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What is a kinsman-redeemer?

The term kinsman-redeemer is a combination of two words.

  1. The word kinsman has the same root as what we call next of kin today. It’s seen especially in documents involving inheritance, like in bank details. It requires information about your closest living blood relative or beneficiary of an investment.
  2. A redeemer is someone who buys back, or regains the possession of a property or even a person that was sold to another. Normally, the redeemer pays the price or gives other property worth the value of what is being recovered.

A kinsman-redeemer is the result of putting those two words together and means the closest blood relative who willingly regains the possession of something or someone by paying their redemption price. This was practiced in the Israelite culture, God gave them directions on how to conduct it in the Levitical laws.

Kinsman-redeemer in the Bible

The Bible does not sanction slavery or even the acquisition of someone’s land forever. But there were some situations when someone became poor and sold their property to someone else. In such cases, provision was made for them to be redeemed (Leviticus 25:23).

During the year of Jubilee, which came after every fifty years, all slaves and pieces of land that had been sold were to be released back to the original owner. The command was given, “you shall return every man unto his possession...and unto his family” (Leviticus 25:9,25-28 NKJV).

But one didn’t have to wait for the year of Jubilee to be released. It was possible to be released even before the Jubilee if “one of his brothers …. near of kin unto him” could redeem him by paying “the price of redemption” (Leviticus 25:48-49,51, NKJV).

But the duty of the kinsman was not only limited to the preservation of his relatives and their property. They were also required to ensure they got descendants in the case of death.

If someone died without having children, his brother was expected to marry the wife in order to preserve the name of the one who died through the first child born by the wife. (Deuteronomy 25:5,6).

These provisions were meant to reduce suffering, and to keep poverty and slavery in check. Also, it gave hope to the widows, the poor, and orphans, secured their inheritance, and protected their interests.

Here is an example of how these principles were applied in Bible times.

The story of Ruth and Boaz

Ruth was a Moabite woman who was married to an Israaelite, Mahlon. Mahlon had moved to Moab with his family to escape a famine in Israel. But when Mahlon, his brother, Chilion, and his father Elimelech died, Ruth was left as a childless widow.

She decided to stick with her mother-in-law, Naomi (Ruth 1:1-7). She even vowed to return to Israel with her and join her in worshiping the God of Israel (Ruth 1:16).

However, since Naomi was poor, widowed and old, she didn’t have much for which to go back. She even sold the piece of land that belonged to her husband to provide for herself and Ruth (Ruth 4:3, 5).

In order to cater to the needs of the poor, God had commanded the Israelites to leave some leftover crops in their farms during harvest time. That way, the poor and the non-Israelites who didn’t have land to plant on could glean and have something, too (Leviticus 19:9,10).

One day Ruth went to glean. And providentially, she came to the farm of Boaz, who was “one of (their) closest kinsmen.” And when Ruth told her mother-in-law how Boaz was kind to her, Naomi suggested that they ask him to perform the duties of a kinsman-redeemer for them (Ruth 2:20, NKJV).

But remember, Naomi’s sons were both dead. And to preserve her husband’s name, the kinsman-redeemer also had to marry Ruth since she was Mahlon’s childless wife (Ruth 3:1-4).

Ruth obeyed, and Boaz did not disappoint. But there was a closer kinsman to them than Boaz and he deserved to be given the priority (Ruth 3:7-13).

And after they clarified that he was not interested, Boaz gladly redeemed Elimelech’s land and married Ruth, the wife of Mahlon (Ruth 4:1-10).

Boaz was wealthy, kind, and godly. He was a perfect Kinsman-redeemer. And God blessed them with a son whom they named Obed. Obed is King David’s grandfather (Ruth 4:13-22).

This story and the principles of redemption by a kinsman are an illustration of Jesus’ redemptive work to us sinners. Actually, Jesus came from the lineage of Boaz through David (Matthew 1:1-6).

Let's look at Jesus as our kinsman-redeemer.

Our redemption

As the human race, the Bible refers to us as carnal and “sold under sin” (Romans 7:14, NKJV).

And since the wages of sin is eternal death, we need a redeemer. That’s why in our spiritually poor and pitiful state, God decided to show us the “exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness towards us through Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:7, NKJV).

“God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son” to be our Kinsman-redeemer. But did Jesus have all the qualities of a kinsman-redeemer? Let's see below.

Jesus, our kinsman-redeemer

So, how does Jesus perfectly fit as our true kinsman-redeemer?

1) A kinsman-redeemer had to be a close relative.
Jesus, the Son of God, became human like us with a body made of flesh and blood. The Bible tells us that “He is not ashamed to call (us) brethren” (Hebrew 1:2; 14,11 NKJV).

Jesus showed that He brings us so close to Himself and to God that we can be called God’s children. And that we are co-heirs with Him just as kinsmen were co-heirs of the land of Israel. (1 John 3:1; Romans 8:17).

2) The redeemer had to be willing.
In the case of Ruth and Boaz the nearest kinsman was not willing to redeem Naomi’s land and marry Ruth. But when God sent His son to redeem us, Christ's response was “lo I come: in the volume of the book written of me (Ruth 4:6; Psalms 40:6, NKJV).

Jesus said, “I delight to do your will, Oh my God” and He willingly came to redeem us. (Psalms 40:7, NKJV)

3) A kinsman-redeemer had to be rich enough to pay the redemption price.

The good news is that our “God is rich in glory by Christ Jesus.” Through Christ, we have been redeemed. He says, “fear not: for I have redeemed you… you are mine”(Philippians 4:19, Isaiah 43:1 NKJV).

Actually, the name Jesus itself means savior. He was born to save us from the salvery of Satan and sin. He is our redeemer (Matthew 1:21, Isaiah 41:14).

Christ paid our redemption price. Peter says, “you were not redeemed with corruptible things as silver and gold… but with the precious blood of Jesus Christ. What a price for our redemption! (1 Peter 1:17,18 NKJV).

Since the wages of sin is death, Jesus died for us to pay our debt. He tasted “death for every man” and “gave Himself a ransom for all” (Hebrews 2:9; 1Timothy 2:5, NKJV).

And not only us but our entire planet too. The Bible tells us that “creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.” And that a time is coming when everything will be made new (Romans 8:21, Revelation 21:5, NKJV).

4) A Kinsman was to continue the name of (get descendants for) his relative.
Through Christ we are born again and given an opportunity to live with Him eternally. (John 11:25).

Since Jesus paid our redemption price, He is our only hope for our redemption. The Bible makes this plain when it says “neither is there salvation in any other” (Acts 4:12, NKJV).

Jesus alone paid our redemption price. He wants you to know that “you were bought with a price.” And He welcomes you to enjoy the privileges of being His brethren and co-heir with Him in His kingdom. Also, He calls you to commit to Him since we are His by redemption (1 Corinthians 6:20, NKJV).

What can we learn from this?

How is your courage today? Do you feel like you need a kinsman-redeemer because of your current circumstances? Do you feel like you need a Boaz to come your way? Do you feel like it is time for the Jubilee year?

The good news is that Jesus is your Redeemer. He exists for our salvation and freedom. He longs to set the captives free. And remember, there will come a day very soon when Jesus comes back. He will bring you to heaven. He will restore you and give you complete freedom. I can’t wait for that day, how about you?<.p>