Proselyte: Is used in the LXX. for "stranger"
(1 Chronicles 22:2) i.e., a comer to
Palestine; a sojourner in the land
(Exodus 12:48; 20:10; 22:21) and in the
New Testament for a convert to Judaism. There were such converts from
(Isaiah 56:3; Nehemiah 10:28; Esther 8:17) The law of Moses made specific
regulations regarding the admission into the Jewish church of such as
were not born Israelites
(Exodus 20:10; 23:12; 12:19,48; Deuteronomy 5:14; 16:11,14)
etc. The Kenites, the Gibeonites, the Cherethites, and the Pelethites
were thus admitted to the privileges of Israelites. Thus also we hear
of individual proselytes who rose to positions of prominence in
Israel, as of Doeg the Edomite, Uriah the Hittite, Araunah the
Jebusite, Zelek the Ammonite, Ithmah and Ebedmelech the Ethiopians.
In the time of Solomon there were one hundred and fifty-three
thousand six hundred strangers in the land of Israel
(1 Chronicles 22:2)
(2 Chronicles 2:17,18) And the prophets speak of the time as coming when the
strangers shall share in all the privileges of Israel
(Isaiah 2:2; 11:10; 56:3-6; Micah 4:1) Accordingly, in New Testament times,
we read of proselytes in the synagogues,
(Acts 10:2,7; 13:42,43,50; 17:4)
(Acts 18:7; Luke 7:5) The "religious proselytes" here spoken of were
proselytes of righteousness, as distinguished from proselytes of the
gate. The distinction between "proselytes of the gate"
and "proselytes of righteousness" originated only with the rabbis.
According to them, the "proselytes of the gate" (half proselytes) were
not required to be circumcised nor to comply with the Mosaic
ceremonial law. They were bound only to conform to the so-called seven
precepts of Noah, viz., to abstain from idolatry, blasphemy,
bloodshed, uncleaness, the eating of blood, theft, and to yield
obedience to the authorities. Besides these laws, however, they were
required to abstain from work on the Sabbath, and to refrain from the
use of leavened bread during the time of the Passover. The "proselytes
of righteousness", religious or devout proselytes
(Acts 13:43) were
bound to all the doctrines and precepts of the Jewish economy, and
were members of the synagogue in full communion. The name "proselyte"
occurs in the New Testament only in
(Matthew 23:15; Acts 2:10; 6:5; 13:43)
The name by which they are commonly designated is that of "devout
men," or men "fearing God" or "worshipping God."