Ruth 4:3, Who Played Who? Part II of II

Then he said to the kinsman-redeemer, “Naomi, who has come back from Moab, is selling the piece of land that belonged to our brother Elimelech.”

//Yesterday, I told how Naomi hatched a plan to get her widowed daughter-in-law re-hitched. Per Naomi’s instructions, Ruth visited Naomi’s “kinsman” while he slept off a drunk, and he invited her under the covers.

The next day, however, Boaz pulls a sneaky one of his own. Apparently, Naomi has a parcel of land for sale, and the custom is that she must sell it to her nearest relative. That would be an unnamed man known only as Naomi’s “kinsman-redeemer.” Boaz invites this kinsman-redeemer to sit with him and ten elders of the town, and tells him of the parcel. Quickly, the man agrees to purchase the land, as is his right.

Boaz then casually mentions Ruth. If you buy the land, he says, you must take on the responsibility for her, since she depends upon the land to sustain herself. I can’t find where any such law is mentioned in the Bible, but we can assume it was indeed the custom for the “kinsman-redeemer” to take on such a responsibility.

The man replies that he cannot, for taking Ruth would endanger his own inheritance. Thus Boaz is able to buy Naomi’s land in his stead.

So, to summarize: Naomi, concerned about Ruth’s future, located an obscure relative and instigated a plan to get the two together. She had Ruth seal the deal by bringing up their kinship. The next day, Boaz uses his new relationship with Ruth to obtain land that should have belonged to Naomi’s closer kinsman. Was Ruth more than a pawn in a chess game? Did Naomi play Boaz, or did Boaz play Naomi? Or did everyone live happily ever after?

I think all three.

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