Judaism is clear on the matrilineal descent. Yet it's not clear to me that the Matriarchs after Sarah were "Jewish" - they were Abraham's relatives, they were not Canaanites as requested by Abraham, but were they followers of Hashem as Abraham, Eliezer, Isaac was? I'm not clear on this distinction of being "Jewish" vs. being a "Hebrew." Abraham is the first Jew, but the Jewish people do not "officially" exist until Sinai.

Same goes for Joseph's wife - I've been told she underwent a conversion, but if Judaism didn't necessarily exist, then how? What's the difference then between her and Isaac and Jacob's wives?

Bottom line: Were the matriarchs after Sarah explicitly Jewish?

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    See judaism.stackexchange.com/q/8646/732 May 16, 2012 at 19:49
  • FWIW, There are opinions who say that Joseph's wife (Osnas) was actually the daughter of Dinah (and Sh'chem) which would make her Jewish matrilineally (assuming Dinah was).
    – HodofHod
    May 16, 2012 at 20:06
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    echoing the ideas in the related question, Abraham was not Jewish (both the term and the binding Mosaic law are anachronisms). Monotheistic followers of hashem were not identified as Jews nor were they bound by laws and titles given later, so the question's premise is flawed.
    – rosends
    May 16, 2012 at 23:36
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    Note that before Matan Torah Judaism went through the father (see Rashi at the end of Emor regarding the Mekalel's motivation to curse). This doesn't really help, though, since their wives weren't daughters of Avraham and his children.
    – DonielF
    Aug 5, 2016 at 21:24


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