Now Boaz had gone up to the gate and sat down there. And behold, the redeemer, of whom Boaz had spoken, came by. So Boaz said, “Turn aside, friend; sit down here.” And he turned aside and sat down. And he took ten men of the elders of the city and said, “Sit down here.” So they sat down. Then he said to the redeemer, “Naomi, who has come back from the country of Moab, is selling the parcel of land that belonged to our relative Elimelech. So I thought I would tell you of it and say, ‘Buy it in the presence of those sitting here and in the presence of the elders of my people.’ If you will redeem it, redeem it. But if you[a] will not, tell me, that I may know, for there is no one besides you to redeem it, and I come after you.” And he said, “I will redeem it.” Ruth 4:1-4
For many people, reading the Bible can be, quite frankly, a bit disappointing. They see God speaking to people, but they’ve never heard His voice. They see angels delivering messages, but all they get are bills in the mail. They see God perform miracles in the pages of Scripture, but not in the problems of their lives.
For these people, Ruth can be a very encouraging book. In it, God never speaks, no angels show up, and no miracles occur. The entire book is painfully ordinary—people burying their loved ones, moving to another city, struggling to make ends meet, and having a complex romantic relationship.
In this latest scene, Boaz wants to marry Ruth and also take care of her mother-in-law, Naomi. But to do so, he needs to bump a relative out of the first position of legal right to redeem the women and their property. So Boaz arrives at the city gate, which was the central place where business was transacted, legal matters were settled, and social relationships were established. Echoing the “chance” arrival of Ruth in the field of Boaz (2:3), here the providential hand of God is once again revealed as the very man with whom Boaz needed to negotiate the redeeming of Ruth just “happened” to walk past shortly after Boaz arrived at the gate. The author of Ruth is careful to note the names of various characters throughout the story, but here omits the man’s name. Boaz basically calls him Mr. So-and-So, likely to show that the man wasn’t a great man.
Demonstrating strong initiative and leadership, Boaz quickly gathered enough elders to render a legal decision and instructed them to sit down and listen to his case. Boaz then explained that Naomi the widow was in financial desperation and looking to sell her land for her very survival. The fact that Naomi owned the land was very unusual and that she was also willing to sell what had belonged to their family for generations underscored the degree of her desperation. The family name and line of Elimelech was at this point dangling by the thread of two impoverished childless widows, and without Boaz shrewdly redeeming the situation, tragedy was virtually guaranteed.
- Tell stories* of deals you have negotiated. *Have fun with this, and share any funny or odd stories of deals you have struck in business or relationships. As an example, one husband liked to go fishing so his wife negotiated a deal that every time he did she got to go to the spa.