Jews, Edomites and Khazars


In the Old Testament God gave promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob  that He would bless, prosper and multiply their descendants (Genesis 12:1-3, 15:1-20, 26:1-5, 17:1-16, 22:17-18, 28:13-15, 35:10-12). Many modern anti-Semites argue that these promises do not apply to modern Jews who they claim are not the descendants of Jacob, the Israelites of the Old Testament. The Jews are supposedly either Khazars or Edomites or both.


British-Israelites believe the British and other Western European nations are descendants of the “lost tribes” from the northern kingdom of Israel which was conquered and deported by the Assyrians in the 8th century BC.

Some British-Israelites believe the Jews are their fellow Israelites, descendants of Jacob. There is even a Jewish British-Israelite, Yair Davdiy.

Other British-Israelites, who are usually part of the Christian Identity movement which believes Jesus only died for white people, believe the Jews are not descendants of Jacob, but Edomites, descendants of his brother Esau.

Their main evidence for this belief is that around 120 BC John  Hyrcanus, the Jewish high priest forced the Edomites to convert to Judaism. The Jewish historian Josephus writes,

“Hyrcanus took also Dora and Marissa, cities of Idumea, and subdued all the Idumeans; and permitted them to stay in that country , if they would circumcise their genitals, and make use of the laws of the Jews; and they were so desirous of  living in the country  of their forefathers, that they submitted to the use of circumcision, and the rest of the Jewish ways of living; at which time therefore this befell them, that they were hereafter no other than Jews.” (Josephus, The Antiquities of the Jews, 13:9:1)

Anyone, familiar with Jewish history, would find it baffling that they would conclude from this that the Jews are Edomites. By the time of the second century BC, as well as in the land of Israel, Jews had migrated to Alexandria, Antioch, Asia Minor, Greece and Rome, and arguably the majority of the Jews still lived in Mesopotamia and had never returned from the Babylonian exile. These were “real” Jews, descendants of Jacob/Israel.  They did not all disappear when the small nation of Edom/Idumea converted to Judaism.

jews 001

(This map is taken from Atlas of the Jewish World by Nicholas de Lange, Phaidon Press, Oxford, 1987, p 23. it shows the distribution of the Jews around 300 BC)

Josephus did not believe all the Jews were Edomites. His biggest work The Antiquities of the Jews was a history of the Jews and it did not begin with the conversion of the Edomites. He covered the same ground as the Old Testament and said the Jews were descendants of Jacob. Josephus wrote that because Herod the Great was an Idumean/Edomite, he was a “half-Jew” (The Antiquities of the Jews, 14:5:2). This suggests that the Jews, descendants of Jacob, did not regard the Edomites as equal or fellow Jews in spite of their conversion to Judaism.

In his other major work The Jewish War Josephus described  how the Idumeans or Edomites joined with the Jews in the revolt against Rome. An army of 20,000 Edomites went to the aid of Jerusalem, but at first, they would not let them in. When they did enter, they sided with the Zealots and killed several thousand inhabitants of Jerusalem (Josephus, The Jewish War, 4:3-25). During the revolt against Rome some Jewish factions were more concerned with fighting each other than the Romans.

Josephus did not say the conflict in Jerusalem was Edomites killing Edomites as Christian Identity proponents would presumably believe. In spite of their conversion to Judaism 200 years earlier Josephus  still believed the Jews and Edomites were separate groups and he thought the Edomites were “a most barbarous and bloody nation.” (Josephus, The Jewish War, 4:5:1)

Nevertheless, Christian Identity proponents believe the word “Jew” means “Edomite” and the Jews, who interacted with Jesus in the Gospels, were really Edomites, rather than the descendants of Jacob, the subject of the Old Testament. Christian Identity proponents claim they are Christians, yet they do not see the Bible as their source of truth and authority. (The fact that the Christian Identity movement is full of racists and criminals also casts doubts on the genuineness of their Christianity.) The way they carry on about the Jews supposedly being Edomites, you would think it is as important as Jesus dying for our sins (if we are white). The Bible does not say Jews are Edomites. The New Testament does not even tell us that Herod the Great was an Edomite, which we know from Josephus.

When the Samaritan woman called Jesus a Jew (John 4:9), he did not correct her and say, “I’m not an Edomite.” Jesus went on to say that “salvation is of the Jews” (John 4:22). I don’t think he meant “salvation is of the Edomites”.

At Pentecost there were “Jews, devout men , from every nation under heaven” in Jerusalem (Acts 2:5), including “Parthians and Medes and Elamites, those dwelling in Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya adjoining Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs” (Acts 2:9-11). Edom does not get a mention. Peter called them both “Men of Judea” (Acts 2:14) and “Men of Israel” (Acts 2:22).

In Romans Paul writes, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek” (Romans 1:16). Again, I don’t think he meant the gospel was first for the Edomites, rather than the descendants of Israel to whom the old covenant had been given.

In Galatians Paul referred to both himself and Peter as Jews (Galatians 2:14-15).

I have heard some Christian Identity proponents cite John 8 as proof the Jews are Edomites. Jesus was debating the Pharisees (John 8:13) and said, “And you shall know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” The Pharisees replied, “We are Abraham’s descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone.” (John 8:32-33) Their reasoning is that the Israelites were slaves in Egypt, but the Edomites were not slaves but they were still descendants of Abraham through Esau, so the Jews knew they were Edomites.

However, the Edomites had been in bondage to King David, “He also garrisons in Edom, throughout all Edom he put garrisons, and all the Edomites became David’s servants” (2 Samuel 8:14, see also 1 Chronicles 18:13). “Ebed”, Hebrew for “servant” can also be translated as “slave”.

In John 7 the Pharisees and chief priests say that “no prophet has arisen out of Galilee” (John 7:52). In fact, about half a dozen Old Testament prophets came from the Galilee region. Jesus went on to tell the Pharisees their father was “the devil and the father of lies” (John 8:44). If Jesus says their father is “the devil and the father of lies”, it is not very wise to believe what they say.

Jesus was clealry talking about spiritual freedom, how the truth sets us free from the bondage of false ideas.

Twice in Revelation Jesus warns the churches about the “synagogue of Satan” who “say they are Jews and are not”  (Revelation 2:9, 3:9). Christian Identity proponents take this as referring to all Jews and  it means they are Edomites. This is flawed reasoning. There cannot be false Jews unless there are also real Jews. Those false Jews in Asia Minor, who “say they are Jews and are not”, were more likely Gnostics, rather than Edomites. Elsewhere, there must have real Jews, descendants of Jacob.

Many Christian Identity proponents quote the Jewish Encyclopedia of 1906 or 1925 as saying “Edom is modern Jewry” or “Edom is in modern Jewry”. It is even supposed to be Volume 5, page 41 of the 1925 edition.

However, the 1906 edition is online. Its entry on Edom can be found here and it does not say “Edom is modern Jewry” or “Edom is in modern Jewry”.

Likewise, on the  The Christogenea Christian Identity Forum  one contributor said he bought the 1925 edition and could not find the quote. It looks like some Christian Identity supporter made up the quote and others have been repeating it  without bothering to check if it is authentic.

The Christian Identity movement believes the Old Testament conflict between Jacob and Esau is still going on today. The white nations are the Israelites, the descendants of Jacob, while the Jews are really Edomites, the descendants of Esau. They believe they are being oppressed by an international Jewish conspiracy. However, if they are Israel and the Jews are Edomites, their hatred of the Jews disobeys God’s command to Israel, “You shall not abhor an Edomite, for he is your brother.” (Deuteronomy 23:7)

In Who is Esau-Edom? Charles Weisman writes that the Old Testament prophecies about judgement upon Edom (Obadiah, Ezekiel 25) mean that God will use the white race to destroy the Jews,

“It is Jacob [the white nations] that God will se to destroy and kill Esau-Edom [the JEws]. In Obadiah’s prophecy it says that “Jacob shall be a fire”. This is not a purifying or refining fire. This fire will both “kindle” and “devour” Esau who is regarded as “stubble”, a substance which can be easily burned up and destroyed.

It is interesting that the Jews have chosen the word “holocaust” meaning the whole of something which is burned. The whole house of Esau  is described as being burned up – a true holocaust is about to occur. The Jews cry “never again” in reference to the Holocaust story but the fact is it has not yet happened. This destruction will happen to the Jews and at the hand of Israel, the white race, as verified by Ezekiel.” (Charles Weisman, Who is Esau-Edom?, Weisman Publications, Minnesota, 1991, p 115)


Those of us who are not so eager to participate in genocide should not worry. The fact, that the nation of Edom no longer exists, suggests that theses prophecies about Edom’s judgement and downfall have already been fulfilled.


Another theory is that modern Jews  are descendants of the Khazars who once lived in the Caucasus region including parts of what is now Ukraine, Russia and Kazakstan. In the 8th or 9th centuries the Khazars converted to Judaism. Modern Jews are supposed to be the descendants of the Khazars who emigrated to Eastern Europe after the fall of Khazria in the 11th or 12th centuries. This theory was popularized by the Jewish writer Arthur Koestler in The Thirteenth Tribe published in 1976.


However, it poses a problem for traditional “Christian” anti-Semitism which blames the Jews for killing Jesus. If modern Jews are the descendants of the Khazars, then they have no connection to the “Christ-killers” of the New Testament.

On the other hand, the Khazar hypothesis is used by anti-Zionists of both the Left and Right to argue that the Jews of modern Israel are descendants of the Khazars and have no ancestral claim to the land of Israel.

Modern Jews can be divided into four groups;

(1) Middle Eastern or Mizrahi Jews who lived in the nations of the Middle East.

(2) Sephardic Jews who were expelled from Spain in the 15th century.

(3) North African Jews who have lived along the coast of North Africa for 2000 years,

(4) Ashkenazi Jews of Germany and Eastern Europe. (Harry Ostrer, Legacy, A Genetic History of the Jewish People, Oxford University Press, 2012, p 20-22)

At best, the Khazar hypothesis can only be applied to the Ashkenazi Jews of Germany and Eastern Europe. It cannot account for the Middle Eastern, Sephardic and North African Jews.

In a 2013 book DNA Science and the Jewish Bloodline Texe Marrs claimed that recent DNA studies had confirmed the Jews are Khazars, rather than descendants of Israel.

dna science

“Now comes the ultimate, definitive DNA study, by Dr Eran Elhaik and associates at the McKusick-Nathans Institute of Genetic Medicine, John Hopkins School of Medicine.   Entitled The Missing Link of Jewish European Ancestry: Contrasting the Rhineland and the Khazarian Hypotheses, and published by the Oxford Journal on behalf of the  Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution, the study confirms Oppenheim’s research and the many scholarly books.

Dr. Elhaik and the prestigious John Hopkins University School of Medicine conclude in their report: “The Khazarian Hypothesis suggests that Eastern European Jews  descended from the Khazars, an amalgam of Turkic clans that settled the Caucasus in the early centuries CE and Converted [sic]  to Judaism in the eighth century … Following the collapse of their empire, the Judeo-Khazars fled to Eastern Europe. The rise of European Jewry is therefore explained by the contribution of the Judeo-Khazars.” ” (Texe Marrs, DNA Science and the Jewish Bloodline, RiverCrest Publishing, Texas, 2013, p 49-50)

This is not a quote from the conclusion of the article.  it is from the Abstract which appears at the beginning and summarizes the article. The complete Abstract reads,

“The question of Jewish ancestry has been the subject of controversy for over two centuries and has yet to be resolved. The “Rhineland Hypothesis” depicts Eastern European Jews as a “population isolate” that emerged from a small group of German Jews who migrated eastward and expanded rapidly. alternatively, the “Khazarian Hypothesis” suggests that Eastern European Jews descended from the Khazars, an amalgam of Turkic clans that settled in the Caucasus in the early centuries CE and converted to Judaism in the 8th century. Mesopotamian and Greco-Roman Jews continuously reinforced the Judaized Empire until the 13th century. Following the collapse of their empire, the Judeo-Khazars  fled to Europe. The rise of European Jewry is therefore explained by the contribution of the Judeo-Khazars. Thus far, however, the Khazar’s contribution has been estimated only empirically, as the absence of genome-wide data from Caucasus populations precluded testing the Khazarian Hypothesis. Recent sequencing of modern Caucasus populations prompted us to revisit the Khazarian Hypothesis and compare it  with the Rhineland Hypothesis. We applied a wide range of population genetic analysis to compare these two hypotheses. Our findings support the Khazarian Hypothesis and portray the European Jewish genome as a mosaic of Caucasus, European and Semitic ancestries, thereby consolidating previous contradictory reports of Jewish ancestry. We further describe major difference among Caucasus populations explained by the early presence of Judeans in the Southern and Central Caucasus. Our results have important implications on the demographic forces that shaped the genetic diversity in the Caucasus and medical studies.” ( Eran Elhaik, “The Missing LInk of Jewish European Ancestry: Contrasting the Rhineland and the Khazarian Hypotheses”Genome Biology and Evolution (2012), First published online: December 2012, p 2)

As we can see, Elhaik described two hypotheses, the Khazarian and the Rhineland. He wrote, “Our findings support the Khazarian Hypothesis  and portray the European Jewish genome as a mosaic of Caucasus, European and Semitic ancestries.” In other words, Elhaik concluded that European Jews had both Khazarian and Semitic Jewish ancestry, although he admittedly believed they were more Khazarian than Semitic.

Marrs left out  the passage in the Abstract which said, “Mesopotamian and Greco-Roman Jews reinforced the Judaized Empire until the 13th century.”

Elhaik also, “After their conversion to Judaism, the population structure of the Judeo-Khazars was further reshaped by multiple migrations of Jews from the Byzantine Empire and the Caliphate to the Khazarian Empire.” (p 4)


“Greco-Roman and Mesopotamian Jews gravitating toward Khazria were also common in the early centuries and their migrations intensified following the Khazars’ conversion to Judaism.” (p 19)

Historians do not know how many of the Khazars converted to Judaism. Nevertheless, after the ruling class converted, Khazaria  became a safe haven for Jews from persecution. In The Thirteenth Tribe Arthur Koestler quoted the tenth century Arab historian al-Masudi,

“In this city [Khazrian -Itil] are Muslims, Christians, Jews and pagans. The Jews are the king, his attendants and the Khazars of his kind. The king of the Khazars had already become a Jew in the Caliphate of Harun al-Rashid and he was joined by Jews from all the lands of Islam and from the country of the Greeks [Byzantium]. Indeed, the king of the Greeks at the present time, the  Year of Hegira 332 [AD 943-4] had converted the Jews in his kingdom to Christianity be coercion … Thus many Jews took flight from the country of the Greeks to Khazaria.” (Arthur Koestler, The Thirteenth Tribe, Omni Publications, California, 1976, p 60)

Thus, many Jews with Middle Eastern ancestry migrated to Khazaria where they would have intermarried with the Khazarian Jews. Their descendants would have had both Israelite and Khazarian ancestry. Even if the Khazarian hypothesis were true  and the Eastern European Jews came from Khazaria, they would still be descendants of Jacob.

One would not learn anything about Jewish migrants to Khazaria from Texe Marrs’ DNA Science and the Jewish Bloodline which gives the impression that Eran Elhaik proved modern Jews were Khazars and had no connection to the Jews of the Bible.

However, that may be giving too much credibility to the Khazar hypothesis. Elahik has been criticised for taking samples from Georgians and Armenians because the Khazars are no longer an identifiable ethnic group.  Marcus Feldman, Director of Stanford’s Morrison Institute for Population and Resource Studies commented,

“If you take all of the careful genetic population analysis that has been done over the last 15 years … there’s no doubt about the common Middle Eastern origin [of the Jews]. … He [Elhiak] appears to be applying the statistics in a way that gives him different results from what everybody else has obtained from essentially similar data.” (Rita Rubin, ” ‘Jews a Race’ Genetic Theory Comes under Fierce Attack by DNA Expert”, The Jewish Daily Forward, May 10, 2013)

In The Jews of Khazaria Kevin Alan Brook agrees the Khazars converted to Judaism and some would have migrated to Eastern Europe, but the says the majority of the Ashkenazi Jews till came from Germany. A “small Turkic Khazarian element” assimilated into the Ashkenazi Jews, but they did not account for all the Ashkenazi Jews (Kevin Alan Brook, The Jews of Khazaria, Second Edition, Rowman and Littlefield, Lanham, 2006, p 226)

Yiddish, the language of the Ashkenazi Jews, is not a Turkic or Slavic language, which would suggest an Eastern or Khazarian origin, but “is primarily based on medieval High German, and this is especially observable in its vocabulary” (The Jews of Khazaria, p 203). Many Ashkenazi Jews have surnames derived from towns in Germany, suggesting they came for Germany rather than the Caucasus (The Jews of Khazaria, p 202-203).

Marrs also claims that the genetic research of Ariella Oppenheim of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem also proves that modern Jews are descendants of the Khazars, not Israelites,

“Scientific DNA studies were conducted first in 2001 by Ariella Oppenheim, a Jewish genetics researcher of Hebrew University in Tel Aviv [sic]. Her findings: Almost all who today identify as “Jews” are not the descendants of Abraham but are, in fact, of Turkish/Mongol stock. The Jews are Khazarians, not Israelites.” (DNA Science and the Jewish Bloodline, p 20)

“In 2001, Dr. Ariella Oppenheim of Hebrew University, a biologist published the first extensive study of DNA and the origin of the Jews. Her research found that virtually all the Jews came from Turkish and Kurd blood. Not only that but Oppenheim suggested that the Palestinians – the very people whom the Jews had been persecuting and expelling from Israel’s land since 1948 – might have more Israelite blood than did the Jews. In sum, the vast majority of the Jews were not Jews; some of the Palestinians were. Some of the Palestinians even had a DNA chromosome which established they were “Cohens” – workers at the ancient Temple and synagogues of the Jews.” (DNA Science and the Jewish Bloodline, p 49)

Marrs does not explain how if the Jews are Khazars with no connection to the Middle East, it is possible to identify a chromosome which showed that some Palestinians were descendants of  Jewish Temple priests.

“Cohen” is Hebrew for “priest” so Jews  with the surname Cohen, Cohan or Kohen  are presumably descendants of Jewish priests from the Temple period. Geneticists have identified the Cohanim Modal Haplotype (CMH) which can be found in about 45% of Ashkenazi Jews with the surname Cohen or its derivatives and 56% of Sephardic Jews called Cohen, suggesting members of both groups were priests in the Jerusalem Temple (The Jews of Khazaria, p 222). However, it can also be found in some non-Jews in the Middle East.

Ariella Oppenheim is one of six authors of the 2001 article Almut Nebel, et al., “The Y Chromosome Pool of Jews as Part of the Genetic Landscape of the Middle East”, American Journal of Human Genetics, Vol, 69, p 1095-112, 2001. I am not sure why Texe Marrs singles her out.

Ariella Oppenheim co-authored two previous articles on Jews and genetics published in 2000. They say the genetic evidence shoes the Jews came for the Middle East.

“The results support the hypothesis that the paternal gene pools of Jewish communities from Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East descended from a common Middle Eastern ancestral population, and suggest that most Jewish communities have remained relatively isolated from neighboring non-Jewish communities during and after the Diaspora.” (M. F. Hammer, et al., “Jewish and Middle Eastern non-Jewish populations share a common pool of Y-chromosome biallelic haplotypes”, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 97, No. 12, June 6, 2000, p 6769)

“Our findings corroborate previous studies that suggested a common origin for Jewish and non-Jewish populations living in the Middle East.” (Almut Nebel, et al.,  “High-resolution Y chromosome haplotypes of Israeli and Palestinian Arab reveal geographic substructure and substantial overlap with haplotypes of Jews”, Human Genetics, , 107 , 2000, p 637)

They suggest the genetic similarity between Jews and Palestinians is because these Palestinians are descendants of Jews who converted to Islam (p 631, 637).

A 2009 program on Israeli television “The Case of Palestinian Jews” says about 85% of Palestinians are of Jewish origin and about half of them know it. It looks like the older Palestinians know, while their children go out and throw rocks at Israeli soldiers.

Early Zionists Israel Belkind, Ber Borocher, Itzhak Ben-Zvi and future Israeli prime minister David Ben-Gurion believed the Palestinians had Jewish ancestors (Shlomo Sand, The Invention of the Jewish People, Verso, London, 2010, p 182-189).

If the Jews are related to the Palestinians, then the Jews must also have their roots in Palestine, rather than Khazria.

Marrs’ claim that the 2001 article “The Y Chromosome Pool as Part of the Genetic Landscape of the Middle East” shows that “virtually all the Jews came from Turkish and Kurd stock” or are “of Turkish/Mongol stock” is misleading. ( I would like to know what the Mongols from Eastern Asia have to do with the Jews.)

The article says, “Jews were found to be more closely related to groups in the north of the Fertile Crescent (Kurds, Turks and Armenians) than to their Arab neighbours.” (p 1095)

However, they do not believe this is because the Jews are descendants of the Khazars who converted to Judaism in the 8th or 9th centuries. They concluded that “the common genetic Middle Eastern background predated the ethnogenesis in the region. The study demonstrates that the Y chromosome pool of Jews is an integral part of the genetic landscape  of the region and, in particular, the Jews exhibit a high degree of genetic affinity to populations living in the north of the Fertile Crescent.” (p 1106)

In other words, the Jews or Israelites, Kurds, Turks and Armenians all emerged from the same group. Abraham may have come from this region in the northern Fertile Crescent (Legacy, p 94)

Cleary, their conclusions do not support the Khazar hypothesis.

Author: Malcolm Nicholson

I am a small business owner and I live in northern Tasmania. I am a graduate of the University of Tasmania and I have a Master of Arts in Early Christian and Jewish Studies from Macquarie University. I attend a Reformed church. I have been a teacher librarian, New Testament Greek teacher, branch president and state policy committee chairman of a political party, university Christian group president. My interests include ancient history, early Christian history, the Holocaust, Bible prophecy, revival, UFOs, peak oil and science fiction.

2 thoughts on “Jews, Edomites and Khazars”

  1. Hi Malcolm, perhaps there are Edomites who are Jews, and obviously they ARE fake Jews, for the ONLY real Jews are those descendant of Judah and his LEGITIMATE wife Tamar. Those descendants of his whoring with the daughter of Shuah, are Canaanite Jews and NOT true Jews. Remember too, the term Jew only began to really come into use after the Babylonian captivity, when only SOME of the house of Judah returned to Jerusalem with a strict observance of the Torah.

    At any rate, any legitimate Jew can be considered an Israelite, but not all Israelites can be considered Jews. It is clear from the Old Testament that God chose to work with the Israelites, all 12 sons of Jacob, Joseph’s House being split between Ephraim and Manasseh. It is also clear today that the modern state of Israel has precious little to do with any of this.

    PS I think Tex Marrs can be put on the disinformation pile and best disregarded.

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