The Israelites are according to the Bible, all members of the Twelve Tribes of Israel and their descendants, the Jews. They form in its entirety and succession of generations the people of Israel (Hebrew: ישראל ).


Just a few extra-biblical sources give clues to the origin of the Israelites. The earliest evidence of an ethnic group "Israel" is the Merneptah dated to 1208 BC stele on which the Pharaoh Merneptah mentions a tribe or a nation in Canaan called Ysrjr:

The name first appears in the Tanakh as an honorary name of God for the progenitor of the Israelites, Jacob (Gen 32:29 ). It literally means " man ( man ) against God " and is justified there with Jacob's struggle against God for his blessings.

It contains the Semitic god Title El, the God YHWH referred to in the Bible who have chosen this people from all the nations of the earth to be his witnesses. This also applies to all descendants of the Israelites:

" Since the day that we overpowered the voice of God at Sinai, we are no longer the same. [ ... ] Something never happened before has happened: God revealed to us his name, and we are called by Him. All nations on earth will see that you carry the name of the Lord ' (Deut. 28:10). There are two Hebrew names for Jew; Jew, whose first three letters are the first three letters of the ineffable name, and Israel, whose last syllable, el ' in Hebrew ' God ' means ... "

In German Bible translations, the members of this people are called to this day the Israelites, from the Greek suffix -it- that was the Hebrew nation name attached since the Septuagint ( hoi Israêlitai ).

The early members of this people are called in the Bible with regard to their Hebrew language Hebrew. Outside the Bible, the consonants of the word root hbr referred to in Semitic languages ​​of the 2nd millennium BC, not an ethnic but a social group of landless and uprooted, were included among the robbers, nomads, day laborers, forced laborers and mercenaries.

Formation according to biblical representation

After the first book of Moses, the Israelites are descended from the twelve sons of Jacob, whose father Isaac and grandfather Abraham. To the people they were first in slavery in Egypt after the second book of Moses. In this they were advised as a result of famine, which had prompted the sons of Jacob and their families to buy corn in Egypt inventories. A later Pharaoh Ramses II probably, did they then forced into hard labor for his store cities.

In their cries for help towards YHWH Moses have chosen and sent to free them from slavery. He had 600,000 men and their wives and children led to the exodus from Egypt. This will henceforth be called the congregation of Israel. After the passage of the desert they had reached at the Mount Sinai, where YHWH is revealed to Moses and had given him the Torah. Then he had to Moses, 70 leaders of the Israelites made ​​a covenant with which he was committed to him and his commandments to fidelity for this people and this allegiance and promised them again the gift of the land.

Moses and Joshua lead the Israelites to Canaan then. Joshua and the book of Judges tell the course of the so-called land of Canaan acquisition and subsequent allegation against external enemies of the Israelites in the pre-state period of the tribal federation.

To the constant threat to master and achieve foreign policy stability, the Israelites would later like other peoples demanded a king and Saul chosen as their first king. After King David replaced this, he captured Jerusalem and made it with the transfer of the ark to the cultic center of his empire. His son Solomon was then allowed to build the temple in Jerusalem.

Emergence of Judaism

In the next generation of Solomon empire collapsed because of a revolt of the northern tribes in the constituent states kingdom of Judah with Jerusalem and the northern kingdom of Israel with Shechem as its capital (1 Kings 12,20 EU). The northern kingdom ended in 722 BC with the conquest by the Assyrians and deportation of the local upper class ( 2 Kgs 17.6 EU). The ten tribes of the northern kingdom are also called " Lost Tribes of Israel ".

The remaining tribes of Judah, Benjamin and Levi parts have been identified since the division of the kingdom as a Jew. It went beyond the Roman province of Judea forth the name Jews who today also extends into the Jewish diaspora to all descendants of the earlier Israelites and all members of Judaism.

The State of Israel was founded in 1948 gave this name in conscious attachment to the biblical name. Today's Jews continue to call themselves Israelites and people of Israel. Even the Samaritans as a mixed population of immigrants ( 2 Kgs 17.24 EU) and the land remaining or returning remains of the population of the former northern kingdom of Israel have claim to that name.

New Testament

In the New Testament the terms " Israel / Israelite / Israelites " occur 73mal and always refer to the Jewish people as a whole or individuals as its members. At all sites the binding chosen by God, God's people are meant and addressed. All NT writings expect and hope, therefore, ask for the final salvation of all Israelites by God.

Especially Paul of Tarsus makes this rescue in his Epistle to the Romans ( Romans 9-11 ) to a relevant topic for all Christians. His early Galatians closes the " Israel of God" in the intercession of Christians (Galatians 6:16). His later Ephesians affirms the Israelite hope of the pilgrimage of the nations to Zion, which allows atoning death of Christ on the cross and the early Christians had begun. This requirement is also in John's Gospel (Jn 1,31.47.49; 3.10 ), representing the Jews as otherwise representative of the ended of Jesus Christ "Old Aeon ", and in the Book of Revelation ( 2:14; 7.4; 21, 12).