web analytics
April 18, 2014 / 18 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance
Blogs
Sponsored Post
Spa 1.2 Combining Modern Living in Traditional Jerusalem

A unique and prestigious residential project in now being built in Mekor Haim Street in Jerusalem.



In Hebrew: Origin of the Term ‘Jew’

A daily dose of Hebrew.
F120903MH08

Photo Credit: Mendy Hechtman /Flash90

Share Button

יְהוּדִי

The word Jew is a household term, just as Christian and Muslim are.

But where does the word Jew come from?

The Hebrew version is יְהוּדִי for a male and יְהוּדִיָּה for a female. These are the Hebrew terms that refer someone of the Jewish faith, who holds the Torah as the most sacred of books.

But if you’d read the Torah – in Hebrew or in English, you’ve probably noticed that the words יהודי and יהודייה are strikingly… absent. How could that be?

The answer has more to do with geography than with religion.

יהודי and יהודייה come from the name יְהוּדָה - one of the sons of Jacob, but also the piece of land named after that son. In English, we call that piece of land Judea.

Twelve Israelite tribes inhabited Ancient Israel, until the Assyrians came and exiled the majority. The major remaining tribe, יהודה, continued to reign until the Babylonians came and exiled them as well.

The people from the land of יהודה (today a large chunk of Modern Israel, including Jerusalem, Beit Shemesh and the southern part of the “West Bank”) were taken to Babel. Many migrated from there to ancient Persia, where the Purim story takes place and presents us with the first person referred to as a יהודי – a Jew:

אִישׁ יְהוּדִי הָיָה בְּשׁוּשַׁן הַבִּירָה וּשְׁמוֹ מָרְדֳכַי בֶּן יָאִיר בֶּן שִׁמְעִי בֶּן קִישׁ אִישׁ יְמִינִי. אֲשֶׁר הָגְלָה מִירוּשָׁלַיִם… (אסתר ב’:ה’-ו’)

A Jewish man (a man from Judea) was in Shushan the capital, and his name was Mordecai the son of Yair the son of Shim’i the son of Kish, a man from Yemin (the more specific land of Benjamin); who was exiled from Jerusalem… (Esther 2:5-6)

So what was once an ethnicity – יהודי or יהודייה referring to a person from the land of Judea – gradually came to refer to a religion, as the Jewish people wandered from place to place, their religious practice uniting them… as well as their hope to one day return to אֶרֶץ יְהוּדָה- the Land of Judea and the rest of Israel.

יהודי is also part of the name of one of the major political parties that will likely be joining the now-forming Israeli government:


הַבַּיִת הַיְּהוּדִי - literally, The Jewish Home

Whether the party is referring to the religion or the geographic region – or both – I’ll leave to you to decide.

Visit Ktzat Ivrit.

Share Button

About the Author: Ami Steinberger is founder and director of Ulpan La-Inyan.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

Leave a comment (Select your commenting platform)

One Response to “In Hebrew: Origin of the Term ‘Jew’”

  1. I think the origin of the Jew is to be found even back in history to ancient Egypt. Note the key words typical for Jew – Judea, Jehova, Jerusalem (Jedusalem), JHVH, Jahve and especially the real name of the the King of King Solomon – JEDIDIAH. This redundancy of J is not accidental. Connection with ancient Egypt is very interesting. Note the symbol JED. I am quite confident that this is where to look for the origin of the the name Jew.

    With respect and reverence for history and the entire Jewish people.
    + F. Lyubomir Petkov Jedidiah.

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Loading Facebook Comments ...
Loading Disqus Comments ...
Kitzat Ivrit Logo
Current Top Story
Flyers ordered Jews to appear at a designated location in Ukrane, in Sept., 1941. The next day, the Jews lined up at the Babi Yar Ravine.
‘Jews Must Register’ Flyer in Ukraine an Echo of Babi Yar
Latest Blogs Stories
Church of the Nativity, beseiged and desecrated by Arab Palestinian terrorists in the spring of 2002.

World Council of Churches expresses solidarity with “Palestinians” ‘languishing’ in Israeli prisons.

Haggadah for the Passover Seder.

The Seder: We starve (during the sometimes endless recitations and discussions) and we feast.

Unit 9900 is an intelligence unit that utilizes the unique capabilities of soldiers on the autism spectrum.

The unique skills of people on the autistic spectrum adds great breadth to IDF intelligence work.

Jews are no longer slaves, but many are still plagued with a slave mentality.

Passover is a road that we still travel, a long journey from slavery to freedom.

In Iran, 131 offenses are punishable by death, including blasphemy, adultery and homosexuality.

Women must eat Matzah on Pesach too but that is also a time bound positive commandment.

Pro-Israel leaders on campus are as important as the troops in the IDF and professional hasbaraniks.

The seder reminds us of our freedom now that we are home again in the land of the Nation of Israel

IDF helicopters are ready to act on a moment’s notice to defend the State of Israel.

The Samson Super Hercules aircraft ensures the IDF can safeguard Israel from far beyond her shores.

Rudoren and the Times are determined to go the extra mile to humanize Barghouti.

Gazans are among the principal victims of the terror-addicted Hamas Islamists.

Factors that you need to take into account when deciding whether to rent or buy a home.

Intelligence organizations seek enemy’s secrets; for the past 35 years, all secrets are on computers.

Guest Blogger Robert proves that one must not eat any Matzah on Pesach based on an article in Vosizneias.

More Articles from Ami Steinberger
introextro

אָדָם מֻפְנָם, אָדָם מֻחְצָן  listen and repeat Some of us are naturally quiet, while others can be heard from a kilometer away. Introverts tend to keep their feelings and experiences inside, while Extroverts tend to be outgoing and expressive. The Hebrew term for introvert is אָדָם מֻפְנָם  listen and repeat - literally, an introverted person. מופנם  listen and repeat, an adjective deriving from the passive-causative […]

looking_ahead

עִם מַבָּט קָדִימָה  listen and repeat While the close of a year is a time to look back, the start of a new one is a time to look ahead. The Hebrew expression for looking ahead is לִהְיוֹת עִם מַבָּט קָדִימָה  listen - literally, to be with a gaze forward – though the to be part is rarely used. […]

קוֹלוֹמְבּוּס גִּלָּה אֶת אָמֶרִיקָה Visit Ktzat Ivrit .

פְּעִילוּת  listen and repeat Some of us like grammar, and some of us don’t. The word verb excites some of us, while daunting others or making them drowsy. But most of us know that a verb is a word that indicates action. In Hebrew, this is easy to remember, since the very word for verb itself – פֹּעַל ( listen […]

מוּטָב מְאֻחָר מֵאֲשֶׁר לְעוֹלָם לֹא  listen and repeat Yesterday my great-uncle had his בַּר מִצְוָה ( listen and repeat) - Bar Mitzvah. Yes, my great uncle. He’s 82. Because when he was 13, he was in Auschwitz, where they didn’t do בר מצווה ceremonies. En route, I told the cab driver about the event. He made his comment […]

בְּיַחַד  listen and repeat Today is ט”וּ בְּאָב ( listen and repeat) - the 15th of the Jewish month of Av – which is the Jewish day of love. The Hebrew word for together is בְּיַחַד ( listen and repeat) (alternatively and more formally, יַחַד ( listen and repeat)). For example: טִיַּלְנוּ בְּיַחַד בַּמִּזְרָח. We traveled together in the east.  listen   You […]

מִסְפָּר  listen and repeat Visit Ktzat Ivrit .

פְּשָׁרָה  listen and repeat An important tool for conflict resolution is compromise. The Hebrew word for a compromise is פְּשָׁרָה ( listen and repeat), while to compromise is the reflexive-intensive הִתְפַּעֵל verb, לְהִתְפַּשֵּׁר ( listen and repeat). (To compromise in the sense of compromising safety is לְסַכֵּן ( listen and repeat) - also to endanger.) The root of these two is clearly פ.שׁ.ר (p.sh.r)… but exactly how […]

    Latest Poll

    Now that Kerry's "Peace Talks" are apparently over, are you...?







    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/ktzat-ivrit/in-hebrew-origin-of-the-term-jew/2013/01/29/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: