Why do we use the term "Jew" or "Jewish" when referencing people in the Torah/Chumash passages?

In the Torah (the Chumash), the "children of Israel" are called just that "בני ישראל" or Israelite.

The term "Jew" or "Jewish" does not exist in the Torah/Chumash. Why then do we use the term "Jew" or "Jewish" when we are specifically referencing Torah passages? Is not the word "Israelite" all inclusive in reference to ALL the "children of Israel"?

I understand that only many hundreds of years later, after the loss of the ten tribes, did the term "Jews" or "Jewish" begin to be used.

  • 2
    Who is "we"? (15 char) – Joel K May 8 '19 at 6:03
  • 1
    The Torah itself refers to places frequently by names which, at the time of the incident in question, they were not yet called (ex. Tzo’ar in Bereishis 13 and 14, but it’s not named until ch. 19). Why is this any different; it’s a name which we use for ourselves nowadays which we’re all familiar with, so why not apply it to even before we were called as such? – DonielF May 8 '19 at 6:31
  • @JoelK we as in we jews in the shul. – ninamag May 8 '19 at 7:19
  • @DonielF that is fine answer by me, but can you also source a rabbinical answer? – ninamag May 8 '19 at 7:20
  • 2
    Answer: because we speak English. – Double AA May 8 '19 at 12:06
  • Originally, the word "Yehudi" meant someone from the Tribe of Judah. When Solomon's Kingdom split into two territories (Israel and Judah), "Yehudi" came to mean someone from the Land of Judah, regardless of tribal affiliation. We see how Mordechai, who was from the Tribe of Benjamin, was called a "Yehudi", simply because he was among the exiles in Babylon who were from the Land of Judah.

  • The Romans called the people from the Land of Judah (Judea) Jews.

  • Since the other Ten Tribes are lost, most people who belong to the Hebrew faith describe themselves as "Jews", being descended from those Hebrews who lived in the Land of Judah.

  • Later, the word "Jew" came to mean any Hebrew, in the Bible or otherwise. Or perhaps, when people refer to the Israelites in the desert as "The Jewish People", they are trying to emphasize that the Jews around today are from the same people who were present at Mount Sinai to receive the Torah.

  • I like your answer, like DonielF's answer in his comment. To both of you, I ask for a historical rabbinical source. – ninamag May 9 '19 at 8:05

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