How to Become a Hebrew
Jun 06, 2007
The word Hebrew comes from the root word abar, which means "to cross over." Abar is #5674 in Strong's Concordance, which says also that the word is "used very widely of any transition." A Hebrew is an immigrant.
Originally, the term Hebrew was applied to an immigrant, one who "crossed over" from Mesopotamia to Canaan. Thus, Abraham was a Hebrew when he left Ur of the Chaldees and immigrated to Canaan. He was also a Hebrew more specifically by being descended from Heber (or Eber) six generations earlier (Gen. 11:15-17).
With that background, we can now see how this name is used in the Book of Hebrews and why the author of that book did not call it the Book of Israelites, nor did he call it the Book of Jews. The Book of Hebrews was written to guide people as immigrants from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant. The book showed them (and us) how to "cross over" from an old land to a new, from Old Jerusalem to New Jerusalem, from old temple to new temple, from Levitical priesthood to that of Melchizedek, and from animal sacrifices to the Lamb of God.
Last, but not least important, is that the Book of Hebrews presents for us the path to Sonship. It is one thing to be a physical descendant of Adam, the first "son of God" (Luke 3:38) who fell and brought us death; it is another to be a Son of the Last Adam, Jesus Christ, whose righteousness brought us Life. Romans 9:8 says,
"That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as descendants."
In Abraham's day, Ishmael "was born according to the flesh," (Gal. 4:29), while Isaac was a child born by promise--that is, by divine intervention. Paul was not distinguishing between races or tribes, but between physically and spiritually birthed children. Isaac and Ishmael present a prophetic picture of this, for Ishmael was born "naturally," while Isaac's birth was supernatural and required divine intervention by promise.
In Galatians 4:24 the apostle Paul shows how the mothers of these two children represent the two covenants allegorically, and also the Old and the New Jerusalems. Ishmael and Isaac themselves represent the adherents of Old and New Covenant belief systems. Those Ishmaelites who love their "mother," the Old Jerusalem, and who make that physical city the centerpiece of their religion and eschatology are the "children of the flesh." This is NOT the path to Sonship.
Those who identify with Isaac, on the other hand, consider the New Jerusalem to be their "mother," and these are the true Sons of God, the children of promise.
The Arabic people are physical Ishmaelites, and their dominant religion (Islam) is based upon a carnal way of thinking. They are not the children of God unless they change their thinking and consider the New Jerusalem to be their "mother."
The Jewish people are legal Ishmaelites, for they too consider the physical city of Jerusalem to be their "mother." They are not the children of God either, unless they change their thinking and look to the New Jerusalem through Jesus Christ.
Many Christian people today are spiritual Ishmaelites as well, for their entire eschatology is based upon the old Jerusalem, and they look forward to the day when that city becomes the capital of the Kingdom of God. They are not the children of God unless they change their thinking (repent) and look to the New Jerusalem as their "mother."
The path to Sonship is open to everyone equally, but there is only one path to Sonship. One must be descended from Jesus Christ--but obviously, not in a physical sense. Anyone who considers himself to be a Son of God by race or by physical descent is, in fact, an Ishmaelite in one of the above categories. Hagar and Ishmael will not inherit the Kingdom, for in Gal. 4:30 and 31 Paul quotes Gen. 21:9 saying,
" (30) But what does the Scripture say? 'Cast out the bondwoman and her son, for the son of the bondwoman shall not be an heir with the son of the free woman'."
Paul's thesis in his letter to the Galatians is that Christian believers ought not to revert back to Judaism, for that would remove their liberty in Christ. Reverting back to Judaism (such as we see in Christian Zionism today) actually puts believers into the category of spiritual Ishmaelites who are in bondage with the "mother" Hagar. Thus, Gal. 5:1 says,
"It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery."
Most people have incorrectly taken the book of Galatians as an anti-law campaign, thinking that Paul was casting aside the law. That is not true (Rom. 3:31). Paul was actually writing against Judaizing, which is reverting back to a dependence upon the Old Covenant, the Old Jerusalem, the old temple, the old priesthood, and the old animal sacrifices. In other words, he was addressing an old problem in the early Church, which has again arisen in the past century in the form of Dispensationalism.
The Book of Hebrews is by far the most complete commentary on this topic. It is called "Hebrews" specifically to show us the path of immigration from Hagar-Judaism to Sarah-Christianity. The book shows us the "better" way, as opposed to what was done in the past, which were mere types and shadows of the true path to Sonship.
If we take the Hebrew word for "Hebrew" and break it down letter by letter, we can get an idea of its core meaning. It is spelled ayin-beth-resh. The ayin literally means an eye and has reference to sight or manifestation. The beth literally means a house or household. The resh literally means a head or leader and has reference to headship.
Taking it one step further, the beth-resh spells the Hebrew word bar, which means "Son." A son, then, is literally the head of God's household (Luke 12:44). Thus, the word for Hebrew [i.e., ayin-bar] literally refers to "seeing the son" or "manifestation of the Son." The word means an immigrant, but it specifically is a reference to an immigration from the slavery of physical sonship to the freedom of the Sons of God (Rom. 8:21).
There are actually two Hebrew words for a Son: ben and bar. The word ben is used in Benjamin, which means "son of my right hand." The word bar is used in Bar-jona, "son of Jonah" (Matt. 16:17) and Barnabas, "son of consolation" (Acts 4:36). This word bar also means "grain" and is the root of our word for barley. As I showed in my book, The Barley Overcomers, barley is a symbol of Sonship.
So it does not seem coincidental that bar would be seen in the Hebrew word heber, which is the word translated "Hebrew." It literally means "to manifest the Son." The path to Sonship is hidden in the very title of the Book of Hebrews. I have already written two books, Who is a Jew? and Who is an Israelite?, but really, a third book ought to be written called Who is a Hebrew? This would complete the series. Meanwhile, however, I have only incorporated this concept in my 12-tape series on the Book of Hebrews.
Dr. Stephen Jones