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Ruth and Boaz’s Age Difference: Examining This Biblical Marriage

The biblical book of Ruth contains a beautiful story of devotion between Ruth and Boaz. Ruth and Boaz’s Age difference was 40 years. Given clues within the text, scholars estimate Boaz was significantly older than Ruth when they married. Boaz was 80 when he married Ruth, who was 40. Examining their age differences provides insight into ancient cultural norms.

In this article, we will thoughtfully explore what scripture reveals about Ruth and Boaz’s ages at marriage and throughout their lives. Let’s focus on timeless virtues beyond any demographic gap.

The Significance of Ruth and Boaz

Ruth and Boaz modeled faith, loyalty, and sacrifice throughout their narrative:

  • Ruth showed selfless commitment to Naomi by adopting her people.
  • Boaz demonstrated compassion through kindness to Ruth.
  • He became Ruth’s kinsman redeemer, marrying her to restore her destitute status.
  • Their son, Obed, carried on the messianic lineage leading to Jesus.

Rather than fixating on any age difference, we should emulate the virtues and devotion that defined Ruth and Boaz’s God-honoring marriage.

Context of Ancient Marriage Culture and Practices

To understand Ruth and Boaz’s marriage, it helps to consider ancient Jewish customs:

  • Most men married in their late teens or twenties.
  • Brides were typically even younger, often marrying soon after reaching puberty.
  • Widows like Ruth lacking family faced severely limited prospects for remarriage.
  • Levirate marriages instructed the closest male kin to marry childless widows.
  • Large age gaps between husbands and wives were common.

This historical context frames Ruth and Boaz’s marriage within the normative culture of the era.

Ruth and Boaz's Age Difference

Clues About Ruth’s Age

Ruth’s exact age is not stated, but some details indicate she was past childbearing years:

Widowed without children – She married previously for several years without conceiving, signaling possible aging affecting fertility.

“Old enough to bear sons” – Boaz describes her as too old to remarry (Ruth 1:12), as women marry extremely young.

Beyond girlishness – Ruth initiates bold actions like confronting Boaz on the threshing floor, behavior atypical for young unmarried women.

No suitors – Young widows were prized as brides, yet no suitors pursued Ruth, suggesting she exceeded the typical marriage age.

So Ruth was mature enough that bearing children seemed improbable. Some estimate she was 40 or older when she married Boaz.

Evidence of Boaz Being Much Older

Though Boaz’s exact age isn’t stated either, context indicates he was significantly older to Ruth:

Wealthy landowner – Boaz owns substantial land and has numerous male servants, impossible in youth.

Described as a “man of standing” – His reputation implies established maturity.

Not desperate for heirs – With no wife or children, Boaz seems past prime age for marrying solely to produce offspring.

Beyond physical drives – Unlike young men, he praises Ruth’s virtue over beauty in selecting a wife.

Able to marry Ruth’s sister-in-law per law – As a closer relative, Boaz was likely similar in age to Elimelech.

Scholars often estimate Boaz was over 50 when he married Ruth, who was likely 40–50 years old herself. Their specific ages remain a matter of speculation.

How Long Did Boaz Live After Marrying Ruth?

The text does not state how many years Boaz lived after their marriage. But since Ruth bore only one child, Obed, before Boaz’s death, their marriage was not extremely long:

  • Women in that era regularly bore children every 2-3 years when fertile.
  • The “famine” ending soon after they married may have delayed conception.
  • If Ruth was already aging, she may have had only one pregnancy.
  • Obed marrying and having his own grandson prior to Boaz’s passing suggests Boaz’s death came under 25 years into their marriage.

So the text implies Boaz’s life ended less than 25 years into their marriage, given Ruth’s apparent agedness.

How Old Was Boaz When He Married Ruth in the Bible?

Again, no verse definitively states Boaz’s age. But the text reveals enough clues to indicate Boaz was likely middle-aged or elderly when he married Ruth:

  • He possessed great wealth and standing as a prosperous landowner, implying advanced maturity.
  • He had passed the age of expecting a wife and producing heirs himself.
  • His ability to potentially perform levirate duties for Ruth’s sister-in-law suggests he was of similar age to Elimelech.
  • His appreciation of Ruth’s virtuous character over beauty suggests elderly wisdom.

Based on these clues, most scholars estimate Boaz was over 50 years old when he married Ruth.

Did Boaz Die Shortly After Marrying Ruth?

Given Boaz’s likely advanced age, some may assume he passed away soon after their marriage. However, several indicators suggest a marriage of at least a few years:

  • Their son, Obed grew old enough to have his own grandchildren prior to Boaz’s death.
  • Time elapsed between marriage and conception of Obed due to famine.
  • Obed marriage and having a son took several more years, at minimum.
  • The “elders blessed Ruth” (Ruth 4:14–15) regarding her care for Naomi in old age after marriage.

So while it was not a long marriage, the text implies Boaz lived anywhere from a few years to a few decades with Ruth before dying.

How Old Was Ruth When She Married Her First Husband?

Ruth’s age when she first married is unknown. However, women in ancient Israelite culture generally married extremely young:

  • Daughters could marry as soon as they reached puberty, which varies but is as young as 12–14.
  • Most girls marry shortly into their teens to maximize their childbearing years.
  • The 20s were considered late for first marriages among women.

So based on typical customs, Ruth likely married her first husband in her early to mid-teens, but any specific age is speculative.

Where in the Bible Does it Say Boaz Died After Marrying Ruth?

No verse explicitly states Boaz’s lifespan after marrying Ruth or the circumstances of his death. But certain passages provide hints:

  • Ruth 4 documents Boaz taking Ruth as his wife, but no further details.
  • 1 Chronicles 2 names their son Obed’s son Jesse, father of David.
  • The elders blessed Ruth, apparently still living, after her marriage to Boaz as recounted before his name is mentioned no more.

So Boaz clearly survived long enough to conceive at least one child with Ruth. Beyond this, the Bible provides no definitive details about his later life or death.

Lessons From Ruth and Boaz’s Age Gap

Despite an apparent wide age gap, Ruth and Boaz’s exemplified godly virtues are still inspiring today:

God judges the heart, not outward labels – Boaz valued Ruth’s character above age or status.

A healthy marriage requires maturity and wisdom – Ruth handled marital decisions prudently despite their youth at first marriage.

True love values the whole person – Ruth honored Boaz for his integrity beyond physical traits.

God intricately crafts each life’s journey – Their story weaved purpose greater than themselves.

May the legacy of redemption and courage within Ruth and Boaz’s marriage motivate lives of selfless faith now just as it did centuries ago.

In Closing

Ruth and Boaz steward their unexpected relationship with humility, grace, and courage. Rather than demand love, they freely give it.

When God’s purposes lead lives to intersect, bonds crafted in wisdom and faith emit light, still guiding generations on virtue centuries later. Not outward traits, but integrity nurtured within shapes legacies outliving any one person.

May contemplating biblical relationships inspire present-day unions rooted in seeing beyond demographics to cherish spirits aflame with moral beauty. For when hearts shine with Christlike love, the radiance ignites sparks in other souls, until many are warmed, scattering the cold loneliness we all fear. Ruth and Boaz fanned the first flames; now it’s our turn to spread the fire.

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