Before we move into the third and final part of Chapter 25, I need to talk about how exactly the first Hebrew came to be and what defines a Hebrew today.
Let me start with a fact that while obvious might give some folks pause for reflection.
Abraham, as we all know, was born a pagan.
Yes, that’s right.
Abraham was born a Gentile until God declared him a Hebrew.
So it was God’s election and choice that transformed Abraham’s identity from a Gentile to a Hebrew.
However, his son Isaac was different.
Isaac was the first man in the history of the human race to be born a Hebrew.
However, this brings us face to face with another perplexing question.
Why wasn’t Ishmael considered a Hebrew?
Actually, if the truth be told, before Isaac came on the scene, as far as Abraham was concerned, Ishmael was a Hebrew.
In Abraham’s eyes, Ishmael was considered his firstborn son and was to be the one to carry on the covenant promises of God.
That is, until God made a declaration that Isaac was to be the promised one.
Think about it.
Isn’t it interesting that both Ishmael and Isaac have both the same father but only Isaac’s line today are considered Hebrews?
We don’t consider the Arabs to be Hebrews, do we?
Now how about Jacob and Esau?
These two children were born from both the same father and mother, Isaac and Rebecca.
Yet we only consider Jacob to be a Hebrew and not Esau.
Again, because it is based on God’s declaration.
So it seems that up until Jacob, whether one is a Hebrew or not was a spiritual status determined by God.
However, from Jacob, it appears that a declaration from God was no longer necessary.
All descendants of Jacob would be Hebrew, period.
In addition, if a Gentile at this time wanted to become a Hebrew it was possible by adhering to certain protocol established by God.
So we have several stages to becoming God’s elect or chosen.
We have the Abraham stage.
Then we have the Isaac stage.
After that, we have the Jacob stage.
And then 1800 years later, we have the Yeshua stage and His establishment of the new covenant that would have the Torah written on men’s hearts.
It is interesting that in the New Testament, the Apostle Paul speaks to the Gentiles as though they are no longer Gentiles.
“Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called “Uncircumcision ” by the so-called “Circumcision,” which is performed in the flesh by human hands– remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.” -Ephesians 2:11-12
What we learn from all this is that birthright establishes physical identity but only the declaration of the true God establishes one’s spiritual identity.
Being Hebrew is both a combination of both physical and spiritual declaration.