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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible

Ruth 4

 

 

Verses 1-22

Ruth 4. Ruth's Marriage.

Ruth 4:1. Instead of "such an one!" Boaz called the person's actual name, which the narrator either does not know or does not see any need for bringing into the story.

Ruth 4:2. The elders of the city are called in as witnesses of an important transaction affecting the rights of a family. For "selleth" we ought to read "hath sold." The point is that the property had passed out of the family's hands and required to be redeemed.

Ruth 4:5. Here the meaning is entirely missed in our translation. Read, "Thou buyest Ruth also" (cf. Ruth 4:10). Marriage by purchase was the ancient Semitic practice, but no more is meant here than that the redeemer of the property of Naomi was required at the same time to marry her daughter-in-law.

Ruth 4:6-8. The next-of-kin, who at first expressed his willingness to redeem the property, drew back on second thoughts. Feeling that ho could not afford to be so generous to the widow of a dead relative, he declined to "build up his brother's house" (Deuteronomy 25:9). And in token of the fact that he renounced his rights, alike to the estate and to Ruth, he took off his sandal and handed it to Boaz, in the presence of the witnesses. The writer explains that this was "the custom in former times." The right to walk over an estate at will belonged only to the owner, and the shoe was the natural symbol of possession (cf. Psalms 60:8).

Ruth 4:9. Boaz buys the estate which had belonged to Naomi; another indication of the lateness of the book, for the Mosaic Law did not admit the right of a widow to inherit her husband's property; but see Judith 8:7.

Ruth 4:14. "Near kinsman" conveys only part of the meaning of goël; to get the full sense we need the combination "kinsman and redeemer." Some of the best interpreters think that in this verse a second goël now comes on the scene—the new-born child; but that is scarcely likely, though it is certainly the babe who is referred to at the end of this verse and in the next.

Ruth 4:17. "Obed" means servant, i.e. servant of God. Here the idyll proper ends, the genealogy being doubtless the addition of another hand. It "may well have been added long after the Book itself was written, in an age that was devoted to the study of pedigrees" (Driver).

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Ruth 4:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/ruth-4.html. 1919.

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