Skip to comments.Genetic evidence links Jews to their ancient tribe
Posted on 11/19/2001 3:41:35 PM PST by Sabramerican
Genetic evidence links Jews to their ancient tribe
By Judy Siegel
JERUSALEM (November 20) - Genetic evidence continues to provide additional proof to the claims that the Jewish people are descended from a common ancient Israelite father: Despite being separated for over 1,000 years, Sephardi Jews of North African origin are genetically indistinguishable from their brethren from Iraq, according to The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
They also proved that Sephardi Jews are very close genetically to the Jews of Kurdistan, and only slight differences exist between these two groups and Ashkenazi Jews from Europe.
These conclusions are reached in an article published recently in the American Journal of Human Genetics and written by Prof. Ariella Oppenheim of the Hebrew University (HU) and Hadassah-University Hospital in Ein Kerem.
Others involved are German doctoral student Almut Nebel, Dr. Marina Faerman of HU, Dr. Dvora Filon of Hadassah-University Hospital, and other colleagues from Germany and India.
The researchers conducted blood tests of Ashkenazi, Sephardi and Kurdish Jews and examined their Y chromosomes, which are carried only by males. They then compared them with those of various Arab groups - Palestinians, Beduins, Jordanians, Syrians and Lebanese - as well as to non-Arab populations from Transcaucasia - Turks, Armenians and Moslem Kurds.
The study is based on 526 Y chromosomes typed by the Israeli team and additional data on 1,321 individuals from 12 populations. The typing of the Jewish groups was performed at the National Genome Center at HU's Silberman Institute of Life Sciences.
The Fertile Crescent of the Middle East was one of the few centers in which the transition from hunting-gathering to permanent settlement and agriculture took place. Genetic studies suggest that migrating Neolithic farmers dispersed their technological innovations and domesticated animals from the Middle East towards Europe, North Africa and Southwest Asia.
Studies of Y chromosomes have become powerful tools for the investigation of the genetic history of males, since these chromosomes are transmitted from fathers to sons.
Surprisingly, the study shows a closer genetic affinity by Jews to the non-Jewish, non-Arab populations in the northern part of the Middle East than to Arabs. These findings are consistent with known cultural links that existed among populations in the Fertile Crescent in early history, and indicate that the Jews are direct descendants of the early Middle Eastern core populations, which later divided into distinct ethnic groups speaking different languages.
Previous investigations by the HU researchers suggested a common origin for Jewish and non-Jewish populations living in the Middle East. The current study refines and delineates that connection.
It is believed that the majority of today's Jews - not including converts and non-Jews with whom Jews intermarried - descended from the ancient Israelis that lived in the historic Land of Israel until the destruction of the Second Temple and their dispersal into the Diaspora.
The researchers say that a genetic analysis of the chromosomes of Jews from various countries show that there was practically no genetic intermixing between them and the host populations among which they were scattered during their dispersion - whether in Eastern Europe, Spain, Portugal or North Africa.
A particularly intriguing case illustrating this is that of the Kurdish Jews, said to be the descendants of the Ten Tribes of Israel who were exiled in 723 BCE. to the area known today as Kurdistan, located in Northern Iraq, Iran and Eastern Turkey. They continued to live there as a separate entity until their immigration to Israel in the 1950s. The Kurdish Jews of today show a much greater affinity to their fellow Jews elsewhere than to the Kurdish Moslems.
There are more children in America under the age of 11 with one Jewish parent and one gentile parent than there are children under the age of 11 in America with two Jewish parents. So...I'm not sure for how much longer this particular statement will be valid.
His name wouldn't happen to be Abraham, would it? He had two sons, Ishmael by Hagar, and Isaac by Sarah.
Firstly this study only deals with the Y-chromosome. This only affects the direct male line of ancestors. So racial mixing between Jews and Gentiles is not disproven by this in the least. It is possible for instance, that Jewish men moved to "Khazaria" and took "Khazar" women as wives and then rased their children as Jews.
For example, I bet that if someone did a Y-chromosme study of the mestizo population in Mexico the result would show that the mestizo Y-chromosome is very similar to the Y-chromosome of Spaniards. But this doesn't prove that Mexican mestizos are of the same race as the Spaniards and it most certainly couldn't be used to "prove" that the mestizos are actually racially "pure".
Secondly it doesn't give the statistics of relative purity with the Y-chromosome. Surely the purity is not 100%. So we can only conclude that the Jewish groups studied are genetically related in their male lineage. But we cannot conclude that they have a 100% pure male lineage. We cannot conclude that there was no mixing in the male lineage. And most certainly this isn't proof that Jews have not mixed with non-Jews.
The fact that mixing and conversions happened is self-evident just from looking at the lighter Ashkenazi Jews and then looking at some of the black African Jews.
Figures that a German is investigating Jewish genetics.
Those of us who remain Jews are direct descendants. Some, it may surprise you, have the genealogy record going back thousands of years.
LOL. Guess you thought that out very clearly except for the fact that Judaism is only from the mother.
Judaism may officially go through the female line. But the Y-chromosome goes through the male line. Thus if you want to use the Jewish matrilineal definition of Judaism a proper study should study the mitochondrial DNA, not the Y-chromosome. The mitochondrial DNA is passed through the female line only.
It is not a given. If you want me to take it as a given show me the scientific proof. I ask for science, not religious faith. It seems perfectly plausible to me that Jewish men might might have taken Gentile wives, the wives may then have converted and raised their children as Jews. Culture is usually passed more through the male line than through the female line.
Reading is fundamental
There is not a claim that there is no mixture. However, the claimed mixtures for Ashkenazi Jews for example is much smaller then typically has been suggested. Note the following from the National Acad. of Sciences:
* Laboratory of Molecular Systematics and Evolution, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721; ¶ Department of Genetics, Università degli Studi di Pavia, Pavia 27100, Italy; Hadassah Medical School, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem 91120, Israel; ** Department of Genetics, University of Leicester, Leicester LE1 7RH, England; SAMIR, University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg 2000, South Africa; Department of Pediatrics, New York University Medical Center, New York, NY 10016; and § Department of Human Genetics, Sackler School of Medicine, Ramat Aviv 69978, Israel
Subjects and Methods
Haplotypes constructed from Y-chromosome markers were used to trace the paternal origins of the Jewish Diaspora. A set of 18 biallelic polymorphisms was genotyped in 1,371 males from 29 populations, including 7 Jewish (Ashkenazi, Roman, North African, Kurdish, Near Eastern, Yemenite, and Ethiopian) and 16 non-Jewish groups from similar geographic locations. The Jewish populations were characterized by a diverse set of 13 haplotypes that were also present in non-Jewish populations from Africa, Asia, and Europe. A series of analyses was performed to address whether modern Jewish Y-chromosome diversity derives mainly from a common Middle Eastern source population or from admixture with neighboring non-Jewish populations during and after the Diaspora. Despite their long-term residence in different countries and isolation from one another, most Jewish populations were not significantly different from one another at the genetic level. Admixture estimates suggested low levels of European Y-chromosome gene flow into Ashkenazi and Roman Jewish communities. A multidimensional scaling plot placed six of the seven Jewish populations in a relatively tight cluster that was interspersed with Middle Eastern non-Jewish populations, including Palestinians and Syrians. Pairwise differentiation tests further indicated that these Jewish and Middle Eastern non-Jewish populations were not statistically different. The results support the hypothesis that the paternal gene pools of Jewish communities from Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East descended from a common Middle Eastern ancestral population, and suggest that most Jewish communities have remained relatively isolated from neighboring non-Jewish communities during and after the Diaspora.
Subjects and Methods
Jewish religion and culture can be traced back to Semitic tribes that lived in the Middle East approximately 4,000 years ago. The Babylonian exile in 586 B.C. marked the beginning of major dispersals of Jewish populations from the Middle East and the development of various Jewish communities outside of present-day Israel (1). Today, Jews belong to several communities that can be classified according to the location where each community developed. Among others, these include the Middle Eastern communities of former Babylonia and Palestine, the Jewish communities of North Africa and the Mediterranean Basin, and Ashkenazi communities of central and eastern Europe. The history of the Jewish Diasporathe numerous migrations of Jewish populations and their subsequent residence in various countries in Europe, North Africa, and West Asiahas resulted in a complex set of genetic relationships among Jewish populations and their non-Jewish neighbors. Several studies have attempted to describe these genetic relationships and to unravel the numerous evolutionary factors that have come into play during the Diaspora (2-11). Some of the key arguments in the literature concern the relative contributions of common ancestry, genetic drift, natural selection, and admixture leading to the observed similarities and differences among Jewish and non-Jewish communities.
Given the complex history of migration, can Jews be traced to a single Middle Eastern ancestry, or are present-day Jewish communities more closely related to non-Jewish populations from the same geographic area? Some genetic studies suggest that Jewish populations show substantial non-Jewish admixture and the occurrence of mass conversion of non-Jews to Judaism (2, 3, 10, 12). In contrast, other research points to considerably greater genetic similarity among Jewish communities with only slight gene flow from their respective host populations (5, 7, 9, 11, 13). Furthermore, it has been demonstrated that the degree of genetic similarity among Jewish communities and between Jewish and non-Jewish populations depends on the particular locus that is being investigated (4, 8, 11). This observation raises the possibility that variation associated with a given locus has been influenced by natural selection.
All of the aforementioned investigations used "classical" genetic markers such as blood groups, enzymes, and serum proteins, as well as immunoglobulins and the HLA system. More recently, restriction fragment length polymorphism studies were initiated by using mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), the nonrecombining portion of the Y chromosome (NRY), and other nuclear loci (14-20). An advantage of nucleotide-level studies is that they circumvent some of the complications associated with selection; however, these studies have not fully resolved many of the key issues in the earlier literature.
Analyses of mtDNA and the NRY are especially relevant to studies of Jewish origins because, according to ancient Jewish law, Jewish religious affiliation is assigned maternally (1). In particular, studies of paternally inherited variation provide the opportunity to assess the genetic contribution of non-Jewish males to present-day Jewish genetic diversity. This research represents one of the first comparisons of biallelic variation on the NRY in Jewish and non-Jewish populations from similar geographic areas. We surveyed 18 biallelic polymorphisms in 7 Jewish and 22 non-Jewish populations from Europe, the Middle East, and Africa to assess the relative contributions of common ancestry, gene flow, and genetic drift in shaping patterns of NRY variation in populations of the Jewish Diaspora.
Or we're from Mars.
I give you odds.
"There have been confirmatory studies on the mitochondrial chromosomes published in the magazines Science and Nature which came to the same conclusions. It is beyond debate at this point."
That would be interesting to see. So far I have only seen Y-chromosome studies.
I think that again the important point is that these studies do not show absolute purity. They only show relative purity. These studies show for instance that Ashkenazi Jews may be genetically closer to Middle Easterners than European Gentiles. But by the same token they show they are closer to European Gentiles than are Middle Easterners. So mixing is part of the equation.
I just object to the claim that Jews are 100% pure. This is clearly preposterous for there are Ashkenazic Jews with rather Nordic characteristics as well as black Jews with Negroid characteristics. Surely it is impossible to claim that both the Ashkenazic Jews and the black Jews are 100% racially pure descendants of the same ancestors. They couldn't possibly have diverged that much in only 2,000 years. Thus there must have been some mixing. The only debate is as to the degree of mixing. Even the proponents of the Khazar hypothesis believe that some Jewish priests went to Khazaria.
I'm not Jewish, but I've been trying to trace my bloodlines back in Ireland.
Actually, the study above confirms that the Ethiopian Jews who Israel opened its doors to were not of the same gene pool noted in commonality with the Oriental, Sepahardic, Ashkenazic Jews and other Middle Easterners. Hence, they were converts. This does fit the Biblical "Table Of Nations" which indicates the Blacks were descendants of Ham and the Jews and Arabs, Shem.
Insofar as the Khazar thesis, I think it is plainly obvious now that it was a gross overstatement by Koestler in his "The Thirteenth Tribe". No doubt some admixture in Eastern Jewry but not to the extent claimed by Koestler in any fashion.
That is one hypohesis. I am not convinced of it. Anyone can verify for himself that Arawak Indians living in the equator are much lighter than the Africans living in the equator. Similarly the Eskimos live farther north than the Swedes, yet the Eskimos are darker. Whichever the case 2,000 years are not enough. The Afrikaners have lived in South Africa for 400 years and they as white as the Dutch living in Holland.
Secondly the black African Jews are not merely dark-skinned. They have Negroid facial features. When I speak of "Negroid features" I am not talking of skin color. The people of India are brown-skinned but they are Caucasoid.
Traditionally, Jewish culture has essentially been exclusionary by nature. Thus, you may be correct in that the past mixtures have blended into the surrounding populations, while the "purer" groups have continued with Jewish culture.
This particular strategy may not be working any more. In order to maintain any Jewish population base in the US, the Jewish community must develop mechanisms to reach out and include the mixed children. As I mentioned, these mixed kids now make up the majority of Jews' children. Without them, there simply won't be enough Jews to maintain any sort of population base or culture in America.
Yes. The Ethiopian Jews do not have the Jewish Y-chromosome. But there are other African Jews, I forget their name right now, that have been proven to have the Jewish Y-chromosome. In fact, one study showed that these black Jews actually have a higher degree of purity in the priestly "Cohen" Y-chromosome than the Ashkenazic Jews.
"Insofar as the Khazar thesis, I think it is plainly obvious now that it was a gross overstatement by Koestler in his "The Thirteenth Tribe". No doubt some admixture in Eastern Jewry but not to the extent claimed by Koestler in any fashion."
That may well be.
As I've written before, sometimes, but not always, you can distinguish physically between Ashkenazi and Sephardi Jews. But among ourselves, the only difference- that counts- is certain difference in customs. For example Ashkenazi Jews don't eat corn on Passover, the Sephardi do. Neither of us denies the descent or legitimacy of the other.
"The first striking thing about the Y chromosomes of the Lemba is that you find this particular chromosomal type (Cohen modal haplotype) that is characteristic of the Jewish priesthood in a frequency that is similar to what you see in major Jewish populations. Something just under one out of every 10 Lemba that we looked at had this particular Y chromosomal type that appears to be a signature of Jewish ancestry. Perhaps even more striking is the fact that this Cohen genetic signature is strongly associated with a particular clan in the Lemba. Most of the Cohen modal haplotypes that we observe are carried by individuals of the Buba clan which, in Lemba oral tradition, had a leadership role in bringing the Lemba out of Israel."
That must be a new tradition. Corn comes from America, right?
I always heard that the Ethiopian Jews were the descendents of King Solomon and the Ethiopian woman described in the Song of Solomon. Or was it David and the queen of Sheba? Now I'm getting confused. I guess I had better read the Song of Solomon again, I haven't visited that little book in years.
The Lemba are not from Ethiopia, they are from South Africa.
"Recently, Kohen Madol Haplotype testing has been performed among the Lemba; these tests have proven the Lemba to have the highest concentration of the gene marker than any known halakhic Jewish group. This is reported in an article titled "Decoding the Priesthood" by Peter Hirshberg and Jane Logan, in Jerusalem Report (May 10, 1999 issue). According to this article, the Lemba have the same proportion of the gene as "Western" Jews and a remarkably high frequency among their Buba clan, a senior clan parallel to our Cohens. "
Afrikaaners live at a latitude where "light" skin can be maintained - they are hardly Central Africans.
The vitamin D thing kept human beings from living North of the 30th parallel until they had developed a way to acquire sufficient Vitamin D from a very, very, very extensive fish diet. Eskimos are among those who developed such a diet - including the eating of raw sea mammal livers - a major source of Vitamin D. Quite possibly their darker skinned offspring didn't die in infancy from rickets. As far as Arawaks being lighter than Central Africans, it is suggested that the Arawaks are recent arrivals to their present territory, plus they, like all other persons of predominantly American Indian ancestry, are of mixed European/Indian descent.
Again, there's a lot of this stuff on the net.
If Cohenim took African wives the Cohen gene (which must be some powerful gene) would be there but the descendants would not be considered Jews... by other Jews.
"The vitamin D thing kept human beings from living North of the 30th parallel until they had developed a way to acquire sufficient Vitamin D from a very, very, very extensive fish diet."
Fine, let's look at somebody else. The descendants of the Spaniards and other Europeans in the tropics in places like Cuba, Puerto Rico, Mexico or Peru have lived there for as long as 500 years. They have maintained their light skin.
If what you say is true then you are saying that Jews do not admit converts? For example, if I decided to convert to Judaism I would never be accepted as a real Jew?
What if a Cohen Jew married a black African woman. And then his son married a black woman and then his son married a black woman and this one's son married a black woman. But then suppose that this last one's son married a Jewish woman with pure Jewish lineage... It's a little convoluted but you could get an individual with the Cohen gene with a direct Jewish line on the mother's side that had a lot of non-Jewish ancestors and who physically looked Negroid.
What are you trying to say? Are you saying that maybe they didn't convert?