Question to JW's concerning the "HEBREWS" and the "JEWS". Are Jews, Hebrews and vice-versa?

Greetings friends, recently someone claiming that they are a real Hebrew made in part the following statement here on Yahoo Answers... and I quote:

"The Jews are not Hebrews, the term Jew is not a Hebrew. Jews are not Hebrew and Hebrews are not Jews. Jews are white people who claim to be Hebrew but they are not. These same Jews control much of the Abrahamic religions including the Jehovah's Witnesses."

As outrageous as I find this statement to be, I unfortunately could not provide an answer to this person because of having run out enough space (wording) in my answer to properly address this and the person doesn't allow email through Yahoo Answers.

I don't wish for there to be ANY confusion among sincere individuals who may be of Middle Eastern background that may read this person's statement.

Soooo, based on your accurate knowledge of the Scriptures and material from the governing body of Christ's "faithful and discreet slave" ('Insight on the Scriptures Vol 2' heading "JEW(ESS)", page 73, 74) can you PLEASE accurately address the question of are Jews, Hebrews and vice-versa (Matthew 24:3, 45-47)?

Thank you and may Jehovah be with and bless you. :-)

13 Answers

  • Rick G
    Lv 7
    9 years ago
    Best Answer

    First lets look at the history of "Jew".

    *** it-2 p. 73 Jew(ess) ***

    The name is not used in the Bible account prior to the fall of the ten-tribe kingdom of Israel. The southern kingdom was called Judah, and the people were called sons of Judah or the tribe of the sons of Judah. The first one to use the name Jews was the writer of the books of Kings, doubtless Jeremiah, whose prophetic service began in 647 B.C.E. (See 2Ki 16:6; 25:25.) After the exile the name was applied to any Israelites returning (Ezr 4:12; 6:7; Ne 1:2; 5:17) and, finally, to all Hebrews throughout the world, to distinguish them from the Gentile nations. (Es 3:6; 9:20)

    Now the word Hebrew.

    *** it-1 pp. 1065-1066 Hebrew, I ***

    As the above texts show, the designation “Hebrew” was already familiar to the Egyptians in the 18th century B.C.E. This would seem to indicate that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had become quite well known over a wide area, thus making the appellative “Hebrew” a recognizable one. When Joseph spoke of “the land of the Hebrews” (Ge 40:15) to two of Pharaoh’s servants, he doubtless referred to the region around Hebron that his father and forefathers had long made a sort of base of operations. Some six centuries later the Philistines still spoke of the Israelites as “Hebrews.” During the time of King Saul “Hebrews” and “Israel” were equivalent terms. (1Sa 13:3-7; 14:11; 29:3)

    Hebrew and Jew are names for the same people at different times. Both involve being descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. While Esau was from Abraham, the term has never been applied to him, nor to any of the descendants of Lot, Abraham's nephew.

    With the destruction of the 10 tribe kingdom of Israel, the term reflected the fact that the main surviving tribe, Judah, was now dominate, and the name "Jew" means "of the tribe of Judah".

    What the man is arguing is that what is called "Jews" today are "invaders" on the rights of Abraham. That is clearly a false premise.

    The words of Peter and Paul settled the issue. With the end of the special status that Jews had under the Law, all mankind are equal before Jehovah, and acceptable to him as his servants.

    (Romans 1:16-17) 16 For I am not ashamed of the good news; it is, in fact, God’s power for salvation to everyone having faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek; 17 for in it God’s righteousness is being revealed by reason of faith and toward faith, just as it is written: “But the righteous one—by means of faith he will live.”

    (Romans 10:11-12) 11 For the Scripture says: “None that rests his faith on him will be disappointed.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for there is the same Lord over all, who is rich to all those calling upon him.

    In a way though it is true the Jehovah's Witnesses are "controlled" by the "Jews".

    (Galatians 6:15-16) 15 For neither is circumcision anything nor is uncircumcision, but a new creation [is something]. 16 And all those who will walk orderly by this rule of conduct, upon them be peace and mercy, even upon the Israel of God.

    With the founding of the Christian Congregation at Pentecost a new nation was formed, not out of any one tribe or nation, and with a everlasting future ahead. These "spiritual Jews", Christ's brothers, do have the authority to care for Christ's interests and his followers.

    The problem the man has is his bigotry, and I doubt any amount of reasoning will sway him.

  • 9 years ago

    *** it-1 pp. 1065-1066 Hebrew, I ***

    The designation “Hebrew” is first used for Abram, distinguishing him thereby from his Amorite neighbors. (Ge 14:13) Thereafter, in virtually every case of its use, the term “Hebrew(s)” continues to be employed as a contrasting or distinguishing designation—the one speaking is of a non-Israelite nation (Ge 39:13, 14, 17; 41:12; Ex 1:16; 1Sa 4:6, 9), or is an Israelite addressing a foreigner (Ge 40:15; Ex 1:19; 2:7; Jon 1:9), or foreigners are mentioned (Ge 43:32; Ex 1:15; 2:11-13; 1Sa 13:3-7).

    As the above texts show, the designation “Hebrew” was already familiar to the Egyptians in the 18th century B.C.E. This would seem to indicate that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had become quite well known over a wide area, thus making the appellative “Hebrew” a recognizable one.

    When Joseph spoke of “the land of the Hebrews” (Ge 40:15) to two of Pharaoh’s servants, he doubtless referred to the region around Hebron that his father and forefathers had long made a sort of base of operations. Some six centuries later the Philistines still spoke of the Israelites as “Hebrews.” During the time of King Saul “Hebrews” and “Israel” were equivalent terms. (1Sa 13:3-7; 14:11; 29:3) In the ninth century B.C.E. the prophet Jonah identified himself as a Hebrew to sailors (possibly Phoenicians) on a boat out of the seaport of Joppa. (Jon 1:9) The Law also distinguished “Hebrew” slaves from those of other races or nationalities (Ex 21:2; De 15:12), and in referring to this, the book of Jeremiah (in the seventh century B.C.E.) shows the term “Hebrew” to be then the equivalent of “Jew.”—Jer 34:8, 9, 13, 14.

    In later periods Greek and Roman writers regularly called the Israelites either “Hebrews” or “Jews,” not “Israelites.”

  • Ryan
    Lv 4
    9 years ago

    Hebrews was written by Paul in Rome and completed in 61 C.E. As Clarke’s Commentary, Volume 6, page 681, says concerning Hebrews: “That it was written to Jews, naturally such, the whole structure of the epistle proves. Had it been written to the Gentiles, not one in ten thousand of them could have comprehended the argument, because unacquainted with the Jewish system; the knowledge of which the writer of this epistle everywhere supposes.” This helps to account for the difference of style when compared with Paul’s other letters.

    To answer your question in the Christian Greek Scriptures the term “Hebrew” is used particularly in designating the language spoken by the Jews (John 5:2; 19:13, 17, 20; Acts 21:40; 22:2; Revelation 9:11; 16:16), the language in which the resurrected and glorified Jesus addressed Saul of Tarsus. (Acts 26:14, 15) At Acts 6:1 Hebrew-speaking Jews are distinguished from Greek-speaking Jews.

    Source(s): A Witness of Jehovah (Isaiah 43:10)
  • 3 years ago

    Janelle, I think you have misstated the position when you say that "Messianic Jews…consider themselves people who are ethnic Jews who have 'converted' to Christianity." The word "convert" implies that Jews cease to be Jews once they believe Yeshua or Jesus is the Messiah. On the contrary, Messianic Jews argue that they remain Jewish even after they accept that Yeshua or Jesus is the Son of God. They see Yeshua as the fulfilment of the messianic prophesies in the Hebrew scriptures. Recently messianic-believing congregations in Israel were recognised as a legitimate part of Judaism for tax purposes. Yeshua was a Torah-observant Jew as were all his talmudim or disciples, and the majority of first century believers were also Jewish. Ironically early theological arguments were about whether Gentiles could be followers of the Jewish Messiah, not the other way round. It was only later when politics came into play and the centre of the early church was relocated to Rome that the Jewish roots of early Christianity were suppressed and finally extinguished, fanned by the anti-semitic writings of people such as Chrystotom and later Martin Luther. Heather

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  • 9 years ago

    Parts of his statements are outrageous. JWs make no claim to be Jews or Jewish ancestory.

    Jews does refer spiritually to the 144,000, but not genetically.

    The others have given good answers.

    Genetic Jews are descendants of Judah, a brown race (Israelites are a branch of the Syrian race). Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and their wives were Hebrews (for language and ancestor and I think perhaps a city name also such as Hebron but not sure). Jews are one tribe descended from Abraham.

    Most modern Jews are converts and not true genetic descendants. Temple records were destroyed though so no actual geneological records are available to confirm anyone stating he was an actual Hebrew would have no record evidence to back it up. Same with descent from any of the 12 tribes.

    The guy sounds like he has a money grudge against Jews and little actual knowledge of the facts.


  • 9 years ago

    It's easier to remember that "Jew" is really a shortened from of "Judean," that is, someone from Judea. Judea was the southern kingdom of Israel, the one taken into exile to Babylon, whereas the northern kingdom was conquered by the Assyrians. The people of the northern kingdom weren't preserved very well as far as bloodline goes, and couldn't trace back their ancestry accurately. But the Judeans taken into exile in Babylon were for the most part able to preserve their ancestry (genealogical records).

    So a Judean or Jew became a label for Hebrews from the land of Judea, and not necessarily only those from the tribe of Judah. The terms are interchangeable and have been since the exile.

    There is DNA evidence that all the Jews of the diaspora have common ancestry, and the date is set at about the time of the exile.

    There really is no evidence that the Jews aren't true Hebrews, other than theologically motivated preconceptions.

    Skin color is not a good indicator of Hebrew ancestry. There are white Jews in Europe, olive colored Jews in the Mediterranean, and black Jews in Africa. This can be caused with just a tiny bit of breeding with other racial groups. This doesn't make anyone less Hebrew-ish - remember, Jesus' had Rahab and Ruth as ancestors - women who weren't Hebrews. This didn't make David or the Davidic line tainted Hebrews.

  • 4 years ago

    Besides the long dissertation by Mark S, Black Hebrew Israelites are not accepted by the majority of the Jewish community. They are a mix of Christian and Jewish doctrines put together by an African-American man in the 1890s. He was impressed by Marcus Garvey's Back to Africa movement and the faith of some of Garvey's white Jewish friends. He met a man from Ethiopia who told him of the black Jewish community there, and was impressed enough to organize a religious group based on those ideas. Messianic Jews (all apologies to Mark S) do consider themselves people who are ethnic Jews who have converted to Christianity, so I don't know how they would consider the BHIs part of the same movement.

  • 9 years ago

    I am sorry I do not have time to relate any references but according to scriptures Hebrews were those who came from Abraham's forefather Eber. In time Abraham and his decedents came to be the sole people called Hebrews. The Hebrews in time came to be called Israelites as the 12 tribes formed from the 12 sons of Jacob, who was called Israel. They continued to speak the Hebrew language. The Israelites in the time, of the Babylonian rise to dominance, came to be called Jews and they continued to speak Hebrew. Therefore is safe to say that Jews are the descendants of the Hebrews and who still speak the Hebrew language. The name Jew was used back in the 7th century B.C.E. before they were conquered by Babylon when caucasians lived in the Mediterranean and Europe. This person may be thinking that white persons that have converted to the Jewish religion as being Jews, as if it is a modern name. Jews can be called Hebrews because they speak the language and their forefathers were called Hebrews. One who speaks the Hebrew language as a born Jew originating from the Middle East can be called a Hebrew.

  • 9 years ago

    Thumbs up to Abernathy and Rick G!

    Genetic Jews, or Jews that can trace their genealogy to around the 1st century CE are Hebrews. People who converted to Judaism are still Jews, but obviously not Genetic Jews/Hebrews. The third sentence in your quote sounds racist as it specifies one shade of human, as if other shades have not converted to Judaism. Lastly, the last sentence in your quote is totally without foundation and fictional. It's an antisemitic conspiracy theory.

  • 9 years ago

    Others have done a sufficient job of answering the question of "Hebrews" versus "Jews."

    Something to does this all fit in with Revelation 3:8-9, bearing in mind that this is from a letter dictated by Jesus to the church in Philadelphia?

    "I know your deeds. Behold, I have put before you an open door which no one can shut, because you have a little power, and have kept My word, and have not denied My name. Behold, I will cause those of the synagogue of Satan, who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie—I will make them come and bow down at your feet, and make them know that I have loved you."

    Personally, I think it applies to any group that advocates replacement theology (that they have replaced Israel as the only chosen of God), particularly in light of the 11th Chapter of Romans.

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