Ruth 4:1-8


I.    The law of the Kinsman Redeemer.

A.  Deut. 25:5-10 - The explanation given.

1.   The application:

a.   If a man died without having a son, the wife of the dead man will marry his brother, who will raise up a son unto his brother.

b.   The son is the one who carried on the name of the inheritance of the family.

2.   The purpose:

a.   If a man doesn't have a son to carry on for him, that family will lose their inheritance in Israel.

b.   This is the same thing as a saved person losing his part of the inheritance given to him through Jesus Christ.  It just isn't done.

3.   The people involved:

a.   Every time it is mentioned in the Bible, it is a brother.

b.   There is no other relative involved.

B.   Examples of kinsmen redeemers.

1.   Gen. 38 - Tamar was promised the third son of Judah, but Judah evidently forgot or was careless about keeping the promise.  Tamar played the harlot with Judah after his wife died.  In verse 26, the Bible says that Judah knew her no more, so there was no more sexual contact between them.  Judah didn't marry her.

2.   Matt. 22:23-33 - A misunderstanding about the law of kinsman redeemer led the Sadducees to think there was no resurrection.  Christ didn't refute the idea of a kinsman redeemer, but he showed them they were wrong about the resurrection.


II.   Articles concerning the kinsman redeemer.

A.  From The Bible Knowledge Commentary by John F. Wolvoord and Roy B. Zurk, page 306, 307.

            Levirate marriage.  In only one kind of circumstance was marriage to a close relative permitted.  Marriage to a divorced or widowed sister in law was forbidden (Lev. 18:16) unless the following conditions were met.  The brothers must have been living together (i.e., they inherited their father's property jointly), and the deceased brother must have died without a male heir.  If both of these conditions were met, then levirate (from the Latin levir, "brother in law" or husband's brother) marriage was to take place. Levirate marriage thus would provide a male heir who in turn could care for the parents in their old age and prevent the alienation of family property.

            Furthermore the first son born from the levirate marriage was given the deceased brother's that his name would not be blotted out from Israel.  In this way even though a man died before the Lord fulfilled the covenant promises made to Abraham and his descendants (Gen. 15:5, 18:21; 17:19; 22:17,17; 28:13-14; 35:12) he could participate in a sense, in the glorious future of Israel through his descendants.

B.   From the Book of Jewish Knowledge.

            Chalitzah (Hebrew, meaning a "taking off", an "untying").  Biblical law provided that, if a man died and left his wife childless, his surviving brother, if unmarried, was required to "take her to him to wife".  The resulting union was called "levirate marriage" or, in Hebrew: yibbum.  The principle behind it was the performance of an act of brotherly devotion and piety by the survivor, whereby he would "raise up unto his brother a name in Israel".  This merely meant that, in marrying his sister in law, he would be perpetuation his brothers memory by continuing his line.

            While levirate marriage was universally recognized and revered as fulfilling a law commanded by Scripture, the surviving brother frequently found himself in an embarrassing position: For various reasons he might consider it either inconvenient or undesirable to marry his brother's widow.  After all, she might very well be childless as his wife, too, and barrenness was always a supreme tragedy in Jewish family life.  For such an exigency the Rabbinic jurists, who were generally compassionate and realistic men, devised the rite of Chalitzah, whereby the reluctant brother - and sometimes his brother's widow, as well - could be set free from the prospects of a tie that might prove burdensome.  It is a cause for wonderment that the ceremony of Chalitzah is still practiced today by many Orthodox Jews who follow strickly the directions for its performance exactly as found in the Book of Deuteronomy.

            Ninety one days have to elapse after the death of the husband before Chalitzah can be effected.  It is performed before three rabbinic judges, either in the synagogue or in the home of a rabbi, and involves the use of a special show of traditional design called "the Chalitzah shoe".  The sole and upper of this show, which is the property of the congregation, are sewed together by leather thongs, and it is laced and strapped on the foot of the surviving brother by strings arranged in an intricate design.  The unfortunate man who wears the shoe is required to walk in it for a distance of four cubits in the presence of the three judges, after which his sister in law recites the accusation: "My brother in law refuses to raise unto his brother a name in Israel.  He will not marry me!"

            In reply, the man recites laconically: "I do not wish to take her".  Publicly rejected, his sister in law kneels down and takes off from his foot the Chalitzah shoe, which she flings from her in feigned indignation.  And, since time honored custom, which is not always pretty, requires it of her, she spits contemptuously before him and recites the following words, which rasp out with the bitterness of an anathema: "Thus shall it be done to the man who will not build up the house of his brother, and his name shall thenceforth be called in Israel, 'the house of him who had his shoe loosened'!"  This last phrase she repeats three times, and the assembled judges and witnesses also recite it after her three times.  Then the castigated brother returns the shoe to the judges, who respond with these grieving words: "May it be the will of God that Jewish women may no longer have to be subjected to [the humiliation of] Chalitzah!"

            It should be remembered that the practice of levirate marriage has been common among primitive and even aboriginal peoples, ancient as well as modern.  The Aztecs of Mexico, for instance, had a law that required the widow either to marry a brother of her deceased husband or, if he had none, a member of his own clan.  The wife, it should be noted, always represented property: She was a chattel, and as such, was expected to remain "in the family".

            A resolution concerning this practice, adopted by congregations of American Reform Judaism at a convention in Philadelphia in 1869, was, in effect a declaration of war against it: "The precept of levirate marriage and of Chalitzah has lost for us all meaning, import, and binding force".


Verse 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.

III. The name of the older brother of Boaz is never mentioned in the Bible.

A.  The names of the older brother is called by:

1.   Verse 1 - "such an one".

2.   Verse 3 - "kinsman".

3.   Verse 3 - "brother".  It seems there were at least three brothers in this family.

4.   Verse 6 - "kinsman".

5.   Verse 8 - "kinsman".

B.   Why is his name never mentioned?

1.   Deut. 25:9,10 - He is to be called, "the house of him that hath his shoe loosed."

2.   Verse 6 - He choose the riches of this world instead of the riches of the world to come.

a.   He was living by sight, not by faith.  Therefore he received no inheritance in the future kingdom.

b.   Matt. 16:24-26 - He was not willing:

1.   To take up his cross and follow Jesus.

2.   To lose his life so he could save it.

3.   He had the "chance", but failed to seek the grace of God in his decision.

3.   Are we willing to step out by faith, trusting God for everything, thus laying up treasure in heaven?


Verse 2, And he took ten men of the elders of the city, and said, Sit ye down here. And they sat down.

IV. The process of decision making.

A.  Everything was done in the open.

1.   This is the best way to do everything.

2.   When things are done in secret, people will wonder why.

B.   The older brother was called first.

C.   Ten witnesses were called next.

1.   I do not know why 10 witnesses were called.  Centuries later, 10 became the number necessary for a Jewish marriage or a quorum for a synagogue meeting.

2.   Two or three witnesses are all that are needed for conviction in a capital offense.

3.   Matt. 18:15-19 - Two or three witnesses are all that are needed in a matter of offense.

4.   Matt. 18:19 - Two or three are all that are needed to pray for a certain matter.


Verse 3,4, 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: 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.

V.  Boaz laid the matter before his older brother.

A.  Boaz approached the matter carefully, for he first mentioned just the purchase of the land, verse 3,4.

B.   Verse 3,4 - This is solely a matter of purchasing a parcel of land.

1.   It's odd that no Israelite had purchased the land in the preceding 10 years.

a.   Today, the body of property owners isn't even cold before people are trying to buy up their property.

b.   In that day, Israel was more concerned with keeping their inheritance together.  Not in making it bigger like people do today.

2.   When Elimelech left Israel, he didn't sell his land.

a.   II Sam. 23:12,12 - In David's "Hall of Fame", Shammah fought off the Philistines in his lentiles (pea) patch.

b.   I Kings 21:3 - Naboth was killed when he wouldn't sell his inheritance.

c.   An Israelite receives his inheritance from God (described in the Book of Joshua) and he won't give it up.  He believes he will spend eternity on this parcel of land.

3.   The older brother decides to purchase the property.

a.   This is a good time to buy, for harvest is just over and money is plentiful.

b.   He doesn't think about getting Naomi too.


Verse 5,6, 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. 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.

VI. Verse 5,6 - When Boaz brings up the matter of the kinsman redeemer, the older brother decides not to purchase the land.

A.  Why did he change his mind?

1.   Maybe he couldn't afford it.  To buy the land and support one wife he could do, but not to buy the land and support two additional wives.

2.   Maybe he thought he'd die like Mahlon for marrying a Moabitess.

3.   He knew if Ruth bore a son, that son would probably inherit not only the redeemed property, but also some of his property as well.

4.   The older brother w ould probably have taken Naomi, for she was too old to bear children and thus wouldn't mar his inheritance.

5.   But when the matter of Ruth was brought up, he decides not to buy the land.

B.   "Mar mine inheritance":

1.   The older brothers son would not receive his inheritance.

2.   Ruth's son would receive the whole inheritance.

3.   The older brother wanted his son to inherit his worldly goods.

4.   Matt. 16:25,26 - We never know what we lose by looking only at the material, physical things.  May God give us grace to see the spiritual side of things.

C.   This did not mean that the older brother was married.

1.   According to the Law of Kinsman Redeemer, the only brothers eligible to be a near kinsman redeemer, would have to be unmarried.

2.   The older brother was looking forward to a time when he would be married and have children, (particularly sons) and he didn't even have a wife!

3.   Is it not true that we try to protect the things we don't even have yet?  Isn't this a lot like trying to protect our dreams?

C.   Can we "mar our inheritance"?

1.   We can if we give religion our good words, not our good works.

2.   We can if we desire heaven, and not holiness.


Verse 7,8, 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. Therefore the kinsman said unto Boaz, Buy it for thee. So he drew off his shoe.

VII.      The deal is struck.

A.  The way the deal is agree to is for the older brother to take off his shoe and give it to Boaz.

1.   This is like saying, "I don't have the authority to walk on the land, the owner of the shoe has the authority to walk on the land."

2.   Boaz would keep the shoe as his reminder of the deal.

3.   The older brother would keep the other shoe as a reminder.

4.   Any time a person had one shoe it would be a reminder of a legal obligation he had.

B.   A man's word is his bond.

1.   They drew up no contract with little bitty fine print.

2.   They trusted each other to remember the details of the contract.

3.   The witnesses would also recall all the details.

C.   The older brother would either walk with one shoe on and one shoe off, or get another pair of shoes to wear.

D.  If they struck many deals in one day, they would use many pairs of shoes.

E.   Boaz (who purchased Ruth) to Christ (who purchased us).

1.   Both had compassion on fallen mankind.

2.   At great expense