Growing with God: A daily devotional with Tonia Slimm.
Ruth 4:7-8 (NIV)
(Now in earlier times in Israel, for the redemption and transfer of property to become final, one party took off his sandal and gave it to the other. This was the method of legalizing transactions in Israel.) So the guardian-redeemer said to Boaz, “Buy it yourself.” And he removed his sandal.
Ruth 4:7-8 (MSG)
In the olden times in Israel, this is how they handled official business regarding matters of property and inheritance: a man would take off his shoe and give it to the other person. This was the same as an official seal or personal signature in Israel. So when Boaz’s “redeemer” relative said, “Go ahead and buy it,” he signed the deal by pulling off his shoe.
“Now formerly in Israel this was the custom concerning redeeming and exchanging property. To confirm a transaction, a man pulled off his sandal and gave it to the other. This was the way of confirming and attesting in Israel. So, when the closest relative (redeemer) said to Boaz, “Buy it for yourself,” he pulled off his sandal [and gave it to Boaz to confirm the agreement].” -AMPLIFIED
We come to an interesting part now in our study of Ruth that many of us may not understand. The author of Ruth makes note of the fact that in this period of time it was custom to “seal the deal” by having party #1 take off his shoe and in order to give it to party #2. This would make their transaction a legal and binding contract. The shoe itself was a symbol that an agreement had been made.
So we find here in our story that the closest of kin, upon his rejection of marrying Ruth, informs Boaz that he is giving up his rights. Boaz can buy the property himself and become the kinsman redeemer. The kinsman than removes his shoe and hands it to Boaz as confirmation of their agreement.
After this procedure was accomplished every bond was broken between the kinsman redeemer and Ruth. Now, finally, Boaz was legally able to marry Ruth. The kinsman redeemer basically is telling Boaz, “Everything is in your lap now; it is your responsibility.”
Boaz then addresses everyone in the area; the leaders and any other people that had gathered around. “Every one of you have witnessed what happened here today. I secured the rights to everything that belonged to Elimelech and his sons, Mahlon and Chilion, from Naomi. I have also taken responsibility for Ruth—the woman from Moab who was married to Mahlon. She will become my wife. I will see to it that his family and this city remember Mahlon. I will raise children who will bear his name and make sure his property stays in the family. You are all witnesses to this today.” -Ruth 4:9-10 (VOICE)
They in turn agree with him that they were witnesses to the transaction between these two men. “We are witnesses of what has happened here today. May the Eternal take this woman who is becoming a part of your family today and make her like Rachel and Leah, the two women responsible for building the nation of Israel with their children. And may your reputation become well known and well respected throughout Ephrathah and Bethlehem. May the children the Eternal gives you and this woman make your family like the family of Perez, who was born from a Levirate union between Judah and Tamar.” -Ruth 4:11-12 (VOICE)
At this point the next of kin would have gone home, gimp style mind you, walking with one shoe; for he had given the other shoe to Boaz. All rights to the property have now been transferred to Boaz; including the right to marry Ruth. Let us remember WHY Boaz has gone through all of this, because he loves Ruth.
Love for another will help us do things that we might not otherwise do; including putting their interests before our own. Remember, Ruth’s firstborn son would rightly be known as the son of Elimelech. In this way Elimelech’s line would continue on. This son would also be heir apparent to the property and Boaz, though he would raise this child as his own, would not be able to pass his own property or his name on to this child.
Boaz has declared before witnesses what his intent is; he will marry Ruth. She WILL become his wife. He will allow her firstborn son to carry on Elimelech’s name and possess the property; through great expense from Boaz’s own pocket, mind you. At the end of his declaration everyone agreed with him that they were witnesses to his announcement. TRUE LOVE has won the day!
What is the symbolism of the shoe? It is this; on this day, Boaz has redeemed Ruth and Elimelech’s property. It has now become his responsibility to care for and make sure that all is well with it until Ruth’s firstborn son takes over as heir apparent. The passing of the sandal symbolized Boaz’s right to walk upon the land. The custom came from the fact that one could take possession of fixed property by treading upon the soil and then taking off the shoe and handing it to another–a symbol of the transfer of a possession or right of ownership.
Boaz’s love for Ruth has put aside his own needs to look to the needs of Ruth and her family. True love has won. Ruth’s willingness to leave all that she knew, to follow Naomi back to Bethlehem, also shows us that true love won out. Such a beautiful picture for us; a reminder of Christ true love for us and His willingness to do whatever it took to make us His very own!
Lord, thank you for that love that you have shown me. Your love that would not be swayed, but did whatever it took to make me your very own. Jesus, your love is overwhelming and totally amazing. Let that love be in me too, please. Help me to love like you love. Help me to go the extra mile in order that others may see your love in me.