Biblical Texts

From Abraham to Ruth conversion has always been a central trope in biblical literature.  This section has most of the quotes from the biblical text about conversion. These texts are the foundations on which other later authors built their attitudes toward converts and conversion.

 

Genesis 12:1-5

 

א וַיֹּ֤אמֶר יְהוָֹה֙ אֶל־אַבְרָ֔ם לֶךְ־לְךָ֛ מֵאַרְצְךָ֥ וּמִמּוֹלַדְתְךָ֖ וּמִבֵּ֣ית אָבִ֑יךָ אֶל־הָאָ֖רֶץ אֲשֶׁ֥ר אַרְאֶךָּ: ב וְאֶעֶשְׂךָ֙ לְג֣וֹי גָּד֔וֹל וַאֲבָ֣רֶכְךָ֔ וַאֲגַדְּלָ֖ה שְׁמֶ֑ךָ וֶהְיֵ֖ה בְּרָכָה: ג וַאֲבָרְכָה֙ מְבָ֣רֲכֶ֔יךָ וּמְקַלֶּלְךָ֖ אָאֹ֑ר וְנִבְרְכ֣וּ בְךָ֔ כֹּ֖ל מִשְׁפְּחֹ֥ת הָאֲדָמָה: ד וַיֵּ֣לֶךְ אַבְרָ֗ם כַּאֲשֶׁ֨ר דִּבֶּ֤ר אֵלָיו֙ יְהֹוָ֔ה וַיֵּ֥לֶךְ אִת֖וֹ ל֑וֹט וְאַבְרָ֗ם בֶּן־חָמֵ֤שׁ שָׁנִים֙ וְשִׁבְעִ֣ים שָׁנָ֔ה בְּצֵאת֖וֹ מֵחָרָן: ה וַיִּקַּ֣ח אַבְרָם֩ אֶת־שָׂרַ֨י אִשְׁת֜וֹ וְאֶת־ל֣וֹט בֶּן־אָחִ֗יו וְאֶת־כָּל־רְכוּשָׁם֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר רָכָ֔שׁוּ וְאֶת־הַנֶּ֖פֶשׁ אֲשֶׁר־עָשׂ֣וּ בְחָ֑רָן וַיֵּצְא֗וּ לָלֶ֨כֶת֙ אַ֣רְצָה כְּנַ֔עַן וַיָּבֹ֖אוּ אַ֥רְצָה כְּנָעַן:

Adonai said to Abram, “Go forth from your native land and from your father’s house to the land that I will show you.  I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your our name great, and you shall be a blessing.  I will bless those who bless you and curse him that curses you; and all the families of the earth shall bless themselves by you.”  Abram went forth as Adonai had commanded him. And Lot went with him.  Abram was seventy-five years old when he left Haran.  Abram took his wife Sarai and his brother’s son Lot, and all the wealth that they had amassed, and the persons that they had acquired in Haran and they set out from the land of Canaan.

 

 

Leviticus 19:33-34

 

לג וְכִי־יָג֧וּר אִתְךָ֛ גֵּ֖ר בְּאַרְצְכֶ֑ם לֹ֥א תוֹנ֖וּ אֹתוֹ: לד כְּאֶזְרָ֣ח מִכֶּם֩ יִהְיֶ֨ה לָכֶ֜ם הַגֵּ֣ר | הַגָּ֣ר אִתְכֶ֗ם וְאָהַבְתָ֥ לוֹ֙ כָּמ֔וֹךָ כִּי־גֵרִ֥ים הֱיִיתֶ֖ם בְּאֶ֣רֶץ מִצְרָ֑יִם אֲנִ֖י יְהוָֹ֥ה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם:

When a stranger resides with you in your land, you shall not wrong him.  The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as one of your citizens; you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers I the land of Egypt:  I am Adonai, your God.

 

 

Exodus 12: 48-49

 

מח וְכִי־יָג֨וּר אִתְךָ֜ גֵּ֗ר וְעָ֣שָׂה פֶ֘סַח֘ לַיהֹוָה֒ הִמּ֧וֹל ל֣וֹ כָל־זָכָ֗ר וְאָז֙ יִקְרַ֣ב לַעֲשֹׂת֔וֹ וְהָיָ֖ה כְּאֶזְרַ֣ח הָאָ֑רֶץ וְכָל־עָרֵ֖ל לֹא־יֹ֥אכַל בּוֹ: מט תוֹרָ֣ה אַחַ֔ת יִהְיֶ֖ה לָאֶזְרָ֑ח וְלַגֵּ֖ר הַגָּ֥ר בְּתוֹכְכֶם:

If a stranger who dwells with you would offer the Passover to Adonai, all his males must be circumcised;  then he shall be admitted to offer it; he shall then be as a citizen of the country.  But no uncircumcised person may eat of it.  There shall be one law for the citizen and for the stranger who dwells among you.

 

 

I Isaiah 14:1

 

א כִּי֩ יְרַחֵ֨ם יְהֹוָ֜ה אֶת־יַעֲקֹ֗ב וּבָחַ֥ר עוֹד֙ בְּיִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל וְהִנִּיחָ֖ם עַל־אַדְמָתָ֑ם וְנִלְוָ֤ה הַגֵּר֙ עֲלֵיהֶ֔ם וְנִסְפְּח֖וּ עַל־בֵּ֥ית יַעֲקֹב:

But Adonai will pardon Jacob, and will again choose Israel, and will settle them on their own soil.  And strangers shall join them and shall cleave to the House of Jacob.

 

 

Jeremiah 4:1-2

 

א אִם־תָשׁ֨וּב יִשְׂרָאֵ֧ל | נְאֻם־יְהֹוָ֛ה אֵלַ֖י תָשׁ֑וּב וְאִם־תָסִ֧יר שִׁקּוּצֶ֛יךָ מִפָּנַ֖י וְלֹ֥א תָנוּד: ב וְנִשְׁבַּ֨עְתָ֙ חַי־יְהֹוָ֔ה בֶּאֱמֶ֖ת בְּמִשְׁפָּ֣ט וּבִצְדָקָ֑ה וְהִתְבָּ֥רְכוּ ב֛וֹ גּוֹיִ֖ם וּב֥וֹ יִתְהַלָּלוּ:

If you return, O Israel

--declares Adonai--

If you return to Me,

If you remove your abominations from My presence

And do not waver,

And swear, “As Adonai lives,”

In sincerity, justice, and righteousness—

Nations shall bless themselves by you

And praise themselves by you.

 

 

Isaiah 42: 6-7

 

ו אֲנִ֧י יְהֹוָ֛ה קְרָאתִ֥יךָ בְצֶ֖דֶק וְאַחְזֵ֣ק בְּיָדֶ֑ךָ וְאֶצָּרְךָ֗ וְאֶתֶנְךָ֛ לִבְרִ֥ית עָ֖ם לְא֥וֹר גּוֹיִם: ז לִפְקֹ֖חַ עֵינַ֣יִם עִוְר֑וֹת לְהוֹצִ֤יא מִמַּסְגֵּר֙ אַסִּ֔יר מִבֵּ֥ית כֶּ֖לֶא י֥שְׁבֵי חשֶׁךְ:

I Adonai, in My grace, have summoned you,

And I have grasped you by the hand.

I created you, and appointed you

A covenant people, a light of nations—

Opening eyes deprived of light,

Rescuing prisoners from confinement,

From the dungeon those who sit in darkness.

 

Psalm 25:12-14, 20

 

יב מִ֚י זֶ֣ה הָ֭אִישׁ יְרֵ֣א יְהֹוָ֑ה י֭וֹרֶ֗נּוּ בְּדֶ֣רֶךְ יִבְחָר: יג נַ֭פְשׁוֹ בְּט֣וֹב תָלִ֑ין וְ֭זַרְע֗וֹ יִ֣ירַשׁ אָרֶץ: יד ס֣וֹד יְ֭הֹוָה לִירֵאָ֑יו וּ֭בְרִית֗וֹ לְהוֹדִיעָם:

כ שָׁמְרָ֣ה נַ֭פְשִׁי וְהַצִּילֵ֑נִי אַל־אֵ֭ב֗וֹשׁ כִּי־חָ֘סִ֥יתִי

Whoever fears Adonai,

he shall be shown what path to choose.

He shall live a happy life,

and his children shall inherit the land.

The counsel of Adonai is for those who fear Him;

to them He makes known His covenant.

 

Protect me and save me;

Let me not be disappointed,

for I have sought refuge in You.

 

Ruth 1:14-19

יד וַתִשֶּׂ֣נָה קוֹלָ֔ן וַתִבְכֶּ֖ינָה ע֑וֹד וַתִשַּׁ֤ק עָרְפָּה֙ לַחֲמוֹתָ֔הּ וְר֖וּת דָּ֥בְקָה בָּהּ: טו וַתֹ֗אמֶר הִנֵּה֙ שָׁ֣בָה יְבִמְתֵ֔ךְ אֶל־עַמָּ֖הּ וְאֶל־אֱלֹהֶ֑יהָ שׁ֖וּבִי אַחֲרֵ֥י יְבִמְתֵךְ: טז וַתֹ֤אמֶר רוּת֙ אַל־תִפְגְּעִי־בִ֔י לְעָזְבֵ֖ךְ לָשׁ֣וּב מֵאַחֲרָ֑יִךְ כִּ֠י אֶל־אֲשֶׁ֨ר תֵלְכִ֜י אֵלֵ֗ךְ וּבַאֲשֶׁ֤ר תָלִ֨ינִי֙ אָלִ֔ין עַמֵּ֣ךְ עַמִּ֔י וֵאלֹהַ֖יִךְ אֱלֹהָי: יז בַּאֲשֶׁ֤ר תָמ֨וּתִי֙ אָמ֔וּת וְשָׁ֖ם אֶקָּבֵ֑ר כֹּה֩ יַעֲשֶׂ֨ה יְהֹוָ֥ה לִי֙ וְכֹ֣ה יֹסִ֔יף כִּ֣י הַמָּ֔וֶת יַפְרִ֖יד בֵּינִ֥י וּבֵינֵךְ: יח וַתֵ֔רֶא כִּי־מִתְאַמֶּ֥צֶת הִ֖יא לָלֶ֣כֶת אִתָ֑הּ וַתֶחְדַּ֖ל לְדַבֵּ֥ר אֵלֶיהָ: יט וַתֵלַ֣כְנָה שְׁתֵיהֶ֔ם עַד־בֹּאָ֖נָה בֵּ֣ית לָ֑חֶם וַיְהִ֗י כְּבֹאָ֨נָה֙ בֵּ֣ית לֶ֔חֶם וַתֵהֹ֤ם כָּל־הָעִיר֙ עֲלֵיהֶ֔ן וַתֹאמַ֖רְנָה הֲזֹ֥את נָעֳמִי:

They broke into weeping again, and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law farewell.  But Ruth clung to her.  So she said, ‘See, your sister-in-law has returned to her people and her gods.  Go follow your sister-in-law.’  But Ruth replied, ‘Do not urge me to leave you, to turn back and not follow you.   For wherever you go, I will go; wherever you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my God.  Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried.  Thus and more may Adonai do to me if anything but death parts me from you.’  When Naomi saw how determined she was to go with her, she ceased to argue with her, and the two went on until they reached Bethlehem.