Modern Jews not decendants of biblical Jews?

Any year now, the descendants of the original Cannanites are going to emerge from the woodwork and demand their homeland back…

The site that Steve Wright linked to in his post has information bearing on and not completely in agreement with many of the posts on this thread.

First, new archeological evidence is being uncovered that suggests that Judaism was widely adopted among the Khazars. That’s not surprising. The dark ages were not exactly a time known for religious tolerance. If the Khazar elite converted, the peasantry was probably not far behind.

Second, genetic evidence suggests the existence of a significant degree of non-middle-eastern ancestry for ashkenazi jews. The cited study took no position on who those ancesters were, but did note that its findings were consistent with the Khazar theory.

Off the subject of the site, sort of, the fact that neo-nazi groups use the possible Khazar ancestry of some European jews to further their own cause does not invalidate the theory. Creationists use the debate between gradualists and puntuated equilibrilists to argue that evolution can’t be correct because evolutionists can’t agree. That does not make adherents of either of the two schools into creationists.

–I suspect that Daniel was referring to the kingdom
(the Southern one), not the guy.

Genetic research has indicated that there is descent from the ancient Jews. But that does not exclude the inclusion of many converts each generation - not to mention rapists, who have added to our gene pool.

Best wishes,

That would be the present local populations, rather the point of my prior message.

Not to mention the Hittites,





(Genesis 10:15)

I have a certain sensation of having stubbed my toe in a minefield… but…

When I saw the OP, my first thought was “oh, s/he’s heard something about the Khazars, I was reading about them only the other day”. Where was I reading about them? In David Keyes’ book Catastrophe, which sets out his theory that any number of geopolitical realignments between the 6th and 10th centuries come down to the consequences of a climatic disaster in roughly 535 CE. Keyes devotes a chapter to the Khazar state. What are his sources? I return to the book…

Keyes quotes a 1998 study published in Nature which claims that some 30% of Ashkenazic men have a particular complex of genes which is not found in Sephardic Jews. He also quotes some roughly contemporary historical accounts (between the 10th and 14th centuries) which refer to Khazaria as a Jewish state, and give a (fairly) consistent account of the conversion. Keyes’ main reference source, though, seems to have been a book called The Thirteenth Tribe by Arthur Koestler. Now, Koestler is an intellectual heavyweight who deserves to be taken seriously, but he was also, uh, well, open to unconventional ideas… so it might be helpful to have a critical review of his scholarship…

On the other hand: there’s nothing intrinsically implausible about the claims made - it isn’t obvious lunacy like, say, the British Israelite stuff. The genetic evidence, if valid, seems to bear out Keyes’ thesis that a substantial portion of Eurasian Jewry is descended from a mass conversion sometime in the Dark Ages (Keyes estimates the ethnic Khazar population at about 750,000 at the time). Some of the other sites I’ve looked at (just type “khazar” into Google) suggest trade and other cultural contact between the Khazars and the original Hebrew nation going back to at least the 2nd century BCE, which implies that the Khazars were at least partly Judaicized a long time before any “official” conversion.

So, to sum up: on the evidence available to me, the idea of a Khazar Jewish state appears to be worth serious consideration. If I am wrong, enlighten me…

Intermixing has in fact occured everywhere and at all times in all thinkable cultural groups (as Zot and Qadgop have said.) People, by nature, are experts at spreading their gene pool.

Obviously Jews from various parts of the world all look different. Ethiopian Jews look like Ethiopians, Yemenite Jews look like Yemenis, and European Jews look European (of one area or another). This reflects their “contacts” to the other people around them wherever they have lived.
There is nothing wrong or unusual about this. But these Jews of different backgrounds may still all have some Israelite ancestry, or perhaps it is better to say that they have more than the non-Jews who also probably have some Israelite ancestry.

If great numbers of Khazars converted and are some of the ancestors of Ashkenazic Jews today, this certainly does not reduce the likelihood of Jewish families dating back to Israel along some line. And they are more likely to have more ancestoral lines going back to that area than other Europeans do who have fewer ancestors of Israelite background. (In fact, probably most Europeans have some, considering the large numbers of former Jews who converted and blended into the general population over the centuries.)

Of course, all the political and cultural issues take on lives of their own, and should (in the best of all possible worlds) have nothing to do with this discussion of ancestry and blood-lines.

While I agree with TheThill that << all the political and cultural issues … should (in the best of all possible worlds) have nothing to do with this discussion of ancestry and blood-lines. >> However, welcome to reality, kid.

There are any number of questions that SHOULD have no political or cultural ramifications, but that do. “Do blacks perform poorer on intelligence tests than whites?” is one of the more loaded ones. There is no such thing as an “objective, scientific” answer because (a) any study has inherent bias and (b) who cares? there are more important issues of political equality at stake.

So with the question of Jewish descent.

And let me also state the obvious: the presence of Khazar genetic markers in 30% of the Ashkenazic Jewish population (I’m accepting that number, but I haven’t checked it) does NOT deny the biblical lineage of the vast majority of Ashkenazic Jews. At the first generation level, the marriage of a Khazar to a biblical-lineage Jew produces an offspring who is still 50% biblical-lineage.

Thus there is a massive difference between (a) noting that there have been groups immigrating into Jewish mainstream (like the Khazars) and (b) trying to state that current Jews have NO link to biblical Jews. Note that the bigots win in this debate, no matter how it goes – either (a) Jews are a mongrel race because of major groups converting and intermarrying; or (b) Jews have no ancient claim on the land of Israel.

Thus, even raising the question scores points for the racists.

I seriously doubt that the number refers to Khazar markers insofar as we don’t have that kind of data. I would assume the data reflect non-Middle Eastern markers, implying that a certian percent of Ashkenazi jews have (recent) non-Middle-Eastern descent. Nothing terribly surprising here.

No, I have to disagree. In the former you are simply describing all human populations history to a greater or lesser degree. In the former you’re just being an ignorant idiot. Bigots lose in the former case (just let me get my teeth into them) – in fact they lose both ways.

All folks are a mongrel race. And we’ve got the data for that. Any bigot arguing otherwise is either insensible to the facts (in which case the argument doesn’t matter, its like arguing evolution with a fundy) or ignorant, and then amenable to change.

Since the claim is religious and not blood, this should not matter. The folks who reject the claim are going to reject this regardless, so there argument is mostly for self-consumption.

Which question? Question of descent, if approached in a scientific manner is in no way prejudicial.

alonicist: Actually after reading all the ( very nicely laid out and cited ) information at the Khazaria site, I’m still unconvinced about the universal nature of the Khazar conversion. Although I am now more open to the possibility :slight_smile: . The evidence as presented doesn’t seem definitive or even overwhelming ( for instance evidence of a Jewish Khazar presense far afield on the Don may just indicate a diffusion of the ruling class across the geographical boundaries of the Khazar state ) and the site author does note that a majority of historians do seem to disagree the idea. Also the reason I don’t necessarily buy the conversion of elites followed by the conversion of the masses idea, is that we are talking about a very heterogenous population ( which the site author acknowledges ), most of whom lived a pastoral lifestyle. Like many of the Turkic steppe peoples pre-conversion to a proselytizing religion, the Khazars likely had a tradition of laissez-faire religious attitudes. And Judaism isn’t a proselytizing religion. There would have been no need or reason to try to establish it among the populace as a whole.

It is true that over multiple generations it may have gradually spread as a means of social advancement. And I’ll grant the site author makes a good point that it may just be hide-bound academicians not keeping up with the latest literature who reject the idea. He does make some decent points ( and to add to one - Even if the Khazars had converted to Judaism during an earlier period, it wouldn’t have precluded a Byzantine alliance. The Byzantines were often quite pragmatic about their use of such political tools ). But for me, the evidence is still equivocal at this point. Especially since the Khazars proper likely represented only a fraction of the populace of the Khazar state and would have been the hardest hit when it went down. My guess ( and that’s all it is ) is that the surviving portion likely would have been insignificant, numbers-wise.

Of course regardless of the real answer, I still think it’s an irrelevant argument when applied to the nature of the Jewish claim on the territory of Israel. Here my views mirror Collounsbury’s. I could care less about the genetic makeup of the Jewish ( or Palestinian ) people when it comes to politics. Arguing from that vantage point is a zero-sum game. The Jews are there. The Palestinians are there. Both have claims they consider legitimate. Neither side is going away. Something needs to be done. Just how far the Jews may or may not diverge from the original tribes of Israel, while interesting as an academic exercise, doesn’t really have any bearing on the reality of the situation on the ground.

If we’re sticking to the OP - I stick to my earlier answer :slight_smile: .

  • Tamerlane

Could someone (Collounsbury?)explain what the imnplications are if it is true that

Would this indicate that 30% (or more) of the ancestry of these two groups are not the same? Or could the genes be dominant genes which could spread from a small percentage of the ancestors to an entire population whose predominant ancestry is elsewhere? Or could there be some “founder effect” on one of the groups?

There is a fairly new (and controversial) book entitled “Bible Myth : The African Origins of the Jewish People” (also titled “The Moses Mystery” in hardcover) by Gary Greenberg (a trial attorney and president of the New York chapter of the Biblical Archaeology Society). A fine read if you have the chance.

He maintains that the refugees departing Egypt during what later became known as the Exodus were indeed native Egyptians - devoted followers of the pharaoh Akhenaten. Moses, Greenberg suggests, was the chief priest of the Aten cult and when Akhenaten died, Moses fled and then attempted a military coup to restore the Aten cult to the throne. The whole episode ended in a negotiated truce that guaranteed the insurgent army safe passage out of the country. This insurgent army then bore down on the Canaanites (who at the time were occupying the area now known as Israel) conquered the area and have been there more or less ever since.

So take a look at it all. According to Greenberg, the 12 tribes of Israel never existed, the first Israelites were Egyptians, the founding patriarchs of the Hebrew people were actually characters from Egyptian mythology, and the Exodus story has been twisted beyond recognition. He bases his theories on extensive research into Egyptian history, archeology, literature and mythology as well as the lack of early Judaic records (artifacts, etc.)

I tend to believe that this Khazar nonsense is just that, nonsense. Jews are originally from Central Russia and therefore have no claim to Israel…yeah, I hear they have horns under the hats too. While Greenburg may be a little over the top, there is no doubt in my mind that some modern day Jews are indeed descendants of the original biblical Jews. They are IMHO, Near Eastern in origin. And on top of that, they have a legitimate claim to the land they currently occupy.

That would seem to be the case. Mind you that should read “alleles” I am sure.

Hard to know without more data. Mind you, again it should be alleles. I don’t think, in re the original question, there’s any importance. It would, of course, be interesting to know specifics about how the jewish diaspora moved about!

I think that is probably the most important point in any discussion like this – there is no “racial purity”. Just about every lineage is partial and claims to direct lineage all become relative very fast.

As for the “original” origins of any nation, that too is a moot question, since everyone and every group of people was somewhere else before they got where they are now.

To Felix Penfold and others subscribing in part or in whole to the theory that Moses and his Jews were originally from the monothestic cult of Aten:

My understanding is that the word “Hebrew” comes from the ancient Egyptian “Aipru”, meaning “foriegn workers”. I suppose if we were in modern Germany, we’d translate it as “guest workers”, or if we were in the San Joaquin Valley we’d call them “migrant farm hands”. But either way, the name is a pretty powerful piece of evidence that the Jews/Hebrews/Israelites were not originally Egypitans.

Yes, the Aten cult and the religion of Moses were/are monothestic. But it pretty much ends there. Today’s Jews (or the related descendant religions of Christianity and Islam) are not sun-worshippers, nor do they show any definitive vestiges of having been such.

Last word: I have to concur with Tamerlane and say that both the Israelis and Palestinians are in the Holy Land and have good historical and religious claims to be there. They CAN co-exist in peace if the hot heads on both sides will cool out.

Really? Hmm, but a abr root exists in Arabic without such meaning. Not saying this is right or wrong given my weak linguistics background, but could you provide more infos!? (Mind you, the Hebrews=Egyptians theory is not my cup of tea, I’m just asking out of etymological curiosity)


Originally posted by JCHeckler
My understanding is that the word “Hebrew” comes from the ancient Egyptian “Aipru”, meaning “foriegn workers”.

While I don’t doubt that Egyptians perhaps called Hebrews “Aipru” or “foreign workers”, I believe the origin of the word Hebrew stems from the Greek “Hebraios” which is loosely borrowed from the Aramaic “Ibray”. Aramaic (sometimes called Chaldean) stems from the territory of Aram (Chaldea) in Southwest Asia and most likely finds it’s origins in some non-Semitic, Mesopotamian language that predates Egyptian. The Hebrew for “Hebrew” itself is “Ibri”. Whether this lent itself to the Aramaic or vice versa I don’t know, but I tend to think the latter.

As for what the Egyptians called the Hebrews, this can be misleading. We call people things today that without a doubt could confuse future scholars. For instance, Native Americans are popularly known as “Indians”, but this does not mean that they are from India. (Heck, even calling them Native Americans is misleading.) Let’s go with a larger, more heterogeneous group of people. We refer to working class people as “blue collar”, but this does not mean they actually wear blue collars. While I respect your opinion JC (and don’t entirely subscribe to the Egyptian/Hebrew connection myself) language can be tricky and not entirely reliable. I personally wouldn’t say that what the Egyptians called the Hebrews “pretty powerful” evidence of anything.

Also, if you check, there is an awful lot of sun talk in The Bible. Not that this proves anything…I would imagine that anyone living in that area during that period would be hard pressed not mention the sun quite a bit. It’s a pretty large figure in our lives even today.