Ruth 4:2
And he took ten men of the elders of the city, and said, Sit ye down here. And they sat down.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Ruth 4:2. He took ten men — To be witnesses; for though two or three witnesses were sufficient, yet in weightier matters they used more. And ten was the usual number among the Jews in causes of matrimony and divorce, and translation of inheritances; who were both judges of the causes and witnesses of the fact.

4:1-8 This matter depended on the laws given by Moses about inheritances, and doubtless the whole was settled in the regular and legal manner. This kinsman, when he heard the conditions of the bargain, refused it. In like manner many are shy of the great redemption; they are not willing to espouse religion; they have heard well of it, and have nothing to say against it; they will give it their good word, but they are willing to part with it, and cannot be bound to it, for fear of marring their own inheritance in this world. The right was resigned to Boaz. Fair and open dealing in all matters of contract and trade, is what all must make conscience of, who would approve themselves true Israelites, without guile. Honesty will be found the best policy.Every city was governed by elders (see Deuteronomy 19:12; Judges 8:14). For the number "ten," compare Exodus 18:25. Probably the presence of, at least, ten elders was necessary to make a lawful public assembly, as among modern Jews ten (a minyon) are necessary to constitute a synagogue. 2. he took ten men of the elders of the city—as witnesses. In ordinary circumstances, two or three were sufficient to attest a bargain; but in cases of importance, such as matrimony, divorce, conveyancing of property, it was the Jewish practice to have ten (1Ki 21:8). He took two men, to be umpires or witnesses between them; for though two or three witnesses were sufficient, yet in weightier matters they used more. And

ten was the usual number among the Jews, in causes of matrimony and divorce, and translation of inheritances; who were both judges of the causes, and witnesses of the fact. See 1 Kings 21:8.

And he took ten men of the elders of the city,.... Who were such, not merely in age but in office, who were the heads of thousands, fifties, and tens; ten of whom were a quorum to do business in judiciary affairs, to determine such matters as Boaz had propose, as to whom the right of redemption of a brother and kinsman's widow, and her estate, belonged, and who were the proper witnesses of the refusal of the one to do it, and of the other's doing it and from hence the Jews (e) gather, that the blessing of the bride and bridegroom at their marriage is not to be done by less than ten persons:

and said, sit down here, and they sat down; and so made a full court.

(e) Misnah Megillah, c. 4. sect. 3. T. Bab. Cetubot, fol. 7. 1. Midrash Ruth, fol. 35. 1.

And he took ten men of the elders of the city, and said, Sit ye down here. And they sat down.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
2. the elders] possessed magisterial authority, and could be summoned to deal not only with criminal charges (Deuteronomy 19:12; Deuteronomy 21:2-4, 1 Kings 21:8 ff.), but with cases affecting the rights of a family (Deuteronomy 25:7-9).

Verse 2. - And he took ten men of the elderly inhabitants of the city, and he said, Sit ye here; and they sat down. Boaz wished to have a full complement of witnesses to the important transaction which he contemplated. Ruth 4:2Boaz then called ten of the elders of the city as witnesses of the business to be taken in hand, and said to the redeemer in their presence, "The piece of field which belonged to our brother (i.e., our relative) Elimelech (as an hereditary family possession), Naomi has sold, and I have thought (lit. 'I said,' sc., to myself; cf. Genesis 17:17; Genesis 27:41), I will open thine ear (i.e., make it known, disclose it): get it before those who sit here, and (indeed) before the elders of my people." As the field had been sold to another, getting it (קנה) could only be accomplished by virtue of the right of redemption. Boaz therefore proceeded to say, "If thou wilt redeem, redeem; but if thou wilt not redeem, tell me, that I may know it: for there is not beside thee (any one more nearly entitled) to redeem, and I am (the next) after thee." היּשׁבים is rendered by many, those dwelling, and supposed to refer to the inhabitants of Bethlehem. But we could hardly think of the inhabitants generally as present, as the word "before" would require, even if, according to Ruth 4:9, there were a number of persons present besides the elders. Moreover they would not have been mentioned first, but, like "all the people" in Ruth 4:9, would have been placed after the elders as the principal witnesses. On these grounds, the word must be taken in the sense of sitting, and, like the verb in Ruth 4:2, be understood as referring to the elders present; and the words "before the elders of my people" must be regarded as explanatory. The expression יגאל (third pers.) is striking, as we should expect the second person, which is not only found in the Septuagint, but also in several codices, and is apparently required by the context. It is true that the third person may be defended, as it has been by Seb. Schmidt and others, on the assumption that Boaz turned towards the elders and uttered the words as addressed to them, and therefore spoke of the redeemer as a third person: "But if he, the redeemer there, will not redeem." But as the direct appeal to the redeemer himself is resumed immediately afterwards, the supposition, to our mind at least, is a very harsh one. The person addressed said, "I will redeem." Boaz then gave him this further explanation (Ruth 4:5): "On the day that thou buyest the field of the hand of Naomi, thou buyest it of the hand of Ruth the Moabitess, of the wife of the deceased (Mahlon, the rightful heir of the field), to set up (that thou mayest set up) the name of the deceased upon his inheritance." From the meaning and context, the form קניתי must be the second pers. masc.; the yod at the end no doubt crept in through an error of the pen, or else from a ו, so that the word is either to be read קנית (according to the Keri) or קניתו, "thou buyest it." So far as the fact itself was concerned, the field, which Naomi had sold from want, was the hereditary property of her deceased husband, and ought therefore to descend to her sons according to the standing rule of right; and in this respect, therefore, it was Ruth's property quite as much as Naomi's. From the negotiation between Boaz and the nearer redeemer, it is very evident that Naomi had sold the field which was the hereditary property of her husband, and was lawfully entitled to sell it. But as landed property did not descend to wives according to the Israelitish law, but only to children, and when there were no children, to the nearest relatives of the husband (Numbers 27:8-11), when Elimelech died his field properly descended to his sons; and when they died without children, it ought to have passed to his nearest relations. Hence the question arises, what right had Naomi to sell her husband's field as her own property? The Rabbins suppose that the field had been presented to Naomi and Ruth by their husbands (vid., Selden, de success. in bona def. c. 15). But Elimelech could not lawfully give his hereditary property to his wife, as he left sons behind him when he died, and they were the lawful heirs; and Mahlon also had no more right than his father to make such a gift. There is still less foundation for the opinion that Naomi was an heiress, since even if this were the case, it would be altogether inapplicable to the present affair, where the property in question was not a field which Naomi had inherited form her father, but the field of Elimelech and his sons. The true explanation is no doubt the following: The law relating to the inheritance of the landed property of Israelites who died childless did not determine the time when such a possession should pass to the relatives of the deceased, whether immediately after the death of the owner, or not till after the death of the widow who was left behind (vid., Numbers 27:9.). No doubt the latter was the rule established by custom, so that the widow remained in possession of the property as long as she lived; and for that length of time she had the right to sell the property in case of need, since the sale of a field was not an actual sale of the field itself, but simply of the yearly produce until the year of jubilee. Consequently the field of the deceased Elimelech would, strictly speaking, have belonged to his sons, and after their death to Mahlon's widow, since Chilion's widow had remained behind in her own country Moab. But as Elimelech had not only emigrated with his wife and children and died abroad, but his sons had also been with him in the foreign land, and had married and died there, the landed property of their father had not descended to them, but had remained the property of Naomi, Elimelech's widow, in which Ruth, as the widow of the deceased Mahlon, also had a share. Now, in case a widow sold the field of her deceased husband for the time that it was in her possession, on account of poverty, and a relation of her husband redeemed it, it was evidently his duty not only to care for the maintenance of the impoverished widow, but if she were still young, to marry her, and to let the first son born of such a marriage enter into the family of the deceased husband of his wife, so as to inherit the redeemed property, and perpetuate the name and possession of the deceased in Israel. Upon this right, which was founded upon traditional custom, Boaz based this condition, which he set before the nearer redeemer, that if he redeemed the field of Naomi he must also take Ruth, with the obligation to marry her, and through this marriage to set up the name of the deceased upon his inheritance.
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