[CF Devotionals] 2014-06-29 - Implications for the Kinsman-Redeemer

Ruth ~ Part 44

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Verses 5-6: Factor one in the deal was an opportunity to buy a piece of land. But now comes the clincher. Factor two is Ruth. The kinsman must have know about her; after all, everyone in town did. The catch was, the man had to marry Ruth, have a son and carry on the name of Elimelech through Mahlon himself. He could redeem the land, but he also had to redeem Elimelech's name, and that apparently was a problem.

It appears the man didn't need any time to think. He immediately took himself out of the running. He wouldn't marry Ruth, which certainly must have been a relief to Boaz. He was afraid of complicating his own estate. It isn't clear why he took this position, and there are a number of views. For example, Reed states,

"Perhaps he was too poor to sustain the land and a wife. Or, as some have suggested, perhaps he feared to marry a Moabitess lest the fate of Mahlon, Ruth's first husband, befall him. Perhaps the best view is that when he learned from Boaz that Ruth owned the property along with Naomi, he knew that if Ruth bore him a son, that son would eventually inherit not only the redeemed property but probably part of his own estate too. In that sense the nearer redeemer would "endanger" his estate. However, if only Naomi were the widow (not Naqomi and Ruth), then no son from the levirate marriage would inherit part of the redeemer's estate because Naomi was past childbearing. 1

One example of Jewish tradition almost hits on the true implications of the kinsman-redeemer, but again misses the mark.

"The Iggeres Shmuel stresses "I cannot" as meaning 'I am unable' – i.e. 'my merits are insufficient to effect a redemption of Machlon's soul; his sin was great and he needs merits, like yours, Boaz, to effect true redemption." 2

  1. Reed, John W., the Bible Knowledge Commentary, Volume 1, Ruth, Victor Books, Wheaton IL, 1986, pp. 426-7.
  2. Zlotowitz, Rabbi Meir, Translator and Compiler, Book of Ruth, Mesora Publications Ltd., Brooklyn NY, 1994, p. 123.

To be continued.

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CFD | June 2014 | Geoff's Devotions | Geoff's Studies | Devotional Topics