Boaz

BOAZ (bō'ăz, Heb. bō’az). A well-to-do Bethlehemite in the days of the judges who became an ancestor of Jesus by marrying Ruth, the Moabitess, widow of one of the sons of Elimelech (Ruth.2.1-Ruth.2.23-Ruth.4.1-Ruth.4.22). This was in accordance with the levirate law of Deut.25.5-Deut.25.10; Boaz could marry Ruth only after the nearer kinsman (Ruth.3.12; Ruth.4.1-Ruth.4.8) had refused the privilege—or the duty. The other refused because if he had married Ruth and had had a son, a portion of his property would have gone to the credit of Elimelech’s posterity, instead of his own by a former marriage. It is impossible to date Boaz exactly, because the genealogy of Ruth.4.18-Ruth.4.22 (given in Matt.1.4-Matt.1.6) is almost certainly a partial list, giving ten names to cover eight hundred years. The list in Matt.1.1-Matt.1.25 is demonstrably schematic, as it omits names of four kings, and this one in Ruth is almost as surely partial also. They are both accurate but, like most genealogies, partial. Salmon (or Salmah), given here as the father of Boaz, lived at the time of the Conquest, for he married Rahab; but the general setting of the story is that of a later period of settled life.


BOAZ bo’ az (בֹּ֨עַז, LXX, Bóos, alacrity, quickness. 1. A wealthy farmer of Bethlehem, the kinsman of Elimelech and Naomi and the great-grandfather of David. He is best known in the Bible for his treatment of Ruth, the Moabitess and the former wife of Elimelech’s son, Mahlon. Naomi had gone to Moab with her husband and two sons at the time of a severe famine (during the Judges period). While in Moab the two sons married Moabite women, but subsequently both the sons and the father died. Naomi encouraged her daughters-in-law to return to their own people but Ruth refused. When Naomi returned to Bethlehem Ruth accompanied her. The pair arrived in time for the fall harvest, whereupon Ruth took advantage of an Israelite custom and went out to glean. Her good fortune was to begin in the fields of Boaz where she was instructed to remain for the duration of the harvest.

Naomi instructed her daughter-in-law in the custom of the Levirate law which made the provision of a goel or kinsman-redeemer to protect the dead man’s name and inheritance. The rite was initiated by the woman’s lying at the feet of the goel. The appeal was made to Boaz who proved to be second in line. On the next morning he arranged for the matter to be settled in the city gate where such matters were resolved. The older man refused “to mar his inheritance” by marrying a Moabitess. Boaz, thereupon, purchased all the property belonging to Elimelech and his sons and took Ruth in marriage.

Boaz is set forth as a model of piety and graciousness, Ruth as a model of virtue and devotion. Despite the prohibition against a Moabite entering Israel for ten generations, Ruth accepted Israel’s religion and customs in following Naomi. Boaz while really a kinsman of Elimelech, therefore responsible to marry Naomi, sees the extension of the responsibility to Mahlon and marries his widow. The happy aftermath of the story is that the couple were the grandparents of David who found a ready shelter in Moab when he fled from Saul.

2. The name of one of two bronze pillars Solomon placed in front of the Temple. The one he placed on the N side was named Boaz and the one on the S Jachin. Both pillars were beautifully adorned with capitals of lilywork (1 Kings 7:21, 2 Chron 3:17).

Bibliography

Ruth 2:1-23, 3:2-7, 4:1-21, H. P. Smith, Old Testament History, 398.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

(bo`az; Booz; "quickness" (?) Ru 2-4; 1Ch 2:11,12; Mt 1:5; Lu 3:32):

(1) A resident of Bethlehem and kinsman of Elimelech, Naomi’s husband. In Ru 2:1 he is described as a gibbor chayil, a phrase which can mean either "a mighty man of valor" or else "a man of position and wealth." The latter is probably the sense in which the phrase is applied to Boaz (compare 1Sa 9:1). He had fields outside the town, and to them Ru went to glean. Boaz noticed her and extended special kindness and protection to her, bidding her remain with his female workers, and charging the men not to illtreat her, and also giving her of the reapers’ food at mealtime. Boaz awoke one night and found Ru lying at his feet. He praised her virtue, and promised to take charge of her if her dead husband’s next-of-kin failed to do so. He laid her case before the next-of-kin, and finally redeemed the family property himself and bought as well the right to take Ru in marriage. The son of Boaz and Ru was Obed, father of Jesse, and grandfather of David. 1Ch 2:11,12 makes Boaz a descendant of Hezron, and so probably a chief of the Hezronite clan in Bethlehem. Jewish tradition identifies Boaz with Ibzan (Jud 12:8-10).

Boaz "is set before us as a model of piety, generosity and chastity" (H. P. Smith, nodetitle History, 398). He found virtue and rewarded it. HPM, sections 501-8, gives a picture of the life of "a well-to-do landed proprietor of central Palestine," much of which could aptly be taken as a description of Boaz.

(2) The name of one of the two bronze pillars erected in front of Solomon’s temple, the other being Jachin (1Ki 7:21; 2Ch 3:17).

See Jachin and Boaz; Temple.