[b-hebrew] Princess Ruth?

Herman Meester crazymulgogi at gmail.com
Sun Jun 18 01:12:04 EDT 2006

2006/6/17, Yigal Levin <leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il>:

The Talmud (if its really important I'll look up the source) says that Ruth
> was the daughter of Eglon king of Moab. Would you think that David would
> be
> descended from just ANY Moabitess? :-)
> Yigal

Where would we be without good ol' Talmud? ;)
But Ruth interests me a great deal. A few years ago, I had a short
discussion with prof. Atalya Brenner, who had a lecture in Leiden, NL, about
all kinds of biblical texts that in her view are incompatible with human
(esp. women's) rights in their outlook.
She thinks (I'm exaggerating a little for clarity's sake ;) ) that Ruth has
been written by some kind of proto-feminist social liberal or whatever, in
order to portray [female] immigrants' hardships and sacrifices.
While I may agree with certain proto-feminist social liberal points if their
arguments are sound, I think this is not the right analysis of Ruth.

Why? The most compelling analysis of why (and maybe even when) Ruth was
written envolves assuming that it was perceived as a problem to the Davidic
dynasty, or to the Israelites they ruled, that David had a non-Israelite
ancestor. In order to play this down, order was given to write what became
known as Ruth. The Hebrew employed in Ruth actually looks very old,
syntactically, and there are some Ktiv-Qre issues that may be interpreted as
Ruth being at least pre-exilic. The text Ruth is a successful attempt at a)
giving "native Binyaminite" Noomi all the "credits" for giving birth to
David's grandfather. She makes the match, after all; and b) assimilating
Ruth into Israel with the key words "

List members may be aware of this theory. It may be debated, I just think it
is very compelling.
If we accept this theory, the [trivial?] question whether Ruth was a
princess would be answered in the light of the motive for writing. I think
it would be rather odd, if she were indeed a "princess", why it wasn't
mentioned in Ruth. After all, foreigner and of noble descent is generally
favourable to foreigner and  commoner (at least, to a lot of people, and in
societies where these things matter). I know, I live in a monarchy myself.

I never thought I'd ever say the Talmud is "wrong". ;)

Rotterdam, NL

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