Who are the Jews and is Torah just for them?


One of the first things we have to realize when it comes to the Torah, is who was it given to and who was it for? Ask most people and they will tell you that the Law or Torah was given to the Jewish people. Keeping the Sabbath, observing the seven Feast of YHWH, eating only those animals that were declared good for food, and keeping any of the Torah, is only for the Jews, most people will tell you. Let’s take a look and see how the Bible defines Jews and see exactly who the Torah was given to. First, we have to take a step back and define Hebrew. Hebrew means to transverse or crossover. Who was the first Hebrew or person to cross over?

“One who had escaped came and reported this to Abram the Hebrew” Genesis 14:13

The first person mentioned in the Bible as a “Hebrew” is Abram, who was renamed, Abraham. This makes sense considering that Abraham “crossed over” and left the comfort of his country, his home, and his family to follow YHWH into the wilderness.

“Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” Genesis 12: 1-3

Abraham was Hebrew, and most likely he was the first Hebrew. This would make all the descendants of Abraham Hebrews as well. Isaac, Jacob, King David, and even Y’shua would have been Hebrew’s because they were all descendants of Abraham.

Now we need to define Israel biblically. Today, Israel is a country in the Middle East, with physical borders and a group of people that live inside of those boarders who call themselves Israelites and/or Jews. When we read about Israel in the Bible, is this the Israel that is being referred to?

9Then YHWH appeared to Jacob again when he came from Paddan-aram, and He blessed him. 10YHWH 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. Genesis 35:9-10

When we see Israel in the Bible, assuming it is referring to the country of Israel can cause some confusion. When the Bible refers to “the sons of Israel,” it is talking about Jacobs’s twelve sons and their descendants. Jacob or Israel’s twelve sons and their descendants were the first Israelites. Now we can safely say that all of Abraham’s descendants were Hebrew, and all of Jacob’s descendants were Israelites, but Abraham wasn’t an Israelite.

Now we can start to break down the 12 Tribes and see where each group originated. Jacob’s sons; Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph and Benjamin made up the twelve tribes of Israel, and each tribe would have been named according to the name of each son. So all the descendants of Judah were known as Jews, Dan’s descendants would have been called Danites, and descendants of Levi were known as Levites. With this understanding, it becomes clear that only 1/12 of Israel was Jewish.

So far we know that Jews are descendants of Judah, and all Jews are Israelites and Hebrew, but not all Israelites are Jews. All this can be very confusing, so let’s recap what we know so far. Abraham was Hebrew, but not an Israelite or a Jew because neither existed yet. Isaac, Abraham’s son, was Hebrew, but not an Israelite or a Jew because neither existed yet. Jacob, who YHWH renamed Israel, was Isaac’s son. Jacob was Hebrew, but not a Jew because Jews originated with his son Judah. Judah, one of Jacob’s twelve sons, was Hebrew and an Israelite, but before his children, there was no such thing as a Jew. The descendants of the other eleven sons were not Jews but were named accordingly e.g. from Levi came the Levites, from Benjamin came the Benjamites and so on.

It’s critical to realize that while all Jews are Israelites, not all Israelites are Jews. Only the descendants of Judah are Jews. There is a deception at work that has a majority of people believing that most if not all of the Old Testament was written for the Jews. Most people believe that YHWH led the Jews out of Egypt, and while that is true, there is much more to the story. He also led the other eleven tribes out of Egypt as well as foreigners who chose to “crossover” and worship YHWH.

According to the Bible, YHWH’s chosen people are the descendants of Israel who we now know are not just Jews, but all of the twelve tribes.

“Hear, O Israel! YHWH is your Elohim, YHWH is one! 5You shall love YHWH your Elohim with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. Deuteronomy 6:4-5

For you are a holy people to YHWH your Elohim; YHWH your Elohim has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. Deuteronomy 7:6

So who is this verse talking about as a “chosen people”? These verses tell us that Israel, as in all 12 tribes are YHWH’s chosen people. Even if we are not natural born Israelites, we can still become one. According to the Bible, anyone who chooses to believe in and follow the commands of YHWH can be “grafted in.” This has been happening since the Exodus when foreigners came out of Egypt along with Israel.

Your Blockquote Text HereThere shall be one law for the native and for the stranger who sojourns among you. Exodus 12:49

The natives would have been descendants of Jacob’s twelve sons, and the strangers would have been everyone who wasn’t one of Jacob’s twelve sons, but they were ALL a part of Israel. Even though they were not born Israelites, they were grafted in and therefore under the same law. Romans 11 talks in depth about being grafted in, but to sum it up we could say that if you believe in Y’shua and follow the commands of YHWH, you are Grafted In and have become a part of His “chosen people.” We hope this study has cleared up some common misconceptions. The Jews alone are not YHWH’s chosen people, and it was not only the Jews who were brought out of Egypt. Also, the thought that the Torah was given ONLY to the Jews is not accurate. Israel (not the country) is YHWH’s chosen people; Israel (both natural born and Gentiles who were “grafted in”) were lead out of Egypt; and YHWH’s commandments, statutes and judgments were given to all of Israel.

“Now, O Israel, listen to the statutes and the judgments which I am teaching you to perform, so that you may live and go in and take possession of the land which YHWH, the Elohim of your fathers, is giving you. 2You shall not add to the word which I am commanding you, nor takeaway from it that you may keep the commandments of YHWH your Elohim which I command you. Deuteronomy 4: 1-2

At the end of King Solomon’s reign, 10 of the 12 tribes split off and became the Northern Kingdom of Israel. The tribes of Judah and Benjamin made up the Southern Kingdom. The people of the Northern Kingdom were scattered among the nations. Because the tribe of Judah was the dominant tribe they all became known as Jews. Today, because of bad translations of the Bible and the lack of or desire to study the word and test everything, most people falsely assume that the Torah does not apply to them because it was ONLY for the Jews! As we have hopefully shown, this is a grievous error and the Torah, Feast Days, and Sabbath are not just for the Jews, but for anyone who wishes to be in covenant with YHWH.

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Posted on September 5, 2014 in Answering Tough Questions, Confronting Mainstream Christians, Foundational Teachings

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About the Author

Our Ministry is based on 1 Peter 2:2. We want to provide the 'milk' that people new to Torah need by offering easy to read and understand teachings that the Torah "Babies" struggle with most. Please don't be offended by being called "Babies," that includes us as well. If we're being honest with each other and ourselves, we are all Torah Babies and will be until Y'shua returns to teach us. Shalom!

Responses (9)

  1. Joshua Ragsdale
    October 2, 2014 at 11:58 am · Reply

    good information!

  2. Jo dee
    July 11, 2015 at 7:50 pm · Reply

    Awesome article! Thanks… BTW There is a strong dilusion hitting the mainstream Torah community called GNG (Gentiles not grafted). They believe that only the TRUE Israelite are specific races e.g. African American, Hispanic etc…. And all of these house of Judahs 12 tribes are saved. That’s it… so if your a white person, your evil and will be destroyed. They also don’t believe in being grafted in. Apparently there is no such thing. Sad huh…. sad. Shalom….

    • TorahBabies
      July 12, 2015 at 1:38 pm · Reply

      We’ve never encountered any GNG people. However, we deal with the BHI (Black Hebrew Israelites) very often!

  3. Doug Cannon
    January 16, 2016 at 10:56 pm · Reply

    Jo dee, I’ve not come across GNG people eithet, but when you do just show them the “fulness of the Nations (Gentiles)” is the Tribe of Ephraim that will increase (grow like fish) Gen 48:16. Thus the reason Yeshua send fishers of men. All belivers are grafted in, both Judah (natural branches) and Ephraim (Wild branches) into the Root, which is Messiah.

  4. Edgar A. Palacio
    September 11, 2016 at 11:24 pm · Reply

    Please cite from the scripture exactly where i can find that the jews originated from the tribe of judah. Also please define the word jew and the refutable and independent source of your definition. You also failed to justify and prove your point that judah was the dominant tribe during their dispersion. How did you come up to this point?

  5. Edgar A. Palacio
    September 12, 2016 at 12:30 am · Reply

    Waiting for your reply. I hope my questions were not deleted.

    • TorahBabies
      September 12, 2016 at 12:21 pm · Reply


      You seem to be a bit hostile. The tone of your comments suggest that you disagree and the questions posed appear to be an attempt to back us into a corner by discrediting what we stated in the teaching!

      It’s okay though because we are used to dealing with people like yourself! We will gladly answer your questions and in doing so prove that the statements made in the teaching are in fact true and correct.

      (Please note that spelling and grammar mistakes belong to Edgar as we are simply copying and pasting from his comment.)

      “Please cite from the scripture exactly where i can find that the jews originated from the tribe of judah.”

      There is no scripture that explicitly states that Jews are descendant from the tribe of Judah. However, there are many things that are known to be true that are not found in scripture. Certain things require that we look outside of the Bible. Just because the Bible does not explicitly state something to be true does not mean it is not. If you read very carefully in your bible about Jacob’s (Israel’s) 12 sons it is strongly implied that each son’s descendants were associated with their respective tribes.

      “Also please define the word jew and the refutable and independent source of your definition.”

      We have already defined the word, Jew HERE. However, allow me to elaborate with a couple of different sources.

      First is the etymology of the word Jew:
      late 12c., Giw, Jeu, “a Jew (ancient or modern), one of the Jewish race or religion,” from Anglo-French iuw, Old French giu (Modern French Juif), from Latin Iudaeum (nominative Iudaeus), from Greek Ioudaios, from Aramaic jehudhai (Hebrew y’hudi) “a Jew,” from Y’hudah “Judah,” literally “celebrated,” name of Jacob’s fourth son and of the tribe descended from him.(Notice this part in particular)
      HERE is the full website that we suggest you take a look at.

      “The word “Jew” (in Hebrew, “Yehudi”) is derived from the name Judah, which was the name of one of Jacob’s twelve sons. Judah was the ancestor of one of the tribes of Israel, which was named after him. Originally, the term Yehudi referred specifically to members of the tribe of Judah, as distinguished from the other tribes of Israel. However, after the death of King Solomon, the nation of Israel was split into two kingdoms: the kingdom of Judah and the kingdom of Israel (I Kings 12; II Chronicles 10). After that time, the word Yehudi could properly be used to describe anyone from the kingdom of Judah, which included the tribes of Judah, Benjamin, and Levi, as well as scattered settlements from other tribes. The most obvious biblical example of this usage is in Esther 2:5, where Mordecai is referred to as both a Yehudi and a member of the tribe of Benjamin.” (Judaism 101)

      Here are three separate sources that confirm that from the earliest times, Jews were the descendants and members of the tribe of Judah.

      “You also failed to justify and prove your point that judah was the dominant tribe during their dispersion. How did you come up to this point?”

      Well, Edgar, it’s very easy to come to this point when you study scripture. Of the two censuses found in the book of Numbers, we see that Judah numbered 74,600 and 76,500, a difference of 11,900 and 12,100 respectively from the next largest tribe. That’s a huge difference and there is no indication anywhere to suggest that their numbers did not continue to grow and remain higher than the other tribes. As we continue to read through scripture it’s clear that Judah was the dominant tribe in the fact that when the nation split it split into the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the Southern Kingdom of Judah. The burden of proof is not on us, it’s on you, but we can assure you that if you do your due diligence in studying the Word you will see that the evidence is there.

      Shalom and Yah Bless, Brother!

  6. GP
    October 26, 2016 at 8:40 am · Reply

    Exodus 12 verse is out of context. In fact the Torah itself has differences clearly laid out for non Jews (eg. Eating animals that due of natural causes).

    The feasts are fun, it is important to rest etc, but HR lacks an important thing: Accuracy. Everyone is keeping their own interpretation of Torah, ignoring chapters 16 and 17 of Deuteronomy.

    The chief thing to learn about is circumcision IMHO. Starting with Genesis 17 ask “who was it given to and why?”

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