Ruth 4:9 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Ruth 4:9, NIV: Then Boaz announced to the elders and all the people, 'Today you are witnesses that I have bought from Naomi all the property of Elimelek, Kilion and Mahlon.

Ruth 4:9, ESV: Then Boaz said to the elders and all the people, “You are witnesses this day that I have bought from the hand of Naomi all that belonged to Elimelech and all that belonged to Chilion and to Mahlon.

Ruth 4:9, KJV: And Boaz said unto the elders, and unto all the people, Ye are witnesses this day, that I have bought all that was Elimelech's, and all that was Chilion's and Mahlon's, of the hand of Naomi.

Ruth 4:9, NASB: Then Boaz said to the elders and all the people, 'You are witnesses today that I have bought from the hand of Naomi all that belonged to Elimelech and all that belonged to Chilion and Mahlon.

Ruth 4:9, NLT: Then Boaz said to the elders and to the crowd standing around, 'You are witnesses that today I have bought from Naomi all the property of Elimelech, Kilion, and Mahlon.

Ruth 4:9, CSB: Boaz said to the elders and all the people, "You are witnesses today that I am buying from Naomi everything that belonged to Elimelech, Chilion, and Mahlon.

What does Ruth 4:9 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Two months prior, Naomi had casually mentioned that the man who owned the barley Ruth had gleaned was a "redeemer" (Ruth 2:20). One of the blessings God intended for the Israelites is that every family not from the tribe of Levi would own land. Because people are fallen, inevitably some people would fall into poverty. If someone had so much debt they had to sell their land, that was a violation of God's intent for the Israelites. It was especially so if the man sold the land to someone outside his clan and tribe.

To mitigate damage to the social order, a near relative was to purchase the land until either the original owner could earn the money to buy it back or until the year of Jubilee (Leviticus 25:25–28, 47–49). Jubilee was an extra special Sabbath that occurred after every seven-sevens of years, or every fifty years. At that time, prisoners, captives, and slaves were to be released and all land was returned to the family of its original owner. The people and the land were to have a year of rest (Leviticus 25:8–34).

Naomi's husband, Elimelech, owned farmland when the family left for Moab. Now, Elimelech and his two sons are dead (Ruth 1:1–5). Naomi can't hold the land because she's a woman and not in Elimelech's birth family. Ruth can't hold it because she's a woman and a foreigner. Elimelech's next-of-kin has withdrawn his right to buy Elimelech's land and keep it in the clan (Ruth 4:6). Boaz, Elimelech's second-closest male relative, legally takes possession. He will buy the land and all possessions Elimelech and his sons owned from Naomi. Inferred is that he will also take responsibility for Naomi's well-being.

At this time, some financial records were recorded on clay and sealed in pots. We have no idea how extensive the practice was or if Boaz included a written record. We do know that when the Israelites entered the Promised Land, they still owned the land Jacob had purchased over four hundred years prior (Joshua 24:32). Boaz's verbal pronouncement in front of ten city elders and a larger crowd of people is likely enough, especially since Naomi agrees to the transaction. The phrase "this day," hayyom in Hebrew, establishes that Boaz's action is finished and will continue. It also shows that Naomi was right when, early that morning, she had told Ruth, "Wait, my daughter, until you learn how the matter turns out, for the man will not rest but will settle the matter today" (Ruth 3:18).

Fulfilling his role as the redeemer is Boaz's legal responsibility. He goes further, however. He also takes Ruth as his wife to provide Elimelech with a male heir who will re-inherit the land he has redeemed (Ruth 4:10). He has no legal responsibility to do this. But he is a "worthy man" (Ruth 2:1) who has profound respect for Ruth (Ruth 2:11–12).