The Legitimacy of King David

By Rabbi Dr. Hillel ben David (Greg Killian)

 


The story of Ruth is read at the time of the giving of the Torah so that we might know that the Torah Shebiktav (Written Torah) and the Torah Shebalpeh (Oral Torah),[1] are together one Torah, and one is not possible without the other. For David, the anointed of HaShem unto all generations, was descended from a Moabite woman, and his legitimacy depended on the Oral Torah, which declared that only a Moabite man was prohibited from entering the Congregation of Israel, but not a Moabite woman. On the foundations of Torah Shebalpeh, the House of David, the whole people of Israel, and the Mashiach Himself, are supported. For it says, in Matityahu chapter one, that Yeshua HaMashiach is the son of David the son of Abraham. The text explicitly states that King David and Yeshua HaMashiach are direct descendants of Obed, the son of Ruth and Boaz. The Talmud[2] explicitly states that a Moabitess is permitted and a Moabite is not permitted. Therefore, King David and Yeshua HaMashiach depend on the legitimacy of the Torah Shebalpeh for their authority to even be a part of the congregation of Israel.

 

Megillat Ruth was written by the Prophet Samuel, to indicate the genealogy of Kind David for Ruth the Moabite[3]. We learn from the writing of this Megillah that there was Divine assent in the matter, for the end of the Megillah recounts David’s ancestry and David was born on Shavuot and died on Shavuot.

 

Samuel the prophet, the author of Megillat Ruth, was the one who anointed His Majesty King David and proclaimed him king. Samuel saw first hand how weak the knowledge of the nation of Israel was regarding the laws surrounding the conversion of Moabite women. Therefore, Samuel decided he had to educate the masses in this area. It could even be that Samuel felt he was obligated to do such, because he was the one who anointed David as king over the nation of Israel. Therefore, he was the one who had to “defend” what he had done and publicize the fact that His Majesty King David was of proper lineage, according to Jewish law, and more than fit to be king of Israel. The Megillah of Ruth accomplished this task. It cleared the air of any doubts as to the lineage of David, from whom Mashiach, The Mashiach, will descend. It proclaims that a Moabite woman, like Ruth, may join the nation of Israel.

 

The Torah teaches us that Moabites and Ammonites are not allowed to marry Jews because they lack an essential character quality that defines the Jewish people. The essential quality is chessed, kindness, as expressed in hospitality. The Torah tells us that the Moabites and the Ammonites had a chance to show the Jewish people hospitality. Because they were our relatives they had an obligation to show us hospitality. Because Avraham pleaded for their ancestor, Lot and his family, they had an obligation to show the Bne Israel hospitality.

 

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 23:3-4 An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter into the congregation of HaShem; even to their tenth generation shall they not enter into the congregation of HaShem for ever:4  Because they met you not with bread and with water in the way, when ye came forth out of Egypt; and because they hired against thee Balaam the son of Beor of Pethor of Mesopotamia, to curse thee.

 

To ‘enter the Congregation of Israel’ means marriage. Thus we learn that both Moabites and Ammonites are not allowed to marry Jews, and if they do marry a Jew and have children, then the children become mamzers, they become illegitimate. These illegitimate children are also forbidden to marry Jews.

 

The controversy that surrounded the kingship of David, because he was descended from Ruth the Moabite, is described in the Talmud:

 

Yevamot 76b Mishna An Ammonite and a Moabite are forbidden and their prohibition is forever, Their women, however, are permitted at once. An Egyptian and an Edomite are forbidden only until the third generation. Whether they are males or females. R. Simeon, however, permits their women forthwith. Said R. Simeon: This law might be inferred a minori ad majus: If where the males are forbidden for all time the females are permitted forthwith, how much more should the females be permitted forthwith where the males are forbidden until the third generation only. They replied: If this is an halachah, we shall accept it;  But if it is only an inference, an objection can be pointed out. He replied: Not so. [But in fact] it is an halachah that I am reporting.

 

GEMARA. Whence are these laws inferred? — R. Johanan replied: Scripture stated, And when Saul saw David go forth against the Philistine, he said into Abner, the captain of the host: ‘Abner, whose son is this youth’? And Abner said: ‘As thy soul liveth, O King, I cannot tell’. But did he not know him? Surely it is written, And he loved him greatly; and he became his armour bearer! — He rather made the inquiry concerning his father. But did he not know his father? Surely it is written, And the man was an old man in the days of Saul, stricken in years among them; and Rab or, it might be said, R. Abba, stated that this referred to the father of David, Jesse. who came in with an army and went out with an army!— It is this that Saul meant: Whether he descended from Perez, or from Zerah. If he descended from Perez he would be king, for a king breaks for himself a way and no one can hinder him. If, however, he is descended from Zerah he would only be an important man. What is the reason why he gave instructions that enquiry be made concerning him? — Because it is written, And Saul clad David with his apparel. being of the same size as his, and about Saul it is written, From his shoulders and upward he was higher than any of the people. Doeg the Edomite then said to him, ‘Instead of enquiring whether he is fit to be king or not, enquire rather whether he is permitted to enter the assembly or not’! ‘What is the reason’? ‘Because he is descended from Ruth the Moabitess’. Said Abner to him, ‘We learned: An Ammonite, but not an Ammonitess; A Moabite, but not a Moabitess! But in that case a bastard would’ imply: But not a female bastard?’ — ‘It is written mamzer [Which implies] anyone objectionable’. ‘Does then Egyptian exclude the Egyptian woman’? — ‘Here it is different, since the reason for the Scriptural text is explicitly stated: Because they met you not with bread and with water; it is customary for a man to meet [wayfarers]; It is not, however, customary for a woman to meet [them]’.

 

‘The men should have met the men and the women the women!’

 

He[4] remained silent, Thereupon. the King said.’[5] ‘Inquire thou whose son the stripling is’.[6] Elsewhere he calls him youth; and here[7] he calls him, stripling! — It is this that he implied, ‘You have overlooked an halachah,’ go and enquire at the college!’ On enquiry, he was told: An Ammonite,[8] but not an Ammonitess; A Moabite,[9] but not a Moabitess.

 

Yevamoth 69a For a Master said: An Ammonite,[10] but not an Ammonitess; a Moabite,[11] but not a Moabitess.[12]

 

Yevamoth 77a As, however, Doeg submitted to them all those objections[13] and they eventually remained silent, he desired to make a public announcement against him.[14] Presently [an incident occurred]: Now Amasa was the son of a man, whose name was Ithna the Israelite, that went in to Abigal the daughter of Nahash,[15] but elsewhere it is written, Jether the Ishmaelite! This teaches, Raba explained, that he girded on his sword like an Ishmaelite and exclaimed, ‘Whosoever will not obey the following halachah will be stabbed with the sword; I have this tradition from the Beth din of Samuel the Ramathite: An Ammonite but not an Ammonitess; A Moabite, but not a Moabitess’! Could he, however, be trusted? Surely R. Abba stated in the name of Rab: Whenever a learned man gives directions[16] on a point of law, and such a point comes up [for a practical decision], he is obeyed if his statement was made before the event; but if it was not so made he is not obeyed! Here the case was different, since Samuel and his Beth din were still living.

 

The difficulty,[17] however, still remains! — The following interpretation was given: All glorious is the king’s daughter within.[18] In the West[19] it was explained. others quote it in the name of R. Isaac: Scripture said, And they said unto him: ‘Where is Sarah thy wife?’ etc.[20]

 

In this mesechta, we learn that Doeg attempted to disqualify David from kingship by suggesting that he was not a part of the congregation of Israel because his great grandmother, Ruth, was a Moabite and Moabites were forbidden to marry Jews, as we saw from the Torah.

 

From here we see that Doeg did his utmost to disqualify David from being king by proving that David was not Jewish! Amasa defended David’s Jewishness by indicating that Shmuel (Samual) the prophet had declared, prophetically, that Devarim 23:3-4 applied to the men and not to the women. This meant that Ruth, as a Moabitess, was NOT excluded from the congregation of Israel and that her descendents were kosher Jews. This is only recorded in the Oral Torah (Talmud). It is not in the Torah. This teaches us that King David and Mashiach are legitimate only because of the oral law.

 

The Talmud also provides the logic for why Moabite woman are kosher[21] and Moabite men are un-kosher. The Talmud tells us that the Moabite women are kosher because they do not go out of the home to provide hospitality. It is not their job. It was the responsibility of the Moabite men to provide hospitality to the Jews.

 

Doeg the Edomite was one of the greatest scholars of the age, head of the Sanhedrin, and a close friend and adviser to king Saul. Doeg said to King Saul, “Instead of asking whether or not he is worthy of kingship, ask whether or not he is fit to enter the congregation of HaShem! He is descended from Ruth the Moabitess.”

 

The Prophet Samuel wrote a responsa in response to Doeg’s question about the validity of King David. The Megillat of Ruth is that responsa. Thus the Prophet Samuel wrote Megillat Ruth to propigate, for all time, the understanding that Ruth, as a Moabite, was permitted to enter the congregation of Israel because she was a female. Male Moabites are the Moabites which are forbidden from entering the congregation of Israel.

 

King Saul understood the Prophet Samuel’s responsa, and he took it to heart! The fact that he got the message is described in the Tanach:[22]

 

Shmuel Alef (I Samuel) 18:27-28 Wherefore David arose and went, he and his men, and slew of the Philistines two hundred men; and David brought their foreskins, and they gave them in full tale to the king, that he might be the king’s son in law. And Saul gave him Michal his daughter to wife. 28  And Saul saw and knew that HaShem was with David, and that Michal Saul’s daughter loved him.

 

Thus King Saul gave David his daughter in marriage that all Israel might know that he had accepted Samuel’s responsa that David was able to enter the congregation of Israel. Megillat Ruth clarifies the pasuk, the verse, of Devarim 23:3 and testifies to the truth of mesichta of Yevamot 76b (see page 2).

 

Therefore the monarchy of King David and of The Mashiach rest on the truth of Megillat Ruth!

 

Without the clarification of the Talmud, Yeshua cannot be Mashiach because the Torah says clearly that a Moabite cannot enter the congregation of Israel. Ruth, as a critical part of the messianic line, is a Moabite. Therefore, it is incumbent upon Christians to accept the oral law if they say that Yeshua is the Messiah.

 

The Torah describes an unusual incident that happened to Avraham that bears directly on the Torah’s prohibition against Moabites and Ammonites marrying Jews. Since the Talmud indicates that the reason that Moabite women, and Ammonite women, are allowed to marry Jews is because they were not expected to show hospitality to strangers. How do we know that Moabite and Ammonite women were not expected to show hospitality to strangers? This halachic ruling was given to us by Avraham Avinu who was the Gadol HaDor, the posek of his generation. He is the judge of his generation. If HaShem needs to have a judge render a decision on earth, then Avraham is the man. The Torah describes the incident where this ruling was made.

 

Bereshit 17:26 – 18:2 In the selfsame day was Abraham circumcised, and Ishmael his son. 27  And all the men of his house, born in the house, and bought with money of the stranger, were circumcised with him. 1 And HaShem appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day; 2  And he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him: and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground …

 

The Zohar teaches us that these “men” were really angels:

 

Soncino Zohar, Bereshith, Section 1, Page 101b At first he took them for men, but afterwards he became aware that they were holy angels who had been sent on a mission to him.

 

The Midrash[23] and Talmud[24] tell us about these three angels had separate missions and names:

 

Midrash Rabbah - Genesis L:2 THEN THE TWO ANGELS CAME, etc. But He is at one with Himself, and who can turn Him? and what His soul desireth, even that He doeth (Job XXIII, 13). It was taught: One angel does not perform two missions, nor do two angels together perform one mission, yet you read that two [angels came to Sodom]? The fact is, however, that Michael announced his tidings [to Abraham] and departed: Gabriel was sent to overturn Sodom, and Rafael to rescue Lot; hence, THEN THE TWO ANGELS CAME, etc.

 

  1. One angel came to prophesy [Yitzhak’s birth] to Avraham and Sarah and to rescue Lot (Michael).
  2. One to heal Avraham and later, on a new mission, to rescue Lot (Raphael).
  3. One who destroyed Sodom (Gavriel).

 

It is appropriate that the destruction of Sodom and Gemara is carried out by Gavriel. However, one could easily ask: Why is he here with Avraham and Sarah? His mission had nothing to do with Avraham and Sarah. Why would he not be in Sodom instead? After all, they had a job to do, why not get to it? Sodom is the place where he has a mission.

 

We can get some insight into their presence at Avraham’s tent by noting a very curious question in the Torah. Keep in mind that these three “strangers” have been invited to dinner and the dinner has been set before them. At this point, the first thing out of their mouths is a disturbing question.

 

Bereshit (Genesis) 18:9 And they said unto him, Where is Sarah thy wife? And he said, Behold, in the tent.

 

Baba Metzia 87a And they said unto him, Where is Sarah thy wife? And he said, Behold, She is in the tent: this is to inform us that she was modest.[25] Rab Judah said in Rab’s name: The Ministering Angels knew that our mother Sarah was in the tent, but why [bring out the fact that she was] in her tent? In order to make her beloved to her husband.[26] R. Jose son of R. Hanina said: In order to send her the wine-cup of Benediction.[27]

 

Midrash Rabbah - Numbers III:13 Another instance: And they said unto him (אליו): Where is Sarah?[28] There are points over the aleph, yod, and vaw of ‘אליו’, to indicate that they knew where she was, yet made inquiries about her.[29]

 

Now imagine that you are in Avraham’s place. You have a modest wife who does not normally interact with strange men. Men who, by the way, have no business with Sarah. Their only business is with Avraham. The first thing these strange men ask is, “Where is Sarah?” This is very strange. Further, instead of becoming indignant with these strangers, Avraham answers their question.

 

Bereshit (Genesis) 18:9 And they said unto him, Where is Sarah thy wife? And he said, Behold, in the tent.

 

So, HaShem and His messengers ask their halachic question: Where is Sarah?

 

We have HaShem and three of HaShem’s mightiest angels who are sitting on the edge of their seats waiting to hear the answer to a most important halachic question. Does Avraham understand that he is rendering an halachic, legal, decision that will affect humanity for a the rest of time?

 

Because Avraham was close to HaShem we can be sure that Avraham realizes the import of this question.

 

In Bereshit (Genesis) 18:9, we see Avraham answering: ‘Behold in the tent’. Thus we see that Sarah remained indoors attending to the duties of her household, even though there were visitors whom Abraham was entertaining in the open under the tree.

 

Bereshit (Genesis) 18:1-5 And HaShem appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day; 2  And he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him: and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground, 3  And said, My Lord, if now I have found favour in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant: 4  Let a little water, I pray you, be fetched, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree: 5  And I will fetch a morsel of bread, and comfort ye your hearts; after that ye shall pass on: for therefore are ye come to your servant. And they said, So do, as thou hast said.

 

This simple answer will affect humanity for the rest of time. What does it mean? Why is this question, and its answer, so important that it is the first priority for HaShem and His three mighty angels, on their visit to Avraham?

 

It is important to note that Avraham is going to plead with HaShem to save the people of Sodom and to save Lot in Bereshit (Genesis) 18:23-33. Avraham was genuinely concerned for Lot and the people of the cities associated with Sodom.

 

Did Lot deserve to be saved?

 

Bereshit (Genesis) 19:29 And it came to pass, when God destroyed the cities of the Plain, that God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow, when he overthrew the cities in which Lot dwelt.

 

The text tells us that he was saved only because “G-d remembered Avraham and He sent Lot out …”. The merit of Avraham saved Lot. Lot’s salvation was an act of mercy, not justice. Furthermore, for Lot to be saved required a much greater degree of divine intervention. If not for Lot, G-d would have simply sent Gavriel to destroy the city.

 

Avraham’s pleading managed to only save Lot and His family.

 

Why did HaShem and the three angels want to know Sarah’s whereabouts? To put it another way: Why are three strange men asking about a woman they had never met and with whom they had no mission or message?

 

We have two questions before us:

  1. Why is Gavriel in Mamre, with Avraham, and not Sodom?
  2. Why are the three angels asking Avraham to tell them Sarah’s location?

 

What is going on here? The answer is quite profound and bears directly on the issue of the legitimacy of King David.

 

The two angels have a mission in Sodom. The fact that they are here with Avraham means that their question has an immediate relevance to their mission. What is the relevance?

 

When strangers came to Avraham’s house, did Sarah greet the strangers with food and water? No, Avraham greeted them with food and water. This question and it’s answer were critical to the deliverance of Lot and his daughters because the reason given, in Devarim (Deuteronomy) 23:3-4, for the exclusion of the Ammonites and Moabites is that they did not meet the Israelites with food and water. Since the Ammonites and Moabites (Ruth and Naamah[30]) would become the descendants of Lot and his daughters, it was necessary to know whether the woman (Sarah) would greet the strangers with food and water.

 

Avraham provided a legal ruling when he said that Sarah was in the tent. His ruling was that women are responsible for hospitality inside the home and NOT outside!

 

Because of this ruling, Gavriel determined that Lot must be delivered from Sodom because from him would descend Ruth the Moabitess. Thus we understand that Gavriel did not proceed directly to Sodom because he needed to know whether Lot should be saved when he destroyed Sodom. He could only learn this when Avraham made his ruling.

 

Once the two angels knew that Avraham and Sarah did not have a custom to let Sarah greet the strangers, they knew that they must save Lot and His daughters because they would become legitimate converts that would be responsible for the birth of King David and King Mashiach. The leader of the generation, Avraham, had ruled that the woman’s modesty prevented them from greeting strangers. Therefore, Ruth and Naamah could enter the congregation of Israel and their progenitors, Lot and his daughters, must be preserved.[31]

 

In spite of Avraham’s efforts for Lot and his family, Lot’s descendents, the Moabites, do not greet the Israelites with food and water when they needed it.

 

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 23:3-4 An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter into the congregation of HaShem; even to their tenth generation shall they not enter into the congregation of HaShem for ever: 4  Because they met you not with bread and with water in the way, when ye came forth out of Egypt; and because they hired against thee Balaam the son of Beor of Pethor of Mesopotamia, to curse thee.

 

Because the Moabites were ungrateful and inhospitable, HaShem tells us that a Moabite cannot enter the congregation of Israel. This means that no Moabite can marry a Jew. This poses a big problem!

 

The problem is that Ruth is a Moabite and she is an integral part of the Messianic line. If she is disqualified from marrying a Jew, then her son, Oved, cannot be Jewish. His son, Yishai, can not be a Jew. His son, David, cannot be a Jew and therefore cannot be King in Israel. His descendent, Mashiach, is not Jewish and cannot be King. He cannot be The Mashiach! This is a big problem!

 

Shmuel the prophet would rule that Ruth was able to enter the congregation of Israel because of Avraham’s ruling. Because Avraham said that Sarah was “in the tent”, Ruth the Moabitess was able to enter the congregation and become a progenitor of the Messianic line.

 

Shmuel, the Prophet, was the one who anointed David as the King over Israel, at the command of HaShem. He was also the one who wrote the Megilla of Ruth, which shows the genealogy of David.

 

The book of Ruth was written to help address this problem. Never the less, without the oral law this is a problem which can not be resolved. The written Torah never addresses this issue.

 

Additionally, there is an allusion to this in Megillat Ruth. Of the 85 psukim in Megilat Ruth, all but eight (8) begin with the letter vav - ו. That’s 90.5% of its psukim begin with a vav. The eight pasukim, that do not start with a vav - ו are:

 

  1. Ruth 1:9 begins with a yod – י. HaShem grant you that ye may find rest, each of you in the house of her husband. Then she kissed them; and they lifted up their voice, and wept.

 

  1. Ruth 1:12 begins with a shin - ש. Turn again, my daughters, go your way; for I am too old to have an husband. If I should say, I have hope, if I should have an husband also to night, and should also bear sons;

 

  1. Ruth 1:13 begins with a hay - ה. Would ye tarry for them till they were grown? would ye stay for them from having husbands? nay, my daughters; for it grieveth me much for your sakes that the hand of HaShem is gone out against me.

 

  1. Ruth 1:17 begins with a beit - ב. Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: HaShem do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me.

 

  1. Ruth 1:21 begins with an alef - א. I went out full, and HaShem hath brought me home again empty: why then call ye me Naomi, seeing HaShem hath testified against me, and the Almighty hath afflicted me?

 

  1. Ruth 2:9 begins with an ayin - ע. Let thine eyes be on the field that they do reap, and go thou after them: have I not charged the young men that they shall not touch thee? and when thou art athirst, go unto the vessels, and drink of that which the young men have drawn.

 

  1. Ruth 2:12 begins with a yod - י. HaShem recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of HaShem God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust.

 

  1. Ruth 3:13 begins with a lamed - ל. Tarry this night, and it shall be in the morning, that if he will perform unto thee the part of a kinsman, well; let him do the kinsman’s part: but if he will not do the part of a kinsman to thee, then will I do the part of a kinsman to thee, as HaShem liveth: lie down until the morning.

 

If we rearrange these eight letters they spell:  באהל ישעי (yshi ba’ohel),[32] which means:

 

“my salvation comes from (is in) the tents

(of Sarah)”[33]

or

“my salvation is in the tents (of Torah)”.

 

Therefore, it’s no coincidence that the letters of pesukim in Ruth that don’t begin with a vav that obviously teach us something spell out ישעי באהל - my salvation is in the tent. This is because the rationalization used by the angel to save Lot was based on Avraham’s halachic answer that said that Sarah was in the tent.

 

Now lets take our eight pasukim and rearrange them in the order of the letters of ישעי באהל:

 

  1. Ruth 1:9 begins with a yod – י. HaShem grant you that ye may find rest, each of you in the house of her husband. Then she kissed them; and they lifted up their voice, and wept.

 

Targum: “May the Lord reward you fully for the kindness which you have shown to me, and by virtue of that reward may each of you find rest in the house of her husband.” Then she kissed them, and they lifted up their voices and wept.

 

יִתֵּן יְהוָה לָכֶם וּמְצֶאןָ מְנוּחָה אִשָּׁה בֵּית אִישָׁ הּוַתִּשַּׁק לָהֶן וַתִּשֶּׂאנָה קולָן וַתִּבְכֶּינָה׃

 

  1. Ruth 1:12 begins with a shin - ש. Turn again, my daughters, go your way; for I am too old to have an husband. If I should say, I have hope, if I should have an husband also to night, and should also bear sons;

 

Targum: “Return, my daughters, from following me. Go unto your people, for I am too old to be married. Should I say: ‘Now, if I were a young woman, having hope, verily! should I be married this very night and should I bear sons,’

 

שׁבְנָה בְנתַי לֵכְןָ כִּי זָקַנְתִּי מִהְיות לְאִישׁ כִּי אָמַרְתִּי יֶשׁ־לִי תִקְוָה גַּם הָיִיתִי הַלַּ֙יְלָה֙ לְאִישׁ וְגַם יָלַדְתִּי בָנִים׃

 

  1. Ruth 2:9 begins with an ayin - ע. Let thine eyes be on the field that they do reap, and go thou after them: have I not charged the young men that they shall not touch thee? and when thou art athirst, go unto the vessels, and drink of that which the young men have drawn.

 

Targum: “Mark the field that they will reap, and follow them. Have I not charged the servants not to touch you? And when you are thirsty, go to the vessels and drink the water which the servants have drawn.”

 

עֵינַיִךְ בַּשָּׂדֶה אֲשֶׁר־יִקְצרוּן וְהָלַכְתְּ אַחֲרֵיהֶן הֲלוא צִוִּיתִי אֶת־הַנְּעָרִים לְבִלְתִּי נָגְעֵךְ וְצָמִת וְהָלַכְתְּ אֶל־הַכֵּלִים וְשָׁתִית מֵאֲשֶׁר יִשְׁאֲבוּן הַנְּעָרִים׃

 

  1. Ruth 2:12 begins with a yod - י. HaShem recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of HaShem God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust.

 

Targum: “May the Lord reward you well in this world for your good work, and may you receive full recompense from the Lord, the God of Israel, in the world to come, because you have come to be a proselyte and to seek shelter under the shadow of His Glorious Presence. Through that merit you will be saved from the punishment of Gehinom, so that your portion will be with Sarah and Rebecca and Rachel and Leah.”

 

יְשַׁלֵּם יְהוָה פָּעֳלֵךְ וּתְהִי מַשְׂכֻּרְתּךְ שְׁלֵמָה מֵעִם יְהוָה אֱלהֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל אֲשֶׁר־בָּאת לַחֲסות תַּחַת־כְּנָפָֽיו׃

 

  1. Ruth 1:17 begins with a beit - ב. Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: HaShem do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me.

 

Targum: Said Naomi: “We have four methods of capital punishment for the guilty -- stoning, burning with fire, death by the sword, and hanging upon the gallows.” Said Ruth: “To whatever death you are subject I shall be subject.” Said Naomi: “We have two[34] cemeteries.” Said Ruth: “There shall I be buried. And do not continue to speak any further. May the Lord do thus unto me and more if [even] death will separate me from you.”

 

בַּאֲשֶׁר תָּמוּתִי אָמוּת וְשָׁם אֶקָּבֵר כּה יַעֲשֶׂה יְהוָה לִי וְכה יסִיף כִּי הַמָּוֶת יַפְרִיד בֵּינִי וּבֵינֵךְ׃

 

  1. Ruth 1:21 begins with an alef - א. I went out full, and HaShem hath brought me home again empty: why then call ye me Naomi, seeing HaShem hath testified against me, and the Almighty hath afflicted me?

 

Targum: “I went away full, with my husband and sons, but the Lord has brought me back destitute of them. Why, then, should you call me Naomi, seeing that my guilt has been testified to before the Lord, and the Almighty has brought evil upon me?”

 

 אֲנִי מְלֵאָה הָלַכְתִּי וְרֵיקָם הֱשִׁיבַנִי יְהוָה לָמָּה תִקְרֶאנָה לִי נָעֳמִי וַיהוָה עָנָה בִי וְשַׁדַּי הֵרַע לִי׃

 

  1. Ruth 1:13 begins with a hay - ה. Would ye tarry for them till they were grown? would ye stay for them from having husbands? nay, my daughters; for it grieveth me much for your sakes that the hand of HaShem is gone out against me.

 

Targum: “Would you wait for them until they grew up, like a woman who waits for a small brother-in-law to marry her? Because of them would you sit tied down, not marrying? Pray, my daughters, do not grieve me, for I am more embittered than you, because a stroke from the Lord has come forth against me.”

 

הֲלָהֵן ׀ תְּשַׂבֵּרְנָה עַד אֲשֶׁר יִגְדָּלוּ הֲלָהֵן תֵּעָגֵנָה לְבִלְתִּי הֱיות לְאִישׁ אַל בְּנתַי כִּי־מַר־לִי מְאד מִכֶּם כִּי־יָצְאָה בִי יַד־יְהוָה׃

 

  1. Ruth 3:13 begins with a lamed - ל. Tarry this night, and it shall be in the morning, that if he will perform unto thee the part of a kinsman, well; let him do the kinsman’s part: but if he will not do the part of a kinsman to thee, then will I do the part of a kinsman to thee, as HaShem liveth: lie down until the morning.

 

Targum: “Lodge here, and in the morning, if the man qualified to redeem you according to the Torah redeems you, very well, let him redeem you. But if he is unwilling to redeem you, then I will redeem you. I swear by an oath before God, that I will do just as I have spoken to you. Sleep now until the morning.”

 

לִינִי ׀ הַלַּיְלָה וְהָיָה בַבּקֶר אִם־יִגְאָלֵךְ טוב יִגְאָל וְאִם־לא יַחְפּץ לְגָאֳלֵךְ וּגְאַלְתִּיךְ אָנכִי חַי־יְהוָה שִׁכְבִי עַד־הַבּֽקֶר׃

 

Thus every Hebrew verse in Ruth begins with a vav (“and”), save eight of the verses. Imagine starting almost every sentence with the word ‘and’. The conjunction, ‘and’, means that each verse, save eight, are intrinsically connected to each other as though we are proceeding on a path step-by-step.

 

Since vav is the letter of connection (used as the conjunction “and”), we can see that Megilat Ruth stands to connect something. Since this book illustrates the whole of creation from Adam to the second Adam (Mashiach), we can understand that this book connects all of history to the Mashiach. Further, the vav also connects the Megillat of Ruth to Avraham and Sarah.

 

The vav – ו, which is the number six (6), is a remez to the six orders of the Mishna. This alludes to the fact that Ruth was kosher only because of the oral law.

 

When rearranged (the first letter of each of the eight verses that do not start with a vav) the letters spell “My salvation is in the tent” - ישעי באהל. This is another allusion to the fact that women are in the tent and do not bring food and water to strangers. Further, the entire Messianic line of kings depend on the women being in the tent in order for them to bring salvation through the Messianic line.

 

The Oral Torah in the Psalms

 

The ArtScroll on Tehillim[35] for Psalm 119:161-12 has the following, very interesting, commentary that bears directly on the legitimacy of the messianic line. Lets start by looking at the verse in Tehillim that the Artscroll will be commenting on:

 

Tehillim (psalms) 119:161-162 SHIN Princes pursued me without cause, but my heart feared Your utterance (דבור). I rejoiced over Your word (אמרה), like one who finds abundant spoils.

 

In this series of verses, David sings of the false princes who pursued me without cause (v. 161), and of how he abhors falsehood (v. 163), because the truth of Torah is his only joy.]

 

161. Princes pursued me without cause.

David said, ‘Powerful princes and generals, like Saul and Absalom, pursued and threatened me, yet they instilled no fear in my heart. The only thing I feared was the possibility that I might transgress Your word or that my enemies might force me to disobey You.’

 

Another explanation: ‘When Prince Absalom pursued me, I was not afraid of his physical prowess nor of his forces, because I knew that his cause was unjust. My only real fear was the fact that I sinned and You gave Your word to punish me, through the Prophet, who warned (II Samuel 12:11, 12): So says HASHEM: “Behold, I will raise up evil against you out of your own house ... for you sinned secretly, but I will do this in the presence of all Israel”‘(Radak).

 

But my heart feared Your utterance.

Vilna Gaon comments that this verse refers to the wicked nobles and ministers [like Doeg and Achitophel] who constantly sought to discredit David by casting aspersions on his ancestress, Ruth the Moabite. They always cited the verse (Deut. 23:4) An Ammonite or a Moabite shall not enter into the congregation of HASHEM even to the tenth generation.

 

David’s enemies took note of Torah Shebictav, the Written Law, concerning Moabites, but they disregarded Torah Shebaal Peh, the Oral Law, which teaches that the prohibition applies only to the male Ammonite and Moabite, and not to the female Ammonitess and Moabitess. Vilna Gaon proves that the term דבור refers to a statement written in Scripture, whereas אמרה adverts to a tradition of the Oral Law.

 

Thus David exclaimed in this verse and the next: The princes pursued me [charging that I was unfit to enter the congregation of Israel] without cause, But my heart feared Your utterance [i.e., the Written Law, which appeared to disqualify me].

 

David was scared from the words of the Written Torah, yet from the Oral Torah he rejoiced because the Oral Torah saved David’s life, proved his Jewishness, and allowed him to be king in Israel.

 

* * *

 

A king in Israel was a chief Rabbi.

 

* * *

 

Shavuot falls on vav Sivan, the sixth of Sivan. The vav also alludes to the six orders of the Mishna, the Oral Torah.

 

* * *

 

I found david in Sodom.

 

 

* * *

 


This study was written by

Rabbi Dr. Hillel ben David

(Greg Killian).

Comments may be submitted to:

 

Rabbi Dr. Greg Killian

4544 Highline Drive SE

Olympia, WA 98501

 

Internet address:  gkilli@aol.com

Web page:  http://www.betemunah.org/

 

(360) 918-2905

 

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Send comments to Greg Killian at his email address: gkilli@aol.com

 



[1] Rabbi Akiva is the essence of the Oral Law. Moses brings the written Law down to the world; Rabbi Akiva is the nucleus around which the Oral Law is transmitted and generated within the world.

There are many parallels between Moses and Rabbi Akiva (Sifrei, Devarim 357; both lived 120 years...); but Moses comes from within, Rabbi Akiva from without (he is the offspring of converts; Moses descends from Jacob, Rabbi Akiva from Esau). Jacob is the root of the Written Law, Esau is the root of the Oral Law (Genesis 25:28 ki tzayid b'piv). Jacob and Esau are twins; at one level Esau is the firstborn, at another Jacob fulfils that destiny. (This is also the root of Moses’ apparent inability to understand the Torah of Rabbi Akiva and his suggestion that the Torah be given through Rabbi Akiva; in fact, in a very deep way, it was.)

[2] Yevamoth 76b

[3] Jerusalem Talmud - Chagigah 2,3, Bavli - Shabbat 30b

[4] Abner

[5] To Doeg. V. infra

[6] 1 Sam. XVII, 56.

[7] 1 Sam. XVII, 56.

[8] Deut. XXIII. 4

[9] Deut. XXIII. 4

[10] Shall not enter into the assembly of the Lord. Deut. 23:4

[11] Shall not enter into the assembly of the Lord. Deut. 23:4

[12] Infra 76b, Kid. 67b, Keth. 7b, Hul. 62b.

[13] Addressed to Abner supra.

[14] To brand David publicly as a descendant of a Moabitess, and unfit to enter the congregation of Israel in accordance with Deut. XXIII, 4.

[15] II Sam. XVII, 25

[16] Basing his ruling on traditional law which he claims to have received from his teachers.

[17] Raised by Doeg (supra 76b) to which no reply was forthcoming.

[18] Psalm 45:14. Respectable women remain at home and do not go into the open road even to meet members of their own sex. No blame, therefore, is attached to the Ammonite and Moabite women for not meeting the Israelites with bread and with water. Cf. Deut. 23:5.

[19] Palestine

[20] Gen 18:9, and he answered, ‘Behold in the tent’. Sarah remained indoors attending to the duties of her household, though there were visitors whom Abraham was entertaining in the open under the tree (ibid. 4).

[21] Kosher is a transliterated Hebrew word which means “fit”.

[22] The TaNaKh (or Tanach) is an acronym that stands for:  Torah (the Law), Nevi’im (the Prophets), and Ketuvim (the Writings).

[23] Bereshit Rabbah 50:2

[24] Bava Metzia 86b

[25] And therefore kept herself secluded.

[26] By impressing him with her modesty.

[27] The wine-cup over which the Grace after meals is recited and which is partaken by all the guests. V. Ber. 51a.

[28] Bereshit (Genesis) 18:9

[29] For the sake of domestic harmony; Bava Metzia 87a; Gen. R. 48:15.

[30] Melachim Alef (I Kings) 14:21.

[31] Chidushei HaRim in Mayana shel Torah

[32] Beth Yaaqov

[33] Tehillim (Psalms) 118:15

[34] In the sources, mention is made of two separate cemetaries, one for the stoned and burned, the other for those who die by the sword and strangulation, M. San. 6:5.

[35] Tehillim / A new translation with a commentary anthologized from Talmudic, Midrashic and Rabbinic sources, translation and commentary by Rabbi Avrohom Chaim Feuer, in collaboration with Rabbi Nosson Scherman. Published by Mesorah Publications, Ltd.