Saturday, April 28, 2012

Three Matriarchal Structure of Ancient Israelities Supported by Jewish Tradition and Genetic Science

In follow up to an earlier post suggesting a three "most common ancestor" matriarchal structure for Bnei Yisrael consisting of Leah, Rachel and Asnat (in consideration of the split of Yosef's tribe into the two separate but equal tribes of Ephraim and Menashe), I've found a few pearls of support for this matriarchal structure in both Jewish tradition and modern genetic science.

First, Jewish tradition reveals:

The sefer Tiferes Shlomo al HaTorah in Parshas Vayetze brings a number of answers to the question of how Yaakov was allowed to marry two sisters. One of the answers is that Rachel and Leah were born to Lavan from two different wives and therefore not prohibited to Yaakov. 

In light of this information, we can ask, what were the names of Rachel and Leah's mothers? We may also ask more relevantly, what were the mtDNA haplogroups of these two sisters born of different mothers? It is highly conceivable that Leah and Rachel carried and bequeathed different genetic haplogroup motherlines to Bnei Yisrael.

Second, modern genetic science itself supports three major Jewish clusters:

Jews appear to be variable mixtures of three components (in the regional figure): pink, which is shared by them and Arab speakers; very light blue, which is shared by them and non-Arab West Asians and south Europeans; medium blue, which is centered on southern Europe ...

Jews form three major clusters: one between West Asia and Europe (Ashkenazim and Sephardim); one right in the middle of West Asia (Caucasus Jews and Iranian Jews), and one in the middle of Arabs (Yemenite Jews) ...

This study further uncovers genetic structure that partitions most Jewish samples into Ashkenazi–north African– Sephardi, Caucasus–Middle Eastern, and Yemenite subclusters...

So, my (rather elementary) hypothesis about ancient Israel having three primary motherlines deriving from Leah, Rachel and Asnat may not be off the mark at all. It just makes sense.

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