According to Current DNA Analysis It Is Unlikely That The Beta Israel (Falasha) Community from Ethiopia is From the Tribe of Dan

According to Current DNA Analysis It Is Unlikely
That The Beta Israel (Falasha) Community from Ethiopia is From the Tribe of Dan

According to an article THOUGHTS ON THE ANCESTRY OF ETHIOPIAN JEWS by Tehilla Raviv which I downloaded from and put a backup copy of the article on this site at

In 1988, Dr. Bonne-Tamir used this technique to analyze the
mitochondrial DNA from several groups, including Ashkenazi,
Yemenite, and Ethiopian Jews, as well as Caucasians and several
African tribes. Since mitochondrial DNA is preserved in the maternal
line, one can compare different groups to determine if they have
a common female ancestor. This technique can not be used to determine
a paternal ancestor because mitochondrial DNA is passed
down from mother to her child. Dr. Bonne-Tamir concluded that a
certain pattern of DNA fragmentation, labeled the Bam
Hpa/Morph3, was almost non-existent in Ashkenazi and Yemenite
Jews, but was found in great amounts in Ethiopian Jews and non Jewish
Africans. Based on this and on other studies, many have concluded
that it is more probable that Ethiopian Jews share a common
maternal ancestor with Africans rather than with Jews [2]. This
study, however, could not provide data on the Ethiopian Jews’ paternal
ancestor. For that one must turn to research on the Y chromosome.

Regarding the Y Chromosome

While the CMH haplotype was found in a greater percentage
in Cohens, {nevertheless} Israelites and Levites were found to have a higher than
normal percentage of this haplotype when compared to non-Jewish
males. The frequency of finding the CMH in Cohens was 50%, in
non-Cohen male Jews it was 12%, while in non-Jewish males it is

almost undetectable [3]. This has led many to conclude that the
higher the frequency of the CMH in a population, the greater the
probability that the population had a Jewish ancestry, since in the
population there would undoubtedly have been some Cohen ancestors.
Other studies have shown that there are other haplotypes on
the Y chromosome which link many male Jews. According to Dr.
Hammer’s study, Jewish male populations exhibit a higher frequency
of the Med and YAP+2S haplotypes than other male populations. Interestingly,
male Ethiopian Jews do not exhibit a high frequency of
these haplotypes, and instead show a high frequency of haplotypes
shared by other male non-Jewish African populations. Dr. Hammer’s
study therefore concluded that Ethiopian Jews do not share a common
paternal ancestor with other Jews [3].

Footnote [2] Bacon, K. (1991). A biochemical response to a halakhic challenge: the case of Ethiopian Jews. The Torah U’Madda Journal, 3: 1-7.
[3] Wharman, M. (2002). Brave New Judaism. Brandeis UP, Lebanon, NH.

Comment by Shlomo Moshe Scheinman the word nevertheless that I put in red was not part of the original quote but added by me to make it more readable.

According to the viewpoint that considers the Beta Israel (Falasha) community as Jewish for many centuries. There are 3 different theories how they obtained their status. 1] Conversion by the Queen of Sheba who had a child with King Shlomo (Solomon) This view is based on the premise that Ethiopia is Sheba which is disputed. And it is based on the premise that the Judean Monarch did have a relationship with this Queen and she had a halachicly Jewish child. Ishei Hatanakh brings a Midrash and Shalshelet Hakabala page 44, which does seem to indicate that they had a daughter, but from that daughter, eventually after a number of generations, the King of Babylon who destroyed the Temple was born. Implying that even if there was a daughter, the status of that daughter is questionable.
View number 2 at some later point in history they converted into Judaism and then the big question would be, was the court that converted them reliable, because the Beta Israel (Falasha) community seemed to be missing basic information about Jewish law.
View number 3 advocated by Radbaz that they were somehow descended from the tribe of Dan (one of the original tribes that made up the nation of Israel).
Even if one accepts the view of Radbaz that about 500 years ago, there was a community in Ethiopia that was descended from the Tribe of Dan, since contact with the Beta Israel community was broken after the time of the Radbaz for many generations one has to assume in order to give them some Jewish status, that the community survived intact from wars and assimilation and that the current community is not some non-Jewish replacement of the original community. In addition one will have to explain the Gemara in Yevamot page 17 which implies that the Ten Lost Tribes lost their Jewish status. But maybe you could give a somewhat forced and weak answer on this that the Gemara was talking about the group of Lost Tribes that went into forced exile and not the Beta Israel that separated from Israel at an earlier stage.

New Addition

I will bring evidence from the words of Rabbi Ovadia of Bartenura (spelled by Yaacov Dovid Shulman as Rabbi Obadiah Yerei of Bertinoro), that the group that Radbaz identified as the sons of the tribe of Dan, probably had a lighter skin color than the Ethiopian, “Beta Israel community”. Thus strengthening the suspicion that the “Beta Israel community” is  some non-Jewish replacement of the original community.

Those who claim that the “Beta Israel community” was the ethnic group identified by Radbaz, will have to come up with some difficult explanation, why in our times we don’t detect the difference in skin color between the modern Beta Israel/Falasha group and Gentile Ethiopians.

This is the translation of a letter that Rabbi Ovadia of Bartenura wrote on the subject which Yaacov Dovid Shulman provided at the web site address . I quoted the first paragraph of this letter to prove that Rabbi Ovadia of Bartenura was a direct witness of the difference in skin color between Gentile Ethiopians and what he considered to be Jewish Ethiopians (who claimed to be from the tribe of Dan).

Jerusalem is constantly filled with men from all over the world, both Moslem and Christian, speaking their various languages: men from Syria, Babylon and Ethiopia.
The Moslems come here from very distant lands to bow down at the site of the Temple, which they regard with great awe. The Christians come to visit their churches.
I gave a sermon concerning the Sambatyon River. I have heard here exactly what you have heard. However, it was no more than hearsay. But I do know one thing: One of the borders of Ethiopia is a mountainous countryside, with great mountain ranges that, people say, are a ten days’ journey in length. There is no doubt that Jews live there. They have five princes or kings. People say that for more than a century they have fought great wars against Prester John. Lately, however, the followers of Prester John have gotten the upper hand. They have dealt a crushing defeat to many of the Jewish forces, destroyed the Jews’ land and nearly exterminated the Jews. Those Jews who have survived have been subjected to terrible decrees forcing them to apostasize, like the Greeks’ decrees in the days of the Hashmonaim.
But in the end God had mercy, and kings from India, who aren’t as cruel, came to power. Now, people say, conditions have almost returned to normal; the Jews have recovered and their population is growing. They still pay a tax to Prester John, but they aren’t as persecuted as they had been before.
For the last four years, these Jews fought against their neighbors. Their neighboring countries beat them, captured many Jewish men and women and sold them as slaves to distant nations. Some were brought to Cairo, where the local Jews ransomed them.
I myself saw twelve of these Ethiopian Jews in Cairo. They are somewhat dark, but not as dark as gentile Ethiopians. I could not determined whether they are Karaites or Rabbinic Jews. In some matters, they appear to be Karaites; for instance, they apparently do not have any fire in their houses on the Sabbath. But in other matters, they seem to follow rabbinic laws.
People claim that these Ethiopian Jews claim to be descended from the tribe of Dan. People also say that most of the pepper and spices sold by the Ethiopians comes from the land of the Ethiopian Jews. I learned these things by seeing and hearing the Ethiopians myself, although only two of them spoke Hebrew and very little at that, and the Egyptians could barely understand their Arabic.

For those who need some background who was Rabbi Ovadia of Bartenura (Bertinoro) and who was Radbaz and when did they live, click here, for a post on this subject.

I brought this up in light of the news article

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told a meeting of the Ministerial Committee on the Advancement and Integration of Israeli Citizens of Ethiopian Origin that it’s time to bring to Israel the parents of the Falash Mura children who have already arrived, approximately 1,000 people, he said.

“This is not a simple decision due to other ramifications that we have regarding members of the Ethiopian community; however, I am determined to do this and I add that this is in wake of 1,300 Falash Mura who have already come to Israel,” Netanyahu said.

Notice the Cross Tattoo on the head of what appears to be a member of the Falash Mura group in the article
Falash Mura Woman with Cross on her Forehead

In a Hebrew article by a journalist who happens to be black, whose name I transliterated as Iano Pardo Sanbato it is claimed that even if one accepted the Jewishness of the original Beta Israel community a large percentage of those being brought in today are non-Jewish Africans who are abusing Israel’s Law of Return to get immigrant privileges in Israel or to insert missionaries into the country. He claims that the heads of the original Beta Israel community are willing to speak out about this if they would be consulted.

He claims the establishment is afraid of being called racists and therefore looking the other way.


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