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.
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. "