This post follows the Bible reading plan available at oaktreechurch.com/soap. You can read all my New Testament notes in my book New Testament: Chapter by Chapter.
Chapter four concludes the book and Ruth’s story. Outside of this book, her name appears again only in Matthew 1:5. Boaz fulfilled his promise to find out whether the closer relative would claim his right to marry Ruth (Ruth 4:1-12). Following both God’s laws and the customs of his day, Boaz gathered some of the village leaders to witness the transaction and waited for his relative to enter the village. 1
There is some debate over Boaz’ discussion with the other man. In Ruth 3:13 Boaz seemed to indicate that it would be the man’s choice to marry Ruth. In Ruth 4:4-5, Boaz attached the marriage to her as a condition for redeeming Elimelech’s family property from Naomi. It is possible that the man did not know that Mahlon had a widow, and Boaz used that to his advantage, knowing that the relative would want the land but not Mahlon’s widow. When that important detail came to light, the relative refused all of it, allowing Boaz to legally and freely claim both the land and Ruth, which he did in front of the village leaders (Ruth 4:6-10). They witnessed the transaction and invoked the names of Jehovah, Jacob (Israel), and Judah, asking God to bless Boaz and Ruth forever (Ruth 4:11-12).
God honored this request by giving the couple a son (Ruth 4:13-17). Not only did this promote the family line, but it also comforted Naomi in her old age. This son became the grandfather of none other than King David. 2 The final verses indicate that the book of Ruth was written either during or after David’s reign or that someone appended them to the book at that time. Thus, the story ends with Boaz fulfilling his role as the Kinsman-Redeemer of his family, foreshadowing the one who would come from heaven to be born in the same village and take on human nature so he could become the Kinsman-Redeemer of the entire world – Jesus the Messiah, son of David, descendant of Boaz and Ruth.
- Constable points out the significance that the relative is never named. By refusing to exercise his right and responsibility as the closest relative, he forfeited having his name recorded, not only in Scripture, but as the ancestor of David (Ruth 4:22) and, ultimately, the Messiah (Matthew 1:5). ↩
- Assuming the line of Boaz–Obed–Jesse–David had no unmentioned gaps, then this story took place near the end of the judges’ period, probably within just one or two generations of King Saul. ↩