Community answers are sorted based on votes. The higher the vote, the further up an answer is.
Although there is no direct mention of the time when the Jews and Gentiles became separated, there are two primary lines of thought. First, some view the separation occurring with the descendants o...
The answer will somewhat depend on whether you are seeking God's definition or an artificial definition by the traditions of Men. By God's definition there has never been such a separation. Paul was very clear about that in Galatians 3:28 when he said, "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus." and Ephesian 2:14 when he said, "For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us." The middle wall in the temple, beyond which the "gentiles" and women were not allowed to pass was always a tradition of men based on a misunderstanding of Ezekiel 42:20 "He measured it by the four sides: it had a wall round about, five hundred reeds long, and five hundred broad, to make a separation between the sanctuary and the profane (ordinary) place." This was a reference to the outer wall of the temple. Over the years we add our own understanding and thus "change" the definition of words, then impose those later definitions on the word of God written many years ago. In this way we can make a legitimate claim that an unadulterated word of God does not exist today. To get such an unadulterated word takes a lot of digging, first removing the changes in meaning in the English words over the centuries, then eliminating any translation errors, and adding back in things that are lost in translation because in no two languages will there be an exact match for every word in both languages. The word Jew is a shortened form of Judahite. Judahites are descendants of Judah, a son of Jacob. The word gentile comes from the Latin word gentilis which means of a family or nation, or of the same clan. This is the word Jerome used in writing the Latin Vulgate translation of scriptures when he encountered the Greek word ethnos, which means nation, or the Hebrew words goy (nation) or goyim (nations). When you study the scriptures in the original languages you find that references to goyim (nations) may or may not include Israel and Judah. It was not a term of separation. In fact Jesus said in Mark 11:17, "Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’?" This is a quote of Isaiah 56:7 and a reference to Solomon's prayer of dedication of the temple (1 Kings 8:23-53). Verses 41-43 speak of the foreigners who will hear of God and pray towards this temple, or even come to it to worship and they were to be treated by God as no different from the Israelites. As a nation Jews did not exist until after the death of Solomon. God caused this rebellion as a result of Solomon's sin. The prophecy is found in 1 Kings 11:29-39. The fulfillment of the prophecy is found in 1 Kings 12 and 2 chronicles 10. The name Israel went with the 10 northern tribes because Judah did not, and never did or will, possess the birthright, which scripture defines in this prophecy as the kingdom. Judah only possessed the right to rule the kingdom. The birthright went to the sons of Joseph (1 Chronicles 5:1, 2) and the birthright name, Israel, was given to them as well (Genesis 48:16). These are facts Christian theologians prefer to ignore, but which continue even into New Testament prophecy. Traditions of the Jews leading to and after the Babylonian exile is where these traditions of men began to cause this understanding that is so wide spread today, and against which Jesus and especially Paul fought so hard. The middle wall did not exist in Solomon's temple which was built to God's specifications, not to man's. As a clan within the nation Jews existed only after Judah had sons. The idea mentioned by Mr. Houdmann that the term applies to all the descendants of Seth is preposterous. Seth is not a descendant of one of his descendants from 13 generations later. His descendants are Semites, and Arabs cannot be antisemitic because they are Semites, the sons of Ishmael the son of Abraham.
In Genesis 14:12, Abram (Abraham) is called a Hebrew so, by that statement, we know that he and his family were identified as Hebrews (Israelites) though not called that until Abraham's grandson Jacob's name was changed by the Lord, even before Abram was renamed Abraham by God. This is included in the story of Abram's nephew Lot and his family and possessions being carried off by Kedorlaomer and his company of kings in battle with the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah. Abram was told of this by a man who escaped and Abram took his 318 trained men and recovered Lot and his family. Abram's meeting with Melchizedek and being blessed is also included in this story which is significant since Jesus is said to be of ' the order of Melchizedek' first in Psalm 110:4 and then five times in Hebrews, Hebrews 5:6 through Hebrews 7:17. Although Genesis 14 doesn't mention Gentiles, it does establish Abram as Hebrew. This clears up at least half the question of the separation of Jews and Gentiles. You could also say that anyone not of Abraham and Sarah's line, including Ishmael, is Gentile but I think that is probably premature since the full revelation of God's plan setting Israelites apart as a nation of priests doesn't occur until much later. And, because the Israelites kept turning away from the Lord, they managed to mess that plan up too. Of course God the Father knew that would happen because the Israelites were headstrong and disobedient. The Lord eventually revealed His covenant of grace for everyone, the mystery Paul writes of in Romans 16:25.
In the Garden when Cain killed Abel, a crucial element in God's plan took place, a murderer then emerged in the bloodline, that would eventually bring The Messiah. God then allowed Adam and Eve to bring forth Seth, which means" in the place of". Jesus bloodline went through him. Jesus was a jew,thus lines formed, between Cain's descendants and Seth's.Genesis 4:1-26.
The distinction between "Jew" and "Gentile" began with the revelation from God of the Mosaic Law. All those following Moses were initially known as Israelites, and eventually became known as Jews. Those who didn't obey the Mosaic law were called Gentiles by the Israelites. This was not an entirely bloodline distinction since Edomites and Egyptians were allowed into the congregation, for example (Deut 23:7-8) in the Old Testament. In the New Testament the Jews were known for actively seeking new converts from the Gentiles (Matt 23:15). From the Jewish point of view, all Christians are regarded as Gentiles. Abraham, although a Hebrew, was not a Jew since he wasn't under the Mosaic Law. Bloodline seems to be emphasized in the bible, but the ultimate truth is that spirituality determines descent. As Christ said unto the Jews, "If you were the children of Abraham, you would do the works of Abraham." (John 8:39). The true Jew will always exhibit Jewish spirituality.
All answers are REVIEWED and MODERATED.
Please ensure your answer MEETS all our guidelines.
A good answer provides new insight and perspective. Here are guidelines to help facilitate a meaningful learning experience for everyone.