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Who Was The First Jew?
by Wayne Blank
"Jew" Is An Abbreviated Form Of "Judah"
From the genealogical record of the Bible comes some of the most well-known terms relating to Israelite people: Semite and Semitic originate from Noah's son Shem, and Hebrew is derived from Eber (although some people dispute that point, despite what is written in the Scriptures), the ancestor of Abraham. According to Bible History:
"Shem, Ham, and Japheth [see Sons Of Noah] ... The sons of Shem; Elam, and Asshur, and Arphaxad, and Lud, and Aram, and Uz, and Hul, and Gether, and Meshech. And Arphaxad begat Shelah, and Shelah begat Eber. And unto Eber were born two sons: the name of the one was Peleg; because in his days the earth was divided: and his brother's name was Joktan. And Joktan begat Almodad, and Sheleph, and Hazarmaveth, and Jerah, Hadoram also, and Uzal, and Diklah, And Ebal, and Abimael, and Sheba, And Ophir, and Havilah, and Jobab. All these were the sons of Joktan. Shem, Arphaxad, Shelah, Eber, Peleg, Reu, Serug, Nahor, Terah, Abram; the same is Abraham. 1:28 The sons of Abraham; Isaac, and Ishmael." (1 Chronicles 1:4,17-28 KJV)
From two other people come two other very well-known identities: Israelites are the descendants of Isaac's son Jacob, who God renamed Israel, and from Jacob's son Judah come the terms Jew and Jewish.
So how do all of these designations relate to the people involved?
A vitally important fact in understanding Bible Prophecy is that while all Jews are Israelites, not all Israelites are Jews. All are Hebrews, but only the descendants of Judah are Jews. Many prophecies apply specifically to the Jewish people of today, while other prophecies apply specifically to the descendants of the other so-called "lost" tribes of Israel (see The Galilee Captivity).
Fact Finder: The apostle Paul at one time said that he was a Jew but at another time said that he was a Benjamite. Did Paul contradict himself, or was he entirely right in both statements?