Who is a Jew?


Who is a Jew?


Obviously, this is a question that has been debated for centuries. One cannot be considered Jewish strictly on the basis of religion, because most Jewish people today are not religious. The same applies to any definition of a Jew based on culture, as well. According to Rabbinic Judaism, to be considered a Jew, one must have Jewish parents and in particular a Jewish mother.

This rabbinic definition is not Biblically correct. The Scriptural definition of a Jew is three-fold: First of all, we are a nation and a people; to be considered Jewish one must be a physical descendant of Abraham through Isaac and Jacob (Gen. 12:1-3). Secondly, the Biblical lineage is patrilineal, i.e. carried through the father, not matrilineal or carried through the mother (for example, Moses had a Gentile wife and King David’s great grandmother was Ruth, the Moabite, yet their children were all considered Jewish).

Finally, the Scriptures indicate that if either parent is Jewish or if a grandparent is Jewish (i.e., if there is a significant Jewish heritage), one can identify himself or herself as being Jewish and can claim himself as a part of God’s Chosen People.