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The Jews;, also known as the Jewish people, are a nation and ethnoreligious group originating from the Israelites of the Ancient Near East. According to Jewish tradition, Jewish ancestry is traced back to the Biblical patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who lived in Canaan around the 18th century BCE. Historically, Jews had evolved mostly from the Tribe of Judah and Simeon, and partially from the Israelite tribes of Binyamin and Levi, who had all together formed the ancient Kingdom of Judah. A closely related group is the Samaritans, who claim descent from the Israelite tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh, while according to the Bible their origin is in the people brought to Israel by the Neo-Assyrian Empire and some Cohanim who taught them how to worship the "native God". The Jewish ethnicity, nationality and religion are strongly interrelated, as Judaism is the traditional faith of the Jewish nation. Converts to Judaism have a status within the Jewish ethnos equal to those born into it. Conversion is not encouraged by mainstream Judaism, and is considered a tough task, mainly applicable for cases of mixed marriages. (via Freebase)