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Judaism is one of the oldest religions, but there aren't many Jews compared to Muslims and Christians.

What are main reasons behind that?

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Mass murder has played a large role. –  Seth J Jan 8 '12 at 2:47
TofeeqAhmad, welcome to Judaism.SE, and thanks very much for bringing your question here! I look forward to seeing you around. –  Isaac Moses Jan 8 '12 at 9:38
Thank you..i loved to know about Judaism –  TofeeqAhmad Jan 9 '12 at 5:06
This is a good question. I wouldn't be surprised if there were hundreds of millions more who can directly trace their ancestry to Jews, within 5 to 10 generations. –  Imray Apr 25 '13 at 21:11

4 Answers 4

up vote 25 down vote accepted

There are many reasons why Jews have a low population. Depending on your point of view, different reasons will be "more true" than the others.

  1. It says in the Torah that the Jewish people, will be as numerous as the stars in the sky and the sands by the sea. However, it also says that we will be a minority amongst the nations. So while we may be uncountable, we will remain small compared to other nations of our age.

  2. While Judaism is generally understood to be a religion, it is also a nation. Comparing it to the population of Christianity and Islam then becomes an odd comparison, since Christianity and Islam is made up of members from many many nations. Using that standard, the Jewish people have a population in comparable size to other old nations such as Greece, Zimbabwe, or Senegal.

  3. Outside of Israel, Judaism has never been a religion that proselytizes. (Tries to convert people) In contrast, Christianity and Islam try to convert as many people as possible. In the early years of Islam this was done by waging wars against nations, and with Christianity this was done by missionaries all over the globe.

  4. Over the many centuries of Jewish existence, the Jewish people have been the subject of attack and ridicule. After the destruction of the first temple, the Jewish population was killed off so that only 35% of the population remained. After the holocaust, fully 66% of European Jews were killed. The many pogroms and exiles, as well as various campaigns of forced conversions, has over the centuries greatly reduced the Jewish population. In comparison, Christian and Islamic conflicts have only ever killed a maximum of ~10% of their population.

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First thank for nice answer..But if Jewish were present from the starting then why mass killing happen to them.I guess they were in enough majority in starting. Why they did not realize need of expanding their follower when Islam and Christian start killing them.Jewish people are most intelligent as a believe. –  TofeeqAhmad Jan 9 '12 at 5:05
"While Judaism is generally understood to be a religion, it is also a nation" What is meaning of that? Are you trying to say that Judaism is not a religion. Referring to Your line.." since Christianity and Islam is made up of members from many many nations".It became later but initially both were originated from a small group then they became member of many many nation –  TofeeqAhmad Jan 9 '12 at 5:31
@TofeeqAhmad, by way of comparison, lets say you lived in a house with your parents, a brother and a sister and you lived beside an apartment complex. Also, your sister informed you that she is getting married and moving out. Your family would not try to get a border or adopt someone just to replace your sister. You would also not feel a need to turn your house into an apartment complex to compete with the one next door. Judaism is not in competition with anyone. We are bound by our lineage from Jacob and our charge to abide by the Torah. –  YDK Jan 9 '12 at 6:49
An interesting observation: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jews According to James Carroll, "Jews accounted for 10% of the total population of the Roman Empire. By that ratio, if other factors had not intervened, there would be 200 million Jews in the world today, instead of something like 13 million." –  ChaimKut Jan 23 '12 at 2:52
@TofeeqAhmad I think the explanation for that is that religious Jews (which until 300 years ago were essentially all Jews) never feared that Judaism would become extinct since God guaranteed it wouldn't. There was never a need to "expand" and "recruit". In fact Jews turned potential converts away - sometimes with devastating consequences. –  Imray Apr 25 '13 at 21:09

TofeeqAhmad, I appreciate your changes to the question. The answer, however, remains that mass murder and an aversion to proselytizing has prevented much growth. At our very founding, according our tradition and the text of the Torah, 70 people went down to Egypt as a family/tribe and developed into a small nation within a nation. We grew by leaps and bounds. And then, during the Exodus, only 1/5 came out unscathed. Then, at Mt. Sinai, due to the sin of the Golden Calf (mere months after leaving Egypt), thousands more died. Over the course of the journey through the wilderness, we lost some individuals to war and more were lost to plague.

In the land, there were periods of relative tranquility, during which times there was some growth, but there were also many, many periods of war and exile, during which times the population fell, sometimes dramatically.

Later periods had ups and downs, but once Christianity developed into a full-fledged religion with an empire behind it, there was very little the Jews could do to grow their numbers. Even sustaining their numbers became a challenge. From pogroms to inquisitions (the most famous was the Spanish Inquisition at the tail end of the 15th century, but there were many, and they occurred in many places, including places now friendly to Jews, like Great Britain) to outright genocide, there really hasn't been a time when the Jews have had unlimited opportunity for growth.

Add to that the fact that, for most of our history anyway, we have not really outwardly proselytized, either by force or by reason, so our growth has always depended on our ability to naturally increase our numbers by our birthrate exceeding our deathrate. Since genocide, slavery, mass murder and torture significantly alter that ratio, any significant growth we've experienced has historically been offset by massive losses.

And I thank you for putting me into a very depressed frame of mind this morning... :(

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I am sorry i was not mean to make you depressed?Its pathetic if it happen to anybody.Really Jews are great people they do not leave their own way in any condition –  TofeeqAhmad Jan 21 '12 at 4:41

the Zohar in sefer devarim (forget exact place) asks this (why does scripture state that the jewish nation will be so numerous and yet other nations are more numerous) The zohar answers that though the nations in total are more numerous than the jews but the jewish nation is the most numerous nation because it is the only one who is a nation. all the other nations are mixed with each other so they are not actually one nation.

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Like mentioned in Islam , conversion of a non muslim to Islam is allowed, while Jews don't do so. This makes a great Difference. Most Muslim living in different countries have not yet visited the birth place of Islam, the reason being all of them being those converted to Islam.

On the other hand Jews are an Indigenous breed and hence are few.

Mass murders , Massacres , Holocaust, Strategic expulsions, Forced Conversion being other factors for same.

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Jews allow conversation... –  Cnsersmoit Nov 1 '14 at 18:04
@Scimonster And conversion as well.... ;) –  Shokhet Nov 2 '14 at 0:53
Judaism allows conversion, but unlike Christianity and Islam, does not have a history of seeking converts, nor of imposing conversion by force. –  Monica Cellio Nov 2 '14 at 1:56
@Shokhet One more time and i'm turning off autocorrect. ;P –  Cnsersmoit Nov 2 '14 at 6:03

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