I often hear the words, “the Jews are God’s chosen people” and that “Once a Jew, remains a Jew.” They will never lose their being Jewish even if they have sinned many times or do not practice their religion. If the above statement is true, Jews must have really been fortunate. But who are the Jews? Does God really have favoritism making them His chosen people?
Confused With Hebrews, Jews, And Israelites
The Jews are said to be the descendants of Abraham (a Hebrew), the father of Isaac. His grandson, Jacob, was given the name of Israel by God, and so his children became the people of Israel. Over time, the Israelites (descendants of King David from the tribe of Judah) living in the Land of Israel took the name Jews. So basically, Jews, Israelites, and Hebrews are one and the same people and can be used interchangeably depending on the time and place.
Abraham and his people had a covenant with God more than 3,300 years ago. He led his people and taught them the belief that there is only one omnipotent and omnipresent God. And that God desires justice and compassion in this world. For this, people should be accountable for what they do.
It was not easy for Abraham to tell others of this belief. But his son, Isaac, and grandson, Jacob, followed his path. And with this firm faith, they were promised the Land of Canaan (now Land of Israel). It was known to be a large and prosperous ancient country located in what we now know as Phoenicia (Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Israel).
Jewish are said to be the chosen people with a mission. They are tasked to continue the works of their forefathers.
Judaism is the ancient monotheistic religion of the Jewish people. It is the very first religion that believed in one God. All other significant religions found their roots in the Judaism culture and philosophy. There are about 14 million Jews scattered all over the world.
The philosophy of Judaism is that God is the creator of the world – the very God who made a covenant with Abraham who is the father of all Jewish people. The contract promised that Jewish people will be blessed with God’s love and protection. But they would have to remain faithful to God’s law and worship Him faithfully and will be accountable for sins and disobedience against God and His commandments.
Torah is a Hebrew word which means “to instruct.” The Torah consists of five books of Moses in the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible. These five books are Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. The Torah is the basis of Judaism’s teachings that began at the time of Moses. It is considered the inspired Word of God (both Jews and Christians).
A Rabbi is a Hebrew word for “my teacher” or “my master.” A Rabbi is a learned Jew who studies Hebrew Bible and Talmud. This qualified him to guide other Jewish people in their study of the Torah, mitzvah observance, and service of God. He can be a congregation’s spiritual leader, and can interpret and apply the principles and traditions of teachings of Judaism as how he was taught by those who came before him.
In Orthodox Judaism, females are not allowed to become rabbis. But in today’s Progressive Judaism, women rabbis are being ordained.
Rabbis can marry and have children. Getting married is the fulfillment of the first mitzvah which is to be fruitful and multiply.
The Jewish Values
Many great nations and empires adopted many Jewish laws and values. They had undergone a thorough change in their beliefs (directly or indirectly) because of the teachings of the Torah. Some of these values that have contributed to the transformation of the world include:
- We are answerable to one God who called us to be just and compassionate to one another.
- This world that God created is basically good, and that life has a purpose.
- The worth of one’s life cannot be put on a scale and measured.
- We are given the prerogative to choose between good and evil.
- The right of every child for moral education.
- God loves those who work hard to earn a living.
- Everybody has the right to their property.
- No one is above the law. People in authority are not exempted from this rule.
- We should care for those who are in need.
- We must learn to respect everyone, even those who are different from us (in belief and in religion).
- All nations must learn to co-exist in peace with one another.
Jewish people lived a difficult life, just like many of us. They have been judged, persecuted, and dispersed all over the world. There was a time when they were conquerors and a time when they were conquered. In all these experiences, their customs, culture, religion, and philosophy evolved. Many great rulers, nations, religions have ceased to exist, but Jewish people have remained and did not perish. God must have really protected them.
We will always have different opinions about the Jews and why they were called the chosen people. It would take an in-depth knowledge and understanding to connect to the God we know, but still, we will never come close to the reason why when it comes to his wisdom. With the beliefs and values this ancient group of people has imparted to us through their descendants, the world we know might not be as what it is now. We might never enjoy a society that recognizes equality, compassion, kindness, and regard for one another.
Instead of questioning God why He considered the Jews his chosen people, it would be better if you invest some of your time to identify their roots and learn their Torah and the Bible. You might be able to decipher why.
Freeman, T. (n.d.) Who are the Jews? Retrieved from https://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/3852163/jewish/Who-Are-the-Jews.htm?gclid=Cj0KCQjw_7HdBRDPARIsAN_ltcJa4kB3LTev5UsoqQDHpYseOYJhrxQB1dscWpzopfmfuimrCHxUUaYaAh4IEALw_wcB