|Are the Jews really Israelites? Editor's Commentary|
|© 2000 Discerning the Times Digest and NewsBytes|
Editor's note: After writing about Israel and God's covenant with His chosen people in the past few month's issues of the Digest, several of our subscribers have written and challenged me on the fact that the Jews in Israel are not Semitic Jews to which God's covenant was given through Abraham. Rather, they are descendants of Khazarian converts that have no Semitic blood. Therefore, the reasoning goes, most of the Jews in Israel today are not true heirs to the covenant which means the nation of Israel today has no special purpose in God's promises.
Though still small, the "Jews are not Israelites" movement is growing and becoming a very divisive issue within the Christian Church today. Defining the truth in this controversy is extremely important since most of the prophecy concerning the end days is centered on God's chosen people and the original covenant.
God first made his covenant with Abram in Genesis chapters 12-18. In Genesis 17:4-7, God promised Abraham:
``As for me, this is my covenant with you: You will be the father of many nations. No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations. I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you. I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. The whole land of Canaan, where you are now an alien, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God." (Bold added for emphasis)
According to the above, plus many, many more verses, God's promise is immutable. But are the modern day Jews really the descendants of Abraham? If not then they are not eligible for God's Covenant promises.
The Khazar Jews are not Abraham's descendants
There is growing, irrefutable evidence, however, that the Crimean Khazars, whose kingdom extended over what is now the Ukraine to the Caspian Sea, officially converted to pure Mosaic Judaism in 861 under the rule of King Bulan. The Khazars do not appear to have been a people unto themselves, but rather a blend of many races resulting from the heavy trade that was going on at the time. The campaign of the Rus (Russian) Prince Svyatoslav of Kiev effectively broke the back of the Khazarian empire in 965 AD, although Khazar itself continued until at least 1030 AD. Under the growing persecution of Kiev Rus in the 11th and 12th century, the Khazars disappeared as a people. Nonetheless, there is overwhelming evidence that at least a portion of the Jewish Khazars fled to Eastern Europe and north into Poland and Lithuania.
Some people have taken this body of evidence and claim it proves that the Abraham Ashkenazim Eastern European Jews were of the Khazar bloodline, rather than the bloodline. In his book God's Covenant People, evangelist Ted R. Weiland cites mostly third party and circumstantial evidence in a convincing way to conclude the East European Jews were not Semites (blood descendants of Shem and Abraham). "Since they are not Semites, then today's Jews certainly can not be of Abraham's lineage because Abraham was a Semite... descended from Shem, the Son of Noah. Following the same line of reasoning, since today's Jews are not Semites, they can not be Israelites either because Jacob/Israel was also a Semite, a direct descendant of Shem through Abraham." 1
Are the ten lost tribes of Israel the Celtic-Saxons that populated the US?
If today's Jews are not heirs to the Covenant promises to Abraham, then who is? Weiland believes it is the Celtic-Saxon races who populated England. He and others in this movement believe the Celtic-Saxon races are true descendants of the ten tribes of Israel who were assimilated during the Assyrian exile. Weiland provides no direct evidence for this conclusion because evidence of what happened to the ten tribes is even more scarce than what happened to the Khazar Jews. Most historians accept the melting pot theory that the captive ten tribes intermarried with other races, and having lost their identity as Israelites, migrated over the centuries to the southeast, north and northwest.
Those that believe modern Jews are not bloodline Israelites claim the descendants of the ten lost tribes migrated across the Caucasus Mountains through what is now the Ukraine and became the white (Caucasian) Celtic-Anglo Saxon Europeans. It was the British (Celtic-Saxon) that colonized the world, especially that of the United States. For the moment, let us say they did. Weiland then attempts to prove that the British colonization of the world with its Israelite/Celtic/Saxon blood linage, and especially that of the United States, fulfills the various prophecies dealing with the future of Israel.2 Therefore, God's real covenant people are white Europeans and the nation of Israel is the United States.
For instance, in Genesis 12:1-3 God promises Abraham that he will "...make you a great nation and make your name great..." Other Old Testament passages promise the same thing. Weiland claims that Israel has never been a great nation or had a great name, at least in comparison with Britain or the United States. Weiland also claims that "no one can deny that wherever the Celto-Saxon peoples have migrated, greatness of some sort has almost always followed them." 2b In another example, Genesis 13:16 proclaims "I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth; so that if anyone can number the dust of the earth, then your descendants can also be numbered." Even today, notes Weiland, the Jews number only about 17 million, while "it is estimated that there are approximately 1.5 billion Celto-Saxon people, with somewhere between 265 million to 275 million in America alone." 2c
Similarly, Weiland, provides numerous prophetic examples that provide excellent correlations to what has happened in the United States, but not yet Israel. Therefore, he concludes that the United States has become the new Israel and has fulfilled all prophecies concerning Israel. Yet, correlations do not prove cause and effect. After all, 100 percent of the people who drink water die. Water, however, kills only a very small fraction of them. No matter how good the correlations, if the first premise--that the non-Semitic Khazar Jews dominate the bloodline of today's Jews and are not Abraham's descendants--is not correct, then the prophetic correlations with the United States have nothing to do with God's covenant.
Just because the prophecies have not yet been fulfilled, does not mean that God will not fulfill them during the thousand year reign of Christ following His return. In fact, Revelation strongly suggests Israel will become a great nation and will fulfill all the prophecies God said about it. And, God was very clear when he said in Deuteronomy 30:5 that "He will bring you to the land that belonged to your fathers, and you will take possession of it." Clearly he meant the land of Israel, not the United States.
Weight of historical evidence
The issue boils down to whether Weiland and others are correct in their "proofs" that there is very little Semitic genetic material in modern Jews because of their Khazar heritage. Unfortunately, that does not match up with historical research. For instance E. Ringelblum found that Semitic Jews from Western and Central Europe played an equally important role in defining the East European Jew as the Khazar Jews. His analysis, published in pu Z'ydzi w Polsce Odrodzonej Ringelblum, states "that the diffusion of Jewish Khazarian elements into the Polish kingdom appeared only after the Khazarian kingdom fell. A lot of documents and different town-names attest to the early Jewish immigration to Poland.... At the same time there was another Jewish immigration and colonization from the west, from Germany. Lots of antagonism existed between the eastern and western Jewish immigrants because there were different types of city-buildings.... The Khazar people, usually peasants, used primitive tools and were people with less culture. There was antagonism with the more advanced German Jews." 3
Nathan Ausubel, also found that "the first Jews must have come from the Crimea.... In time, these Khazar Jews blended with the other Jewish elements in Poland and ultimately lost their ethnic group identity." 4 Historian Adam Vetulani disagrees with Ausubel only slightly, "Polish scholars agree that these oldest [Polish Jewish] settlements were founded by Jewish emigres from the Khazar state and Russia, while the Jews from Southern and Western Europe began to arrive and settle only later...and that a certain portion at least of the Jewish population (in earlier times, the main bulk) originated from the east, from the Khazar country, and later from Kievian Russia." 5 Arthur Koestler even goes so far as to say in his book The Thirteenth Tribe: The Khazar Empire and Its Heritage that "although the numerical ratio of the Khazar to the Semitic...is impossible to establish,... the Khazar contribution to the genetic makeup of the Jews must be substantial, and in all likelihood dominant." 6
There can be little doubt that the Khazar Jew bloodline had an important impact on the East European Jews. But, not all Khazar Jews migrated north. There is evidence many converted to Christianity or Islam and were absorbed into the general population in what is now the Ukraine. "By the end of the 10th century they [Khazar Jews] succumbed to the Russians, and after maintaining themselves for a short period in the Crimea, some gradually embraced the Christian or Moslem faith, ceasing to exist as a separate people, though many joined with their Jewish brethren" to the north. 7
It seems certain to historians that the East European Jews were a mix of Jews from the "Rhineland in Western Germany," the "area of the modern Czech Republic," and from Khazar in what is now the Ukraine.8 Benjamin Harsav suggests that "The label 'Ashkenazi' does not necessarily mean that all Ashkenazi Jews came from Germany but that they adopted the cluster of Ashkenazi culture which included the specific Ashkenazi religious rite and the German-based Yiddish language. Thus, it is plausible that Slavic-speaking Jewish communities in Eastern Europe (which existed there from early times) became dominated in the sixteenth century by Ashkenazi culture and adopted the Yiddish language." 9
One of the most peer-respected historians on the subject in the past few years is Kevin Alan Brook, who has spent years researching this issue culminating in the book published in 2000, The Jews of Khazaria . In summarizing his findings, Brook found that "No Polish place-names were [directly] named after the Khazars," nor "did Polish shtetl life...derive from the Khazars." Contrary to some of the historians cited above, Brook concludes that "The majority of Polish Jews came from the West, not the East," but not by much, and "most Ashkenazi Jews have Germanic, not Turkic, surnames and customs." Nonetheless, insists Brook, those who would argue that the Khazar Jews did not play a significant role in defining the East European Jews "are full of falsehoods and written for reasons other than in the spirit of objective scholarly inquiry."10
"Eastern European Jews predominantly have ancestors who came from Central Europe rather than from the Khazar kingdom," asserts Brook. He also found that "The Ashkenazi Jews are also the direct descendants of the Israelites. Genetic tests seem to indicate some ancestry from the regions known today as Turkey, Armenia, Georgia, and Iraq." A study by Dr. Michael F. Hammer, et al. shows an even more striking Israelite heritage. The Hammer study, based exclusively on the Y-chromosome (paternal), shows that Ashkenazi Jews are more closely related to Yemenite Jews, Iraqi Jews, Sephardic Jews, Kurdish Jews, and Arabs than they are to European Christian populations.
According to Brook, however, Hammer's "results contradict some other genetics studies, as well as historical evidence from three continents, and red flags have been raised by many knowledgeable observers who question Hammer et al.'s methodology and conclusion after noticing flaws and inconsistencies in their report." On the other hand, Hammer found an "unknown" genetic component mixed in with the Israelite DNA. He notes that "In spite of the tendency of prior studies to summarily dismiss the possibility, a single source for the 'foreign' male genetic component in the Ashkenazi Jews...could be the medieval kingdom of Khazaria." Hammer recommends a genetic study of ancestral Khazarians to determine their genetic contribution. The problem is, however, there remains no known Khazars from which to draw a sample.
Brook concludes, "For now, I can point out that the Israelite [genetic] traces among the East European Jews came from three sources: (1) Sephardic Jews fleeing Spain and Portugal and resettling in Lithuania and Poland, (2) Roman Jews, and from (3) Khazarian Jews who merged with Israelites, just as the Schechter Letter states 'they became one people.' Are all Jews around the world descended from the Khazars? Certainly not. But, it is rational to conclude that some of them are." 10
While the evidence of Khazar "dilution" of the Semitic bloodline is overwhelming, it is also certain that the Abraham bloodline does exist within the overall Jewish population in both the world and in Israel. Unless there is a vast conspiracy among dozens of historians from many countries over the past 100 years, those who insist that the Jews in Israel are not direct heirs of Abraham are wrong. They are Abraham's heirs, and therefore eligible for all of God's promises (good and bad) for His Chosen People. That leaves the question of why leaders of the "Jews are not Israelites movement" have ignored this overwhelming evidence to say that the Abraham bloodline no longer exists in the Jews, but in them. That is exactly what the early Catholic Church led their followers to think and millions of Jews were persecuted and killed. Perhaps it has something to do with Revelation 12:13-17, 1 Timothy 4:1-2 and 2 Timothy 3:1-9.
One last thought to chew on or spit out as you wish. If a significant portion of the ten lost tribes of Israel did migrate northwest across the Caucuses Mountains, it is probable that a significant portion would have settled in Crimea and what is now Eastern Ukraine, infusing the Abraham bloodline in at least part of the Khazars Jews. Ironically, rather than being the early Celts and Saxons, the remnant of the ten tribes could have been the partial seed of the Khazar Jews, who after settling in Eastern Europe intermarried with their Judean/Benjamin ancestral cousins who had migrated from the Mediterranean via Western and Central Europe. It would be the literal fulfillment of Ezekiel 37:15-29:
```This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am going to take the stick of Joseph—which is in Ephraim's hand—and of the Israelite tribes associated with him, and join it to Judah's stick, making them a single stick of wood, and they will become one in my hand.' ...I will take the Israelites out of the nations where they have gone. I will gather them from all around and bring them back into their own land. I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel."
We may never know if this has any truth this side of heaven. But God does work in mysterious ways. V mc