'Proselytes are as hard to Israel as a scab is to the skin': A Babylonian talmudic concept

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The rabbinic statement 'Proselytes are as hard to Israel as a scab' played a significant role in a developed negative approach towards converts documented in the Babylonian Talmud. The lecturing voice of the Talmud systematically used the phrase to support negative legislation and statements extending its scope from genealogical contexts and discouragement of marriage with converts to prohibition of their acceptance. Although it is attributed to a Palestinian Amora, a series of comparative analysis reveals the functions of the phrase as part of a Babylonian conceptual fabric. Late contributors to the prolonged processes of formation of the Talmud brought their perspectives to the front by implanting the phrase in new literary contexts and constructs. This evolution of thoughts and ideas reflects growing concern in the demarcation of the boundaries of Jewish identity, probably inspired by the Sassanid cultural environment, by genealogical anxieties, and by a tendency towards social immobility.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)22-48
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of Jewish Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Religious studies
  • Literature and Literary Theory


Dive into the research topics of ''Proselytes are as hard to Israel as a scab is to the skin': A Babylonian talmudic concept'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this