping at the door, he saw through the glass well-dressed tellers and the spotlessly clean interior.  Then he looked at his filthy rags. “They won’t take this from me. They’ll swear that I forged it,” he muttered as he turned away.

The next day the two men met again. “Why Sam, what did you do with my check?  Gamble it away?  Drink it up?”  “No,” said the beggar as he pulled it out of his dirty shirt pocket and told why he hadn’t cashed it.  “Listen, friend,” said the lawyer.  “What makes that check good is not your clothes or appearance, but my signature.  Go on, cash it!”

When it comes to redemption, it’s not up to us to be good enough to be forgiven.  It’s up to Jesus having enough to pay our debt.


Final redemption

An interesting parallel to the things we’ve seen in the book of Ruth is found in the book of Revelation, chapters 4-5.
Just as in Ruth, the events take place at the “gates”, but here at heaven’s gates.
(Rev 4:1 KJV)  After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven
Instead of having ten elders to witness the transaction, there will be twenty-four.
(Rev 4:4 KJV)  And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold.
Remember the two elements of redemption in Ruth?  Land and people.
The redemption of the land is seen in the seven-sealed scroll. When Jeremiah bought his cousin’s field, it was recorded on a “sealed scroll” (Jer. 32:10).

(Rev 5:1-5 KJV)  And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals. {2} And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof? {3} And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon. {4} And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon. {5} And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.

The idea of being “able” to take the scroll is the idea of being qualified to “redeem”.  Just as Boaz was qualified to “redeem” Naomi’s field, Jesus is the ONLY one qualified to redeem the earth.

As Jesus takes the scroll in Revelation 5 and begins to open it, the events of the Tribulation period begin to unfold, taking the planet through the process of Jesus buying the field for His own.

We see the redemption of people having already been accomplished –

(Rev 5:9 KJV)  And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;

We are getting very, very close to the time when these events will take place.  Are you ready?  Will you be able to say with those in heaven, “You have bought me”?

How can I be redeemed?

(Ruth 3:9 KJV)  And he said, Who art thou? And she answered, I am Ruth thine handmaid: spread therefore thy skirt over thine handmaid; for thou art a near kinsman.
Just as Ruth asked Boaz to be her redeemer, ask Jesus to be yours.