Question:

Regarding the Gentiles who repented of their wickedness and converted to Judaism (such as Ruth, and the 120,000 of Nineveh that repented), were they commanded to follow all the laws and commandments the same way as all Jews were? Did they then worship in the same way, offer sacrifices, etc.?

Answer:

There were provisions in the law of Moses for Gentiles to convert and become a part of the covenant. However, it wasn't for the purpose of obtaining forgiveness of sins. There were several classes in the law:

  • A foreigner, or Gentile, was person who was of another nationality, but was temporarily in Israel. A foreigner was expected to abide by the laws, but was excluded from the worship of God.
  • A sojourner or stranger was a person who was of another nationality, but was living on a permanent basis in Israel. A sojourner was expected to abide by the laws, but was excluded from the Passover unless he became circumcised. However, he could choose to offer sacrifices to God if he so desired.
  • A circumcised sojourner (called a proselyte in the New Testament) was equivalent to an Israelite in every way except he did not have a part of the land inheritance. He was expected to keep the Passover and sacrifices required of an Israelite.

"And the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, "This is the ordinance of the Passover: No foreigner shall eat it. But every man's servant who is bought for money, when you have circumcised him, then he may eat it. A sojourner and a hired servant shall not eat it. In one house it shall be eaten; you shall not carry any of the flesh outside the house, nor shall you break one of its bones. All the congregation of Israel shall keep it. And when a stranger dwells with you and wants to keep the Passover to the LORD, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as a native of the land. For no uncircumcised person shall eat it. One law shall be for the native-born and for the stranger who dwells among you" (Exodus 12:43-49).

"All who are native-born shall do these things in this manner, in presenting an offering made by fire, a sweet aroma to the LORD. And if a stranger dwells with you, or whoever is among you throughout your generations, and would present an offering made by fire, a sweet aroma to the LORD, just as you do, so shall he do. One ordinance shall be for you of the assembly and for the stranger who dwells with you, an ordinance forever throughout your generations; as you are, so shall the stranger be before the LORD. One law and one custom shall be for you and for the stranger who dwells with you" (Numbers 15:13-16).

"And if a stranger dwells with you in your land, you shall not mistreat him. The stranger who dwells among you shall be to you as one born among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God" (Leviticus 19:33-34).

Concerning the judicial law: "You shall have the same law for the stranger and for one from your own country; for I am the LORD your God" (Leviticus 24:22).

By marrying Boaz, Ruth became the equivalent of a circumcised stranger. Those in Nineveh were foreigners. While they heeded God's warnings and repented of their sins, nothing indicates that they converted (Jonah 3).