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Author Topic: Ornery U - History of Judaism
RickyB
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Agreed. Plus, Jews cannot be seen as an objective source. Neither can Samaritans, but again, despite my foot in mouth moment about "no research" (it was late, i was stoned), it is simply impossible that the assyrians exiled an entire population. They didn't have the transport capacity nor did their roads have the capacity to do such a thing, definitely without leaving any record. The Samaritans are almost certainly (or at least were at the time) a mix of original non exiled Israelites and replacement population. I don't know much about genetic research done among them. Must be interesting.
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Jesse
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They've been inbred for so long, and there are so few of them, that it would be interesting to know how valid such research would be.

Of course, I have no idea how possible it would be to define old bodies as Samaritan and try to get DNA from their teeth, or they would feel about that. I'm guessing they wouldn't find it exactly respectful.

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RickyB
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"I'm guessing they wouldn't find it exactly respectful."

Ya think? [Razz]

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RickyB
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OK, as for proselytizing - In the torah we find no encouragement of proselytizing whatsoever, and quite a few injunctions to hinder same. Moses did not really want his experimental community mingling.

Throughout the biblical era we see no signs of proselytizing effort, despite indications that quite a few gentiles at various times sought spiritual guidance from the Hebrew god and the temple.

Ezra again tightens the restrictions on intermingling with gentiles, and rejects the desires of various groups to align themselves with the reborn nation.

After Alexander Judaism is drawn out of its cocoon by the insatiable curiousity of the Greeks. The Torah is translated somewhere around 250 BCE. However, this is not through the initiative of the Jewish establishment, and in Jewish historiography this is considered a very unfortunate event.

As the Hellenic period progresses and turns to the Roman period, you see more and more apologetic Jewish writings, attempting to explain Judaism to a Hellenic audience and at times even reconcile the two world-views (philo).

Rome was an endlessly fertile ground for religious fads. The advent of Christianity was preceded by several centuries of mounting spritual crisis, as Romans found their religion, devised for a mostly rural monarchy cum-republic (no cum jokes!) insufficient for the realities of metropolis and empire. Many different religions made very nice livings off the bored Roman elite. Isis was especially big in Rome for a while. Judaism had its cerebral appeal, and had antiquity on its side, which the Romans greatly respected. So bunches of minor temple officials would go around Rome, making converts and getting donations to the temple. Until one day they pulled too big a sting on too important an old lady, her son complained to the emperor and Rome's 4,000 Jews were exiled for a few years. True story, as they say.

Anyway, this period, of the early first century CE, was the only period in which there was active Jewish proselytizing, as far as I know, but during this period it most certainly did exist. Most of the converts made this way - with an eye more on padding the numbers and the temple coffers and the missionary's cut, rather than spiritual conviction) did not stay true, and the vast majority apparently opted, following the destruction of the temple, for the emerging less stringent version of morality-based monotheism called... you know [Smile]

Anyway, this lesson is what caused one of the sages to remark that "converts ("gerim") are like a skin affliction unto Israel"

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Jesse
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The Kahzars converted in the Seventh Century, and more than a few tribes in Arabia converted in the wake of the Diaspora.
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hobsen
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khazars

quote:
In the 7th century CE, the Khazars founded an independent Khaganate in the Northern Caucasus along the Caspian Sea. Although the Khazars were initially Tengri shamanists, many of them converted to Christianity, Islam, and other religions. During the eighth or ninth century the state religion became Judaism, and the Jewish religion became widespread among the population. At their height, the Khazar khaganate and its tributaries controlled much of what is today southern Russia, western Kazakhstan, eastern Ukraine, Azerbaijan, large portions of the Caucasus (including Circassia, Dagestan, Chechnya, and parts of Georgia), and the Crimea.

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RickyB
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Doesn't mean there was proselytizing. [Smile]

I also forgot to address the Idumean episode, which was different from all other cases.

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Jesse
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However it went, they were some right bastards once converted, running around chopping off peoples wickerbills against their will.

The Khazars, that is.

[ February 29, 2008, 08:20 AM: Message edited by: Jesse ]

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RickyB
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Yeah, not much doubt that the Khazars practiced, um, proselytizing. [Big Grin] I don't really count them when talking about the evolution of Judaism. Some think we should. I've yet to be convinced. [Smile]
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hobsen
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Having no opinion either way, why should the Khazars be or not be counted? It sounds as if there were a lot of them, and they spread over territory where there were a lot of Jews. If the groups stayed mostly separate, they may have had very little influence on Judaism; if the groups intermingled significantly, they did. And it does seem the Khazar history has nothing to do with proselytism by Jews; their rulers needed a state religion and picked one.
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RickyB
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Because there's no indication that the Khazars influenced Judaism outside their boundaries or after their time. The legends of the strong Jewish kingdom remained, and there's a seminal work of religious apologetics called "The Book of the Kuzari", by Rabbi Yehudah HaLevi (also a great poet), who dramatizes the Khazar (Kuzari) choice of Judaism over Islam and Christianity, in the form of an ecumenical debate. Beyond that... nothing, really. It was a sidetrack, an offshoot, a divergence. Like the guy on the flowchart who's only connected to the rest by a single one-way branch. [Smile]

BTW, my guess would be that the choice of Judaism allowed the Khazars to remain independent of aligning with either Muslims or Christians, and yet avoid being regarded as heathen by same. Just a guess.

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hobsen
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Thanks for the explanation, Ricky. That sounds reasonable.
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hobsen
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Concerning the Dead Sea scrolls, RickyB, you seem to agree with the following:
quote:
Schiffman (1995) accepted the conclusion, expressed by many biblical scholars, that the Qumran Sect was intrinsically linked to the scrolls found in the caves. The most widely adopted view is that the Qumran Sect was a small branch of the larger Essene movement (Sukenik 1955; VanderKam and Flint 2002). Scholars believe that this sectarian group was responsible for gathering together, copying (mostly between 150 B.C.E and 68 C.E.), and depositing documents in area caves.
But why do you think the scrolls - or the Qumran Sect - important to Judaism? So far as I have heard, modern Judaism descends from the Pharisees rather than the Essenes.
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RickyB
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Modern Judaism is undoubtedly pharisee. However, it is most instructive to know what the alternatives to the pharisees were, so we can appreciate the choices they made and have better insight into many of the many obscure passages in the mishna and talmud [Smile] Also, if Dr. Elior is right, and the dead sea sects split with mainstream Judaism due to their insistence on older theologies and principles, obviously the study of the scrolls gives us invaluable insight into the early Hebrew religion.

Plus, beyond Judaism, the scrolls are invaluable for studying the eschatological philosophies from which Christianity drew a large part of its original inspiration.

[ March 01, 2008, 05:12 PM: Message edited by: RickyB ]

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hobsen
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quote:
Also, if Dr. Elior is right, and the dead sea sects split with mainstream Judaism due to their insistence on older theologies and principles, obviously the study of the scrolls gives us invaluable insight into the early Hebrew religion.
Yes, you said that; and I missed its importance. That in itself answers my question.
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Everard
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My mother actually "treated' a Khazar in the hosital about a year and a half ago. (She does chaplaincy work very frequently).
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hobsen
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Arthur Koestler seems to have done a lot of harm by arguing, in The Thirteenth Tribe: The Khazar Empire and Its Heritage (London: Hutchinson, 1976 and New York, NY: Random House, 1976), that Ashkenazi Jews are primarily descended from the Khazars. But there is historical evidence that Khazars practicing Judaism spread to other areas after the fall of their country, and probably some of these left descendants. A more reasonable assessment comes from genetic studies, which were of course not available to Koestler:
quote:
The population geneticist Nathaniel Michael Pearson worked with the Human Genome Project a few years ago and helped to collect DNA samples from North Caucasians, Turks, Sino-Tibetans, and other groups. Pearson is of Ukrainian Jewish background and compared his paternal Y-chromosome sample to those of men from other groups. His DNA matched with an Uzbekistani Uzbek, an Uzbekistani Tajik, and two men from New Delhi in northern India. Pearson believes that the Central Asian haplotype he has could be connected to the Khazar Turks. However, he told me that this haplotype "appears at only a couple percent frequency in a large Ashkenazi sample (and strangely shows a slightly higher, but still very low, frequency among Moroccan Jews)". In other words, this particular possibly-Khazar ancestral strain represents a minority rather than a majority of Eastern European Jews. And while maternal DNA (mtDNA) studies have shown substantial links between Ashkenazi Jews and the peoples of Europe, these non-Israelite inputs into the Ashkenazi genepool still do not represent the majority of total maternal and paternal Ashkenazi ancestry, and probably only some of these European inputs come from Khazar women.
http://www.khazaria.com/khazar-diaspora.html
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RickyB
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AS for Hobsen's question bout the great revolt, over on Lisa's thread - a little background will be necessary.

In 63 BCE, Pompey the Great conquers Jerusalem and ends about 80 years of actual self rule in Judea (which at its height was about as large as modern-day Israel, making up for most of the Negev which it lacked (nabateans) in territories in modern-day Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.)

Pompey, Crassus and Caesar, who were all the strong Roman in the area for a time, all vacillated between various Hasmonean contenders, with an Idumean named Antipater (the only person who fully grasped that the days of independence were over, and that Rome's favor was the only key anymore) playing a major role behind the thrones. Eventually, following a brief interlude of Parthian conquest (40 BCE), Herod, son of Antipater, helped restore Roman rule over Jerusalem and Judea and became king under the Romans.

Skipping his fascinating story, he dies in 4 BCE (shortly after the birth of a certain pipsqueak, allegedly in a manger in or near the godforsaken hamlet of Bethlehem). In his will, he divides his large kingdom in three: Golan and adjacent district to his son Phillip, Galilee and adjoining part of trans-Jordan to Antipas, and Judea to Archelaus. Unlike his brothers, who were highly capable rulers and ruled for 38 and 43 years respectively, Archelaus was a moron and managed to annoy both Jews and Samaritans and get himself removed by the Romans, who decided to rule directly through governors.

The governors mostly did poorly at containing the religious and demographic problems plaguing the land, which at this point was torn between observant Jews and a population that lived a Hellenic lifestyle.

In 37 CE things changed when a Romanized adventurer, scion to both Herodian and Hasmonean lines, becomes king in Israel - first over Phillip''s vacant fief (Phil done kicked the bucket in 34 CE), then over uncle Antipas's part in 39 (following some particularly devious play), and finally, with the ascent of childhood pal Claudius in Rome, JUdea as well in 41. Herod Agrippa's reign was glorious, but all too short, ending in mysterious death after a 5 day illness in 44 CE. In the long run, his reign did more harm than good, as it basically teased the Jews with the possibilities of freedom, only to make them return to underclass status quickly.

Also, following his pal's death (which possibly spared Claude the need to face an insurrection led by Agrippa), Claude made a mistake. Rather than go back to Roman governors, from the Knight class, he turned to his Greek advisers and secretaries. Th difference was that while Roman governors were still much closer in outlook to Hellenics than to Jews, they still viewed both as natives and subjects. The Greek governors didn't even have that much balance. Jews (who were already in the grip of a religious doctrine which mae them hostilely disposed to all foreigners, particularly those they perceived as contaminating their holy land), were increasingly marginalized economically in favor of the Hellenic population. Violence between the two populations became increasingly common under the last governor, a real moron named Gessius Floros (Roman again, now that Nero was in charge). Finally, in 66 CE, the powder keg caught fire. The casus belli happened to be a right-of-way dispute in Caesaria. Full fledged civil war broke out between Jews and Hellenics al over, with Floros dealing in particularly bad faith, massacring Jews after they had been talked, with great pains, into letting him into Jerusalem and treating him as the authority. The Jews Massacred floros's garrison and took hold of the city. Then they managed to ambush the higher-ranking governor of Syria, Cestius Gallus, who came down to impose order in late 66, and the revolt was on.

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hobsen
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Oops, I meant to ask the question on this thread, of course.

I had never even heard of Herod Agrippa's brief reign. But the information about Claudius appointing Greek governors does seem to be a surprising mistake. The Romans knew quite well Judea was a likely spot for trouble; and it deserved the best governors they could get, Romans with as much stature as possible.

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RickyB
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Well, it was kind of a backwater for a Roman. Caesaria was nice (Herod built it specifically as refuge from Jerusalem's religious stress, with nice pagan temples, baths and all trappings of Roman good life), but it wasn't considered a plum appointment. Judea was a subdivision of grater Syria. Unlike the governorship of Syria, Judea wasn't considered a fitting proconsular gig, for instance. But yes, Rome's neglect was shortsighted. Claudius just didn't trust Romans much. Most of them had cultivated contempt for him most of their respective lives [Smile] Nero went back to knights, but picked bad ones and failed to redress Jewish grievances when petitioned.
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RickyB
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OK, the professor is baaaaaack. Thanks, Paladine.

Don't feel bound to the extant discussions. Start new ones [Smile]

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RickyB
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OK, about the Khazars - while I can't see any cultural or religious impact (we know they were regarded as religiously lite by at least some significant contemporaries, but treated with respect cause, well, ya know [Smile] ), there can be little doubt they had quite a genetic impact.

Ben Zion Di-Nur, a holoaust survivor who was a pre-eminent scholar of Jewish history, stated flatly that the Khazar empire was "the mother of Eastern-European diasporas". So wossname with his 13th tribe isn't off his rocker, but merely overstating. There is an unbroken chain of evidence of Jewish presence in Western Europe from way before the Khazars. Those are also what you call "Ashkenazee" and have nothing to do with the Khazars.

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hobsen
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quote:
Those are also what you call "Ashkenazee" and have nothing to do with the Khazars.
That seems to be supported by some genetic evidence. Looking at the Wikipedia article on Ashkenazi Jews, I was struck by the following study:
quote:
Both the extent and location of the maternal ancestral deme from which the Ashkenazi Jewry arose remain obscure. Here, using complete sequences of the maternally inherited mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), we show that close to one-half of Ashkenazi Jews, estimated at 8,000,000 people, can be traced back to only four women carrying distinct mtDNAs that are virtually absent in other populations, with the important exception of low frequencies among non-Ashkenazi Jews. We conclude that four founding mtDNAs, likely of Near Eastern ancestry, underwent major expansion(s) in Europe within the past millennium.
None of those four women were Khazars, and the significance of the study is increased by the fact that the Jewish population in Germany probably also included descendants of single Jewish men who migrated to Germany and then married native-born German women who converted to Judaism. So the study says at least half, and probably a lot more, of Ashkenazi heritage did not come from the Khazars. Further studies will surely cast more light on this question, although I cannot see what it matters today, other than that it refutes hate groups who claim the Jews of Germany were not really descended from the Jews of the Bible. This genetic evidence strongly suggests that most of their remote ancestors were Middle Eastern in the first century, and thus almost certainly Jews from that region.

[ August 07, 2008, 12:26 AM: Message edited by: hobsen ]

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