And Boaz said to the elders, and to all the people, You are witnesses this day, that I have bought all that was Elimelech's, and all that was Chilion's and Mahlon's, of the hand of Naomi.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
9. Boaz said unto the elders, Ye are witnesses this day, that I have bought all that was … Chilion's and Mahlon's, of the hand of Naomi—Although the widow of Chilion was still living, no regard was paid to her in the disposal of her husband's property. From her remaining in Moab, she was considered to have either been married again, or to have renounced all right to an inheritance with the family of Elimelech.
ye are witnesses this day that I have bought all that was Elimelech's; all the land which belonged to him, who was the husband of Naomi, and the father of Ruth's husband, whose estate Boaz now bought, paying the value for it to Naomi:
and all that was Chilion's and Mahlon's; the two sons of Elimelech, who, had they been living, would have enjoyed their father's estate; but they being dead, it devolved on the mother, and after her on the widows, who must therefore agree to the sale of the estate, as Ruth did, see Ruth 4:5. Of Orpah no notice is taken, because she returned to her own land; and besides Mahlon, the husband of Ruth, was the elder brother, and therefore had the first right to the inheritance; but as it was in the hands of Naomi now, the purchase was made of her principally, and therefore Boaz is said to purchase itAnd Boaz said unto the elders, and unto all the people, Ye are witnesses this day, that I have bought all that was Elimelech's, and all that was Chilion's and Mahlon's, of the hand of Naomi.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)9. Ye are witnesses] Cf. Ruth 4:11. With this appeal for confirmation cf. Joshua 24:22, 1 Samuel 12:5.
I have bought … of the hand of Naomi] More idiomatically the Hebr. perf. should be rendered in English I buy, i.e. I stipulate to buy; cf. the perf. in Ruth 4:3 selleth. The purchase-money was to go to Naomi; she had inherited all the family property; even Mahlon’s and Chilion’s land had passed to their mother, not to their widows, probably because the latter were foreigners. The right of a widow to any share in her husband’s estate is not recognized in the Pentateuch2; but later practice allowed provision to be made (Jdt 8:7), and permitted the husband to insert a clause in the marriage settlement giving his widow the right to dwell in his house after him, and to be nourished from his wealth all the days of her widowhood; Talm. Kethuboth iv. 8.
 Contrast the provision of the ancient Babylonian Code: the widow is entitled to her marriage-portion and the settlement which her husband had secured to her in writing, and is allowed to live in his dwelling place, §§ 171 and 150. In this, as in other respects, the Code of H̬ammurabi represents a more developed civilization than the Pentateuchal law.Verse 9. - And Boaz said to the eiders and all the people, Ye are witnesses this day that I have acquired the whole estate of Elimelech, and the whole estate of Chillon and Machlon, from the hand of Naomi. It is absolutely necessary that, at this part of the narrative, as well as in several other portions, we read "between the verses." Naomi, either personally or by representative, must have appeared on the scene, to surrender her territorial rights and receive the value of the estate that had belonged to her husband. But the writer merges in his account these coincidences, and hastens on to the consummation of his story. In the twofold expression, "the whole estate of Elimelech, and the whole estate of Chillon and Machlon," there is a kind of legal particularity. There was of course but one estate, but there was a succession in the proprietorship. 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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