Deuteronomy 23:3 and the Story of Ruth


“No Ammonite or Moabite or any of their descendants may enter the assembly of the Lord, not even in the tenth generation.” Was not Ruth a Moabite? Was not Jesus considered a “descendant” of a Moabite? Does this have something to do with Obed being more than ten generations removed? Help me understand this!


This commentary from Haydock’s Catholic Bible Commentary may be helpful:

Ver. 3. Ever. This shews that the former verse only excludes bastards for a time. But why are these nations treated with more severity than the Edomite and Egyptian? Because their enmity seemed to proceed from pure malice, and they attempted to ruin the souls of the Hebrews by lust and by idolatry, without any prospect of interest to themselves. Their parents were also of very base origin, and Abraham had rescued their father, Lot, from destruction; so that for his children to oppose with such virulence the descendants of Abraham, manifested a degree of ingratitude and perversity. (Calmet) — They had found their attempts to hurt Israel abortive, and yet ceased not to persecute their near relations, (Haydock) by drawing them into carnal sins. Those who are obstinate in their evil ways, can never be rightly received into the Church of God. (Worthington) — Achior and Ruth embraced the Jewish religion, but it does not appear that they were admitted to places of trust, Judith xiv. 6. (Haydock) — These regulations were observed till the Babylonian captivity, while the genealogies might be ascertained. (Calmet) — In cases of extraordinary merit, as in that of Achior, the Ammonite, (Judith xiv.,) a dispensation might be granted. (Tirinus)

I imagine Obed is mentioned when he is mentioned because he simply came along when he did–not that his maternal ancestry was “soiled” by Ruth, but I defer to others with a better understanding of such matters. I have read that the mention of Ruth as an ancestor of Jesus was included to show that Christ’s kingdom was to be universal, not merely restricted to the Hebrews. But again, I defer to those who know more about it. :slight_smile:


I once asked this question and was told God sets up these laws of exclusion for the good of the Israelite community. Occasionally God allows some latitude to these laws in order to remind the Israelites why these laws were implemented and to keep them humble. Moabites were not permitted to enter the assembly in case the Israelites gave into weakness and followed pagan practices. It wasn’t because the Moabites were 2nd class people. Now the Moabite Ruth proved to be a true role model for the Israelites which is why God allowed it.


This is talking about a man entering the assembly, not a woman, right? So, Ruth wouldn’t be included in the prohibition, would she?


Yup, that’s the traditional interpretation in Jewish sources: that it didn’t apply to female Ammonites and Moabites.

There’s also an interpretation that it really meant that Moabite and Ammonite men couldn’t marry Jewish women or be counted as voting members of the assembly, although they could convert. And there are some interpretations that if a Moabite or Ammonite converted, he wasn’t a Moabite or Ammonite any more.


No Ammonite or Moabite may be admitted to the assembly of Yahweh, has led Talmudic exegesis to assume the prohibition is against those who are born of incest like the sons of Lot who are the ancestors of the Ammonite and Moabites, or born of adulterous intercourse

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Things are becoming a little clearer. Thank you for your help.


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