NATURE’S CORNER NEWSLETTER
ARE SEMITIC PEOPLES BLACK, WHITE, OR A MIX?
In linguistics and ethnology, Semitic (from the Biblical “Shem”, Hebrew: שם, translated as “name”, Arabic: ساميّ) was first used to refer to a language family of largely Middle Eastern origin, now called the Semitic languages. This family includes the ancient and modern forms of Akkadian, Amharic, Arabic, Aramaic, Ge’ez, Hebrew, Maltese, Phoenician, Tigre and Tigrinya among others.
The term Semite means a member of any of various ancient and modern people originating in southwestern Asia, including Akkadians, Canaanites, Phoenicians, Hebrews, Arabs, and Ethiopian Semites. It was proposed at first to refer to the languages related to Hebrew by Ludwig Schlözer, in Eichhorn’s “Repertorium”, vol. VIII (Leipzig, 1781), p. 161. Through Eichhorn the name then came into general usage (cf. his “Einleitung in das Alte Testament” (Leipzig, 1787), I, p. 45). In his “Gesch. der neuen Sprachenkunde”, pt. I (Göttingen, 1807) it had already become a fixed technical term.
The word “Semitic” is an adjective derived from Shem, one of the three sons of Noah in the Bible (Genesis 5.32, 6.10, 10.21), or more precisely from the Greek derivative of that name, namely Σημ (Sēm); the noun form referring to a person is Semite.
The term “anti-Semitic” (or “anti-Semite”) usually refers to Jews only. It was coined in 1879 by German journalist Wilhelm Marr in a pamphlet called, “The Victory of Germandom over Jewry”. Using ideas of race and nationalism, Marr argued that Jews had become the first major power in the West. He accused them of being liberals, a people without roots who had Judaized Germans beyond salvation. In 1879 Marr founded the “League for Anti-Semitism”.
The concept of “Semitic” peoples is derived from Biblical accounts of the origins of the cultures known to the ancient Hebrews. Those closest to them in culture and language were generally deemed to be descended from their forefather Shem. Enemies were often said to be descendants of his cursed nephew, Canaan. In Genesis 10:21-31, Shem is described as the father of Aram, Asshur, and Arpachshad: the Biblical ancestors of the Arabs, Aramaeans, Assyrians, Babylonians, Chaldeans, Sabaeans, and Hebrews, etc., all of whose languages are closely related; the language family containing them was therefore named Semitic by linguists. However, the Canaanites and Amorites also spoke a language belonging to this family, and are therefore also termed Semitic in linguistics, despite being described in Genesis as sons of Ham (See Sons of Noah). Shem is also described in Genesis as the father of Elam and Lud, although the Elamites and Lydians usually thought to descend from these spoke languages that were not Semitic.
The hypothetical Proto-Semitic language, ancestral to historical Semitic languages in the Middle East, is thought to have been originally from either the Arabian Peninsula (particularly around Yemen) or the adjacent Ethiopian highlands, but its region of origin is still much debated and uncertain. The Semitic language family is also considered a component of the larger Afroasiatic macro-family of languages. Identification of the hypothetical proto-Semitic region of origin is therefore dependent on the larger geographic distributions of the other language families within Afroasiatic.
The following is a list of ancient Semitic peoples.
Akkadians — migrated into Mesopotamia in the late 4th millennium BC and amalgamate with non-Semitic Mesopotamian (Sumerian) populations into the Assyrians and Babylonians of the Late Bronze Age.
Eblaites — 23rd century BC
Aramaeans — 16th to 8th century BC / Akhlames (Ahlamu) 14th century BC
Ugarites, 14th to 12th centuries BC
Canaanite language speaking nations of the early Iron Age:
Old South Arabian speaking peoples
Sabaeans of Yemen — 9th to 1st c. BC
Ethio-Semitic speaking peoples
Aksumites — 4th c. BC to 7th c. AD
Arabs, Old North Arabian speaking Bedouins
Gindibu’s Arabs 9th c. BC
Lihyanites — 6th to 1st c. BC
Thamud people — 2nd to 5th c. AD
Ghassanids — 3rd to 7th c. AD
Nabataeans — adopted Arabic in the 4th century AD
The modern linguistic meaning of “Semitic” is therefore derived from (though not identical to) Biblical usage. In a linguistic context the Semitic languages are a subgroup of the larger Afroasiatic language family (according to Joseph Greenberg’s widely accepted classification) and include, among others: Akkadian, the ancient language of Babylon; Amharic, the official language of Ethiopia; Tigrinya, a language spoken in Eritrea and in northern Ethiopia; Arabic; Aramaic; Canaanite; Ge’ez, the ancient language of the Eritrean and Ethiopian Orthodox scriptures; Hebrew; Maltese; Phoenician or Punic; Syriac; and South Arabian, the ancient language of Sheba/Saba, which today includes Mehri, spoken by only tiny minorities on the southern part of the Arabian Peninsula.
Semitic peoples and their languages, in both modern and ancient historic times, have covered a broad area bridging Africa, Western Asia and the Arabian Peninsula. The earliest historic (written) evidences of them are found in the Fertile Crescent, an area encompassing the Babylonian and Assyrian civilizations along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, extending northwest into southern Asia Minor (modern Turkey) and the Levant along the eastern Mediterranean. Early traces of Semitic speakers are found, too, in South Arabian inscriptions in Yemen, Eritrea, Northern Ethiopia and later, in Roman times, in Nabataean inscriptions from Petra (modern Jordan) south into Arabia.
Later historical Semitic languages also spread into North Africa in two widely separated periods. The first expansion occurred with the ancient Phoenicians, along the southern Mediterranean Sea all the way to the Atlantic Ocean (colonies which included ancient Rome’s nemesis Carthage). The second, a millennium later, was the expansion of the Muslim armies and Arabic in the 7th-8th centuries AD, which, at their height, controlled the Iberian Peninsula (until 1492) and Sicily. Arab Muslim expansion is also responsible for modern Arabic’s presence from Mauritania, on the Atlantic coast of West Africa, to the Red Sea in the northeastern corner of Africa, and its reach south along the Nile River through traditionally non-Semitic territory, as far as the northern half of Sudan, where, as the national language, non-Arab Sudanese even farther south must learn it.
Modern Hebrew was reintroduced in the 20th century, and together with Arabic, is a national language in Israel. Western Aramaic dialects remain spoken in Malula near Damascus. Eastern Neo-Aramaic is spoken along the northern border of Syria and Iraq and in far northwestern Iran. These speakers are often called Chaldean or Neo-Assyrian. Mandean is still spoken in parts of southern Iraq. Semitic languages and peoples are also found in the Horn of Africa, especially Eritrea and Ethiopia. Tigrinya, a North Ethiopic dialect, has around six million speakers in Eritrea and Tigray. In Eritrea, Tigre is the language of around 800,000 Muslims. Amharic is the national language of Ethiopia and is spoken by at least 10 million Coptic Christians. Semitic languages today are also spoken in Malta (where an Italian-influenced language derived from Siculo-Arabic is spoken) and on the island of Socotra in the Indian Ocean between Yemen and Somalia, where a dying vestige of South Arabian is spoken in the form of Soqotri. The Maltese language is the only officially recognized Semitic language of the European Union.
In a religious context, the term Semitic can refer to the religions associated with the speakers of these languages: thus Judaism, Christianity and Islam are often described as “Semitic religions”, though the term Abrahamic religions is more commonly used today. A truly comprehensive account of “Semitic” religions would include the Ancient Semitic religions (such as the religions of Adad, Hadad) that flourished in the Middle East before the Abrahamic religions.
In Medieval Europe, all Asian peoples were thought of as descendants of Shem. By the nineteenth century, the term Semitic was confined to the ethnic groups who have historically spoken Semitic languages. These peoples were often considered to be a distinct race. However, some anti-Semitic racial theorists of the time argued that the Semitic peoples arose from the blurring of distinctions between previously separate races. This supposed process was referred to as Semiticization by the race-theorist Arthur de Gobineau. The notion that Semitic identity was a product of racial “confusion” was later taken up by the Nazi ideologue Alfred Rosenberg.
Modern science, in contrast, identifies a population’s common physical descent through genetic research, and analysis of the Semitic-speaking peoples suggests that they have some common ancestry. Though no significant common mitochondrial results have been yielded, Y-chromosomal links between Semitic-speaking Near-Eastern peoples like Arabs, Assyrians and Jews have proved fruitful, despite differences contributed from other groups (see Y-chromosomal Aaron). Although population genetics is still a young science, it seems to indicate that a significant proportion of these peoples’ ancestry comes from a common Near Eastern population to which (despite the differences with the Biblical genealogy) the term “Semitic” has been applied. However, this correlation should rather be attributed to said common Near Eastern origin, as for example Semitic-speaking Near Easterners from the Fertile Crescent (including Jews) are generally more closely related to non-Semitic speaking Near Easterners, such as Iranians, Anatolians, and Caucasians, than to other Semitic-speakers, such as Gulf Arabs, Ethiopian Semites, and North African Arabs.
“Jews, Palestinians, and Syrians share a genetic link.
Another finding, paradoxical but unsurprising, is that by the yardstick of the Y chromosome, the world’s Jewish communities closely resemble not only each other but also Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese, suggesting that all are descended from a common ancestral population that inhabited the Middle East some four thousand years ago.
Dr. Lawrence H. Schiffman, chairman of the department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies at New York University, said the study fit with historical evidence that Jews originated in the Near East and with biblical evidence suggesting that there were a variety of families and types in the original population. He said the finding would cause “a lot of discussion of the relationship of scientific evidence to the manner in which we evaluate long-held academic and personal religious positions,” like the question of who is a Jew.
The study, reported in today’s Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, was conducted by Dr. Michael F. Hammer of the University of Arizona with colleagues in the United States, Italy, Israel, England and South Africa. The results accord with Jewish history and tradition and refute theories like those holding that Jewish communities consist mostly of converts from other faiths, or that they are descended from the Khazars, a medieval Turkish tribe that adopted Judaism.
The analysis by Dr. Hammer and colleagues is based on the Y chromosome, which is passed unchanged from father to son. Early in human evolution, all but one of the Y chromosomes were lost as their owners had no children or only daughters, so that all Y chromosomes today are descended from that of a single genetic Adam who is estimated to have lived about 140,000 years ago.
In principle, all men should therefore carry the identical sequence of DNA letters on their Y chromosomes, but in fact occasional misspellings have occurred, and because each misspelling is then repeated in subsequent generations, the branching lineages of errors form a family tree rooted in the original Adam.
These variant spellings are in DNA that is not involved in the genes and therefore has no effect on the body. But the type and abundance of the lineages in each population serve as genetic signature by which to compare different populations.
Based on these variations, Dr. Hammer identified 19 variations in the Y chromosome family tree.
The ancestral Middle East population from which both Arabs and Jews are descended was a mixture of men from eight of these lineages.
Among major contributors to the ancestral Arab-Jewish population were men who carried what Dr. Hammer calls the “Med” lineage. This Y chromosome is found all round the Mediterranean and in Europe and may have been spread by the Neolithic inventors of agriculture or perhaps by the voyages of sea-going people like the Phoenicians.
Another lineage common in the ancestral Arab-Jewish gene pool is found among today’s Ethiopians and may have reached the Middle East by men who traveled down the Nile. But present-day Ethiopian Jews lack some of the other lineages found in Jewish communities, and overall are more like non-Jewish Ethiopians than other Jewish populations, at least in terms of their Y chromosome lineage pattern.
The ancestral pattern of lineages is recognizable in today’s Arab and Jewish populations, but is distinct from that of European populations and both groups differ widely from sub-Saharan Africans.
Each Arab and Jewish community has its own flavor of the ancestral pattern, reflecting their different genetic histories. Roman Jews have a pattern quite similar to that of Ashkenazis, the Jewish community of Eastern Europe. Dr. Hammer said the finding accorded with the hypothesis that Roman Jews were the ancestors of the Ashkenazis.
Despite the Ashkenazi Jews’ long residence in Europe, their Y signature has remained distinct from that of non-Jewish Europeans.
On the assumption that there have been 80 generations since the founding of the Ashkenazi population, Dr. Hammer and colleagues calculate that the rate of genetic admixture with Europeans has been less than half a percent per generation.
Jewish law tracing back almost 2,000 years states that Jewish affiliation is determined by maternal ancestry, so the Y chromosome study addresses the question of how much non-Jewish men may have contributed to Jewish genetic diversity.
Dr. Hammer was surprised to find how little that contribution was.
“It could be that wherever Jews were, they were very much isolated,” he said. The close genetic affinity between Jews and Arabs, at least by the Y chromosome yardstick, is reflected in the Genesis account of how Abraham fathered Ishmael by his wife’s maid Hagar and, when Sarah was then able to conceive, Isaac. Although Muslims have a different version of the story, they regard Abraham and Ishmael, or Ismail, as patriarchs just as Jews do Abraham and Isaac.”:
The following are a break down of ethnic haplomarkers- NOTE: Blacks and Semitic Whites are TWO different ethnicities, having different haplomarkers.Semitic Whites have ALL the White haplomarkers plus FOUR more that separates them from Indo European Aryan Whites:
Caucasoid – E (only subclade E1b1b is a Caucasoid marker-all other sublades of E are Negroid haplomarkers), F(Semites), H, I, J(Semites-1 & 2), K, L3(Semites), T, U, V(Semites), W, X, Y
Mongoloid(anthropologists now include American Indians(Red) and Malaysians(Brown) ethnicities in this group – C, D, F, G, O, Q, S- American Indians also have A, B, and X
Negroid – A, B , E(except for subclade E1b1b which is a Caucasoid haplomarker), L1 & L2, M & N-all groups have these, but certain subclades are restricted to Blacks-presence of N in Blacks is not clearly defined and is possibly considered due to genetic backflow rather than present normally
M, N – is present in ALL ethnicities, but certain subclades are restricted to only Blacks
P, R, Z – Caucasoid and Mongoloids only, not Blacks
Semites(i.e.- Arabs and the closely related Jews), generally have dark hair, eyes, and skin-olive colored(golden brown), much like the Southern Indo European Aryan Whites(Greeks,Iranians/Persians, Romans,Southern Germans, Southern Italians,Tamils (of India-VERY dark brown),Turks, and others. This is NOT due to mixing with Blacks as many bigots, Afro Centrists, and the uninformed would have others believe. These two groups are often mistaken for one another. Being Caucasian, a small percentage(about 20 %) run the gamut of the Indo European Aryan Whites having different color hair, eye, and skin.
The Middle East (or, formerly more common, the Near East) is a region that spans southwestern Asia, southeastern Europe, and northeastern Africa. It has no clear boundaries, often used as a synonym to Near East, in opposition to Far East. The following countries have Semitic- Arabs- North Africa – Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Sudan, Tunisia, Western Sahara(administered by Morocco.West Asia – Arabs – Bahrain, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qutar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Syria, United Arab Emirates, West Bank and Gaza Strips, and Yemen, Jews-Israel.
In all honesty, Canaan wa a mix of Semitic peoples, of which Arabs were and are the largest group, and, are considered the FIRST ones there.Of all the Semitic peoples there, Arabs and Jews are the few remaining ones.
The terms Qahtani are ancient Pre Islamic(contrary to popular misconception, the Arabs did not start with Isam, but many centuries before) ARABS. The Jews are now thought to be their descendants:
The Arabs/Palestinians fought with the Romans to get back Jerusalem that was stolen from them by the Jebusites, whom the Jews stole from the Jebusites.Arab auxiliary troops joined the Roman legions besieging Jerusalem in the year 70.
ARE SEMITIC PEOPLES BLACK, WHITE, OR A MIX?