Strange Women and Exotic Ladies (27 January 2016, 17 Shevet, 5776)
Who is a Genuine Descendant of Israel?
You say: "The Bible says that someone born of a Jewish mother is Jewish". Where does it state this explicitly? And if this is always the case, how do you explain King Rehoboam's Jewishness even though He had an Ammonite mother? (1 Ki 14:21)
If Ruth was really a Moabite, then why did [the Almighty] command that a Moabite shall never enter the Assembly (kahal) of Israel forever (Deu 23:3). Nehemiah indicates this prohibition applied to both men and women (Neh 13:1, 25) with no indication of any exceptions.
Your article involves:
(a) The question of Ruth the Moabitess and of Naamah the Ammonitess.
(b) Tracing Jewishness through the mother.
(c) The Prohibition of Nehemiah
(d) By implication the Lost Ten Tribes and mixed marriages with non-Israelites today.
Points (b) and (c) are matters of Jewish Law in the Bible at present pertinent to the Jews of Judah ALONE! Nevertheless they concern Biblical principles and so some understanding of them may be useful.
(a) The women of Ammon and Moab were NOT prohibited !
The women of Ammon and Moab were NOT prohibited in Deuteronomy 23: 3-4. Only the males were. The women however if they were to be accepted as Israelites had to agree to worship the God of Israel and keep the commandments, i.e. to convert. This is what Ruth the ancestress of King David did. So too, Naamah the Amonitess (1-Kings 14:21) who was the mother of King Rehoboam and thus a probably ancestress of the Future Messiah. She too converted. Otherwise she would not have been accepted.
See our articles concerning Ruth:
Moabitess! Was Ruth a Foreigner?
Field of Moab
(b) Jewish Descent through the Mother.
Concerning the Gentiles Heathen Nations the Israelites would come in contact with when they conquered the Land of Israel, they were commanded:
[Deuteronomy 7:3] NEITHER SHALL YOU MAKE MARRIAGES WITH THEM; YOUR DAUGHTER YOU SHALT NOT GIVE UNTO HIS SON, NOR HIS DAUGHTER SHALL YOU TAKE UNTO YOUR SON.
[Deuteronomy 7:4] FOR THEY WILL TURN AWAY YOUR SON FROM FOLLOWING ME, THAT THEY MAY SERVE OTHER GODS: SO WILL THE ANGER OF THE LORD BE KINDLED AGAINST YOU, AND DESTROY YOU SUDDENLY.
The word translated in the last verse above (Deuteronomy 7:4) as THEY WILL TURN AWAY in Hebrew is "YaSIR" meaning literally HE WILL [cause to] TURN AWAY. It is in the singular. The verse actually says i.e. "FOR HE WILL TURN AWAY YOUR SON". The expression "YOUR SON" in this case refers to your physical grandson who will be turned away by the son of the heathen who marries your daughter if you let him. see Ezra 10:3. "Your son" is the son of your daughter even when the father is not an Israelite.
The son of the female non-Israelite is not recalled in the above verses since he is not considered an Israelite i.e. he is not your son.
BUT all this today applies ONLY to Jews, see (d) below.
For a somewhat more comprehensive explanation see:
(c) The Prohibition of NEHEMIAH.
Nehemiah was arguing with the Jews who had taken foreign women. They had not converted them and the women continued to speak their own tongue. The women concerned were
"of Ashdod, of Ammon, and of Moab" (Nehemiah 13:23).
Ammon and Moab were the nations from whom it was forbidden to male converts. According to the Oral Law this applied to the males and not to the females. When Nehemiah upbraids those Jews who had taken women from Ammon and Moab he reads the prohibition against accepting Ammonites and Moabites (Nehemiah 13:1-2). After that however he continues to deal with Ammonites and Moabite women as well as women from Philistine Ashdod. He tells them that intermarriage with foreign women is forbidden (Nehemiah 13:23-24). He DOES NOT remind them of the prohibition against Ammonites and Moabites in Deuteronomy 23: 3-4. He rather speaks in general terms against taking foreign women of any kind i.e. those who have not been properly converted. His language recalls the prohibition applied to the natives of Canaan.
3 Neither shall you make marriages with them; your daughter you shall not give unto his son, nor his daughter shall you take unto your son.
4 For they will turn away your son from following me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of the LORD be kindled against you, and destroy you suddenly.
Here we clearly have the taboo linked with religious observance. Foreign women who do not believe in the Bible nor formally declare their willingness to abide by the Law (i.e. convert) are forbidden for religious reasons. It does not say that there was anything special applicable to women from Ammon and Moab. They were in the same category as foreign women from any other nation. Only for the males was an extra stringency in force.
Josephus also tells us about Ruth and describes her as originally having been a non-Israelite Moabitess as does the Bible .
(d) The Lost Ten Tribes and mixed marriages, etc., with non-Israelites today
Pertinence to the Ten Tribes?
The Lost Ten Tribes are now to be found among Western Peoples. The nations in question are not homogeneous. They are admixtures of different ethnic groups and races. Those of Israelite descent and not aware of their origin may be the majority or they may be a significant proportion or merely a minority that was historically of national importance.
All these questions exist and may be researched.
Together with the research we have a duty to publish information telling us that wherever else descendants of Israel may be the nations we are studying are in Biblical Terms those of the Lost Ten Tribes.
The questions remain.
Will Israelites from the Ten Tribes include only those who are:
1. Israelites of pure blood on both the male and female sides.
[And what about those of mixed blood who are mostly Israelite? Or partially so? How much is sufficient?]
2. People of partial Israelite descent from the female side.
3. People of partial Israelite descent from the male side.
4. People of non-Israelite descent who identify as Israelites or will be prepared to do so. Will these too be included.
All these questions do not have to be answered at present.
The sources however do deal with such matters to some degree.
Our attitude in general is that anyone who may have some physical connection tot he people we speak about or who otherwise may be associated with Israel and who fit certain other criteria is almost certainly from the Ten Tribes.
So far this approach has proven itself.