A friend of mine asked me from when a Non-Jew was allowed to make giyur (conversion); and on which Biblical verses it was based upon. I guess he wanted to know more about it's origin. So that's why I'm posting this question: From where in the Scriptures (and commentaries) can one trace back the origin for making giyur?


2 Answers 2


The doctrine of joining/converting to another's religions can be traced to the book of Leviticus from chapters 17-24. Cf. also Isaiah 56:6. In practice, we have it recorded in the book of Ruth whose subject was a convert.

See the thorough background of this topic and its subsequent development in Prof. G. F. Moore's 'Judaism' vol. 1 pg. 323ff.

  • What does Leviticus 17-24 have anything to do with conversion? That talks about lots of things, but nowhere does it discuss conversion. Isaiah 56:6 talks about “foreigners who attach themselves to Hashem,” using the Hebrew phrase בני נכר, which invariably refers to either Jews who sin to anger Hashem (a מומר להכעיס) or to a full non-Jew (thus this verse refers to those Jews who do Teshuvah or those non-Jews who keep the 7 mitzvos). If it meant what you say it meant it would say גרים not נכרים. The only part that’s correct is the book of Ruth.
    – DonielF
    Commented Nov 5, 2018 at 10:42
  • @DonielF 1. Read my response carefully. I wrote “The doctrine can be traced...”. IOW, hints that conversions already occurred can be traced back to those chapters to the inferences of (inclusionary) laws pertaining to gerim too. 2. Re. Isaiah; backing up your assertions with critical evidence would be more compelling arguments. For now: Isaiah referring then to “העמים”, immediately after, wouldn’t jive with your reading 3. Re. last remark; also incorrect. You clearly didn’t look up the English book I cited which you’d have noted is the correct citation and a highly pertinent reference.
    – Oliver
    Commented Nov 5, 2018 at 14:12
  • 1. You mean 19:24 וכי יגור אתך גר? You quote eight perakim when only one passuk in them mentions conversion? 2. Rashi to Shemos 12:43 3. If you’re going to defend your answer by saying that the main points are in the book you cite, then this ought to be flagged as link-only.
    – DonielF
    Commented Nov 5, 2018 at 16:12
  • @DonielF No, I’m not referring to 19:33. Read slowly from chapters 17 and on and you will see other mentions. 2. Rashi there is quoting the Mechilta’s drasha which, incidentally, teaches that “כל בן נכר” includes gentile alike. 3. Sorry, but unfamiliar with the “link-only” criteria you’re referring to.
    – Oliver
    Commented Nov 5, 2018 at 16:47
  • 2. Read my comment again. I said that the passuk in Yeshaya referred to Jewish בני נכר coming close, i.e., doing Teshuvah, as well as non-Jewish ones, i.e., Geirei Toshav. I see now that Targum Yonasan interprets the passuk differently, as “the non-Jews who attach themselves to the nation of Hashem to serve it.” 3. See here, esp. the second paragraph and the succeeding list of bullet points, as well as the fifth bullet point here.
    – DonielF
    Commented Nov 5, 2018 at 16:58

The children of Israel that went out of Egypt and accepted the Torah were the very first converts.

We read in Deuteronomy 10,19 ואהבתם את הגר כי גרים הייתם בארץ מצרים - You shall love the stranger (convert) for you were strangers in Egypt.

In fact the gemora describes the laws of converts in Yevamos 46a - b אמר ר' חייא בר אבא אמר ר' יוחנן לעולם אין גר עד שימול ויטבול וכיון דלא טביל נכרי הוא - a person isn't a convert until he is circumcised and ritually immerses. (we are commanded to circumcise in genesis 17,12 ובן שמנת ימים ימול לכם כל זכר לדרתיכם- eight days old shall you circumcise for future generations) באבות נמי טבילה הוה מנא ליה - How do we know ritual immersion happened with our fathers מהכא (Exodus 24,8) ויקח משה את הדם ויזרוק על העם וגמירי דאין הזאה בלא טבילה - From here (at Mount Sinai just before accepting the Torah) "and Moses took the blood and threw it on the the people" and we have a tradition that there is no sprinkling without ritual immersion.

From here we see that before the giving of the Torah the Jewish nation were not Jewish yet and they required circumcision which they did before eating the pascal lamb in Egypt prior to leaving as it say Exodus 12,43: ויאמר יהוה אל משה ואהרן זאת חקת הפסח - And G-d said to Moses and Aaron this is the law of the Paschal lamb - and then it says in verse 12,48 וכל ערל לא יאכל בו no uncircumcised can eat it.

They then did immersion as stated above.

From here we learn how all converts embrace Judaism and a sincere acceptance of all the torah and mitzvot via the rabbis is also required like our forefathers said at mount sinai when Hashem offered them the Torah ויקח ספר הברית ויקרא באזני העם ויאמרו כל אשר דבר יהוה נעשה ונשמע - And Moses took the Torah and he recited it in the ears of of all the people, and they said all Hashems words we shall do and listen to.

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