20 Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, "Blessed be he of Yahweh, who has not left off his kindness to the living and to the dead." Naomi said to her, "The man is a close relative to us, one of our near kinsmen."
*Minor differences ignored. Grouped by changes, with first version listed as example.
Blessed be he of the Lord - We may gather from Naomi's allusion to the dead that both her husband and son had been faithful servants of Jehovah, the God of Israel. His kindness to the dead consisted in raising up (as Naomi hoped) an heir to perpetuate the name; and, in general, in His care for their widows.
One of our next kinsmen - The word here is גאל gā'al, the redeemer, who had the right:
(1) of redeeming the inheritance of the person;
(2) of marrying the widow;
(3) of avenging the death. (See Leviticus 25:25-31, Leviticus 25:47-55; Deuteronomy 25:5-10; Deuteronomy 19:1-13.)
Since these rights belonged to the next of kin, גאל gā'al came to mean the nearest kinsman.
To the living and to the dead - Naomi and Ruth were the living; and they were also the representatives of Elimelech and Mahlon, who were dead. Naomi was of the family; and Ruth, though not of the family, was a representative of one of its deceased branches, being the widow of Mahlon.
One of our next kinsmen - מגאלינו miggoaleynu, of our redeemers, one who has the right to redeem the forfeited inheritance of the family. The word גאל goel signifies a near kinsman - one who by the Mosaic law had a right to redeem an inheritance, and also was permitted to vindicate or revenge the death of his relation by killing the slayer, if he found him out of the cities of refuge.
In order to prevent families from running to decay, if a brother died childless, the next unmarried brother took his widow; and the children from that marriage were reputed the children of the deceased brother. The office of the next akin was threefold:
1. It belonged to him to buy back the forfeited inheritance, or the liberty of him who had been obliged to sell himself for a servant.
2. It was his right to avenge the blood of any of the family who had been killed, by killing the murderer.
3. It belonged to him to take the widow of a deceased brother or relative, if he died childless.
If the nearest akin in any case refused, he was treated with indignity, lost his right to the inheritance, and the next akin to him might come forward and take the widow, etc., as in the case of Boaz. See Ruth 4:4-10.
And Naomi said unto her daughter in law, Blessed [be] he of the LORD, who hath not left off his kindness to the living and to the (h) dead. And Naomi said unto her, The man [is] near of kin unto us, one of our next kinsmen.
(h) To my husband and children, when they were alive, and now to us.
And Naomi said unto her daughter in law, blessed be he of the Lord,.... Or the Lord bless him with all kind of blessings, temporal and spiritual; and as he has blessed him already, may he be blessed more and more:
who hath not left off his kindness to the living and to the dead; he had been kind to Elimelech and to his sons, who were now dead, and he continued his kindness to the reliefs of them, Naomi and Ruth, who were living, and was kind to them for the sake of the dead; and showing kindness to them expressed his respect to the memory of the dead:
and Naomi said unto her; continued her speech to her, and added to what she had said:
the man is near of kin to us; a near relation of ours, meaning by her husband's side: yea:
one of our next kinsmen; the nearest we have, there was but one nearer than he: the word for kinsman here is "Goel", a redeemer; for to such who were in the degree of kindred as Boaz was, and he that was nearer still than he to them, belonged the right of redemption, and therefore were called by the name of "Goel", a redeemer, as Ben Melech observes; they had a right to avenge the blood of the slain, to redeem their houses and possessions, if sold or mortgaged, and their persons by marrying them, and raising up seed to a deceased brother, or kinsman.
the man is . . . one of our next kinsmen--Hebrew, "one of our redeemers," on whom it devolves to protect us, to purchase our lands, and marry you, the widow of his next kinsman. She said, "one of them," not that there were many in the same close relationship, but that he was a very near kinsman, one other individual only having the precedence.
To the dead - That is, which he formerly shewed to those who are now dead, my husband and his sons whilst they were living, and now continues to us.
*More commentary available at chapter level.