We read how Avraham was going around convincing people to believe in one G-d and of his many students. Yet we don't hear of those students (or their descendants) ever again.

What happened to them all? Did they go back to paganism?

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    Could the people Abraham converted stuck with the Abraham family and ended up as the Erev Rav that left Egypt? Jul 6, 2014 at 21:21
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    "We read how Avraham was going around convincing people to believe in one G-d and of his many students" where do we read this?
    – mevaqesh
    Oct 18, 2015 at 22:06

6 Answers 6


Even the Jews abandoned monotheism and did avodah zarah in Egypt. So what are the chances that a small group of people in Cana'an would be able to keep their faith for hundreds of years? Perhaps some of them stayed monotheistic during Yitzchak's time, but they clearly assimilated into the surrounding population over the next few generations.


It appears that Isaac wasn't the charismatic, outgoing person that his father was, so they drifted off.

As observed by my mentor, Rabbi Francis Nataf.

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    I can understand that for the people Avraham brought to monotheism in the last years of his life, but what about the ones who had been monotheists for forty years by the time he died?
    – msh210
    Nov 15, 2011 at 19:04
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    @msh210, a friend of mine has sadly referred to certain religiously-influenced people as "wind-up toys."
    – Shalom
    Nov 15, 2011 at 19:08
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    Though it's equally possible they went back and lived their lives as ethical monotheists, no longer needing to stick to Avraham. That appears to be Jethro's path after leaving the Jews.
    – Shalom
    Nov 15, 2011 at 19:09

The Torah says that Avraham sent his children with gifts to the east. The Zohar (Zohar I:99b) implies that these gifts were religious ideas which were spread to India and to the philosophies of China. The Talmud (Sanhedrin 91a) says that these gifts were 'the name of Tumah.' Presumably this included the 300+ students that he had when involved with the war between the 4 and 5 kings.

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    From Rashi (Breshit 25:6) we learn that the children he sent with the gifts were the sons of Hagar (Keturah).
    – rony
    Nov 16, 2011 at 20:48
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    The zohar is quite clear on the point.
    – avi
    Nov 16, 2011 at 20:54

Rabbi Yoel Bin-Nun in this class argues that these people stuck around with the patriarchs and were joined by more people as time went on (these newer people included Yaakov's "kinsmen" who came with him from Aram (Beresheet 31:46)). These people probably settled in the Shechem area (after the Hivites of Shechem were killed by Shimon and Levi), seeing as the brothers seemed comfortable traveling in that area (ibid. 37:12), despite Yaakov's initial fear of staying there (ibid. 34:30), and seeing as both Yosef and the man he met on the road seemed to know one another, and the latter also knew the brothers well enough to direct Yosef (ibid. 37:14-17).

Finally, of all the places, Shechem is mysteriously missing from the list of conquered cities in Yehoshua 12:9-24), yet later appearing as a conquered city (ibid. 20:7). Most peculiarly, Shechem is chosen as the place were all of Yisrael are gathered and Yehoshua gives one of his very famous speeches, about how their forefathers were idolaters and in that place, he makes a covenant with the people, where they accept upon themselves the laws - this is seemingly redundant! They already accepted the laws upon themselves at Sinai. Why again, and why in Shechem of all places?

Rabbi Bin-Nun argues that this is because the covenant was not with Am Yisrael but with the descendants of the "Hebrews", i.e., the people who had been part of the pre-Sinaitic religion but had been left behind when Yaakov and his family went down to Egypt. In fact, the whole speech was for them - he was giving them a choice: Recommit fully to Torah and mitzvot and rejoin Am Yisrael, or else meet the same fate that the other nations of Canaan were met with. Am Yisrael were there as witnesses to the covenant.1

1 Rabbi Bin-Nun also argues this based on archeological finds that show that the only city in Canaan during the Habiru invasion that assisted the Habiru against the Egyptians was Shechem... (of course, this a controversial view because it is not at all clear whether there is in fact any connection between the Habiru and Bnei Yisrael).


Adding to what has been said.

The Yalkut Shimoni Remez 82 writes explicitly:

כל העבדים שנמולו עם אבינו אברהם לא נתקיימו לא הם ולא זרעם בישראל ולמה מלן בשביל טהרה שלא יטמאו את אדוניהם במאכליהם ובמשתיהם

All the slaves that were circumcised with our Patriarch Avraham did not endure in Israel, neither them nor their children. And why were they circumcised? In order to be pure so that they wouldn't defile their master with their food and their drink.

So at least from a basic level it would seem that they either dropped off the radar, died out or lost interest. Clearly their presence wasn't worthy of mention.


Given that it's an historical fact that many so-called "Indo-European" tribes were present in the region where Haran is located before and during the time of Abraham (approx 2 KY BCE), and given that the Jewish genome includes men belonging to R1a and R1b clades that are older than any found in Europe, isn't it also possible that at least some of the men were married into the family? Ditto for the women (Jews and Europeans share a suprisingly large number of y and mt DNA haplogroups in common. Not all of which can be explained away as the result of post Roman diaspora conversions).

Some say that R1a and R1b Jews (and by extension all Europeans) are really Edomites. But many recent studies of the genome of Jewish and Arab males belonging to clades of these haplogroups point firmly a pre Esavian origin. And given that yDNA haplogroups R1a, R1b, J1 and J2 all have a common ancestor in Haplogroup IJK, it's not beyond the realms of possibility that, ethnically, most Indo-Europeans are misidentified Semites and not Japhethites.

Which should be deliciously infuriating for certain far rightists on both sides of the racial divide.

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    This still does not answer the question as to what happened to the converts. Note that the question is what happened to the converts that Avraham "made" during the time of Yitzchak and Yaakov. Note that Yaakov's children had to have married and the genetic markers could have come from people marrying the sons and daughters of the shevatim. This does not answer what happened to the converts of Avraham to reduce the number of those who went to Mitzrayim to 70. Oct 19, 2015 at 0:00

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