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Ruth 4:7-10, The Marriage of Ruth and Boaz

Wednesday, August 15

Next of Kin Removes His Sandal

Narrative Lectionary Daily Devotions written by Kace Leetch from Clergy Stuff.

 remove a sandal

Historically, when a man could or would not honor the law to take his dead relative's widow for a wife, it was considered a great dishonor. Deuteronomy lays out the law like this:

Then the elders of his town shall summon him and speak to him. If he persists, saying, “I have no desire to marry her,” then his brother’s wife shall go up to him in the presence of the elders, pull his sandal off his foot, spit in his face, and declare, “This is what is done to the man who does not build up his brother’s house.” (Deut. 25:8-9)

When the next-of-kin refused to marry Ruth, he ceremonially removed his sandal to honor this law. In reality, by the time of Boaz and Ruth, the ritual was more ceremonial than genuine -- Ruth wasn't even present to spit in his face, and nobody held it against the man for refusing. In fact, it made Boaz's life much easier. Finally, Boaz was free to marry Ruth -- on the up and up.


Narrative Lectionary Text: Ruth 4:7-10

Now this was the custom in former times in Israel concerning redeeming and exchanging: to confirm a transaction, the one took off a sandal and gave it to the other; this was the manner of attesting in Israel. So when the next-of-kin said to Boaz, “Acquire it for yourself,” he took off his sandal.

Then Boaz said to the elders and all the people, “Today you are witnesses that I have acquired from the hand of Naomi all that belonged to Elimelech and all that belonged to Chilion and Mahlon. I have also acquired Ruth the Moabite, the wife of Mahlon, to be my wife, to maintain the dead man’s name on his inheritance, in order that the name of the dead may not be cut off from his kindred and from the gate of his native place; today you are witnesses.”