In the old testament (particularly genesis,) why did the Jews not evangelize?


Why did Abraham not go into Sodom and Gomorrah and try to convert them. Also in genesis did god reveal himself to non-jews (example worshipers of baal)? If not, why not?


I guess he didn’t think of it at the time.


Umm… I’m sure it’s more complex. Lol


Abraham did speak to God. He begged God to spare Sodom and Gomorrah from destruction.

Jonah traveled to Nineveh and told them to repent, and they did, and they were spared.


God knows the heart. To me, he knew it was pointless to evangelize St Paul style in OT times. That is why Jesus came in the fullness of time and not before.


Israelites (and later, Jews), were never a missionary people. They were quite exclusivist, well aware of their “chosen people” status. Even today, Jews will not evangelize or proselytize. They will welcome God-fearing pagans, and even would set aside a courtyard of the Temple for them, but they believed the covenants were for them and them alone. If wanted to be incorporated, he had to be circumcised, but they would not go out and spread their religion.


I am only speculating, so I could well be mistaken, but I do not believe there is the same imperative to evangelise in Judaism the way there is in Christianity. The Jews were the chosen people, and that was that. They weren’t concerned with trying to get people to join them because Gentiles were ‘other’, not part of the chosen.


This. It is my understanding that the Jewish faith is rooted in racial identity more than anything else. If you are descended from Abraham, you are one of the chosen people. If you are not, then you can be grafted in, but it doesn’t really matter in the end since some Jewish scholars don’t even really believe in an afterlife. It’s all very exclusive. Jesus’ command to “preach to all nations” was a total game-changer.


One of the reasons Jews did not and do not evangelize is that they believe coming to Judaism on one’s own is the most sincere way to accept the faith. Evangelization is equated with coercion to some degree, and it is thought that people who convert in that way may not be sincere. Even when a person does seek to convert, he is turned away three times to make sure he is serious about taking on the challenges and responsibilities of becoming a Jew.


Actually, it is the opposite of exclusivity. That is, Judaism does not believe one must become Jewish to lead a good and meaningful life or to be saved. In fact, some rabbis will say that being Jewish does not fit everyone’s temperament or lifestyle. This is a second reason why evangelization is not considered imperative.


They weren’t of the line of Abraham would be my guess.


For practical reasons:

Later empires gradually became more tolerant of multiculturalism (this was true to some extent with Babylon and the Greeks, but more so with Rome) and the religious and philosophical ideas that came with it. This was in order to preserve the peace and to avoid having to constantly crush rebellions. Even within the historical books of the Torah, such as in Nehemiah, you can notice a form of multiculturalism at work, where the Babylonians are tolerant of the Jews - along with other groups - for the sake of preserving peace within the vast territory they controlled. This is how the Jews were able to reconstruct their temple while under long-term occupation.

Although the Christians still suffered much martyrdom in the early Church because of their radicalism, they were still able to move about and spread the faith.

Contrast that to other scenarios. Even in our modern day there is very little evangelization that occurs deep in the Islamic world because of the hostility towards the faith or state laws that impede this from happening. In the case of Abram’s day, Palestine was fractured and Sodom & Gomorrah violently corrupt. Not to mention that there was no Church nor was there yet such a thing as Judaism. It would have been a devout monotheist with his family and flocks of animals walking into a suicide mission.

God of course could have protected him and performed miracles, but it wasn’t yet time for that (Jesus later tells us that it will be more bearable for Sodom at judgment than for Tyre, because Tyre was blessed with signs).

For spiritual reasons:

Evangelization wasn’t really a thing until the Apostolic Age. There’s nothing in the Levitical Law telling people to go make disciples, although there were some sects who did something like that anyway. A reoccurring command (a command which was constantly broken, including by the kings and especially the corrupt kings of the northern kingdom) was NOT to mix with the pagan neighboring nations. That’s how Solomon fell from God’s favor. The ancient Jews were focused on survival and the preservation of their faith.


Gotcha. Thank you for the correction. :slight_smile:


You’re very welcome.


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