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Then he said to the kinsman-redeemer, “Naomi, who has come back from the country of Moab, is selling the parcel of land that was our brother Elimelech’s. Bible

“is selling.” There is a huge amount of scholarly discussion about this piece of land. There are a number of possibilities based on the Hebrew text and the Law of Moses. The verb translated “is selling” is a perfect tense (past tense) verb, so one possibility is that the land had already been sold to someone outside the family because of Naomi’s situation, and now Naomi is appealing to have the land bought back by a kinsman-redeemer and brought back into the family. Another possibility is that the verb can also be taken as a participle in which case the sense would be that Naomi “has put up for sale” the land. There are some other possibilities as well. As readers, we really do not have enough information in the text to make a firm decision, and the reason is likely that the property was ancillary to the point of the record, which was about Ruth and getting her and Naomi well taken care of.

One question that remains unanswered is that the reader was more or less led to believe that Naomi was a needy widow who was being sustained through the harvest by Ruth, but could she have land to sell? And if so, how much and how much was it worth? Or, as the text can be read, it is possible that Elimelech sold the land before he left for Moab and now there is a chance to redeem it back to the clan.

“brother.” Here the word “brother” is used to mean a relative, not a literal brother from the same father or mother.


Commentary for: Ruth 4:3