The main characters in the book of Ruth are two women and the story is told from their viewpoint. But Boaz has a significant role in the events that unfold, and he is central to the outcome. The story of Boaz in the Bible is important because of the underlying message it reveals. There is a hint of what is to follow and the basis of the hope that we now depend on.
The Story of Boaz in The Bible
We find the story of Boaz in the Bible in the book of Ruth, which is set during the time of the Judges. It begins with a family leaving Bethlehem and moving to Moab to escape famine. This decision is not commented on, but Bethlehem symbolized the covenant promises of God. And Moab represented the complete opposite.
Chapter one closes with Naomi returning to Bethlehem empty and bitter. Moab had brought nothing but disappointment and grief. She returned without her husband and sons but was accompanied by her daughter-in-law, Ruth.
Who Was Boaz?
The second chapter of the book of Ruth begins by introducing Boaz, simply as a relative of Naomi.
“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
As women on their own Naomi and Ruth were in a precarious position with no means of support. But Ruth took a step of faith by believing that the people in Israel would be true to God. She went out to glean the harvest fields. In the law of Moses, landowners were to leave the gleanings for the poor to collect. This was a way to provide for those who were in desperate need.
Ruth just happened to choose to work in fields that belonged to Boaz. He immediately noticed her, and questioned his harvest overseer about her. Then Boaz spoke directly to Ruth and advised her to stay with his harvesters for her own safety.
It transpired that, in a small town like Bethlehem, Boaz had heard about Ruth’s devotion to Naomi. He was generous to this young woman, and offered her water to drink while she worked, and bread to eat at mealtimes. More than that he instructed his harvesters to deliberately leave grain for her to collect!
That day Ruth took an exceptionally large amount of grain home, aswell as the leftovers of her meal. She explained to Naomi that she had worked in Boaz’s fields. And Naomi revealed that he was a close relative, and a kinsman redeemer!
“So Ruth stayed close to the women of Boaz to glean until the barley and wheat harvests were finished. And she lived with her mother-in-law.”Ruth 2:23
What is the Boaz Blessing?
The harvest season was coming to an end and Naomi had formed a plan. She wanted to secure a future home for Ruth! Chapter three unfolds at night, discreetly, hidden from all but those involved. In faith Naomi took the initiative and Ruth was obedient to her mother-in-law. Ruth risked her reputation with this daring plan.
Acting in faith almost always involves exposing ourselves to vulnerability. But Ruth’s faith was grounded in covenant promises, just as ours is today.
Ruth was instructed to wash, put on perfume and her best clothes. She was to remain hidden at the threshing floor until the celebrations were over and Boaz went to lie down. Then she was to approach, uncover his feet and lie down next to him.
In the middle of the night, Boaz stirred and was startled to find a young woman lying next to him. Immediately he wanted to know who it was!
“I am your servant Ruth,” she said. “Spread the corner of your garment over me, since you are a guardian-redeemer of our family.”Ruth 3:9
Ruth’s reply was understood by Boaz. She was asking him to fulfil the role of kinsman-redeemer towards her through marriage.
The Boaz blessing is simply the words of favor and assurance that Boaz spoke to Ruth for the way in which she had conducted herself. She had nothing to fear, and he would do for her all that she had asked. He promised to resolve the matter in the morning, one way or another, because Boaz was not the closest relative…
“And now my daughter, don’t be afraid. I will do for you all you ask.”Ruth 3:11
Related Post: Ruth the Moabitess – A Model of Faithfulness
Boaz Kinsman Redeemer
Boaz wasted no time in resolving this matter. He went to the town-gate, the place where deals would be arranged and disputes settled. Just then, the other relative who was also a guardian redeemer arrived.
Among ten elders of the town the matter was settled. The other man although interested in acquiring the land belonging to Elimelek did not want another wife who could be a threat to his own estate. He was willing to give the right to buy the land to Boaz.
Boaz publicly announced to the elders that they were witnesses. He would purchase the land belonging to Elimelek from Naomi. Boaz would also marry Ruth the Moabitess.
“I have also acquired Ruth the Moabite, Mahlon’s widow, as my wife, in order to maintain the name of the dead with his property, so that his name will not disappear from among his family or from his hometown. Today you are my witnesses!”Ruth 4:10
The elders conferred a blessing of children on Ruth like that of Rachel and Leah who built up the family of Israel. This was remarkable to bless a childless Moabite woman in this way. They affirmed Boaz’s position of standing and that he would become famous in Bethlehem through the offspring that God would give him and Ruth!
The blessing proved to be prophetic, far beyond what they could have foreseen. And the story of Boaz in the Bible concludes with Naomi caring for a child and at the centre of family life.
You might also like to read: Why did Naomi change her name to Mara?
The child that brought hope and fullness of life to Naomi was Obed the son of Boaz and Ruth. Obed became the father of Jesse, who was the father of David, in the line and ancestry of Jesus.
Why Is The Story of Boaz in the Bible Important?
The story of Boaz in the Bible is important because his role as redeemer reveals an important message for us today.
Naomi and her family left Bethlehem, God’s land of covenant promise, to go to Moab looking for fulfilment. But she returned empty, disappointed, and bitter. The timing of her return, though, brought a glimmer of hope with the possibility of redemption and restoration. Although all seemed lost, there was in Bethlehem a kinsman redeemer.
What is a Kinsman Redeemer?
Boaz was a relative of Elimelek, Naomi’s deceased husband. This relationship was significant – he was one of the men who had an obligation to look after Elimelek’s family after his death. This was prescribed in Mosaic law. The guardian-redeemer was to stand up for the justice of the deceased or wronged person, and their family.
Boaz’s actions redeemed Naomi and Ruth’s position. He brought them back from a place of emptiness to fullness, from grief and loss, to joy and full restoration. Once more their future was secure, and they were part of a family.
Boaz’s role as kinsman redeemer foreshadows for us the role of Jesus, our Lord and Savior. Jesus is our Redeemer, the One who provides forgiveness for our sins. He is the only way for full restoration of our broken relationship with God. And for those who choose to believe, and follow Jesus, adoption into God’s family with the gift of eternal life.
But there is also hope and encouragement here for believers, who wander and turn away from the Lord. There are times when we mess up and go our own way. But there is no-one too far from God that He cannot redeem.
If we turn back to the Lord, empty and disappointed, when things have not worked out our way, He is our Redeemer. Jesus is the One who brings full and abundant life.
“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full”John 10:10
The Messiah, our Savior comes from the tribe of Judah, from the line of David, who was the great grandson of Boaz and Ruth. God blessed Boaz for his selfless actions, and revealed through him the basis of our hope, Jesus our Redeemer.