New Bible studies and devotionals sent to your email. The first one includes a free gift!
The first mention of the word Jew is in the book of 2 Kings.
2 Kings 16:6
6 At that time Rezin king of Syria recovered Elath to Syria, and drave the Jews from Elath: and the Syrians came to Elath, and dwelt there unto this day.
There is a reason this is the first time we hear the word mentioned. That reason is that until this time the people known as Jews were first known as Hebrews.
13 And there came one that had escaped, and told Abram the Hebrew; for he dwelt in the plain of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol, and brother of Aner: and these were confederate with Abram.
The family line of the Jews begins with Abram who was called a Hebrew. The word Hebrew is still in question today as to it’s origins but many believe it to be the name given to nomadic wanderers. This would certainly fit the case for Abram.
2 Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Judas and his brethren;
From the time of Abram (who had his name changed to Abraham) all the way to the time of Jacob, the descendants of Abraham were called Hebrews because of the family line. They all came from Abraham who was a Hebrew. They also all wandered together.
28 And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.
At this time the sons of Abraham who were originally called Hebrews took on a new name. They were now known as the sons of Israel. So these people are called by both names, Hebrew and Israel.
11 And God said unto him, I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall be of thee, and kings shall come out of thy loins; 12 And the land which I gave Abraham and Isaac, to thee I will give it, and to thy seed after thee will I give the land.
So here God tells Jacob, who is now known as Israel, that his descendants will become a nation and a company of nations. In other words they will have their own nation as a people and that one main nation would be made up of more than one nation at some time. This will be important to remember later.
10 The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.
One of the sons of Israel (Jacob) was called Judah. It is through the descendants of Judah that Jesus comes. If you would like to look it up you can see the line from Jesus all the way back to Him written in Matthew and Luke. Keep in mind that the Old Testament uses the name Judah but the new uses the names Juda or Judas.
The reason for this is the same reason Isaiah is also called Esaias. In Hebrew the name is Isaiah but in Greek it is Esaias. This is also why Yeshua in Hebrew is Jesus or Joshua in English. It is common for people of different languages to change the names or pronunciation of the name when speaking in another language.
But let’s continue. Before this prophecy can come to pass Judah must become a nation. Up until this point the children of Israel have been nomads wandering in different places without a land of their own. They eventually become slaves in Egypt as you probably know.
48 And when a stranger shall sojourn with thee, and will 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 one that is born in the land: for no uncircumcised person shall eat thereof.
After they leave Egypt God begins to take them on a journey to the land that they will finally call home. Before they get there God says that if a person keeps the Passover and is circumcised (as God required of those who would enter into the covenant of Abraham) then that person will no longer be seen as an outsider or foreigner. They will be seen as a descendant of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
They are basically adopted into the people of Israel. But the Bible never said they were to be joined to any tribe or to gain a portion of land with the tribes.
34 But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.
So the Bible does say they should not be SEEN as a stranger, but they do not BECOME part of the tribes of Israel. They are as step children so to speak.
So up to this point only those who have a family line going back to Abraham are considered to be Hebrews and Israel. This will continue and eventually Israel will enter the promised land. At that point they will take over the land and they will no longer be wanderers. They will have their own nation called Israel with the land divided between the tribes. Basically like the USA has land divided into states but it is one country.
At no point are the children of Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob called Jews all the way to this point. Once Israel settles in the land they enter into a time when they were without a king and God simply kept them in line through “judges.” It was a nation who had no king because God Himself was the king.
1 Samuel 8:4-7
4 Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah, 5 And said unto him, Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations. 6 But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto the Lord. 7 And the Lord said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.
And so now God gives them a king named Saul. You can read all about him and what went on with the line of kings in the books of 1 Samuel, 1 Samuel, 2 Kings, 2 Kings, 1 Chronicles, and 2 Chronicles. The main point though is that at this time they were a single nation called Israel. They still are not called Jews.
So first we see Saul, then David, then Solomon. They are a united people called Israel. But after Solomon dies his son Rehoboam became king. Still no one is called a Jew. But we are about to see it happen.
In 1 Kings 12 we read that because of the foolishness of Rehoboam there was a civil war that broke out in Israel. The kingdom was divided into two kingdoms. Remember earlier the Bible said that they would be a nation AND a COMPANY of nations? They began as one and ended up as two.
The north kingdom was still called Israel. The south kingdom however was called Judah in the Hebrew and Judea in the Greek. The people who lived in the kingdom of Judah were therefore called Judeans. It is from this that the word Jew comes from.
So the Jews are people from the southern kingdom of Israel called Judah. Remember earlier that the Bible said Judah would always have a king? It may as well have been saying the Jews will always have a king.
19 And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was Jesus Of Nazareth The King Of The Jews.
God Himself has always been the King of the Jews.
2 But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.
Bethlehem was a city in Judea. This makes Jesus a Judean…a Jew. This was due to His family line and His place of birth. Being Jewish is a national heritage and not a religion.
Judaism on the other hand is a religion. It is the belief in what the Torah says (which is the Old Testament). So Jesus was not a Christian (because there were no Christians at the time). Jesus would actually have believed in Judaism.
Even after Jesus was crucified and raised from the dead the term Christian was not known. The religion that currently existed was still Judaism.
14 But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets: 15 And have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust. 16 And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void to offence toward God, and toward men.
Paul said he worshiped God by believing what is taught in Judaism and believing that God has fulfilled His word to deliver sinners through the Christ (which means anointed one). This is what all those who believed in Jesus also thought of themselves. They did not see themselves as being a new religion. They saw themselves as people witnessing the promise of their religion (Judaism) coming to pass.
26 And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.
This is when people began to call those who believed in Jesus Christians. The Pharisees held onto Judaism as they understood it rather than as it was. They trusted in the works of the law and did not believe God had made a New Covenant. Which the Bible says they would in Acts 13:41.
But those now being called Christians (because they believed in the Christ)…well, they believed God had made a New Covenant with them. This is why we now have what is known as Judaism today (people still trying to live under the Old Covenant) and why we have Christians (People who believe in Judaism as Jesus did but they have taken a step out of the Old Covenant and into the new).
The reality is that Christianity is simply Judaism carried through into the New Covenant. It is the belief that not only did God promise these things, but God also delivered them!
25 For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision. 26 Therefore if the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of the law, shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision? 27 And shall not uncircumcision which is by nature, if it fulfil the law, judge thee, who by the letter and circumcision dost transgress the law? 28 For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: 29 But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.
Paul could say this because the law says that anyone who is uncircumcised will be cut off from his people. The law also says that not only must you be circumcised but you must obey all of the law. So when a person broke the law they broke the covenant and therefore their circumcision meant nothing. They were not considered to be Jews anymore because this would cut them off.
But even if an uncircumcised gentile were to come to Jesus and make Him Lord of their life it means that person has now become part of the kingdom of God. Since Jesus reigns from Judah, that makes even the uncircumcised person a Judean. Which in turn means they are called a Jew.
Bear in mind though that this is only in spirit and not in flesh. What that means is that a person may claim to be a Jew inwardly because they enter into the kingdom but outwardly they are still a gentile and not numbered as part of Israel. With that in mind please remember that this means when the Bible speaks of the literal Jewish people it does not include those who are “Jews inwardly.” So a gentile can not take something spoken of for the literal Jews and claim it as if it were spoken for him.
August 2, 2016 at 1:50 am | | No comment