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.