Ruth 4:5-6




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and he said








in day




you buy




the field




from hand of








and from








the Moabitess




the widow




the dead




you acquire








to maintain








the dead








his property




and he said




the kinsman-redeemer








I can




to redeem








for me








I might endanger








my estate








for you












my redemption












I can




to redeem






4:5  Then Boaz said, On the day you buy the field from Naomi and from Ruth, the Moabitess, the widow of the dead, you must buy it with the intention of raising the name of the dead upon his inheritance.


4:6 And the near kinsman said, I cannot redeem it for myself, lest I damage my own inheritance; you can redeem it yourself; because of my lack of confidence in this transaction I cannot redeem it.


Stone’s Translation


4:5 Then Boaz said, “The day you buy the field from the hand of Naomi, you must also buy it from Ruth the Moabite, wife of the deceased, to perpetuate the name of the deceased on his inheritance.”


4:6 The redeemer said, “Then I cannot redeem it for myself, lest I imperil my own inheritance. Take over my redemption responsibility on yourself for! am unable to redeem.”




4:5 Then said Boaz, What day thou buyest the field of the hand of Naomi, thou must buy [it] also of Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of the dead, to raise up the name of the dead upon his inheritance.


4:6  And the kinsman said, I cannot redeem [it] for myself, lest I mar mine own inheritance: redeem thou my right to thyself; for I cannot redeem [it]. 



Ruth 4:5 kai; ei\pen Boo" ejn hJmevra/ tou' kthvsasqaiv se to;n ajgro;n ejk ceiro;" Nwemin kai; para; Rouq th'"

Mwabivtido" gunaiko;" tou' teqnhkovto" kai; aujth;n kthvsasqaiv se dei' w{ste ajnasth'sai to; o[noma tou'

teqnhkovto" ejpi; th'" klhronomiva" aujtou'

Ruth 4:6 kai; ei\pen oJ ajgcisteuv" ouj dunhvsomai ajgcisteu'sai ejmautw'/ mhvpote diafqeivrw th;n klhronomivan mou

ajgcivsteuson seautw'/ th;n ajgcisteivan mou o{ti ouj dunhvsomai ajgcisteu'sai


Ruth 4:5-6 And Boöz said, “On the day when you acquire the field from the hand of Noemin and from Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of the deceased, you must also acquire her, so as to restore the name of the deceased through his inheritance.” 6 And the next of kin said, “I will not be able to take the privilege of a kinsman for myself, lest I ruin my own inheritance. You take my privilege of a kinsman for yourself, for I will not be able to.” 



Peshat Level:



5- Thereupon Boaz said: "When you buy the field from Naomi you are also obligated to redeem from Ruth, the Moavitess, the widow of the dead, and you are required to marry [Lit. "to perform the duty of the levir."] her, in order to establish the name of the deceased over his possession."

6- The redeemer replied: "In that case, I cannot redeem it; because I have a wife, I am not permitted to take another one in addition to her, lest the result be quarrel in my home, and I will be destroying my own possession. You redeem it, since you have no wife; for I am unable to do so."




4:5  Also from Ruth the Moabitess  you must buy (the inheritance), but she is not willing (to sell) unless you marry her.


4:6  Lest I mar my inheritance  (h,kjb means) my seed, as (in Psalm 127:3), “The inheritance of the Lord is children”; (i.e.,) to place a blemish on my seed, for it is stated (Deuteronomy 20:3), “Neither an Ammonite nor a Moabite shall come (into the congregation of the Lord)”. But he erred regarding (the exposition of), “An Ammonite but not an Ammonitess”.



Gemarah Level:



Midrash Level:


Midrash Rabbah


Ruth VII:10 THEN SAID BOAZ: WHAT DAY THOU BUYEST THE FIELD OF THE HAND OF NAOMI-HAST THOU ALSO BOUGHT OF RUTH THE MOAVITESS, THE WIFE OF THE DEAD (ib. 5). The ketib is kanithi (I have bought). This corroborates the view expressed by R. Samuel b. Nahman, that he was ignorant of the words of the Torah, saying: ‘The former ones died only because they took them to wife, shall I then go and take her? Heaven forefend that I should take her; I will not contaminate my seed, I will not introduce a disqualification into my children.’ But he was unaware of the new law that had already been enacted, ‘Ammonite but not Ammonitess, Moavite, but not Moavitess.’



Zohar Level:


Soncino Zohar, Bemidbar, Section 3, Page 180a When R. Simeon and R. Eleazar and R. Abba and R. Isaac were once in the house of R. Phineas ben Jair, the latter asked R. Simeon to give some new exposition of the section commencing: “This is the statute of the law”. R. Simeon, however, called on R. Eleazar. The latter thereupon discoursed on the text: “Now this was the custom in former time in Israel concerning redeeming and concerning exchanging, to confirm all things”, etc. (Ruth IV, 7). ‘This verse’, he said, ‘raises a problem. If the ancients adopted this custom on the basis of the Torah, and later generations abolished it, how could they do so, seeing that to abolish a thing laid down in the Torah is like laying waste the whole world? If, again, it was not an injunction of the Torah, but a mere custom, why was a shoe chosen for the purpose? The truth is that this was enjoined originally by the Torah, and because the ancients were pious and virtuous this thing was revealed to them, but when sinners multiplied the thing was done in a different way, in order to conceal matters which have a high mystic significance. Now when God said to Moses, “Draw not nigh hither” (Exodus III, 5), He also said, “Put off thy shoes from off thy feet”; and it has been explained that by these words He enjoined him to part from his wife and attach himself to another wife of holy supernal radiance, to wit the Shekinah, and the drawing off of the shoe removed him from this world and placed him in another world. Similarly with a dead man who has departed from the world without children. The Shekinah does not gather him in, and he is driven to and fro about the world, but God has pity on him and bids his brother redeem him so that he may be set right by means of other dust. Now if that redeemer is not willing to establish seed for his brother in this world, he must tie a shoe on his foot and the wife must loosen it and take it to herself. Why was a shoe chosen for this purpose? Because the shoe was the support of the dead man in this world, and the woman, by taking it, signifies that the dead man who was wandering about among the living will now through that shoe no longer wander about among them. She must dash the shoe on the ground to show that she has laid to rest the body of the dead, and God then, or after a time, has pity on him and receives him into the future world. Therefore it was that whoever desired to confirm an undertaking took off his shoe and gave it to his neighbour. This was beforetime in Israel when they were pious and holy, but when sinners multiplied they concealed the matter under another form, using the corner of a garment.



Other Commentaries:


Me’am Lo’ez


4:5 Then Boaz said, “The day you buy the field from the hand of Naomi, from Ruth the Moabite, the wife of the deceased, have you also bought it, to raise up the name of the deceased on his inheritance.”


At first Boaz had spoken only of purchasing the field from Naomi, for if the redeemer refused, there was no point in embarrassing Ruth by mentioning her. Once however the redeemer agreed to buy the field,


Boaz added that although Naomi had the major “hand” in it, the field could not be bought without Ruth’s consent—and Ruth refused to sell unless the buyer married her.


“Do not think it is sufficient to take Ruth into your house and sup­port her,” said Boaz. “The day you buy the field from Naomi, you must take Ruth as your wife to beget from her an heir for Elimelech. The child will inherit Elimelech’s field, and the name of the deceased will be per­petuated on his earthly inheritance.”


In another sense, producing offspring for the deceased would also bring rest to his soul in the World to Come, provided that the intention of the marriage partners was purely “to raise up the name of the deceased on his inheritance,” as in yibum. A man who feels incapable of such pure intention must decline to perform the mitzvah of yibum, for the Zohar says that any personal attraction between the two parties in yibum prevents the redemption of the deceased. Boaz thus hinted that the redeemer should not wed Ruth unless he could do so with the pure intent of redeeming the deceased.


4:6 The redeemer said, “I cannot redeem for myself, lest I ruin my inheritance. Redeem my redemption for yourself, for I cannot redeem.”


Upon hearing that the redemption of which Boaz spoke meant acquiring not only Elimelech’s field but also Machlon’s wife, the re­deemer retracted his original decision. “I cannot redeem the woman,” he said, “lest I ruin my inheritance. Therefore I cannot redeem the field either.”


By “inheritance” he was also referring to his first wife—as the scrip­ture says, “House and wealth are an inheritance from fathers, but from the Lord is an intelligent wife” (Proverbs 19:14). The redeemer feared that having two wives in his home would ruin his marital harmony, and suggested that Boaz, a widower, undertake to redeem Ruth instead.


Since the stated purpose of the marriage was “to raise up a name for the deceased,” he objected that “I cannot redeem for myself,” i.e., the offspring would not be considered his own. Furthermore, he felt incapable of directing his thoughts solely to that selfless purpose, and feared that the levirate marriage would be to him a stumbling block to sin. For yibum is akin to incest if performed with any intention other than perpetuating the name of the deceased.


Accordingly, he said, “Take my obligation of redemption upon yourself.” The aged Boaz, having mastered his evil inclination, could wed Ruth with the pure intention of perpetuating Machlon’s name.


The redeemer was also wary of marrying a Moabite. For while Boaz held that a Moabitess was permitted to enter the congregation of God, he disagreed. According to our sages, that is one reason he was called Plony Almony (hbnkt hbkp)—he was mute (ilem, okt) in halachic matters.


He was afraid for himself: Her first husband died because he had married her—should he do the same? In addition, he was afraid of bring­ing stigma and suffering upon his descendants, his “inheritance,” as it is written. “Children are an inheritance from the Lord” (Psalms 127:3). He therefore said two times “I cannot redeem”—once for his own sake and once for the sake of his children.


It is, however, puzzling that the redeemer was not aware of the recently clarified halacha that Moabite women converts are permitted to marry Jews. Moreover, the entire Sanhedrin (according to one interpre­tation) had heard Boaz ask him to marry Ruth “the Moabitess” and had raised no objection. And if the redeemer thought it was forbidden, he would not have dared tell Boaz to “take my obligation [of redemption] for yourself.”


Possibly the redeemer felt that it was not for a common man like himself to marry a Moabitess, lest the ruling later be contested, and he and his descendants be cut off from society. Only a leader of Israel could set the precedent and thereby make the halacha of “a Moabite, not a Moabitess” known throughout Israel.


[His fears, it later turned out, were justified. As already noted, the Talmud relates that when King Saul investigated the lineage of the young shepherd David to ascertain whether he was of royal stock (1 Samuel 17:58), Doeg the Edomite, head of the Sanhedrin and adviser to the king, stepped forward and said: “Instead of asking whether or not he is worthy of kingship, ask whether or not he is fit to enter the congre­gation of God! He is descended from Ruth the Moabite.” With this he touched off a violent controversy.]


The redeemer had, however, a more prosaic objection to redeeming Elimelech’s field. The large outlay of money would leave him short of funds with which to hire workers to cultivate his own field, and “my inheritance” would fall into ruin from neglect.


When Boaz heard the redeemer turn down the opportunity of estab­lishing the royal dynasty “lest I ruin my inheritance,” he understood that God had ordained Ruth as a wife for himself.


Abraham Ibn Ezra





5. Boaz then said. Then Boaz revealed to him that it was impossible to redeem only Naomi's portion -he would have to redeem Ruth's portion as well. [There is a difference between them: Naomi's portion you could acquire in one of the ways in which land is purchased, that is, by paying its purchase price. However, the parcel of Ruth the Moabitess you could not purchase in this manner. It would require levirate marriage with Ruth, in which case the field would automatically become yours.] However, you would be required to perpetuate the name of the deceased on his inherited property since he had come to acquire the field by means of levirate marriage and, as such, the field would need to be established upon the name of the deceased's wife.


6. The redeemer replied. Unto this he responded, I cannot redeem [the field] for myself. The emphasis is on the words for myself, implying that inasmuch as it cannot be for myself and called by my name, I am afraid so that I do not ruin [the name of] my descendants since it will not be called by my name. Therefore, You redeem for yourself what I was to redeem, for I cannot redeem. According to the Midrash Ruth Rabbah (7:10), Tov did not accept the interpretation of Ammonite and not an Ammonitess and thus he said, so that I do not ruin [the name on my descendants. Perhaps to clarify this point he added for I cannot redeem relating to both of these reasons.