What Are the Historical Origins of the Gentile Classification?


Quick Answer

The historical origin for the Gentile classification begins with the Great Flood and the people descended from Noah's sons. After the Great Flood, repopulating the world fell to Noah’s three sons. Japheth fathered the largest group, who settled Asia-Minor, southeastern Europe, Greece, Cyprus and Russia. Ham’s children settled southern Asia, southern Europe and North Africa, including the land God later promised to Israel. The descendants of Shem, who included the people of Israel and Abraham, inhabited the Middle East.

Continue Reading
Related Videos

Full Answer

After humanity departed from God’s purpose years later, God revealed a new plan and entered into a new covenant with Abraham. Through God’s covenant with Abraham, Israel was to inherit great blessings through Abraham’s son Isaac, whose son Jacob fathered the heads of the 12 tribes of Israel. After establishing the Kingdom of Israel, they thrived into a powerful and prosperous nation under the succession of three great kings: Saul, David and Solomon.

When Solomon died, no leader emerged with the strength to maintain unity, and the tribes turned away from God. The Kingdom separated into two parts — The Kingdom of Israel formed by 10 of the 12 tribes and the Kingdom of Judah, formed by the tribes of Judah and Benjamin.

The tribe of Judah, through which all kings had descended, came under attack and were carried away into bondage in Babylon, where they became known as “Jews.” Eventually, the term was applied to all of the 12 tribes who became enslaved or dispersed around the globe. The term “Gentile” originally referred to only the offspring of Japheth’s son Javan, who settled the "isles of the Gentiles," but later came to refer to anyone not descended from Jacob, especially polytheist nations and those who persecuted the Jews.

Learn more about Religion

Related Questions