A recent study carried out by an international team of researchers provides powerful evidence for the veracity of the biblical account of the descent of both the Jewish and Arab peoples from one father (Abraham), as described in the book of Genesis.1
The team compared a special region of the Y chromosome (the non-recombining region) for 1,371 males. The test subjects came from 29 subpopulations of Africa, the Middle East, and Europe, and of those population groups, 7 were Jewish and the other 22, non-Jewish. Sixteen of the non-Jewish populations came from the same geographic region as the 7 Jewish population groups. The Jewish and non-Jewish populations from the same geographies have co-existed for a long time in all cases, making this sampling of 1,371 subjects an ideal system for evaluating origins.
The researchers found that the 7 Jewish populations (Ashkenazi, Roman, North African, Kurdish, Near Eastern, Yemenite, and Ethiopian), which spread across the widest geographic range of any of the population groups, had a remarkably high degree of genetic similarity even though they were geographically isolated from one another. In fact, the Jewish populations had the lowest genetic-difference-to-geographic-distance ratio of any collection of subpopulations examined. Moreover, each of the 7 Jewish populations possessed a greater degree of genetic similarity to one another than did any of these Jewish populations to their nearest geographic neighbors. These results indicate that Jewish populations emerged from a single ancestral population.
Additionally, the researchers found that Middle Eastern non-Jewish populations showed the highest degree of genetic similarity with the Jewish populations. The Syrian and Palestinian populations clustered with the 7 Jewish population groups. Saudi Arabians, Lebanese, and Druze populations were found to be the next closest, genetically. This is consistent with the Jewish populations originating from a parental population in the Middle East that also gave rise to Arab population groups.
Genesis teaches that Abraham fathered not only the nation of Israel, through Isaac, but also the Arab nations through Ishmael, who was born to Sarah’s hand maiden, Hagar, the Egyptian2 (16:1-6). After Isaac was born, Abraham sent Hagar and Ishmael away. At that time, God consoled both Abraham and Hagar with the promise that He would make her son into a great nation (21:11-18). Ishmael and his descendents settled in the region that spanned from Havilah to Shur, near the border of Egypt, eastward toward Asshur (25:12-18). This area encompasses the lands of Assyria and Arabia.
In other words, the results of the latest Y chromosome analysis are in agreement with Genesis 16-25. The researchers purpose in conducting this study was to evaluate the reliability of genetic analysis in tracking human migration. In the process, they provided powerful new evidence for the reliability of the Bible.
- 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, USA 97 (2000): 6769-74.
- Derek Kidner, Genesis: An Introduction and Commentary, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries, D. J. Wiseman, General Editor (Leicester, England: InterVarsity Press, 1967), 127.