Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Ashkenazi, Sephardi, and Mizrachi Jews: How Jews Became Divided After 70 CE

Nadene Goldfoot
Way back in King Solomon's day (961 BCE-920 BCE) , we find that he ruled over all the kingdoms of his day; from the Euphrates River to the land of the Philistines, and onto the border of Egypt.  People from far lands brought him many tributes and served Solomon all the days of his life.  He ruled over other kings of the lands, even from Tiphsah to Gaza, and he was at peace with all of them.  The land of Israel including the tribe of Judah lived with security.  The saying was that each man lived under his grapevine and under his fig tree from Dan to Beer-Sheba.
One reason, other than marrying a daughter of each king, was that Solomon believed in trading, and had a fleet of ships.  He was good friends with the king of Tyre, Hiram, and Hiram had been a friend of his father, King David.  Tyre was the main seaport of the Phoenicians at that time.  Solomon had other trading alliances with the cities of Chittim, Ophir and Tarshish.  Solomon was a ruler of international reputation.
Therefore, Israel had a large naval force used for trading.  He also used his ability to travel for diplomatic purposes, as he was a shrewd diplomat and had alliances to the kingdoms of Sheba, Egypt and Phoenicia.  They all had seafaring capabilities at this time.  The Queen of Sheba was credited with having over 400 ships that she used for trading with other countries.
The 6th century BCE was the period of Obadiah, a minor prophet.  He was saying what would happen to the 12 Tribes of Jacob one day:  The exiled of Jerusalem which is in Sepharad will inherit the cities of the South.  Sepharad must have been Spain, as that name is what the Jews of Spain took for themselves; the Sephardim.  The place-name is only mentioned this one time in Obadiah.  Jews had settled here from the destruction of Solomon's 1st Temple.  "It is certain that they were to be found in the 1st century CE and were specifically mentioned in the canons of the Catholic Church Council at Elvira in the year 312.  Tombstones of Jews from the Classical period have been found.  . 
Spain was  called Iberia, then later called Hispania.  From that comes Spain.  Obadiah may have called it Sepharad but we're not sure.
One theory was that Sepharad was an Asiatic  region north of Israel to which exiles from Jerusalem were deported when the 1st Temple of Solomon was destroyed by the Assyrians in 722 BCE. Tyre would have been north.  I believe they meant the land now called Spain. 

"When did the Jews first arrive in Spain? There are hints from the Bible that the lands of the western Mediterranean were well known to the Israelites. Around 970 BCE Solomon formed an alliance with Hiram of Tyre, the king of the Phoenicians, providing Hiram with sailors who had a knowledge of the sea equivalent to that of the Phoenician sailors. The territories of the Israelite tribes of Asher, Zebulon, and Dan were part of Phoenicia and some early Spanish Jewish documents actually refer to those tribes as having descendants living in Iberia. The Bible implies that expeditions to Spain were routine as early as the tenth century BCE."

The Jews actually started colonies in Spain.  So when the Romans occupied Jerusalem and then finally destroyed the 2nd Temple and city itself in 70 CE, people were forced to leave.  Some were taken as prisoners to Rome which later led them to go to Germany.  These would become the Ashkenazim.   Others followed their more seafaring leaders to their well known route leading to Spain where the Sephardim were born.  Those that were able to stay in the area are called the Mizrahim (East).  Israel and Judah always had Jews living there that never left and their descendants remained as well.  
Typical Ashkenazim IDF soldiers:  'European' ancestry in the Ashkenazi Jews is predominitely South European.

          Ashkenazim or German and Hebrew (Yiddish);   Sephardim or Spanish and Hebrew (Ladino)  and Mizrahim (East in Hebrew)  or Arabic and Hebrew.                
Image: Four women complete the Sargeant-First-Class Course for the IDF Infantry Corps in 2007. We can’t tell whether they are Ashkenazi, Sephardic, or Mizrahi Jews by looking at them, but all are Jewish. Photo by the IDF

"Studies of autosomal DNA, such as familyfinder from FTDNA, which look at the entire DNA mixture, show that Jewish populations have tended to form relatively closely related groups in independent communities with most in a community sharing significant ancestry.    For populations of the Jewish diaspora, the genetic composition of AshkenaziSephardi, and Mizrahi Jewish populations show significant amounts of shared Middle Eastern ancestry.    According to Behar and colleagues (2010), this is "consistent with an historical formulation of the Jewish people as descending from ancient Hebrew and Israelites of the Levant" and "the dispersion of the people of ancient Israel throughout the Old World."

"Recent studies have been conducted on a large number of genes homologous chromosomes or autosomes (all chromosomes except chromosomes X and Y). A 2009 study was able to genetically identify individuals with full or partial Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry.   In August 2012, Dr. Harry Ostrer in his book Legacy: A Genetic History of the Jewish People, summarized his and other work in genetics of the last 20 years, and concluded that all major Jewish groups share a common Middle Eastern origin."

Bible:  Kings: Chapter 5
The New Standard Jewish Encyclopedia

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