[b-hebrew] Re: Hebrew and Welsh?

MarianneLuban at aol.com MarianneLuban at aol.com
Wed Nov 17 15:39:30 EST 2004

In a message dated 11/17/2004 3:35:45 AM Pacific Standard Time, 
peterkirk at qaya.org writes:

> >
> >...  Of course, it is supposed to be that the priestly family died 
> >out among the Samaritans and that the Levites then took over the priestly 
> >office.  But, according to DNA, this is not true...
> >
> This doesn't follow. If the original priestly family were descendants of 
> Aaron, they were closely related in the male line to the remaining 
> Levites, for (according to the Hebrew Bible) they had a common ancestor 
> in Levi only a few generations before Aaron - and only one generation 
> earlier with all true Israelites. So it makes sense that the Samaritan 
> Levites share a common Y chromosome type with the Jewish Cohens, 
> presumed to be descendants of Aaron - and with a good proportion of 
> modern Jews, presumably excluding descendants of later proselytes, 
> Jewish women who took Gentile husbands etc.

This needs clarification.  Certainly, what you say is correct.  But the 
Samaritans considered that all their high priests were descended in a straight line 
from Aaron through his grandson Phineas.  So Phineas is the "main man" of the 
Samaritans.  It would seem that the high priesthood was able to be maintained 
by the sons of Phineas, but ultimately this line failed.  According to Bowman 
(page 320) "The last of the Samaritan Cohen family had died out in 1623-4 
AD...However, the Levis stepped into the breach.  The transition was easy in that 
the Samaritans had always maintained that their priests were the priests of 
the Levites."  However, it seems the Phineas line was preferred because by 
1672, we know of a letter being sent to England [and also to France] by the 
Samaritans of Nablus, begging their European brethren to send them a descendant of 
Phineas to fill the priestly role.  Some western scholars had duped the Nablus 
Samaritans into believing there were Samaritans in the west in order to obtain 
Samaritan Pentateuchs from the latter.  I don't know all the interim details 
(although I can research this) but in February the high priest, Saloum Cohen, 
died.  He was called by this last name in the Palestian papers [some 40% of 
the less than 700 Samaritans existing today have this surname] but as HP, he was 
known simply as "Shalom ben Amram".  His father had been the HP before him 
and now the office is held by his cousin.  Getting back to the DNA study--the 
surprising results were that the other three families of the Samaritans (there 
are only four basic ones) contained the Cohen modal haplotype--but not this 
Cohen family.  That family can be traced to a single individual who apparently 
arrived 250 years ago [don't ask me how the geneticists figure that out].  250 
years ago is 1754.  So what happened?  At this point I don't know for certain, 
but it would appear that, at some point in the 18th century, someone arrived 
from somewhere that was not related to the other Samaritans of Nablus--the only 
place the Samaritans lived at that time.  Now about half of them reside at 
Holon in Israel.  Right now, I am not capable of tracing the HPs back to 1754, 
but I do know that, at the start of the 20th Century, the HP was called Jacob 
ben Aaron, and he was a relative of the current HP.  From the same family.  At 
the time of this Jacob ben Aaron, the Samaritans had dwindled down to a mere 
100 persons or so.  Therefore, it looks to me like this family had certainly 
done its part in the regeneration of the Samaritan community.  From their 
photos, the HPs from this family were the most magnificent men, all tall and looking 
like absolute Biblical patriarchs.  But were they really Samaritans at all?
That is the question, now posed by the DNA.  Did things arrive at such a pass 
in the 18th Century that a Jew !!!! had to come into the Samaritan fold and 
assume some importance?  Now the Samaritans are mostly all tall men (my 
Samaritan friend is 6' 1" but his sons are both 6' 7"--they are not of the Cohen 
family) and always have been, according to them.   But if a tall Jew came from, 
say, England, said he was an "Israelite" (most Jews in olden times called 
themselves "Israelites", anyway) and claimed to be from the priestly caste, what 
Samaritan in Nablus would have had the sophistication to disbelieve him, judging 
from that old correspondence with the west?
So it's a mystery--but I am intrigued enough to try to get to the bottom of 

> One implication of this seems to be that the modern Samaritans, except 
> for the recently added Cohen family, seem to be descended, at least in 
> the male line, not from the Assyrian settlers of 2 Kings 17:24 but from 
> Levites who moved among them at some time. This evidence should imply 
> that the Samaritans can at last be accepted as true Jews and the 2500 
> years of enmity can be ended.

Well, it has been--sort of.  The Samaritans now marry Jewish women, provided 
they convert to the Samaritan religion, but cut off those Samaritan women who 
marry Jews or Samaritan men who marry Jewish women and follow the Jewish way.  
The Israeli non-Samaritans take a lot of interest in their Samaritan brethren 
and Israeli leaders meet with them and entertain them quite often.  The prime 
minister of Israel, personally, gave a big party for the late HP Shalom upon 
his 80th birthday.  When this much beloved man (who even served in the 
Palestinian Parliament) spent time in an Israeli hospital in Holon, he was treated 
like a king and everyone in the hospital came to have a look at him with his 
noble face and elegant form, white beard and long white hair, never cut since 
childhood.  See


When the Samaritans observe their Passover rites on Mt. Gerizim, many 
non-Samaritans go to have a look and are not barred from observing.

> Interesting also that the Kurds have a similar Y chromosome type. This 
> might well suggest descent from the "lost" northern tribes, who are 
> known to have been exiled to areas close to modern Kurdistan. And it 
> might suggest that the Samaritan Danfi family are in fact not true 
> Levites but survivors from one of the northern tribes. But do any of the 
> Welsh have this same Y chromosome?

Who knows?  Somewhere there must be a genetic study of the Welsh by now.

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