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The Jews, also known as the Jewish people, are a nation and an ethnoreligious group, originating in the Israelites or Hebrews of the Ancient Near East. The Jewish ethnicity, nationality, and religion are strongly interrelated, as Judaism is the traditional faith of the Jewish nation. Converts to Judaism, whose status as Jews within the Jewish ethnos is equal to those born into it, have been absorbed into the Jewish people throughout the millennia. In Jewish tradition, Jewish ancestry is traced to the Biblical patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the second millennium BCE. The modern State of Israel was established as a Jewish nation-state - and defines itself as such in its Basic Laws. Its Law of Return grants the right of citizenship to any Jew who requests it. Israel is the only country where Jews are a majority of the population. Jews also enjoyed political autonomy twice before in ancient history. The first of these periods lasted from 1350 to 586 BCE, and encompassed the periods of the Judges, the United Monarchy, and the Divided Monarchy of the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah, ending with the destruction of the First Temple. The second was the period of the Hasmonean Kingdom spanning from 140 to 37 BCE. Since the destruction of the First Temple, most Jews have lived in diaspora. A minority in every country in which they live, they have frequently experienced persecution throughout history, resulting in a population that has fluctuated both in numbers and distribution over the centuries. (via Freebase)