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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    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, 2012 at 9:38
  • 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. Apr 25, 2013 at 21:11
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    "And you shall remain few in number among the nations to which G0d shall lead you" (Deut. 4:27). assimilation also could be a factor
    – ray
    Jul 10, 2015 at 8:11
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    And don't forget the endless mass murders we've had in each generation. Dec 31, 2015 at 19:07

9 Answers 9


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.

  • 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.
    – Tofeeq
    Jan 9, 2012 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
    – Tofeeq
    Jan 9, 2012 at 5:31
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    @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, 2012 at 6:49
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    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, 2012 at 2:52
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    @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. Apr 25, 2013 at 21:09

TofeeqAhmad, I appreciate your changes to the question. The answer, however, remains that mass murder and an aversion to proselytizing have prevented much growth. At our very founding, according to 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
    – Tofeeq
    Jan 21, 2012 at 4:41
  • "only 1/5 came out unscathed" This is only a Midrash. And contradicts the simple reading of the verses.
    – mevaqesh
    Jul 9, 2015 at 2:09
  • @mevaqesh What's your point?
    – Seth J
    Jul 9, 2015 at 2:10
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    A Midrash should not be quoted as a fact. Follow the link to learn why.
    – mevaqesh
    Jul 9, 2015 at 2:12
  • @mevaqesh we may have fundamentally different understandings of the Midrash and/or the question. If you don't like my answer, feel free to downvote it.
    – Seth J
    Jul 9, 2015 at 2:15

Dvarim 7:7 and Dvarim 4:27 would be my guess.

The LORD did not set His love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people—for ye were the fewest of all peoples

And the LORD shall scatter you among the peoples, and ye shall be left few in number among the nations, whither the LORD shall lead you away.

  • Always better if you can copy and paste the relevant verses so we know what you mean. You can use www.sefaria.org to do this easily. I added one link to show you how this works (wait until the edit is approved to see it). Thanks and welcome to MY !
    – mbloch
    Jan 14, 2016 at 9:33

The Jews never started out having a very large population. In fact, when you read the Torah you see that the entire nation of Yisroel coming out of Mitzrayim is numbered only 600,000 men! (Of course, the Yidden were just starting out.)

Another reason, and probably a better one, is that the Holocaust greatly affected the population of Jews. Plus, you might be talking of Orthodox Jewish population, but there are a great number of Jews who just aren't religious or who don't know they are Jews.


In the hakdama to Be'er HaGolah, the Maharal explains that the most intense kedusha (holiness) is always expressed in the smallest, or most condensed, manifestation in this world. Thus, the smaller the area of the mikdash (temple), the greater its level of kedusha. So too the Jewish people, as the holy nation, have the smallest manifestation in this world.

  1. When the Torah said we will be as numerous as the stars or as grains of sand, it meant not in number but in importance. (Eichus not Kamus in Talmud language). Thats why we are 20-25% of Noble prize winners and the like. Our influence on the world in proportion to our numbers, (yes, even bad ones like Marx), is totally outsized as if we were .25 of the world not .0002.

2.Kabbalistically, one of the purposes of our diaspora and being forced to wander among the nations of the world is to gather the Holy Sparks that were created when the World was born through the Breaking of the Vessels. (Please do your own research regarding these esoteric matters). We left Mitzrayim because we had already rectified/gathered the Holy Sparks and we need never return there. We have been exiled to almost every country/nation on Earth and before long we are exiled again. Because we have by then intermingled, intermarried, and likely caused some our unique Jewish identity to either rub off on the people there or to physically be present to some minor degree even in their genetic makeup. (Or they raped our women and caused their DNA to be intermingled with ours.) If you consider the 6+ billion people in the world today and the minute amount of Jewish DNA they may have, or even their knowledge of the Torah and Judaism, rudimentary as it may be, (has to be some or why would they all hate us), our influence is likely affecting 80-90% of the worlds people. So, one way or another our influence and World knowledge of our beliefs/Torah affects 80-90% of the World. I saw/heard this somewhere- this is not my original thought. Think about it.

  • +1. Worth noting that even if kamus, 12 million is still way way more than the number of stars visible to the naked eye
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Mar 17 at 16:25
  • 1.But see Rashi Beraishis 15:5 who brings a Medrash from Bereishis Rabbah that Hashem lifted Avrohom above the Heavens to see the stars. How many could he have seen then?
    – motel
    Mar 19 at 15:38
  • 1.But see Rashi Beraishis 15:5 who brings a Medrash from Bereishis Rabbah 44:12 that Hashem lifted Avrohom above the Heavens to see the stars. How many could he have seen then? 2. What about grains of sand? Count how many in a set measure like a Riviis and then estimate how many of those there are in the beach at your feet. You will get more than 12 mill. Point is , either it means Echus, or we have influenced most of the 6-7 billion on this planet somehow. But worth noting about visible stars which are likely in the thousands from Earth. 10 to the 24 from Hubble.
    – motel
    Mar 19 at 15:44

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.

  • Seriously? That was before the invention of DNA, I think.
    – Al Berko
    Dec 4, 2019 at 22:55

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...
    – Scimonster
    Nov 1, 2014 at 18:04
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    @Scimonster And conversion as well.... ;)
    – MTL
    Nov 2, 2014 at 0:53
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    Judaism allows conversion, but unlike Christianity and Islam, does not have a history of seeking converts, nor of imposing conversion by force. Nov 2, 2014 at 1:56
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    @Shokhet One more time and i'm turning off autocorrect. ;P
    – Scimonster
    Nov 2, 2014 at 6:03

Jewish people dont high birth rate as islam and Christian religions.

Jewish 1-2 children

Christian 1-6 birth rate

islam 7+

Hindu 1-4

Buddhist 1-3

I'm Christian and I can tell you most jewish people prefer to work hard and follow God other than have many children they can't manage.

Islam religion dons't care if they can manage it or not giving birth is normal to islam they believe god will take care of them.

Also jewish is not wide spared including never using force.

  • 2
    Welcome to Mi Yodeya Thomas! Thank you for sharing your knowledge with us. Perhaps consider adding sources to your answer; without them all we have is your opinion, which doesn't mean that much to those of us who dont know you. Perhaps consider converting this answer into a comment. To learn more about this site, consider taking this short tour of the site. For general help see here. Perhaps these 113 questions about Christianity would interest you
    – mevaqesh
    Jul 9, 2015 at 1:26
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    Do these numbers really represent the general trend over the last 3000 years?
    – Double AA
    Jul 9, 2015 at 1:30
  • Thomas, welcome. I think that much of this answer is speculation. The numbers are suspect as well, unless you've got a source to support them.
    – Seth J
    Jul 9, 2015 at 2:17

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