a name applied to the Israelites in Scripture
only by one who is a foreigner
(Gen. 39:14, 17
; 41:12, etc.), or by the Israelites when they speak of themselves to foreigners (40:15; Ex. 1:19
), or when spoken of an contrasted with other peoples (Gen. 43:32
; Ex. 1:3, 7, 15
; Deut. 15:12
). In the New Testament
there is the same contrast between Hebrews
and foreigners (Acts 6:1
; Phil. 3:5
(1.) The name is derived, according to some, from Eber
), the ancestor of Abraham.
The Hebrews are "sons of Eber" (10:21).
(2.) Others trace the name of a Hebrew
root-word signifying "to pass over," and hence regard it as meaning "the man
who passed over," viz., the Euphrates;
or to the Hebrew word meaning "the region" or "country beyond," viz., the land of Chaldea.
This latter view is preferred. It is the more probable origin of the designation given to Abraham coming among the Canaanites
as a man from beyond
the Euphrates (Gen. 14:13
(3.) A third derivation of the word has been suggested, viz., that it is from the Hebrew word 'abhar, "to pass over," whence 'ebher, in the sense of a "sojourner" or "passer through" as distinct from a "settler" in the land, and thus applies to the condition of Abraham (Heb. 11:13