Then Boaz said, “The day you buy the field from the hand of Naomi, you also acquire Ruth the Moabite, the widow of the dead, in order to perpetuate the name of the dead in his inheritance.” Then the redeemer said, “I cannot redeem it for myself, lest I impair my own inheritance. Take my right of redemption yourself, for I cannot redeem it.”
Now this was the custom in former times in Israel concerning redeeming and exchanging: to confirm a transaction, the one drew off his sandal and gave it to the other, and this was the manner of attesting in Israel. So when the redeemer said to Boaz, “Buy it for yourself,” he drew off his sandal. Then Boaz said to the elders and all the people, “You are witnesses this day that I have bought from the hand of Naomi all that belonged to Elimelech and all that belonged to Chilion and to Mahlon. Also Ruth the Moabite, the widow of Mahlon, I have bought to be my wife, to perpetuate the name of the dead in his inheritance, that the name of the dead may not be cut off from among his brothers and from the gate of his native place. You are witnesses this day.” Then all the people who were at the gate and the elders said, “We are witnesses. May the LORD make the woman, who is coming into your house, like Rachel and Leah, who together built up the house of Israel. May you act worthily in Ephrathah and be renowned in Bethlehem, and may your house be like the house of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah, because of the offspring that the LORD will give you by this young woman.”
Comment: Following on from yesterday’s short passage, Boaz told the man what he should have known already. By Jewish law if you bought back a dead man’s land you had to raise up children, through the dead man’s wife, to inherit the land when the new owner died. Quick mathematics soon made the buyer to see that he would spend good money to buy something that would end up as Elimelech’s descendants and not come to his own children. So he changed his answer to ‘No, thank you!’
To finalise the deal for Boaz, in front of the elders, as witnesses, they swapped sandals. (Much cheaper than employing a lawyer and signing and stamping papers and paying stamp duty!) The elders pronounced a blessing. I’m not sure that he wanted the number of children that Jacob sired through his marriage to Rachel and Leah (13).
Prayer: As your word says in Hebrews ‘Let marriage be held in honour among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled’. May this become more honoured in our lands than it is today!