Ruth 4:5-6 – Boaz’s Legal Argument


Ruth 4:5-6


Boaz presents a legal argument to Naomi’s and Ruth’s nearer next-of-kin.


What Boaz does with the law while sitting at the gate is astounding.  He names how the law works in relation to Ruth without actually making an argument.  He mixes together the issues of inherited property (wealth) and taking on the wife of a deceased brother (perceived burden). Technically the law of the levirate names the responsibility of brothers residing in the same household.  But Boaz, accepting the understanding of Naomi and the invitation of Ruth, expands the notion of brotherhood to include within its purview the nearest living male relative, the go’el, the redeemer.  He takes the meaning of the responsibility far beyond mere blood relationship.  In the terminology of baptism one might say that he is arguing that water is thicker than blood.  His knowledge of Ruth as a woman of loyalty, commitment, and value influences his own reading of how the law is to be interpreted.  The law serves the larger purpose of covenantal love.