Hebrews. For history, see Jews; for religion, see Judaism.
Hebrews, an anonymous New Testament homily with closing greetings normally associated with the letter genre, written before c.A.D. 96. It is addressed to Jewish Christians who were being pressured to renounce their confidence in Jesus. The first part is an argument that Christ is superior to the angels and to Moses; it closes with an exhortation to faith in the form of a commentary on a passage from Psalm 95. Jesus' priesthood is of the eternal order of Melchizedek, which replaces the levitical priesthood of Aaron. His sacrifice of himself is superior to and supersedes the incessant round of sacrifices offered by the levitical priests because it effects expiation of sins and the cleansing of the conscience once and for all. Chapter 11 celebrates the heroes of the faith, leading into a concluding exhortation to endurance and godly living.

See studies by F. F. Bruce (rev. ed. 1988) and W. L. Lane (1991).

Hebrews, Gospel according to the: see Pseudepigrapha.

Hebrews (or Hebertes, Eberites, Hebreians, "Habiru" or "Habiri"; Hebrew: עברים or עבריים, Standard ʿIvrim, ʿIvriyyim Tiberian ʿIḇrîm, ʿIḇriyyîm) are an ancient people defined as descendants of biblical Patriarch Eber (Hebrew עברי (ʿIḇrî) "traverse or pass over"), a great-grandson of Noah.

They were called Ibri, meaning the people from over on the other side of the Jordan river. They lived in the Land of Canaan (the Levant). The Ibri people are also known in Africa, mainly Egypt and Sudan.

Other authors believe that Ivri is another name for Abraham, and define the Hebrews as the descendants of this patriarch. Note however that Abraham is once referred to as "Abram the Hebrew" (Genesis 14:13).

Hebrews are known as the ancestors of the Israelites, who used the hebrew language. Israelites were the writers of the Hebrew Bible and therefore the spiritual and historical forerunners of the Jews, Christians and Muslims. In the Bible and in current language, the word Hebrews is often used as a synonym for Israelites, and sometimes for the users of the hebrew language (Jews and Israelis).

Hebrews vs. Israelites vs. Jew

Israelites are defined as the descendants of Jacob, son of Isaac, grandson of Abraham. Eber, an ancestor of Jacob (6 generations removed), is a distant ancestor of many people, including the Israelites but also the Arabs, descendant from Ishmael. Among historical scholars, there is some disagreement about the relationship between the Hebrews and Israelites, the history and legacy of the Hebrew people.

Jews are all people of Jewish faith, regardless of ancestry.

The terms "Hebrews" and "Israelites" usually describe the same people, called Hebrews before the conquest of the Land of Canaan and Israelites afterwards. Occasionally, "Hebrews" is used to designate the Jews, who use the hebrew language. The Epistle to the Hebrews was probably written for Jewish Christians. The current State of Israel, a homeland for all Jews, is often nicknamed the "Hebrew state".


These areas were politically Phoenicia and of the Philistines in Canaan when they first arrived in the area (this statement is matter of debate: some archaeologists believe that the Israelites simply arose as a subculture within Canaanite society). The Hebrews lived within this region in the 2nd millennium BCE and spoke a Canaanite dialect, which played a role in the Hebrew languages, the local Canaanite culture. The extent of the distinction between the culture of the Canaanites and the Hebrews is a matter of great debate, touching as it does on strong religious sensibilities. They were also known as the Israelites and Judeans. Hebrew is the main language traditionally used in Jewish holy scriptures and prayer, and since the early 20th century, has undergone a secular revival, to become the primary everyday language of Jews in Palestine and later in the State of Israel.

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