Uncertainty about the meaning of the problematic word compilation ???? in its specific
context in Ruth 4:5 creates a lack of clarity on the events which take place in Ruth 4.
Such lack of clarity is reflected in the diversity of ancient and modern translations of this
verse. It is uncertain whether the Moabite immigrant Ruth is described as also selling the
land or whether she is merely seen as part of the sale transaction.
The traditional view, as formulated in the available translations, implies that a levirate
marriage is involved in the narrative of this chapter. This interpretation, however,
creates multiple juridical problems.
The thesis proposes that the legal concept of usufruct can help to solve the uncertainty in
the text and to correct the misunderstanding of the verse. The problem is approached
through a syntactical and grammatical analysis and the solution that it was usufruct of
property which was sold rather than land is justified in terms of the ideology reflected in
the book of Ruth.
The thesis contributes towards a better and juridical more workable translation of the
pericope in Ruth 4 and, consequently, to the better understanding of the book of Ruth as
a whole. It is suggested that Ruth 4:5 should be rendered with, The day you acquire the (right/usufruct in respect of) the field from the hand of Naomi and from (the hand of)
Ruth, the Moabite woman, the wife of the deceased, you (also) acquire (her) in order to
maintain the name of the deceased over his inheritance.