(Heb.Yisreeli', יַשׂראֵלַי, 2Sa 17:25; once [Nu 25:14-] אַישׁ יַשׂרָאֵל, man of Israel, i.e. male Israelite; fem. יַשׂראֵלַית, "Israelitish woman," Le 24:10; Sept. and New Test. Ι᾿σραηλίτης), a descendant of Jacob, and therefore a member of the chosen nation, for which, however, the simple name ISRAEL SEE ISRAEL (q.v.) is oftener employed in a collective sense, but with various degrees of extension at different times:
(1.) The twelve tribes descended from Jacob's sons, called "Israel" already in Egypt (Ex 3:16), and so throughout the Pentateuch and in the books of Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings, often with the explicit addition "all" Israel.
(2.) The larger portion, or ten northern tribes, after the death of Saul (2 Samuel 2, 9, 10, 17, 28), a distinction that prevailed even under David (2Sa 19:40).
(3.) More definitely the schismatical portion of the nation (consisting of all the tribes but Judah [including Simeon] and Benjamin), which established a separate monarchy at Samaria after the death of Solomon (1Ki 12:19). Seldom does the legitimate kingdom of Judah appear in the sacred narrative under this appellation (2Ch 12:1; 2Ch 15:17).
(4.) After the Exile, the two branches of the nation became again blended, both having been carried away to the same or neighboring regions, and are therefore designated by the ancient title without distinction in Ezra, Nehemiah, and 1 Maccabees. Gradually, however, the name "Jews" '(q.v.) supplanted this appellation, especially among foreigners.
(5.) In the New Test. the term "Israel" or "Israelite" is used of the true theocracy or spiritual people (2Co 11:22). SEE HEBREW.