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Ask The Israeli Expert » What does Hebrew mean?

Hebrew is a name given to the Jewish Patriarchs and later to the children of Israel in the Torah. Eventually it referred to the language of the Israelites. Its origins are unclear – it could refer to a specific place, person or just be a generic name for the people of Israel or a tribal confederation it was a part of (known as the chabiru).

In Jewish tradition, Hebrew is a term which denotes the special status of the Jewish Patriarch Abraham, who stood separate from the world as though they were on opposite sides of a river (The word Hebrew derives from a word that can refer to a bank of a river). He was on one side, believing in on God and the rest of the world was on the other (believing in many Gods).