Author: F. Duane Lindsey
Week of September 14, 2014
Ruth 4:7-10; Philippians 2:1-4
Boaz had called a legal town meeting, demonstrating his commitment to righteousness and proper legal procedures. Since the nearer kinsman did not display much knowledge of Naomi’s situation, Boaz probably could have gone ahead and functioned as kinsman-redeemer without the legal proceeding. But Boaz was committed to act justly. That also was an act of divine providence, for the legal line to King David was of no small importance.
After the near kinsman declined to act as redeemer, “he removed his sandal” (Ruth 4:8), for the legal surrender of the right of redemption was symbolized when “one party took off his sandal and gave it to the other” (v. 7; see Deut. 25:7-10).
Boaz attested his legal acceptance of the rights and responsibilities of kinsman-redeemer by calling on the witnesses present: “Today you are witnesses that I have bought from Naomi all the property of Elimelech, Kilion, and Mahlon. I have also acquired Ruth the Moabitess, Mahlon’s widow, as my wife, in order to maintain the name of the dead with his property, so that his name will not disappear from among his family or from the town records. Today you are witnesses!” (vv. 9-10).
The purpose of the witnesses was to notarize the oral transaction. No money changed hands since the property had not been purchased by another party when Elimelech left Bethlehem. Through this transaction Boaz acquired all and any property that had belonged to Elimelech or his sons; he also acquired the right and responsibility to marry Ruth (see v. 13) and to convey to their firstborn son the right to inherit all Elimelech’s property in the name of his father, Mahlon.
For today: Boaz’s commitment to following prescribed legal procedures is commendable. In a lawless age, when legal procedures are often used by those who think their rights have been violated, we should be people of integrity.