ANSWERS: 2
  • Edit in response to comment: Actually, today's Jews are descendants of Judah, Benjamin, and Levi (who did not found his own "tribe," but some of whose descendants formed the hereditary Jewish priesthood line). These are the descendants of the inhabitants of Judea. The descendants of the other tribes, those of the original Kingdom of Israel, have been "lost," hence later references to the "lost tribes of Israel." Here and there, groups will claim a lineage from one of these "lost tribes." The Mormons are the most noticeable example that springs to my mind. However, today's Jews by and large do not recognize these claims. In Jewish tradition, the Lost Tribes of Israel remain "lost". In any case, my Israelite = Jew correlation, as I specifically stated, applies to the time of the Old Testament. The 1:1 correlation is no longer true for the Jews of today. You seem to have missed the very point I was making: that "Israelite" and "Israeli" not only describe different groups of people, but are also to be associated with different time periods. I apologize if the confusion stemmed from any lack of clarity on my part. Original answer: I would use "Israeli" to refer to an inhabitant of the modern-day nation of Israel (i.e. post-1948). "Israelites" would be the people who lived in the northern part of that territory during Biblical times (the land was divided into 2 kingdoms, Israel in the north and Judea in the south). "Israelite" could also be a catch-all term for all the Jews during Biblical times. Jacob was given the name "Israel" by God, his sons were patriarchs of the "Twelve Tribes of Israel," and these tribes later went on to settle the land which bears his name. Merriam-Webster's online dictionary backs this up, defining an Israeli as an inhabitant of the Republic of Israel (the modern nation) and an Israelite as either a descendant of Jacob or an inhabitant of the ancient (northern) kingdom (the Biblical kingdom). Note that not all Israelis are Jews, although most of them are. While the people currently referred to as Palestinians do not have Israeli citizenship, there are some of them who took it earlier on and are now known as Israeli Arabs. They have citizenship and representation in the government. For the Biblical term, though, "Israelite" and "Jew" were pretty synonymous.
  • An Israelite is a descendant of Jacob (also called Israel). Jacob: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacob An Israeli is a citizen of the state of Israel. Israelis: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Israelis http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Israel

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