web analytics
November 28, 2014 / 6 Kislev, 5775
At a Glance
Blogs
Sponsored Post
IDC Herzliya Campus A Day on Campus

To mark IDC Herzliya’s 20th anniversary, we spent a day following Prof. Uriel Reichman, IDC’s founder and president, and Jonathan Davis, VP for External Relations, around its delightful campus.



In Hebrew: Origin of the Term ‘Jew’

A daily dose of Hebrew.
F120903MH08

Photo Credit: Mendy Hechtman /Flash90

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.

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.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

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

Kitzat Ivrit Logo
Current Top Story
A would-be preacher delivers his message of hate from the Muslim"holy site" on the Temple Mount.
Al Aqsa Mosque ‘Stand-Up’ Preacher Calls for Annihilation of the United States
Latest Blogs Stories
Worshipers were cut down as they prayed

It’s clear that Obama equates Israelis and Arabs as equal sufferers of “violence.”

Ferguson, Missouri: rioting against racism, encouraging murder

The malicious manipulation of frustrated fury is surely as egregious as merely perceived racism.

About 7 in 10 Americans view Israel favorably – making Israel the only positively viewed Middle East country. But the younger Americans get, the more they like some Arab countries.

Undoubtedly, once he’s “former president Obama” he’ll join anti-Israel Jimmy Carter against Israel.

train track grafitti

The silly people on the left have created a new campaign to try and force the rest of the country to capitulate to their suicidal fantasies, this time by riding trains and imposing themselves onto other people’s conferences.

Find out how to set goals and take better care of your finances.

As events over the last couple of weeks amply demonstrate, the status quo isn’t working out either

Australian Ambassador to Israel ran to the hospital in J’m to visit the wounded and to donate blood

Those celebrating violence with “No Justice No Peace” signs are opposed to both justice and peace.

Pop quiz: The shortest book ever written? “Palestinian History and Positive Contributions” text book

We are the continuing generations from our Father Avraham who was given this Land by our L-rd.

When a country supports ($) the PA or Gaza or “recognizes,” “Palestine,” they promoting terrorism.

There is no question whatsoever that Odeh was behind the fatal bombing of a SuperSol market in 1969

As we Jews returned to the Holy Land and prayed at our holy sites, forces fighting holiness came too

Channel 10 TV published on Sunday a poll they commissioned asking Israeli Arabs a rather straightforward but important question:

Today”s discussion: “The effects of current geopolitical situation around the world on investing.”

According to PM Netanyahu, the bill would enshrine full equality under law to all Israeli citizens.

More Articles from Ami Steinberger
eyes

Eye contact in Hebrew, literally, is eye connection.

Eyal Yifrah (19), Gil-Ad Shayer(16) and Naftali Frenkel (16) , the three Israeli boys are the victims of kidnapping by Hamas terrorists.

If you follow the Hebrew news, a key word you need to know currently is “kidnapping.”

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 […]

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 […]

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: