When Did the Israelites Became Known as “the Jews”?

Did you ever ask that question?

We read the Old Testament and God’s people were known as the “Israelites”, but when you get to the New Testament, they are suddenly called “the Jews”. How did that come to be?

Here’s the answer…

The word “jew” is a shortened version of the word yehudi, which denotes a member of the clan of Judah/Yehud. After the Second Temple period, Judah/Yejud became the heart of Israel, thus yehudim became a term for all members of the people of Israel.


And here is an overall picture of the progression on their name change:

The Hebrews (Moses’ time) —> the Israelites –> Samarians/Judeans (Ezra’s time) –> Samaritans/Jews (Jesus’ time) –> Hellenists-Hebrews (Paul’s time)



Posted by Phillip Chan

Phil has been writing in the Black Box for 10 years. His passion is to grow in his love for Jesus to obey his purposes in our generation.


  1. Ann

    Hi author with passion! i’m so happy and i add “Like” (facebook) to phillipchan.org

  2. ShanBaj

    This makes alot of sense! Its crystal clear now. Thank you 🙂

  3. Angela

    Thanks for breaking that down for me. I was also curious about the name progression!

  4. theJudahite Teacher

    Jews were idumeans whom seized control over the judahites via Herod by the power of the roman military. Idumeans are ancient enemies of judahites. There are 12tribes. They split and christ came to rejoin them, cleanse them of sin and bring them back to the Father. Read rev2:9 & rev3:9 these jews are they whom claim to be judahites but are not but go to the synagogue of satan. The true judahites and israelites were sent into slavery here in america and received new names. Nigger, colored, african, african amerian. The Book of maccabees shows how we lost our identity and became the lost sheep of the house of israel. Christ said he was not sent (BUT) to the lost sheep of the house of israel. Learn more, much more @theJudahite

  5. Simione Naituku

    So that means Jews are those of Judah and Benjamin and some Levites……….which means they are NOT Israelites. Israelites and Jews are two different people although they are from Patriarch Jacob …….start reading from the Old Testament, New Testament, right up to the Book of Mormon, Doctrines and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price, you will then know. When the scriptures talks about the Jews it is referring especially to the Southern Tribe and when about the Israelites it is talking about the Northern Tribe of Israel who are scattered around the four corners of the earth world as the Ten Lost Tribes. The two above are sometimes called Judah and Samaria and Jerusalem. Now the whereabouts and the true identity of this Ten Lost Tribes are only known to the Lord Jesus Christ, WHO in turn will tell each of these tribes who they really are. The starting evidence will be only from the scriptures as a prima facie, and supporting evidence of this will be from facts of their own history and archaeological findings and some circumstantial way of life that has been pronounced to them as curses and or blessings by God Himself when they were scattered. Incredible how God works.

  6. Elizabeth

    The term Jew is found in Nehemiah. I just started looking tonight and haven't found it in previous books….yet. Elizabeth

  7. Richard Evans

    You may be interested in reading Rabbi Lazer Gurkow’s comments on this subject.
    God bless

  8. Lorie Ann

    In John 1:47 we see Jesus / Yeshua calling Nathaniel a True Israelite. So , It stands to reason that people were still being referred to as Israelites in Jesus’ day . BUT , also we find that Jesus called ( in John 8 :44 ) the Pharisee’s and Scribes that they were of their father the devil. Now , were the Pharisee’s Jews or Israelites ? Or a sect of some kind . ? What I find most interesting is in that very same conversation that Jesus is having with them , they claim they HAVE NEVER BEEN IN BONDAGE TO ANY MAN. Yet they are Abraham’s seed . But we all know the Israelites / Hebrews CAME OUT OF BONDAGE IN EGYPT ! So, who are these Pharisee’s that Jesus is talking to who claim they were never in bondage .? Most people feel that the words Israelites , Hebrews, Jews are interchangeable .

    1. Shackelford

      Every time the word “Jew” appears in the Bible, it was translated from the word Judah. People from Judah are referred to as Judahites in the bible. Why change the bible?

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