I’m wasn’t sure where to post this question, so I posted it in the place where I thought it would get the most responses.
1) Are Jews today the biological descendants of the ancient Hebrew people of two to three thousand years ago?
Some are. Naturally not all are. Even among the **very first Jews** there were some who were not descendants of Jacob.
Being that Judaism does not allow intermarriage, the people with the highest percentage of ancient hebrew genes are Jews. Even though Jews accept converts, Jewish conversion is an extremely difficult process. I doubt that converts exceeded 1% of Jews at any given time. Jews have excepted converts for thousands of years so I would assume every Jew has genes that are not from the Hebrews. The Jews were a minority in the middle east even in the times of the prophets. So, just because people are from that area does not mean they have hebrew genes. They could be from the many other nations who lived in that area.
The answer is, as othes have pointed out, ‘some are, some aren’t’. The complicating factor is that Jews have never seen themselves as a biological entity. We have always found our relation to each other to be based on our religion. If you practice Judaism, you are a Jew. If you were born to a Jewish mother, you are Jewish…unless you convert out of the religion. So, you see that Jewish identity is not something that is seen as part of our biological being. It can be rejected with conversion from and can be accepted with conversion to Judaism.
However, since Judaism is not a very proseltizing religion, and since Jewish traditions make us a very tough people to assimilate, a lot of Jewish communities in the diaspora do have a lot of genetic similiarities, and can trace their ancestry back to a genetic line that started in the north of the Middle East (where Abrahem is believed to have come from) and are most closely related to the Kurds.
As Judaism is passed down through the maternal line (if your mother is Jewish, you are Jewish) we can be fairly certain that there is an unbroken genetic link between most of today’s Jews and the ancient Hebrews. This is, of course, discounting anyone converted to Judaism or descended from a convert. These people are considered just as Jewish as hereditary Jews.
I don’t know about today’s Jews overall. There was a documentary on tv about a black tribe, I forget where, in Africa, that historically practices the religion and had always claimed to be a lost tribe of the Israelites. Genetic testing of their DNA proved they were indeed descendants, only that tribe.
Yes, many of them are – although probably as many are descendants of more recent converts to the faith.
most are. Only those who converted are not.
It’s doubtful, because they’ve intermarried with non-Jews over the centuries, and all the family-tree records were burned up in the Roman destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD.
Some are, some aren’t.