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Jesus Was An Israelite:
What Is The Difference Between An Israelite & A Jew?


Researched and written by Robert H. Nelson and Emma L. Nelson,
authors of Joseph of Arimathea and Jesus from which this article was derived
Copyright © 2016

Many books and many scholars state that Judah was the ancestor of the Jews and that the Jews were named for that ancestor. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The name of the geographical place called Judah, which had been named for Judah, the son of Jacob and the great-grandson of Abraham, was the original location of the Tribe of Judah. The name was changed to Judea after the time of the Captivity, which ended about 538 B.C. The English word “Jew” from the Latin “Iudaeus” means Judean, an inhabitant of Judea.1 The Edomites, who largely populated Judea after the Babylonian Captivity, were called Jews because they resided in Judea. They were not descended from Judah, and they were not called Jews because of him.

The complex and often misunderstood words “Jew,” “Jews,” and “Jewish,” are used today to designate individuals following the religion of “Judaism,” or from that heritage. However, these words, as well as the words “Semite,” “Hebrew,” “Israelite,” and “Judahite,” have specific connotations.

Abraham, along with his son Isaac and his grandson Jacob, were Hebrews, a word which came from an ancestor of Abraham named Eber. Before Eber the ancestors of Abraham were Semites, being descended from Shem, a son of Noah. Israelites are from Jacob (who was given the name Israel by God)2 beginning with his sons who were the founders of the Tribes of Israel, and their descendants. For example, Moses and Aaron were Israelites since they were descended from Levi, the founder of the Tribe of Levi and a son of Jacob/Israel.

God made a covenant with the Israelites, and they were the ones who were called the chosen people.3 Judahites are Israelites but specifically the descendants of Judah, the founder of the Tribe of Judah, one of the Tribes of Israel.

The word “Jew” was not used in the entire original text of the Bible, but only in the modern translations and in those the word “Jews” was first used in the book of 2 Kings.4 The word “Jew” in the Bible referred to a person from Judea, a region which included people with many different ethnicities, but mainly Edomites.

The term “Jew” was not significant in biblical history until after the remnants of the original descendants of the Tribes of Judah and Benjamin returned following the Babylonian Captivity about 538 B.C. Mixed in with those returning people were many thousands of mixed multitude, or non-Israelite people, who became known as Jews when they then resided in Judea.

Earlier, the lands of the Tribes of Judah and Benjamin had been taken over by Edomites during the Captivity period. Those Edomites were not born of Israelites, but rather were descended from Esau,5 the brother of Jacob. Many of those later fled to North Africa and then to Spain. Those “Jews” became known as Sephardic Jews and later lived primarily in western Europe.

In the year B.C. 129, John Hyrcanus conquered the Edomites…the descendants of Esau, who married daughters of Heth, and rather than leave the land they embraced the Jewish religion. After a time, they became absorbed amongst the Jews, and were called Jews; and, as a rule, were not to be distinguished from them. The Jews also mingled with the Canaanites, and during the seventy years’ captivity great numbers of them married women of other nations. No doubt these things were done in spite of the wholesome restrictions to which, as a tribe or nation, they felt it their duty to submit. Yet, notwithstanding these violations of the rule, their descendants were known as Jews, not as Edomites or Canaanites.”6

Many scholars believe that over 90% of all living Jews in the world today are descended from the people of the Turkish-Mongolian tribes of the 8th century called Khazars who lived in what is now southern Russia.

Many of those pagan Khazars adopted Judaism as their religion. They were then considered to be Jews. The Khazars then spread through eastern Europe over the following centuries. Their descendants are called Ashkenazi Jews.

But recent DNA analyses do not agree with those who think that the Ashkenazi Jews did not originate in the Middle East. Several Y-DNA studies have been conducted, and it has been determined that about 75% of all Jewish men (in their male line going back, son to father to father etc.) have ancestry from the Middle East. Jews, except for converts from other ethnicities, do have a common ancestry, and are a distinct population, originating in the Middle East.

The reason is that, according to The Jewish Encyclopedia, “the Chazars [Khazars] formerly lived in the mountains of Seir ….”7 That proves that the earlier ancestors of the Ashkenazi Jews were Edomites and that they were descendants of Esau.

Thus dwelt Esau in mount Seir: Esau is Edom. And these are the generations of Esau the father of the Edomites in mount Seir ….”8

Those Edomites had escaped from the area which was near to what later became Judea, at the time of the destruction of Jerusalem in 587 B.C., and again when Jerusalem, after Judea had become their adopted homeland, was destroyed in A.D. 70. Thus Ashkenazi Jews do have an ancestral connection to the Middle East, that being from Abraham. They do not, however, descend from Israelites.

The article titled “Purity of Race” in The Jewish Encyclopedia stated that “some anthropologists are inclined to associate the racial origin of the Jews, not with the Semites, whose language they adopted, but with the Armenians and Hittites of Mesopotamia, whose broad skulls and curved noses they appear to have inherited.”9

That information is incorrect, at least that information that relates to the point that the Jews are not Semites. Being descended from Edomites would make the Jews Semites inasmuch as their ancestor, Esau, was a son of Isaac and a grandson of Abraham, both descendants of Shem. Shem’s descendants are Semites.

It is well known that many Jews at the time of Jesus called for his crucifixion. They did not like the fact that he criticized them for what he saw as the satanic nature of their religion, Judaism. He had many battles with the Pharisees who by then were populated entirely by Edomite Jews.

When Christianity became a religion of the Gentiles, the gospels included what is sometimes termed an “anti-Semitic bias” against the Jews. That “bias” is believed to be based on the hatred that the Christians thought the Jews displayed towards Jesus. The Christians eventually learned what the Jews thought of Jesus, and the Christians, by becoming aware of the vile statements included in the Talmud.10

The Jews, on the other hand, became obsessed with the statement that appeared in the Gospel of John. Martin Luther’s book On the Jews and Their Lies,11 also with vile statements, which was written in 1543, included the following: “‘You are of your father the devil.’ It was intolerable to them to hear that they were not Abraham’s but the devil’s children, nor can they bear to hear this today.”12

And now, hundreds of years later, they still can not bear to hear what the Gospel of John reported that Jesus told the Jews, that they were “children of Satan.” A posting which appeared as recently as September of 2014 in a blog in the Jerusalem Post13 online indicates that, for the Jews, the statement in the Gospel of John can never be forgiven or forgotten. That full statement in the Gospel of John, which quotes Jesus admonishing the Jews who were descended from Edomites, is as follows:

Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.”14

But Jesus did not care that he was insulting people whose ancestry was not pleasing to God, and whose religion (Judaism) was insulting to God.

It is, however, much more understandable that the Jews and the Christians would hate each other forever than that the evangelical Christians would act and donate as if they were Jews themselves.

Many evangelical Christians believe, incorrectly, that the Jews are the “chosen people,” and they feel that any people chosen by God should be supported. They believe that the nation God promised to bless15 refers to the modern state of Israel. If they knew that the modern day Jews are not descendants of the Israelites and thus are not descended from the “chosen people” spoken about in the Bible it is likely they would not be so enamored with the modern state of Israel which is populated by descendants of the Edomites/Khazars, and not by descendants of the Israelites of the Bible.

It is especially surprising that certain highly educated and biblically trained television evangelists, that some refer to as “Christian Zionists,” would not know that modern day Jews are not descended from the Israelites. Is it that they are blinded by what they assume to be true?

It is the belief of the authors of this article that the modern state of Israel should be supported as the only democracy in the Middle East. We assume, however, that the fanatical support of the modern state of Israel by those “Christian Zionists” mentioned above is based on their incorrect belief that Israelis, and Jews everywhere, are modern day descendants of the Israelites of the Bible.




1. Benjamin H. Freedman, Facts Are Facts (Carson City, Nevada: Bridger House

Publishers, Inc., 2009), 15, 21.

2. Genesis 32:28

3. Isaiah 41:8

4. 2 Kings 16:6

5. Genesis 36:8-9

6. The Banner of Israel (London: W. H. Guest, 1881), V: 267.

7. The Jewish Encyclopedia (New York: Funk and Wagnalls, 1904), III: 629.

8. Genesis 36:8-9

9. The Jewish Encyclopedia, X: 284.

10. Bernhard Pick, Jesus in the Talmud (London: The Open Court Publishing Company, 1913), 13-44.

11. Martin Luther, Von den Juden und ihren Lügen (Wittenberg, 1543)

12. Martin Luther, On the Jews and Their Lies (Uckfield, England: The Historical Review Press, 2011), 4.

13. David Turner, “Jewish Problem Sources, the Gospels: ‘You are of your father, the devil.’”, 9/20/2014.

14. John 8:44

15. Genesis 12:3


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