Among the ancient Israelites, the shoe was made use of in several significant ways. To put off the shoes, imported reverence, and was done in the presence of God, or on entering the dwelling of a Superior To unloose one's shoe and give it to another was the way of confirming a contract.
Thus we read in the Book of Ruth, that Boaz having proposed to the nearest kinsman of Ruth to exercise his legal right by redeeming the land of Naomi, which was offered for sale, and marrying her daughter-in-law, the kinsman, being unable to do so, resigned his right of purchase to Boaz; and the narrative goes on to say (Ruth iv, 7 and S), "Now this was the manner in former time in Israel concerning redeeming and concerning changing, for to confirm all things; a man plucked off his shoe, and gave it to his neighbor: and this was a testimony in Israel. Therefore the kinsman said unto Boaz, Buy it for thee. So he drew off his shoe." The reference to the shoe in the First Degree is therefore really as a symbol of a Covenant to be entered into. In the Third Degree the symbolism is altogether different. For an explanation of it, see Discalceation.
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