← Back

Why are God’s chosen people given three different names in different portions of scripture?

Why are God's chosen people called "Hebrews" 18 times: OT, 3 times, NT, "Israelites" 16 times: OT, 2 times: NT and "Jews" 89 times: OT, 168 times: NT? I believe the amount of times mentioned should give us some clues about our Lord’s message.

Exodus 9:15

ESV - 15 For by now I could have put out my hand and struck you and your people with pestilence, and you would have been cut off from the earth.

Clarify Share Report Asked June 21 2021 Mini Anonymous

Community answers are sorted based on votes. The higher the vote, the further up an answer is.

Mini Tim Maas Retired Quality Assurance Specialist with the U.S. Army
I would express it by saying that the terms "Hebrew", "Israelite", and "Jew" (in that order) represent a progressive narrowing of references to God's chosen people (although the terms are all commonly interpreted as applying to the inhabitants of the nation of Israel as a whole),

"Hebrew" was originally applied to the descendants of the patriarch Eber (Genesis 11:16-26), and specifically to those of Abram/Abraham, identifying him as a descendant of Eber (Genesis 14:13), leading to the application of that term to him as the founder of the Jewish nation, and later to his descendants as a whole.

"Israelite" narrowed the scope of Abraham's descendants to the twelve sons of his grandson Jacob (founders of the twelve tribes of Israel). Jacob was given the name "Israel" (meaning "he who strives with God") by the being (possibly a theophany of the pre-incarnate Christ) with whom Jacob wrestled, as indicated in Genesis 32:22-32. 

"Jews" derives from the descendants of Jacob's son Judah, who was the patriarch of one of the only two of the twelve Israelite tribes (along with the tribe of Benjamin) that remained visible to history after the carrying away of the ten "lost tribes" into exile by the Assyrians (2 Kings 17). (However, the tribe of Benjamin was also very nearly eradicated, as indicated in Judges 19-21.) It was through the tribe of Judah that King David was descended, as well as Jesus (through His mother).

June 22 2021 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

Add your Answer

All answers are REVIEWED and MODERATED.
Please ensure your answer MEETS all our guidelines.

What makes a good answer? ▼

A good answer provides new insight and perspective. Here are guidelines to help facilitate a meaningful learning experience for everyone.

  1. Adhere to the eBible Statement of Faith.
  2. Your answer should be complete and stand-alone.
  3. Include supporting arguments, and scripture references if possible. Seek to answer the "why".
  4. Adhere to a proper tone and spirit of love and understanding.
  5. For more info see The Complete Guide to eBible
  1. 4000 characters remaining