Ruth 4 (New Living Translation)
Boaz Marries Ruth
1 Boaz went to the town gate and took a seat there.
City gates served two functions in ancient times. First, they were protection. Gates controlled access to a walled city. They could shut out marauders and enemies and wild animals. Gates were often fortified with towers and secured with bars of iron. Second, city gates were the site of many societal, administrative, and business transactions. Much like the Greek agora or the Roman forum, the city gate was where important issues were discussed and negotiated. Deals were made and announcements proclaimed.
Remember, too, that this is a pre-literate society. Even during the Roman Empire, scholars believe, no more than 10 percent of the people could read and/or write. So instead of written records, they had certain visual rituals, performed in front of a group of witnesses, to ratify agreements and put them into the communal memory.
Just then the family redeemer he had mentioned came by, so Boaz called out to him, “Come over here and sit down, friend. I want to talk to you.” So they sat down together. 2 Then Boaz called ten leaders from the town and asked them to sit as witnesses. 3 And Boaz said to the family redeemer, “You know Naomi, who came back from Moab. She is selling the land that belonged to our relative Elimelech. 4 I thought I should speak to you about it so that you can redeem it if you wish. If you want the land, then buy it here in the presence of these witnesses. But if you don’t want it, let me know right away, because I am next in line to redeem it after you.”
The man replied, “All right, I’ll redeem it.”
5 Then Boaz told him, “Of course, your purchase of the land from Naomi also requires that you marry Ruth, the Moabite widow. That way she can have children who will carry on her husband’s name and keep the land in the family.”
6 “Then I can’t redeem it,” the family redeemer replied, “because this might endanger my own estate. You redeem the land; I cannot do it.”
7 Now in those days it was the custom in Israel for anyone transferring a right of purchase to remove his sandal and hand it to the other party. This publicly validated the transaction. 8 So the other family redeemer drew off his sandal as he said to Boaz, “You buy the land.”
9 Then Boaz said to the elders and to the crowd standing around, “You are witnesses that today I have bought from Naomi all the property of Elimelech, Kilion, and Mahlon. 10 And with the land I have acquired Ruth, the Moabite widow of Mahlon, to be my wife. This way she can have a son to carry on the family name of her dead husband and to inherit the family property here in his hometown. You are all witnesses today.”
11 Then the elders and all the people standing in the gate replied, “We are witnesses! May the Lord make this woman who is coming into your home like Rachel and Leah, from whom all the nation of Israel descended! May you prosper in Ephrathah and be famous in Bethlehem. 12 And may the Lord give you descendants by this young woman who will be like those of our ancestor Perez, the son of Tamar and Judah.”
Years ago, after a drawn-out and draining divorce from a habitually unfaithful husband, I was, to use C. S. Lewis’ term, “surprised by joy” when a wonderful man named David found me. I had his 10th grade son in my English class; his wife died of cancer the third week of school. As the months passed by and love grew, we realized that we wanted to serve God together and grow old together. Once when I was telling this story to a friend of a friend, she played me this song and I have loved it ever since! Thank you, Rachel! I love you, David!
Selah sings “God Bless the Broken Road (That Led Me Straight to You).” I post this song for Ruth and Boaz and all the ones who have found love in circuitous and sometimes difficult ways! Hear it as a musical version of Romans 8:28 — that God works ALL THINGS together for good for those who love him, and Lord, you know we love you!
The Descendants of Boaz
13 So Boaz took Ruth into his home, and she became his wife.
“Calypsos 1” — a poem by William Carlos Williams, 1962
Well God is
so love me
is love so
love me God
love so love
When he slept with her, the Lord enabled her to become pregnant, and she gave birth to a son. 14 Then the women of the town said to Naomi, “Praise the Lord, who has now provided a redeemer for your family! May this child be famous in Israel. 15 May he restore your youth and care for you in your old age. For he is the son of your daughter-in-law who loves you and has been better to you than seven sons!”
16 Naomi took the baby and cuddled him to her breast. And she cared for him as if he were her own.
18 This is the genealogical record of their ancestor Perez:
Perez was the father of Hezron.
19 Hezron was the father of Ram.
Ram was the father of Amminadab.
20 Amminadab was the father of Nahshon.
Nahshon was the father of Salmon.
21 Salmon was the father of Boaz.
Boaz was the father of Obed.
22 Obed was the father of Jesse.
Jesse was the father of David.
And if we continue the same family tree down further generations, as the Gospel of Matthew does in chapter 1, we will find that Boaz and Ruth and David are all in the family tree of another little boy born in Bethlehem — Jesus Christ.
For Obed and David and especially for Jesus — “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” HERE by Sarah McLachlan.
Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004 by Tyndale Charitable Trust. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers.