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Why are the Jews called "Hebrews"?

by Rabbi Naftali Silberberg


Library » Jewish Identity » Who/What is a Jew? | Subscribe | What is RSS?


The word "Hebrew" comes from the Hebrew word "Ivri." Jews are called Hebrews because their ancestor and founder, Abraham, is called1 "Abraham the Ivri." The word Ivri means "from the [other] side," and Abraham came to the Land of Canaan from Mesopotamia which was "on the other side" of the Euphrates. Additionally, Abraham, with his monotheistic beliefs, was on one side while the rest of the world was on the other (pagan) side.


  • 1. Genesis 14:13.
TAGS: Hebrews, hebrew


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First Jew, and first of our three Patriarchs. Born into a pagan society in Mesepotamia in 1812 BCE, he discovered monethieism on his own. He was told by G-d to journey to the Land of Canaan where he and his wife Sarah would give birth to the Jewish People.
The land which G-d promised to give to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Named after the Tribe of Canaanites who dwelt there at the time. Eventually, when the Israelites conquered the land in 1272 BCE, it was renamed the "Land of Israel."