What is a Hebrew?
The word “Hebrew” means “one who has crossed over”. This word is: עברי and is pronounced “eevriy”. The root of this word is עבר which is pronounced “ever” and means “to cross over.”
A Hebrew is one who has crossed over from a life without God to a life with God and in covenant relationship to Him.
Abraham was the first person in the Bible to be called a Hebrew.
“Then one who had escaped came and told Abram the Hebrew…” – Genesis 14:13
The origin of this term may have extended back as far as Adam, but probably at least to one of Abraham’s ancestors whose name was actually Eber!
“When Eber had lived 34 years, he fathered Peleg.” -Genesis 11:16
Abraham is a prime example of what it means to be a Hebrew because he left his native land to follow after the one true God. Abraham was from the city of Ur, which was an ancient Sumerian city eventually taken over by the Babylonians. Today this area is known as Iraq.
The peoples of this region worshipped pagan deities and even attempted to erect a tower tall enough to reach the heavens – the tower of Babel. God confused their languages and dispersed them all over the earth. Although the names of the pagan deities would now be different for each language and people group, the common themes, rituals, and worship styles were retained wherever they went.
This ancient religious system is referred to in the Bible as “mystery Babylon”. These pagan deities are referenced in the Bible as “Baal”, “Asherah”, the “Queen of Heaven”, etc. There are at least 34 pagan deities mentioned in the Bible.
Abraham traveled over 900 miles to reach the land of Canaan that God had promised to him. The land of Canaan is the promised land of Israel!
We see that Abraham took a step of faith to leave his country and his family to enter into a land that God said He would cause to bless all the families of the earth. He crossed over from a life and culture immersed in paganism into a covenant relationship with the God of all Creation.
“Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” -Genesis 12:1-3
The God of all Creation revealed Himself to us in the Bible and told us that His name is Yahweh. In Hebrew this is spelled with four letters: Yud, Heh, Vav, and Heh.
These four Hebrew letters are commonly referred to as the “Tetragrammaton”. This is a Greek word that simply means “consisting of four letters”. Another way of referring to the Tetragrammaton is to simply transliterate the four letters into English as “YHWH” or to phonetically transliterate it as “Yahweh”.
The most common translations of the Bible simply use the word “LORD” in all capital letters to denote when the Tetragrammaton is used. Many Jewish translations avoid spelling the name of God and will instead use the terms “Adonai”, “G-d”, or “ha Shem”.
Yahweh is the God of all Creation and desires to have a covenant relationship with any and all who decide to crossover into His covenants, His promises, and His blessings!
We are those who crossover. We are the Hebrews!