Filled with nervous energy, Ruth could barely eat breakfast. Dare she consider the enormous sack of barley occupying their tiny kitchen an engagement gift? Naomi thinks so.
But, what about the nearer kinsman? How long will it take Boaz to discuss the matter with him? Will he come to inform her of the outcome immediately, or will he delay until tomorrow?
Ruth wanted to marry Boaz and no one else.
“He is such a good man,” Ruth told Naomi. “This morning, when his workers jumped to the wrong conclusion about a woman staying the night on the threshing floor, Boaz immediately protected my honor. Now, he has gone to speak to the closer relative. How can I stand the waiting?”
"We just have to keep busy," Naomi responded and as she began the daily chores, she chitchatted about incidental things. However, Ruth found it difficult to stay engaged in the conversation. Her thoughts kept drifting off to the city gate and Boaz.
“Oh please Lord, let this go well.”
Boaz had arrived early at the city gate and no other elders were there. He arranged the seating and made sure a seat was available for when the closer relative appeared. One by one, the officials entered the city and attended to business, but, where was his relative?
Minutes seemed like hours. Boaz felt like going to his home and dragging him to the city gate, but no, he must stay calm. He cannot appear desperate. Any out of the ordinary emotion could cause this transaction to fail.
Finally, the closer relative strolled through the gate. Boaz offered up a silent prayer, and then said, “Come aside, friend, sit down here.” So, he did. Boaz quickly called ten elders of the city to join them and court was in session.
Boaz felt like shouting, but suddenly peace came over him. Nonchalantly, he spoke to his relative. “‘Naomi, who has come back from the country of Moab, sold the piece of land which belonged to our brother Elimelech.’ I wanted to notify you of this lucrative opportunity in the presence of these elders. If you will redeem it, great, but if not, you must let me know, because there’s only you or me.”
The closer relative didn’t even have to think about it. “I will redeem it,” he exclaimed.
Boaz’s heart sank. Hoping the other news would change his mind, Boaz then said, “‘…On the day you buy the field from the hand of Naomi, you must also buy it from Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of the dead, to perpetuate the name of the dead through his inheritance.’”
Surprised, the nearer kinsman said, “I cannot redeem it, lest it mar my own inheritance. You redeem it.” And with that he took off his sandal and handed it to Boaz.
Raising the sandal high, Boaz shouted, “‘You are my witnesses. I am buying the field of Elimelech, Mahlon, and Chilion from Naomi…’ I am also taking Ruth, the Moabitess, as my wife to provide Mahlon a name through his inheritance.”
Next week we’ll take a closer look.