What Does the Bible Say About Jews?


In both its history and prophetic revelations, the Bible has a great deal to say about the Jewish people. In fact, events associated with the House of Judah provide vital keys to understanding God’s great plan of salvation for all of mankind!

The term “Jew” is found in the Old and New Testament and primarily refers to the descendants of one of the sons of Jacob—as distinguished from other of Jacob’s children.

It is important to understand that Judah was ONE of twelve sons born to Jacob. Jacob had twelve sons by four wives (Genesis 35:22-26). These are the ones who became the nation of Israel with each son becoming a distinct tribe and, eventually, individual nations. Not all Israelites are Jews, but all Jews are Israelites. This distinction is vital.

In Genesis 29, verse 35, the birth of the fourth son of Jacob by his wife, Leah, is recorded, and the name given to him was Judah—which means “praise.”

Some further details about Judah are given in the Book of Genesis.

It appears that Joseph was favored by Jacob, and, furthermore, that Joseph was disliked by his brothers to such an extent that they contemplated killing him (compare Genesis 37:18-20). First Reuben and then Judah intervened to save Joseph’s life, and we find that Judah’s suggestion was as follows:

“So Judah said to his brothers, ‘What profit is there if we kill our brother and conceal his blood? Come and let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, and let not our hand be upon him, for he is our brother and our flesh.’ And his brothers listened. Then Midianite traders passed by; so the brothers pulled Joseph up and lifted him out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver. And they took Joseph to Egypt” (Genesis 37:26-28).

Later, when Joseph’s brothers stood before him, accused of theft, it was Judah who offered himself as a substitute for Benjamin:

“‘For your servant became surety for the lad to my father, saying, “If I do not bring him back to you, then I shall bear the blame before my father forever.” Now therefore, please let your servant remain instead of the lad as a slave to my lord, and let the lad go up with his brothers. For how shall I go up to my father if the lad is not with me, lest perhaps I see the evil that would come upon my father?’” (Genesis 44:32-34).

Another incident about Judah involved his daughter-in-law (compare Genesis 38). This occurred following the death of two of the sons of Judah—both of whom were successively married to Tamar, but the sons were evil and God killed them. Tamar disguised herself as a harlot, and Judah—not knowing that she was his daughter-in-law—lay with her.

Twins, Perez and Zerah, were born to Judah by Tamar. Shelah was Judah’s son by his wife, Shua, but it is from the lineage of Perez that David was born (Ruth 4:18-22), and from David’s lineage, Jesus Christ was born (Luke 3:23-38).

On his death-bed, Jacob blessed his twelve sons, and he specifically spoke of their circumstances “‘…in the last days’” (Genesis 49:1). Here is what he said about Judah:

“‘Judah, you are he whom your brothers shall praise; Your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies; Your father’s children shall bow down before you. Judah is a lion’s whelp; From the prey, my son, you have gone up. He bows down, he lies down as a lion; And as a lion, who shall rouse him? The scepter shall not depart from Judah, Nor a lawgiver from between his feet, Until Shiloh comes; And to Him shall be the obedience of the people. Binding his donkey to the vine, And his donkey’s colt to the choice vine, He washed his garments in wine, And his clothes in the blood of grapes. His eyes are darker than wine, And his teeth whiter than milk’” (Genesis 49:8-12).

The “scepter”—that is, rulership—was given to the tribe of Judah, and the Bible establishes this fact in the unfolding history of the Jews. David understood this:

“‘However the LORD God of Israel chose me above all the house of my father to be king over Israel forever, for He has chosen Judah to be the ruler; and of the house of Judah, the house of my father, and among the sons of my father, He was pleased with me to make me king over all Israel’” (1 Chronicles 28:4).

In the Psalms, we find this further acknowledgement:

“Moreover He rejected the tent of Joseph, And did not choose the tribe of Ephraim, But chose the tribe of Judah, Mount Zion which He loved. And He built His sanctuary like the heights, Like the earth which He has established forever. He also chose David His servant, And took him from the sheepfolds; From following the ewes that had young He brought him, To shepherd Jacob His people, And Israel His inheritance” (Psalm 78:67-71).

A momentous event occurred when Judah and Israel became SEPARATE nations. The reason was because of Solomon’s disobedience—especially his idolatry:

“Therefore the LORD said to Solomon, ‘Because you have done this, and have not kept My covenant and My statutes, which I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom away from you and give it to your servant. Nevertheless I will not do it in your days, for the sake of your father David; I will tear it out of the hand of your son. However I will not tear away the whole kingdom; I will give one tribe to your son for the sake of my servant David, and for the sake of Jerusalem which I have chosen’” (1 Kings 11:11-13).

From this point forward, ten tribes of Israel and the tribe of Judah were and have remained separate. At times, violent wars were fought between the kings of Israel and Judah. Ultimately, Israel was taken into national captivity by the Assyrians (about 722 B.C.). That record is found in 2 Kings, chapter 17.

Likewise, Judah rebelled against God, and He sent them into national captivity in Babylon (just before 600 B.C. and culminating in the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple of God in 587 B.C.).

After a seventy-year period, Jews were allowed to return. They rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem and the Temple of God. Judah once again became a nation in their homeland. This set the stage for the prophesied appearance of the Messiah which would occur several hundred years later.

When Jesus was born, Judah was a nation under Rome’s dominion. Jesus preached to the Jews of that time, but He was rejected by all but a very few of that generation—they did not believe that He was the Messiah:

“He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him” (John 1:11; compare Isaiah 53:3; Matthew 13:54-58; Acts 3:11-15).

Many Old Testament prophecies revealed that the Messiah would come from King David’s lineage—note this example:

“‘Behold, the days are coming,’ says the LORD, ‘That I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness; A King shall reign and prosper, And execute judgment and righteousness in the earth. In His days Judah will be saved, And Israel will dwell safely; Now this is His name by which He will be called: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS’” (Jeremiah 23:5-6).

In the New Testament, Jesus Christ is identified as a Jew, and this is confirmed by what is written in the Book of Hebrews, “For it is evident that our Lord arose from Judah…” (7:14). Furthermore, Paul presents more proof of the lineage of Jesus Christ:

“Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God which He promised before through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures, concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead” (Romans 1:1-4).

As the promised “Messiah,” Jesus has been appointed ruler over all things:

“Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11).

At this time, the Jewish people reject Jesus Christ as being the hopedfor Messiah. However, Jesus has promised to return to the earth and at that time, the Jews will accept Him. Jesus prophesied of this:

“‘O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! See! Your house is left to you desolate; for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!”’” (Matthew 23:37-39).

Jesus made a remarkable statement about Jews when He told a Samaritan woman, “‘…SALVATION IS OF THE JEWS’” (John 4:22).

The Messiah, God’s Son, was a Jew.

We plan to follow-up with more information which deals with the Jewish people—especially considering the modern day role of the State of Israel.

Additional references:

Was the State of Israel Prophesied?

Who will build the Temple of Ezekiel? Part 1

Who will build the Temple of Ezekiel? Part 2 

Who will build the Temple of Ezekiel? Part 3

Lead Writer: Dave Harris

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