Names for Jewish and pre-Jewish groups

There are names over history: Jews, Israelites, Judahites, Hebrews, and others. Which names go with which time periods?

I know that Hebrews was used until the middle of the 20th century like the Young Men’s Hebrew Association, our version of the YMCA.

I’m looking at my grandparent’s marriage certificate from 1926 and they are both listed as Hebrew under Religion.

I’m talking about historical groups. Like “before period X, group Y did not exist, but the Z did.”

The Maccabees (AKA, Judean ISIS) were real nudnicks around 167BCE to 35 BCE.

The Israelites are the descendants of Israel, which was another name for Jacob. I don’t know what Israel himself, or his father Isaac, or his grandfather Abraham, would have identified themselves as.

The Israelites were then further divided into twelve tribes, from Israel’s twelve sons. Ten of those twelve tribes are lost to history, having no descendants left, or at least, no descendants who identify as such. One of the two that remains is the Tribe of Judah, which is the origin of the word “Jew” and its cognates.

Moses came a number of generations after Israel, and laid down the Law that the Jewish people thenceforward followed. I’m pretty sure that there’s a specific word for the group that starts at that point, though I’m not sure which word that would be… “Hebrew”, maybe?

The names are cumulative, not sequential. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were Hebrews; the people Moses took out of Egypt were both Israelites (AKA Children of Israel, AKA Israel) and Hebrews; and the descendants of the tribe of Judah are Jews, Israelites and Hebrews at the same time. Jewish literature, both religious and secular, uses all three terms interchangeably.

If you want to nitpick, then “Israelites” refers to the period up to the Babylonian Exile, while “Judeans” and “Jews” refers to the Persian period and later, although as I said, all terms were still used.

Not quite. The tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh survive.

Huh, I had thought that the Samaritans were descended from Ishmael (brother of Israel).

@Alessan, what name (if any) is applied to the people of Moses?

No, those would be the Ismaelites, who - according to both Jewish and Muslim tradition - are the ancestors of the Arabs.

“Israel” or “Children of Israel” (the latter of which is often translated as “Israelites”).

So the other tribe thought to have survived is the Levites? I know traditional Jews believe that there is still a meaningful distinction between Levites and other Jews. The Levites, traditionally, would be the tribe most closely related to Moses, though not all his direct descendants.

The stuff about the ten lost tribes isn’t really historical or even Biblical, though. It’s doubtful whether the orderly division of the land into tribal regions as described in the Bible ever reflected reality. It’s also highly implausible that, after conquering the Kingdom of Israel, the Assyrians would literally have transported the entire population to Assyria, and the Bible itself never makes that claim. Presumably the ones who cared about remaining Jews eventually made their way south to the Kingdom of Judah and the others assimilated, alliteratively, into Assyria. To whatever extent the tribal narrative of the Bible reflects historical reality, today’s Jews are certainly not descended exclusively from any one of them.