Where does the name ” Jew ” come from? (With Printables!)

We commonly call God’s chosen people ” Jew s”, but they weren’t called that for centuries. So where in the world does that name come from?

Hopefully this post will help answer that question!

I made the graphics just incase you guys are more like me and LOVE a good visual. I understand things better that way.

Ok, So let’s start with this chart….

Noah has SHEM, Ham and Japeth. We are going to focus on the line of SHEM.

Interestingly enough, SHEM means, “Name” in Hebrew.

David again brought together all the able young men of Israel—thirty thousand. He and all his men went to Baalah in Judah to bring up from there the ark of God, which is called by the Name, the name of the Lord Almighty, who is enthroned between the cherubim on the ark. – 2 Samuel 6:1-2

Connection? In the modern Jewish Tanach YHWH (a very sacred name for God) is rendered as “HASHEM”, meaning in Hebrew, “the name”.

Then Moses said to God,“‘If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, “The God of your fathers has sent me to you,” and they ask me, “What is his name?” what shall I say to them?’ God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM.’ And he said, ‘Say this to the people of Israel, “I AM has sent me to you.”’ God also said to Moses, ‘Say this to the people of Israel, “The LORD (that is, YHWH!), the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.” This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations.’” – Exodus 3:13-14


Now back to the chart:

Shem’s line produces Eber. The word means “the other side,” “across,” is intended to denote the people or tribe who came “from the other, side of the river”. Why is this cool? Well, Eber’s line produces Terah, father of Abram.

Abram is the first to be called Hebrew in Genesis 14:13.

Abram, renamed Abraham, has two sons, Ishmael and Issac.

Issac has a son, Jacob, which God renames Israel.

God said to him, “Your name is Jacob; You shall no longer be called Jacob, But Israel shall be your name.” Thus He called him Israel. God also said to him, “I am God Almighty; Be fruitful and multiply; A nation and a company of nations shall come from you, And kings shall come forth from you. “The land which I gave to Abraham and Isaac, I will give it to you, And I will give the land to your descendants after you.” – Genesis 35: 10-12



After God renamed Jacob, Israel, the 12 tribes (from 10 sons and 2 grandsons, which came from Joseph) were established. Abraham’s descendants then became known has Children of Israel or Israelites.

Fast Forward

…8 century BC after the death of Solomon. All the people of Israel were settled into the Promise Land. The kingdom split into southern and northern. The northern kingdom consisted of 10 tribes, while only 2 tribes were in the south.

See the chart below:


Now, the tribes get a bit complex because a lot of people from the Northern Kingdom relocated to the Souther Kingdom (known as Kingdom of Judah). The reasons for relocating range from, civil wars, Assyria invasions, losing their inherited duties of serving as priests (Levites), to just being aware that the Northern Kingdom was straying from God’s commands.

To understand how the names continued to change, you only have to realize that the Northern Kingdom was very dispersed and then eventually overtaken. This left the two tribes, in addition to anyone that relocated, which made up the Southern Kingdom of Judah.

These inhabitants became known as Judahites after fall to Babylonians.

After Judah fell and the people were taken into exile, they became known as the Judahites and the religion they practiced JUDAism.

Eventually all Abrahams descendants became generally known by the name of the largest remaining tribe (Judah) and the name was shortened to Jew.



King David and Jesus came from this linage.


WHOA. That’s a lot of names and history to consider. But don’t worry, you can grasp it! Download the FREE printable charts:  Tribes of Israel , Noah to Israel Lineage Judah to Jew  and use them for a study guide!



If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

Galatians 3:29. 


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