Boaz went straight to the public square and took his place there. Before long the "closer relative," the one mentioned earlier by Boaz, strolled by. "Step aside, old friend," said Boaz. "Take a seat." The man sat down.
Boaz then gathered ten of the town elders together and said, "Sit down here with us; we've got some business to take care of." And they sat down.
Boaz then said to his relative, "The piece of property that belonged to our relative Elimelech is being sold by his widow Naomi, who has just returned from the country of Moab.
I thought you ought to know about it. Buy it back if you want it - you can make it official in the presence of those sitting here and before the town elders. You have first redeemer rights. If you don't want it, tell me so I'll know where I stand. You're first in line to do this and I'm next after you." He said, "I'll buy it."
Then Boaz added, "You realize, don't you, that when you buy the field from Naomi, you also get Ruth the Moabite, the widow of our dead relative, along with the redeemer responsibility to have children with her to carry on the family inheritance."
Then the relative said, "Oh, I can't do that - I'd jeopardize my own family's inheritance. You go ahead and buy it - you can have my rights - I can't do it."
In the olden times in Israel, this is how they handled official business regarding matters of property and inheritance: a man would take off his shoe and give it to the other person. This was the same as an official seal or personal signature in Israel.
So when Boaz's "redeemer" relative said, "Go ahead and buy it," he signed the deal by pulling off his shoe.
Boaz then addressed the elders and all the people in the town square that day: "You are witnesses today that I have bought from Naomi everything that belonged to Elimelech and Kilion and Mahlon,
including responsibility for Ruth the foreigner, the widow of Mahlon - I'll take her as my wife and keep the name of the deceased alive along with his inheritance. The memory and reputation of the deceased is not going to disappear out of this family or from his hometown. To all this you are witnesses this very day."
All the people in the town square that day, backing up the elders, said, "Yes, we are witnesses. May God make this woman who is coming into your household like Rachel and Leah, the two women who built the family of Israel. May God make you a pillar in Ephrathah and famous in Bethlehem!
With the children God gives you from this young woman, may your family rival the family of Perez, the son Tamar bore to Judah."
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved. (The Message Bible Online)