BIBLE HISTORY DAILY

Jews and Arabs Descended from Canaanites

DNA analysis, from bodies found at several sites, explains more than half of ancestry

DNA

After examining the DNA of 93 bodies recovered from archaeological sites around the southern Levant, the land of Canaan in the Bible, researchers have concluded that modern populations of the region are descendants of the ancient Canaanites. Most modern Jewish groups and the Arabic-speaking groups from the region show at least half of their ancestry as Canaanite.

In the study, published in Cell, the researchers explain that they used existing DNA analysis of 20 individuals, from sites in Israel and Lebanon, and then added 73 more, taking DNA from the bones of individuals found at Tel Megiddo, Tel Abel Beth Maacah and Tel Hazor (Northern Israel), Yehud (central Israel) and Baq’ah (central Jordan). By first eliminating individuals closely related to other individuals in the sample, then comparing the remaining 62 DNA samples against a dataset of 1,663 modern individuals, they were able to establish the genetic link to the modern populations. The ethnic groups either still living where Canaan once dominated, or from that area prior to moving elsewhere, are largely descended from the Canaanites.

Canaanite relief in basat

Canaanite relief in basat depicting a lion and a lioness at play, 14th century BC, from Beit She’an, Israel Museum, Jerusalem (Wikimedia commons)

Canaanite culture was dominant in the Southern Levant during the Bronze Age (3,500-1,200 B.C.E.) As Iron Age I began, the Canaanite city-states faded. The Israelites self-identified as a separate group. As Volkmar Fritz speculates in Israelites and Canaanites, the Israelites may have formed distinct living arrangements, establishing small villages on peripheral land not previously settled and living mostly in four-room houses. Ultimately, the Israelites formed the states of Israel and Judah, while other biblical states, Ammon, Moab, Aram-Damascus, and Phoenician city-states, emerged. Today, the region consists of Israel, Lebanon, Jordan, the Palestinian Authority, and southwest Syria.

The study in Cell not only establishes that the ancient Israelites were descended from the Canaanites, but also establishes that the Canaanite people across the separate city-states of the southern Levant, and over a period of 1,500 years, were a genetically cohesive people.


Read more about DNA in Bible History Daily

6,500-Year-Old DNA Points to Ancient Migration A new DNA study demonstrates that humans migrated from modern-day Turkey and Iran to Israel’s Upper Galilee region 6,500 years ago.

What Happened to the Canaanites? Researchers have conducted DNA sequencing on ancient Canaanite skeletons and have determined that modern Lebanese populations are among Canaanites’ descendants today.

DNA Suggests Early Jewish Links with Africa A DNA study that compared the genetic makeup of Jewish populations from around the world with African populations has found that modern Jews can attribute about 3 to 5 percent of their ancestry to sub-Saharan Africans.

Ashkenazi Jewish Ancestry Confirmed European by mtDNA Tests A recent study on mitochondrial DNA revealed that the female line of Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry closely resembles that of Southern and Western Europe, rather than the ancient Near East, as many scholars proposed in the past.

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2 Responses

  1. Hello, are you saying that when Joshua led Israel back to the land some 600-700 years after Abraham settled there, they were therefore fighting against their earlier relatives descendants? We are told that after re-settling in the land the Israelites intermarried with the Canaanites also. How do we know which group we are seeing now?

    1. Patricia Persinger says:

      Hi Vicki Scheel, DNA is a simple but mostly confusing science. Abraham was born in around 292 years after the flood, the age expectancy was about 200 years. His wife was his half sister (Sarah) so Isaac’s DNA would have been 3/4 Babylonian and 1/4 Assyrian. From Abraham to Joseph is 4 generations, the sons of Jacob married into the Canaanite people. This began the DNA changing of the Hebrew people. After they entered Egypt the face of the Hebrew people changed again, when beginning with Joseph the sons and grandson of Jacob married into the Egyptian people. By the time of the Exodus the DNA was totally different from the original Abrahamic DNA. The theory that the male yDNA doesn’t change is an error since the female Allele will have genetic effect on the Y DNA. After as little as 1,000 years the YDNA will have a different genetic signature. The bottom line here is this, the Abrahamic DNA is lost. About the only way anyone can say they have any Jewish ancestry is to have an uninterrupted genealogical line. There are some families which do have this history but they are few.

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2 Responses

  1. Hello, are you saying that when Joshua led Israel back to the land some 600-700 years after Abraham settled there, they were therefore fighting against their earlier relatives descendants? We are told that after re-settling in the land the Israelites intermarried with the Canaanites also. How do we know which group we are seeing now?

    1. Patricia Persinger says:

      Hi Vicki Scheel, DNA is a simple but mostly confusing science. Abraham was born in around 292 years after the flood, the age expectancy was about 200 years. His wife was his half sister (Sarah) so Isaac’s DNA would have been 3/4 Babylonian and 1/4 Assyrian. From Abraham to Joseph is 4 generations, the sons of Jacob married into the Canaanite people. This began the DNA changing of the Hebrew people. After they entered Egypt the face of the Hebrew people changed again, when beginning with Joseph the sons and grandson of Jacob married into the Egyptian people. By the time of the Exodus the DNA was totally different from the original Abrahamic DNA. The theory that the male yDNA doesn’t change is an error since the female Allele will have genetic effect on the Y DNA. After as little as 1,000 years the YDNA will have a different genetic signature. The bottom line here is this, the Abrahamic DNA is lost. About the only way anyone can say they have any Jewish ancestry is to have an uninterrupted genealogical line. There are some families which do have this history but they are few.

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