Perhaps the biggest hot potato question that will likely soon be answerable due to rapid advances in doing DNA scans on ancient skeletons is: Who is more closely related genetically to the Hebrews of the Old Testament: Israeli Jews or Palestinians?
Geneticist David Reich of Harvard is a wise man, so he has made clear that he intends to never ever research this question. It’s a big world with lots of interesting questions to ask, so he’ll leave this particular one to somebody with fewer relatives with intense opinions on the subject.
But now Bibi is diving into ancient DNA:
The Bible mentions a place called Caphtor, which is probably modern-day Crete. There’s no connection between the ancient Philistines & the modern Palestinians, whose ancestors came from the Arabian Peninsula to the Land of Israel thousands of years later. https://t.co/FKqqoQRWdx
— Benjamin Netanyahu (@netanyahu) July 7, 2019
Are we sure that “Philistine” and “Palestine” aren’t related?
The Philistines, by the way, appear to be one of the Sea Peoples who played a sizable but murky role in the Late Bronze Age Collapse, around the time of the Trojan War, c. 1200 BC. [Insert “jawbone of an ass” Oscar Wilde joke TK]
The Bronze Age tended to see largish empires centralized around palaces, but then the empires decayed and a less advanced culture of smaller nations, like the Hebrews, emerged. This may have something to do with Europeans entering the stage of written history under the name Sea Peoples.
Well, maybe. Or maybe not. I dunno.
I’ve done some back of an envelope calculations about Holy Land genetics and have decided that it could go either way and it’s likely to be close. So I’ll leave it to braver souls like Bibi to opinionize about this.
By the way, you can expect that as this issue moves up to the scientific frontburner, all sorts of not unreasonable but slightly niggling complaints will be lodged about high tech graverobbing. So far, the work of Svante Paabo, Reich, etc. has been mostly greeted with approbation. But once the graverobbing gets closer to Jerusalem, the more arguments there will be, both about ethics and methodology.
For example, how do we know that an ancient skeleton is demographically representative? Perhaps the cemetery that is being raided was for a special ethnicity, such as merchants from far away? For instance, modern Los Angeles has a whole bunch of cemeteries, each with its own demographic twist. L.A. even has its own Serbian Cemetery, which could be really misleading about the general population of L.A. if you happened to start digging there.