Although the term "kinsman-redeemer" is used only seven times in the NIV (allin the Book of Ruth) and "avenger of blood" is used twelve times, the Hebrewverb ga'al [l;a"G],from which both of these terms are translated, is used over 100 times and rendered by suchadditional terms as "redeemer" or "near relative." The Hebrew termdesignates a male relative who delivers or rescues ( Gen 48:16 ; Exod 6:6 ); redeemsproperty ( Lev27:9-25 ) or person ( Lev 25:47-55 );avenges the murder of a relative as a guiltless executioner ( Num 35:9-34 ); andreceives restitution for wrong done to a relative who has since died ( Num 5:8 ). The uniqueemphasis of the redemption/salvation/vindication associated with the kinsman-redeemer isthe fact that this action is carried out by a kinsman on behalf of a near relative inneed. This idea is most clearly illustrated in the Book of Ruth.
God is Israel's Redeemer, the one who will defend and vindicate them. The idea that Godis a kinsman to Israel can be defended by those passages of Scripture that identify him asIsrael's Creator and Father ( Exod 4:22-23 ; Deut 32:6 ),Deliverer ( Exod 20:2 ),owner of the land ( Lev25:23 ), the one who hears innocent blood crying out for vengeance ( Deut 19:10 ; 21:6-9 ), and theKing who has made his covenant with the people ( Exod 6:2-8 ). David,in his use of the term ( Psalm 19:14 ; 103:4 ), doubtlesshas in mind the actions of his great-grandfather Boaz ( Ruth 4:9-10 ).
In the psalms God often redeems in the sense of rescuing from danger. In Job 19:25 theterm "redeemer" in context refers to God who, as friend and kinsman of Job,through faith will ultimately defend and vindicate him. The same idea of vindication (thistime with the term translated "Defender") is used in Proverbs 23:11.
Although the doctrine of redemption from sin is taught extensively in the NewTestament, it is not connected closely with the Old Testament concept of kinsman-redeemer.Christ can, however, be regarded as an example of a kinsman-redeemer since he identifiedhimself with us and redeemed us because of our need. Hebrews 2:11 states that "Boththe one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus isnot ashamed to call them brothers." Jesus is not only our redeemer from sin, but asHebrews 2:16-18 and 4:14-16 point out, he is a kinsman to us and understands ourstruggles. Thus he is able to help us in our times of need.
Stephen J. Bramer
See also Redeem,Redemption
Bibliography. R. L. Harris, TWOT, 1:144-45; D. A. Leggett, TheLevirate Goel Institutions in the Old Testament; H. Ringgren, TDOT, 2:350-55.
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