The role of the kinsman redeemer is not a concept that is common knowledge to Gentile Americans. By definition, the Kinsman Redeemer in Hebrew is called a Go-el and they are a relative who can redeem property or person (https://www.gotquestions.org/kinsman-redeemer.html).
The most common kinsman redeemer in the Old Testament was Boaz who redeemed Ruth and took her as his wife. Ruth was from Moab and she married the Hebrew man Mahlon who died. Mahlon was related to Boaz. However, Boaz was not first in line to redeem property or person. The closest relative had first rights to care for her. Boaz was interested in marrying Ruth but in order to obtain the right to take her as his wife, he had to ask the man who was the closest relative if he wanted to marry Ruth, wife of the deceased Hebrew man Mahlon.
In Ruth 4:4-12, (NKJV) we read, “Now Boaz went up to the gate and sat down there; and behold, the close relative of whom Boaz had spoken came by. So Boaz said, “Come aside, friend, sit down here.” So he came aside and sat down. And he took ten men of the elders of the city, and said, “Sit down here.” So they sat down. Then he said to the close relative, “Naomi, who has come back from the country of Moab, sold the piece of land which belonged to our brother Elimelech. And I thought to inform you, saying, ‘Buy it back in the presence of the inhabitants and the elders of my people. If you will redeem it, redeem it; but if you will not redeem it, then tell me, that I may know; for there is no one but you to redeem it, and I am next after you.’ ”
And he said, “I will redeem it.”
Then Boaz said, “On the day you buy the field from the hand of Naomi, you must also buy it from Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of the dead, to perpetuate the name of the dead through his inheritance.”
And the close relative said, “I cannot redeem it for myself, lest I ruin my own inheritance. You redeem my right of redemption for yourself, for I cannot redeem it.”
Now this was the custom in former times in Israel concerning redeeming and exchanging, to confirm anything: one man took off his sandal and gave it to the other, and this was a confirmation in Israel.
Therefore the close relative said to Boaz, “Buy it for yourself.” So he took off his sandal. And Boaz said to the elders and all the people, “You are witnesses this day that I have bought all that was Elimelech’s, and all that was Chilion’s and Mahlon’s, from the hand of Naomi. Moreover, Ruth the Moabitess, the widow of Mahlon, I have acquired as my wife, to perpetuate the name of the dead through his inheritance, that the name of the dead may not be cut off from among his brethren and from his position at the gate. You are witnesses this day.”
And all the people who were at the gate, and the elders, said, “We are witnesses. The Lord make the woman who is coming to your house like Rachel and Leah, the two who built the house of Israel; and may you prosper in Ephrathah and be famous in Bethlehem. May your house be like the house of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah, because of the offspring which the Lord will give you from this young woman.”
So, the closest relative was willing to purchase and redeem the land owned by Elimelech, deceased husband of Naomi. But when Boaz told him in redeeming Elimelech’s property he was also obligated to redeem the property from Ruth the Moabitess. That would have meant the closest relative would have to also marry Ruth from Moab. The reason he was required to marry Ruth was to “perpetuate the name of the dead through his inheritance.” In other words, Since Naomi bore two sons and was no longer able to have children the man would not be required to marry her when he purchased the property. BUT, since Ruth did not bear a son for Mahlon, whoever purchased her piece of property would be required to marry her and give a her a son. That son would keep the name of Mahlon alive indefinitely.
Scripture doesn’t specify exactly why, but the closest relative declined to purchase her property because doing that would have messed up his own inheritance. As a result, the closest relative declined to marry Ruth, wife of deceased Mahlon.
That cleared the way for Boaz to marry her. The two relatives of Elimelech and Mahlon sealed the deal when Boaz gave his sandal to the closest relative (who was not named but was known as the go-el).
Boaz was now the relative who redeemed Ruth, wife of the deceased man Mahlon. By marrying Ruth, it was also the Hebrew custom to take in and provide for Ruth’s mother in law, Naomi.
We learn by reading Matthew 1:5-6a that “Salmon begot Boaz by Rahab, Boaz begot Obed by Ruth, Obed begot Jesse, Jesse begot David the king.” Do you remember Rahab the prostitute who helped Israel in the wilderness? She is named in the line of Jesus. And Boaz and Ruth had Obed who was in the line of Jesus. Ruth from Moab (a people despised by Israel) was in the line of Christ because her kinsman redeemer was Boaz.
The kinsman redeemer is still a term used in Israel today.
“In the book of Ruth, the idea of chesed, often translated lovingkindness or mercy, lies behind the action of the redeemer (Hebrew, go’el). Chesed implies acting to meet the deep needs of others based on relationship of commitment and covenant. Because of this, it also implies that a more powerful person will be the one showing chesed to one who is weaker, and it is done voluntarily. In the same way, God’s chesed lies behind His acts of mercy on behalf of His people Israel” (https://jewsforjesus.org/jewish-resources/messianic-prophecy/the-messiah-would-be-our-kinsman-redeemer/).
The ultimate definition of kinsman redeemer or the go’el was one who is powerful who shows loving kindness (chesed is the Hebrew word) to those who cannot redeem themselves.
In Luke 1:68 (NKJV), we read, “Blessed is the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited and redeemed His people.”
Under the New Covenant, Christ is known as our redeemer who calls our name and sanctifies us. Hebrews 2:11-12 (NKJV) says, “For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying:
“I will declare Your name to My brethren; In the midst of the assembly I will sing praise to You.”
The one who sanctifies (Jesus) and the one sanctified (you) are brethren. Our kinsman redeemer declares your name. In the assembly, Jesus purchased us and makes us Holy by His presence IN us. By turning to Christ we are made one with God. Isaiah 1:18 (NKJV) says we are redeemed:
“Come now, and let us reason together,” says the Lord,
“Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool.”
Jesus, the babe born in a manger became one of us...our kinsman.
Jesus, the man who died on the cross became our redeemer.
When I think of what Jesus did, that He came to earth as a humble child and died on the cross to redeem me (and you), I am touched, moved, and forever changed.
I did not deserve it. I did not earn it. I am not worthy. But one day, years and years ago Jesus came to me and I turned. He looked at me and I received Him. His Spirit filled me and He redeemed me. I recently read that the greatest and most powerful Gospel song ever written says: Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so, little ones to Him belong, they are weak but He is strong.” It IS without a doubt a great song of redemption!
Today’s Spiritual Practice is: Sing ‘Jesus Loves Me’
Throughout your day, embrace your redeemer and sing: JESUS. LOVES. ME.