I don't think there were any gerim amongst the nevi'im, but would it have been possible?

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    How is Sarah "easily described as not being a convert"? Did she have a more Jewish upbringing than the other matriarchs?
    – Isaac Moses
    Jan 11, 2013 at 15:12
  • 1
    @IsaacMoses did she have a less Jewish upbringing than Avraham?
    – yoel
    Jan 11, 2013 at 17:32
  • 1
    How do you distinguish either Avraham or Sarah from the other matriarchs on the "is similar to a convert" scale?
    – Isaac Moses
    Jan 11, 2013 at 17:40
  • 1
    @IsaacMoses It seems intuitive to me. I think there is an assumption that the other matriarchs converted prior to marrying Yitzchak and Yaakov, whereas I presume Sarah converted at the same time as Avraham.
    – yoel
    Jan 11, 2013 at 19:36
  • 3
    Balaam was a prophet and he wasn't even Jewish.
    – Daniel
    Apr 11, 2013 at 20:06

6 Answers 6


There is a tradition, recorded in various sources, that the prophet Ovadiah was an Edomite convert. This tradition is born of the fact that there is nothing within his short (one chapter) oracle that concerns Judeans or Israelites; the entire thing is an oracle about the Edomites instead.


  • Sanhedrin 39b;
  • Tanchuma, Tazria 8.

See also Rashi and Radak on Ovadiah 1:1.

  • 9
    Not to mention that there were non-Jews who had the gift of prophecy, including the rasha Billaam. If he could be a prophet, why not a convert? Jan 11, 2013 at 12:41
  • 3
    @BruceJames One could argue Billaam was given the gift of prophecy only to prove to gentiles that they did not refrain from repenting for lack of a prophet to guide them in God's ways( see Rashi on Bamidbar 22:5 s.v. "'Eretz Benei Amo"). So, one couldn't learn from that about gentiles qualifying to become prophets, or mi-Qal va-Chomer whether Gerim qualify either.
    – Tamir Evan
    Jan 11, 2013 at 13:39
  • @TamirEvan, except that he was not just a prophet for that one instance. He was a career-prophet. In addition, that does not negate the fact that, yes, non-Jews could be prophets. That's just a (possible) reason why G-d structured prophecy that way, not a proof that only one person ever was made a prophet outside of Klal Yisrael.
    – Seth J
    Jan 24, 2013 at 15:57
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    @SethJ I didn't say that Billaam's gift of prophecy was, in itself, limited, nor that non-Jews couldn't be prophets, nor that only one gentile was ever made a prophet( I wasn't even voicing my own opinion in the matter). I was saying that, according to the Rashi I cited, the bar for gentiles, especially Billaam, becoming prophets was lowered( to deny gentiles an excuse for not repenting), and one could not learn from them to Gerim who, like native born Jews, don't enjoy the same leniency( and have to be better qualified for prophecy).
    – Tamir Evan
    Jan 24, 2013 at 20:51

According to R. Yehudah Halevi, a convert cannot be a prophet. The question on R. Yehudah Halevi's view is that Chazal say Ovadiah was a convert. This question, which was raised by the commentators on the Kuzari, is addressed by R. Yitzchak Sheilat who suggests that R. Yehudah Halevi's view depends on a possible dispute in the Gemara about whether Ovadiah was a convert. According to the Rambam, R. Sheilat notes, a convert can certainly be a prophet.

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    Where is this dispute about if Ovadiah was a Prophet?
    – Double AA
    Jan 15, 2013 at 20:37
  • 1
    @DoubleAA I fixed his typo.
    – Ariel K
    Jan 17, 2013 at 0:12
  • Does anyone ask from Bilam or Job?
    – Baby Seal
    Jan 16, 2014 at 3:27
  • I saw today that Rabbi Uri Cherki writes in his commentary on the Kuzari that what the Rihal meant was that even if a convert becomes a prophet, his prophecies will be directed at the nation he originally came from and not to Am Yisrael. In Ovadiah's case, he was formerly of Edom so he prophecised on Edom.
    – Harel13
    Feb 20, 2020 at 15:36
  • @Harel13 interesting
    – wfb
    Feb 20, 2020 at 18:06

Chananya ben Azur was a prophet (until he went bad), and he was a Givoni, who are a nation of converts (Rashi on Yirmiyah 28:6).

  • 1
    how do we know he was ever a real Prophet? the title הנביא could mean prophet (lower-case) ie fake
    – Double AA
    May 14, 2015 at 5:20
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    @DoubleAA: Sanhedrin 89a says that his nevua was based on a kal vachomer, and it was a good kal vachomer except that the original nevua was said to Yirmiya and not to him.
    – Shamiach
    May 14, 2015 at 5:25
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    And further on the Gemara calls him originally a navi emes.
    – Shamiach
    May 14, 2015 at 5:27
  • 3
    @Shamiach Specifically on 90a: כגון חנניה בן עזור שמתחלתו נביא אמת ולבסוף נביא שקר.
    – Fred
    May 14, 2015 at 5:48

Tana D'Bei Eliyahu: " I testify on Myself heaven and earth, whether man or woman, whether gentile or Jew, whether slaveman or slavewoman, everyone according to his actions, the Ruach Hakodesh (Divine spirit) will dwell on him". from shaarei kedusha available here: http://dafyomireview.com/shaarei_kedusha.php?na=1

(i.e. anyone can reach Ruach HaKodesh even women, slaves, or non-Jews).

as far as being an official prophet, not clear

  • Is there any evidence about what the author of Tanna D'bei Eliyahu intended by "ruah hakodesh", such as other Geonic works as a reference point? What does it even mean to be "an official prophet"?
    – mevaqesh
    Jul 7, 2016 at 3:16

Not only did Adam and Ḥavah receive prophecy, but so did their son - after murdering his brother - and Noaḥ. And Lot and his family were visited and spoken to by angels. Hagar received prophecy after being exiled, and Pharaoh and his servants received prophetic dreams.

Certainly before Avraham there were no "Jews". Avraham himself "converted", if you can call it that, and so did all of Klal Yisrael, essentially, during the Exodus - and they all received prophecy at Har Sinai.

As for the status of Lot, he was either a "gentile" or a "convert", and the same would have been true of his family.

Similar for Hagar.

Pharaoh and his servants definitely were not Jewish, but, interestingly, Muslims believe that Pharaoh converted at the Sea in order not to drown (and I seem to recall a Midrash or something similar that he converted after everything - does anyone know if I'm making that up?).

  • Don't forget Lavan.
    – Double AA
    Jan 24, 2013 at 16:29
  • Good innovative answer I didn't think about adam, eve, and noah. But I'm not sure they converted. Did we really have conversion before the giving of the torah? And if it goes by region then clearly Avraham who was an "evri" would have been an Israelite. If you don't consider us a nation until after yaakov's name is changed then none of your examples apply. If you don't consider us a nation until har sinai then your examples don't hold either. Remember his question wasn't if non-jews could have prophecy, his question were if converts, as in now a jewish convert gets jewish prophecy from hashem.
    – JMFB
    Jan 7, 2016 at 12:21
  • @JMFB We do in fact see that Osnas bas Potiphar(a) converted. Rashi brings the Medrish. When Yackov wanted to bless Yosef s sons the Ruach Hakodesh left him and he thought there was a פגם in Yosef's sons so he said "Who's are these?" Yosef brought him Osnas' Kesuva and Gairus Papers! (Without knowing the Full Medrish or Explianian of Rashi many people think he only took out his marriage papers) So it's clear she had a conversion whatever that means.
    – Sochacz
    Jan 22, 2021 at 13:23

The question was specifically about converts becoming Jewish prophets,so here goes:

Sh'maya, Sage and President of the Sanhedrin, from a Mideastern religion

Avtalyon, Sage and Vice-President of the Sanhedrin, from a Mideastern religion

Bithiah, Moshe's foster mother from traditional Egyptian religion

Jethro priest of Midian and father-in-law of Moses from a Mideastern religion

Ruth, great-grandmother of King David, has her own book in the tanach

Osenath, from the Ancient Egyptian religion yoseph hatzadik's wife.

Zipporah, Moses's wife from a Mideastern or northern African religion

Yael, who saved the jews, and was the subject of devorahs song in judges

Onkelos, Hebrew scholar and translator wrote the targum-the only authoritative exposition of the torah(he added stuff), from ancient Roman religion. He spoke to deceased spirits in Gittin-56B, and asked them how israel would fare, then converted.

...were all converts. See any prophets in the list above? Doesn't it say in the Gemara that all tannaim were prophets? I believe Rambam said this as well but don't have the source for it, maybe somebody can add it.

  • 5
    I don't think any of the listed people are certified prophets.
    – Daniel
    Jan 7, 2016 at 15:21
  • 3
    "Doesn't it say in the Gemara that all tannaim were prophets?" No.
    – wfb
    Jan 7, 2016 at 17:12
  • -1 Bisya, Yisro, Rus, Tzipporah, and Yael were all converts, but none were prophets. Osenas wasn't a convert; her mother was Dinah. Onkelos, Shamaya, Avtalion, and all Tannaim, lived after the era of prophecy ceased, so they had no chance.
    – DonielF
    Apr 1, 2019 at 1:35
  • The Source for Asnas bas Potifra is the Medrish that Rashi brings were the Ruach Hakodesh departed from Yackov Avinu when he wanted to give Brachos to Menash & Efrayim. He asked Yosef "Mi Aila?"-Whose are these? Whereby Yosef took out his Kesuva and Osnanas' Geroris Papers, Showing that she Converted to Judiaism.
    – Sochacz
    Jan 22, 2021 at 13:04
  • To all: I'm pretty sure that Basia was in fact a Nevia, listed as one of the 7 Female Prophets...... But the Tannaim were certainly Not Prophets because the Era of Prophesy was over soon after the 2nd Bias Hamikdash (Chagi, Mishel, Azariah were last 3) There was Ruach Hakodesh like Daniel had.
    – Sochacz
    Jan 22, 2021 at 13:10

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