Q: Our pastor recently said Moabite woman were sexually impure and wayward women. As I study and develop a more egalitarian view of scripture I find this label for the woman and not the men to be disturbing. Any thoughts or input on the Moabite men’s role?
A: Great question! The Hebrew Bible doesn’t have a whole lot to say about individual Moabite men, and those texts that do talk about Moabite men (like
This is probably because the Moabites, who were Israel’s close neighbors, were primarily of concern to the Israelites when it came to war or Moab’s political alliances with Israel’s enemies or to intermarriage. So what Moabite men and women did amongst themselves wasn’t really important to the biblical authors. It only mattered when they interacted with the Israelites in some way.
The alleged sexual promiscuity of the Moabite women was primarily a concern to biblical authors who believed that these women would lead Israelite men into worshiping Moabite gods (see
It’s also worth noting that there are some exemplary Moabite women in the Bible, including Ruth, one of King David’s ancestors (and therefore one of Jesus’s, too). In fact, the book of Ruth depicts Moabite women in a completely positive light and has nothing to say about Moabite men.