Boaz accepts Ruth’s request to marry her if her next of kin relinquishes his right to do so. He wastes no time arranging for the legal resolution of the issue (Ruth 4:1–12). By now the reader knows that nothing in this book happens by chance, and when on the very next day the next-of-kin happens to pass by the gate where Boaz has sat down, this too is attributable to the hand of God. If Ruth had been present for the legal proceedings in the gate, her heart would have sunk as the man with first rights announces he would claim Elimelech’s land. However, when Boaz reminded him that Ruth goes with the land, and he consequently changed his mind, her hope would have risen. What accounted for his change of mind? He says that he has just remembered he has a contravening legal obligation. “I cannot redeem it for myself without damaging my own inheritance” (Ruth 4:6), but the excuse is garbled and feeble. Yet it is enough for Boaz, whose speech of acceptance of the verdict is a model of clarity and logic. The case could easily have gone the other way, but it appears that the outcome was guided by God from the beginning.
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