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Who Exactly Was Boaz?

Who Exactly Was Boaz?

Someone’s choice of spouse can have a big impact on their life, as evidenced over and over again in the Bible. One of the most unique case studies for this dramatic impact is the life of Ruth. Little is known about her first husband, but a great deal more information can be gleaned about her second husband Boaz.

Though he is not the central focus of the narrative, Boaz is a key figure who models healthy and Biblical masculinity, faithfulness to God, and serves as a kinsman redeemer for Ruth and Naomi, making him a Christophany - an image and precursor of Jesus Christ.

From his relationship with Ruth, to his decision to pursue her – even his heritage makes him an intriguing, godly man whose life is worth understanding. For many Christians today, Boaz represents a man of good character.

Who Is Boaz?

While Boaz is introduced in the second chapter in the Book of Ruth, his background is given in 1 Chronicles as part of the lineage of David, the future king of Israel. It records that a man named Salmon was his father, and that Rahab was his mother. It is generally believed this Rahab is the prostitute from Jericho who rescued the Hebrew spies. She had faith in the God of the Hebrews, and the Bible says, “By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies” (Hebrews 11:31). Because of her actions and her faith in the Lord, she survived the Battle of Jericho. It also means that Boaz was not of purely Hebrew descent.

When he first appears in Ruth’s life, it was after she and Naomi had moved back to Israel from Moab after both of them had been widowed. Boaz was a powerful, successful landowner who was respected enough that he could go to the men who sat at the city-gates of Bethlehem, who were local leaders. Whether he could have been one of those leaders himself, due to his mother’s heritage, is debated among some scholars. However, his good character is established by the testimony of Naomi when she encouraged Ruth to go glean in his fields because he was, “a relative of her husband's, a worthy man of the clan of Elimelech” (Ruth 2:1b). When Ruth goes, she sees that he greeted his workers in the name of the Lord, showing His devotion to God.

Another telling moment about Boaz’s character is that he noticed Ruth gleaning. At that time, the poor would glean behind the workers in the fields of the wealthy. Boaz recognized that she was a stranger, meaning he knew the faces of his workers, and of the poor who regularly gleaned in his fields. As a woman alone, she could have been in danger of being threatened, abused, or assaulted. Boaz made sure this woman, identified to him as a Moabite, and therefore a stranger, was protected.

Why Does Boaz Rescue Ruth?

As a relative of Naomi by marriage, Boaz had the option to take on the role of a kinsman redeemer: a male relative who could act on behalf of a relation who was in trouble, danger, or need. He was not the only one, as one other man in Bethlehem was more closely related to Elimelech - Naomi’s deceased husband.

While the Bible does not explicitly state Boaz’s motivation for becoming Ruth’s kinsman redeemer. Technically, he was not obligated to do anything more for them than allow them to glean from his fields. He could have advocated for the other potential redeemer to care for these two women. Ruth went to him at the encouragement of Naomi, and let him know that he was a kinsman who could redeem her and Naomi. It seems this made Boaz happy.

He had already indicated he respected her for her devotion to Naomi, but when she came to him he said:

"May you be blessed by the Lord, my daughter. You have made this last kindness greater than the first in that you have not gone after young men, whether poor or rich.  And now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you all that you ask, for all my fellow townsmen know that you are a worthy woman. And now it is true that I am a redeemer. Yet there is a redeemer nearer than I. Remain tonight, and in the morning, if he will redeem you, good; let him do it. But if he is not willing to redeem you, then, as the Lord lives, I will redeem you. Lie down until the morning” (Ruth 3:10b-13).

This statement shows that Boaz was an older man, and some theologians believe it may have been difficult for him to marry a devout Hebrew woman because of his heritage. He seems to have been flattered that this young widow wanted him to be her kinsman redeemer.

Part of redeeming Elimelech’s property would have been taking responsibility for the women in his family, which the closer kinsman redeemer did not want to do because their first child would be the heir of Elimelech, complicating the inheritance of his children. Boaz did, and he married Ruth. Most likely, Ruth and Boaz had developed feelings for one another, and with the encouragement of Naomi, Boaz pursued marriage with Ruth.

What Connection Does Boaz Have to the Lineage of Jesus?

Boaz was one of the patriarchs in the line of Judah that would become the lineage of David; “Salmon fathered Boaz, Boaz fathered Obed, Obed fathered Jesse, and Jesse fathered David” (Ruth 4:21-22). Through David, God promised to establish a kingdom that would never end, and send the Messiah.

When Jesus came to earth, He fulfilled centuries of promises, dying on the cross to become the way that all people could be redeemed from their sins. Jesus will return as a king, reign over the earth in the millennium reign, and forever in the New Heaven and the New Earth as prophesied in the Book of Revelation. Because Boaz was only a genetic Hebrew on his father’s side, Jesus had gentile blood, a way for the Messiah to be for all people, not just the Jews.

One of the most touching acts of love that God rewarded Boaz with is often and easily overlooked. In the Hebrew tradition of his day, when a widow remarried, if she did not have a child with her first husband, the first son born to the couple would receive the inheritance of the deceased husband. In other words, their first child - Obed - could have been seen as the son of Ruth’s deceased husband and Naomi’s son, Mahlon, which is why the people said, “A son has been born to Naomi” (Ruth 4:17b). In other words, their first child was seen as a way for Mahlon and Naomi to pass on their name and for their family to continue, even though Mahlon did not have any biological children.

Without the guidance of the Holy Spirit, Boaz’s name could have been lost to history. God chose to honor Boaz as the father of Obed in the Book of Ruth - probably written by the prophet Samuel - in the Chronicles, and in the Gospel of Matthew.

Why Is This Important for Us to Study?

Boaz is a picture of a godly man who always sought to do the right thing. Understanding the nuances of his life can be a good way to learn about how God can use people for His purposes. Many Hebrews would not have expected the Messiah to come from a lineage that had a non-Jewish former prostitute in it, but Boaz’s mother shows the true redemptive power of God’s love. Because of the opportunity to live a life pleasing to God, she raised a godly man who redeemed a young woman and her mother-in-law, and became a forefather to the Messiah.

Redemption is a core theme through the lives of Boaz and Ruth, and one that foreshadowed the redeeming love of Jesus Christ.


Block, Daniel I. The New American Commentary An Exegetical and Theological Exposition of the Holy Scriptures Judges and Ruth Vol. 6. Nashville: B&H Publishing, 1999.

Henry, Matthew. Commentary on the Whole Bible: Genesis to Revelation. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1961.

Wood, Leon J. The Distressing Days of the Judges. Eugene: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 1998.

Photo credit: ©Getty Images/kieferpix

Bethany Verrett is a freelance writer who uses her passion for God, reading, and writing to glorify God. She and her husband have lived all over the country serving their Lord and Savior in ministry. She has a blog on graceandgrowing.com.