[b-hebrew] Princess Ruth?

Yigal Levin leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il
Sun Jun 18 02:31:58 EDT 2006

If you read my posts from the past two days, you will see that I don't think 
that the rabbis of the Talmud even meant to convey "historical truth". The 
midrashim of the Talmud are didactic literature, not history.

As far as Ruth, I agree that nothing in the text would lead us to assume 
that she was anything but a commoner. "Proto-feminist"? I'm not sure at all. 
I'm also not sure that the genealogy of David at the end is not a later 
addition, in which case the original book had nothing to do with David. On 
the other hand, the emphasis on Elimelech's family being "Ephrathites from 
Bethlehem", just like Jesse and David, might not be coincidental.

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Herman Meester" <crazymulgogi at gmail.com>
To: <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Sunday, June 18, 2006 7:15 AM
Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] Princess Ruth?

> 2006/6/18, Herman Meester <crazymulgogi at gmail.com>:
>> 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
> "Your people is my people, your God is my God."
> [sorry, made a mistake in the other post]
> 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". ;)
>> regards,
>> Herman
>> Rotterdam, NL
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