When reading Ruth 4:10 after knowing the Law of Deuteronomy 25:6, Should Obed be remembered as "the son of Mahlon" in Ruth 4:21 (instead of Boaz) when reciting genealogical records?

NIV | Deuteronomy 25:5-9

5 If brothers are living together and one of them dies without a son, his widow must not marry outside the family. Her husband’s brother shall take her and marry her and fulfill the duty of a brother-in-law to her.

6 The first son she bears shall carry on the name of the dead brother so that his name will not be blotted out from Israel.

7 However, if a man does not want to marry his brother’s wife, she shall go to the elders at the town gate and say, “My husband’s brother refuses to carry on his brother’s name in Israel. He will not fulfill the duty of a brother-in-law to me.”

8 Then the elders of his town shall summon him and talk to him. If he persists in saying, “I do not want to marry her,”

9 his brother’s widow shall go up to him in the presence of the elders, take off one of his sandals, spit in his face and say, “This is what is done to the man who will not build up his brother’s family line.”

10 That man’s line shall be known in Israel as The Family of the Unsandaled.

  • Ruth 4:10 restated this principle "10 I have also acquired Ruth the Moabite, Mahlon’s widow, as my wife, in order to maintain the name of the dead with his property, so that his name will not disappear from among his family or from his hometown."

Yet the Genealogy of Obed claims Boaz as his Father (instead of Mahlon) in Ruth 4:21 "Boaz the father of Obed"

  • Is Obed, then, Boaz's second son, the first not being mentioned in scripture, who is therefore not named in the genealogy of ... Salma ... Boaz ... Obed, but named (elsewhere, in other records outside of scripture) in the genealogy ... Elimelech ... Mahlon ... X. ('X' being Boaz's first son but attributed to Mahlon).
    – Nigel J
    Jan 7, 2021 at 20:43

2 Answers 2


Based on Deuteronomy 25:6, Oved's name should have been "Machlon" (מַחְל֜וֹן) as stated "The first son that she bears shall be accounted to the dead brother, that his name may not be blotted out in Israel." ( וְהָיָ֗ה הַבְּכוֹר֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר תֵּלֵ֔ד יָק֕וּם עַל־שֵׁ֥ם אָחִ֖יו הַמֵּ֑ת וְלֹֽא־יִמָּחֶ֥ה שְׁמ֖וֹ מִיִּשְׂרָאֵֽל )

  • If Genealogical records symbolize the Family line, then Machlon's remembrance does matter in historical records. - Since Oved was not given the name of Ruth's first husband, then Ruth 4:21 and 1 Chronicles 2:12 should read : "And Boaz begot Oved [son of Machlon]" ( וּבֹ֙עַז֙ הוֹלִ֣יד אֶת־עוֹבֵ֔ד בֶּן־מַחְל֜וֹן) to fulfill Devarim 25:6.

The extended title Oved [son of Machlon] (עוֹבֵ֔ד בֶּן־מַחְל֜וֹן) should have been written in the Genealogy of King David, because Boaz did not give Ruth's firstborn son the name of her deceased husband.

  • 1
    why would the extended title for Obed be necessary if Boaz was not Mahlon's immediate brother? Jan 7, 2021 at 16:22
  • 1
    The extended title Oved [son of Machlon] (עוֹבֵ֔ד בֶּן־מַחְל֜וֹן) should have been written in the Genealogy of King David, because Boaz did not give Ruth's firstborn son the name of her deceased husband. Jan 7, 2021 at 21:27
  • A person with more than one name, not inconceivable(Genesis 35:18).
    – user21676
    Jan 8, 2021 at 6:40

I think Deuteronomy 25:5-9 has a different purpose other than the Genealogy. The Levirate marriage (yibbum) was to have the surviving brother produce an heir, to inherit the property (usually the land) of the dead brother, to keep the land within the family.

In ancient time, the land was a major mean of survival. God commanded the fiftieth year shall be a jubilee for the Israelites, each of them was to return to the family property and to their own clan. (Leviticus 25:8-17)

So if a family was poor and had to sell their land, on the fiftieth year they shall redeem it, as commanded. It was important that there was a heir to inherit the land.

The Genealogy is a record of the bloodline, and this should not mix up by the Levirate marriage.

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