Book Of Ruth

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During the time of the Judges when there was a famine, an Israelite family from Bethlehem  – Elimelech, his wife Naomi , and their sons Mahlon and Chilion  – emigrated to the nearby country of Moab . Elimelech died, and the sons married two Moabite women: Mahlon married Ruth and Chilion married Orpah .

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Since there was no heir to inherit Elimelech's land, custom required a close relative (usually the dead man's brother) to marry the widow of the deceased in order to continue his family line (Deuteronomy 25:5–10). This relative was called the go'el, the "kinsman-redeemer". As Boaz is not Elimelech's brother, nor is Ruth his widow, scholars refer to the arrangement here as "Levirate-like". A complication arises in the story: another man is a closer relative to Elimelech than Boaz and has first claim on Ruth. It is resolved through the custom that required land to stay in the family: a family could mortgage land to ward off poverty, but the law required a kinsman to purchase it back into the family (Leviticus 25:25ff). Boaz meets the near kinsman at the city gate (the place where contracts are settled); the kinsman first says he will purchase Elimelech's (now Naomi's) land, but, upon hearing he must also take Ruth as his wife, withdraws his offer. Boaz thus becomes Ruth and Naomi's "kinsman-redeemer. "

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