subsequent coup d’état should never have occurred (because
the Geshurites were Philistines) if the rebels had been
following the Law even in its loosest sense. David had many
wives and concubines ( 2 Samuel 5: 13), but we do not know
all their names and ancestries.
The rebellion of Absalom gives us another interesting
anecdote that might explain the presence of Obed-Edom
in Israel. While David was escaping Jerusalem, the Bible
says that 600 Gittites had followed him from the Philistine
city of Gath, where David once served in their army while
on the run from Saul ( 1 Samuel 21: 10–15; 27: 1–12). When
told to return to his kin, Itai the Gittite replied in terms that
clearly demonstrate he was a believer in the Israelite God.
David allowed them to stay among his army ( 2 Samuel
15: 18–22). Since there is no specific biblical prohibition
against marrying Philistines, the grandchildren of these
faith-displaying men would have been accorded full rights
in Israel, and their Y chromosomes would then have become
‘Jewish’. There is no specific information that these men
contributed Y chromosomes to the future population of Israel,
but the potential for it is strong.
Perhaps the most famous extra-Israelite marriage was
that of Solomon and the daughter of Pharaoh ( 1 Kings 3: 1).
Of course, Solomon married many foreign wives, including
Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians, and Hittites
( 1 Kings 11: 1), directly ignoring the specific injunctions
against doing so.
Ebed-Melech was an Ethiopian living in Israel during
the time of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 38: 7–13). He trusted God
(Jeremiah 39: 18) and so God blessed him. Of course, the
Ebed-Melech example is a poor one, for he was a eunuch.
Yet, not only is there opportunity for the genes of the
Israelites to mix with their neighbours, so can their faith.
Besides Ruth and Rahab, additional examples include
the widow of Zarapeth ( 1 Kings 17), Naaman the Syrian
( 2 Kings 5), and the Queen of Sheba ( 1 Kings 10: 1–13).
One final example is the sailors who threw Jonah into the
sea. After the sea suddenly quieted, they “feared the LORD
exceedingly, and they offered a sacrifice to the LORD and
made vows” (Jonah 1: 16). Marriage between an Israelite
and a non-Israelite is not part of these latter examples, but
the potential is there.
Captivity to Christ
There are many references to intermarriage in the rest of
the Old Testament. We have Esther, although no children
are reported. And consider Ezra 9–10 (also Nehemiah
10: 28–30 and 13: 23–29). Here, many men admitted
to marrying foreign women. Many of the wives and
children were subsequently excluded. But these children
would have gone on to have families of their own, further
spreading Jewish genes into non-Jewish peoples. Although
many commentators compliment them for their renewed
dedication, they had forgotten their Bible, for in Ezra 9: 1
they lumped the Egyptians with the Canaanites, Ammonites,
and Moabites. Malachi complained about intermarriage,
wishing that God would “cut off from the tents of Jacob any
descendant of the man who does this” (Malachi 2: 11–12).
He was more concerned with removing the temptation to
sin than with accepting faithful converts. Of course, the
influence of foreign wives (specifically) was a constant
problem throughout Israel’s existence, so his comments were
Herod the Great was of Edomite descent. He was raised
in the Jewish religion and married a woman from Nabatea
(the former lands of Moab and Edom). 23 The Edomites were
forcibly converted to Judaism by John Hyrcanus in the 2nd
century BC, leading to much intermarriage. 24
Another mixed individual was Timothy, whose father
was Greek. Even though he was a believer, he was not
circumcized until Paul decided to take him with him on
his journeys (Acts 16: 1–3). Timothy is not known to have
married, but here we see another example of a person with
a non-Jewish Y chromosome being admitted into fellowship
Timothy was part of the Diaspora population. That is, Jews
who lived in places other than Israel. This included Jews
dispersed during the Assyrian and Babylonian conquests.
Many Jews also lived throughout the Roman World (Acts
2: 9–11) and beyond (Acts 8: 26–28). There were also many
converts to the faith (e.g. Acts 2: 11).
Lastly, the Bible does not tell us which direction the wise
men who visited Jesus came from other than “from the East”
(Matthew 2: 1–12). Yet, one could make a case that they were
from Babylon, for Daniel was chief of the wise men of that
city (Daniel 2: 48), and the Jews have maintained a presence
there from the Captivity to today.
It is clear from biblical history that Jewish people were
a mélange of themselves and their neighbours. They began
with mixed roots early and continued mixing throughout the
rest of the biblical era. In attempting to be thorough, I have
listed several controversial points above, but even if these are
removed the case is still clear. Yes, the Israelites are a people
group, but no, they did not remain separate. Just as there is no
clear Jewish bloodline, given the numerous genealogical data
presented in the Bible, there is also no clear ‘Jewish’ DNA.
Instead, they are a typical Middle Eastern population (often