Within the first 5 books of the Bible (Pentateuch), there is an interesting Jewish law that provides for the REDEMPTION of a close relative who is in trouble, danger, or in need of vindication. This law states that their nearest male relative has the right or responsibility to become their “kinsman redeemer“.
A redeemer is someone who buys back or regains the possession of a property or even a person that was sold to another. Normally, the redeemer pays the price or gives other property worth the value of what is being recovered.
- This meant that if a man was slain, his kinsman redeemer had to avenge his death.
- If a man was sold into slavery, his kinsman redeemer paid the price to release him.
- If a man died childless, his kinsman redeemer had the responsibility to marry his wife and father a child to bear his name.
The book of Ruth really highlights the beautiful story of a kinsman redeemer. Tradition says that Ruth was written by the Prophet Samuel; however, scholars are not entirely certain. This Biblical story takes place during the days of the Judges (c1380BC to 1045BC).
Ruth 1: In the days when the judges governed (Israel), there was a famine in the land of Canaan. And a certain man of Bethlehem in Judah went to live temporarily in the country of Moab with his wife and two sons.
In the story of Ruth, the man from Bethlehem (Elimelech), from the tribe of Judah (Ephrathites – associated with Bethlehem in Judah), went to live in the land of Moab because there was a famine in the land of Canaan. He moved there with his wife Naomi and his two sons. During his time in Moab, Elimelech died and left his wife Naomi as a widow. In time, Naomi’s adult sons married Moabite women. One of the women was named Orpah and the other was named Ruth. They lived in Moab about ten years when both of Naomi’s sons died. Imagine Naomi’s grief! She lost her husband and now both of her sons had died. Naomi was certain that she was being severely disciplined by God.
Naomi then heard that the Lord YHWH had taken care of His people in Judah by giving them food, so she decided to head back to her home and family in Judah. For Naomi, there was now no longer any reason to remain in the land of Moab. As she set out to travel back to Judah, both of her daughters-in-law wanted to travel WITH her; however, Naomi said…”No, you stay and marry Moabite men, have families and live with your people. Orpah was in tears, but then bid her mother-in-law “goodbye”; however, Ruth refused to leave Naomi.
The Bible says that “Ruth clung to her” and said…
Ruth 1:16-17: “Do not urge me to leave you or to turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people will be my people and your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord do the same to me (as He has done to you) and more also if anything but death separates me from you”.
Ruth was totally devoted to her mother-in-law. The two of them left Moab and traveled together to the land of Judah. They were both very poor, childless widows in the land of Judah.
In ancient times, the primary purpose of women in marriage was to produce children and heirs to carry on the family line. A childless widow endured double adversity, with no husband to provide for and protect her, and no son to carry on the family name and care for her in her old age. A childless widow might have even been considered a disgrace to her family and left in a very precarious position.
yhwh (god) recognized the widow’s plight and rose to her defense: “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling” (Psalm 68:5). A person who denied justice to a widow was cursed by God: “Cursed is anyone who withholds justice from the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow” (Deuteronomy 27:19). Laws and special provisions were put in place to safeguard widows against neglect and abuse.
As the story of Ruth goes, Naomi had a relative of her husband Elimelech who was a man of great wealth and influence in Judah. This man’s name was Boaz.
Now living as impoverished, childless widows in Judah, Ruth asked Naomi if she could go down to the fields to glean among the ears of grain left by the reapers.
The Hebrew word for “glean” is laqat, and it means “to collect, gather up, pick up.” Gleaning is the gathering of grain or other harvested material left behind by reapers. In the Bible, the Israelites were commanded to allow the poor to follow behind reapers and pick up leftover spears of grain and fallen grapes. In this way, the Law of Moses provided food for the poor, orphans, widows, and resident aliens. The law specified that land owners must leave some of the harvest for gleaners:
Leviticus 19:9: “When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the foreigner. I am the LORD your God”.
Some people love to paint the “Old Testament God” (YHWH) as wrathful, mean and uncaring, but we can clearly see that God (YHWH) has always cared about “the least of these”.
Naomi agreed to Ruth’s request so Ruth went to pick up the leftover grain. It just so happened that she stopped to glean at the plot of land belonging to Boaz, who was the family of Naomi’s late husband Elimelech.
Boaz, returning from Bethlehem, noticed the “young woman” who was gleaning in his fields. He inquired about her and was informed by his servant who was in charge of the reapers, that she was the young Moabite woman who returned with Naomi from the land of Moab.
Boaz not only gave Ruth permission to glean from his fields, but he also instructed her to avoid other fields, and stay close to his maids. Boaz was not only allowing Ruth to glean from his fields all summer long, but he was also looking out for her safety. He had heard about the incredible kindness and devotion that Ruth had shown to Naomi, so he said to her…
Ruth 2:12: “May the Lord repay you for your kindness and may your reward be full from the Lord, the God of Israel under whose wings you have come to take refuge“.
Boaz showed Ruth and Naomi great kindness during the entire barley and wheat harvest seasons.🌾Naomi recognized the favor that Boaz was showing her daughter-in-law, so she prepared a plan to possibly let Boaz KNOW that Naomi and Ruth would like him to be their KINSMAN REDEEMER.
Ruth 3:1: Then Naomi her mother in law said to Ruth, “My daughter, shall I not look for security and a home🏡for you, so that it may be well with you?”
Naomi explained to Ruth that Boaz, with whose maids Ruth had worked all season long, was a relative of Naomi (through her late husband Elimelech). Naomi was hoping that because Boaz showed she and Ruth this incredible kindness, perhaps he would be interested in becoming her kinsman redeemer💕.
Therefore, Naomi instructed Ruth to “wash and anoint herself” (put on perfume) and her best clothes and go down to the threshing floor where Boaz was staying. She told Ruth that when Boaz lie down, Ruth should go to him and “uncover his feet”. Some rabbinical sources think that Ruth and Boaz had a sexual encounter; however, it does not follow that the devout Naomi would counsel Ruth to do anything unlawful. The uncovering of Boaz’s feet was an act of submission by Ruth. Boaz did not reject her as a good Jew should have done if she had come with any motive other than marriage, but instead Boaz tells her what to do.
Under Jewish law, a childless widow could be redeemed by a close male relative. Boaz was second in line as Naomi and Ruth’s “kinsman redeemer”. Naomi’s plan depended on the goodness of Boaz and upon the lack of character and faithfulness in the unnamed relative who was first in line to be naomi and ruth’s “kinsman redeemer.”
Because it was made known to this unnamed kinsman (who was first in line) before witnesses that Ruth was with Boaz on the threshing floor and because that kinsman valued his pride and security more than his duty to redeem Ruth, he passed his sandal to Boaz as proof that he would not exercise his right to marry Ruth. Boaz was then free to take Ruth in marriage as naomi’s kinsman redeemer, and they both told the witnesses and elders that they had no improper relations.
The unnamed relative (first in line to be kinsman redeemer) had no faith in Ruth’s purity and valued his pride and worldly inheritance above all else. Boaz did have faith. Perhaps, this is one reason why Naomi’s plan worked – it is likely that she had a very good idea how each man would react because they were her kinsmen.
The uncovering of Boaz’s feet by Ruth was an act of submission and a way that she could let him know she wished to marry him.💕
Where else do we see a woman “uncovering” the feet of a man of GREAT significance?
John 12:1: Then Jesus six days before the Passover (six days before the crucifixion) came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, which had been dead, whom he raised from the dead. 2 There they made him a supper; and Martha served: but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with him.
3 Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment.
In both stories, the significant men were reclining after a meal. In both stories, the woman touched the FEET of the men. In both stories, the smell of anointing oil (perfume) filled the air. In both stories, the woman was showing submission to the man, asking him to be her “kinsman redeemer“.
Do you want to know something else that connects these stories in a very, very beautiful way? Stay tuned, there is MORE to the story….💕
Ruth, the Moabite woman did indeed end up marrying Boaz, her kinsman redeemer.
“Boaz said unto the elders, and unto all the people, Ye are witnesses this day, that I have bought all that was Elimelech’s, and all that was Chilion’s and Mahlon’s (Naomi’s two sons who had passed away), of the hand of Naomi.”
Ruth 4: Furthermore, I have acquired (purchased) 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 eliminated from his brothers or from the court of his birth place; you are witnesses today.”
11 And all 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 (wives of jacob (israel)), both of whom built the house of Israel; and may you achieve wealth in Ephrathah and become famous in Bethlehem.
12 Moreover, may your house be like the house of Perez whom Tamar bore to Judah, through the descendants whom the Lord will give you by this young woman.”
13 So Boaz took Ruth, and she became his wife, and he had relations with her. And the Lord enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son.
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.
This story definitely had a “happily ever after” ending. Ruth married Boaz. They had a son who was to raise up the fallen house of Elimelech (Naomi’s late husband). No longer was Naomi a poor widow woman without an heir. Now she had a grandson, and Boaz took care of Ruth and Naomi all of their lives.
But this gets even better as the story of RUTH and BOAZ and the NEW TESTAMENT story of Mary anointing Jesus’ feet are connected in more than one way.💕
Ruth 4:16: Then Naomi took the child and laid him in her lap and became his nurse.
17 And the neighbor women gave him a name, saying, “A son (grandson) has been born to Naomi!” So they named him Obed. He is the father of Jesse, the father of David.
Ruth and Boaz’s son, Naomi’s grandson born to her KINSMAN REDEEMER was named OBED. Obed later became the father of Jesse, who was the father of KING DAVID. This is the lineage of JESUS CHRIST, our KINSMAN REDEEMER.👑
Deuteronomy 18:18: I (YHWH) will raise up for them a prophet from among their countrymen like you (Moses), and I will put My words in his mouth, and He shall speak to them everything that I command Him.
John 12:49: For I (JESUS) did not speak on My own, but the Father (YHWH) Himself who sent Me has given Me a commandment as to what to say and what to speak.
Isaiah 41:14: Do not fear, you worm Jacob, you people of Israel;
I will help you,” declares the Lord, “and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.
Isaiah 52:3: For thus says the Lord: “You have sold yourselves for nothing, (the slavery of sin at the fall), And you shall be redeemed without money.” (THE CROSS) ✝️
Jesus Christ IS HUMANITY’S Kinsman Redeemer. 💕He IS Israel’s KINSMAN REDEEMER. He is the ONLY ONE who could raise up our fallen tents. He has REDEEMED the earth and also HIS PEOPLE. Jesus is the One who PAID THE PRICE of REDEMPTION through HIS BLOOD – THE BLOOD OF GOD. As Boaz married Ruth, The Church is now BETHROTHED TO JESUS CHRIST.
Jesus Christ, of the tribe of Judah, a descendant of KING DAVID…IS the “HOLY ONE OF ISRAEL”, our KINSMAN REDEEMER. Both King David and Jesus Christ have a Gentile (MOABITE) convert by the name of RUTH as their ancestor. This HIGHLIGHTS the FACT that God’s plan (from the beginning) was to bring both Jew and Gentile into HIS FAMILY (YHWH) through THE HOLY ONE OF ISRAEL, His Son Jesus Christ.
Psalm 2:6:“Yet I have set My King👑
On My holy hill of Zion.”
7 “I will declare the decree:
The Lord (YHWH) has said to Me,
‘You are My Son (JESUS CHRIST),
Today I have begotten You.
8 Ask of Me, and I will give You
The nations (gentiles) for Your inheritance,
And the ends of the earth for Your possession.
9 You shall break them with a rod of iron;
You shall dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel.’ (the second coming of Jesus Christ)
Note: Jesus’ Hebrew name is YAHUSHUA, which literally means YHWH (YAHUAH) IS SALVATION💕
Isaiah 49:6: He says, “It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant
To raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the protected ones of Israel;
I will also make You a light of the GENTILES
So that My salvation (MY YESHUA) may reach to the end of the earth.”
Luke 2:29: “Now, Lord, You are letting Your bond-servant depart in peace,
According to Your word;
30 For my eyes have seen Your salvation (Your YAHUSHUA),
31 Which You have prepared in the presence of all the peoples:
32 A light for revelation for the Gentiles,
And the glory of Your people Israel.”
Humanity has fallen from Grace and is no longer connected to YHWH (GOD). We became like a childless WIDOW with no one to protect us, provide for us, or care for us.
Lamentations 5:3: We have become like orphans, without a father; Our mothers are like widows.
But YHWH God sent His Son Jesus Christ, the Holy One of Israel who is our KINSMAN REDEEMER to “buy us back”, paying the HEAVY PRICE ✝️that we could not pay. Praise the Lord for His LOVINGKINDNESS and GRACE! 💕🙌
Now, we proclaim the name of Jesus and call ALL sinners to the Lord so that they too can be REDEEMED.✝️🙏🕊️