I want to ask a question about Ruth the Moabitess and King David.

Deuteronomy 23:3
An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD; even to their tenth generation shall they not enter into the congregation of the LORD for ever:

And Ruth was a Moabitess, AND, the great grandmother of King David.

Ruth 1:22
So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabitess, her daughter in law, with her, which returned out of the country of Moab: and they came to Bethlehem in the beginning of barley harvest.


Logically, how can David be lawfully accepted 'into the congregation of the Lord' (let alone, be selected by the LORD to be King of Israel,) when he was clearly only 3 generations away from Moab heritage?

I am searching for any scriptural explanation, which would justify David being accepted 'into the congregation of the Lord', taking into account the clear "even to their tenth generation" prohibition of Deuteronomy 23:3.

And, doesn't Jewish heritage follow the mother?

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    Maybe: hermeneutics.stackexchange.com – The Freemason Feb 22 '16 at 0:32
  • It would help if you could present some clear evidence that David did actually break Duet 23:3. What do you think it means for someone to "enter into the congregation of the Lord", and when did David do it? – curiousdannii Feb 22 '16 at 9:07
  • It is/was a serious Q. I presented the scriptural quotes, and the facts as i saw them. I expected better. I apologise for being in error. Bye. – Walter Feb 22 '16 at 11:31
  • @Walter No one is saying it wasn't a serious question, but it's not completely clear what you're thinking. – curiousdannii Feb 22 '16 at 12:21

Naomi fled from the famine in Judah to live in Moab with her husband and two sons. Her two sons eventually married Moabite wives including Ruth. Naomi’s husband and sons eventually died and she decided to return to her homeland. Ruth clung onto her with a pledge that ‘your people will be my people and your God will be my God.’ (Ruth 1:16). Though she was a Moabite, Ruth was ‘acquired’/purchased by Boaz, the guardian/kinsman redeemer of Naomi’s family (Ruth 4:9-10). Scripture says, “the Lord enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son” (see vs 13, NIV) - Obed, who was David’s grandfather. In a short genealogy of David (see Ruth 4:21-22), Boaz is listed as the father of Obed, the father of Jesse, the father of David. This was in line with Jewish culture where children are the offspring of their fathers and not their mother. Indeed throughout history, Jewish men did marry or produce children from captive or slave non-Jewish women and the off-spring became Jewish because of their fathers. So technically, Obed, the grandfather of David, was the son of Boaz and not Ruth.

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Regarding Jewishness being passed through the maternal line, the Wikipedia article https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matrilineality_in_Judaism suggests that that tradition originated after the giving of the law and after David's reign.

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The Orthodox Jewish reconciliation of this matter is that the restriction on Moabites becoming Israelites did not apply to female Moabites because it was only men who had originally refused to give food when the Israelites were passing through their land.

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  • This answer would benefit from the addition of Jewish sources supporting this interpretation. – bradimus Sep 3 '17 at 11:45
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Legally, the child born to Ruth and Boaz, through the law of the repurchaser* replaced Elimelech's sons (which is why the community referred to the child as being Naomi's - See Ruth 4:17) and as such would bear the name and have the full inheritance rights of Naomi's husband. When the repurchaser bought the inheritance (name and tribal rights) of ELIMILECH (not his sons) any child although biologically belonging to the repurchasser, would would legally carry the name and enjoy the RIGHTS not of the repurchaser (in this case Boaz) but of his original ancestral family (that of Elimelech). The child therefore would, as a legitimate son of Israel, be free from the restriction of Deut 23:3.

*Le 25:48, 49; Nu 27:5-11

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    Is the repurchaser theory you mention supported by any theological source material? – Kris Feb 22 '16 at 19:53
  • What you are saying is technically correct...but it would be just as true if Boaz simply went out, met and married Ruth independent of all that Naomi stuff. Obed would be the son of Boaz, an Israelite. His great grandmother was Rahab, of Jericho. Didn't matter, father was an Israelite. Trying to figure out how your answer uniquely addresses the main question. – Joshua Feb 23 '16 at 21:29

The laws for the Israelites were God's instructions to the people of Israel, and served a very specific purpose:

20 "When your son asks you in time to come, 'What is the meaning of the testimonies and the statutes and the rules that the LORD our God has commanded you?' 21 then you shall say to your son, 'We were Pharaoh's slaves in Egypt. And the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand. 22 And the LORD showed signs and wonders, great and grievous, against Egypt and against Pharaoh and all his household, before our eyes. 23 And he brought us out from there, that he might bring us in and give us the land that he swore to give to our fathers. 24 And the LORD commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as we are this day. - Deuteronomy 6:20-24 ESV

The laws were for the good of the people and to set them apart from other pagan tribes and pagan practices:

1 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 2 "Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, I am the LORD your God. 3 You shall not do as they do in the land of Egypt, where you lived, and you shall not do as they do in the land of Canaan, to which I am bringing you. You shall not walk in their statutes. 4 You shall follow my rules and keep my statutes and walk in them. I am the LORD your God. - Leviticus 18:1-4 ESV

So the purpose of not mixing with the Moabities, was to prevent the paganism from infiltrating the holiness of God's people. Ruth was obviously an exception to this, and God's will was for Ruth to marry Boaz.

It is definitely not the only time we see God make an exception for a greater purpose, and it is one of many times an unlikely servant of the Lord is called.

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  • to Jon the Architect, Thank you for your response. But where does scripture say; An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD; even to their tenth generation shall they not enter into the congregation of the LORD for ever: ....except in the case of my servant David. ??? I'm not mocking you. I'm posing a serious question. – Walter Feb 22 '16 at 2:44
  • to Jon the Architect, I'm not mocking you. I'm posing a serious question. In Moses [i.e. God's] law, the God of Israel often sanctioned putting to death individuals, as punishment for disregarding many of God's laws. So i ask, what is the explanation as to why David was accepted 'into the congregation of the Lord' [and, selected by the LORD to be King of Israel], ....when David was clearly only 3 generations away from Moab heritage ??? – Walter Feb 22 '16 at 2:47
  • I think you are misunderstanding several things in your assumption. Let's discuss in chat: chat.stackexchange.com/rooms/info/36067/… – Jon the Architect Feb 22 '16 at 11:54
  • You need 20 rep across the network to chat. Walter was never able to join you in chat. – fгedsbend Feb 25 '16 at 7:22
  • @fredsbend Thanks, I didn't realize that. – Jon the Architect Feb 25 '16 at 18:05

What Yah showed me tin this year’s reading of these scriptures is that in effect, as it is written, no Moabite nor the child of an illegitimate child can EVER enter the congregation of Yahveh, Deu 23:2-3, which would very much affect David's stance. I am aware the rabbinate claims that it did not affect Ruth as she was a female and all but the Hebrew language, like in other languages, is inclusive of both male and female when referring to a group that includes both sexes. So the language itself denies this rabbinical posture. In addition history itself shows that, as is also claimed by the rabbis Ruth could not possibly have been a Moabite princes, daughter of King Eglon who for 18 years reclaimed part of the Moabite territory the Amorites had taken from Moab earlier relegating Moab to south of the River Arnon. It is to be noted Israel, namely Ruben, Gad and half of Manasseh, had possession of the land between the Arnon to the River Jabbok (to Mount Hermon at some point) for over 300 years corresponding with the time of Judges and Ruth. This land under Israelite dominion included what continued to be known as the fields, plains or country of Moab. It laid east of the Jordan river slightly north of the Dead Sea.

The Moabites would have nothing to do with the Israelites (just as Muslims won’t), in fact we see how they tried to have Balack curse them. It is highly doubtful that given their history of lack of trust and hateful dislike of Israel that Moab would have allowed a Jewish family to live among them. So why would Torah call Ruth and the other lady (her name escapes me) a “Moabite”? The definition of the word "Moabite” includes ‘CITIZEN'. Ruth was indeed a citizen of the land, country, or fields of Moab! However, Israel as it often did, worshiped the pagan deities of the land which is why Yah allowed King Eglon to rule them for 18 years. It is also why Ruth did teshuva, complete repentance, turning back to the true Elohim which Judah more or less still followed. Ruth like the prodigal son, was repenting of her idolatry in a statement of faith professing trust in Yahveh.

Ruth was never an ethnic Moabite but rather a citizen of what continued to be known as the country of Moab. She was one of the many Israelites (possibly Rubenite) that lived the way the pagans did. Had she not been an ethnic Moabite she could not have been permitted to enter the assembly of greater Israel because of what is written both in Deu 23:2-3 and in Nehemiah 13:1. No way Ruth could have married Boaz under the levirate laws had she not been an ethnic Israelite, and no way the elders of Judah would have bestowed on her the usual blessing given to the descendants of Abraham, Yitzhak and Yacob.

Most importantly Yeshua's (Jesus) lineage on both mother and father side had to be as squeaky clean as that of the red heifer. If Noah was clean in ALL his generations, how much more so shouldn't Yeshua’s generation be to qualify as the perfect lamb of Yahveh? Yeshua’s generation were clear all the way to Adam. There was no contamination of any forbidden SEED in His lineage. While there were Gentiles that left Egypt with Israel who joined Israel when they accepted the terms of the covenant along with Israel, these did not include certain forbidden people from ever intermarrying with Israel. As you may recall Yahveh told Israel to kill ALL the people in certain areas, including at times their animals and plants. Yahveh Himself did likewise during the flood, save Noah, as He did later with Sodom and Gomorrah. So where did the Moabites come from? If Yahveh killed all the inhabitants of Sodom and then made a prohibition for Israel to allow them to join them why would He make an exception with Ruth going against His own pronouncements? That would put Yah’s word in question, moreover in this case it would put in question Yeshua Himself as the promised Messiah; exactly what satan did in the garden questioning Yahveh’s words and trying to supplant Him.

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    This would be a good answer if it had citations to back up the assertions. Can you edit your answer to include them? – JBH Sep 7 '17 at 17:38

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