No Ammonite or Moabite shall be admitted into the congregation of the Lord; none of their descendants, even in the tenth generation-Deuteronomy 23:4

What is the significance of the ten-generation number that the torah uses in this verse? What is it about ten in this context that makes it significant?

2 Answers 2


With regards to a mamzer (Devarim 23:3), see Maayano Shel Torah, quoting a teaching from HaRav HaKadosh of Ostrovska (perhaps the Zichron Shmuel) :

A loose translation: Why does the Torah need to emphasize that a Mamzer is forbidden even after 10 generations?

There is an opinion in the Talmud Yerushalmi that a berya, a complete creature can become nullified if it is intermingled among a mixture of more that nine hundred and sixty.

If you calculate the percentage of a Mamzer that is left after 10 generations, it is 1/1024 - [Note that a Mamzer can marry a convert or descendant of converts. The child is still a Mamzer. Rambam, Hilchot Issurei Biah 15:7-8]

The child of a Mamzer and a non-Mamzerite woman would have 50% Mamzerness. [Halachically the child is completely a Mamzer, but biologically he is only half a Mamzer]

A grandson would have twenty-five percent from the father.

The third generation will have an eighth.

The fourth will have a sixteenth.

The fifth will have one thirty-second from the original mamzer.

The sixth will have one sixty-fourth.

The seventh generation will only have one out of one hundred and twenty-eight.

The eighth will have one out of two hundred and fifty-six.

The ninth will have one out of five hundred and twelve.

The tenth generation will only have one out of one thousand and twenty-four from the original mamzer.

Because one might argue that according to the minority opinion in the Talmud Yerushalmi the child my no longer be a Mamzer after 10 generations, the Torah explicitly refutes that claim.

I don't see why the same logic can't be used to explain why the Torah mentions 10 generations by a Moavite or Ammonite.

  • But normally "tenth generation" would include the original mamzer, so the tenth would be 1/512 of a mamzer...
    – Ypnypn
    Dec 22, 2015 at 2:05
  • "Halachically the child is completely a Mamzer, but biologically he is only half a Mamzer"
    – Menachem
    Dec 22, 2015 at 3:20
  • My point is that the "10th-generation => 1/1024" logic seems flawed.
    – Ypnypn
    Dec 22, 2015 at 4:54

I would argue that it refers to the Messiah. Ten generations form Adam to Noah. Ten from Noah to Abraham. Ten from Abraham to Moses of course Moses being from Levi of Ephraim. Isaac Jacob Joseph Ephraim shetulah Eran Levi kohath amram Moses.

  • 2
    Welcome to MiYodeya, Ari. Since MY is different from other sites you might be used to, see here for a guide which might help understand the site. Hope to see you around!
    – Joel K
    Apr 25, 2018 at 18:58
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    In terms of your answer here, it would be great if you could explain with a little more detail how you think the verse in Deuteronomy under discussion relates to the Messiah.
    – Joel K
    Apr 25, 2018 at 18:59

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