Ruth 2:20: Boaz Identified as Kinsman Redeemer

Verse 20:[1] And Naomi said unto her daughter in law, (Ruth 3:10; 2 Sam. 2:5; Job 29:13) Blessed be he of the LORD, who (Prov. 17:17) hath not left off his kindness to the living and to the dead. And Naomi said unto her, The man is near of kin unto us, (Ruth 3:9; 4:6) one of our next kinsmen (or, one that hath right to redeem:[2] see Lev. 25:25).



[Blessed be he of the Lord (thus Junius and Tremellius, Pagnine, Drusius, Vatablus), בָּר֥וּךְ הוּא֙ לַיהוָ֔ה] Blessed be he to the Lord (Montanus, Piscator, Drusius). Thus, in Acts 7:20, ἀστεῖος τῷ Θεῷ, urbane to God, that is, divinely fair (Piscator). Three and four times blessed; like, a great city to God.[3] Or, blessed of the Lord, that is, the Lord load him with His benefits. Thus, in Matthew 25:34, Come, ye blessed of my Father (Drusius). He was pleasing to the Lord; he is worthy of grace and favor before the Lord (Vatablus). [The Syriac and Arabic refer these things to God; Blessed is the Lord, who does not transfer, or take away, mercy, etc., as if the ל were either superfluous, or a note of the nominative, as is sometimes the case.]


[The same grace, which he had furnished for the living, he kept also for the dead, אֲשֶׁר֙ לֹא־עָזַ֣ב חַסְדּ֔וֹ אֶת־הַחַיִּ֖ים וְאֶת־הַמֵּתִ֑ים] Who has not left his mercy (kindness [Piscator]) with the living, nor with the dead (Montanus, Piscator, similarly the Septuagint, Jonathan); who has not ceased from his piety toward the leaving, and toward the dead (Tigurinus, similarly Junius and Tremellius). Toward the living, that is, toward us. It is an Enallage of gender, a masculine in the place of the feminine. And toward the dead, that is, our husbands. In the same act he blessed Ruth and Naomi, and their dead, insofar as he blessed them in honor of their dead (Piscator). It appears to be well done to the dead, since for their sake it is well done to those that they held dear. Claudian’s[4] Panegyric on Stilicho 2, Love bound to the living does not cease to remember them when dead: favor passes over to the offspring of the Fathers. Michael of Ephesus on Nicomachean Ethics[5] 5, ὃ γὰρ ἡ γυνὴ ἢ οἱ παῖδες ἢ οἱ συγγενεῖς τοῦ φονευθέντος ἔλαβον, τρόπον τινὰ ἐκείνῳ δέδοται, for what the wife, or children, or relatives, of the dead receive, to him [that is, the dead] it is given, as it were. One about to die, in Procopius’ On the Persian War 1, τὰ παιδία ὠφελῶν ὠφελήσεις ἐμὲ, when thou profitest my children, thou wilt profit me. Thus Theodosius[6] showed favor to Valentinian[7] after his death in his son, as Zosimus[8] testifies (Grotius).


And to the dead, that is, which he formerly showed to those who are now dead, to wit, my husband and his sons whilst they were living, and now continues to us, their wives, who are now alive.


[He is our relative: in Hebrews מִֽגֹּאֲלֵ֖נוּ הֽוּא׃ is added] Of our redeemers (or avengers [Junius and Tremellius, Drusius, similarly the Syriac], relatives [Pagnine]) is he (Vatablus, Montanus, Septuagint, Jonathan); ἐκ τῶν ἀγχιστευόντων ἡμῖν ἐστιν, of the next of kin to us is he.[9] See Leviticus 25:25 (Grotius). Of our relatives, of those that according to the Law are obliged to raise up seed to thy husband (Vatablus, Junius, Drusius). They are called redeemers, because to them the right of redemption pertains (Hebrews in Vatablus, Bonfrerius). [And that by a threefold title.] 1. The right of redeeming the field, if it be for sale. 2. The right of the wife left without children by the relative. 3. The right of avenging blood, if the relative was killed (Bonfrerius out of Lapide). Concerning these things see Leviticus 25:25; Deuteronomy 25:5 (Junius). גּוֹאֵל/Goel properly signifies a redeemer; and by synecdoche of genus, or metonymy of the efficient, a liberator: for he that redeems a person, by this very thing liberates him (Piscator). The avengers of blood are called גֺּאֲלִים, because it belongs to the near relative to liberate his own and to avenge them from all injury and calamity (Munster). In מִגֹּאֲלֵנוּ a י is required, so that it might be מִגֹּאֲלֵינוּ, in the plural number: for there were several unto whom that right was pertaining. Or it is a heterosis of number; as when we us militem/soldier in the place of militibus/soldiers, ranam/frog in the place of ranis/frogs; a common figure among the Hebrews (Drusius). Boaz is thought to be the paternal uncle of Mahlon,[10] but not the eldest of the paternal uncles with respect to birth (Grotius).


One of our next kinsmen; Hebrew, one of our redeemers, or avengers, to whom it belongs to avenge our persons, and to redeem our lands, and to marry thee, the widow and relict of his next kinsman, as is expressed, Ruth 3:9. She saith one of them, not that there were many who were immediately such, but that he was a very near kinsman, and one to whom that office belonged, in case of the refusal of one person, of whom she rightly conjectured that he would refuse, as he did.

[1] Hebrew: וַתֹּ֙אמֶר נָעֳמִ֜י לְכַלָּתָ֗הּ בָּר֥וּךְ הוּא֙ לַיהוָ֔ה אֲשֶׁר֙ לֹא־עָזַ֣ב חַסְדּ֔וֹ אֶת־הַחַיִּ֖ים וְאֶת־הַמֵּתִ֑ים וַתֹּ֧אמֶר לָ֣הּ נָעֳמִ֗י קָר֥וֹב לָ֙נוּ֙ הָאִ֔ישׁ מִֽגֹּאֲלֵ֖נוּ הֽוּא׃


[2] Hebrew: מִגֹּאֲלֵנוּ.


[3] Jonah 3:3: “So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city (עִיר־גְּדוֹלָה֙ לֵֽאלֹהִ֔ים, a great city to God) of three days’ journey.”


[4] Claudian (late fourth-early fifth century AD) was a Roman poet from Alexandria.


[5] Little is known about the life of Michael of Ephesus (twelfth century). He was part of a group of intellectuals at the University of Constantinople, organized by Anna Comnena. Most of Michael’s work is dedicated to commenting on neglected portions of the Corpus Aristotelicum.


[6] Theodosius was Roman Emperor from 379 to 395.


[7] Valentinian was Roman Emperor from 364 to 379.


[8] Zosimus (fl. 490-520) was a Byzantine historian; he wrote Historia Nova, six books covering the history of the Roman emperors.


[9] Thus the Septuagint.


[10] See Ruth 4:10.

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Dr. Steven Dilday holds a BA in Religion and Philosophy from Campbell University, a Master of Arts in Religion from Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia), and both a Master of Divinity and a  Ph.D. in Puritan History and Literature from Whitefield Theological Seminary.  He is also the translator of Matthew Poole's Synopsis of Biblical Interpreters and Bernardinus De Moor’s Didactico-Elenctic Theology.

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