On this site conversion history, an article states it's about:

The evolution of Israel as a nation into Judaism as a religion was paralleled by a move from assimilation of strangers to a more formal idea of conversion.

I became to wonder how today's view of non-jews joining the nation, is different from the view given by the Tenach.

(And do we as Jews need to teach the 'world' about HaShem and his Torah in order that they should follow Him?)

  • Note that the article cited seems to conflate before matan torah at Sinai and after. As a result, it does not understand the rules. Commented Mar 20, 2016 at 12:38
  • In that case my question is still the same: How is today's view different (from the described periods within the Tenach) pre-Sinai period, and compared to the situation after Sinai (when going to enter the land)?
    – Levi
    Commented Mar 20, 2016 at 13:35
  • 1
    Related to your parenthesized question, see "Is there a mitzva to make known the truth of Judaism to non-Jews", and the other questions in the "Linked" section there.
    – Tamir Evan
    Commented Mar 20, 2016 at 14:02

1 Answer 1


You updated your question to talk about the time before Matan Torah and the time after Matan Torah. Technically, the entire nation "converted" by accepting the torah and became a "religion" as well as a nation. After that, if a person wanted to join Bnai Yisrael, they had to go through the formal procedure before a bais din, go to the mikavah, and if a male, have a bris milah. Before then thre was no official bais din, but we see that they had to join the family of Avraham Avinu, which implies accepting Hashem and having bris milah, but in the way that Avraham converted the men and Sarah converted the women.

That is, before matan torah, just as the avos accepted the mitzvos as "ainah metzuva ve-osa", so too their students and those who married into the family accepted it on that basis. After matan torah, they had to undergo conversion in the same way that Bnai Yisrael did at Har Sinai. We learn the methodology from Rus. Technically, from that time on conversion was the same way as we do it today.

We learn this, not only from Rus, but from the stories of Hillel and Shamai and the geirim that Shamai rejected because he thought they were mocking Judaism and Hillel accepted because he saw how to bring them in.


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