Genesis 19:30-38; Deuteronomy 23:3-6, Ruth's Moabite Origins (10/15/12)
Most of us know the story of beautiful and gracious Ruth, but if you need a brief refresher, click the link above. Now, we also know that Ruth was a foreigner, a Moabitess to be exact. Here in the United States, less than 1% of the population is full-blood Native American
. That means that more than 99% of us (including almost half of Native Americans) are descended from foreign women. We wonder, “Why was Ruth’s nationality a big deal?”
So this week that’s the question we’re going to look at. First, the good news and bad news. The good news is that Moabites were descended from Lot, the nephew of Abraham. The bad news is that they were descended from Lot and his own daughter. The Israelites disapproved of Moabites’ ancient origins. The Israelites also remembered that more recently the Moabites wouldn’t let them pass through Moab on their way to the Holy Land.
Judges 3:12-30, Moabites as a Continuing Problem (10/16/12)
Who’s the shortest man in the Bible? Peter, who slept on his watch. HAHAHahaha! Who is the only recorded left-handed man in the Bible? Ehud, who was a judge of Israel.
It wasn’t just Moab’s ancestry and their unfriendliness during the trip from Egypt to Canaan that got Israel’s goat. The Moabites were also one of the Canaanite groups that oppressed the Israelites, specifically the tribe of Benjamin, during the time of the judges. Ruth was born in enemy territory.
1 Kings 11:1-11, Solomon and Foreign Women (10/17/12)
When I was a kid, I saw a movie about Ruth. In the movie, Ruth was about to be sacrificed to the god of the Moabites, but suddenly they noticed a mole on her arm and decided that she was unsuitable. After the adults went away, Ruth looked at her arm, and there was no blemish on it. OO-oo – spooky! In reality we know nothing
about Ruth as a child, and the movie makers just made this incident up. However, we do know that children were sacrificed to Chemosh, the disgusting god of Moab (2 Kings 3:26-27).
Solomon loved women, and probably he also loved making political alliances. He ended up marrying a lot of foreign women. God had predicted that foreign wives would almost inevitably lead to the worship of foreign gods, including Chemosh, and sadly this is exactly what happened to Solomon. Although Solomon’s apostasy occurred after Ruth’s time, and he didn’t sacrifice any children, his example shows what was happening all along when Israelite men married foreign women.
Reader Comment: “When I was a kid, I, too, saw “The Story of Ruth.” I had not yet read the story myself, and I was a very literal-minded person. I mentioned to our pastor’s wife the miraculous way in which Ruth’s life was saved because of the mark on her arm. She smiled and told me that sometimes the movie-makers made up parts of the story of the movie, which was news to me because I had assumed that no one would mess with a story in the Bible.
Ezra 9:1-15, 10:1-3, Foreign Woman & Ezra's Law Reform (10/18/12)
You always caution that we should read the Bible for ourselves, and Judy Kell’s comment to me was the first time I was encouraged to do that very thing. Thank you for continually repeating your admonition!”
One thing that the Jews learned during the events that preceded and accompanied the Exile was that marrying foreign women and worshipping their gods was a bad idea. When they returned to Israel after the Exile, one of their important spiritual leaders was Ezra, who led them in a Law reform. It wasn’t the Law that was reformed – there was nothing wrong with it. Instead, Ezra wanted the people to reform in accordance with the Law. They discovered to their chagrin and Ezra’s horror that many of the repatriates had married foreign women, which was expressly forbidden.
Nehemiah 13:23-31, Law Reform or the Destruction of Families? (10/19/12)
The book of Ruth was probably written in the form we have it after the Exile. The writer doesn’t mess with the story – David’s partial Moabite ancestry is real. And that’s the point of Ruth: King David, the greatest king of Israel, a man after God’s own heart, had a Moabite ancestress who adopted our God and our Law, and you want us to divorce our wives and children just because they are foreigners?
More of The Rest of the Story
Week 1. Beginning of Life As We Know It
Week 1. More on the Beginning of Life As We Know It
Week 2. God Builds a Nation – Abraham … But Not Lot
Week 2. God Builds a Nation – Isaac…But not Ishmael or the sons of Keturah
Week 2. God Builds a Nation – Jacob…But not Esau
Week 3. Joseph Preserves Two Nations
Week 4. Deliverance
Week 4. More on Deliverance
Week 5. New Commands and a New Covenant
Week 6. Wandering
Week 6. More on the Wandering
Week 7. The Battle Begins
Week 8. A Few Good Men...and Women
Week 9. The Faith of a Foreign Woman
Week 10. Standing Tall, Falling Hard
Week 11. From Shepherd to King
Week 12. The Trials of a King
Week 13. The King Who Had It All
Week 14. A Kingdom Torn in Two
Weeks 15 and 16. God's Messengers and The Beginning of the End
Week 17. The Kingdoms' Fall
Jeremiah, Prophet of the Exile
Story 19. The Return Home
in the Old Testament
Story 21. Rebuilding the Walls
Story 22. The Birth of the King
Story 23. Jesus’ Ministry Begins
Story 24. No Ordinary Man
Story 25. Jesus, the Son of God
Story 26. The Hour of Darkness
Story 27. The Resurrection
Story 28. New Beginnings
James, Brother of the Lord
John and Jude
Story 31. The End of Time
Copyright 2012 by Regina L. Hunter. All rights reserved. This page has been prepared for the web site by RPB.
Opinions expressed on this page are solely those of the
author, Regina Hunter, and may or may not be shared by the sponsors or the
Bible-study participants. Thanks to the
Holy Spirit for any useful ideas presented here, and thanks to all the readers
for their support and enthusiasm. All
errors are, of course, the sole responsibility of the author.
St. John’s United Methodist Church,
2626 Arizona NE, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87110
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