Pastor Debra Isenbletter
Ruth 4:4 – “And I thought to advertise thee, saying, Buy it before the inhabitants, and before the elders of my people. If thou wilt redeem it, redeem it: but if thou wilt not redeem it, then tell me, that I may know: for there is none to redeem it beside thee; and I am after thee. And he said, I will redeem it.”
Notice how Boaz begins his conversation with this other kinsman. Boaz says: “I thought to advertise (to) thee …” or “I thought to inform you” (NAS); or “I thought to bring the matter to your attention” (NIV). The word “advertise” mans “to reveal, to publish, to inform.” Boaz is very diplomatic, very careful, and very correct. Boaz is gracious and respectful to this other kinsman. He doesn’t come demanding, he comes politely, and he extends to this man every courtesy. Boaz also shows by this statement that he knows something that this man does not. It makes you wonder about this other kinsman. Has he even noticed that Naomi came back? Was he even aware of her poverty, seen in the necessity of gleaning in the fields? Did he ever go to check on her as a kinsman? As far as we know, he is never mentioned until this moment, it is Boaz who draws him out into the open for us to see.
What does Boaz ask this man to do with this parcel of land that is being advertized? Boaz asks him to: “Buy it.” This sounds more like a command than a request! Now we begin to see a change in the tone, Boaz begins to show his authority. He has made him aware that this property is available, that Naomi is selling it, and he is now telling him to exercise his right as kinsman to REDEEM this land.
The next thing we see is the emphasis on who is there at the gate, who will be witnesses to this conversation and there are more than those that Boaz has called. This conversation and this transaction will take place before everyone. Boaz tells him to “buy it” “before the inhabitants” and “before the elders of my people.” Before the “inhabitants” shows that this was public, that all that were there at the gate would see. These were the unofficial witnesses. The “elders” were those that had been summoned by Boaz. These were the official witnesses. This was a double witness! This was a public matter, not a private matter; all will be witnesses this day. All will know the need of Naomi and the need of Ruth. All will know the desire and ability of both these men. The legal transaction Jeremiah made redeeming the property of Hanameel, his uncle’s son is a vivid example of how this was done. It was public, not private; it was a right that Jeremiah exercised as a kinsman-redeemer. It was done before witnesses. (Jeremiah 32:7-15).
Boaz then gives this man only two choices: He can choose to redeem this land: “If thou wilt redeem it, redeem it.” He can choose not to redeem this land: “but if thou wilt not redeem it.” But whatever he chooses, he must tell Boaz: “then tell me that I may know.” Boaz already knows the choice this man will make, he knows what he is willing to do and able to do, and what he is unwilling to do and unable to do. He begins with offering him a choice to purchase the land, knowing that there is willingness but if he accepts it, he must later accept the rest of his obligation as redeemer. He cannot do one without the other. When Boaz says “tell me that I may know,” he is also say “Tell these witnesses, so they may know!”
Boaz goes on to tell this man why he must know, why he must tell Boaz what he chooses to do. Boaz says: “for there is none to redeem it beside thee,” in other words this man has the first right to redeem, he is the closest kinsman. Boaz tells him, and those present, that he has the right after him: “and I am after thee.” And then Boaz tells him and everyone present that he is willing to redeem: “And he said, I will redeem it.” We see his desire: “I will.” What willingness, what love, what a wonderful type of Christ! We see him acknowledge this man’s right to go first and that he must wait on him. If we look at this as a type, then we see that the Law was first, and then Grace. There was a dispensation of Law and there is now a dispensation of Grace. Under the first, man was condemned and under the second, man is redeemed. “For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” (John 1:17)
Boaz is basing this request upon Lev 25:25-28, where we see the law concerning the poor and the redeeming of the land. There was a redemption promised for the land and for the individual. God said: “ye shall grant a redemption for the land” (Lev 25:23). This is what Boaz begins with, the redemption of the land. The individual in need had several options available. He could ask a kinsman to redeem the land (Lev 25:25); he could redeem the land himself (Lev 25:26); or he could wait for the year of jubilee (Lev 25:28) and the land would return to his family. Naomi couldn’t redeem the land and couldn’t wait until the year of jubilee which came every 50 years. Redemption was needed now! And the word that is repeated five times in this verse is “redeem.” The responsibility of redemption is the subject of this conversation. That word “redeem” means “to redeem according to the law of kinship;” to “act as a kinsman redeemer;” to “be next of kin (and as such buy back property, marry a widow);” to be “a deliverer” (by purchasing, ransoming, redeeming). The responsibility of redemption is the subject of this conversation.