Ruth 4:8 ESV

8 So when the redeemer said to Boaz, “Buy it for yourself,” he drew off his sandal.

Ruth 4:8 KJV

8 Therefore the kinsman said unto Boaz, Buy it for thee. So he drew off his shoe.

Ruth 4:8 NASB

8 So the redeemer said to Boaz, “Buy it for yourself.” And he removed his sandal.

Most of the translations seem to point to the kinsman-redeemer as the one who removed his sandals

But THE text is not clear whether it was the kinsman-redeemer or Boaz who removed his sandal?


2 Answers 2


Here is the law in Deuteronomy:

7 And if the man does not wish to take his brother’s wife, then his brother’s wife shall go up to the gate to the elders and say, ‘My husband’s brother refuses to perpetuate his brother’s name in Israel; he will not perform the duty of a husband’s brother to me.’ 8 Then the elders of his city shall call him and speak to him, and if he persists, saying, ‘I do not wish to take her,’ 9 then his brother’s wife shall go up to him in the presence of the elders and pull his sandal off his foot and spit in his face. And she shall answer and say, ‘So shall it be done to the man who does not build up his brother’s house.’ 10 And the name of his house shall be called in Israel, ‘The house of him who had his sandal pulled off.’ (Deut. 25:7–10, ESV)

The kinsman closer than Boaz pulled off his sandal in front of witnesses to forfeit the obligation, so that Boaz could fulfill it. In the Book of Ruth there is no indication that Ruth was involved in this procedure. But, they are fulfilling the Law with this procedure. It is a legal transaction.

  • @ Perry Webb,is the law in Deuteronomy referring to this incident? Jun 25, 2021 at 9:37
  • See the edited answer.
    – Perry Webb
    Jun 25, 2021 at 9:40
  • Are you saying that the man with one shoe is a representative of the law ?
    – Nigel J
    Jun 25, 2021 at 14:16
  • No. What he did in front of witnesses was like a legal document signed in front of witnesses. It released him from being the kinsman redeemer.
    – Perry Webb
    Jun 25, 2021 at 15:18

There are three lines of evidence that both point to the same result - the "Go'el" (kinsman-redeemer) took of his sandal as the definitive sign that his statement was final:

  1. Ruth 4:7 - Now in former times in Israel, concerning the redemption or exchange of property, to make any matter legally binding a man would remove his sandal and give it to the other party, and this was a confirmation in Israel. Note that Boaz was NOT proposing anything but simply saying to the Go'el - what do you want to do? The Go'el refused to buy and so it was incumbent upon him to finalize his decision by removing his sandal.
  2. Ruth 4:8 - So the kinsman-redeemer removed his sandal and said to Boaz, “Buy it for yourself.” Having just read the original Hebrew, the above BSB translation is grammatically correct; that is, the subject of the verb "he took off" (וַיִּשְׁלֹ֖ף) is tyhe Go'el in the previous verse.
  3. The law in Deut 25:7-10 makes it the duty of the person refusing his duty as the Go'el as the person who must loose the sandal.

Therefore, the person that removed his sandal is the Go'el closer than Boaz and thus, by refusing this function as the Go'el, that job fell to Boaz who immediately married the widow, Ruth. Boaz did not removed his sandal precisely because he was willing to fulfill his duty as the Go'el.

  • . . . . then who is he (or what does he represent) that actually removed his shoe ? As you say he is not the gaal. Had he been so, he would have redeemed. So who is he ?
    – Nigel J
    Jun 25, 2021 at 14:17
  • He was eligible, but the other guy was “more eligible.”
    – WGroleau
    Jun 25, 2021 at 19:02
  • @NigelJ - I am not sure I understand what you are asking. The closer relative is not named.
    – Dottard
    Jun 25, 2021 at 20:45

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