Summary: 1) Boaz’s preparation for court action, (2) the transcript of the court proceedings, & (3) Boaz’s response to the outcome of the court proceedings.
This week saw the conviction of Garth Drabinsky and Myron Gottlieb receiving sentences of seven and six years in jail, respectively, by an Ontario Superior Court judge for their orchestrating a massive accounting fraud at theatre company Livent Inc. This has been a drama playing out for the past ten years that have captivated those from the arts to the business community.
There is something about a legal drama that continues to interest so many. From Matlock to Perry Mason, from Judge Joe Brown, to Jude Judy, the unfolding of deceipt, legal strategy and justice brings a mix of drama and strategy.
The final Chapter of Ruth, chapter 4, transpires at the gate of Bethlehem, that is, in the legal setting of a court. It brings to a conclusion the questions of Ruth`s future by her present redemption.
It also answers questions for us in our future though the assurance of Redemption. Examining the legal drama of Ruth 4:1-10 shows us though the fulfillment in the legal redemption that Christ accomplished for His saints. We can have hope knowing what the future will hold and have present assurance though faith that is brought by the redemption of Christ.
These answeres are shown though the legal drama of: (1) Boaz’s preparation for court action (vv. 1–2), (2) the transcript of the court proceedings (vv. 3–8), (3) Boaz’s response to the outcome of the court proceedings (vv. 9–10).
(1) Boaz’s Preparation for Court Action (4:1–2)
Ruth 4:1-2 [4:1]Now Boaz had gone up to the gate and sat down there. And behold, the redeemer, of whom Boaz had spoken, came by. So Boaz said, "Turn aside, friend; sit down here." And he turned aside and sat down. And he took ten men of the elders of the city and said, "Sit down here." So they sat down. (ESV)
The beginning of this segment of drama with ``now`` is intended to show the immediate flow of action following up from the promise of immediate action at the end of chapter 3. Boaz’s midnight promise to take action on behalf of Ruth “in the morning” (3:13) and Naomi’s expression of confidence that Boaz will not rest unless he settles the matter “today” (3:18), this episode must be understood to have transpired that very day.
That Boaz had gone up to the gate here is idiomatic for him “to go to court,”. City gates in Palestine in the early iron age were complex structures with lookout towers at the outside and a series of rooms on either side of the gateway where defenders of the town would be stationed. But these gateways also served a secondary purpose, as a gathering place for the citizens of the town (Z. Herzog, “Fortifications (Levant),” ABD 2.848–52.). No preliminaries were necessary in summoning one before the public assemblage; no writings and no delay were required.
In a short conversation the matter was stated and arranged—probably in the morning as people went out, or at noon when they returned from the field (Jamieson, Robert ; Fausset, A. R. ; Fausset, A. R. ; Brown, David ; Brown, David: A Commentary, Critical and Explanatory, on the Old and New Testaments. Oak Harbor, WA : Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997, S. Ru 4:1).
Normally when individuals would come in from the fields and go up to the town, they would pass right through the gate and go straight to their homes. But Boaz seems to have had no time to go home. Having arrived at the gate, he “sat down there.” The citizens would recognize this as an official act; he had arrived for legal business. No sooner had he sat down than the gōʾēl “just happened” to pass by. The word hinnēh, “Behold,” expresses Boaz’s surprise at his appearance. With a superficial reading of the book the timing of the kinsman-redeemer’s arrival may seem coincidental, but a deeper reading will recognize again the hidden hand of God. In 3:13, when Boaz had suggested to Ruth that he would take action in the morning, he had invoked the name of Yahweh in an oath as a sign of his determination to resolve the issue quickly. Now Yahweh ensures the quick resolution of the matter by sending him by the gate just as Boaz was sitting down. Presumably the gōʾēl was on his way out of town to work in his fields.
Addressing the man directly, Boaz invited the gōʾēl to turn aside and sit down. But the way in which he addressed the man is curious. The expression pĕlōnî ʾalmōnî, rendered “my friend”. He addresses him as Mr. “So-and so” or `Hey You``. Why would the narrator, who is otherwise so careful with names, keep this character anonymous? Whatever the motivation, the effect is to diminish our respect for him. To be sure, nothing overtly negative is said about him, but like Orpah, who serves as a foil for Ruth in chap. 1, this man presents a contrast to Boaz. He may be the gōʾēl, but he will shortly be dismissed as irrelevant to the central theme of the book: the preservation of the royal line of David.