Curious to know what did Prophet Abraham call himself from a religious perspective in the language he spoke. Did he call himself "jew" or "yahood"?

  • 2
    Jew/Yahood both derive from the name of one of his great grandchildren, Yehuda. There was no concept of religion back then, so I am not sure this question makes sense. He just called himself Avram and later Avraham. Although, according to the Hagadah, I guess you can say he called himself an "ivri" - a hebrew
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Oct 11, 2023 at 18:34
  • Related: judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/8646/… and other questions linked there
    – Isaac Moses
    Oct 11, 2023 at 18:48

1 Answer 1


I don't know if he called himself this but see Bereishis 14:13 where he is referred as, "אַבְרָם הָעִבְרִי" - "Avram the Ivri (sometime translated as Hebrew)", which Bereshis Rabbah 42:8 explains could have had one of three possible meanings:

  • Rabbi Yehuda: The whole world was on one side (עבר), and he was on the other side (presumably referring to his rejection of idolatry).
  • Rabbi Nechemia: He was a descendent of Ever.
  • Other Rabbis: He hailed from the other side (the word הָעִבְרִי comes from the root "עבר" which means "he passed/crossed") of the river. (Preferred interpretation of Rashi on this verse.)
  • I asked from religious perspective, ivri/hebrew has nothing to do with religion or any belief
    – knowit
    Oct 11, 2023 at 18:45
  • 1
    Firstly, that is not true an Eved Ivri denotes that you have a Jewish slave as opposed to an Eved Canaani and secondly, the term Jew or any derivative comes from a name that came three generations later?!
    – Dov
    Oct 11, 2023 at 18:52
  • judaism.stackexchange.com/a/8674/2371
    – knowit
    Oct 11, 2023 at 18:53
  • 2
    @knowit and Dov, I added in the other opinions in the Midrash, which was the source of Rashi's interpretation of this phrase. The first one cited seems to refer particularly to Avram's religious stance, in the manner Rabbi Kaii mentions.
    – Isaac Moses
    Oct 11, 2023 at 18:59
  • 1
    @knowit "Ivri" does refer to the religious aspect as well. That's how Yonah identified himself: עברי אנכי ואת ה' אלקי השמים אני ירא. And there are commentators that talk about when Yosef was a slave in Egypt and the people knew he was an "Ivri" and therefore wouldn't join their events for Avoda Zara. Finally, "Yehudi" didn't refer to religion either, per se. It refers to the nation. Judaism didn't have a name back then (and even now, just means "religion of the Jews," semantically).
    – Esther
    Oct 16, 2023 at 21:37

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