BOAZ (Heb. בֹּעַז), the son of Salmah, great-grandfather of King David. Boaz was descended from Nahshon, the son of Amminadab (Ruth 4:20–22; i Chron. 2:10–15), prince of the tribe of Judah in the generation of the wilderness (Num. 1:7). He lived in Beth-Lehem in the time of the Judges and is described as a "man of substance," that is, a wealthy landowner employing many young men and women on his estate (Ruth 2:1). *Ruth, the Moabite daughter-in-law of Naomi, came to glean in his fields, and Boaz expressed his appreciation for her kindness and devotion to the widowed Naomi. Being a kinsman of Elimelech, Ruth's late father-in-law, Boaz undertook to redeem the latter's inheritance. He then married Ruth (ibid., 2:11–12; 3:12; 4:1–15).
[Nahum M. Sarna]
In the Aggadah
Boaz was a prince of Israel (Ruth R. 5:15) and the head of the bet din of Beth-Lehem. He is, therefore, sometimes identified with the judge Ibzan of Beth-Lehem (Judg. 12:8) who lost his sixty children during his lifetime (bb 91a). Ruth and Naomi arrived in Beth-Lehem on the day on which Boaz' wife was buried (ibid.). He had a vision that Ruth would be the ancestress of David (Shab. 113b). When Ruth told him that as a Moabite she was excluded from marrying him (Deut. 23:4), Boaz responded that this prohibition applied only to the males of Moab and not to the females (Ruth R. 4:1). Although a prince, Boaz himself supervised the threshing of the grain and slept in the barn in order to prevent profligacy (Ruth R. 5:15). When awakened by Ruth, he believed her to be a devil, and only after touching her hair was he convinced to the contrary since devils are bald (Ruth R. 6:1). The six measures of barley which he gave her were a symbol of her destiny to become the ancestress of six pious men, among them David and the Messiah (Sanh. 93a–b). Boaz was 80 years old and Ruth 40 when they married (Ruth R. 6:2), and although he died the day after the wedding (Mid. Ruth, Zuta 4:13), their union was blessed with a child, Obed, David's grandfather. In recognition of his merits, certain customs that Boaz originated were retained and received heavenly approval – the use of the Divine name in greeting one's fellow man (Ruth 2:4; Ber. 9:5) and the ceremony of pronouncing benedictions on a bridal couple in the presence of ten men (Ket. 7a).
S. Yeivin, in: Eretz Israel, 5 (1958), 97–104; W. Rudolph, Ruth (19622), 36; J.A. Montgomery, in: jqr, 25 (1934/35), 265; R.B.Y. Scott, in: jbl, 58 (1939), 143ff.; M. Burrows, ibid., 59 (1940), 445–6; F. Dijkema, in: Nieuw Theologisch Tijdschrift, 24 (1953), 111–8; em, 2 (1965), 282–3 (incl. bibl.). in the aggadah: Ginzberg, Legends, 4 (1947), 30–34; 6 (1946), 187–94.