Jews – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Posted By on August 13, 2015

This article is about the Jewish people. For their religion, see Judaism. Jews Hebrew: (Yehudim) Total population 13,854,80018,197,400[1] Regions with significant populations Israel 6,251,000[2][3] United States 5,425,000 (2011)[4] 6,800,000[5] France 480,000[4] Canada 375,000[4] United Kingdom 291,000[4] Russia 194,000 over 500,000[6][4] Argentina 182,300 230,000[7][4] Germany 119,000[4] Brazil 110,000[8] Australia 107,500[4] Hungary 100,000 120,000[4][9][10] South Africa 70,800[4] Ukraine 67,000 200,000[11][4] Mexico 67,476[12] Belgium 30,300[4] Netherlands 30,000[4] Italy 28,400[4] Turkey 26,000[13] Chile 18,500[4] Colombia 12,000- over 25,000[14] All other countries 250,200[4] Languages Predominant spoken languages:[15] Historical languages: Sacred languages: Religion Judaism Related ethnic groups other Levantines,[16][17][18][19]Samaritans,[18]Arabs,[18][20]Assyrians[18][19]

The Jews (Hebrew: ISO 259-3 Yehudim, Israeli pronunciation [jehudim]), also known as the Jewish people, are an ethnoreligious[21] and ethno-cultural group[22] descended from the Israelites of the Ancient Near East[23][24][25][26][27][28][29] and originating from the historical kingdoms of Israel and Judah.[30][31][32]

According to the Hebrew Bible narrative, Jewish ancestry is traced back to the Biblical patriarchs such as Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and the Biblical matriarchs Sarah, Rebecca, Leah, and Rachel, who lived in Canaan around the 18th century BCE. Jacob and his family migrated to Ancient Egypt after being invited to live with Joseph (who rose to the rank of Pharaoh's Vizier) in the Land of Goshen region by Pharaoh himself. The patriarchs' descendants were later enslaved until the Exodus led by Moses, which is commonly dated to the 13th century BCE.

Historically, Jews have descended mostly from the tribes of Judah and Simeon, and partially from the tribes of Benjamin and Levi, who had all together formed the ancient Kingdom of Judah[33] (alongside the remnants of the Northern Kingdom of Israel who migrated to their Southern counterpart and assimilated there).[34][35] A closely related group is the Samaritans, who according to their tradition trace their ancestry back to the Israelite tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh,[36] while according to the Bible their origin is in the people brought to Israel by the Neo-Assyrian Empire and some Kohanim (Jewish priests) who taught them how to worship the "native God".[37]

Jewish ethnicity, nationality and religion are strongly interrelated, as Judaism is the traditional faith of the Jewish nation.[38][39][40]Converts to Judaism typically have a status within the Jewish ethnos equal to those born into it.[41] Conversion is not encouraged by mainstream Judaism, and is considered a tough task, mainly applicable for cases of mixed marriages.[42]

The modern State of Israel was established as a Jewish state and defines itself as such in its Basic Laws. Its Law of Return grants the right of citizenship to any Jew who requests it.[43] Israel is the only country where Jews are a majority of the population.

According to the Bible, Israelites enjoyed political independence twice in ancient history, first during the periods of the biblical judges followed by the United Monarchy. After the fall of the United Monarchy the land was divided into Israel and Judah. The term Jew originated from the Roman Judean and denoted someone from the southern kingdom of Judah.[44] The shift of ethnonym from "Israelites" to "Jews" (inhabitant of Judah), although not contained in the Torah, is made explicit in the Book of Esther (4th century BCE),[45] a book in the Ketuvim, the third section of the Jewish Tanakh. In 587 BC Nebuchadnezzar II, King of the Chaldeans, besieged Jerusalem, destroyed the First Temple, and deported the most prominent citizens of Judah.[46] In 586 BC, Judah itself ceased to be an independent kingdom, and its remaining Jews were left stateless. The Babylonian exile ended in 539 BCE when the Persians conquered Babylon and Cyrus the Great allowed the exiled Jews to return to Yehud and rebuild their Temple, which was completed in 515 BCE. Yehud province was a peaceful part of the Persian Empire until the fall of the Empire in c. 333 BCE to Alexander the Great. Jews were also politically independent during the Hasmonean dynasty spanning from 140 to 37 BCE and to some degree under Herodians from 37 BCE to 6 CE. Since the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE, most Jews have lived in diaspora.[47] As an ethnic minority in every country in which they live (except Israel), they have frequently experienced persecution throughout history, resulting in a population that has fluctuated both in numbers and distribution over the centuries.

The world Jewish population reached a peak of 16.7million prior to World War II,[48] but approximately 6million Jews were killed in the Holocaust. Since then the population has risen again, and as of 2014[update] was estimated at 13.90million by the North American Jewish Data Bank,[48] or less than 0.2% of the total world population (roughly one in every 514 people).[49] According to this report, about 43% of all Jews reside in Israel (6million), and 40% in the United States (5.36.8million), with most of the remainder living in Europe (1.41million) and Canada (0.39million).[48] These numbers include all those who self-identified as Jews in a socio-demographic study or were identified as so by a respondent in the same household.[50] The exact world Jewish population, however, is difficult to measure. In addition to issues with census methodology, there are halakhic disputes regarding who is a Jew and secular, political, and ancestral identification factors that may affect the figure considerably.[51]

Jews have greatly influenced and contributed to human thought in many fields, including ethics,[52]medicine,[53][54]science and technology, the arts, music, philosophy[55] and business,[56][57] both historically and contemporarily.

The English word Jew continues Middle English Gyw, Iewe. These terms derive from Old French giu, earlier juieu, which had elided (dropped) the letter "d" from the Medieval Latin Iudaeus, which, like the New Testament Greek term Ioudaios, meant both Jews and Judeans / "of Judea".[58]

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