Who is “Judah” and the “Jew”?

All understanding comes from the writings of the prophets (Old Testament or Tanach: they are one and the same) in light of the Mashiach’s death for our sin, His burial and His resurrection the third day. The Law and the Prophets prophesy or foretell the Christ’s death for our sins, His burial and His resurrection the third day. Yeshua of Nazareth is the Mashiach.

The descendents of Avraham, Isaac and Yacob and the twelve tribes were called Yisrael after the name God gave to Yacob, Yisrael. Now David was a king of Israel, and his son, Solomon, would be the lineage of the Seed of promise. “But king Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites, of the nations of which the Lord said unto the children of Yisrael, You shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you, for surely they will turn your heart after their gods. Solomon clave unto these in love. And he had seven hundred wives, princesses and three hundred concubines, and his wives turned away his heart. For it came to pass when Solomon was old, his wives turned away his heart after other gods, and his heart was not perfect with the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father.” And Solomon did evil in the sight of the Lord and went after many idols, gods that were no gods. (1 King 11) “Wherefore the Lord said unto Solomon, “Forasmuch as this is done of thee, and thou hast not kept my covenant and my statutes, which I have commanded thee, I will surely rend the kingdom from thee and will give it to thy servant. Notwithstanding in thy days I will not do it for David thy father’s sake, but I will rend it out of the hand of thy son. Howbeit I will not rend away all the kingdom, but will give one tribe to thy son for David my servant’s sake, and for Yerushalem’s sake which I have chosen.”  (1 King 12) “So Yisrael rebelled against the house of David unto this day. And it came to pass, when all Yisrael heard that Jeroboam (Solomon’s servant) was come again, that they sent and called him unto the congregation, and made him king over Yisrael. There was none that followed the house of David, but the tribe of Yudah only.” Then Yisrael was divided into the kingdom of Yisrael (11 tribes) and the kingdom of Yudah. The kingdom of Yisrael was conquered, scattered and taken into captivity in 722 BC by the Assyrians. There was no decree by the Assyrians for them to return to the land. The kingdom of Yudah was conquered and taken into captivity in 586 BC by the Babylonians. To fulfill prophecy, Cyrus issued the decree 70 years later for those of captivity to return to the land. It was these of the kingdom and tribe of Yudah who returned to the land. It is those of Yudah who were called “Jews”.

Today, the word “Jew” is a misnomer. Jew is an anglicized/greekcized word for the Hebrew word, Yudah, the tribe of Yudah.  But presentlyit is applied to all the descendants of the twelve tribes of Yisrael. It also has reference to the practice of religion that remains. For after those of Yudah returned to the land from Babylon, two temples were built up. The last, the Temple of Herod,  was standing at the time of Yeshua the Mashiach. This temple was what Yeshua had in mind when He said “not one stone of this temple would be left standing”.  So Yudah had the temples and the priest and the service. And the kingdom of Yisrael had not the temples. The religion has come to be known as the religion of the Jews, or the Jewish religion.

It would be most accurate to call the inhabitants of Israel who are the descendants of Avraham, Isaac, Yacob and the twelve tribes, Hebrews. “For all Yisrael shall be saved”. Hebrews who speak the language of Hebrew in their land. And if we speak of the religion they practice, it could be called the religion of the Hebrews.

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