Day 13 - Ruth 4:1-10
Things were certainly done differently in those days, weren’t they? Women had so few rights. And yet, women in Israel had more rights than women in many other countries at that time. They had a right to a kinsman-redeemer, for example. If they weren’t going to be able to own property, they had a right to expect a family member of their husband, if he died, to support them. Boaz wastes no time in getting his Ruth. He’s more than willing to be the kinsman-redeemer. He’s eager! At least, it sure looks that way to me.
Another difference is how legal matters were settled in Israel in the days of the judges. Men met at the city gates and made the decisions. I don’t know if they had to have a quorum there for the decision to be binding or not, but if you wanted to buy or sell something, you did it in this public place with witnesses. So, that’s where our eager bridegroom heads. He announces that Naomi’s husband’s land is now for sale and tells the closest relative all about it. The relative is eager until he realizes that Ruth comes as part of the deal. If Ruth bears him a son, that son will really be Naomi’s and part of her line. If Ruth gave him many sons, than his own children would have to split his property differently. It would get complicated, in other words.
So now we come to the third difference. When we seal a bargain, we usually sign and date our name in the presence of witnesses. They take off a sandal. What??? Do they give the sandal permanently to the person with whom they make the deal or is it temporary and symbolic? I couldn’t find a lot of information about this, so if you do discover more about this interesting practice, do let me know. It’s certainly concrete. The other guy has your sandal and can always show it to people. Look! He gave me his sandal. In any case, the giving of the sandal seals the bargain.
Despite all the peculiarities of a time far-removed from ours, this story still resonates. There’s the tension as Boaz talks to the guy who might get to keep Ruth and the land. There’s the pitch Boaz gives, only gradually handing out the information that Ruth will expect to be married if the guy takes Naomi’s land. There’s the process of making this agreement a sure thing so that we know it will really happen. Bottom line? Boaz gets his Ruth. Hooray for happy!! And Ruth, a foreigner from a country that had a pretty yucky start, is welcomed into Israel and will actually be a great-great- ancestral grandmother to Jesus! God loves her, background and baggage and all.
My verse: Ruth 4:8 “So the other family redeemer drew off his sandal as he said to Boaz, ‘You buy the land.”
My response: Father, why a sandal? And was it a temporary thing or did he walk home without it, as a sort of permanent proof that he’d relinquished his rights to the property? I guess that would make sense. Boaz had the sandal, and the ten leaders saw it. In any case, Boaz must have held that sandal with JOY!! He got to marry his Ruth. I love this story, Lord.