Chosen people

For the descriptive term in the Old Testament or Hebrew Bible and the New Testament, see People of God.

Throughout history, various groups of people have considered themselves to be chosen people by a deity for a purpose, such as to act as the deity's agent on earth. In monotheistic faiths references to God are used in constructs such as "God's Chosen People". The phenomenon of a "chosen people" is particularly common in the Abrahamic tradition, where it originally referred to the Israelites. Some claims of chosenness are based on parallel claims of Israelite ancestry, as is the case for the Christian Identity and Black Hebrew sects- both which claim themselves (and not Jews) to be the "true Israel". Others claim a "spiritual" chosenness, including most Christian denominations, who traditionally believe the church has replaced Israel as the People of God.

Anthropologists commonly regard claims of chosenness as a form of ethnocentrism.[1][2]


In Judaism, "chosenness" is the belief that the Jews, via descent from the ancient Israelites, are the chosen people, i.e. chosen to be in a covenant with God. The idea of the Israelites being chosen by God is found most directly in the Book of Deuteronomy[3] as the verb bahar (בָּחַ֣ר (Hebrew)), and is alluded to elsewhere in the Hebrew Bible using other terms such as "holy people".[4] Much is written about these topics in rabbinic literature. The three largest Jewish denominations Orthodox Judaism, Conservative Judaism and Reform Judaismmaintain the belief that the Jews have been chosen by God for a purpose. Sometimes this choice is seen as charging the Jewish people with a specific mission to be a light unto the nations, and to exemplify the covenant with God as described in the Torah.


Seventh-day Adventism


In Mormonism, all Latter Day Saints are viewed as covenant, or chosen, people because they have accepted the name of Jesus Christ through the ordinance of baptism. In contrast to supersessionism, Latter Day Saints do not dispute the "chosen" status of the Jewish people.

Most practicing Mormons receive a patriarchal blessing that reveals their lineage in the House of Israel. This lineage may be blood related or through "adoption;" therefore, a child may not necessarily share the lineage of her parents (but will still be a member of the tribes of Israel). It is a widely held belief[5][6] that most members of the faith are in the tribe of Ephraim or the tribe of Manasseh.

Christian Identity

Christian Identity holds that the descendants of the ancient Israelites are the Anglo-Saxon, Germanic, Nordic and kindred peoples of the world and that they are also the physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. It is not an organized religion but is instead composed of individuals, churches and some prison gangs[7] with a white supremacist theology[8][9] that promotes a racial interpretation of Christianity. Christian Identity beliefs were primarily developed and promoted by two authors who considered Europeans to be the "chosen people" and Jews to be the cursed offspring of Cain. Many of these teachings were later adopted by white supremacist sects and gangs.


Main article: Rastafari

Based on Jewish biblical tradition and Ethiopian legend via Kebra Nagast, Rastas believe that Israel's King Solomon, together with Ethiopian Queen of Sheba, conceived a child which began the Solomonic line of kings in Ethiopia, rendering the Ethiopian people as the true children of Israel, and thereby chosen. Reinforcement of this belief occurred when Beta Israel, Ethiopia's ancient Israelite First Temple community, were rescued from Sudanese famine and brought to Israel during Operation Moses in 1985.

Unification Church

Main article: Unification Church

Sun Myung Moon taught that Korea is the chosen nation, selected to serve a divine mission and was "chosen by God to be the birthplace of the leading figure of the age"[10] and was the birthplace of "Heavenly Tradition", ushering in God's kingdom.

Nation of Islam

Main article: Nation of Islam

The NOI teaches that black people constitute a nation and that through the institution of the Atlantic slave trade they were systematically denied knowledge of their history, language, culture, and religion and, in effect, lost control of their lives. Founder Elijah Muhammad called for the establishment of a separate nation for black Americans and the adoption of a religion based on the worship of Allah and on the belief that blacks were his chosen people.

See also


  1. William A. Haviland; Harald E. L. Prins; Dana Walrath; Bunny McBride (2009). The Essence of Anthropology. Cengage Learning. p. 159. ISBN 978-0-495-59981-4.
  2. D. Stanley Eitzen; Maxine Baca Zinn (2003). In conflict and order: understanding society (10th ed.). Pearson. p. 84. ISBN 978-0-205-37622-3.
  3. Clements, Ronald (1968). God's Chosen People: a Theological Interpretation of the Book of Deuteronomy. In series, Religious Book Club, 182. London: S.C.M. Press
  4. The Jews as a Chosen People: Tradition and Transformation, S. Leyla Gurkan
  5. Daniel H. Ludlow, "Of the House of Israel", Ensign, January 1991.
  6. "Genesis 44 – Joseph Tests His Brothers". The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
  7. "Bigotry Behind Bars: Racist Groups In U.S. Prisons".
  8. Eck, Diane (2001). A New Religious America: How a "Christian Country" has become the world’s most religiously diverse nation. New York: HarperCollins Publishers. p. 347.
  9. Buck, Christopher (2009). Religious Myths and Visions of America: How Minority Faiths Redefined America's World Role. Praeger. pp. 107, 108, 213. ISBN 978-0313359590.
  10. Questions and Answers - The Second Coming - Rev Moon And Korea. Unofficial Notes from International Conferences for Clergy. Retrieved 10 March 2010.

Further reading

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