Why did the nearer kinsman refuse to marry Ruth?


By BibleAsk Team

Ruth and the Nearer Kinsman

Boaz asked the nearer of kinsman of Ruth (the converted Moabitess) to redeem her by marrying her. Boaz said to him, “Naomi, who has come back from Moab, is selling the piece of land that belonged to our relative Elimelech. I thought I should bring the matter to your attention and suggest that you buy it in the presence of these seated here and in the presence of the elders of my people. If you will redeem it, do so. But if you will not, tell me, so I will know. For no one has the right to do it except you, and I am next in line” (Ru. 4:3–4).

The acquiring of the land seemed a reasonable business opportunity for the nearer of kinsman but there were conditions. Boaz added, “On the day you buy the land from Naomi, you also acquire Ruth the Moabite, the dead man’s widow, in order to maintain the name of the dead with his property” (Ru. 4:5). Realizing the obligations, the kinsman said, “I cannot redeem it because I might endanger my own estate. You redeem it yourself. I cannot do it” (verse 6).

The nearer kinsman was not willing to marry the Moabitess. It is possible that he had no children of his own to inherit his property. He figured, if he should marry her, the first child he might have with her would be counted as the child of her deceased husband. Then both the land that he might buy from Naomi, and also the kinsman’s own property, would go to her children. Or He didn’t wish to deal with the complications of splitting the inheritance he had for his current family members. Further, he may not have wanted the expenses of marriage and taking care of Noami.

On his part, Boaz may have had two reasons for desiring to buy the parcel of land and to marry Ruth. He may have been a widower with one or more grown sons. Boaz respected and loved Ruth. He did not mind the fact that the child he might have by her would be counted the child of her deceased husband, and that the property that he purchased from Naomi would go to her children and not to the children he may have had by a previous wife. It is obvious that Boaz was not prejudiced against the Moabite Ruth. His own mother may have been Rahab of Jericho (Ru. 1:1).

Then, the judges gave their verdict saying: “We are witnesses. May the Lord make the woman who is coming into your home like Rachel and Leah, who together built up the family of Israel. May you have standing in Ephrathah and be famous in Bethlehem. Through the offspring the Lord gives you by this young woman, may your family be like that of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah” (verses 11–12). So, Boaz married Ruth (Ru. 4:13) and they had a son which they called Obed, who was the grandfather of King David and an ancestor of the Messiah (Matthew 1:5–6).

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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