One of the significant points of Jesus ministry and the evangelism done by the early apostles seems to be their going to "gentile" nations and preaching that they too were recipients of God's plan of salvation.

Are there any provisions for (or examples of) non-Hebrews in the OT? Was salvation strictly limited to a specific nation and race or was there a way in other than birth?

  • Isn't this a duplicate of one of the other questions you asked, e.g. What happens to people who have never heard about Jesus? or Who saved people before ~33AD?? Oct 10, 2011 at 11:35
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    @Wikis - it looks like a sort of combination, but I see it as different. The first question deals with an NT perspective on basically this question. The second question deals with Jews and this one deals with non-Jews specifically which actually makes it an incredibly interesting question.
    – wax eagle
    Oct 10, 2011 at 11:40
  • Shouldn't the title be "... for non-Hebrews" or "... for non-Israelites"? As far as I know, the term "jews" refer to the people of Juda and not the hebrews/Israelites in general.
    – Shathur
    Oct 10, 2011 at 11:57
  • @Shathur: Yes you're right. I made the change, thank you.
    – Caleb
    Oct 10, 2011 at 12:17

1 Answer 1


I think that the main way God used to lead people to himself was to use the people of Israel as an example, to show his glory, power and love through them, so that the surrounding peoples could see and accept that he is the only God.

One thing you could do, as a heathen of that time, was to convert and implant yourself in the state and people of Israel, just like we do today (though we are not referring to the state of Israel per se).

In the Old Testament, there are a number of people that were definitely people of God, although they were not Israelites. Four of them are Melchizedek, Jethro, Rahab and Ruth. Let's examine them, one by one:

Melchizedek was a priest of God and king in the city of Salem. Abra(ha)m was greeted and blessed by Melchizedek when they met. Melchizedek is mentioned in Genesis chapter 14. There is no mentioning of how Melchizedek had heard about God and there are many theories about this.

Jethro is introduced in Exodus 2:16, as a priest in the land of Midian. As far as I know, it is not explicitly stated that he was a priest of God, but in the 18th chapter, we can read that Jethro heard about what God had done for the people of Israel and praised him.

Rahab was a prostitute that lived in the city of Jericho. Before the siege, Joshua sent two spies to the city. For some reason they ended up in Rahab's house and she protected them from their enemies. She believed in God, for she had heard about what God had done for the people of Israel and put her faith in him. She asked the spies to protect her and her family and not let them perish with the rest of the people of Jericho and so they became a part of the Israelites, and Rahab became an ancestor to Jesus, our Savior.

Ruth was married to one of the sons of Naomi, a woman of the Israelites. She is mentioned in the book of Ruth. I think it is fair to assume that she heard about God from her mother- and father-in-law, and her husband. Later, she followed her mother-in-law back to the land of Israel and became a part of the Israelites, and ancestor to Jesus, our Savior, just like Rahab.

  • I've heard a few times that there are Jewish traditions equating Melchizedek with Shem, son of Noah, an ancestor of Abraham and father of the entire semitic (Shem-itic) lineage. Given that Melchi-zedek means "King of Righteousness," it could well be a title and not his given name. That's just speculation, though...
    – Mason Wheeler
    Oct 10, 2011 at 14:10
  • fwiw, Melchizedek was alive prior to the establishment of the Hebrew nation (since Abraham had not yet had any children). Also, you could see what happened to Rahab and her family during the conquest of Jericho - they were saved alive, and she is in the genealogy of Christ
    – warren
    Oct 10, 2011 at 15:05
  • Melchizadek probably isn't the best example here, as the Bible does not say where he came from. Ruth and Rahab are certainliy good examples.
    – Jay
    Oct 10, 2011 at 18:13
  • @MasonWheeler Okay that one's new to me. There's a lot of theories about Melchizedek. The reason why I don't really participate in that discussion is that it is too little to know and too much to speculate about.
    – Shathur
    Oct 11, 2011 at 6:39
  • @Jay I think that Melchizedek is a quite good example here. He is a priest of God before there even were priests of God. It is not a good example in the sense that it shows how someone could get saved, however, it is good in the sense that someone could get saved even without Israel.
    – Shathur
    Oct 11, 2011 at 6:42

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