- The Strong One was attracted to Ruth’s integrity and modesty
- The Kinsman Redeemer
- The Law of Levirate Marriage
The Strong One was attracted to the Companion’s integrity and modesty:
In order for the two women to survive Naomi sent Ruth into the fields of Bethlehem to glean crops. No doubt at that time Ruth learned about our laws of leket and pe’ah (Leviticus 19:9-10; 23:22; Deuteronomy 24:19). As providence would have it, Ruth chose to glean the fields of Boaz, a relative of Naomi’s late husband Elimelech.
Boaz’ name means the Strong One (“strength” and “fleetness”).
The Strong One was immediately attracted to the Companion (Ruth). He was attracted to her integrity and modesty. Ruth was careful to pick up only one or two stalks of grain but no more. When she picked up the sheaves she bent her knees, rather than bending down. Boaz was impressed with Ruth’s devotion to Naomi. So he went out of his way to help her.
Naomi understood that Boaz was a “near kinsman” to her late husband Elimelech.
Therefore the Strong One could ‘redeem’ her inheritance of land from those who were ‘leasing’ it. Since Naomi was impoverished she needed to persuade a ‘near redeemer’ to buy-back her land to preserve (the life of) her family’s name in Bethlehem, Judah.
The redemption of the land was based on whatever its pro-rata value was before the year of Jubilee. In the “law of redemption” the nearest next of kin had the duty to purchase back (redeem) the land of their close relative. If the relative was in financial difficulty and had to sell it then the following applied: “If your brother becomes impoverished and sells some of his property, then his near redeemer (ga’alov ha qarowb) shall redeem (ga’al) what his brother has sold” (Leviticus 25:25).
The Kinsman Redeemer:
The full name of Naomi’s (deceased) husband was Elimelech Ben Judah (Judah is the tribe of the Messiah). So what is spiritually in view here is the need for a Kinsman Redeemer to preserve the inheritance of the family whose name means:
Praise G-d Who is My King!
As providence would have it this role of the Kinsman Redeemer was destined to be accomplished by Boaz. His name means, the “Strong One.” In contrast recall what the multiple meanings of the previous two sons of Elimelech were: “weak,” “sick,” “wasting away,” and “destruction.” These personal name meanings clearly point to a spiritual failure that had occurred in the lives of the offspring of Elimelech Ben Judah.
We will explore later on in our study of the Megillat of Ruth just what this failure was and how it (prophetically) applies to those of us who are Yehudim in this modern age of the 21st century.
Since we do not know which of the two sons Ruth was married to we do not know her husband’s first name. However, we at least know the second part of the name of Ruth’s deceased husband: Ben Elimelech, Ben Judah. Under the law of non-mention we must, therefore, assume: The Spirit of Revelation (Ruach he-Chazon) does want us to identify Ruth with any of the possible negative meanings of the first names of the two deceased sons. So it is inferred that we are to forget the four descriptive words. ‘Let the dead bury the dead.’ These words are to be forgotten:
Weak, Sick, Wasting Away, and Destruction.
Therefore, we believe the Spirit of Wisdom (Ruach Ha-Chokmah) would only have us identify Ruth solely with the full name of her father-in-law. These words are to be remembered:
Praise G-d Who is “My King.”
Therefore, in a proper celebration of Shavuot let us through the loving-kindness, mercy and love of Adonai leave behind all that is weak, sick, wasting away, and destructive to us and let us move forward to: Praise G-d Who is “Our King!” Now Boaz was a “near kinsman” to Naomi’s late husband Elimelech (perhaps the son of Elimelech’s brother), so he was legally qualified to redeem the land. Moreover, Boaz was described as a wealthy man and therefore he possessed the material means to act on behalf of the family of Elimelech as their kinsman redeemer.
When Naomi detected Boaz’s love for Ruth she immediately devised a strategy. Naomi knew that the laws of inheritance stated that when Elimelech and both his sons died without a male heir their estate could be transferred to the widow Ruth (Numbers 27:8-11). All that was needed was for a near kinsman to act as the legal heir of the line of Elimelech. Therefore, Naomi’s plan was to find an honorable way to persuade Boaz to marry Ruth. Then he could redeem the land and preserve the life of the family name; which the Spirit wishes us to remember only as: “Praise G-d Who is My King!“
The law of Levirate Marriage:
After Boaz’s period of “courtship” with Ruth had sufficiently ‘matured’ (during the seven weeks of the barley harvest), Naomi instructed her daughter-in-law to go to the threshing floor. Since the law of “Levirate marriage” (Yibum) stated that the brother of a man who died without children had an obligation to marry the widow (Deuteronomy 25:5-10), Ruth had a legal right to ask Boaz to perpetuate her family line by his marrying her. However, before Boaz could do so Ruth had to express her “legal intent” to him. This she could do by claiming him to be her “near kinsman.”
In preparation of this redemptive event Ruth was instructed by Naomi to beautify herself. Upon beautifying herself Ruth would present herself before Boaz. It was Naomi’s plan that the legal claim would be made by Ruth upon Boaz at the end of the barley harvest.
The end of the barley harvest was when the harvesters would joyously celebrate the conclusion of the harvest with a feast that occurred just before the wheat harvest began on Shavuot. Ruth was informed that immediately after the feast Boaz could be found sleeping upon the threshing floor. So she was instructed by Naomi to lay at his feet and pull his cloak over her feet. This would symbolize Ruth’s public claim upon Boaz; since the threshing floor was a public place that was accessible to all the people of the region.