Juridical matters play an important role in the book of Ruth. There appears to be a
contradiction between Ruth 1:21 and Ruth 4:3. In the former, Naomi is depicted as a desperately poor
("empty") widow. In the latter, Naomi is unexpectedly presented as the owner of land. This
contradiction can be solved by understanding Naomi's right in respect of her late husband's land as
a right other than ownership. A study of female ownership of land, the right of a wife to inherit
from her husband, analysis of the literary elements in the book of Ruth, the rural backdrop, the
theme of survival and the vocabulary in the narrative, lead to the conclusion that we are here
dealing with what would today be recognised as a usufruct.