Business At The Gate
Boaz is a man on a mission, so he goes to the city gate to honor his commitment. The city gate was the social center of a city. The gate served as the location where the elders of the city would gather to render legal judgments. Boaz could not function as a kinsman redeemer without legal action. Boaz took his spot at the gate, and when the nearer redeemer came by, Boaz asked him to join him. Boaz invites ten elders of the city to sit down as witnesses. Boaz began the negotiations by addressing the sale of Elimelech's land. If Naomi sold the property, the Redeemer was responsible for purchasing the land (Leviticus 25:25). Boaz is a skilled negotiator and initially he makes no mention of Ruth but states his willingness to purchase the parcel for himself if the nearer kinsman is unwilling. The kinsman seems agreeable to the purchase until Boaz included his obligation to Ruth the Moabite. The land could not be purchased if Ruth was not redeemed and this addendum changed things for the nearer kinsman. At this point, he withdrew from the negotiations and ceded his rights to Boaz. Evidently, a marriage to Ruth would somehow jeopardize his inheritance. The scripture explains the custom removing a sandal and exchanging it to confirm a transaction. It would seem that this symbolic act may have been unfamiliar to the original audience. The nearer kinsman relinquished his rights to Boaz. Boaz calls the elders to witness the transaction and the marriage. Boaz would carry out his responsibility of Levirate marriage. The people and the elders responded, and the legalities were concluded. The people blessed this transaction and union praying for their house to be fruitful, asking God to give them wealth and a good reputation. They concluded by praying that God would bless their union with children citing an example of Levirate marriage which included Judah, Tamar, and their son Perez.
God's Plan Unfolds
Boaz took Ruth as his wife, and God blessed their union with a son. All life comes from God. Naomi had returned to Bethlehem empty and bitter because of the loss of her husband and sons. The women of Bethlehem bless the Lord, pointing out that God did not abandon her and he had provided a redeemer. They pray that this grandson would be renown in Israel, a restorer of life and that he would nourish her through her later years. The women in Bethlehem regarded Naomi as blessed because, in addition to her grandson, she had a daughter-in-law who loved her more than seven sons. Naomi is transformed by redemption. No longer is she cold, bitter, and empty, she is warm, loving, and nurturing. Naomi holds her grandson in her lap and has an active role in raising him. This story began with famine, exile, and loss but it ends with abundance, a home, and life. The story concludes by revealing that God would raise up David from this line and ultimately our Redeemer Jesus.
Things To Consider:
- Why was it important that Boaz went through the legal and ceremonial proceedings?
- How did Jesus satisfy the law and not ignore it?
- How does redemption transform Ruth?
- How does redemption transform Naomi?
- Why are witnesses to a marriage necessary?
- How does the community acknowledge God's work?
- How does the community pray for each other?
- Do you think Naomi finally understands the grace God gave her in Ruth? Why?
- How does Ruth win the confidence of the community?
- Why does it matter that David has a Moabite in his lineage?