Contact Us

Who is considered the first Jew and why?

Who is considered the first Jew and why?

 Email

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.
© Copyright, all rights reserved. If you enjoyed this article, we encourage you to distribute it further, provided that you comply with Chabad.org's copyright policy.
 Email
Join the Discussion
Sort By:
12 Comments
1000 characters remaining
Daniel Buffalo August 22, 2017

How do we know the exact years of Abraham's birth and death? Reply

jason wyck February 1, 2016

Contradiction between articles This article supports the claim that Abraham was Jewish.
Chabad org/library/article_cdo/aid/2013020/jewish/Was-Abraham-Jewish.htm

Yet, this article does not.
chabad org/library/article_cdo/aid/945298/jewish/Was-Jewishness-Always-Matrilineal.htm

Moses was not the only one to marry out of the tribe. Joseph married an Egyptian woman, and (according to some opinions) his brothers married Canaanites. For that matter, what made Rachel, Leah or Rebecca more Jewish than anyone else?

The answer is: nothing at all. Because there was no Jewish people at the time.

The Jewish nation was formed at the event of Mount Sinai. Before that, they were descendants of a common father, Jacob, along with many who had come to join or had married into their families. Standing at Mount Sinai, they were chosen and appointed a “kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” They became a people Reply

Mrs. Chana Benjaminson via mychabad.org 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. Reply

Anonymous 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 ? Reply

Truth Seeker 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? Reply

Abijah 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. Reply

Anonymous March 23, 2008

to gershon where is the proof that the israelites are that nation? Reply

Jerome Hillsborough, NJ March 23, 2008

Who is considered the first Jew Mordechai was the first referenced as a Jew, but Abraham the first Hebrew. Reply

gershon 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. Reply

Thomas Karp New Haven , Ct. 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. Reply

Eliezer montevideo, uruguay March 19, 2008

First Jew Were there Jews before the Giving of the Torah? Reply

Anonymous 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? Reply

Related Topics