Ruth 4:5: Boaz's Legal Proposal, Part 3

Verse 5:[1] Then said Boaz, What day thou buyest the field of the hand of Naomi, thou must buy it also of Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of the dead, (Gen. 38:8; Deut. 25:5, 6; Ruth 3:13; Matt. 22:24) to raise up the name of the dead upon his inheritance.



[When thou wilt have bought the field of the hand of the woman, Ruth also…thou art obliged to receive,בְּיוֹם־קְנוֹתְךָ֥ הַשָּׂדֶ֖ה מִיַּ֣ד נָעֳמִ֑י וּ֠מֵאֵת ר֣וּת—קָנִ֔יתִי ] On what day thou wilt have acquired the field from the hand of Naomi, also from Ruth (or, also at that time from Ruth [English, Dutch]) the Moabitess, the wife of the dead, thou shalt buty it (Pagnine, Montanus, Septuagint, Jonathan, Vatablus, similarly Munster, Arabic). And this does not displease. For, from this, that he bought the field from the wife of the deceased, it was understood that he would also take her, so that the name of the deceased might be preserved; for she would not otherwise have acquiesced in the selling of that field, unless she also be taken unto wife (Dieu). Of Ruth…also thou shalt possess: but she will refuse, unless thou raise up the name of the deceased (Munster). But this, because a great many think that it is to be signified here openly, not insinuated tacitly, some recede from the words, so that they might insinuate that sense; and, in order to arrive at that sense, they take מֵאֵת/from in place of the simple אֶת,[2] and thus translate the place, on the day in which thou wilt have possessed the field from the hand of Naomi, thou shalt also possess Ruth, etc. (Dieu). Thus it is translated by Tigurinus, Drusius, similarly Castalio, Syriac. Thus it is expressed below in verse 10 (Drusius). But, if I am not mistaken, the same sense is able to be reached without any coaction of the text, in this manner: on which day thou wilt have acquired the field from the hand of Naomi, and from Ruth the Moabitess thou wilt have acquired the wife of the deceased, etc. That is, by the very fact that thou wilt acquire this field for thyself, not only from Naomi, but from the wife of the deceased, know that thou are also making her thine own, etc. And this indeed according to the קְרִי/Qere, which maintains that קָנִיתָה, thou wilt have acquired it, is read: but the כְּתִיב/Kethib is קָנִיתִי, I will have acquired, which I thus translate, on which day thou acquires the field from the hand of Naomi, from Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of the deceased, I would acquire, to raise up the name of the deceased, etc.; or, from Ruth the Moabitess I would acquire the wife of the deceased, to raise up, etc. That is, thou art indeed acquiring the field of the deceased, if I be as thou art, or if from me thou seekest what I myself would do in this matter, I would also take the wife of the deceased (Dieu out of Ibn Ezra). Others thus: on which day thou wilt acquire the field from the hand of Naomi, and also from Ruth the Moabitess thou wilt acquire, to raise up, etc. After נָעֳמִ֑י/Naomi there is a pause, or the strong disjunctive accent Atnah: whence the following words do not appear to be conjoined with that, and from Ruth the Moabitess thou wilt acquire, as if they should be referred to the field; but to what follows, and from Ruth thou wilt acquire (namely, the right), that thou mightest raise up the name, etc., that is, thou wilt marry her, just as soon as thou acquires the field. Similarly the Hebrew, and quite closely the Chaldean. In the Hebrew text it is not, thou wilt acquire it, that is, the field, but simpley, thou wilt acquire, namely, not the field, but Ruth, etc., which the following words argue, to raise up the name of the deceased: For, for this purpose was required, not the acquisition of the field, but of the wife (Buxtorf’s Vindication of the Integrity of the Hebrew[3] 2:11:761). Others thus: on which day thou wilt purchase that field alienated from the hand of Naomi, in any event from Ruth (I would prefer, at that time alienated from Ruth [Piscator]) the Moabitess, the wife of the deceased, thou wilt have purchased (Junius and Tremellius), or, wilt have bought (Piscator). The sense: When thou wilt buy the field of the deceased, thou art to have his wife at the same time, according to the law, of which mention is made in Matthew 22:24 (Drusius). Of course, read what is in Deuteronomy 25:5 and following, the authority for extending the custom from brethren to other relatives, as we said on that place. Nevertheless, the Hebrews say that here only the field is treated, which would have been bestowed by the husband to Ruth. But what is the connection, If thou wishest to have the field, thou oughtest also to have the widow? And the removal of the shoe? is it not here plainly as in Deuteronomy? But then Josephus, not ignorant of their ancestral laws, explains this passages as we have done (Grotius). Some thus distinguish: on which day thou wilt acquire that field from the hand of Naomi, and from Ruth the Moabitess thou wilt acquire the wife of the deceased (Malvenda). Moreover, to raise up the name is to restore to one’s brother his name in the family, which was extinguished with his male offspring: for sons only were numbered in the family; whence women were called נָשִׁים, from forgetting,[4] because in them the name of the family is forgotten; for they pass over into the families of their husbands (Drusius).


The wife of the dead; according to the law, Deuteronomy 25:5; Matthew 22:24, etc. To raise up the name of the dead; to revive his name, which was lost and buried with his body, by raising up a seed to him, to be called by his name.

[1] Hebrew: וַיֹּ֣אמֶר בֹּ֔עַז בְּיוֹם־קְנוֹתְךָ֥ הַשָּׂדֶ֖ה מִיַּ֣ד נָעֳמִ֑י וּ֠מֵאֵת ר֣וּת הַמּוֹאֲבִיָּ֤ה אֵֽשֶׁת־הַמֵּת֙ קָנִ֔יתִי לְהָקִ֥ים שֵׁם־הַמֵּ֖ת עַל־נַחֲלָתֽוֹ׃


[2] The direct object marker.


[3] Anticritica: seu Vindiciæ Veritatis Hebraicæ Adversus Ludovici Cappelli Criticam quam Vocat Sacram.


[4] Here, נָשִׁים/women is being derived from נָשָׁה, to forget.

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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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