4:1-2 In the Gates with Peloni Almoni
As a chokepoint for all coming and going, the gates became the center of business deals in the ancient world. Here Boaz runs into the man who is the nearer kinsman-redeemer. We are not given his name. He is simply referred to as Peloni Almoni, which translates as “old so-and-so,” or perhaps “what’s his face.”
3-4 The First Part of the Deal
Either Peloni was not expecting his role as kinsman-redeemer to also include the obligation of the levirate marriage or (and more likely) he expected the levirate marriage to be with the elderly Naomi, who would not be capable of having children. Either way, Peloni expected his role as kinsman-redeemer to be something that actually enriched his own line rather than as something that gave away to others. There is a long tradition of men turning charity into a profitable racket.
5-6 The Second Part of the Deal
Boaz presents a surprise part of the deal. Instead of marrying Naomi, the man must marry Ruth. Peloni hadn’t seen this coming. If he marries Ruth, she is likely to have a son and the redeemed land will go to that line instead of to Peloni’s existing line. And so Peloni backs out of the deal.
7-10 Sealing the Deal
In the ancient world the foot stood for power, might, dominance, and ownership ( Josh. 10:24, Ps. 8:7, Deut. 11:24, Josh. 1:3, 14:9). The shoe came to represent this same power and authority (Ps. 60:8, 108:10, Ex. 3:5, 2 Sam. 15:30). If a man refused to act as kinsman-redeemer, the widow that he was supposed to marry was to remove his sandal to indicate his abdication, namely his failure to use his power as it ought to be used (Deut. 25:9-10).
So the man’s sandal was a picture of both his power and authority, as well as a symbol of his obligation to act as redeemer. Rather than having it removed and getting slapped with it by Naomi or Ruth, Boaz is gives Peloni
an out by offering to trade positions with him. That is why they trade sandals. Boaz now declares before the men his marriage to Ruth, fulfilling the promise that he made to Ruth on the threshing floor.
11-12 The Blessing of Men
The men give Boaz two blessings. May Ruth be like Rachel and Leah, the founding mothers of Israel. And may she be like Tamar, a woman who demonstrated the same sort of faith as Ruth by committing herself to this family line.
13-17 The Blessing of the Women
Now God supplies the thing that had been missing all along, the birth of the son. The women praise God for his deliverance through this boy.
18-22 The Genealogy of David
So now we see the fulfilment of all these blessings. It turns out that Ruth’s son from Boaz is Obed, grandfather of king David. Peloni ditched this because he wanted to preserve his name. And in doing so, he lost his name.
Whose name is listed in Mt. 1:5 and Lk. 3:32? What Peloni tried to save, he lost. Ruth did not have the genealogy. But she did have faith.