What is the difference between a Semite, a Hebrew, an Yisraelite, and a “Jew”?

“By QoshetishYah “

Are these terms equivalent in any way and can they be used interchangeably?

A Semite (or, “Shemite”) is someone descended from Shem, one of the sons of Noah. A Hebrew is someone descended from Heber (or, “Eber”), one of the great-grandsons of Shem. So all Hebrews are Semites, but not all Semites are Hebrews.

Six generations after Heber, Abraham was born to his line, so Abraham was both a Hebrew and a Semite, born of the line of Heber and Shem.

Isaac was born of Abraham; then Jacob of Isaac. Jacob’s name was changed to “Yisrael,” and he fathered 12 sons. His sons and their descendants are called Yisraelites, and they would be both Semitic and Hebrew. However, this would not make either Abraham or Isaac “Yisraelites.” Some, who interchange the words “Jew” and Yisraelite, call Abraham a Jew, even though Abraham was not even an Yisraelite, and the word “Jew” is not used in the Bible until 1,000 years after Abraham.

One of Jacob-Yisrael’s children was Judah (Hebrew – Yehudah). His descendants were called Yehudim (“Judite”). In Greek this reads Ioudaioi (“Judeans”).

The confusing factor is that almost all Bible translations employ the word “Jew,” which is a modern, shortened form of the word “Judite.” Every time you come to the word “Jew” in the Old Scriptures, you should read “Israelite;(with the exception of in the Book of Esther, indicated below)” and every time you come to the word “Jew” in the Greek Letter, you should read it as “Judean.”

In time this term Jew became an identifying name for the entire house of Israel under the Romans regardless of tribe.

Once you have those proper translations in mind, then we have to interpret those words further, because they can have more than one meaning, depending on the context. In the Old Testament, the word “Judite” has two distinct usage’s:

1.one who is of the tribe of Judah in a racial sense;
2.one who is a citizen of the southern “House of Judah,” including the tribes of Benjamin and Levi. Thus, this word can be used either tribally (racially) or geographically (nationally).

At the time of Esther, many non-Yisraelites “became Jews” (that is, Judites) as the result of the Judite victory (Esther 8:17).

“And in every province, and in every city, whithersoever the king’s commandment and his decree came, the Jews had joy and gladness, a feast and a good day. And many of the people of the land became Jews; for the fear of the Jews fell upon them.”

Through conversion one can become what is referred today as a “Jew”, but, by blood, one cannot convert to Yisreal. What a blessing this is!

Through Scripture, we have learned that Jacob is to be called Jacob no longer.

“There he built an altar, and called the place Elbethel, because there Yah had revealed himself to him when he fled from his brother. Yah appeared to Jacob again, when he came from Paddanaram, and blessed him. And Yah said to him, “Your name is Jacob; no longer shall your name be called Jacob, but Yisrael shall be your name.” So his name was called Israel.” (Genesis Chapter 35 verse 7)

After wrestling with an angel of Yah, Jacob is renamed Yisrael.

“Then he said, ‘Your name shall no more be called Jacob, but Yisrael, for you have striven with Yah and with men, and have prevailed.'” (Genesis Chapter 32 verse 28)
Later Yah calls him Jacob.

“And God spoke toYisrael in visions of the night, and said, “Jacob, Jacob.” And he said, “Here am I.” (Genesis Chapter 46 verse 2)

Notice: There is nothing stating in scripture that the children of Yisrael would be taking on any religion, especially “Judaism”.

The life of Yisrael did not begin as a set of religious practices or system of beleifs. Rather it began when Yah commanded Abraham to leave his home and take his wife Sarah and family to a new land called Canaan. Along with this command, Yah promised Abraham three things: he would have many descendants who would become a great nation, his descendants would be famous and have a land they could call their own; and that Yah would bless Abraham’s descendants, and everyone on earth would be blessed because of them (Gen 12.1-3, 15.1-6, 17.1-8).

In return for these promises, Abraham and his descendants were to trust in yah alone and obey what Yah commanded them to do. A special agreement (covenant) had been formed. The covenant was confirmed with Yah by having his son and all his male descendants circumcised (Gen 17.9-27). Having male children circumcised became an important sign of belonging to Yah’s speacial people, the House of Yisrael, which has nothing to do with religion, but everything to do with a way of life, culture and nationality.

The name Jew orginally refers to one who descends from the tribe of Yehudah (Judah). The word “Judaism”, latin Iudaismus, derived from the Greek Ioudaismos, and ultimately from the Hebrew Yehudah (Judah), which in no way relates to the bloodline. Therefore anyone can be a Jew, but not everyone can be an Yisraelite. In order to be an Yisraelite, one would have to actually descend from Yisreal (Jacob), the son of Issac, the son of Abraham. Bottom line, Judaism is a religion formed by the Edomites, descendants of Esau, the brother of Jacob and carried over into modern times, embraced by Eurpeans throughout the world who believe that once converting to “Judaism”, it would now make them descendants of the true Yisraelites.

In conclusion: Yah never gave us religion. Religion was created by man.


1. beliefs and worship: people’s beliefs and opinions concerning the existence, nature, and worship of a deity or deities, and divine involvement in the universe and human life
2. system: an institutionalized or personal system of beliefs and practices relating to the divine
3. personal beliefs or values: a set of strongly-held beliefs, values, and attitudes that somebody lives by

The House of Yisreal, adheres to the law of YHWH, what was written and handed down to us through Moshe. The Torah is not apart of an institutionalized or personal systems or beleifs as listed above. Yah gave onto Yisrael a lifestyle that is mandated by the Torah and fufilled by prophecy today.

Therefore, we can say:

1.All Israelites are Hebrews and Semites.
2.Many non-Yisraelites are called Jews (Judites, Judeans) today, simply because they claim to follow the lifestyle of Yisraelites. However; let’s not get that term confused with the true nationality of an Yisrealite.



~ by tellitlikeitizsista on September 30, 2010.

One Response to “What is the difference between a Semite, a Hebrew, an Yisraelite, and a “Jew”?”

  1. i now have a better understanding thankyou

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