What does Ruth 3:12 mean?
ESV: And now it is true that I am a redeemer. Yet there is a redeemer nearer than I.
NIV: Although it is true that I am a guardian-redeemer of our family, there is another who is more closely related than I.
NASB: But now, although it is true that I am a redeemer, yet there is also a redeemer more closely related than I.
CSB: Yes, it is true that I am a family redeemer, but there is a redeemer closer than I am.
NLT: But while it’s true that I am one of your family redeemers, there is another man who is more closely related to you than I am.
KJV: And now it is true that I am thy near kinsman: howbeit there is a kinsman nearer than I.
NKJV: Now it is true that I am a close relative; however, there is a relative closer than I.
Verse Commentary:
Naomi returned to Bethlehem from Moab after the deaths of her husband and sons; her Moabite daughter-in-law, Ruth, insisted on accompanying her (Ruth 1). Ruth has spent the last two months gleaning from the fields of Boaz (Ruth 2:23). Naomi mentioned in passing that Boaz is a "redeemer"—he is a relative of Elimelech, Naomi's late husband, so he has the responsibility of buying Elimelech's land from the man he sold it to when they went to Moab (Leviticus 25:25–28, 47–49; Ruth 2:20). But Boaz mentions that Elimelech has a nearer relative who has the first right of refusal.

As the harvest was finishing up, Naomi told Ruth to take off her widow's clothes and present herself to Boaz as a potential wife (Ruth 3:3). Naomi knows Bethlehem well—she must know about this other redeemer. So why did Naomi send Ruth to Boaz? Because Naomi's priority is that Ruth find a good husband where she can find rest (Ruth 3:1)—this has always been her priority (Ruth 1:9). Kinsmen-redeemers have nothing to do with marriage, only land.

It doesn't occur to Naomi to arrange for a levirate marriage (Deuteronomy 25:5–6). Boaz is not the brother of Elimelech or Elimelech's son, and apparently neither is this other redeemer. They aren't obliged under the law to provide Elimelech with an heir. It's Ruth who decides Naomi needs an heir and Boaz is close enough. She combines the responsibilities of kinsman-redeemer and levirate brother. Boaz is so impressed with Ruth's willingness to do whatever it takes to restore Naomi's honor that he agrees.

The problem is this other kinsman. In fact, his existence may be why Boaz didn't offer to buy Elimelech's land when Naomi first arrived. Undoubtedly, Ruth would gratefully marry Boaz because of who he is, but Boaz knows he's not her first priority. He promises to do what it takes to fulfill her wishes: find a man to buy the land and give her a son.
Verse Context:
In Ruth 3:10–15, Boaz presents his plan to make Ruth's plan come to fruition. She has asked him to be Naomi's kinsman-redeemer, to buy Naomi's land and provide for her needs. Ruth has also proposed marriage and asked Boaz to give Naomi an heir who will inherit the land. Boaz is humbled by Ruth's dedication to her mother-in-law, but there's a problem—he is not the closest relative. He has to offer the plan to another man. If that man refuses, he will do everything Ruth says.
Chapter Summary:
In Ruth 3, Naomi schemes to find Ruth a good husband, as was always her hope (Ruth 1:9). She tells Ruth how to propose to Boaz. When Boaz has fallen asleep after a long and joyful day of winnowing grain, Ruth is to gently awaken him and make her proposal. Ruth goes beyond Naomi's instruction, however. Boaz understands that Ruth expects him to buy Naomi's land and give her an heir to re-inherit it. He praises Ruth for her devotion to her mother-in-law, but there is another relative who is closer. In the next chapter, Boaz dispenses with his rival and marries Ruth.
Chapter Context:
Ruth 3 is the wind-up to the climax of the story. Ruth and Naomi returned to Bethlehem from Moab two months prior. Boaz, a relative of Naomi's late husband, has allowed Ruth to harvest enough grain to last the women a year (Ruth 1—2). Now that their physical needs are addressed, Naomi wants Ruth married to Boaz. Ruth wants Boaz to provide an heir for Naomi. Boaz is again impressed with Ruth's self-sacrifice and agrees (Ruth 3). After negotiating with a closer relative, Boaz marries Ruth and gives Naomi a son. That son becomes King David's grandfather (Ruth 4).
Book Summary:
Though set in a time of violence and tragedy, the book of Ruth tells one of Scripture’s most uplifting stories. Naomi, an Israelite, leaves her home during a famine. While away, in Moab, her husband and sons die. Naomi convinces one of her Moabite daughters-in-law to leave her and seek a new life. The other, Ruth, refuses, declaring her love and loyalty to Naomi. When the pair return to Israel, they encounter Boaz. This man is both kind and moral; his treatment of Ruth secures Naomi’s future and becomes part of king David’s ancestry.
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