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We read in Yonah 1 about the men who traveled on a boat with Yonah. When the sea ceased storming we read:

"And the men feared the Lord exceedingly, and they made sacrifices to the Lord and made vows." (Yonah 1:16)

Rashi explains that they promised to convert (Rashi on Yonah 1:16)

Question: Why did they convert instead of becoming righteous gentiles? If Torah does not require everyone to convert why did they?

  • It sounds spontaneous to me, not something informed by a misunderstanding of torah (which, as gentiles, they presumably didn't know either way). – Monica Cellio Dec 18 '18 at 19:57
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    Keep in mind that prior to casting lots they prayed to their own gods to save them. No response. Jonah tells them that if they throw him overboard, "his" G-d will make the storm stop. That's what happened. I think that proof alone convinced them that if nothing else, when they pray, they should pray to the "Jewish" G-d. (Yes, it is one and the same, we know. But, perhaps, the event convinced them that being Jewish meant praying to the "Jewish" G-d.) – DanF Dec 18 '18 at 22:12
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    People tend to be rather greatful when their lives are saved. – Josh K Dec 19 '18 at 1:27
  • Is your question specific to these individuals? Can’t you ask why anyone would choose to convert? – Joel K Dec 19 '18 at 7:18
  • @JoelK Anyone is not written about in the Torah. These men are – Dan Weisberg Dec 19 '18 at 9:22

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