“So 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].” Ruth 4:6,7
This old custom was considered a confirmation to the children of Israel of giving his right to Boaz for the purchase and redemption.
“Then Boaz said, ‘The day that you buy the field from Naomi, you must also acquire Ruth the Moabitess, the widow of the deceased, to restore the name of the deceased to his inheritance.’ The closest relative (redeemer) said, ‘I cannot redeem it for myself, because [by marrying a Moabitess] I would jeopardize my own inheritance. Take my right of redemption (purchase) yourself, because I cannot redeem it…’ ” Ruth 4:5,6
Boaz had his presentation well thought out in a way that there would be no question of who would be the redeemer.
“Then Boaz went up to the city gate [where business and legal matters were settled] and sat down, and then the close relative (redeemer) of whom Boaz had spoken came by.” Ruth 4:1
On the gates of some cities the law that God gave through Moses was written on or above the gate.
“Then Naomi said to Ruth, “Sit and wait, my daughter, until you learn how this matter turns out; for the man will not rest until he has settled it today.” Ruth 3:18
The stillness of the waiting was the greatest challenge for these two widows. Would Boaz be able to take the place of the close relative? Would they be redeemed at all?
“When Ruth came home, Naomi said, ‘How did it go, my daughter?’ And Ruth told her everything that Boaz had done for her. She said, ‘He gave me these six measures of barley, and he said to me, ‘Do not go back to your mother-in-law empty-handed.’ ” Ruth 3:16,17
Some say the six measures of barley represented the six members of Elimelech’s family – Elimelech and Naomi, Mahlon and Ruth, Chilion and Orpah.
“And Boaz said, ‘Give me the shawl you are wearing and hold it out.’ So Ruth held it and he measured out six measures of barley [into it] and placed it on her.” Ruth 3:15
Boaz provided grain from the harvest that had come after a long time of famine in Bethlehem. In the time of Israel’s bondage in Egypt God used Joseph to provide grain in preparation for a famine.
“So she lay at his feet until the morning…” Ruth 3:14
It was in Boaz’ hands now and Ruth laid back down at his feet secure in his promise.
“It is true that I am your close relative and redeemer; however, there is a relative closer [to you] than I. Spend the night [here], and in the morning if he will redeem you, fine; let him do it. But if he does not wish to redeem you, then, as the LORD lives, I will redeem you. Lie down until the morning.” Ruth 3:12-13
The “closer” relative of Boaz may have been an older brother or another blood relative such as an uncle.
“In the middle of the night Boaz was startled and he turned over, and found a woman lying at his feet. So he said, ‘Who are you?’ And she answered, ‘I am Ruth your maid. Spread the hem of your garment over me, for you are a close relative and redeemer.’ ’’ Ruth 3:9
Ruth as Mahlon’s widow, was asking Boaz to redeem the land of Elimelech’s family by marrying her.
“When Boaz had finished eating and drinking and his heart was happy, he went to lie down at the end of the stack of grain. Then Ruth came secretly, and uncovered his feet and lay down.” Ruth 3:7
Ruth is about to lay down at Boaz’ feet. It will be a gesture of humility, and when she places a portion of his covering over her it will be a symbolic way to ask for his protection by marriage.