The term “Kinsman Redeemer” (Hebrew: goel, [H1350] translated: “kinsman“ ~ Num. 5:8; 27:11; Ruth 2:1; 3:9, 12, 13; 4:1, 3, 6, 8, 14; John 18:26; Romans 16:11) is the title for a position of responsibility within an Old Testament Hebrew family.
This individual was entrusted with the ability to protect, as well as revenge individuals within the family, as a way of maintaining justice within the tribal society of Israel. We might refer to this position as the godfather of the Hebrews, yet in a legal and moral function, as compared to one of criminality and abuse.
The idea of the Kinsman Redeemer held two different functions within the same title.
First, was the function of the “Goel” or Redeemer. The idea was that if a man died without children, normally his brother, or Goel (next in line of kinship), have an obligation to race seat to the dead brother so as to keep his posterity going, along with the inheritance of the land. He redeemed that man’s progeny. This is referred to as the Levirate law.1
Second, was the function of the “Avenger of Blood2”. A “wrong” (crime) done to a single member of the family was considered a crime against the entire tribe or clan. The clan had an obligation, therefore, to punish the wrongdoer. In the case of a murder committed, the kinsman should seek vengeance. According to the imagery of ancient people, the blood of the murdered man cried out from the ground for vengeance and the cry was heard loudest by the member of the clan who stood nearest to the dead in kingship; therefore, the closest of kin follow through with the blood avenger responsibility”3 (Genesis 4:1-16,10).
The Qualifications of the Kinsman Redeemer
- First and foremost, there must be a blood connection, within the same tribe.
- Next, is the biological proximity concerning the family member.
- Lastly, a willingness to fulfill the position.
Normally, the role of the Kinsman Redeemer, or Goel in the case of the death of an adult male without progeny, is to bear children to their name. This is seen as part of the Levirate Law (Deut. 25:5-11) to fulfill the responsibility of the Goel, first to fall to the brother, to be accepted by him (see Gen. 38:11-30: the story of Tamar; Judah’s daughter-in-law, mother of Phares, listed in Luke 3:33 as part of the lineage of Christ, she is mentioned in Matt. 1:3), however, if a brother or closest in bloodline refused, as seen in the book of Ruth, then the man that refused would perform a ritual of taking off his shoe and handing it to the next inline of kinship that would redeem the progeny and the land.4
The Avenger of Blood
Concerning the function of the Goel, this too would drop primarily to a brother, however, if he is not available or able, it would fall to the next of kin. This primarily dealt with the murder of a tribe member. In the case of manslaughter, or accidental killing, the accused was afforded the ability to escape the retribution of the Avenger of Blood if he could get to one of the six Cities of Refuge (Num. 35:16-29; Deut. 19:2-6) before the Avenger of Blood caught up with him. The accused would only remain safe as long as he stayed within the City of Refuge (Link), and was free to leave when the High Priest in Jerusalem died. If the Avenger of Blood violated any of these conditions, he would be guilty of murder.
The best example that we have concerning the kinsman Redeemer is seen in the Old Testament book of Ruth. In this story a Hebrew woman, Naomi; moves with her husband and two sons to outside of Israel among the Moabites. Her two sons marry local women, one of which is by the name of Ruth. Eventually her husband dies them both of her sons die. Naomi decides to move back to Israel and advises her daughter-in-law’s to go back to their families and live. Yet, Ruth refuses to leave Naomi and goes with her back to Israel.
Naomi’s husband had sold (leased until the year of Jubilee, meaning 50) their property. Therefore, Naomi and Ruth who had no finances, lived off of charity. God in His wisdom had set up a system where if individuals had no income or food, they could survive in Israel by going through fields after they had been harvested the wheat, and salvage the reminiscence that were dropped. This was referred to as “gleaning a field” (Lev. 23:22).
Naomi, who was too old to glean, directed her daughter-in-law Ruth to go to the field of their kinsman, Boaz and glean his field in order to produce bread for their subsistence. Eventually an unnamed servant introduced Ruth to the kinsman Boaz. Boaz made sure that extra droppings were left for Ruth and Naomi to pick up.
Naomi gave specific instructions to Ruth on how to secure back the property of Naomi’s husband’s family, and gain an inheritance by marrying the kinsman and bearing children. During the harvest festival there was a procedure whereby after Boaz had went to sleep on the floor of the grain thrashing floor (so as to protect the grain that they had thrashed, separating the wheat from the chaff), Ruth was to go to sleep at his feet and cover up with the hem of his overcoat.
The Hebrews had a tradition that the hem of their overcoat would display emblems which would identify their position within the family and their authority, similarly to how military soldiers wear patches on their arm, or ensign on their caller to identify their rank. Ruth completed this, and during the night Boaz awoke, and she petitioned him to marry her under the law of Levirate marriage. Boaz agreed, but determined that there was another kinsman closer in relationship to her. Therefore, Boaz approached the individual, and managed to obtain the right of the kinsman Redeemer (Deut. 25:5-11). In doing so he purchased back the land for Naomi, and raised up children for Ruth and her inheritance as one of the tribes of Israel. One of Ruth’s sons is named in the lineage of Jesus as stated above.
So why is this important? Romans 15:4 states:
“For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.”
It is in understanding that everything in God’s Word is therefore for a purpose, and everything that God has communicated, especially those things that seem mundane are there as object lessons to teach us. Jesus stated in John 5:39:
“Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.”
All of God’s Word has one purpose, and no it is not the salvation of man, it is the glorification of God (Isaiah 43:7), and His Son Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:20-22; Romans 11:36; Colossians 1:12-19). It is Jesus that deserves preeminence in God’s Word. All of these Old Testament types and shadows (Hebrews 8:5; 10:1; Colossians 2:17) and figures (theologically referred to as “Expositional Consistency“5) were meant as object lessons to paint the picture of the Messiah, so that He would be recognizable when He came. And we know that He came in the person of Jesus Christ. It is Christ that is our ultimate Kinsman Redeemer. It is Him that came the 1st time to redeem the world with His blood, and it is Him that will come the 2nd time as the Avenger of blood to save Israel and destroy His enemies.
We, through Adam had fallen from grace wherein we would be purchased; anew, a bride made clean by the blood of the Groom, our Redeemer Jesus Christ. Yet, by the act of one man we were plunged into sin, so then by the act of another man we would be redeemed from sin. It is for this reason that Jesus had to become a man, a Kinsmen to pay the price for our sin. 1st Corinthians 15:20-22, states:
“For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.”
And 1st Corinthians 15:45-47, states:
“And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven.”
This is why Jesus had to become a man, so that He could take the place of man and pay for mankinds sin – an even trade, fulfilling the justice of God. You see God did not simply choose to forgive and forget man’s sin. To do this God would be merciful, but He would not be just. Sin demands punishment. So God took His only begotten Son and made Him a man, so that He could take upon Himself the sin of mankind.
Have you ever heard it said that it is not fair that all of men are condemned to hell because of one man’s act – God is just – so by another man’s act all could be forgiven. Jesus became our kinsmen who redeemed us with His blood, He purchased as a fit replacement for Adam who did not trusting God.
This is why it is so important that we understand that Jesus was the ultimate example of faith. He did right what Adam did wrong. He trusted God even though He would die. He allowed Himself to become a man, after having spent eternity as God. On the promise that God would resurrect Him, and restore Him to His state, that Christ would sit in God the Father’s throne, until all was fulfilled; and Christ would come the 2nd time to redeem Israel, destroy his enemies and then will sit on the throne of David (“And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David” ~ Luke 1:303132), a throne that He was ultimately meant to rule from (for thousand years until always completed and there is the new heaven and new earth ~ Revelations 20:2-6), for a thousand years.
1. Deuteronomy 25:5-10; Ruth 3:9-12; Genesis 38:8.
2. Numbers 35:12; Deuteronomy 19:6, 12; Joshua 20:3, 5, 9.
3. HOLMAN BIBLE DICTIONARY, Trent C. Butler, Ph.D., Holman Bible Publishers, Nashville, TN, 1991, page 848.
4. Ruth 4:5-10.
5. Expositional Consistency is the repetitive use of the same (uniform) idioms throughout Scripture, both in Hebrew and Greek; in symbolizing something in order to create an object lesson which enhances details in producing clarity. God’s use of typology, which is a symbol, sometimes referred to it as a model or example, or biblically speaking a “shadow”; is meant to generate greater detail and precision in identifying something or someone. (Heb. 8:5; 1 Cor. 10:11; Rom. 15:4; 1 Cor. 10:6). Hebrews 3:1-6 – Illustrates that God created the role of the earthly priest as an object lesson to later help identify Jesus’ role as the intercessor of mankind. Heb. 8:4-5, describes how God caused the tabernacle to be fashioned specifically concerning its materials and construction in order to convey greater details in describing Jesus Christ as our substitutionary sacrifice, advocate, and the perpetuation to God in providing salvation to humanity. (Also see: 1 Cor. 10:4; Heb. 4:11; Heb. 10:1; & Col. 2:17). A substance, principle or reality may have more than one typological symbol or idiom used as a model or illustration which God wishes to communicate, yet there is never an inconsistency in using the same typological idiom representing something else, that would therefore create any confusion concerning the symbolic representation. Examples can be seen such as the use of a fire and cloud concerning the Holy Spirit as God led Israel across the desert, the fire for protection at night, and the cloud for relief from the desert sun – God’s protection and His Providence, His mercy and His grace. The Holy Spirit depicted as anointing oil that was used to display God’s seal of approval on prophets and kings. The Holy Spirit depicted as a dove at Jesus baptism, to represent the peace of God landing upon Him. The Holy Spirit depicted as cloven tongues of fire coming upon the church when it was established at Pentecost, using fire to express the power that came in the form of boldness to proclaim the gospel. Throughout God’s Word every type of living creature, as well as substance is utilized to symbolize greater meaning in what God desires to communicate. Jesus has over 333 titles, names and expressions; everything from Him pictured as the “Lamb of God,” to being the “Rock of our salvation.” With the Bible depicted as living water, because of its cleaning sanctification. There are usually many different types of symbols, yet complete consistency in that they always represent the same thing, without contradiction. A rock is always used concerning Christ as the foundation of the church, the capstone. A rock is never used for anything else. Shadows, types, and figures are used to paint pictures which are to be object lessons for our own edification in order to understand with simplicity something or someone that on their own are quite complex, hence the 333 titles and descriptions of Christ from the Old Testament. for more on this please see our master website, http://faithbibleministries.com/ the link to the: “Something to think about -Part 1″ dropdown (“Rightly dividing the word of God”), see the index.