I am a little confused by what appears to me to be a discrepancy between the halakha concerning gerus and Devarim 23:8-9.

The latter verse states that ‘Children born to [Edomites and Egyptians] may be admitted into the congregation of Hashem in the third generation.’

Does that mean that a convert, who is considered halakhically Jewish, is not, or was not, considered either an Edomite or an Egyptian prior to their conversion? I am confused because I have heard of many English / American etc. converts and I have been led to believe that these people were / are descendants of Esau (this source - https://www.thetorah.com/article/esau-the-ancestor-of-rome - says there is a midrash that equates Rome and Edom, and Britain and America were / are clearly descended, culturally, if not genetically, from the Romans).

Could someone explain to me who is an Edomite / Egyptian and who is not? I ask because I was born British, and my ancestors as far back as I know were / are British, and I am hoping to convert. I want to know whether I could be ‘admitted into the congregation’ in my lifetime.

Many thanks.

1 Answer 1


The rule is Edomites and Egyptians (ie. Copts) who convert can't marry natural born Jews but they can marry other converts. The same rule applies to their children. Only the third generation Jewish descendants can marry natural born Jews. (Shulchan Aruch EH 4:3-8)

Traditionally, the Assyrian king Sancheriv mixed up the nations of the Middle East during his conquests and therefore we don't know anymore who is a genetic Edomite; thus any gentile coming to convert can be assumed to come from the majority of non-Edomites. Sancheriv didn't conquer Egypt so it is a dispute if the same logic can be applied to a Copt. (Ibid. :9-10)

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    I have seen references that over the generations, even the Egyptians are no longer recognized so that every convert can be assumed to be one of the other nations. Thus, nowadays we no longer have the restriction of that pasuk. I have also seen that Nevudchadnetzar, Alexander the Great, and Rome also caused such a mixture when they conquered Egypt. Additionally, the Muslims mixed everyone up when they conquered the Middle East. Aug 24, 2021 at 15:51
  • @sabba that's the machlokes rambam and rosh that I referenced
    – Double AA
    Aug 24, 2021 at 15:52
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    OK thanks. Do you have the Rambam reference that I can look at? I think that you should have quoted the citation in the Shulchan Aruch and the Rambam. Aug 24, 2021 at 16:40
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    @sabba I did cite shulchan aruch, it's EH 4:10, rambam is in issurei biah end of chap 12
    – Double AA
    Aug 24, 2021 at 16:46

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