Chapter

Gentiles and Genealogical Impurity: Converts and Their Offspring in Rabbinic Texts

Christine E. Hayes

in Gentile Impurities and Jewish Identities

Published in print December 2002 | ISBN: 9780195151206
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199834273 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0195151208.003.0008
                      Gentiles and Genealogical Impurity: Converts and Their Offspring in Rabbinic Texts

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The rabbis break with Ezra, Jubilees, and sectarian sources that democratize the priestly requirement of genealogical purity. According to the rabbis, genealogical purity is not an end in itself for ordinary Jews, but an optional matter relevant only in determining fitness for marriage into the priesthood and appointment to certain positions of leadership. Over the course of centuries, the rabbis took steps to eliminate the disadvantages of genealogical blemish and narrow the gap between native‐born and nonnative Jews. Two halakhic developments brought greater parity between native‐born Jews and converts: the gradual prohibition of unions between converts and persons prohibited to native‐born Jews (e.g., the mamzer) and the campaign to permit intermarriage between converts (or their descendants) and priests.

Keywords: converts; genealogical; mamzer; priests; purity; rabbis

Chapter.  16862 words. 

Subjects: Biblical Studies

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