Love and Politics in Ruth

In Rising Moon, Moshe Miller explores the biblical book of Ruth, traditionally read on the upcoming holiday of Shavuot. Ruth begins with the words “It was when the judges judged,” and ends with the title character giving birth to a son who will be the grandfather of David. As Sarah Rindner writes in her review, Miller thus situates Ruth as the bridge between two biblical books: Judges and Samuel.

For Miller, the difference between the period of the Judges, and even the first biblical king, Saul, and his successor David, comes down to something like grace. True kingship, or malkhut, cannot be imposed on a nation—it cannot even be requested by that nation. In Hebrew, the name Saul . . . literally means “asked for,” and Saul’s coronation is rooted in the people “asking” for a king. Kingship, on the other hand, must emerge organically as a kind of “center around which the nation could coalesce”—as exemplified by the more enduring kingship of David and his progeny.

Malkhut [therefore] is a natural outgrowth of a development that has reached a stage demanding integration. It must grow out of a vast complex of interrelationships that insists upon it. Asking for kingship guarantees its failure. . . .

According to Miller, kingship emerges from a web of personal relationships among members of the nation. It is therefore fitting that some of the greatest love stories of the Bible all emerge alongside the first major instantiation of malkhut: the stories of Ruth and [her mother-in-law] Naomi, Ruth and [her eventual husband] Boaz, Saul and [his protégé] David, Jonathan and [his best friend] David, and David and [his lover-turned-wife] Bathsheba. Even the name David derives from the Hebrew word dod, meaning beloved. Love, of course, cannot be forced, but emerges naturally and organically to ultimately produce a union that is greater than the sum of its parts.

Read more at Book of Books

More about: Biblical Politics, Book of Ruth, Hebrew Bible, King David, King Saul, Love, Religion & Holidays


To Save Gaza, the U.S. Needs a Strategy to Restrain Iran

Since the outbreak of war on October 7, America has given Israel much support, and also much advice. Seth Cropsey argues that some of that advice hasn’t been especially good:

American demands for “restraint” and a “lighter footprint” provide significant elements of Hamas’s command structure, including Yahya Sinwar, the architect of 10/7, a far greater chance of surviving and preserving the organization’s capabilities. Its threat will persist to some extent in any case, since it has significant assets in Lebanon and is poised to enter into a full-fledged partnership with Hizballah that would give it access to Lebanon’s Palestinian refugee camps for recruitment and to Iranian-supported ratlines into Jordan and Syria.

Turning to the aftermath of the war, Cropsey observes that it will take a different kind of involvement for the U.S. to get the outcomes it desires, namely an alternative to Israeli and to Hamas rule in Gaza that comes with buy-in from its Arab allies:

The only way that Gaza can be governed in a sustainable and stable manner is through the participation of Arab states, and in particular the Gulf Arabs, and the only power that can deliver their participation is the United States. A grand bargain is impossible unless the U.S. exerts enough leverage to induce one.

Militarily speaking, the U.S. has shown no desire seriously to curb Iranian power. It has persistently signaled a desire to avoid escalation. . . . The Gulf Arabs understand this. They have no desire to engage in serious strategic dialogue with Washington and Jerusalem over Iran strategy, since Washington does not have an Iran strategy.

Gaza’s fate is a small part of a much broader strategic struggle. Unless this is recognized, any diplomatic master plan will degenerate into a diplomatic parlor game.

Read more at National Review

More about: Gaza War 2023, Iran, U.S. Foreign policy