Saturday, March 16, 2013

Did Ashkenazic Jews Originate from Khazaria?

Nadene Goldfoot                             Grandfather, Ashkenazi Jew born in Lithuania 1870
Arthur Koestler wrote "The Thirteenth Tribe",copyright 1976,  saying that all Ashkenazi Jews came from Khazaria.  This was before studies of dna which up to today tell us a lot more about our Jewish origins.  Koestler's theory is held onto as a weapon against Jews inhabiting "Palestine" and turning the Jewish Homeland into Israel on May14, 1948. Science is proving that our origins, as written in the Torah, are correct.

It all started with Jacob's son, Joseph, one of two sons by Rachel, his 2nd and most favorite wife, who was disliked by his brothers because he was Dad's favorite son.  They managed to get him kidnapped by traders who took him to Egypt where he charmed the pharoah and rose to the 2nd highest rank.  His family came looking for him later and stayed, and finally were turned into slaves for the New Kingdom's pharoah of either the 18th to 20th dynasty.  After 400 years from entering Egypt they were able to be led out by Moses.  The 70 people who had entered became quite a large group after 400 years.

We must remember that the 600,000 that left Egypt with Moses (1391-1271 BCE) were the Children of Israel "Jacob."  Accordingly, this 600,000  was a count of  adult males.  The total population including women, children and elderly men was about 3 million.  A multitude of people of various nationalities  accompanied the Jews out of Egypt according to Rashi. seen in Exodus 12:38 and converted to Judaism .  They are referred to as a "mixed multitude' who went up with them..

" They must have been slaves along with the Jews.  This could account for the haplgroups other than J1, called the Cohen gene considered as a direct line from Aaron, a Levite, brother of Moses.   These other slaves were usually people captured in war.  "As prisoners of war or even their descendants, they initially belonged to a social stratum superior to that of the Egyptian servants that they were given to. "  Since the Middle Kingdom of Egypt, foreign slaves mainly from Asia  became increasingly numerous. They were either prisoners of war or traded by slave merchants."

 "While there had been slaves in Egypt since the beginning of its history, their numbers greatly increased during the New Kingdom, when the pharaohs were committed to a policy of foreign involvement and conquests in Nubia, Canaan and Syria/"  This  brought in many prisoners of war, or ( seqer-ankh, who were enslaved, at times even branded with the sign ki).  Found in hieroglyphics was this statement;  I gave to them captains of archers, and chief men of the tribes, branded and made into slaves, impressed with my name; their wives and their children were made likewise."

 Josephus wrote that  there were many converts to Judaism in the Roman Empire.  About 10% of the Roman Empire were Jewish made up of Jewish slaves and possibly converts.    In the 2nd and 3rd centuries Jews sought to proselytize but stopped after that.  It was common for Roman women to convert after marrying Jews.  This happens today as well.

Jews since Roman times had moved to the Balkans, in the Caucasus including Georgia, along the northern shores of the Black Sea and in other areas of eastern Europe.  We cannot believe that Khazaria was the birthplace of just converted Jews.  This was because Jerusalem fell in 70 CE to the Roman conquerors who carted away many of the Jews.  The city was burned down.  People had fled.  They went in every which direction.  Some took the high road and some took the low one.  Most had gone through Rome itself, then onto France, Germany and Austria and up to eastern Europe.

 Evidently that's what my Q1b1a haplogroup paternal ancestors did as 23&me has found segments of chromosomes from these places. I have some amount, from 6 cM's of segments of chromosomes to about 67cM's with over 1,000 people tested at 23&Me.  On the Ydna side I have some matching with E1b's, G1,G2a, I1, J, J1e, J2, lots of Q1b's, R1a1a, R1b1b2 and T.  So how did there happen to be Q1b1a's?  They even match up closely to 2 tribes of Pakistanis who today are Muslims. We even have a close match to a few Saudi Arabians.  Good grief!  Jewish tribes living in Saudi Arabia at the time of Muhammad from 570 to 630 CE were either killed or had to convert.  That could explain some of our connections.  (.J1 arose 10,000 to 15,000 years ago in the Fertile Crescent and includes Jews, Arabs, Armenians and Kurds, found at the highest frequencies in Iran and Iraq, then carried by traders into Europe, central Asia, India and Pakistan.  The majority of Jewish men fall into J and J1.  The cohen modal is in J1.)  

Jewish settlements and synagogues were founded in Roman-governed Pannonia (Hungary) in the 3rd century CE.  Jews lived in Moesia and Thrace in Roman days.  Jewish settlement was also in Bulgaria in these early days.  Jews in the premedieval period from Egypt, Judea, Syria and Asia Minor migrated to the Hellenistic kingdom of Bosporus and settled in towns there.  They worked in jewelry making, pottery making and trading in grain, fish and slaves.  They spoke Greek.  Some of the slaves became regulars in their congregations.  Jews from the tribe and state of Judea settled in Tamatarkha and  Jews were forcefully deported to the Caspian region.  Crimean Jews came into contact with Khazars.

Khazaria  was the home of shamanists (medicine men)  and worshipped spirits and the sky. It became a refuge for persecuted Jews as it was a safe haven from Europe and Asia.  The Byzantine Empire was so anti-Jewish that it forced many Jews to go to less dangerous lands.  They had forced baptism.  In 610-641 the decree was out saying that Jews had to convert to Christianity.  Jews continued to migrate to Khazaria from the Muslim and Byzsantine lands in 914 CE because of forced conversion policies continuing.  Joseph, the king of the Khazars, welcomed them to settle in his country.

It is thought that Jews who came through Armenia to Khazaria intermarried with the Khazars.  Jews from Iraq also moved to Khazaria.  Saadiah Gaon wrote that Yitzhak ben Abraham migrated from Iraq (Mesopotamia) to Khazaria.  They also came from Baghdad itself,  from Byzantine Empire and eastern Persia (Iran).  .

 What amazes me is that our Torah was so spot on with this information!  It makes me be in awe of Moses, the author,  who lived over 3,000 years ago.  This was back in the days of writing on sheepskins that were written and rolled up into scrolls; before ipods and websites.  It was almost before writing existed.

Khazaria was an empire that was swallowed up by Russia.  It was in its heyday in the 700's CE.  The story is that the king or Bulan.of Khazaria listened to 3 representatives of different religions; Christian, Muslim and Jewish and chose Judaism for himself and his royal court to follow. This was in the year 740 CE.  By 838 many of the Khazarians accepted Judaism.  They accepted Circumcision, the observance of Shabbat, Hanukkah, Passover,  and all the holidays and even used Hebrew for writing.   His people were free to do as they wished.  Khazaria started in the 600's CE.  It was the largest in the 9th century CE.  By the 10th century it started losing land and eventually fell apart.

Kiev, a city in Ukraine, Russia, was also inhabited by Khazarians and the Magyars.  Ukraine was a part of the Pale of Settlement where Russia allowed Jews to live so that they didn't live in Russia proper.  Part of Kiev was founded by Khazars in the beginning of the 9th century which they called "Sambata."  Kiev was also known as "Sambatas."  Magyars ruled Kiev from 840 to 878 and probably controlled the city with Khazarian participation.  Russians took over between 910 and 930 CE.  By the 12th century there was a "Jewish" gate in Kiev, showing that there had been some Jewish settlement by then.

The latest dna evidence shows that males with the Ydna haplogroup of R1a1a (RM17) are more likely to be descended from Khazaria making up 12% of Ashkenazi Jews.  Males with Q1b (M378) thought they were the Khazarian descendants but this turns out to be false.  It's a rare haplogroup of which my father had.  We have close matches from two nomadic tribes found in Pakistan.  Pakistan is close to Iran which was Persia in ancient days where many Jews were living.  Queen Esther lived in Persia..  Jews with Q1b, or Q1b1a make up 5% of the male Jewish population.  Q's originally started out in Siberia, Mongolia and parts of N. Turkey 15,000 to 20,000 years ago.  In fact, we're connected to Native Americans who broke off from the family and migrated through northern Eurasia into the Americas.

We did come from the Middle East.  Not surprising, many Palestinian Arabs also share closely with our Ydna haplogroup as well.  After all, Esau was the son of Abraham, too as is written in the Good Book.  This theory of Koestler's is still being cited by Muslims to my face!  The one I discussed this with was elated to find he was the carrier also of J1, called the Cohen gene, and denied that so many Jewish men also carried this, yet so far at least 35-43% of Jewish men possess this haplogroup.  It is found that J1 also has a branch definitely Arabic, and my contact was a member of that one.

"A study of haplotypes of the Y chromosome, published in 2000, addressed the paternal origins of Ashkenazi Jews. Hammer et al confirmed that the Y chromosome of most Ashkenazi and Sephardi Jews contained mutations that are also common among Middle Eastern peoples, but uncommon in the general European population."

A few people belonging to the Khazarian royal family had converted to Judaism.  There were many Jews from other parts of the world living there that probably intermarried with them if they were of a high enough status.  Otherwise, we can say that most all Eastern European Ashkenazi Jews are like the rest of the Jewish world, directly stemming  from Judah or Israel.  Though there could be some Khazarian chromosomes with Ashkenazis, most all came from Eretz Yisrael in the beginning as members of the 12 Tribes of Jacob.

Central European Jews from Germany, Bohemia, Moravia and Austria migrated eastward and joined up with existing Jewish communities of the East, including the East Slavic-speaking Jews, whom they outnumbered.  The 13th to 15th centuries saw mass migration from central Europe into Poland.  By the 15th century about 30,000 Jews lived in the Polish-Lithuanian realm.  From the 15th to 17th centuries many of these western Jews moved further east into lands now a part of Belarus and Lithuania where my paternal grandfather was from. 1529 Lithuania had Jews who were given a charter guaranteeing freedom of movement and employment.  By 1566 they had to wear a Jewish badge and were disqualified from giving evidence in courts.  Anti-Semitism had commenced.

In summary, "most Jewish communities have remained relatively isolated from neighboring non-Jewish communities during and after the Diaspora." According to Nicholas Wade,  "The results accord with Jewish history and tradition and refute theories like those holding that Jewish communities consist mostly of converts from other faiths, or that they are descended from the Khazars, a medieval Turkish tribe that adopted Judaism."

The Jews of Khazaria 2nd edition by Kevin Alan Brook
Tanach, the Stone Edition edited by Rabbi Nosson Scherman
The Standard Jewish Encyclopedia study by Hammer.
Abraham's Children; race, identity, and the DNA of the Chosen People by Jon Entine
  My father, Ashkenazi Jew of Q1b1a haplogroup, father from Lithuania, professional boxer in younger days.  


  1. Khazaria is a falsification of history. For this story will be paying!

  2. This Russian commentary goes along with what I wrote. One statement translated said, " Now literally half the world's scientific community believe that Ashkenazi Jews are actually descendants of the Khazars." We know this to be wrong, as science and the study of DNA proves. We've always known that some of us traveled onto Germany and up to eastern Europe while others just stayed in the Middle East after 70 CE. But evidently Khazaria itself is not a falsification of history. It was a empire and the royal court did convert to Judaism. At the most that involved about 1,000 people at that time. However, there are the reports that there were lots of Jews entering Khazaria as they were not an anti-Semitic group. Koestler followers cannot say that Ashkenazis are not Jews as a ruse to keep us from living in Israel.

  3. Behar just came out with a report saying that there is no proof of Ashkenazi Jews originating in Khazaria.

  4. New study disproving the Khazaria theory and why. A must read!