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What is a kinsman redeemer?

August 19, 2011

The second concept that the Book of Ruth emphasizes is redemption. God’s providential hand in redeeming Ruth and Naomi from poverty is evident. He controlled circumstances so that Ruth and Boaz would meet, and He prompted Boaz to fulfill the responsibilities of the “close relative” or the kinsmanredeemer (3:9). The kinsman-redeemer was “the defender of family rights.” This individual was a close relative who had the financial resources to rescue a poverty-stricken family member, stepping in to save that relative from slavery or from having to sell the family’s ancestral land. In the story of Ruth, Boaz redeemed the land that Naomi was about to sell. He also took on another of the kinsman-redeemer’s responsibilities—the obligation of providing an heir for Ruth’s deceased husband, Mahlon. Dying without an heir was considered a tragedy in the ancient Middle East. To rectify this situation, the brother of a deceased man was expected to marry the widow in order to produce a child, who would be considered the heir of the deceased. This was called a levirate marriage. Boaz willingly took on this duty, even though he was not the nearest relative (3:12, 13). He bought the land from Naomi, married Ruth, and carried on the family name through the birth of their son. Through all these actions, Boaz exemplified the compassion and love of a redeemer. His life is an illustration for us of the compassion of Jesus, who is our Redeemer (Gal. 3:13).

 

Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1997). The Nelson study Bible : New King James Version. Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.

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