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(MT versing)
The Marriage of Ruth Boaz Redeems Ruth Boaz and Ruth Will Marry Boaz Marries Ruth Boaz Marries Ruth
4:1-6 4:1-6 4:1-6 4:1-4a 4:1-6
4:7-12 4:7-12 4:7-12 4:7 4:7-8
Descendants of Boaz and Ruth Ruth's Child Boaz and His Descendants
4:13-15 4:13-17 4:13-17 4:13-16 4:13-16
The Line of David Begins Here
4:17a 4:17
4:17b The Genealogy of David
4:18-22 4:18-22 4:18-22 4:18-22 4:18-22

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Bible Interpretation Seminar")


This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects. Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

  1. First paragraph
  2. Second paragraph
  3. Etc.


  1. Ruth 4 concludes this wonderful story and reveals the purpose of its writing (i.e., David's family tree).

  2. Not only does this book teach
    1. the great faith of a non-Israelite
    2. the great faith of a man from Bethlehem

    but the directing purposes of God in human history. The great king, David, will come from this particular family.

  3. The book of Ruth uses two OT legal procedures of
    1. Levirate marriage ‒ Deut. 25:5-10, see NIDOTTE, vol. 4, pp. 902-904
    2. responsibilities of the family go'el ‒ Lev. 25:25-28

    and combines them. There is so much that moderns do not know about ANE and Israelite customs. See Roland deVaux, Ancient Israel, pp. 37-38.

  4. The fact of a ten-name genealogy points toward a theological purpose, not just a family genealogy.

    God has a bigger purpose for Boaz and Ruth than just helping Naomi.


  5. For a good brief article on "Genealogy in the OT," see NIDOTTE, vol. 4, pp. 654-663.


1Now Boaz went up to the gate and sat down there, and behold, the close relative of whom Boaz spoke was passing by, so he said, "Turn aside, friend, sit down here." And he turned aside and sat down. 2He took ten men of the elders of the city and said, "Sit down here." So they sat down. 3Then he said to the closest relative, "Naomi, who has come back from the land of Moab, has to sell the piece of land which belonged to our brother Elimelech. 4So I thought to inform you, saying, 'Buy it before those who are sitting here, and before the elders of my people. If you will redeem it, redeem it; but if not, tell me that I may know; for there is no one but you to redeem it, and I am after you.'" And he said, "I will redeem it." 5Then Boaz said, "On the day you buy the field from the hand of Naomi, you must also acquire Ruth the Moabitess, the widow of the deceased, in order to raise up the name of the deceased on his inheritance." 6The closest relative said, "I cannot redeem it for myself, because I would jeopardize my own inheritance. Redeem it for yourself; you may have my right of redemption, for I cannot redeem it."

4:1 "Now Boaz went up to the gate" The gate was a center of social life, business, and justice. It was the only place in these ancient cities where large groups of people could meet. This is where the leaders of the city (i.e., elders, Ruth 4:2) gathered daily (see James M. Freeman, Manners and Customs of the Bible, pp. 110-111).

▣ "close relative" This is the Qal ACTIVE PARTICIPLE (BDB 145 I, KB 169) of the term go'el. It is used in Ruth 2:20; 3:9, 12; 4:1, 3, 6, 8, 14. The key text explaining the purpose of this person is Lev. 25:25.


▣ "friend" Literally the Hebrew here means "a so-and-so" (BDB 811 I), but it is not a put down of this person but simply a way of not wanting to name him (cf. Dan. 8:13; see JPSOA), for that would be extraneous to the story. There is some ambiguity in the Hebrew word. It is usually used of a place, not a person (i.e., 1 Sam. 21:3; 2 Kgs. 6:8).

4:2 "He took ten men of the elders of the city" This either refers to a legal quorum (Israel's first place for justice in local matters), or some rabbis say that it took ten men to pronounce a marriage blessing and that seems to be recorded at the end of the chapter (i.e., Ruth 4:11-12). See NIDOTTE, vol. 1, pp. 1137-1139.


4:3 "has to sell the piece of land which belonged to our brother, Elimelech" The Hebrew here is uncertain whether it was sold before Elimelech left or whether Naomi had to sell it now to make ends meet (i.e., JPSOA). Whatever the situation, it meant that the land was going to be sold outside the immediate family. It was the responsibility of the closest relative or go'el to try to prevent this.

NASB, NKJV, NJB, LXX  "our brother"
NRSV, JPSOA, REB  "our kinsman"
TEV  "our relative"

This kinship term (BDB 26 I) has several usages (see NIDOTTE, vol. 1, pp. 345-348).

  1. literal brother, i.e., Gen. 4:2, 8, 9, 10, 11
  2. indefinite kinship
    1. Lot to Abraham ‒ Gen. 13:8
    2. Jacob to Laban ‒ Gen. 29:12, 15
    3. same tribe ‒ Num. 16:10; 18:2, 6
    4. same people ‒ Exod. 2:11; 4:18
    5. of a friend ‒ 2 Sam. 1:26; 1 Kgs. 9:13; 20:32, 33

Here it is an aspect of c, but with some ambiguity.

4:4 "So I thought to inform you" The literal Hebrew idiom is "to uncover your ear." The implication is that these two men had known about this for quite a while but had not acted on it, and now Boaz is bringing it to some kind of legal resolution.

▣ "redeem" This (BDB 145 I, KB 169) is a crucial theological term related to Lev. 25:25. It is used multiple times in this chapter.

  1. Ruth 4:1, 3 ‒ Qal ACTIVE PARTICIPLE
  2. Ruth 4:4 ‒ Qal IMPERFECT (thrice)
  3. Ruth 4:4 ‒ Qal IMPERATIVE
  5. Ruth 4:6 ‒ Qal ACTIVE PARTICIPLE
  6. Ruth 4:6 ‒ Qal INFINITIVE CONSTRUCT (twice)
  7. Ruth 4:6 ‒ Qal IMPERATIVE
  8. Ruth 4:8 ‒ Qal ACTIVE PARTICIPLE

This concept of buying something back for the good of the family is also expressed by the VERB "buy" (BDB 888, KB 1111, although here it refers to rights being exchanged and not money given), also used multiple times in this chapter.

  1. Ruth 4:4 ‒ Qal IMPERATIVE
  3. Ruth 4:5 ‒ Qal PERFECT (twice)
  4. Ruth 4:8 ‒ Qal IMPERATIVE
  5. Ruth 4:9 ‒ Qal PERFECT
  6. Ruth 4:10 ‒ Qal PERFECT

For more information see (1) Roland deVaux, Ancient Israel, pp. 21-22,166-167, and (2) NIDOTTE, vol. 1, pp. 789-795.


▣ "that I may know" The MT has the Qal IMPERFECT but the Masoretic scholars suggested (Qere) a change to the COHORTATIVE form.

4:5 "you" The MT has "I" but the Masoretic scholars suggest (Qere) the second person fits the context better.

▣ "you must also acquire Ruth, the Moabite" Although the man was willing to buy the field for himself, he was not willing to perform the rite of Levirate marriage (see note online at Deut. 25:5-6), because it might jeopardize his own inheritance (cf. Ruth 4:6). The son born to this relationship would be considered a son of Naomi and would, in time, inherit the field.

7Now this was the custom in former times in Israel concerning the redemption and the exchange of land to confirm any matter: a man removed his sandal and gave it to another; and this was the manner of attestation in Israel. 8So the closest relative said to Boaz, "Buy it for yourself." And he removed his sandal. 9Then Boaz said to the elders and all the people, "You are witnesses today that I have bought from the hand of Naomi all that belonged to Elimelech and all that belonged to Chilion and Mahlon. 10Moreover, I have acquired Ruth the Moabitess, the widow of Mahlon, to be my wife in order to raise up the name of the deceased on his inheritance, so that the name of the deceased will not be cut off from his brothers or from the court of his birth place; you are witnesses today." 11All the people who were in the court, and the elders, said, "We are witnesses. May the Lord make the woman who is coming into your home like Rachel and Leah, both of whom built the house of Israel; and may you achieve wealth in Ephrathah and become famous in Bethlehem. 12Moreover, may your house be like the house of Perez whom Tamar bore to Judah, through the offspring which the Lord will give you by this young woman."

4:7 "a man removed his sandal" We learn from the Nuzi Tablets (see R. K. Harrison, OT Times, pp.78-79) that this action was the cultural legal norm. It is also possibly mentioned in the OT (cf. Deut. 25:9, 10; Ps. 60:8; 108:9; Amos 2:6; 8:6). The implication from the MT is that the ancient practice was no longer done in the Israel of the author's time.

4:8 The PRONOUN "he" is ambiguous. It could refer to Boaz taking off his sandal but probably it was a cultural sign of the relinquishment of one's legal right, so it would refer to the unnamed nearer kin.

4:9, 10-11 The ten elders were legal witnesses.

4:11 This is a blessing that reflects on the history of the people of God, particularly Jacob's two wives, Leah and Rachel. This marriage blessing is found in both Ruth 4:11 and 12, and seems to show both the importance of the family of Boaz and the importance of the family of Elimelech. Chapter 4 clearly shows the theological purpose of Ruth (i.e., David's lineage).

▣ "May. . .may" The first "may" is a Qal IMPERFECT functioning as a JUSSIVE. The second "may" reflects a Qal IMPERATIVE.

A JUSSIVE (i.e., "may," 4:12) is used in the next verse, which is a continuation of the elders' blessing.

▣ "built the house of Israel" This is idiomatic language using construction terms to describe the growth of a family/clan/nation.

The theological implication of the fourth chapter of Ruth is that the seed of Ruth and Boaz, which will ultimately result in David, will build the house of Israel. For those of us who are Christians, the promise of the Messiah and a universal salvation is "the ultimate" fulfillment.

NASB  "wealth"
NKJV, JPSOA  "prosper"
NRSV  "produce children"
TEV  "rich"
REB  "do a worthy deed"
LXX  "produce might"

In this context it (BDB 298) must refer to the older Boaz producing a male heir. He was already wealthy.

▣ "Ephrathah" This is a way of identifying the Bethlehem in Judah (cf. Ruth 1:2; Gen. 35:16, 19; 48:7; Micah 5:2).

▣ "in Bethlehem" This small village, close to Jerusalem, is mentioned because it would be the birthplace of David (i.e., and later, the Messiah, cf. Micah 5:2-5).

4:12 Ruth 4:12 specifically mentions the child of Judah by his own daughter-in-law (i.e., an unusual and unexpected instance of the Levirate marriage practice; cf. Gen. 46:12). So too, will Ruth's child by Boaz.

13So Boaz took Ruth, and she became his wife, and he went in to her. And the Lord enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son. 14Then the women said to Naomi, "Blessed is the Lord who has not left you without a redeemer today, and may his name become famous in Israel. 15May he also be to you a restorer of life and a sustainer of your old age; for your daughter-in-law, who loves you and is better to you than seven sons, has given birth to him."

4:13 "And the Lord enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son" Apparently the theological emphasis of the sovereignty of God returns at this point. She had been married over ten years and had no children by her first husband. As is quite common in the OT, God uses barren women to show His power in raising descendants for the line of the Messiah (i.e., Rebekah and Rachel in Genesis and Elizabeth, John the Baptist's mother, in Luke 2).

▣ "to conceive" This is a rare form of the NOUN (BDB 248), found only here and Hosea 9-11 (used in a judgment statement).

4:14-15 "may. . .May" As Ruth 4:11-12 reflects the blessing of the ten elders, 4:14-15 reflects the blessing of the women of Bethlehem.

  1. "may," 4:14 ‒ Niphal IMPERFECT used in a JUSSIVE sense
  2. "may," 4:15 ‒ Qal PERFECT used in a JUSSIVE sense

4:14 "Then the women said to Naomi, 'Blessed is the Lord who has not left you without a redeemer today, and may his name become famous in Israel'" Notice that the people of Bethlehem understood the theological significance of what God had done for Naomi, and how this totally reversed her previous statements about how God had brought her back empty. Many people see Naomi as a symbol of Israel's unbelief (cf. Ruth 1:20, 21), but here in Ruth 4:13-17, the blessings of God return even amidst the problematic vicissitudes of life.

The Hebrew text is ambiguous about who "the redeemer" refers to.

  1. Boaz
  2. the child of Ruth and Boaz

4:15 "your daughter-in-law who, loves you and is better to you than seven sons" This blessing must have been shocking in a culture where sons were so valuable and here a Moabite woman is more valuable than seven of them. Of course, this number "seven" reflects the ideal family (cf. 1 Sam. 2:5; 1 Chr. 2:15; Job 1:2; Jer. 15:9).


16Then Naomi took the child and laid him in her lap, and became his nurse. 17The neighbor women gave him a name, saying, "A son has been born to Naomi!" So they named him Obed. He is the father of Jesse, the father of David.

4:16 This may reflect a cultural adoption procedure. The OT does not specifically address the method of adoption, but Gen. 30:3; 48:12; and 50:23 are probably examples of the procedure. See Roland deVaux, Ancient Israel, pp. 51-52.

4:17 "The neighbor women gave him a name, saying" It was extremely unusual for neighbor women to be able to name this special child. Why Boaz allowed it is uncertain. Josephus (Antiq. 5.9.4) says Naomi named him. Maybe the women are just repeating the name. However, it does show God's faithfulness.

The name "Obed," is the word for "servant" (BDB 714), but the implication of the name is "YHWH is my servant" (i.e., Obadiah).

▣ "He is the father of Jesse, the father of David" This is the purpose of the book (i.e., to delineate the line of David).

18Now these are the generations of Perez: to Perez was born Hezron, 19and to Hezron was born Ram, and to Ram, Amminadab, 20and to Amminadab was born Nahshon, and to Nahshon, Salmon, 21and to Salmon was born Boaz, and to Boaz, Obed, 22and to Obed was born Jesse, and to Jesse, David.

4:18-22 There are ten names listed here but some of David's ancestors are left out. This list is somewhat different from the list in 1 Chr. 2:9-13 (i.e., Salma ‒ Salmon). It is exactly like the list in Matt. 1:3-6, and with slight variation, the list in Luke 3:32, 33. This genealogy starts out with the phrase "now these are the generations of," which is exactly the phrase used so often in the book of Genesis to mark genealogies. This genealogy shows that through the child of promise, God is faithful to produce and fulfill His covenant promises to Abraham, not only of the Promised Land, but also the promised seed (i.e., Genesis 12; 15).




This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

  1. Explain the role of the go'el.
  2. Explain Levirate marriage.
  3. What is the literary implication of the first phrase in Ruth 4:7?
  4. What does "wealth" mean in Ruth 4:11?
  5. How is Perez like the new child of Boaz and Ruth?
  6. Why is Ruth 4:13 so theologically significant?
  7. What is the purpose of the concluding genealogy?

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