Why Ruth was not a Moabite


 (Note:Posts like these are meant to engender discussion, not to alter anyone's beliefs , simply to offer another view)

Numbers 21:26-29, "For Heshbon was the city of Sihon, the king of the Amorites, who had fought against the former king of Moab, and taken all his land out of his hand, even unto Arnon. Woe to you, Moab! you are undone, O people of Chemosh: he hath given his sons that escaped, and his daughters, into captivity unto Sihon, king of the Amorites."
First of all Israel conquered Moav: Deuteronomy 2:32-34, "Then Sihon came out against us, he and all his people, to fight at Jahaz. (33) And the Lord our God delivered him before us; and we smote him, and his sons, and all his people. (34) And we took all his cities at that time, and utterly destroyed the men, and the women, and the little ones, of every city, we left none to remain:"
Numbers 21:30-35, "We have shot at them; Heshbon is perished even unto Dibon, and we have laid them waste even unto Nophah, which reacheth unto Medeba. Thus Israel dwelt in the land of the Amorites. And Moses sent to spy out Jaazer, and they took the villages thereof, and drove out the Amorites that were there. And they turned and went up by the way of Bashan: and Og the king of Bashan went out against them, he, and all his people, to the battle at Edrei. And the Lord said unto Moses, Fear him not: for I have delivered him into thy hand, and all his people, and his land; and thou shalt do to him as thou didst unto Sihon, king of the Amorites, which dwelt at Heshbon. So they smote him, and his sons, and all his people, until there was none left him alive: and they(Israel) possessed his land."
Deuteronomy 3:12-16, "And this land, which we possessed at that time, from Aroer, which is by the river Arnon, and half mount Gilead, and the cities thereof, gave I unto the Reubenites and to the Gadites.And the rest of Gilead, and all Bashan, being the kingdom of Og, gave I unto the half tribe of Manasseh; all the region of Argob, with all Bashan, which was called the land of giants. Jair, the son of Manasseh, took all the country of Argob unto the coasts of Geshuri and Maachathi; and called them after his own name, Bashanhavothjair, unto this day. And I gave Gilead unto Machir. (16) And unto the Reubenites and unto the Gadites I gave from Gilead even unto the river Arnon half the valley, and the border even unto the river Jabbok, which is the border of the children of Ammon.
And this was such a done deal that there was no Moabite left:
Shoftim 11:12-26, "And Jephthah sent messengers unto the king of the children of Ammon, saying, What hast thou to do with me, that thou art come against me to fight in my land? And the king of the children of Ammon answered unto the messengers of Jephthah, Because Israel took away my land, when they came up out of Egypt, from Arnon even unto Jabbok, and unto Jordan: now therefore restore those lands again peaceably.
But of course, Israel did not for they had no reason to do so and Jephthah knew that and responded saying :This is what Jephthah says:
"Israel did not take the land of Moab or the land of the Ammonites. But when they came up out of Egypt, Israel went through the desert to the Red Sea [a] and on to Kadesh. Then Israel sent messengers to the king of Edom, saying, 'Give us permission to go through your country,' but the king of Edom would not listen. They sent also to the king of Moab, and he refused. So Israel stayed at Kadesh.

"Next they traveled through the desert, skirted the lands of Edom and Moab, passed along the eastern side of the country of Moab, and camped on the other side of the Arnon. They did not enter the territory of Moab, for the Arnon was its border.

"Then Israel sent messengers to Sihon king of the Amorites, who ruled in Heshbon, and said to him, 'Let us pass through your country to our own place.' Sihon, however, did not trust Israel to pass through his territory. He mustered all his men and encamped at Jahaz and fought with Israel.

"Then the LORD, the God of Israel, gave Sihon and all his men into Israel's hands, and they defeated them. Israel took over all the land of the Amorites who lived in that country, capturing all of it from the Arnon to the Jabbok and from the desert to the Jordan.

"Now since the LORD, the God of Israel, has driven the Amorites out before his people Israel, what right have you to take it over? Will you not take what your god Chemosh gives you? Likewise, whatever the LORD our God has given us, we will possess. Are you better than Balak son of Zippor, king of Moab? Did he ever quarrel with Israel or fight with them? For three hundred years Israel occupied Heshbon, Aroer, the surrounding settlements and all the towns along the Arnon. Why didn't you retake them during that time? I have not wronged you, but you are doing me wrong by waging war against me. Let the LORD, the Judge, decide the dispute this day between the Israelites and the Ammonites."
And G-d did judge in favor of Israel.

Ruth is NEVER mentioned as being a racial Moabite but simply a resident of Moav.
She is Ruth the moabitess, not Ruth of the people of Moav. Just Ruth the Jew who happened to live in the Jewish possession of Moav. But we insist she was a Moabite , even though G-d forbid marriage with them. And we get around the law by saying well it doesn't say a female..so we presume it must only mean male. That is like the child who is told not to read a certain book and then goes and buys the comic version and reads it, or sees the movie version. When the parents say, "I thought I told you no?" , the child says, "well but I didn't read a book , I read a comic!" This is using the letter of the law to destroy the spirit of the law.

This is accepted because it does several things.
It makes G-d seem not to mean exactly what he says and therefore easier to get around. If he really didn't mind Yosef marrying out,(and he did not) or Ruth, then maybe the things I do will be winked at also. G-d is less formidable this way.
It allows the letter of the law to destroy the spirit of the law and some might have use of that in order to get around the law.
It allows for a more cosmopolitan Israel and inclusive Israel, which is seen as being somehow more tolerant and nice.

Ruth lived in Moav, but she was not of the people of Moav

Additional note:
"Rav Pappa said, ‘Ammon and Moav were cleansed by Sichon.’ and this was why Israel was allowed to conquer Moav.
Quoting R. Aryeh Kaplan:
One of the prizes of Israel’s conquest of Sichon’s land is his capital city, Cheshbon. Again, the Torah provides some background information: Because Cheshbon was the capital of Sichon, king of the Emorites: and he had fought against the first king of Moav and taken all his land from his hand, as far as the Arnon. “Come to Cheshbon! Be built and established, O city of Sichon! For a fire has gone forth from Cheshbon; a flame from the municipality of Sichon: It has consumed Ar of Moav, the masters of the altars of Arnon. Woe to you, Moav! You are destroyed, O nation of Kemosh! His sons have become refugees, and his daughters are captive, To the King of the Emorites, Sichon! And we cast them down, from Cheshbon as far as Divon, And we laid waste as far as Nofach, which is near Meideva” (vs. 26-30). These incidents seem out of place: They are quoted from outside sources, and are retold poetically rather than in straightforward prose, as well as include references to other nations’ deities. Moreover, they seem to stray from the narrative flow. So, why are they inserted in the Torah? Would knowing the Emorites’ history accord them a measure of respect in Israel’s eyes? Must they understand their enemy in order to oppose them effectively?

Rashi (21:26, based on Gittin 38a, Sanhedrin 94b, Chullin 60b; Yalkut Shimoni) explains the inclusion: and he had fought : “Why did this need to be written? Because it is said, Do not provoke Moav (Devarim 2:19), and Cheshbon was part of Moav. The text [therefore] writes for us that Sichon took it from them, and through him it was cleansed for Israel” (it became permissible).
Rabbi Zvi Magence (1914-1989), in Magen Zvi, Sefer Kedushat Ha’Aretz (chapter 37) explains further, “the children of Israel were not actually commanded not to take land from Ammon and Moav; rather it was forbidden for them to fight in order to conquer their land for themselves. However, they were not obligated to return to Ammon and Moav the land that Sichon had conquered from them.”

R. Shimon ben Lakish (in Chullin 60b) includes Because Cheshbon … among those passages “which are fit to burn, yet they are the very body of the Torah”: At first glance they seem inappropriate to the Torah, yet closer examination reveals that they contain fundamental principles.

In this case, “said the Holy One, Blessed be He: ‘Let Sichon come and take from Moav, and then let Israel come and take from Sichon.’ This is what Rav Pappa said, ‘Ammon and Moav were cleansed by Sichon.’”

We have plenty of incidents in which people are refered to by the name of the region they live... even though they are not from that region.For example in Perek Lamed Het Pasuk Beit, we hear about Yehuda marrying the daughter of a Caanani. Yet most meforshim believe he was not a Caanani.Moshe's wife is called a Kushit, yet again Rashi's explanation is not that she was Kushite, but that this was only a metaphor.
So simply because Ruth is called Moabite, does not mean that she cannot have been Jewish.
Finally, the idea of Sefer Ruth can be seen as an inspiring testament to the return of a lost part of the Jewish people, foreshadowing the final return of the 10 tribes under the leadership of Ruth's descendant, Moshiach.

20 comments:

  1. sultan knish9:51 PM

    very interesting and well argued too

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  2. Ditto with the Sultan.

    "We get around the law by saying well it doesn't say a female." Hmmm...for some reason it sounds like someone has been reading, "The Art of Language" by Bill Clinton. lol

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  3. LLM,

    The Israelites did not conquer Moav, Amon or Edom because God commanded them not to do so! They were able to conquer the Land of Sichon which he had taken from Moav.

    Read the book of Ruth and you will see that it is clear that Ruth is not a Jew.

    1:10 - " And they said unto her: 'Nay, but we will return with thee unto thy people.'" They don't say "our people" but "thy"(your) people!

    1:22 - "So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabitess, her daughter-in-law, with her, who returned out of the field of Moab--and they came to Beth-lehem in the beginning of barley harvest."

    The entire book makes no sense at all if you try to paint Ruth as a Jewess that lived in Moav.

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  4. Ok. First let me say I just wrote this post to generate a discussion on something I find intriguing.
    Ok so then to answer....
    Rav Pappa said, ‘Ammon and Moav were cleansed by Sichon.’ and this was why Israel was allowed to conquer Moav.
    Quoting R. ARyeh Kaplan:
    One of the prizes of Israel’s conquest of Sichon’s land is his capital city, Cheshbon. Again, the Torah provides some background information: Because Cheshbon was the capital of Sichon, king of the Emorites: and he had fought against the first king of Moav and taken all his land from his hand, as far as the Arnon. “Come to Cheshbon! Be built and established, O city of Sichon! For a fire has gone forth from Cheshbon; a flame from the municipality of Sichon: It has consumed Ar of Moav, the masters of the altars of Arnon. Woe to you, Moav! You are destroyed, O nation of Kemosh! His sons have become refugees, and his daughters are captive, To the King of the Emorites, Sichon! And we cast them down, from Cheshbon as far as Divon, And we laid waste as far as Nofach, which is near Meideva” (vs. 26-30). These incidents seem out of place: They are quoted from outside sources, and are retold poetically rather than in straightforward prose, as well as include references to other nations’ deities. Moreover, they seem to stray from the narrative flow. So, why are they inserted in the Torah? Would knowing the Emorites’ history accord them a measure of respect in Israel’s eyes? Must they understand their enemy in order to oppose them effectively?

    Rashi (21:26, based on Gittin 38a, Sanhedrin 94b, Chullin 60b; Yalkut Shimoni) explains the inclusion: and he had fought : “Why did this need to be written? Because it is said, Do not provoke Moav (Devarim 2:19), and Cheshbon was part of Moav. The text [therefore] writes for us that Sichon took it from them, and through him it was cleansed for Israel” (it became permissible).
    Rabbi Zvi Magence (1914-1989), in Magen Zvi, Sefer Kedushat Ha’Aretz (chapter 37) explains further, “the children of Israel were not actually commanded not to take land from Ammon and Moav; rather it was forbidden for them to fight in order to conquer their land for themselves. However, they were not obligated to return to Ammon and Moav the land that Sichon had conquered from them.”

    R. Shimon ben Lakish (in Chullin 60b) includes Because Cheshbon … among those passages “which are fit to burn, yet they are the very body of the Torah”: At first glance they seem inappropriate to the Torah, yet closer examination reveals that they contain fundamental principles.

    In this case, “said the Holy One, Blessed be He: ‘Let Sichon come and take from Moav, and then let Israel come and take from Sichon.’ This is what Rav Pappa said, ‘Ammon and Moav were cleansed by Sichon.’”

    We have plenty of incidents in which people are refered to by the name of the region they live... even though they are not from that region.For example in Perek Lamed Het Pasuk Beit, we hear about Yehuda marrying the daughter of a Caanani. Yet most meforshim believe he was not a Caanani.Moshe's wife is called a Kushit, yet again Rashi's explanation is not that she was Kushite, but that this was only a metaphor.
    So simply because Ruth is called Moabite, does not mean that she cannot have been Jewish.
    Finally, the idea of Sefer Ruth can be seen as an inspiring testament to the return of a lost part of the Jewish people, foreshadowing the final return of the 10 tribes under the leadership of Ruth's descendant, Moshiach.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Oh.. and the your people my people.
    A wife will often say to her husband.. "will we eat by your people or my people" and it can refer to families and not just nations.
    Or one might say, my people don't eat this or do that.. but his people do.. etc.

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  6. And the discussion becomes more and more fun! Long live R' Lemon. (yo raises cuppa tea)

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  7. LLM,

    Of course what you brought from Rav Arye Kaplan z"l is emet! However those lands conquered from Sichon and Og were given to the tribes of Reuven, Gad and half of the tribe of Menashe. Any Jews living there would be known by the name of their tribe and would certainly not be called Moabites, Amonites, or Emorites.

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  8. you might consider Uriah HaHitti, who may have been called a Hitti because he lived among them

    it's difficult to explain that he was a ger from the Hittim, considering they were one of the 7 nations (difficult but not impossible)

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  9. In many cases in ancient literature Jews were spoken of in this way.
    Shimon the Egyptian for instance is found in one place.
    Philo and Josephus both use terms of this sort as do other writers of the past.
    I personally know of a fellow called Yossi the Swede. He is about as Swedish as the pope lol.

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  10. Hi Lemon! Long time no see. For some reason I can't seem to post anything on this thread. Is it closed, or is my comp acting up?

    This is my third or fourth try.

    I found the subject of this article extremely interesting; the idea that Ruth was Jewish afterall and not a ger. I know a lot of Jews comfort gers by saying that moshiach will come from Ruth, a ger, I've always wondered about that.

    Would Hashem really do that? Would he really choose a descendant of a non-Jew to be a Jew? It seems unusual for a matter of such importance.

    Your people will be my people could very well refer to sides of a family and not nations. It makes sense.

    Sigh. I wish I could engage in higher level of discourse on this topic. I do find it very interesting the idea that Ruth was a lost Jew who found her way back to her people. Isn't it interesting how many gers when they trace their roots find Jewish ancestors, and distant relatives who also share a desire to come to Judaism?

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  11. I think a large number of gerim are or their roots were in Israel to begin with.
    But what I find odd is the Moabite connection as a link to moshiach.
    It isnt the ger part it is the "where" part. I find that odd and especially since we have to fool around with the command not to include moabites in order to make it fit.
    I think the fact many gerim find relatives like that is the promise of Hashem that not one grain will fall to the ground. Its a lovely thing :)

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  12. It's a beautiful thing :) :)

    Not one grain of sand or star in the sky of Avraham's seed are truly lost to Hashem. I believe that with all of my heart and soul. And neither time nor distance can separate a Jew from Hashem forever.

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  13. Slighty OT--there is an interesting DNA study underway. The person conducting the study is trying to prove that all French Canadians are Sephardic Jews. The results and surname studies are certainly leaning in that direction, too.

    I would undergo the DNA testing and have been encouraged to have it done but 1. it's only for males which excluded me lol but 2.something deep inside coupled with what I've found in my own search tells me I don't need any DNA or further searching.

    But it IS an interesting study.

    Here is the premise as stated on their website:

    "According to history, the Sephardic Jews were forced to leave Spain and Portugal during the Spanish Inquisition. Many made their way to France, especially the southern part of France, known as Bayonne and Bordeaux. During the early 1600's some of the Anusim (Jews forced to convert to Catholocism) who fled to France, ended up immigrating to New France, now known as Canada, seeking a life without persecution.

    "The objective of this project is to prove the theory as stated above. As we prove our theory we would like to link ourselves through the Canadian Anusim surnames, places of origin and DNA to other Anusim and Jewish families. Thus, reestablishing family ties that were lost in the Jewish diaspora."

    I've traced my own family tree to southern France (Is Bordet an alternative spelling of Bordeaux?), Luxemburg, Belgium, Morocco and for some reason a large number in the Pyrenees Mountains where France and Spain come together as well as a limited number of distant relatives from Barcelona.

    Sorry for the very long post.

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  14. Cheap Free DNA Medical Advice:
    If you have a brother, have him get tested. Then have your DNA done and compared to his.
    Many Americans of Spanish/Portuguese/French descent are Sefardim even and esp if they are Catholic.
    Sefardim virtually discovered America. Columbus was one, his crew weremostly Jews and Sefardim were fishing in New Foundland long before Columbus sailed the Ocean Blue.
    A Sefardi paid for the Revolutionary War. Sefardim colonized with the Dutch at NY and down into Georgia in the 1600s.
    Sefardim began the first sperm whale oil industry in America at its beginning.
    Sefardim lived in Britain, Holland, France, Italy, Spain and Portugal and .. Ponce De Leon was Sefardic but practicing catholic as were tons of spanish explorers.
    Being Jewish at home and Catholic in public was the only way to fly if you wanted to continue living in those days.

    So, you are probably sefardic too... Yay us!!!! We rock keli!

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  15. YAY for SEPHARDIM!!

    And what you wrote about Jew at home, Catholic in public...very very true! My family had some practices sorta atypical and different from other Catholic families in my community.

    And even within our small parish church...the "Sanctus" is almost word for word like the Kedusha, thumping the chest during the I Confess Prayer, very similar to Vidui prayer. That's not done in most churches today.

    Not to mention family traditions that seem more Jewish than Catholic or at the very least an attempt to mesh the two.

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  16. One more thing, I asked a rabbi a year ago about the many many Ashkenazi surnames in my family tree as well. There appears to be some intermarriage between Sephardim and Ashkenazi. Long story short, he said there were way too many Jewish surnames for it to be a coincidence and the majority of the surnames he said were "strong, Jewish names."

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  17. Some of the practices of crypto sefardim is lighting candles on friday night, pulling heavy drapes shut over windows which began to hide what they were up to. Also deep spring cleaning, which was in reality cleaning for pesach. Even cracks in the floors were searched for crumbs!
    These people tend, even though they might be catholic, to marry others like themselves!!
    Thus not one grain falls to the earth.
    To me it is disgusting that they are forced to undergo conversion.

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  18. It is but many nethertheless undergo it because returning to the fold means too much to them, and a lot of knowledge and practice got lost.

    My father's family did that heavy duty spring cleaning as well as my mother's. And another oddity, which I am not sure if it's Jewish in nature, was sweeping the floor.

    My mother (Italian) to a certain extent went crazy housecleaning around Easter.

    She would even insist that the floor had to be swept from the corners into a single pile in the middle of the floor. Someone mentioned it might have been a Jewish way of sweeping the floor but I've never heard of this as a Jewish custom. But whenever I would try to sweep the floor in a different way, she'd insist that I was doing it the wrong way.

    I never saw the big deal since it was just sweeping a floor.

    On her side, too, the custom of defrosting meat in water and salt. Eating meat containing blood was a big no-no. Some Itlians were strict on this, others not.


    And my dad's side (French Canadian) did have special family dinners on Friday nights with candles, and that is where I got the wine goblet I used on Shabbat. Overall just about everything on his side of the family was clouded with distrust and suspicion, even his real first name, which was switched with his middle name, was a tremendous secret, even on my grandfather's immigration papers.

    Also--I don't know if it's uniquely Jewish--but they also an extreme avoidance of baby showers as it was deemed terrible bad luck and tempting fate to have one. These type of suspicions were common in his family and I don't recall ever attending a baby shower on my dad's side.

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