How to waive a right of pre-emption over land

Week beginning: 18th March, 2018 | By Andrew Myers | St Albans

"Then Boaz said, 'On the day you buy the land from Naomi, you also acquire Ruth the Moabite, the dead man's widow, in order to maintain the name of the dead with his property.' At this, the guardian-redeemer said, 'Then I cannot redeem it because I might endanger my own estate. You redeem it yourself. I cannot do it.' (Now in earlier times in Israel, for the redemption and transfer of property to become final, one party took off his sandal and gave it to the other. This was the method of legalising transactions in Israel.) So the guardian-redeemer said to Boaz, 'Buy it yourself.' And he removed his sandal."

Ruth 4:5-8 (NIV)

The unnamed "guardian-redeemer" (referred to in the Hebrew as "so-and-so"!) must have had, as closest surviving male relative, the right to redeem land probably sold by Naomi's husband (but over which she retained the right of usufruct). This seemed an attractive option until Boaz presented him with his family responsibility to marry Ruth.

The "guardian redeemer" did not want to take the risk that having a son with Ruth might affect succession to his estate, because that son, who would bear Elimilech's name, would inherit it.

So he waived his right of pre-emption in the way you did in those days, by taking off your sandal at the town gate and handing it to your counterparty. So much easier than filling in all those Land Registry forms!

Boaz, the next closest relative, was prepared to sacrifice his own property in that way. As a result, he ended up not just with the land, but with a kind, loyal and brave wife. By making that sacrifice he also became great-grandfather to King David, and, eventually, ancestor of Jesus Christ. Boaz demonstrated commitment, love and personal sacrifice, not the unnamed man whose unwillingness to put his property at risk meant he failed to step up to the plate when opportunity arose.

If God calls us to do so, how much are we prepared to sacrifice for the sake of Boaz's Descendant? Praise be to God that Jesus lovingly made the supreme sacrifice to save each one of us.

Prayer Points:

1. That we would be willing to make sacrifices for the glory of our Lord.

2. That in the run-up to Easter, we would be speaking boldly of the supreme sacrifice Jesus made.