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Pubic notaries act as impartial witnesses. When they watch a person sign a document like a will or a deed, they affirm that the signature is bona fide. Before notaries, people had other ways to memorialize an agreement. In the days of Boaz and Ruth, they would ask witnesses to confirm a transaction. Boaz wanted to keep his late brother’s estate in the family and marry Ruth the Moabite, but he needed to follow the custom of the day. As a relative, he was entitled to buy the estate, but since there was a relative nearer than he, he had to give that nearer relative the option of buying the property. To make the matter official, Boaz went to the town gate and took a seat. When that nearer relative came by, Boaz asked him to sit for a meeting. He then called ten leaders from the town and asked them to serve as witnesses. Boaz explained that Naomi was selling the land that their late brother owned. Since this relative was first in line to purchase the property, Boaz wanted gave him the chance to buy it. The relative said yes at first, but when Boaz told him that he would have to marry Ruth as a part of the deal, he declined. He said it would endanger his own estate. The 10 witnesses formalized the transaction by their presence. Boaz bought the estate, married Ruth, and became the ancestor of King David and of the Messiah. Selfless deeds often produce great legacies.

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