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Jew (Jews)

The name “Jew” is derived from the patriarch Judah. At first, it was give to one belonging to the tribe of Judah or to the separate kingdom of Judah (2 Kings 16:6; 25:25; Jer. 32:12; 38:19; 40:11; 41:3), in contradistinction from those belonging to the kingdom of the ten tribes, who were called Israelites.

During the Captivity, and after the Restoration, the name, however, was extended to all the Hebrew nation without distinction (Esther 3:6, 10; Dan. 3:8, 12; Ezra 4:12; 5:1, 5).

Originally, this people were called Hebrews (Gen. 39:14; 40:15; Ex. 2:7; 3:18; 5:3; 1 Sam. 4:6, 9, etc.), but after the Exile this name fell into disuse. But Paul was styled a Hebrew (2 Cor. 11:22; Phil. 3:5).

The history of the Jewish nation is interwoven with the history of Israel and with the narratives of the lives of their rulers and chief men. They are now [1897] dispersed over all lands, and to this day remain a separate people, “without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image [Revised Version ‘pillar,’ marginal note ‘obelisk’], and without an ephod, and without teraphim” (Hos. 3:4).

There are three names used in the New Testament to designate this people,

  1. Jews, as regards their nationality, to distinguish them from Gentiles.

  2. Hebrews, with regard to their language and education, to distinguish them from Hellenists, i.e., Jews who spoke the Greek language.

  3. Israelites, as respects their sacred privileges as the chosen people of God.

“To other races we owe the splendid inheritance of modern civilization and secular culture; but the religious education of mankind has been the gift of the Jew alone.”

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