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Who is considered the first Jew and why?

Who is considered the first Jew and why?

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Abraham, 1813-1638 BCE, is considered the first Jew.

A native of Mesopotamia, he rejected the idolatrous ways of his ancestors and contemporaries; he was the first person to use his own cognitive abilities to discover and recognize the one G‑d. He then actively publicized his newfound monotheistic beliefs among his fellow citizens.

Eventually G‑d revealed Himself to Abraham and commanded him to leave his ancestral home and travel to the land of Canaan (later known as the Land of Israel). G‑d then promised this land as the eternal inheritance of his descendants.

Abraham took upon himself the observance of the mitzvot (divine commandments) and at the age of 99 he followed G‑d's command to circumcise himself and the men of his household.

Click here for more on Abraham and his spiritual wanderings.

See also "Jews" or "Israelites"?

Best wishes,

Chani Benjaminson,
Chabad.org

Chani Benjaminson is co-director of Chabad of the South Coast, coordinator of Chabad’s Ask the Rabbi and Feedback departments, and is a member of the editorial staff of Chabad.org.
All names of persons and locations or other identifying features referenced in these questions have been omitted or changed to preserve the anonymity of the questioners.
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Discussion (10)
March 6, 2013
The Jewish People did indeed become a people at Mount Sinai, nevertheless, Abraham is considered the father of Judaism as it is from him that the history of our people began as we read in the Book of Genesis.
Mrs. Chana Benjaminson
mychabad.org
March 5, 2013
Who is the first Jew ?
How is it possible for Abraham to be a first Jew , when Torah was given to the nation for the first time at Sinai and became an obligation to the Jews to conduct themselves according to the commandments. As an example Judah married his daughter in law in conflict to Torah law after his son died. If Abraham was the first Jew then why the halachah is not enforced on Judah. ? Would nation of Israel as a whole be considered first Jew upon recieving Torah on Sinai ?
Anonymous
July 16, 2009
I am asking about a Jew in terms of NATIONALITY -

If Abraham was a Jew, then it makes Ismael also a Jew, doesn't it?
Truth Seeker
March 26, 2008
Protocol
Perhaps Sarah's mother was the first Jew. Otherwise how could Issac be a Jew?Abraham converted so he could marry her.
Abijah
March 23, 2008
to gershon
where is the proof that the israelites are that nation?
Anonymous
March 23, 2008
Who is considered the first Jew
Mordechai was the first referenced as a Jew, but Abraham the first Hebrew.
Jerome
Hillsborough, NJ
March 22, 2008
scriptural proof
We read in Gen. 12:

1. And the Lord said to Abram, "Go forth from your land and from your birthplace and from your father's house, to the land that I will show you.
2. And I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you, and I will aggrandize your name, and [you shall] be a blessing.

This nation became the Jewish nation.
gershon
March 22, 2008
First,
Avraham is mentioned in written Torah as being Hebrew (in Bereshith as 'Avraham the Hebrew'); and although the word 'Jew' ('Yehud', 'Yehudi') is derived from Judah, being Hebrew and being Jewish are pretty much synonomous; and Avraham is the first to be specifically described as 'Hebrew'.

Coincidentally, the first known Jew in America was also named Avraham:

Avraham Karp.

He resided in Petersburg, Virginia; a town I've actually been in on a number of occasions.
Thomas Karp
New Haven , Ct.
March 19, 2008
First Jew
Were there Jews before the Giving of the Torah?
Eliezer
montevideo, uruguay
March 19, 2008
Why not Noah?
Wasn't Noah righteous as well? And where is the reference in the torah that Abraham, was indeed the first Jew?
Anonymous
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