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What Does It Mean To Be Jewish?

When Israel became a nation in 1948, the Law of Return was enacted which allowed Jews scattered abroad to return to their ancestral homeland, Israel. This begged the question:

Who is a Jew?

It’s a really loaded question…

The answer that was given at the time was: Anyone who in good faith says they are a Jew.

But to really unpack this and it’s implications for us as Messianics, we first need to understand how this nation began.

We all know the story of God calling Abram to leave Ur, the land of his father Terach, and cross over to another land that would be promised to his descents. The term “Hebrew” is actually the word in the Hebrew language meaning “crossed over”. He didn’t just cross over from the land of his father, but he also crossed over from the polytheism of his father. He was called to father a faith in one God, the creator of heaven and earth.

The story continues with Abram, now Avraham, fathering Isaac, who fathers Jacob, who then fathers 12 sons. The term “Jew” got coined as the catch all term for anyone from this lineage and came from one of the 12 sons; the one named Judah. This Jacob was given the name “Israel” by God himself… and with that name change, the nation of Israel was officially born. A nation with one God, who ends up giving them laws, customs, faith, and a land all of their own.

Easy enough right?

So if you’re descended from them, you’re a Jew!

We’ll, it gets a little more complicated than that…

Along with the laws that were given to Israel was one that commanded them to be lights unto the nations; to draw others in to this nation founded by the One God of the faith of Abraham.

But then what?

What’s the status of those who would be attracted to the light of Israel ; those who, like Avraham, wanted to cross over into the people, customs, and faith of the One God Creator of heaven and earth?

Well, God gave them the fine print for that too. Here’s some excerpts from that fine print:

“The same law shall apply to the native as to the stranger who sojourns among you.”

-Ex 12:49

“The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt; I am the Lord your God.“

-Lev 19:34

“There is to be one law and one ordinance for you and for the alien who sojourns with you.’”

-Numb 15:16

We can see this play out in the lives of some notable people from scripture, Ruth and Rachav specifically.

So who is a Jew?

Maybe we can go back to the answer given in response to the Law of Return…

Anyone who in good faith says they are a Jew.

If you are reading this today and you aren’t descended from Jacob or from someone who chose, like Abraham, to join the people of God,


Message us today!

Next up on the blog will be another taboo topic: To Convert or Not To Convert?

That is the question.

Blessings b’shem Yeshua!

Until next time!

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