The Jews have many biblical titles: Hebrews, Children of Israel, and Israelites, to name a few. What is the origin of the title Jew, in Hebrew ‘Yehudi?’ It is first used as an ethnic description during the Babylonian exile, and indicated an association with the tribe of Judah (‘Yehuda’), from which most of the Babylonian exiles descended. However, the name actually derives from the Hebrew word which means to praise, as it says: “And she (Leah) conceived again, and bore a son; and she said: ‘This time will I praise the Lord.’ Therefore she called his name Judah” (Genesis 29:35). The name thus highlights an inherent primary Jewish value. The fact that this collective name was given in exile shows that sometimes one has to travel far away to discover who they really are.
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