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Bible Dictionaries

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament

Israelite

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An Israelite was one who belonged to the nation of Israel, regarded, more especially from the print of view of the nation, as the recipient of Divine favour and special privilege. An Israelite is a member of a chosen people and as such is the sharer of the blessings belonging to that people. It is a name of honour, and is to be distinguished from both ‘Hebrew’ and ‘Jew,’ the former being, at least in NT times, a Jew with purely national sympathies, who spoke the native Hebrew or Aramaic dialect of Palestine; while the Jew was one who belonged to the ancient race wherever he might be settled and whatever his views. Every Jew, however, regarded himself as a true Israelite, and prided himself on the privileges which he, as a member of the favoured nation, had received when other nations had been passed by. The Apostle Paul refers to these privileges when he describes his ‘kinsmen according to the flesh’ as Israelites ‘whose is the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises’ (Romans 9:4). He knows the way in which the Jew boasts of them, and claims that he can share in that boasting as well as any of his detractors. ‘Are they Israelites?-so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham?-so am I’ (2 Corinthians 11:22). This feeling of exclusive national privilege led in many cases to the rejection of the gospel by the Jews, who did not wish their privileges to be extended to the heathen world. This rejection of his message by those who wore Israelites by birth caused the Apostle to conceive of a true or spiritual Israelite as equivalent to a believer in Jesus Christ-one after the type of Nathanael of John 1:47, an Israelite indeed in whom is no guile (cf. article Israel). The Apostle applies the term in its natural sense to himself in Romans 11:1, ‘I also am an Israelite,’ in order to show that all the members of the race have not been rejected by God, but that there is a remnant according to the election of grace-Israelites who are Israelites indeed, not merely by outward physical connexion, but also by moral and spiritual characteristics.

W. F. Boyd.

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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Israelite'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/hdn/i/israelite.html. 1906-1918.

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