Saturday, June 6, 2015

What Are Jewish Origins?

Nadene Goldfoot                                                     

Did you know that we are all born with a tag telling where our model came from, what kind of model we are and when our model originated?  This is our DNA.  Everyone has this tag in their cells, and population genetic scientists can read these tags.  All you have to do is to take a DNA test to find out your results by swabbing the inside of your mouth.  No blood involved at all, and of course you have to pay for the testing.
Neanderthal of which most Europeans carry about 2.5% DNA
We Homo Sapiens have been around since 200,000 years ago.  Those still in Africa did not meet any Neanderthals so carry none of their genes.  Denisovians were another branch that some intermarried with.
Jews only came about starting with Abraham, son of Terah, a Habiru,  in the 2nd millennium BCE, about 4,000 years ago in the 15th century BCE, which is fairly recent being the Egyptian kingdom goes back 32 centuries.   Habirus were mercenaries or slaves, used in the Tel el-Amarna tablets and in other documents of the 15th and 14th centuries BCE.  Many feel this is the same word as Hebrews used today.   In these tablets  is mentioned the threat of the Habiru to Canaanite cities and could have been talking about one of the stages in the Israelite conquest of Canaan.                                                              
Abraham's people had come to Ur in the Chaldees from the East, which was probably the land near the Euphrates  and Tigris Rivers of Iraq,  or they could have started from further East in Persia (Iran).   It was today's Iraq that was the Cradle of Civilization.
The Canaanites were made up of 7 tribes and lived there from 3000 to 2500 BCE, largely a Semitic speaking people.  Southern Egypt and Northern Assyria struggled to have control over it.  Canaan was already divided into large numbers of warring city-states ruled over by petty kings.

 It wasn't until his son, Isaac,  was born who begot Jacob who begot 12 sons and a daughter that we were called Jews named for the tribe of Judah who stood the longest and has had descendants known to us to this day.  But Jews have lived a very troubled life and have been scattered all over this planet.  How did they ever manage to not be absorbed into other societies?  Well, some have, as a matter of fact.  But there has always been an element who remained known. to themselves and others.  They even did this without reading those tags we carry around in our body.  The sons of Abraham were taught to believe in one G-d instead of the many that people of that day believed in.  In fact, Abraham's father had been an idol maker, and Abraham knew that they were no gods.  He had an experience, a deep one, in which he came to realize that there was but one G-d.  In order to keep Isaac and his descendants on the narrow path, he moved from Ur and went into Canaan, which was fairly short on people in those days.  He knew that environment was an important factor in their lives, and he wanted them to have a chance to continue on with his philosophy of life.  Ishmael had a different mother, the handmaiden of Sarah, his wife and was his first son.  He left the bosom of his family with his mother to go and live among her people  because of the falling out Sarah had with his mother and his conduct around his younger brother.

We'll jump to Canaan where Joshua took all the descendants of the 12 tribes of Jacob and others that had been slaves of Egypt for 400 years. Joshua had entered Canaan with 650,000 slaves.   They were led into the land by Joshua, Moses's right hand man, but not without a fight from the native population.  There was fighting, as they didn't take kindly to be invaded by 650,000 former slaves.  It turned out that these ex-slaves slew most of the Canaanites, and those that remained alive married into the population and were absorbed that way.

 So now we've added a little Canaanite DNA to the mix of Habirus.  Abraham's tag was that of J1 or J2 which originated from 10,000 to 15,000 years ago in the Fertile Crescent of the Middle East.  The Jews, Arabs, Armenians and Kurds have been found to carry this tag.  It is found at its highest frequencies in Iran and Iraq, from where it most likely originated, and then was carried by traders into Europe, Central Asia, India and Pakistan.  Those with tag J2 are believed to be connected with the spread of agriculture during the Neolithic Period from Anatolia, Turkey, and this is found throughout central Asia, the Mediterranean, and south into India.

    4,000 years ago.  (2nd millennium BCE) Abraham lived.
    3,406 years ago, Moses was born.  His parents were Amram and Jochabed of the tribe of Levi.  Amram's father was Kehath who came with Jacob's household of 70 to Canaan.  Jacob-also named Israel,  had married his cousins Leah and Rachel who were the daughters of his uncle Laban. His other 2 wives, Bilhah and Zilpah were not related to him.  They were the handmaids of his first 2 wives.

 The problem is that while most carriers of J1 or J2 are not Jewish,  the fact is that the majority of Jewish men carry a J tag.  Jews of today only make up 0.02% of the world population.   The Cohen Modal tag is found to be J1.
 It's called the Cohen haplogroup because Moses made his brother Aaron the high priest of the Israelites, with specific jobs to do, and he was J1.  This tag is inherited by the future sons as it is passed down from father to son, and here it appears today among the Cohens of the synagogues.  The fact that men were Cohens with specific responsibilities was handed down orally and in genealogy trees, written material. Today a son of a Cohen soon learns who he is.  I have a friend, a 92 year old Cohen who still goes to the synagogue every Shabbat to be among the other Cohens who are the first to read from the Torah, and he dances during the week as well.

All of the sons of the 12 tribes should be carrying the Cohen tag.    Yet today, about  1/2 of the Jews remaining from earthquakes, population exchanges, bottlenecks, pogroms, wars,  and the  holocaust  bear the J tag. Jews have been around long enough to have gone through more population problems than others.
King David (1010-970 BCE)  of Israel took a census in about 1,000 BCE and recorded 1.3 million males over the age of 20, meaning that the whole population of Israel was over 5 million then. The World population began to rise steadily, reaching some 50 million towards 1000 BCE..
Assyria within this map
The problem set in with the Assyrians in 721 BCE.  Sargon, King of Assyria, seized the throne when Shalmaneser III died during the siege of Israel, also called Samaria for their capital. Sargon annexed the country and deported 27,290 Israelites to Assyria and Media and replaced them with Syrian and Babylonian prisoners.  It was a swap of people.   Back in 920 BCE, King Solomon of Israel died, and Israel split in 2, between the North and the South, with the South becoming Judah since the tribe of Judah lived there. They differed with the political and religious scene of Israel and so kept Jerusalem for their capital.
Assyrians leading away Israelites from city of Lachish in Judah

The Assyrians carried away many of the Israelites then.  Judah lined up with Phoenicia and King Hezekiah of Judah revolted against the Assyrians, so Sennacherib invaded Judah in 701 BCE and captured 46 cities, but not the capital, Jerusalem.  He took many prisoners away.  Hezekiah surrendered, and then a plague stopped Sennacherib.  Again, many Israelites were removed from the homeland and taken to Assyria and Media. while others were transplanted in their homes. So now we have many foreigners living in annexed Israel.   The Medes were sons of Japheth who cooperated with the Babylonians in the 6th century BCE but were defeated by Cyrus of Persia, the king who allowed Jews to go back to build the 2nd Temple.  They were not the Persians.  All men of the 12 tribes should have been carrying J tags unless someone didn't produce sons, only daughters,  and a son in law had to take over as head of the household. It's possible the son in law was not from the original 12 tribes.  There were OTHERS in the mix that left Egypt and followed Moses and his teachings.  

Babylon conquered Assyria and took over their possessions.  They carried away many of Jews of Judah to their land.  The Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar II (604-656 BCE) inherited the Assyrian Empire and after his conquest of Judah in 597 BCE and then 11 years later in 586 BCE, exiled many Jews to Babylon. When you think about it, this may have been where they originated in the first place.  Why they left is a mystery.  Babylon was the center of Civilization.  It's here they probably met up with the descendants of Jews who had been exiled in 721 BCE.  

Cyrus the Great  of Persia (559-536 BCE) had overrun the Babylonian empire taking control of Judah and Israel.  He was in command now and sent Jews back to Jerusalem to rebuild the 2nd Temple in 538 BCE and others went in  515 BCE.  A census was taken in 522 BCE of exiles who had returned to Israel and Judah was 42,360.   With the help of the governor of Judah in 444 BCE, Nehemiah, they got the job finished.  Nehemiah went back to Susa, capital in Persia but returned and took steps against mixed marriages along with his friend, Ezra.  So now we know that people had been intermarrying in Babylon, a practice that went on possible from 597 to 444 BCE, 153 years.  They could have been marrying people with Jewish DNA but had lapsed and didn't know since Nehemia was upset about it.  After all, those exiles could have been in Babylonia since 721 BCE- for 277 years.  The customs of Judaism, if practiced by all, should have varied.  Judaism thrived in the Babylonian period, though they wept by the river and wished they were back in Judah.  Nehemia and Ezra did well to revive Judaism.  

My father's tag is Q1b1a or QL-245  that originated  in Central Asia 15,000 to 20,000 years ago in parts of Turkey or even Siberia or Mongolia, far older than J.  People migrated through northern Eurasia into areas of Ur and the Americas.  In a sense they are connected to native Americans.There are  Pashtuns of Afghanistan and Pakistan with this DNA.  Only 5% of today's male Jews carry this tag.  They may not have been the ancestors of the tribe of Judah, but could have been among the OTHERS in Egypt's slave population or in the household of Jacob when he migrated to Canaan or even was picked up in Assyria or Babylon.

Jerusalem was invaded by the Romans who burned down the city in 70 CE.  Tacitus, the Roman historian, said that Jerusalem at its 2nd destruction in 70 had 600,000 people.  Josephus, a Jewish General historian working for the Romans maintained that the city's population was more like 1.1 million of whom 97,000 were sold as slaves.  These 97,000 were probably the ancestors of most European Jews.  I find my own DNA shows that I have genes from Italy from the well known Jewish family of Kalonymus.  Well, the DNA didn't come out and tell the name but research did involving other researchers.  

By the year 300, there were 3 million Jews in the world.
Rashi, Biblical commentator, 1040-1105 Troyes, France, studied in the Rhineland of Germany, connected to King David and I am connected to him.  

From 1200 to 1700, there were only 1 million, so you can see we've gone through a lot of anti-Semitism.
In 1939 there were 16.7 million and this was the start of Hitler's answer to his Jewish problem; the Holocaust that slaughtered 6 million.
Today there are about 14 million.  

Throughout the 19th century, more than 80% of the world Jewry lived in Europe and was up to 88.3% in 1880 when Jews started to immigrate Palestine and a few to the USA.  Jews had been living in the Middle Eastern countries as well as in Palestine.  It was when the 1st Aliyah or European movement back to Palestine started.  The main body of Jews moving to the USA was in the 1900s.  Today, we have 6 million Jews in Israel, 6 million in the USA and 2 million scattered in other countries.  

Though most genealogists figure that a generation is 25 years, I wonder if we should amend this for Jewish populations.  Jews in Eastern Europe in the 19th century and up to 1900 tended to marry boys between ages 15 to 18 with girls from 14 to 16 years.  It wasn't the rule but was quite common.  It could have been true of Jews ages ago as well.  The thought of this was that the more talented the boy, the more effort was made to have him marry young, even at 14 or 15.  In shtetls, the late teens were more common time to marry.  There was even a census record of a Polish Jewish wife age 8 . 

We Jews practiced a lot of consanguinity which the Arabs do as well.  This means intermarrying with your cousins.  In the past, we have done this more often than the rest of the world, although the Arabs may have tied with us. That's why some Jews may be carriers of a condition called Tay Sachs disease, caused by a baby receiving genes for it from both parents.   In 1875 in England, 7.5% of marriages were with 1st cousins, more than 3 times that of gentiles.  I believe this is because we had a small group of Jews to choose mates from.  We didn't have the whole country like the gentiles did.  It was this way even in the Bible.  Abraham's wife Sarah was his niece.  He really had no other choices in order to stay with his program.  

Eastern European Jews and Western had larger families than gentiles did.  They did not use birth control, but followed the command to be fruitful and multiply.  Jews had a low infant mortality rate through the Middle Ages but they had a high persecution mortality rate that kept their numbers down.  

DNA tags for Jewish men have remained pretty stable and run from the J to R1b1a2, which might be King Tut of Egypt's tag, to  R1a1a-- line of Ashkenazi Levites,  E (Ramesses III was E1b1a) , G, I, Q1b1a (QL245),  and for women, who have a different color tag, common tags are K, the most popular, then H, N1b, J and W.  W is my grandmother's tag.  All tags or haplogroups are discussed in my blog, What Haplogroup We Be? listed below.  

Jews had not been allowed to convert people to their religion by rulers, though forced conversion was imposed upon Jews.   Mob violence of coerced conversion  of Jews to Christianity was known all over the Roman Empire in the 4th-6th centuries.  It even became a state policy in the Byzantine Empire under Heraclius in about 611, then imitated in France in 626, Lombardy in 620, and especially in Visigothic Spain in 616.  Forced conversions again happened in southern Italy  in 723 and 867.  Islam made it's appearance since Mohammad (570-620) led the way in doing so with forced conversions.  Persia was very active in doing this, especially at Meshed, in the 17th and 19th centuries which created  a class of crypto-Jews, the Jedid al-Islam.   We've all heard of the Marranos (derogatory name)  or Anusim of Spain and Portugal, Jews who had to hide the fact and pretend to be Catholics.  In Portugal in 1496-1497, almost the entire Jewish population was baptized by force without  being given the alternative of exile or even of death.  

The practice of Judaism was formally forbidden by successive emperors, by Leo in 723, Basil 1 in 873-874, by Romanus Lucapenus in 932-936.  On each occasion, Jewish life reestablished itself.  Jews had to remain in the Byzantine empire  where they were treated with contempt until the last remnant was conquered by the Turks in 1453.  I note the Spanish Inquisition started in 1492.  What has happened is that after being treated forcefully, Jews decided they would not try to convert others-The Golden Rule.  Today, one must ask more than once if they want to convert to Judaism.  They have to be really sincere.  Sammy Davis, the Black entertainer, did.  He said he was already used to being looked at askance, so saw no difference.  He had many Jewish peers in the entertainment business.  

What has been found is that some men in Europe took wives that were not Jewish. More intermarriages went on there, most likely happening right in Rome as slaves.  Otherwise, people shunned Jews.  They didn't want to mix in and Jews did not want to mix with them, either.  Only temptation, love, a spirit of independence allowed it to happen besides rape.  Until today, as in the USA intermarriage is such a common occurrence that we could be wiped out by it.  That's the wonderful thing about Israel.  Marriages have been taking place between Ashkenazi and Sepharim  since 1948 and maybe even earlier. 

Now we face another attack, this time from Iran who is working on nuclear energy while at the same time saying that Israel should be wiped out and Jews killed.  I would say, hold it, Ayatollah.  Half of your people of ancient Persia may be walking around with Jewish genes.  Maybe you have Jewish genes.  You would be wiping out family!  After all, many of our ancestors were snatched and taken to Persia via Babylon.  

6/7/15 Update:  In thinking about it, we left the East as Habirus, then most were captured and returned there hundreds of years later in several prisoner exchanges as Jews.  The good was that whoever lived in Israel and Judah came to practice Judaism.  No wonder we have a few different haplogroups in our midst.  

Book:  Finding Our Fathers-a guidebook to Jewish genealogy by Dan Rottenberg  Jeff Wexler's website for Levites of R1a1a, Excellent with many pictures

No comments:

Post a Comment