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Judaism, Jews, Israel, and Hebrew

Jewish people are best described in modern terms as an ethnoreligious group, defining their rules of membership as well as their rules of practice. Modern concepts of ethnicity, religion, and nationality are not entirely sufficient to capture the millennia-long meaning of Jewishness. Being Jewish is a mix of being born into a Jewish community, and of behavior according to the regulations of the community. Judaism is the religious practice of Jewish people.

The word Judaism comes from Judah-ism and means means of the people of Judah — referring to people from the tribe of Judah. This was one of the twelve tribes which constituted the nation when it came into existence. The word Jewish comes from Judah as well. This is used in many languages, and by Jews, to refer to Jewish people, although other terms exist as well.










يهودي Yahudi

يهود Yahud

اليهودية Al-Yahudia










יהודי Yahudi

יהודים Yahudim

יהדות Yahudut

The Jewish view is that Jews have a common ancestor: Jacob, and before Jacob, of course, going back to Adam. Jacob's condensed family tree is below, including the twelve tribes of Jacob, who gained the second name Israel. The tree below uses the notation of personal name + ben (son of) + father’s personal name for clarity.

  • אברהם בן תרח Abraham ben Terah
    Abraham was born with the name Abram.

    • יצחק בן אברהם Isaac ben Abraham

      • יעקב בן יצחק Jacob ben Isaac
        Jacob was given the name Israel by an angel, hence the phrases Twelve Tribes of Israel or Land of Israel and terms such as Israelites among others.

        • ראובן בן יעקב Reuben ben Jacob

        • סימאון בן יעקב Simeon ben Jacob

        • לוי בן יעקב Levi ben Jacob

        • יהודה בן יעקב Judah ben Jacob

        • איזכר בן יעקב Isacchar ben Jacob

        • זבולון בן יעקב Zebulun ben Jacob

        • גד בן יעקב Gad ben Jacob

        • אשר בן יעקב Asher ben Jacob

        • דן בן יעקב Dan ben Jacob

        • נפתלי בן יעקב Naphtali ben Jacob

        • יוסף בן יעקב Joseph ben Jacob

          • Joseph's tribe was split into two half tribes out of respect from his sons, who were each given elevated designation as their own tribes, unlike other grandchildren of Jacob.

          • אפרים בן יוסף Ephraim ben Joseph

          • מנשה בן יוסף Manasseh ben Joseph

        • בנימין בן יעקב Benjamin ben Jacob

Hebrew is the language of the Jewish people. It is descended from ancient Aramaic, which was the lingua franca of West Asia in antiquity. The term Hebrew is also used to refer to the Jewish people, sometimes. It is etymologically related to words meaning to cross — it may refer to Jewish people immigrating, or it may refer to Jewish people standing across from the idolatrous nation. Abraham is sometimes referred to as Abram Ha-Ibri, meaning Abram the Hebrew, before his name was changed to Abraham.