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Proselyte

The Bible

Bible Usage:

Dictionaries:

  • Included in Eastons: Yes
  • Included in Hitchcocks: No
  • Included in Naves: Yes
  • Included in Smiths: Yes
  • Included in Websters: Yes
  • Included in Strongs: Yes
  • Included in Thayers: Yes
  • Included in BDB: No

Strongs Concordance:

 

Easton's Bible Dictionary
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 early times (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 (Ezekiel 47:22; 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; 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" (Exodus 20:10) 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."


Naves Topical Index
Proselyte

In Old Testament times a foreign resident
Exodus 20:10; Deuteronomy 5:14

In New Testament a person of Gentile origin who had accepted the Jewish religion, whether living in Palestine or elsewhere
Matthew 23:15; Acts 2:10; Acts 6:5; Acts 13:43


Smith's Bible Dictionary
Proselyte

(a stranger, a new comer), the name given by the Jews to foreigners who adopted the Jewish religion. The dispersion of the Jews in foreign countries, which has been spoken of elsewhere [DISPERSION, THE JEWS OF THE, THE], enabled them to make many converts to their faith. The converts who were thus attracted joined, with varying strictness, in the worship of the Jews. In Palestine itself, even Roman centurions learned to love the conquered nation built synagogues for them, (Luke 7:5) fasted and prayed, and gave alms after the pattern of the strictest Jews, (Acts 10:2,30) and became preachers of the new faith to the soldiers under them. (Acts 10:7) Such men, drawn by what was best in Judaism were naturally among the readiest receivers of the new truth which rose out of it, and became, in many cases, the nucleus of a Gentile Church. Proselytism had, however, its darker side. The Jews of Palestine were eager to spread their faith by the same weapons as those with which they had defended it. The Idum'ans had the alternative offered them by John Hyrcanus of death, exile or circumcision. The Idumeans were converted in the same way by Aristobulus. Where force was not in their power, they obtained their ends by the most unscrupulous fraud. Those who were most active in proselytizing were precisely those from whose teaching all that was most true and living had departed. The vices of the Jew were engrafted on the vices of the heathen. A repulsive casuistry released the convert from obligations which he had before recognized, while in other things he was bound hand and fool to an unhealthy superstition. It was no wonder that he became "twofold more the child of hell," (Matthew 23:15) than the Pharisees themselves. We find in the Talmud a distinction between proselytes of the gate and proselytes of righteousness,

  1. The term proselytes of the gate was derived from the frequently occurring description in the law the stranger that is within (Exodus 20:10) etc. Converts of thy gates this class were not bound by circumcision and the other special laws of the Mosaic code. It is doubtful however whether the distinction made in the Talmud ever really existed.
  2. The proselytes of righteousness, known also as proselytes of the covenant, were perfect Isr'lites. We learn from the Talmud that, in addition to circumcision, baptism was also required to complete their admission to the faith. The proselyte was placed in a tank or pool up to his neck in water. His teachers, who now acted as his sponsors, repeated the great commandments of the law. The baptism was followed as long as the temple stood, by the offering or corban.


Webster's 1828 Dictionary
Proselyte

PROS'ELYTE, noun [Gr. to come.] A new convert to some religion or religious sect, or to some particular opinion, system or party. Thus a Gentile converted to Judaism is a proselyte; a pagan converted to christianity is a proselyte; and we speak familiarly of proselytes to the theories of Brown, of Black, or of Lavoisier. The word primarily refers to converts to some religious creed.

PROS'ELYTE, verb transitive To make a convert to some religion, or to some opinion or system.