Quotes About the Bible and History


John Bimson

Israelite, Hebrew or Jew?

"From the emergence of an Israelite state under Saul, we find the land called "the land of Israel" (eg 1 Sam 13:19; 2Kings 5:2; 2 Chron 34:7; Ezek 7:2 etc). This should not be understood to mean "the land called Israel", for in the Old Testament period "Israel" was first and foremost the name of a people. It therefore means "the land of [the people] Israel". However, "Israel" also had a secondary and more restricted meaning; it was sometimes used as a name for the northern tribes (as distinct from Judah), and when the kingdom divided after the death of Solomon (1 Kings 12), "Israel" became the name of the independent northern state.

The term "promised land" refers, of course, to God's promise to give the land of Canaan to Abraham's descendants (Gen 13:14-15; 15:18-21; 17:8). The expression "the Holy Land" has its origin in Zech 2:12, but did not become a common designation for the land until the Middle Ages. The land is, of course, no longer holy to the Jews alone, but also to Christians and Muslims.

It may also be useful to mention the correct use of names for the people to whom the land was given by God. If we follow Biblical precedent, it is certainly correct to call them "Hebrews" from Abraham onwards (see Gen 14:13). The origin and scope of this name is very much debated among Old Testament scholars, but the Old Testament itself implies some connection with Eber, Abraham's ancestor (Gen 10:21-31; 11:14-26). "Israel" was the new name given by God to Jacob, Abraham's grandson (Gen 32:28; 43:6, etc), and so the descendants of Jacob are "Israelites" or, collectively, "Israel". In Exo 3:18 and 5:1-3 "Hebrews" and "Israel" appear to be used as synonymous terms (though if "Hebrews" indicates the descendants of Eber, then Hebrews were, strictly speaking, a much wider group than the tribes of Israel). As already mentioned, "Israel" also has a secondary and more specific meaning in the Old Testament, since it can signify the northern tribes as distinct from Judah, especially after the division of the kingdom.

Although the terms "Hebrew" and "Israelite" continued in use into the New Testament period (eg Rom 9:4; 2 Cor 11:22; Phil 3:5), by then the term "Jew" was more commonly used. This originally referred to a member of the southern tribe of Judah (which is it's use in Jer 32:12; 34:9), but after the Babylonian Exile it came to replace "Israelite" as the most widely-used term for one of God's covenant people. This was because, by that time, virtually all Israelites were in fact members of the tribe of Judah, as the northern tribes ("Israel" in the narrow sense) had lost their identity after the fall of Samaria in 722 BC. The exceptions were chiefly members of the tribe of Benjamin (Ezra 1:5; Phil 3:5), which had been linked with Judah since the division of the kingdom. "Jew" and "Jewish" should not be used in the generally accepted sense when speaking of the period before the Exile."

John Bimson "The Compact Handbook of Old Testament Life" (Minneapolis, Minnesota: Bethany House Publishers, 1988) pp. 7-8


Bibliography on Ancient Customs

The Art of Ancient Egypt, Revised by Robins, 272 Pages, Pub. 2008

Return to Ancient Customs

Background Bible Study

Biblical Archaeology

Bible History Online


Scripture Backdrops

Bible History Online

© Bible History Online (/)

Related Content

Ancient Bible Scroll

Bible & History Quotes

First Mention of Herod in History - Ehud Netzer
Ancient Roman Marble - H.W. Pullen
The Septuagint and Early Judaism - Richard R. Ottley
Bible Characters and History - Walter G. Williams
Assyrian Pride - Ashurnasirpal II
The Ancient British - Julius Caesar
The Horrors of the Jerusalem Siege - Flavius Josephus
The Ancient Greek Language - A.T. Robertson
Holy Places in Jerusalem - John Wilkinson
Not One Stone Upon Another - Kathleen Kenyon
Palestine - George Allen Turner
Jews and Their Land - David Ben-Gurion
Herod's Speech on the Eve of the Temple's Reconstruction - Josephus
Pompey Enters the Holy of Holies - Cornelius Tacitus
Julius Caesar and the Jews - Jeremy C. Jackson
Cyrus Captures Babylon Account - Herodotus of Halicarnassus
"Sacred Prostitution" in Babylon - Herodotus - The Histories
Pontius Pilate and the Aqueduct Riots - Flavius Josephus
Cutting A Path - Kenneth S. Wuest
Original Meanings of Words
- Henry Craik
Hebrew - The Rich Language - Robert Baker Girdlestone
Jerusalem - 3000 Years of History
- Ezer Weizmann
The Earliest Christian Creed
- Frederick Fyvie Bruce
The Pick and the Spade
- James M. Freeman
Peculiar Customs
- William Franklin (Billy) Graham
Jesus' View of the Old Testament
- Donald Guthrie
Heathen Oracles and Hebrew Prophecy
- Paton J. Gloag
Abraham's Seed - Blessing of the Nations
- Franz Julius Delitzsch
Samson and the Philistines - R. K. Harrison
Quotes From Some U.S. Presidents - William Federer
Octavian and Herod - F. F. Bruce
History, Archaeology and the Bible - Henry Clarence Thiessen
The Day of Christ's Birth - Harold W. Hoehner
The People of the Bible
- Ralph Gower
What did the Persian King Do When He Entered Babylon?
- Josephus
When did Jerusalem become the Capital of Israel? - Kathleen Kenyon
When was Bible Completed According to Archaeology?
- William F. Albright
Kenyon on the Rylands Fragment - Sir Frederic Kenyon
Papyrology and Dating the New Testament - Millar Burrows
The Septuagint and Early Christianity - Richard R. Ottley
The Reliability of the New Testament Text
- C.F. Sitterly
Origin of Gospel Traditions
- E. Hoskyns
Theology or History? - Michael Grant
The Horror of the Cross - Cicero
Israelite, Hebrew or Jew?
- John Bimson
Koine Greek (330 BC - 330 AD) - Daniel B. Wallace
Origins of Hebrew Prophecy - C. Hassell Bullock
Alexander and the Temple in Jerusalem
- E. B. Pusey
A Literary Tale of Ritual Murder to stir up Hatred
- Flavius Josephus
Hellenistic Anti-Semitism
- Edward H. Flannery
New Testament Greek
- Joseph Angus
The Bible Gives . . .
- Helen Keller
Greek and Hebrew Renderings
- Hugh Schonfield
Ancient Customs and Scripture
- Walter G. Williams
The Paradox of Palestine
- William Foxwell Albright
The Term 'Palestine' - John Bimson
Geography and the Bible
- J. M. Houston
The Mystery of Jesus - Daniel Rops
The 5 Books of Moses and Archaeology - Gleason L. Archer, Jr.
A Letter to his Uncle - Sir William Mitchell Ramsay
The Roman Empire - Edward Arthur Litton
God's Placement of Palestine - Sir G. A. Smith
Historians and Christians - John Elder
Judaism or Christ
- C.E. B. Cranfield
Paul's Use of the Old Testament
- E. E. Ellis 
"Little" Israel - Daniel Rops 
The Hanging Gardens Of Babylon - Hazel W. Perkin 
The Acts Of The Apostles - Merril C. Tenney 
The End Product Of Alexander's Empire - E. A. Judge 
Jesus, Paul, And Christianity - F. L. Anderson
The Moral Status In Jesus' Time - J.W. Shepard
Josephus on Crucifixion - Flavius Josephus
Old Testament Exegesis - Douglas Stuart
Idol Worship - James B. Walker
Letter From A Pioneer of Biblical Archaeology - Maj. General C. W. Wilson
The Birth Of Civilization - F.C. Payne
Assyrian Cruelty - Asshurizirpal Inscription
The Author of Acts and his Hero
- W. M. Ramsay
Reliable Sources - John Warwick Montgomery
History or Literature or Scripture? - Arthur Wainwright
Assyrian Rich and Costly Apparel - Joseph Bonomi
The Jewish Week In NT Times - Alfred Edersheim
The Roman Army - George H. Allen
Origin Of Languages - William Sanford LaSor
Solomon's Gold From Ophir - Merril F. Unger
About Flavius Josephus - R.M. Wenley
Archaeology And The OT Text - Norman Geisler, William Nix
Between The Testaments - Charles F. Pfeiffer
What I Believe! - Sir Francis Bacon 
Rules And Precepts At Harvard In 1636 - Harvard University
The Chester Beatty Papyri - Bruce F. Harris
Luke, The Greek Historian - Kenneth S. Wuest
Luke and the Book of Acts - W. M. Ramsay
Why Were Some Animals Unclean In Leviticus? - G.J. Wenham
Mosaic Authorship of the Pentateuch - Gleason Archer
Mount Moriah - Benjamin Chapman
The Synagogue - James M. Freeman 
Is Christ Mentioned Outside Of The Bible? Josephus, Tacitus, Suetonius, Pliny, Lucian
How Many Isaiah's According To The Dead Sea Scrolls? - Charles Pfeiffer
Pliny's Conversation With Trajan About The Christians - Edwin M. Yamauchi
The Crossing of the Red Sea - L. Thomas Holdcroft
Emperor Worship in the Roman Province of Asia - F.F. Bruce
About Crucifixion - Encyclopedia Britannica
Notable Sayings About The Bible - Henry H. Haley
Understanding Acts in History - Sir William Ramsay
Opinion About The NT From A World Renown Archaeologist - W. F. Albright
The Best Ancient Poesy And The Bible - Cowley
"The Holy Land" in the Time of Christ - Alfred Edersheim
The Bible Originally a Scroll and not a Book - Edgar J. Goodspeed
Why Ancient Civilizations and Cities Disappeared - Howard E. Vos
The New Testament Documents - Frederick G. Kenyon