Children of Israel

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The Children of Israel, or B'nei Yisrael (בני ישראל) in Hebrew (also B'nai Yisrael, B'nei Yisroel or Bene Israel) is a Biblical term for the Israelites. It is also an alternate way of referring to the people known as Hebrews or Jews. In the Torah, the actual children of Israel are the twelve sons of Jacob (also named Israel). The Children of Israel are also known as the Twelve Tribes.

The phrase "Children of Israel" (or "Sons of Israel") refers to the offspring of the Biblical patriarch Jacob, who was renamed "Israel" after he triumphed in a wrestling match with a mysterious adversary. The name "Israel" in English means "Upright (with) God"; see Israel.

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[edit] Twelve Tribes of Israel

Main article: Israelite

Jacob's twelve sons were the progenitors of the biblical Twelve Tribes of Israel. The Torah refers to them alternatively as the "children of Jacob" and the "children of Israel." After their descendants multiplied during their exile in ancient Egypt, the Bible continues to refer to them as the "Children of Israel."

In the midrash, a rabbinic Jewish genre of Biblical interpretation, Jacob has the status of the greatest of the three patriarchs, since only he produced a fully righteous family. Abraham had both Isaac and Ishmael, but the latter was expelled from Abraham's tent due to the negative influence he was having on Isaac. Isaac in turn had Jacob and Esau, the latter becoming a hunter (which is not seen as a "righteous" occupation) and selling his birthright to his brother. It is only Jacob/Israel who has sons who, after all their internal struggles, emerge as a united family, all loyal "Sons of Israel".

[edit] Exodus and later

In the Book of Exodus, the Israelites are constantly referred to as the "Children of Israel" when God speaks to Moses etc.

This name is not to be confused with the modern State of Israel whose citizens are called Israelis, some of whom are Muslims and some Christians. Only about 70 percent of modern-day Israel's citizens are actually Jews.

After the split of the United Monarchy, the southern kingdom came to be known as Judah, while the northern kingdom (which was comprised of ten of the twelve tribes) preserved the name of Israel. Nonetheless, "Israel" also continued to refer to all twelve tribes.

[edit] Christianity

Based on the New Testament, some Christians claim that Christians are the "new Israel" that replaced the "Children of Israel" since the Jews rejected Jesus. This view is called Supersessionism. Many European settlers in the New World saw themselves as the heirs of those ancient tribes, hence one finds that they named their children and many towns they settled in with names connected to the figures in the Bible.

[edit] Other appearances

There is an ethnic-religious group in Afghanistan which refers to itself as the Bnai Israel, or House of Israel, or Bani Israel. This group is referred to in English as the Pashtuns. Some Pashtuns claim to be the patriarchal historical descendants of the "ten lost tribes" of the northern Kingdom of Israel which were taken into captivity by Assyria.

Certain groups of Jews in India are sometimes referred to as Benai Israel.

[edit] Islam

In the Qur'an, this subject is touched upon a number of times. There is a Surah (chapter) in the Qur'an with the title Bani Israel (Arabic: بني إسرائيل) or House of Israel. This Surah takes its name from verse 4. This Surah was revealed in the last year before Hijrah. See Bani Israel (Quran sura). Besides right from the first chapter (Surah) the term has been mentioned many times.

[edit] See also

[edit] References

[edit] External links

he:בני ישראל

Children of Israel

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