Ruth 2:1 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Ruth 2:1, NIV: Now Naomi had a relative on her husband's side, a man of standing from the clan of Elimelek, whose name was Boaz.

Ruth 2:1, ESV: Now Naomi had a relative of her husband’s, a worthy man of the clan of Elimelech, whose name was Boaz.

Ruth 2:1, KJV: And Naomi had a kinsman of her husband's, a mighty man of wealth, of the family of Elimelech; and his name was Boaz.

Ruth 2:1, NASB: Now Naomi had a relative of her husband, a man of great wealth, of the family of Elimelech, whose name was Boaz.

Ruth 2:1, NLT: Now there was a wealthy and influential man in Bethlehem named Boaz, who was a relative of Naomi's husband, Elimelech.

Ruth 2:1, CSB: Now Naomi had a relative on her husband's side. He was a prominent man of noble character from Elimelech's family. His name was Boaz.

What does Ruth 2:1 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Having settled Naomi and Ruth in Bethlehem, the narrator introduces the hero of the story.

"Relative" is a vague term that leans more towards the idea of an "acquaintance," but placing him within the clan of Elimelech establishes the family connection (Ruth 2:20). We aren't given Elimelech's genealogy, but Boaz is descended from Nahshon (Ruth 4:20–21), the leader of the tribe of Judah during the exodus. His sister married Aaron, and Nahshon, himself, was the Israelites' third highest-ranking leader after Moses and Aaron (Exodus 6:23; Numbers 2:3).

Boaz is described as a "worthy man," or gibbor hayil. Gibbor means "powerful" and describes warriors, chiefs, giants, and tyrants. When referring to a man, hayil, sometimes spelled chayil, indicates great strength, wealth, and/or honor. Gibbor hayil can refer to a war hero (Joshua 6:2; 2 Samuel 17:8; Nehemiah 11:14) or a man of wealth (1 Samuel 9:1; 2 Kings 15:20). "Boaz" isn't a Hebrew name; it is Arabic for "liveliness" and is probably a nickname. Considering the volatile times of the judges, it's reasonable to conclude that Boaz is a military hero.

Despite Boaz's noble reputation, Ruth, a widowed foreigner, is his match. Later, Boaz will note that all the men in town recognize her as a "worthy woman" (Ruth 3:11). The term is eseth hayil or "noble woman" and is found in the heading of the passage on the Proverbs 31 woman. In fact, in the scrolls used at Jewish festivals Ruth follows Proverbs, most likely to provide the living example of a noble wife.

Later, Naomi will identify Boaz as "a close relative of ours, one of our redeemers" (Ruth 2:20). One of the responsibilities of a kinsman redeemer is to buy the land of a poor relative so that it stays within the clan (Leviticus 25:25). Ruth additionally challenges Boaz to a Levirate marriage, meaning he will provide an heir for Elimelech. He is not Elimelech's brother, so he is not obligated in the same way. Yet his honorable nature extends far beyond military prowess (Deuteronomy 25:5–6; Ruth 3:9–11; 4:13).