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Jim Eby wrote:

Hi, guys —

While discussing their faith, I heard someone refer to themselves as an Israelite.

I always thought the Israelites were Jewish or Hebrew. Based on this morning's Scripture reading, it sounds like they are the Hebrews that followed Moses out of Egypt.

  • Can you explain this faith to me?

Jim

  { What does it mean when someone refers to themselves as an Israelite? }

Eric replied:

Hi, Jim —

Perhaps they are of Jewish extraction, either:

  • a Jew
  • a Messianic Jew, or
  • a Hebrew Catholic, for that matter.

A Messianic Jew is a Jew who has accepted Jesus as Messiah; basically a Christian of Jewish heritage.

Also, Galatians 6:16 suggests that Paul considered the Christian Church to be Israel in a sense,
a theme he discusses in Romans 9:8 and 11:7-27. As Pope Paul VI said,

"We are all spiritual Semites."

But I've never heard anyone jump from this to calling themselves Israelites.

Eric

Mary Ann replied:

Jim —

The Israelites are the descendants of Israel (Jacob), and were known by others as the Hebrews.

The Israelites always allowed conversions from other peoples, and assigned them to a tribe.

Mary Ann

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