I have often heard that religious and traditional Jews are very concerned with intermarriage with non-Jews and strongly discourage it. But halachically, what is the support for the prohibition?

I am assuming here that the marriage performed would be a civil one or a Christian marriage or something like that.

I know that intermarriage with the seven nations is prohibited in Torah, as well as a few others, like Moabites. But even rabbis now say that the descendants of those nations are so diluted that we cannot really determine that anymore.

The following article attempts to address this question, and admits that the rabbis typically base their prohibition on the prohibition from Torah about Caananite nations:


But it does not seem to make a clear case that ALL non Jews are forbidden. Also, today the danger of avodah zarah is not as it was before - today most Westerners are either monotheists following one of the Abrahamic religions, or some variety of skeptic or apathetic. So, I would like to know the major source for the prohibition of intermarriage today, and what this source says about the consequences of such an intermarriage.

In fact, even the halachic question of who is a Jew seems to be based on rabbis parsing a verse in a strange way to say it goes by the mother. A literal reading of TaNaKh may suggest it actually goes by the father. So, what does it even mean to marry a Jew or non-Jew when the person isn't fully observant?

In your answer, if you could also address Deuteronomy 21 which describes marrying women captured in battle, that would help clarify the matter as well, since any halachic interpretation should probably address Torah commandments that would seem to be problematic for the interpretation.

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    Motion to close as "this sucks -- am I right?" You cite an article explicitly answering your question, and then say you don't like it and want something else. (I don't even understand what your second-to-last paragraph is saying.)
    – Double AA
    May 28, 2015 at 2:25
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    "the rabbis typically base their prohibition on the prohibition from Torah" No, that article does not describe that pheonomenon but rather the rabbis explaining what the prohibition from the Torah includes. There is no "derabanan" extension described in that article (see in particular footnote 2 therein).
    – Double AA
    May 28, 2015 at 2:30
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    Note also that Christianity (unlike Islam) is not monotheistic (as defined by Judaism) and is considered Avoda Zara. So concerns for Avoda Zara do very much abound in the Western World.
    – Double AA
    May 28, 2015 at 2:32
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    I am not (nor am I denying it). If you want to levy a particular criticism of it and ask for other suggestions that overcome a particular shortcoming, then that would be a reasonable question IMO. Start by accurately summarizing it and then explaining what the particular issue with it is.
    – Double AA
    May 28, 2015 at 2:41
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    I am not sure what you mean by "marry" -- a Jew CAN (not ("may") not marry a non-Jew because there can be no kiddushin as far as I understand it. Are you asking why that is, or why something else is forbidden?
    – rosends
    May 28, 2015 at 10:40

2 Answers 2


Your assumption is based upon an opinion in Talmud which is not the standard accepted opinion.

The Rambam and Shulchan Aruch codified the opinion of Rabi Shimon bar Yochai found in maseches Avoda Zara 36b stating that marriage to any nonjew is biblical, it was casual promiscuity I.e. znus which the beis din of Chashmonaim enacted their nashga/nashgaz against as a safeguard so as not to marry them.

See Rambam chapter 12 of hilchos Issurei Biah halacha 1&2 and Shulchan Aruch Even Ha'ezer siman 16 siff 1.

See also Aruch HaShulchan siff two who says even the other opinion who argues on the Rambam and rules that biblically only the seven nations are not allowed agrees that in a situation where the couple lives together and have continual conjugal relations, this would also be biblically prohibited.

  • Note though that other Rishonim argued on the Rambam, and the Tur and pseudo-Rama argue on the ShA as well. So "who [sic] we do not rule with" is a little strong.
    – Double AA
    May 28, 2015 at 15:26
  • @Double edited and updated. Sounds better?
    – user6591
    May 28, 2015 at 15:36
  • Interesting answer! I thought Jews for the most part followed the Shulhan Aruch as well as the Rama's gloss for the Ashkenaz. If Shulha Aruch rules one way, how did it get overridden? More stringencies and safeguards since then? May 28, 2015 at 16:05
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    Would it be alright if I asked that the answer be in 100% English ... because I am having trouble understanding. It's okay if a comment would be. Basically, is this correct: "marriage to any nonjew is biblical" means it's not allowed from the Bible? And the one who is doing the gloss brings a variant opinion that it's only the 7 nations? But nevertheless says that an unmarried couple living together continuously is biblically prohibited? How are these opinions supported, is my question. Or are they just asserted? May 29, 2015 at 4:46
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    @Gregory I can try to rewrite without the jargon. So far you are doing very well! The support for these opinions is based around the discussion in the Talmud I mentioned and how to understand a certain verse in Deuteronomy 7. It is not possible now to discuss whether the opinions are based on the exegesis, or that verses were found to support a long standing opinion. That is a different issue, relevant to much of the Talmud's exegesis. But in this discussion at hand, the Talmud makes very clear exactly what each opinion holds is biblically prohibited, and what was Rabbinicaly ordained.
    – user6591
    May 29, 2015 at 8:57

I believe the answer to your question is amply provided by Matt in the reference linked in the comments, namely, that the origin of the prohibition is disputed, but it seems that, at the very least, it is a very severe rabbinic prohibition.

I would add that rabbinic prohibitions are not (necessarily) of a lesser severity than biblical ones, and can indeed be more severe. This prohibition is a case in point since it can even be considered a capital offense, inasmuch as the Hasmoneans enacted that it is liable to 39*4=156 (נשג"ז/נשג"א) lashes which are potentially a death sentence, inasmuch as it is also liable to kareith midivrei kabbala (from the words of the prophets), and inasmuch as it is one of the prohibitions for which the rule is kana'im pog'in bo (zealots are allowed to extralegally execute him). Also, the reasoning mentioned explicitly in the verse by the seven nations, namely, of the gentile spouse leading one's children astray, is applicable whenever the spouse is not keeping the commandments one needs to impart on his children.

As far as literal readings of tanach, as noted in the 2nd footnote in the source you cite, halacha is not determined by the layman's literal reading of tanach (nor even by the expert's) and it is a central principle of Judaism that just as there is a written Torah, there is an oral one as well that came along with it.

Finally, the captor in the source you mention is halachically obligated to free the captive woman if she is not willing to undergo a full conversion.

(Perhaps you're better bet is in convincing her to convert as well. Though, AYLOR.)

  • That answer is talking about casual sex not marriage.
    – Double AA
    May 28, 2015 at 5:32
  • @DoubleAA Kol sheken. (My assumption is that the OP here is not talking about something platonic.)
    – Loewian
    May 28, 2015 at 5:34
  • What's the kol shekein? Marriage seems more chamur than casual sex, so if the latter is kal (weak restriction) you can't prove the former is chamur: dayo!
    – Double AA
    May 28, 2015 at 5:51
  • It does seem to be rabinic because king solomon married pharaoh's daughter. And ruth was married while not being Jewish. Zimri was done in a more public affair.
    – cham
    May 28, 2015 at 5:53
  • @DoubleAA Not getting what you're driving at. The answer there (explicitly) answers the question posed here as well.
    – Loewian
    May 28, 2015 at 14:29

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