Then Boaz announced to the elders and all the people, “Today you are witnesses that I have bought from Naomi all the property of Elimelek, Kilion and Mahlon. I have also acquired Ruth the Moabite, Mahlon’s widow, as my wife, in order to maintain the name of the dead with his property, so that his name will not disappear from among his family or from his hometown. Today you are witnesses!” Ruth 4, verses 9-10.
- Let’s not get all wrapped around the axle about words that don’t easily translate or old customs that don’t fit in our so-called modern world. Our definition of marriage is changing. The idea of someone ‘acquiring’ someone else seems antiquated to us. In fact, in the context of today’s verses, where Ruth is lumped into all the other property Boaz acquires from the estate of Naomi’s husband and sons, the use of the word seems almost savage.
Like I said, don’t get wrapped around the axle. First, notice the subtleties of language. Boaz buys physical property, but ‘acquires’ Ruth as his wife. It’s one thing to buy but a completely different thing to somehow acquire. And acquisition does not necessarily mean a derogatory thing. It certainly doesn’t in the context of these verses.
Things and possessions are inanimate. They have no life; they are just objects, things, property, and, in the large scheme of things, worthless; yes, I said worthless. Sure, they can carry great monetary and sentimental value for now. You and I each own things that are valuable, or meaningful. My house is full of things I have bought or been given; heirlooms, family treasures, and things I enjoy and would like to share with others. They don’t mean a thing. When I die, someone else will acquire or buy them. Just this week, in fact, I’m in Oklahoma, readying my mom’s house for a large garage sale that will sell most of her remaining posessions. It’s just stuff. It means something, but it doesn’t mean everything. If it did, then please tell me when was the last time you heard of, saw, or touched any bit of property that Boaz purchased from Elimelek’s estate? Yeah, I thought so.
People mean something, though. People were created to reflect God’s image, to share Him and His amazing love. We pass on memories, stories, and that divine love as a way to keep alive the people who came before us. Boaz didn’t marry a piece of land or a table: he married Ruth. How we interact with each other matters. How we interact with each other should mirror our relationship with God. Boaz knew this, and he knew that, by marrying Ruth, he would preserve both his name AND the name of her first husband (and his family) longer than just his own years. In this way, when he ‘acquired’ Ruth, he also acquired a future for her past.
Lord, help me to better reflect You in how I live.
Read Ruth 4.