The Impurity of Gentiles in Second Temple Sources

Christine E. Hayes

in Gentile Impurities and Jewish Identities

Published in print December 2002 | ISBN: 9780195151206
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199834273 | DOI:
                      The Impurity of Gentiles in Second Temple Sources

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In a wide range of Jewish texts representing diverse groups in the Second Temple period, Gentiles are consistently portrayed as susceptible to moral rather than ritual impurity – in keeping with Pentatuechal precedent. Texts diverge, however, on the question of genealogical purity. For Philo, Josephus, and other writers who reject the Ezran democratization of holiness and extension of genealogical purity requirements to lay Israelites, conversion and marriage between Jews and converted Gentiles are permitted, while those who adopt the Ezran line view conversion as anathema, and intermarriage as a profanation of the holy seed of Israel. The different approaches to genealogical purity are illuminated by a discussion of Second Temple debates surrounding Gentile access to the sanctuary. Finally, the evidence for a principle of Gentile ritual impurity at Qumran is considered.

Keywords: conversion; genealogical purity; gentiles; holy seed; impurity; intermarriage; moral; Qumran; ritual; sanctuary

Chapter.  13314 words. 

Subjects: Biblical Studies

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