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Difference Between Hebrew and Jew

Hebrew vs Jew
 

People of different countries are known by different names. For example, the people of Japan are called Japanese; people from India are called Indians, and so on. In this respect, the people of Israel seem to have many different options as the outside world uses the words Israelites, Jews, and also Hebrews for the people who have any connection with Israel. These terms are not synonymous or interchangeable, but people incorrectly use both Jew and Hebrew as terms for people of Israel. This article attempts to find out the differences between these two terms namely Jew and Hebrew.

Of all the people on earth, God chose Abraham, to be the man for himself. He called him Hebrew after one of Abraham’s ancestor Eber, and promised to make his descendants great and numerous. God had a plan of redemption for himself and selected a lineage, so he was the first God of Issac, then God of Jacob. Jacob was renamed Israel by God. He had 12 sons who were heads of 12 Israel tribes. Judah (Yehudah) was the 4th son of Jacob. The word Jews or Yehudi is derived from the root of this word Judah that means praise. This tells us that God created Jews as praise for himself.

Of the two terms Jews and Hebrews, Hebrew is the older and seems to have come from Eber who was the great, great, great grandfather of Abraham. However, Abraham has been described as the first Hebrew. Jacob, who was renamed Israel, and all his sons later became slaves in Egypt. God calls all the descendants of Israel, leading a life of bondage in Egypt, as Hebrews. As Hebrews were also sons of Israel, they are also referred to as Israelites.

Among the 12 tribes of Israel, it was the tribe headed by Judah, and his descendants, who are referred to as Jews. Thus, it is not Abraham, Isaac, Israel, or even Judah who happen to be Jews but the descendants of the tribe of Judah that consist of Jews. But, in Bible, the word Jews has been used interchangeably with Hebrew and also with the term Israel. By the time Yeshua (Jesus) was born in 3 BCE, Jew and Hebrew became synonymous with each other.

Hebrew vs Jew

Abraham was chosen by God to be the first Hebrew while his grandson Jacob was given the name Israel by God. Thus, all descendants of Jacob are called Israelites, irrespective of the fact whether they live in modern day Israel or not. Hebrew is a term that refers to Eber, an ancestor of Abraham. Jew is a later term that seems to have originated with the southern tribe of Judah, one of the 12 sons of Israel. The word Jew became very popular later on to refer to God’s chosen people. This is because of the fact that, except the southern tribe of Judah, all other tribes had virtually been decimated with the fall of Samaria in 722 BC. Thus, all Hebrews came to be known as Jews and also Israelites.


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