Ruth, the Moabite

Deuteronomy 23 says that "no Ammonite or Moabite or any of their descendants may enter the assembly of the Lord, not even in the tenth generation ". (NIV)
Ruth was an ancestor of David, she was a Moabitess.
Can anyone explain this (seeming) anomaly?
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  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    edited March 15
    King David had Moabite ancestry. He entrusted his parents to the protection of the king of Moab when he was being persecuted by Saul (1 Sam 22: 3-4). He was technically a usurper and nearly overthrown in a rebellion. So his mixed ancestry may have been a source of embarrassment for him. The story of Ruth may be an attempt to legitimise and justify his Moabite ancestry by portraying his great grandmother Ruth as a virtuous convert to Israel.
  • Jengie JonJengie Jon Shipmate
    The theory I heard is that there is a debate in the OT between an inclusive Israel and an exclusive Israel. The writer of Ruth was in favour of the inclusive notion (along with the writer of Jonah). Whether the writer of Deuteronomy was exclusive I cannot recall but some of the later prophets were.
  • CrœsosCrœsos Shipmate
    Priscilla wrote: »
    Deuteronomy 23 says that "no Ammonite or Moabite or any of their descendants may enter the assembly of the Lord, not even in the tenth generation ". (NIV)
    Ruth was an ancestor of David, she was a Moabitess.
    Can anyone explain this (seeming) anomaly?

    One possibility is that, like First Testament restrictions against homosexuality, the rule against Moabites in the assembly of the Lord only applied to men (and male line descendants). Anyone here have enough fluency with Hebrew gender cases to see if that translation works?
  • CrœsosCrœsos Shipmate
    edited March 15
    מוֹאָבִי (môäviy) seems to be masculine gendered, but I don't know enough about Hebrew collective nouns to know if the masculine case is the default when referring to a mixed-gendered group (like all Moabites generally). Given the rabbinic tendency to dispute, I'd guess that cases could be (and have been) made either way.
  • tclunetclune Shipmate
    Crœsos wrote: »
    מוֹאָבִי (môäviy) seems to be masculine gendered, but I don't know enough about Hebrew collective nouns to know if the masculine case is the default when referring to a mixed-gendered group (like all Moabites generally). Given the rabbinic tendency to dispute, I'd guess that cases could be (and have been) made either way.
    Yes, Hebrew uses the masculine form for groups that include at least one male. I have never seen an exception to this.
  • There is of course the argument that by marrying into Israel (and converting) she ceased to be a Moabite. The prohibition would hold for any Moabite family living in Israel who refused to assimilate in these ways.
  • Sorry for my ignorance, but what is the "assembly of the Lord"?
  • MamacitaMamacita Shipmate
    edited March 16
    Sorry for my ignorance, but what is the "assembly of the Lord"?

    The footnote in my Oxford Annotated Bible defines it thusly: "the national governing body, or popular legislature, was charged with a broad range of judicial, political, and policy matters."
  • That sounds a bit odd. I took it to mean the worshipping community (i.e., all the people who would celebrate Passover, or assemble for the reading of the Law in public, etc.) To be kept out of the assembly was essentially to be marked as an outsider, "not Israel," a foreigner or sojourner, no matter what your residence was or for how long you had lived there.
  • MamacitaMamacita Shipmate
    That was my first thought, LC. And I agree that, whatever the assembly was, to be kept outside of it emphasized that you were "other." I wonder if there wasn't much distinction between the worshipping body and the governing body.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    There would be very few people who were not part of the worshipping community, I'd imagine
  • mousethiefmousethief Shipmate
    Perhaps it just means that nothing is set in stone.
  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    If those who were 'wounded in the stones or hath his privy member cut off' were excluded, one would suspect that the same was assumed to apply to the 50% of the nation with vaginas.
  • Gramps49Gramps49 Shipmate
    Ruth was written earlier than Deuteronomy. They were in different times. David would not have been aware of the prohibition. Deuteronomy was written after the people returned from Captivity and the Dt writers wanted to return to the true faith free from outside influences.
  • Jengie JonJengie Jon Shipmate
    Actually, the Oxford Biblical Commentary puts this is the reign of Josiah rather than post-Exilic. Ruth, however, is dated as post-Exilic. This is slightly dated (1990s) mainstream one-volume commentary.
  • "The governing body" sounds a bit like a democracy, which Israel was not. At times they had judges, at times kings or governors, but IMHO the assembly of the Lord was not there to rule or pass laws. At most they said "Amen" to a reiteration of the covenant--mostly after royally f*cking it up for a generation...

    I'm certain the assembly included women, as when it was gathered for certain solemn occasions it included even nursing babies. Can't have a nursing baby without a nursing mother, most irregular that. Oh, and brides--see Joel 2:16.
  • MPaulMPaul Shipmate
    Ruth was written earlier than Deuteronomy
    Not possible unless she lived before or at the time of Moses. You’d have to trash the Bible to believe that. In Luke’s genealogy, Boaz is 6 generations after Judah and therefore must be considerably removed in years from Moses who was born during the latter part of the Egyptian sojourn and never entered Canaan.
  • KarlLBKarlLB Shipmate
    You assume Moses wrote Deuteronomy. I assume you have some evidence for that, given that its contrary to the views of most scholars.

    Good article here; tl;dr version is what I've long said - when the "Book of the Law" was found during the Temple spring cleaning, the ink was suspiciously wet: https://www.haaretz.com/jewish/.premium-who-wrote-the-torah-1.5318582
  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    MPaul wrote: »
    You’d have to trash the Bible to believe that.
    No, you’d have to trash your conception of the Bible to believe that. Not the same thing.

  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    MPaul wrote: »
    Ruth was written earlier than Deuteronomy
    Not possible unless she lived before or at the time of Moses. You’d have to trash the Bible to believe that. In Luke’s genealogy, Boaz is 6 generations after Judah and therefore must be considerably removed in years from Moses who was born during the latter part of the Egyptian sojourn and never entered Canaan.

    You are confusing when the events described occurred and when the book was written. You would agree wouldn't you,that none of the Gospels was written until after Christ's death - in the case of John, much later, with the Epistles written before he put quill to papyrus.
  • mousethiefmousethief Shipmate
    Nick Tamen wrote: »
    MPaul wrote: »
    You’d have to trash the Bible to believe that.
    No, you’d have to trash your conception of the Bible to believe that. Not the same thing.

    We both know the cyclone this wind blows into.
  • MPaulMPaul Shipmate
    Gee D wrote: »
    MPaul wrote: »
    Ruth was written earlier than Deuteronomy
    Not possible unless she lived before or at the time of Moses. You’d have to trash the Bible to believe that. In Luke’s genealogy, Boaz is 6 generations after Judah and therefore must be considerably removed in years from Moses who was born during the latter part of the Egyptian sojourn and never entered Canaan.

    You are confusing when the events described occurred and when the book was written. You would agree wouldn't you,that none of the Gospels was written until after Christ's death - in the case of John, much later, with the Epistles written before he put quill to papyrus.

    The genealogy tells the tale for me. However, although we are not told the author of Ruth, and Rabbinic tradition suggests it may have been Samuel, what we do know is that it succeeds the Torah so Moses did not write it or it would have been partofTorah and consequently, it cannot antedate Deuteronomy ..which he did write.
  • MPaulMPaul Shipmate
    edited March 18
    You assume Moses wrote Deuteronomy. I assume you have some evidence for that, given that its contrary to the views of most scholars.
    @Karl LB. Yes most Christians assume that. I think really that the burden of proof here is on the naysayers. Remember these are Jewish writings and it is one of the few Rabbinic common factors. They all agree Moses wrote the Torah.
  • BroJamesBroJames Purgatory Host
    KarlLB wrote: »
    You assume Moses wrote Deuteronomy. I assume you have some evidence for that, given that its contrary to the views of most scholars.

    Good article here; tl;dr version is what I've long said - when the "Book of the Law" was found during the Temple spring cleaning, the ink was suspiciously wet: https://www.haaretz.com/jewish/.premium-who-wrote-the-torah-1.5318582
    Unfortunately the Haaretz piece is behind a paywall.
  • KarlLBKarlLB Shipmate
    That's odd because I don't have a subscription. I'll see what I can find by way of an alternate link.
  • BroJamesBroJames Purgatory Host
    The IVP New Bible Commentary notes about Deuteronomy
    Because a large part of the book is made up of the words of Moses, he has traditionally been regarded as its author. It is clear, however, that someone else must have been responsible for the final form of the book, since Moses appears as ‘he’ (rather than ‘I’) at a number of places (e.g. 1:1), including the account of his death (Dt. 34)

    It concludes, cautiously, opting for a fairly conservative dating, that
    the data cannot prove conclusively any of the dates canvassed for Deuteronomy. But the evidence is consistent with its composition in the period following Moses’ death. This may have been quite soon after, or within a few generations.
    (The events in Ruth could be dated to within eight conventional forty-year generations of the death of Moses.)

    Even then there could be further argument about the dating of the final form of Deuteronomy. And, if it is to be identified with the book of the law rediscovered during the reign of Josiah, for how long had it been ‘lost’?

    The account of the rediscovery in the days of Josiah suggests that by that time even the keeping of the Passover had been lost since some time in the days of the judges.
    No such passover had been kept since the days of the judges who judged Israel, or during all the days of the kings of Israel or of the kings of Judah;
    (2 Kings 23.22)

    It wouldn’t be surprising, therefore, if the commandment noted in the OP was unknown in the days of Ruth.

    What might be more surprising, I suppose, is that the Lord commanded Samuel to anoint David as king. But maybe that lends weight to @Lamb Chopped’s comment above about who did or did not count as a Moabite.
  • KarlLBKarlLB Shipmate
    edited March 18
    Heh I never trust IVP commentators - Moses is referred to in the third person throughout the book - it's never "I" - the book's viewpoint is more of an omniscient narrator rather than any of the characters contained within it.

  • MPaulMPaul Shipmate
    Heh I never trust IVP commentators
    So from the getgo your presumption is sceptical. The internal evidence from the text is for Mosaic authorship. Jesus in the gospels quotes from Torah in many places referencing Mosaic authorship.
    There is no reasonable way Ruth precedes Deuteronomy.
  • KarlLBKarlLB Shipmate
    Well, in this case I distrust them because their comment that Moses is referred to as "he" "in a few places" is misleading - Moses is referred to in the third person throughout. It reads as a book about Moses, amongst other things, but not as one by him. Traditional authorship is just that - tradition. There's nothing about Deuteronomy or indeed any of the Torah which implies Mosaic authorship.
  • MPaulMPaul Shipmate
    KarlLB wrote: »
    Well, in this case I distrust them because their comment that Moses is referred to as "he" "in a few places" is misleading - Moses is referred to in the third person throughout. It reads as a book about Moses, amongst other things, but not as one by him. Traditional authorship is just that - tradition. There's nothing about Deuteronomy or indeed any of the Torah which implies Mosaic authorship.
    Christ quotes Torah 200 times. The account of Moses death may have been completed by Joshua..so what? Less than 1% is disputed.
  • KarlLBKarlLB Shipmate
    edited March 18
    How is quoting it confirming its Mosaic authorship? That "less than 1% is disputed" is simply untrue - I dispute it, many scholars dispute it.
  • KarlLBKarlLB Shipmate
    There's a reasonable starting point here: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mosaic_authorship
  • BroJamesBroJames Purgatory Host
    MPaul wrote: »
    Heh I never trust IVP commentators
    So from the getgo your presumption is sceptical. The internal evidence from the text is for Mosaic authorship. Jesus in the gospels quotes from Torah in many places referencing Mosaic authorship.
    There is no reasonable way Ruth precedes Deuteronomy.
    I’d be interested to see the internal evidence. I suspect that most of it is either at the level of ‘consistent with’ Mosaic authorship, or more often ‘not inconsistent with’ Mosaic authorship.

    Across the four gospels there are about 20 places where Jesus uses ‘Moses’ to reference the Torah, but it is not clear how far this is an actual assertion of Mosaic authorship, and how far it was simply the use of a piece of common shorthand terminology.
  • KarlLBKarlLB Shipmate
    edited March 18
    And moreover it's a bait and switch to present an apparent assertion that Moses was the original receiver of the laws contained in the Pentateuch as an assertion that Moses was the author of the books containing them.
  • MPaulMPaul Shipmate
    Moses’ to reference the Torah, but it is not clear how far this is an actual assertion of Mosaic authorship,
    That's where you must acknowledge the Jewishness of all of the OT. They were quite meticulous in scribal issues and Mosaic authorship is beyond question for them. If it isn't good enough for the rest of creation that is not terribly concerning to them.
    And moreover it's a bait and switch
    Not exactly rocket science... I get a message..I write it down.
  • BroJamesBroJames Purgatory Host
    Yes, but you’ve not adduced the internal evidence which you referred to above, merely asserted its existence, and your argument hasn’t taken account of the loss of the Book of the Law the impact of which appears to have been so significant that the great feast, the Passover appears not to have been properly celebrated from some point during the time of the Judges until the reign of Josiah.
  • MPaulMPaul Shipmate
    BroJames wrote: »
    Yes, but you’ve not adduced the internal evidence which you referred to above, merely asserted its existence, and your argument hasn’t taken account of the loss of the Book of the Law the impact of which appears to have been so significant that the great feast, the Passover appears not to have been properly celebrated from some point during the time of the Judges until the reign of Josiah.
    Well, if you doubt the internal evidence try reading the gospels. The failure of Israel to keep Torah is part of their history. The explanation is found in Hebrews che 1-3. It has nothing to do with losing anything. The loss was merely a function of their backsliding.
  • BroJamesBroJames Purgatory Host
    The Gospels (which I have read many times) are not internal evidence that Deuteronomy was written by Moses.

    And your second paragraph above appears to suggest that Boaz married Ruth not because he may have been unaware of the prohibition against marrying a Moabite but because he was a backslider.
  • BroJamesBroJames Purgatory Host
    It also, now I come to think about it in the light of the OP, leaves unresolved the question why the Lord should have told Samuel to anoint as king someone whom the law prohibited from entering the assembly of the Lord.
  • MPaulMPaul Shipmate
    Well internal evidence, in my book is reinforcing references that tie the fundamentals of the faith together. When Jesus refers to Moses by name for instance, he is acknowledging both his inspiration and his authorship. When he quotes Torah, he is doing the same thing. No other proof is needed.
  • BroJamesBroJames Purgatory Host
    I recognise that position, but think you are mistaken. That discussion needs its own thread.

    But for this thread, the question remains, why the Lord should have told Samuel to anoint as king someone whom the law prohibited from entering the assembly of the Lord.
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    Did He do that - or did Samuel conspire against Saul to replace him with his most successful and popular general? Is the book of Ruth legitimising propaganda for the House of David - because David was a usurper to the throne who was not eligible because of his background? And the Israelites knew it: 'What share do we have in David? We have no inheritance in the son of Jesse' (1 King's 12: 16).
  • BroJamesBroJames Purgatory Host
    Yes. But that’s an Israel/Judah split harking back to the tribalism of Judges.
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    Yes, there is a tribal split which disunites the kingdoms. But there is also a precarious hold upon the kingship by the House of David. The Book of Ruth legitimising David's Moabite great grandmother is one sign of disquiet. Another is the genocide of the sons of Saul (2 Sam 21). And it is interesting to read how many generals in the books of Samuel and Kings over reached themselves as kingmakers and came to a sticky end: Abner with Ishbaal, Joab with Absolom and Adonijah and Benaiah and Solomon. A king of Israel did well to keep an eye on his commanders to prevent a coup.

    Bathsheba took care to secure the support of a prophet and an army commander in arranging the succession of Solomon. David apparently set the precedent by gaining the backing of Samuel. So David had quite a credibility issue as a usurping general of Moabite ancestry. And you can see his chroniclers and scribes doing their best to overcome it for the sake of his legitimacy and that of his successors.
  • Gramps49Gramps49 Shipmate
    It is quite possible the legend of Ruth pre Davidic (won't go so far as to say it is at the time of Moses) and someone later took the legend and wrote what we know as the Book of Ruth post Exile, say the Persian period (6th to 4th Century BCE).

    Going back to a mistake in I made in dating Deuteronomy. I do stand corrected when it comes to composition. But the legend of Ruth is much older. Deuteronomy was written in the 7th Century BCE
  • MPaulMPaul Shipmate
    edited March 21
    Deuteronomy was written in the 7th Century BCE
    You can assert what you like of course but really, it all depends on who you want to believe.
    reformedanswers.org/answer.asp/file/43316

    [Code fix. Mamacita, Host]
  • mousethiefmousethief Shipmate
    MPaul wrote: »
    Deuteronomy was written in the 7th Century BCE
    You can assert what you like of course but really, it all depends on who you want to believe.

    No, it really doesn't. It depends on who has the best evidence. Not all beliefs are equal. Those based on better evidence are better.
  • BroJamesBroJames Purgatory Host
    And on this thread the question is not when Deuteronomy or Ruth were written, but ‘why the Lord should have told Samuel to anoint as king someone whom the law prohibited from entering the assembly of the Lord.’
  • MPaulMPaul Shipmate
    mousethief wrote: »
    MPaul wrote: »
    Deuteronomy was written in the 7th Century BCE
    You can assert what you like of course but really, it all depends on who you want to believe.

    No, it really doesn't. It depends on who has the best evidence. Not all beliefs are equal. Those based on better evidence are better.
    In this case there is only higher criticism or internal evidence. Higher criticism trashes faith so it isn’t better evidence. You see the word of God has no errors, mistakes or deceptions. God is utterly trustworthy despite being very politically incorrect at times.
  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    BroJames wrote: »
    And on this thread the question is not when Deuteronomy or Ruth were written, but ‘why the Lord should have told Samuel to anoint as king someone whom the law prohibited from entering the assembly of the Lord.’
    That's the least of your problems. Samuel was not of the house of Aaron, or even a Levite. He was of the tribe of Ephraim. But he clearly performed sacrifices. Not only that. He condemned Saul for doing the same without being entitled to.
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