How did a community of Africans in the highlands of Ethiopia come to be practicing Jews? Well, there’s a story and some history to it. This video is part of a collaboration of 26 history channels on YouTube, all covering a different part of African History. #ProjectAfrica
Did the Conquest of Canaan happen, and if so, how?
Hey there. So in the previous episode of this series I mentioned that the next episode would be about the historicity of Exodus. But as you can tell from the intro, the comment section of that video was inundated with lies, anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, and pseudo-history, but I repeat myself.
Now, if this was just your standard, “Jews are the devil” anti-Semitism, it would be easier to ignore. I could just write it off as stupid Nazis being stupid like you normally do, but there’s some things you should know. First, not all anti-Semites wear swastikas. Any ideology or religious affiliation you can think of, there is an anti-Semitic version of it. And Second, beware people wrapping their anti-Semitism in a scholarly or humanitarian veneer.
And just like that I have already triggered a bunch of alt-righters and neo-Nazis into calling me a stupid libtard who thinks everything is racist. Check the comments. If they’re not there it’s either because my non-existent comment filter caught them, or you’re like the first person to watch the video. I don’t need to prove my non-leftist credentials to you guys, but if you’re interested, follow me on twitter. Plenty of retweets from Ben Shapiro and the Babylon Bee.
And by mentioning Ben Shapiro I’ve just admitted to working for the global Zionists trying to kill off the white race.
Now that house keeping is out of the way, let’s get into what this video is really about; the genetic evidence of Jewish origins. Before that, though, let’s tackle the big anti-Semitic elephant in the room, the Khazar Hypothesis.
I talked about this in the first episode, but let’s reintroduce it here. The Khazar Hypothesis asserts that Ashkenazi Jews are either mostly, or in their entirety, descended from a semi-nomadic Turkic group called the Khazars that had an empire that existed in the North Caucuses and Southern Russia between the Black and Caspian Seas.
Let’s break down this Hypothesis a little bit. What exactly is an Ashkenazi Jew?
The modern Jewish peoples are made up of three main sub-groups. There are the Mizrahi Jews, the word Mizrahi coming from the Hebrew word for East. These were Jews who never left the Middle East after any of the conquests or diasporas. Then there are the Sephardi Jews, the word Sephardi coming from the Hebrew word for Hispania or Iberia, meaning they come from modern day Spain and Portugal. The third and largest of these sub-groups are the Ashkenazi Jews, the word Ashkenazi coming from the Hebrew word for Germany, implying their location in central Europe. Historically speaking, the Sephardi were originally included as Ashkenazi Jews, but when they were expelled from Spain in the 1492, most of them resettled in Islamic lands of North Africa, the Middle East, and Anatolia. From this point forward, the expelled Ashkenazi Jews of Spain and Portugal became their own sub-group, the Sephardi.
So from this understanding, we can see that the Khazar Hypothesis is claiming that Ashkenazi Jews, and by extension Sephardi Jews, are descended from this group of Turks called the Khazars. Okay, so why are anti-Semites claiming the origins of European Jews lies among the Khazars?
Actually, “Why” is wrong question. The reason “Why” is because it’s a means of delegitimizing the modern state of Israel, and justifying the horrible things done to Ashkenazi Jews because they aren’t “real” Jews, as if that makes it better. The more appropriate question isn’t “Why do they believe this” but rather, “How do they justify their claim?”
The first leg of their claim is a single primary source from the 10th century. A small collection of letters, referred to as the Khazar Correspondence, was sent between Hasdai ibn Shaprut, a Jewish Scholar serving as a foreign secretary to the Caliph of Cordoba, and King Joseph of the Khazars in the 950’s and 960’s shortly before the Khazar Khaganate collapsed. In one of his letters, Shaprut said,
“I always ask the ambassadors of these monarchs who bring gifts, about our brethren the Israelites, the remnant of the captivity, whether they have heard anything concerning the deliverance of those who have languished in bondage and have found no rest.”
Most scholars have interpreted Shaprut’s letter to be asking if the Khazars were one of the lost tribes of Israel expelled after the Assyrian and Babylonian Conquests. In his response King Joseph tells Shaprut that the Khazar’s are not from the ten lost tribes, but he does believe that they are descended from one of Noah’s offspring, Japheth, who was believed at the time to be the progenitor of the peoples of the Aegean, Anatolia, and Asia. However, King Joseph’s response did claim that he did practice the Jewish religion and gave a story for the conversion of one of his predecessors to Judaism.
“The Kings of the Byzantines and the Arabs who had heard of him sent their envoys and ambassadors with great riches and many great presents to the king as well as some of their wise men with the object of converting him to their own religion… But the King sent for a learned Israelite. The King searched, inquired, and investigated carefully and brought the sages together that they might argue their perspective religions.”
King Joseph says that this predecessor asked both the Islamic and Christian representative which of the other two they thought were better, and both Answered Judaism. To this that King is believed to have said;
“If this is so, you both have admitted that with your own mouths that the religion of the Israelites is better. Wherefore, trusting in the mercies of God and the power of the almighty, I choose the religion of Israel.”
From there Joseph goes on to describe the extent of this conversion;
“He circumcised himself, his servants, attendants, and all his people.”
A later king is said to have built Synogogues, schools, and to have brought in Jewish scholars to teach the Torah and the Talmud.
Something that should be noticed from the Khazar Correspondence is that it is not a primary source for the conversion of Khazars to Judaism.
The documents are not from the time period being described, which is believed to have been about 200 years before the actual exchange of letters. So much of this may in fact be legend. What the letter does serve as proof for is that some of the Khazar nobility were practicing some kind of Judaism.
Proponents of the Khazar Hypothesis try to make more of this connection than is really there.
They’re under this impression that whatever religion the leaders of a polity are, the rest of their people must follow it as well. This is a faulty assumption that probably comes from the European understanding of religion and the state. It assumes that the leaders of a people have more influence on everyday practices than the evidence merits, and there’s evidence that Judaism was not practiced very widely amongst the Khazars.
There’s documentary evidence from non-Khazar sources from both Muslims and Christians, and neither of them describe the common peoples practicing Judaism. Now, the reason we have to use non-Khazar sources on this issue is because there just aren’t many sources from them left. And this is a personal tangent, but don’t you think a religion like Judaism, which is heavily reliant upon the written word, would have influenced the amount of writings available if it spread as widely as the legends say?
Anyways, beyond the lack of written sources describing a common practice of Judaism, there is also a lack of archaeological evidence for the theory. There are some coins from the 9th century that refer to Moses as the “Messenger of God,” but this does not imply that the commoners were practicing Jews. Rather it is more evidence that conversion was limited to those in power, since they would have been the ones with the means of minting coins. If there was an en masse conversion to Judaism there would be a lot more archeological evidence for it. In fact, there’s a lot of difficulty in doing research into Khazar archeology at all, considering their culture was very similar to the other Turkic nomads in the region.
The Khazar Hypothesis also ignores the nature of most Turkic nomad cultures, in that religion was not something that a leader generally pushed on their followers or subjects. We can see this aspect of Central Eurasian Nomadic culture extend out as far as the Mongolian Empire, with one of its features praised today being its freedom of religion. It’s only in late medieval and early modern Europe that we begin to see a requirement of the peoples of a place following the religion of its leader.
So in terms of primary sources there’s not much to go on for the Khazar Hypothesis. But you will find a couple secondary sources for the Judaism of the Khazars, or at least you’ll find a few secondary sources that are used to back the claim, but in reality don’t.
One is from a Jewish philosopher from Spain, Judah Halevi, with his most famous work, The Kuzari. This work retells the conversion story from the Khazar Correspondence. What this work proves is that this story was known to Jews living in 12th century Spain. On top of that the book isn’t a historical work, but rather a philosophical and theological one. Halevi uses the legend of the Khazar conversion to Judaism to exposit why Judaism is philosophically better than Christianity or Islam.
Another medieval Jewish reference to the Khazars comes from the Book of Tradition, Sefer ha-Qabbalah, by Abraham Ibn Daud. It’s a brief reference in the Epilogue;
“In the latter area there were a nation of Khazars who converted to Judaism, and their King Joseph sent a letter to R. Hisdai, the Nasi b. R. Issac b. Shaprut informing him that he and all of his people pursue Rabbanite usage scrupulously. We have also seen some of their descendants in Toledo, scholars who informed us that their legal practice conforms to Rabbanite usage.”
There are a couple things that should be noted about this passage that don’t entirely hold up the idea that the Khazars converted to Judaism in large numbers.
The text references “a nation” of Khazars converted to Judaism, which implies that there is more than one, and that the others didn’t convert. It also shows that the author is familiar with the legend. The reference to the descendants who still practice Judaism also implies a separate and distinct identity from those of the Jews of Eastern Europe. The document also fails to say how many descendants of the Jewish Khazars are left. And for all we know these two scholars aren’t actually descended from the Khazars, but rather are practicing Jews from the region where the Khazars were from, heard about the legend, and adopted it as their own. That last bit was speculation on my part, but because there are so few sources corroborating this story, that’s all we can really do with it.
On top of all that, there is no DNA evidence to support the Hypothesis.
Now, why is that the case? Is it simply because there haven’t been studies comparing Khazar DNA to that of Ashkenazi Jews? Well, kinda.
I say that’s only kind of the case because there indeed has been genetic research done into the topic, but none of it has involved comparing an actual Khazar to an Ashkenazi Jew. The reason for this is that there are no Khazars to compare DNA with. Or more precisely, there are no groups of people that identify themselves as Khazars or are widely identified by others as Khazars to compare with. The only group in the world today that gets associated with Khazars are Jews, and that is done almost exclusively by anti-Semites of many different stripes.
There have been a lot of studies done on Ashkenazi populations, and according to a 2013 study published by Wayne State University Press, most Ashkenazi Jews, both those from eastern and western Europe, have strong genetic ties;
“First, it is possible to assess whether an individual has Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry, not only for subjects who identify as having exclusively Ashkenazi Jewish ancestors in recent generations, but also, in many cases, for subjects who report only one or two Ashkenazi Jewish grandparents.
Second, Ashkenazi Jewish individuals have relatively long stretches of the genome shared with each other, both in comparison with their genomic sharing with individuals from other populations, and in comparison with levels of within-population genomic sharing in these other populations.
Third, relatively little observable genetic difference exists between representatives of eastern and western Ashkenazi Jewish populations, suggesting that genetically, the Ashkenazi Jewish population approximates a single large community.”
This means that if the Khazar’s are in fact the progenitor of the Ashkenazi Jews, they would be the progenitors of all of them, not just the ones in Eastern Europe. And they would also be the progenitors of the Sephardi Jews as well,
“Fourth, considering the Ashkenazi Jewish population in relation to other populations, Ashkenazi Jews show the greatest genetic similarity to Sephardi Jews, and, to a lesser extent, to North African Jews”
So the Khazar Hypothesis is making a pretty big claim. Even if you try to diffuse the claim by saying that the Khazars only formed a portion of Ashkenazi Jews, the DNA evidence suggests that if they form any part of it, it would have to be a large portion, if any at all.
Okay then, so if there are no known Khazar groups other than one that is being accused of secretly hiding it, how can the claim be tested? To do that you need some kind of substitute for the Khazars, and this is where people trying to support the hypothesis play with DNA samples, and make big presumptions.
People claiming that Ashkenazi Jews are related to the Khazars will point to a pair of studies, Elhaik, conducted in 2012 and 2016, concluded that there is strong evidence for Khazar origins for Ashkenazi Jews, but the study begins to fall apart when you look at the details of their methodology.
In order to do these studies you need a substitute gene pool to represent the Khazars, and in most studies they take a population from the Caucuses region. The Elhaik studies decided to use Armenians and Georgians as Khazar proxies, and when compared to Ashkenazi Jews there are genetic similarities. The 2013 study quoted earlier points out the major problem with the Elhaik methodology of using Armenians and Georgians as stand-ins for Khazars.
“First, because of the great variety of populations in the Caucasus region and the fact that no specific population in the region is known to represent Khazar descendants, evidence for ancestry among Caucasus populations need not reflect Khazar ancestry.
Second, even if it were allowed that Caucasus affinities could represent Khazar ancestry, the use of the Armenians and Georgians as Khazar proxies is particularly poor, as they represent the southern part of the Caucasus region, while the Khazar Khaganate was centered in the North Caucasus and further to the north
Furthermore, among populations of the Caucasus, Armenians and Georgians are geographically the closest to the Middle-east and are therefore expected a priori to show the greatest genetic similarity to Middle Eastern populations. Indeed, a rather high similarity of South Caucasus populations to Middle Eastern groups was observed at the level of the whole genome in a recent study.
Thus, any genetic similarity between Ashkenazi Jews and Armenians and Georgians might merely reflect a common shared Middle Eastern ancestry component, actually providing further support to a Middle Eastern origin of Ashkenazi Jews, rather than a hint for a Khazar origin.”
Every other study done comparing the DNA of Ashkenazi Jews to other populations in the Northern Caucuses and Southern Russia show no useful connection between the two populations.
Okay, so if my anti-Semitism senses are accurate, and there are any Khazar Hypothesis proponents left still watching this video they are probably leaving comments to the nature of how you can’t trust those other DNA studies because they are being funded by Jews and therefore are invalid. To that accusation I say, I’m not trying to convince you. If you’re someone who believes the Khazar Hypothesis, it’s probably not because of evidence. I have yet to meet any person or come across any written work by someone who supports this hypothesis, who isn’t being motivated by anti-Semitism, and a hatred for the modern state of Israel.
The reason this is being embraced by anti-Semites of all stripes is because if the people who call themselves Jews are actually Khazars than they aren’t real Jews.
For white anti-Semites this means that the atrocities committed against the Jews throughout European history are ok because they weren’t really Jews. This is especially important for any Christian anti-Semite, because to persecute Jews is to persecute the chosen people of God, and you can’t have that. And also if they are Khazars that means they are nomadic thieves who produce nothing of their own. In other words, parasites, and the world would be better off without them. There’s also the bonus that if the Jews aren’t really Jews, than that means hating them doesn’t make you an anti-Semite.
If you’re an Arab or Islamic anti-Semite, than you support the Khazar Hypothesis because it delegitimizes the modern State of Israel. It does this because one of the main arguments for why Zionist Jews should be allowed to set up a state of their own in the Levant was that their ancestors were from there. But if European Jews are in reality Khazars, then the Zionists, and therefore the state of Israel, loses its legitimacy.
On top of the written and DNA evidence for the Khazar Hypothesis not withstanding basic analysis, we know for a fact that European Jewry don’t come from the Khazars because there were Jews in Europe before the supposed conversion of the Khazars to Judaism in the 8th century.
When Alexander the Great conquered the Levant, Jews migrated to other parts of his empire, and even after his death a connection between the two cultures remained intact. Jews were known to live on the Islands of the Aegean, such as Rhodes and Crete. We see references to the Jews in the works of the Greek Geographer Strabo, and the Roman philosopher Seneca, both of whom referenced Jews living in Greece and Rome. The Book of Acts, along with the Roman historian Suetonius both reference the expulsion of Jews from the city of Rome under Emperor Claudius in the first century CE.
Historians of the Jews have traced written references and archaeological sites of Jewish settlement through late antiquity and the middle ages. This shows a migration of Jews coming out of Italy, moving north into modern France, and then eastward into Germany, and southward into Spain and Portugal. Jews started migrating to Eastern Europe due to expulsions from England in 1290, from France in 1394, parts of Germany throughout the 15th century. As I said in the previous episode, the Jews of Eastern Europe came from Western Europe.
I’ll go into further detail about these expulsions in a later episode, but for now this will have to suffice.
So now that I have thoroughly debunked the Khazar Hypothesis, or at least debunked it enough for the viewers of this platform, let’s move on to what genetics actually tells us about the origins of the Jewish Peoples.
In a 2010 study, researchers found that Ashkenazi Jews share a common Middle Eastern ancestor with Mizrahi Jews, along with having mixes of European ancestry.
“genome-wide analysis of seven Jewish groups … and comparison with non-Jewish groups demonstrated distinctive Jewish population clusters, each with shared Middle Eastern ancestry, proximity to contemporary Middle Eastern populations, and variable degrees of European and North African admixture”
Another study from 2014 also supports this claim;
“Modelling of ancient histories for AJ and European populations using their joint allele frequency spectrum determines AJ to be an even admixture of European and likely Middle Eastern origins. We date the split between the two ancestral populations to ≈12–25 Kyr, suggesting a predominantly Near Eastern source for the repopulation of Europe after the Last Glacial Maximum.”
A 2017 study gave an estimated breakdown between European and Middle Eastern genetic sources amongst Ashkenazi Jews;
“Running RFMix on the AJ genomes with our EU and ME reference panels and summing up the lengths of all tracts assigned to each ancestry, the genome-wide ancestry was ≈53% EU and ≈47% ME, consistent with our previous estimate based on a smaller sequencing panel”
Other studies done before and after these ones have also produced similar results. So for those of you wondering why Jews look white despite coming from a Middle Eastern population, it’s because they intermarried with non-Jewish Europeans.
So there you have it. I know this video may have felt light on the actual genetics side of things, but I think I should remind you that I’m not a science guy. I’m a history guy. If you’re interested in reading up on those studies yourself I have them linked in the description below.