More on the Kohanim DNA Question
Thank You for the Confusion
The following was taken from a recent press release by the man that has made Kohanim DNA available, Dr. Michael Hammer. As mentioned in my previous article, there is now a see-saw battle raging between distinct and separate groups of Kohanim, claiming that they are the true descendants of Aaron and the others are for lack of a better word, 'fakes.' I would like to restore some sanity to this argument since as I indicated, they are either all wrong, or they are all right. In this respect I think it is both possibilites that are correct. Wrong and Right simultaneously.
But first let's see what Dr. Hammer has to say about this dilemma that he has created with his research.
New Genetic Research Indicates Jewish Priesthood Has Multiple Lineages
Michael F. Hammer
UA geneticist Michael Hammer and his colleages used a larger number of DNA markers to trace the ancient bloodline to more than one source.
By University Communications September 16, 2009
Recent research on the Cohen Y chromosome indicates the Jewish priesthood, the Cohanim, was established by several unrelated male lines rather than a single male lineage dating to ancient Hebrew times.
The new research builds on a decade-old study of the Jewish priesthood that traced its patrilineal dynasty and seemed to substantiate the biblical story that Aaron, the first high priest (and brother of Moses), was one of a number of common male ancestors in the Cohanim lineage who lived some 3,200 years ago in the Near East.
The current study was conducted by Michael F. Hammer, a population geneticist in the Arizona Research Laboratory's Division of Biotechnology at the University of Arizona. Hammer's collaborators in the study include Karl Skorecki of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology and Rambum Medical Center in Haifa and colleagues and collaborating scientists from Tel Aviv University and the Russian Academy of Sciences.
The July 2009 issue of Human Genetics has published the Hammer team's newest findings in their aritcle entitled "Extended Y chromosome haplotypes resolve multiple and unique lineages of the Jewish priesthood."
Hammer and Skorecki were part of the first research group 10 years ago that found the DNA marker signature of the Cohanim, termed the Cohen Modal Haplotype. Today, Hammer and his colleagues are able to use a much larger battery of DNA markers and consequently able to develop a more fully resolved Cohen Modal Haplotype called the extended Cohen Modal Haplotype. The smaller number of markers used in the original Cohanim studies did not allow for full resolution of the history of the Jewish priesthood.
"These findings should motivate renewed interest in historical reconstructions of the Jewish priesthood as well as additional high resolution DNA marker analyses of other populations and ‘lost tribes' claiming ancient Hebrew ancestry," Hammer said.
Using the new data, Hammer and his team were able to pinpoint the geographic distribution of a genetically more resolved Cohen Modal Haplotype and tease apart a multiplicity of male lines that founded the priesthood in ancient Hebrew times. The more fully resolved Cohen Modal haplotype (called the extended Cohen Modal Haplotype) accounts for almost 30 percent of Cohanim Y chromosomes from both Ashkenazi and non-Ashkenazi Jewish communities, is virtually absent in non-Jews, and likely traces to a common male ancestor that lived some 3,200 years ago in the Near East.
Additional Y chromosome lineages that are distinct from that defined by the extended Cohen Modal Haplotype, but also shared among Cohanim from different Jewish communities, reveal that the priesthood was established by several unrelated male lines.
The Hammer Lab is in ARL's Division of Biotechnology and is devoted to better understanding the genomic and evolutionary factors shaping patterns of human variation and to testing models of human origins.
The Division of Biotechnology provides investigators and students with state-of-the-art facilities necessary to carry out leading-edge biological, chemical and engineering research. It specializes in providing high-end equipment that is difficult for individual investigators to afford and advanced technical assistance in the application of this equipment and other modern analytical methods.
ARL is a group of researchers at the UA engaged in solving critical scientific problems and generating knowledge for the future. The organization's structure and values promote innovation through dynamic interdisciplinary collaborations. ARL has been a leader in interdisciplinary science and research for almost 30 years.
Thankyou Dr. Hammer
So what does this all mean? The significance is Torah shattering actually for those that have maintained the absolute literal belief in the Old Testament. This is what the Kohanim Modality gene has done:
1. Of all those with legitimate claims to be Kohanim, only 30% belong to a common ancestor. This is down from the previous 50%.
2. Of the 70% that don't come from the same genetic ancestor, they have common links and also legitimate claims to be descended from a single ancestor that served as a Kohan, just not the same one as the first group.
3. There is genetic evidence that Aaron was not alone as the progenitor of Kohanim. There were others that served in the position and therefore have passed on a genetic line with as legitimate a claim but just lesser numbers.
4. The bibilical presentation is either not accurate, not complete, or misinterpreted.
5. We have to rethink the biblical relationships between Moses, Aaron, and the Korahites.
Resolving the Conflicts
As I had mentioned, the use of DNA for identification of Kohanim, although some may have perceived it as a good idea was ultimately going to end up as a disaster when it was finally understood. But only a disaster that saw the Torah as immutable, literal in every word, and therefore not subject to individual interpretation as Anan ben David had advised. This is a very different concept from Talmudic interpretation of the Rabbanites where they easily alter the meaning completely for the original intent to suit their own ends. Anan was talking about something much simpler; the implied nuances of words, the slightly obtuse meaning that still does not veer sharply from the intent. Such a case I raised in my article, http://hubpages.com/hub/-A-Karaite-Reading-Beyond-Exodus in which I raise the possibility of a second line of Kohanim; those being the descendants of Moses.
Of course the argument of the J1e Kohanim would be that there could be no difference in the Y haploid groups between two brothers, but then that raises the question of half-brothers, step-brothers and the likes. For no place in the Torah does it insist that Moses and Aaron were full brothers. For those now shouting up and down, "Yes it does, yes it does," I'll remind you of something I wrote in that other article which went: "We are given a brief glimpse of what my have been it it wasn't for the fact that Numbers 3:1 got edited. It opens with saying that 'These are the generations of Aaron and Moses...' with Sentences 2 through 39 providing the details of Aaron's sons and their official positions as well as all the other Levites and how they would officiate under Aaron's sons. But any record of Moses's sons is completely eliminated which in respect of the first sentence we know that at some point in time these details were present." That in itself should immediately send off alarm bells that there is another lineage of priests being completely ignored. But that shouldn't surprise us because in Exodus 2:1 it tells us that there was a man from the tribe of Levi that took a wife from the tribe of Levi. It is apparent that marriage amongst the Levites was already a recognized policy as they maintained a distinct gene pool. This being the case, the genetic aging for any haplotype traced back to Aaron should go well beyond his time period but in reality closer to the time of the Patriarch Levi approximately 1750 BCE if these marriage of purity rules were already in place. The other issue we have with the first chapter is that there is no Aaron. The comment is that this couple had a son, not a second son etc; just an older sister that would have escaped the killing of newborn sons. Some will argue he was already a young lad, but the time frame for the kiling of the Israelite children wasn't a day, or a month, it was for years, just as the burden described upon them was for years; no Aaron didn't escape the slaughter, he just wasn't there. Of course some will argue that this oversight was corrected in Exodus 6:20 but there is a problem with the fluidity of that chapter. Contextually, it only flows if one jumps from 6:13 directly to 6:27. The intervening sentences appear to have been taken from somewhere else and inserted into the body of the text. Almost as if they were necessary to explain the comment in Exodus 4:14, where God is not telling but suggesting to Moses that he should view Aaron the Levite as his brother. How strange to have to remind Moses that Aaron was a Levite, especially if they were truly brothers by having the same parents, but if it was brotherhood through tribal kinship, then that would be a completely different matter and Moses would have to be informed of the bond that existed. If we overlook the statement in Exodus 6:20 which introduces Amram and Jochebed and instead look at Exodus 15:20, we have a link between Miriam and Aaron, but any connection to Moses is obviously absent. But the debate to the actual kinship can go on forever as to what does 'brother' actually mean but if we really want to appreciate that the High priesthood did not begin with the exodus but actually predated both Moses and Aaron then we simply have to look at Exodus 19:24 to see that they were already in place prior to receiving the Ten Commandments as God instructs Moses not to let the priests ascend with him. The distinction of the line of Aaron priesthood does not occur until Chapter 28 and then it is evident that the position assigned is Kohanim Gadol or the Chief High Priests. This being the case then it is perfectly logical that we have Kohans with different genetic haplotypes. Some will have been from Aaron, others Korahites, and even some possibly from Moses.
So the question that Dr. Hammer has raised is not whether or not one truly is a Kohan as some of my Kohanim brethren would like to banter about, but accepting that all the various haplotypes are Kohanim but the real question is "Yes, but from which ancestor?" If we were to apply geometric analysis to the equation then it would say that those with the hightest incidence represent a population derived from a greater pool as compared to that having a lower incidence and therefore a lesser degree of propogation. In that context, the answers become a lot easier.