Rashi (Bamidbar 22.4.) says, that Balak was a midianite and Gemara (Sanhedrin 105:) says that he was a direct male-line ancestor of Ruth.

Why then Ruth is called Ruth, the Moabite?

  • 5
    Probably because they'd been living in Moab for a very long time
    – user15253
    Commented Jul 24, 2019 at 20:58
  • 1
    Midian was the son of Abraham (and Keturah) and Moab was the son of Lot, Abraham's nephew. So it's all in the family. :-) Commented Jul 24, 2019 at 21:02
  • She was from Moab and her father was the King of Moab. Should be reason enough ;) Commented Jul 24, 2019 at 21:30
  • 1
    She was decsended from Eglon through the fathers line who was Moabite, it could be Balaks duaghter married a Moabite man and they fathered Eglon so she Ruth the male lineage was from Eglonyet her matrilineage was from Bilam
    – user15464
    Commented Jul 24, 2019 at 21:53
  • My family is not originally from the United States but we're American.
    – ezra
    Commented Jul 25, 2019 at 2:43

2 Answers 2


The simple explanation would be מדרשות חלוקות, that the midrash that identifies Balak as Tzur (Kozbi's father) does not mesh with the midrashim that Ruth was descended both from Balak and Eglon, but that's always unsatisfactory.

Here's my suggestion, no source: It is clear that Ruth was indeed a Moabite through male-line ancestry - otherwise, there would have been no question as to whether she was allowed to marry Boaz, and the drasha of עמוני ולא עמונית, מואבי ולא מואבית would have been irrelevant. However, it is not clear that her ancestry to these kings was through direct male-line ancestry. Ruth was not literally the daughter of Eglon (as in Sanhedrin 105b), nor the granddaughter of Eglon (as in Nazir 23b), as there were more than 200 years in between - see Tosfos to Nazir 23b, ד''ה בת בתו של עגלון. As such, it also does not necessarily follow that the descent - either from Ruth to Eglon, or from Eglon to Balak (if that was indeed so) - was through the male line only.

  • If we're using midrash contradiction we can just say she didn't need that drasha to marry in because she indeed wasn't moabite. Maybe there indeed was never a doubt that she was fine.
    – Double AA
    Commented Jul 25, 2019 at 11:04
  • @DoubleAA If that was the case, then there would have been no question about Doviv Hamelech and Shmuel would not have needed to write Megillas Ruth. Commented Jul 25, 2019 at 13:06
  • @sabba Shmuel would have written Ruth for a different reason, not to prove that moavya is ok. You've just cited another midrash from that same set which this would be disagreeing with. No big deal
    – Double AA
    Commented Jul 25, 2019 at 13:07

The Rashi (to Bamidbar 22:4) that you quote writes:

בעת ההוא. לֹא הָיָה רָאוּי לְמַלְכוּת, מִנְּסִיכֵי מִדְיָן הָיָה, וְכֵיוָן שֶׁמֵּת סִיחוֹן מִנּוּהוּ עֲלֵיהֶם לְצֹרֶךְ שָׁעָה :

At That Time — [Balak] that time: he was not really entitled to the kingdom; he was actually one of the Midianite princes, but when Sihon died they (the Moabites) appointed him as king over them to meet the needs of the time (Midrash Tanchuma, Balak 4).

We can deduce from here that while technically Balak was from Midian (ie a Midianite prince), when he was appointed Moabite king he was now considered to be a Moabite.

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