Ruth 4:3: Boaz's Legal Proposal, Part 1

Verse 3:[1] And he said unto the kinsman, Naomi, that is come again out of the country of Moab, selleth a parcel of land, which was our brother Elimelech’s…



[A parcel of land of our brother, Elimelech] Brother, that is, relative or kinsman (Junius, Piscator, Drusius, Lyra). Actually thy brother, but my paternal uncle (Drusius).


[She will sell, מָכְרָה] She sold (Montanus, Syriac, Arabic, Piscator, Dutch). Thus Leviticus 25:25 (Piscator). This sale had already been conducted by Naomi (Tostatus). But this is clearly refuted from what follows, in which Boaz sets before that near relative the right of purchase; and so that sale made to another would have been inexpedient and vain (Bonfrerius). Others thus: she sold is here put in the place of she decided, or determined, to sell (Drusius, Bonfrerius, Piscator); or, she proposed the sale (Bonfrerius). She sells (Jonathan, English, Castalio); she is compelled to sell (Tigurinus, Munster). She will sell (Osiander), the Hebrew perfect in the place of the imperfect/future, she is going to sell (Vatablus). Naomi alienated, that is, transferred it to her son, Mahlon, with whom dead it devolved to his wife, Ruth. He speaks ambiguously, so that he might thoroughly know the mind of the man before mention of Ruth is introduced (Malvenda out of Junius).


[Naomi will sell] To support both herself and her daughter-in-law, Ruth (Lapide). But it is able to be asked whether she was able to sell: for it appears that the whole right of this possession at that time belonged to that kinsman, according to the law whereby possessions always remain in the tribes and families. Response: It is indeed true that ownership of such possessions belonged to the nearest relative, but their use belonged to the widow, wife of the deceased, while she was living, unless she married again outside of the family: and Naomi and Ruth were able to sell this right of use (Bonfrerius, similarly Lyra, Lapide). But why is Naomi alone named here? Responses: 1. So that that kinsman might not suspect the necessity of marriage. 2. Because Ruth was guided by the counsels of Naomi (Menochius, Bonfrerius).


Naomi: Both Naomi and Ruth had an interest in this land during their lives, but he mentions only Naomi, partly because all was done by her direction, to which Ruth wholly submitted herself; and partly lest the mention of Ruth should raise a suspicion of the necessity of his marrying Ruth, before he had given his answer to the first proposition. Selleth a parcel of land; which she might do because of her poverty, Leviticus 25:25.


[Who has returned from the region of Moab] Question: What was done with the land while she was in Moab? Responses: 1. It appears to have been contracted out (Lapide, Tostatus, Bonfrerius): or, 2. it was left uncultivated; which is not strange in that great famine and barrenness (Bonfrerius).

[1] Hebrew: וַ֙יֹּאמֶר֙ לַגֹּאֵ֔ל חֶלְקַת֙ הַשָּׂדֶ֔ה אֲשֶׁ֥ר לְאָחִ֖ינוּ לֶאֱלִימֶ֑לֶךְ מָכְרָ֣ה נָעֳמִ֔י הַשָּׁ֖בָה מִשְּׂדֵ֥ה מוֹאָֽב׃

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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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