A Moabite shall not (Deternomony 23:3), but did ennter (Ruth 1:4; 4:10, 13, 17) the congregation of the Lord. Is there a contradiction?
What is meant by entering the “congregation of the LORD”? Some have suggested it refers to participation in the religious service; others say it refers to serving in some capacity (ie. elders or judges). It does not refer to simply being in the nation or in the land. Notice the verse in context:
He who is emasculated by crushing or mutilation shall not enter the assembly of the LORD. One of illegitimate birth shall not enter the assembly of the LORD; even to the tenth generation none of his descendants shall enter the assembly of the LORD. An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter the assembly of the LORD; even to the tenth generation none of his descendants shall enter the assembly of the LORD forever… (Deuteronomy 23:1-3)
Leviticus 21:17-21 is a similar text, identifying who could not approach to make an offering in the temple. Not being able to officiate in the temple is not exclusion from the nation. The same is true of those spoken of in Deuteronomy 23.
Elimelech, Naomi & their sons went from Judah into the land of Moab to escape a famine (Ruth 1:1-2). Elimelech died in Moab. Naomi stayed, and her sons married Moabite women (Ruth 1:4). Her sons died, and Naomi was left with her daughters-in-law. Orpah went back to her family, but Ruth did not (Ruth 1:7-18).
Eventually she married Boaz and bore a son, Obed (4:17). Among her descendants was her great-grandson, David. He worshiped God at the tabernacle and served Israel in a public capacity. Since Deuteronomy 23:3 excludes the descendent of a Moabite for 10 years, is there a contradiction?
Contradictions involve two irreconcilable statements. Someone not obeying may be a violation of a law, but is not a contradiction. That said, I don’t believe David’s service as king violated God’s law—it was God who chose him!
Many laws given by Moses were specifically to men. This may be the case here (see v 1). Had Boaz been a Moabite, that would have been an issue, but Ruth’s ethnic origin was of no consequence.
There is no contradiction.
A response to 1001 Bible Contradictions.