Notes by Autumn Light

On Hebrew, English, translation, editing, and more—by Jonathan Orr-Stav


When did the term “Jews” come to refer to the Jewish people as opposed to “Israelites” or “Hebrews”?


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With the fall of the (northern) kingdom of Israel and the scattering of its population by the Assyrians in 722 BCE, when Judea became the sole sovereign Israelite entity.

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Which commandment was the most difficult for the Israelites to accept when they received the Torah at Mt. Sinai?

As the Book of Exodus itself suggests, it was the probably the second:

(in Square Hebrew script: לא תעשה לך פסל וכל תמונה)

—i.e. ‘Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness’

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How did ancient people describe the physical appearance of Hebrews?

The Ibscha Relief from the tomb of Khnumhotep II shows Semitic traders as light-brown-skinned people with tailored beards and curly black hair—in contrast with Egyptians, with longer straight hair, and a darker complexion.


(See this and other answers to this question at