🔼The name Jew: Summary
- From the verb ידה (yada), to praise.
🔼The name Jew in the Bible
The name Jew is technically an adjective which literally means Judaic (which means that the English adjective Jewish is an incorrect pleonasm). But because this word is an adjective, its usages in the New Testament sometimes make for rather surprising grammar. For instance, one is not a Jew (which would be expressed with a predicative, nominative case) but one adheres to Jewish traditions (which is expressed with a dative).
In the New Testament, the name Jew (Ιουδαιος, Ioudaios) generally applies to an inhabitant of Judea (Ιουδαια, Ioudaia), but this generalization is rather leaky. The name comes from the Septuagint, in which it is applied to the people of the tribe of Judah (יהודי, Yehudi). These people were exiled to Babylon, where the name Jew was extended to anybody who came from any of the Israelite tribes. When the Jews returned to Palestine, the region where they settled became known as Judea, but the name Jew soon began to be applied only to those people who adhered to the reformed Judaism of the post-exilic era, whether they lived in Judea, still in Babylon or anywhere else in the world (Acts 2:10).
At the rise of Christianity as a school of thought distinct from Judaism, the name Jew became even more ambiguously applied. The apostle Paul writes that a true Jew is someone who doesn't simply adhere to Judaism but who believes according to the Christian specialization (Romans 2:17-29). But often the name Jew was categorically applied to those inhabitants of Judea who opposed and aggressed Christ, Christianity and Christians (John 19:12, Acts 9:23, 27:7, 1 Thessalonians 2:14).
Altogether, the name Jew is used 199 times in the New Testament; see full concordance.
🔼Jews and the Blood of Jesus
The Jews famously proclaimed the blood of Jesus to be on them and their children (Matthew 27:25 only and see Acts 5:28) and that has been explained to horrible convenience in order to justify persecution of Jews for millennia. But insofar this convenience can be traced back to actual exegesis, it shows a serious lack of understanding of Biblical Law. Sins of the fathers can only affect descending generations when these sins have to do with the worship of false gods, and that for only four or five generations deep (Exodus 19:5). In all other cases, no son was to be condemned for the sins of his father (Deuteronomy 24:16, Jeremiah 31:29-30, Ezekiel 18:19-20; although some gray areas can be readily identified and the gray-scale attuned at will: 2 Samuel 12:14, Isaiah 14:21, Joshua 7:24, and of course Romans 5:19).
Christians can not legally condemn Jews because only Matthew witnesses of their statement and that's one witness too few (Numbers 35:30, Deuteronomy 17:6). On top of that, YHWH says "vengeance is mine" (Deuteronomy 32:35) and Jesus says "love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you" (Matthew 5:44). Jesus also prayed for forgiveness to the people who crucified him (actually, he prayed God to forgive their ignorance, not their actual deed; Luke 23:34), and it should be remembered that he didn't pray for forgiveness of the people who killed the people who crucified him.
And even if, in the most corrupt court in the world, the Jews would be held collectively accountable for the statement made by Matthew, they would be endowed with the greatest blessing ever bestowed mankind, namely that of the cleansing blood of the Lord (Ephesians 1:7, 2:13, Hebrews 9:14, 1 Peter 1:2, 1:19, 1 John 1:7, Revelation 1:5, 7:14 and 12:11).
🔼Etymology of the name Jew
The name Jew is an Anglicized version of the French name Gew (something similar happened with the name James), and that can be traced back to the Latin Iudaeus, which in turn comes from the Greek adjective Ιουδαιος (Ioudaios), which literally means "Jewish" or rather "of Judea". The name Judea in turn comes from the Hebrew name Judah (in Greek Ιουδα, Iouda), which belonged to the fourth son of Jacob and Leah, who became the patriarch of the tribe of Judah, which settled in the land west of the Jordan. The name Judah comes from the verb ידה (yada), meaning to praise:
The related verbs ידה (yada), to praise, and הוד (hod), to be worthy of praise, conjugate into such similar forms that it's often not clear which verb in which tense is used. From the verb ידה (yada), to praise, come:
- The plural noun הידות (huyyedot), meaning songs of praise.
- The noun תודה (toda), meaning confession or praise.
From the verb הוד (hod), meaning to be praise-worthy, comes the noun הוד (hod), meaning splendor, majesty, vigor, glory or honor.
In the New Testament occur several derivations of the names Jew (Ιουδαιος, Ioudaios) and Judah (Ιουδαια, Ioudaia), namely:
- The names Judas and Jude, both spelled Ιουδας (Ioudas).
- The verb Ιουδαιζω (Ioudaizo), meaning to Judaize; to live according to Jewish law (Galatians 2:14 only).
- The adjective Ιουδαικος (Ioudaikos), meaning Jewish (Titus 1:14 only).
- The noun Ιουδαισμος (Ioudaismos), meaning Judaism (Galatians 1:13-14 only).
By the time the name Jew was invented, the original meaning was not recognized as much as its cultural significance. But it literally means Praiser.