Naomi’s deceased husband. Elimelech, had some land in Bethlehem that she had been forced to sell because of her poverty conditions (Ruth 4:3). Elimelech had a relative who, as his next of kin, had the right to buy back or redeem this property to keep it in the family.
But this unnamed relative gave up that right by removing his sandal. Only the owner of a plot of land had the right to walk on it. Removal of his sandal symbolized that he was giving up his ownership rights and transferring them to Boaz, who could then proceed to buy back the property from the current owner.
RUTH 4:7 – Now this was the manner in former time in Israel concerning redeeming and concerning charging [transfer of property, NIV], for to confirm all thing; a man plucked off his shoe, and gave it to his neighbor: and this was a testimony [the method of legalizing transactions, NIV] in Israel.