This article examines ambivalences regarding questions of ethics concerning foreign women in the Hebrew Bible. The Hebrew Bible contains a variety of positions on foreign women in different text genres. Ethical guidelines in legal texts of the Torah reach from the protection of strangers on the one hand (Ex 23:9), to demarcation of members of other groups as an ethical ideal on the other (Dtn 7:1–4). The book of Ruth, a tale about a foreign woman, serves as an example for narrative ethics. The story forms a counternarrative to debates about banning intercultural marriages during the time of the Persian province of Yehud (Esr-Neh). The narrative interprets the Torah in a creative way and presents ethical ideals like solidarity with the powerless and foreigners. Containing processes of reflection, the biblical texts train the eye for ethical problems and areas of conflict. Even if the texts cannot be directly transferred to contemporary discussions, they invite the reader to enter into this process of reflection. They make cases of conflict visible by means of individual examples.
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