Revelations from the Word

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Jesus son of Eber

by Jean-Louis Coraboeuf

"Now Jesus Himself began His ministry at about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, ... the son of Jacob, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham, ... the son of Eber, ... the son of Shem, the son of Noah, ... the son of Adam, the son of God" (Luke 3:23-38).

"This is the genealogy of Shem: Shem was one hundred years old, and begot Arphaxad two years after the flood... Arphaxad lived thirty-five years, and begot Salah... Salah lived thirty years, and begot Eber... Eber lived thirty-four years, and begot Peleg... Peleg lived thirty years, and begot Reu... Reu lived thirty-two years, and begot Serug... Serug lived thirty years, and begot Nahor... Nahor lived twenty-nine years, and begot Terah... Now Terah lived seventy years, and begot Abram, Nahor, and Haran" (Genesis 11:10-26).

According to His genealogy (Luke 3:23-38), Jesus is a descendant of Eber (or Heber). Eber [עבר] great grandson of Shem is at the origin of the word 'Hebrew' [עברי, ivri]. The name Eber is derived from the verb 'avar' [עבר] meaning 'to pass by the side', 'to cross'. And so the word 'Hebrew' designated in its origin 'those who dwelt on the other side', that is those who came from the other side of the river Euphrates, Ur of the Chaldees. Abram was qualified with Hebrew for the first time when he lived under the oaks of Mamre, near to Hebron (Genesis 14:13). Over the course of the centuries, the word 'Hebrew' designated uniquely the Semite branch descended from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the ancestors of Jesus.

At the time of his fight with the angel of the Lord at the ford of Jabbok, He called Jacob, 'Israel' [ישראל] (Genesis 32:28). From this day, the word 'Israel' designated Jacob as well as his descendants, and the people of God were the 'Israelites' or the 'Hebrews'. Because of unfaithfulness of Solomon, the Lord split his kingdom into two (1 Kings 11:13). He designated Jeroboam as king of 10 tribes (kingdom of Israel), and Reheboam became king of the tribes of Judah and of Benjamin (the kingdom of Judah). When the kingdom of Israel was taken away into captivity, the people who remained in the kingdom of Judah began to be called 'Jews' [] (2 Kings 16:6 and 2 Kings 25:25). After the second deportation to Babylon, this name spread out to designate the people of the kingdom of Judah [יודה] (Esther 2:5).

At the time of Jesus, Israel was divided into three parts: Judea, Samaria, and Galilee, and the official language was Hebrew (John 19:20). The word 'Jew', 'Ioudaios' in Greek, designated here three things: a member of the tribe of Judah, someone of the Jewish religion and an inhabitant of Judea. Whereas today, according to the dictionary, the word 'Jew' designates someone belonging to the Israelite community or someone practising the Jewish religion, Judaism. And so in the gospels, the Greek word 'Ioudaioi' (the plural of 'Ioudaios') designates for the most part the inhabitants of Judea and ought to be translated by 'Judeans' and not by 'Jews'. The Israelites used to speak of themselves as the 'People of Israel', but strangers (Gentiles) called them all 'Jews' without any distinction of place. This is the Judeans – Pharisees, Sadducees and scribes living in Jerusalem or Judea – and not Jews who crucified Jesus. This confusion alas brought much tribulation on the Jewish people of the Diaspora.