Kinsman Of the four Hebrew words thus translated in the A.V., three, שׁאֵר (Nu 27:11; "kinswoman," Le 18:12-13; elsewhere "kin," etc.; and so , שִׁאֲרָה, "kinswomen," Le 18:17), מוֹדִע (literally acquaintance, Ruth ii, 1), and קָרוֹב (Ps 38:12 [ 11]; Job 19:14, A.V. " kinsfolk," literally near, as often), indicate simple relationship. The remaining one, גֹּאֵל, along with that, implies certain obligations arising out of that relationship. The term גֹּאֵל, goal', is derived by the lexicographers from the verb גָּאֵל, to redeem. That the two are closely connected is certain, but whether the meaning of the verb is derived from that of the noun, or the converse, may be made matter of question. The comparison of the cognate dialects leads to the conclusion that the primary idea lying at the basis of both is that of coming to the help or rescue of one, hence giving protection, redeeming, avenging. In this case the גֹּאֵל of the O.T. would, in fundamental concept, answer pretty nearly to the παράκλητος or paraclete of the N.T. The goal among the Hebrews was the nearest male blood relation alive. To him, as such, three rights specially belonged, and on him corresponding duties devolved towards his next of kin. SEE KINDRED.
1. When an Israelite through poverty sold his inheritance and was unable to redeem it, it devolved upon one of his kin to purchase it (Le 25:25-28; Ru 3; Ru 4). So also, when an Israelite had through poverty sold himself into slavery, it devolved upon the next of kin, as his goel, to ransom him in the jubilee year (Le 25:47 sq.). SEE JUBILEE, YEAR OF. In allusion to this, God is frequently represented as the goel of his people, both as he redeems them from temporal bondage (Ex 6:6; Isa 43:1; Isa 48:20; Jer 50:34, etc.) and from the bondage of sin and evil (Isa 41:14; Isa 44:6,22; Isa 49:7; Ps 103:4; Job 19:25, etc.). In some of these passages there is an obvious Messianic reference, to which the fact that our redemption from sin has been effected by one who has become near of kin to us by assuming our nature gives special force (comp. Heb 2:14). SEE REDEEMER.
2. When an Israelite who had wronged any one sought to make restitution, but found that the party he had wronged was dead without leaving a son, it fell to the next of kin of the injured party, as his goel, to represent him and receive the reparation (Nu 5:6 sq.). The law provided that in case of his having no one sufficiently near of kin to act for him in this way, the property restored should go to the priest, as representing Jehovah, the King of Israel-a provision which the Jews say indicates that the law has reference to strangers, as " no Israelite could be without a redeemer, for if any one of his tribe was left he would be his heir" (Maimon. in Baba Kama, 9:11). SEE GOEL.
3. The most striking office of the goel was that of acting as the avenger of blood in case of the murder of his next of kin; hence the phrase גּאֵל הִדָּם, the blood avenger. In the heart of man there seems to be a deeprooted feeling that where human life has been destroyed by violence the offence can be expiated only by the life of the murderer; hence, in all nations where the rights of individuals are not administered by a general executive acting under the guidance of law, the rule obtains that where murder has been committed the right and duty of retaliation devolves on the kindred of the murdered person. Among the Shemitic tribes this took the form of a personal obligation resting on the nearest of kin — a custom which still prevails among the Arabs (Niebuhr, Des. d'Arabie, ch. 7). This deep- rooted feeling and established usage the Mosaic legislation sought to place under such regulations as would tend to prevent the excesses and disorders to which personal retaliation is apt to lead, without attempting to preclude the indulgence of it. (Mohammed also sought to bring the practice under restraint without forbidding it [see Koran, ii, 173-5; 17:33].) Certain cities of refuge were provided, to which the manslayer might endeavor to escape. If the goel overtook him before he reached any of these cities, he might put him to death; but if the fugitive succeeded in gaining the asylum, he was safe until at least an investigation had been instituted as to the circumstances of the murder. If on inquiry it was found that the party had been guilty of deliberate murder, the law delivered him up to the goel, to be put to death by him in any way he pleased; but if the murder was accl. dental, the manslayer was entitled to the protection of the asylum he had reached. SEE CITY OF REFUGE. He was safe, however, only within its precincts, for if the goal found him beyond these he was at liberty to kill him. Among some of the Oriental nations the right of blood-revenge might be satisfied by the payment of a sum of money, but this practice, which obviously gave to the rich an undue advantage over the poor in matters of this sort, the law of Moses absolutely prohibits (Nu 35:31). SEE BLOOD-REVENGE.
From the narrative in Ru 3; Ru 4 it has been concluded that among the duties of the goel was that of marrying the widow of a deceased kinsman, so as to raise up seed to the deceased, thus identifying the office of the goel with that of the levi, as provided for in De 25:5-10. SEE MARRIAGE. But the levirate law expressly limits the obligation to a brother, and, according to the Jewish commentators, to a full brother by the father's side (Maimonides, quoted by Otho, Lex. Rabbin. p. 372), and in this relation neither Boaz nor the other kinsman stood to Elimelech or his sons. It is further evident that the question was one of right rather than one of duty, and that the kinsman who waived his right incurred no disgrace thereby, such as one who declined to fulfil the levirate law incurred. The nearest kinsman had the right to redeem the land, and the redemption of the land probably involved the marrying of the widow of the deceased owner, according to usage and custom; but the law did not enjoin this, nor did the goil who declined to avail himself of his right come under any penalty or ban. The case of the goel and that of the levir would thus be the converse of each other: the goel had a right to purchase the land, but in so doing came under an obligation from custom to marry the widow of the deceased owner; the levir was bound to marry the widow of his deceased brother, which involved, as a matter of course, the redemption of his property if he had sold it (see Selden, De Success. in bon. defunct. c. 15; Benary, De Hebrceorumu Leviratu, p. 19 sq.; Bertheau, Exeyet. IIdb. zum A. T. pt. 6:p. 249; Michaelis, On the Laws of Moses, ii, 129 sq.) SEE LEVIRATE LAW,