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?

  • 1
    Maybe: hermeneutics.stackexchange.com Commented Feb 22, 2016 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
    Commented Feb 22, 2016 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
    Commented Feb 22, 2016 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
    Commented Feb 22, 2016 at 12:21

7 Answers 7


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.


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.


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.

  • This answer would benefit from the addition of Jewish sources supporting this interpretation.
    – bradimus
    Commented Sep 3, 2017 at 11:45
  • Welcome to Christianity.SE. For a quick overview, please take the Site Tour. For some tips on writing good answers here, see: What makes a good supported answer? Without supporting references, we have know way of knowing whether your answer is a good and accurate one or not. Meanwhile, I hope you'll browse some of the other questions and answers on this site. Commented Sep 3, 2017 at 15:31

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

  • 1
    Is the repurchaser theory you mention supported by any theological source material?
    – 007
    Commented Feb 22, 2016 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
    Commented Feb 23, 2016 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.

  • 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
    Commented Feb 22, 2016 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
    Commented Feb 22, 2016 at 2:47
  • I think you are misunderstanding several things in your assumption. Let's discuss in chat: chat.stackexchange.com/rooms/info/36067/… Commented Feb 22, 2016 at 11:54
  • You need 20 rep across the network to chat. Walter was never able to join you in chat.
    – user3961
    Commented Feb 25, 2016 at 7:22
  • @fredsbend Thanks, I didn't realize that. Commented Feb 25, 2016 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.

  • Welcome to Christianity.SE. For a quick overview, please take the Site Tour. For more on what this site is all about, see: How we are different than other sites. Meanwhile, I hope you'll browse some of the other questions and answers on this site. Commented Sep 7, 2017 at 17:23
  • 1
    This would be a good answer if it had citations to back up the assertions. Can you edit your answer to include them?
    – JBH
    Commented Sep 7, 2017 at 17:38
  • I think it did affect David and that's what was going on here as well. What we're seeing is Father's mercy on people, that if you turn to Torah he will remove the curses - he's serious about that for all people. David's heart was bent toward Yah so Yah overlooked his transgressions without the need for sacrifice and offering. Commented Aug 13, 2021 at 14:41

There are a variety of opinions and views, the Messianics, the Christians the Jews. Here's what I believe - and it's what I'll show from the Bible.

  1. The passage used to defend "original sin" in the Psalms is in fact pointing out that David recognized he was a bastard by Torah.

Behold, I was brought forth in guilt, And in sin my mother conceived me. {Psa 51:5 NASB20}

"mother" here is referring to his maternal line, not his direct mother. This is the guilt even David's father recognized and why he didn't initially present him to Samuel.

  1. The Torah commandment is very clear. By Torah there is no way Paul should have been viable for even entering the assembly, let alone being anointed King.

"No one of illegitimate birth may enter the assembly of the LORD; none of his [descendants,] even to the tenth generation, may enter the assembly of the LORD. "No Ammonite or Moabite may enter the assembly of the LORD; none of their [descendants,] even to the tenth generation, may ever enter the assembly of the LORD, because they did not meet you with food and water on the way when you came out of Egypt, and because they hired against you Balaam the son of Beor from Pethor of Mesopotamia, to curse you. "Nevertheless, the LORD your God was unwilling to listen to Balaam, but the LORD your God turned the curse into a blessing for you because the LORD your God loves you. {Deu 23:2-5 NASB20}

David's birth though it was fulfilling the Torah to marry the widowed sister, was breaking the Torah warning that we should not marry a "moabite".

Rabbinic tradition has been formed around saying that the Torah of Deut 23:2-5 only applies to males entering in - but this doesn't make sense that it's talking about offspring, and it usually wouldn't be Moabite men taking Israelite wives - it would be the other way around like Solomon did, which we know led him to sin.

Now King Solomon loved many foreign women along with the daughter of Pharaoh: Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, [and] Hittite women, from the nations of which the LORD had said to the sons of Israel, "You shall not associate with them, nor shall they associate with you; they will certainly turn your heart away to follow their gods." Solomon clung to these in love. He had seven hundred wives, [who were] princesses, and three hundred concubines; and his wives turned his heart away. {1Ki 11:1-3 NASB20}

Solomon was approached by the Prophet and Solomon refused to repent. When Solomon refused to repent, God cut him off from the assembly.

And he said to Jeroboam, "Take for yourself ten pieces; for this is what the LORD, the God of Israel says: 'Behold, I am going to tear the kingdom away from the hand of Solomon and give you ten tribes (but he shall have one tribe, for the sake of My servant David and for the sake of Jerusalem, the city which I have chosen from all the tribes of Israel), because they have abandoned Me, and have worshiped Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, Chemosh the god of Moab, and Milcom the god of the sons of Ammon; and they have not walked in My ways, doing what is right in My sight and [keeping] My statutes and My ordinances, as his father David [did.] 'Nevertheless I will not take the whole kingdom out of his hand, but I will make him ruler all the days of his life, for the sake of My servant David whom I chose, who kept My commandments and My statutes; but I will take the kingdom from his son's hand and give it to you; [that is,] ten tribes. {1Ki 11:31-35 NASB20}

Even here Father's mercy is revealed (and this is also in Torah, for those who are digging for the pearl of great price.)

'However I will take you, and you shall reign over all that you desire, and you shall be king over Israel. 'Then it shall be, that if you listen to all that I command you and walk in My ways, and do what is right in My sight by keeping My statutes and My commandments, as My servant David did, then I will be with you and build you an enduring house as I built for David, and I will give Israel to you. {1Ki 11:37-38 NASB20}

He had an offer that if he repented?

Father would remove the curse of disobedience from Solomon's record. (This is a promise in Torah, the purpose of curses is to reverse our heart)

  1. This is the bottom line, no matter where you stand on Torah (and I do think we should strive to guard it) the purpose is not that we perfectly follow it, this is literally impossible. Father's mercy is new every day - from the beginning, Father knew David's background - knew he was under the Moabite curse, yet blessed him because he had a heart after Father's desires. This is the Torah:

moreover, you have seen their abominations and their idols [made of] wood and stone, silver and gold, which [they had] with them); so that there will not be among you a man or woman, or family or tribe, whose heart turns away today from the LORD our God, to go to serve the gods of those nations; that there will not be among you a root bearing poisonous fruit and wormwood. "And it shall be when he hears the words of this curse, that he will consider himself fortunate in his heart, saying, 'I will do well though I walk in the stubbornness of my heart in order to destroy the watered [land] along with the dry.' "The LORD will not be willing to forgive him, but rather the anger of the LORD and His wrath will burn against that person, and every curse that is written in this book will lie upon him, and the LORD will wipe out his name from under heaven. "Then the LORD will single him out for disaster from all the tribes of Israel, in accordance with all the curses of the covenant which is written in this Book of the Law. {Deu 29:17-21 NASB20}


For You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it; You do not take pleasure in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, God, You will not despise. {Psa 51:16-17 NASB20}


"Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; Remove the evil of your deeds from My sight. Stop doing evil, Learn to do good; Seek justice, Rebuke the oppressor, Obtain justice for the orphan, Plead for the widow's case. {Isa 1:16-17 NASB20}

To see your sin (and the background of your familial curses included) and turn from it.

If we do that, we will not bear the sin guilt (curses) of our Father or Mother.

"Yet you say, 'Why should the son not suffer [the punishment] for the father's guilt?' When the son has practiced justice and righteousness [and] has kept all My statutes and done them, he shall certainly live. "The person who sins will die. A son will not suffer [the punishment] for the father's guilt, nor will a father suffer [the punishment] for the son's guilt; the righteousness of the righteous will be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked will be upon himself. {Eze 18:19-20 NASB20}


  • This "This is the guilt even David's father recognized and why he didn't initially present him to Samuel." makes no sense, because it would apply equally to all David's brothers whom Jesse did present to Samuel.
    – Ben Voigt
    Commented Jul 26, 2021 at 2:36
  • Because clearly @BenVoigt they didn't all have the same motherly line. Commented Aug 13, 2021 at 14:38
  • The question concerns a paternal great-grandmothers, of course all David's brothers share that relationship.
    – Ben Voigt
    Commented Aug 13, 2021 at 14:49

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