In the Blood: God, Genes and Destiny

Steve Jones 1996 In the Blood:
God, Genes and Destiny,

Harper Collins, London. ISBN 0-00-255511-5

The Search for the Lost Tribes
Original Sin
The Paradox of Armageddon

NOTE: This extract is included as an essential reading for transforming the world. You are requested to purchase the book yourself as it is, without question, essential reading material.

The Search for the Lost Tribes

‘Thus saith the Lord GOD: Behold, I will take the cbildren of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land: And I will make the one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel. Ezek 37:19

No nation is more explicit in making a connection between land and people than is the State of Israel. For most of their history, the majority of Jews have been exiles. Winston Churchill, in a speech in the House of Commons in May 1939, at the grimmest moment in the Jewish ordeal described them as ‘that vast, unhappy mass of scattered, wandering Jews whose intense, unchanging, unconquerable desire has been for a national home’. The very idea of Israel depends on the right of a people united by blood and experience to a country of their own. Nearly all Jews claiin symbolically or otherwise, the same ancient source; the patriarch Abraham, two hundred generations ago. The long list of ‘begats’ in the Book of Chronicles is said to have provoked nine hundred camel loads of commentary. Two ‘ and a half thousand years later, the first chapter of 1994 history of Judaism claimed that: ‘A person is Jewish if he or she has a Jewish mother … Biological descent rather than religious conviction is the crucial criterion.’ Judaism is the most genetic of all religions. Whether that descent is figurative or literal is at the heart of what it means to be Jewish.

n spite of early episodes of exclusiveness (as whe Ezra insisted that non-Jewish wives be banned) there is not much in ancient texts about the role of the blood-line and the primacy of descent over conviction. In its early days, Judaism was anxious to convert other and its boundaries were fairly porous. Since then, though, a history of persecution and separation has made Judaism a more exclusive faith than it once was. The idea of the Jews as an extended family has gained new meaning. A family tree can, imperceptibly, evolve into the pedigree of a nation. If being a Jew depends on descent, then genes have something to say about who does, and who does not, belong. Biological science is alive and well in Israel, and there is an active interest in human inheritance. Much of it comes from a wish to understand genetic disease, but some arises from the desire to discover what affinity there might be among the Jews of the world. It involves a search for patterns of common ancestry and shared belief tracing back to the earliest history of the nation. Israel is, more and more, having to accept that genes show a conflict between the two.

(left) A detail from the arch of Titus, in Rome, erected to celebrate the destruction o Jerusalem in AD7o. Roman soldiers are seen taking spoils (including a menorah, th seven-branched candelabrum) from the Temple. The Arch was erected by the brother of the victorious general, Titus Flavius Sabinus Vespasianus, who later became Empero and built the Colosseum. (Right) A representation of the Ark.

The vision of dispersal, re-gathering and collective descent goes back the scattering of the people of Israel – the Lost Tribes – by their enemies The tale begins with the fall of Megiddo in 722BC. As the Assyrian gloatingly recorded on a plaque, 27,280 people were deported from th Northern Kingdom. Most were never seen again. The Souther Kingdom, Judah, survived. Within it lived the tribes of Judah and Benjamin. All the tribes descended from the twelve sons of Jacob. Thos lost from sight were the dynasties of Reuben, Simon, Issachar, Zevulun Manasseh, Ephraim, Dan, Naphtali, Gad and Asher. The banishment of the Tribes was just the beginning of a history of exile. In 586 BC Judah, too, was conquered, this time by the Babylonians. Solomon’s Temple was destroyed. Fifty years later, Babylon in its turn was overpowered by Cyrus of Persia. A few of the Jews returned to Palestine but most set off on a journey across the world, the Diaspore. In AD70 there was a war between the Jews of Palestine and their Roman occupiers It led to another great scattering of the Jewish people. The conflict was a disaster not matched until the unique horror of the holocaust.

A French version of the universal European myth of the Wandering Jew; supposedly Jew who had refused to allowJesus to rest his Cross at his door on the way to Calvary was condemned to wander the earth until the Second Coming. The myth became a convenient excuse for anti-Semitism and, in an irony lost to those who promoted it, the people driven from their homeland were accused of having left because of their own iniquity.

According to the census of the Emperor Claudius in AD48, there were eight million Jews in the Empire, two and half million of them in Palestine. This have been an overestimate; but a century later the number of Jews in Palestine had declined to well below a million and by AD400 there were probably no more that a million or so Jews in the whole Roman empire.

Most of the fourteen million Jews alive today claim descent from the survivors of the conflict with Rome. Their historic and genetic trail can be traced, with its many diversions, to the modern world. Only a few of the inhabitants of Israel (including many Samaritans) stayed in the native land and can claim an unequivocal link with the ancient kingdom Some of them, though, were later rejected by the exiled Jews who returned to the Promised Land. Biblical prophecy has it that the Diaspora must be complete – with Jews scattered to the ends of the earth – before the Messiah can appear. The hope of fulfilling the vision was one of the forces leading to the formation of modern Israel and, in surprising ways, to political change other parts of the world. One Israeli political group is quite explicit abo the biblical foundations of its policies: according to the Agudah religious party ‘The world was created for the sake of Israel … the raison d’etre of the world is the establishment of the Torah in the Land of Israel.’ This dream is reflected in some unlikely places. Each year at the Conference of the British Labour Party, after the compulsory a somewhat sheepish singing of ‘The Red Flag’, there is a more fervent rendition of the hymn ‘Jerusalem’. William Blake’s words are glorious; Bow of Burning Gold is part of every child’s memory of school. The Jerusalem seen by Blake as rising in England’s green and pleasant land is to those who sing the hymn, a symbol of the new society that may so day arise from the ashes of the old. For Blake, though, his words were not a parable but a plain statement of fact. With many others of his time he saw Britain as the site of the Jerusalem at which the elect would gather at the Second Coming. The British (said by true believers to be the Brit-Ish, or Men of the Covenan were a noble race, remnants of a Lost Tribe of Israel. In his long a somewhat unreadable poem Jerusalem the Emanation of the Giant Albion Blake had a carefully planned mental geography of Britain as t promised land. Some of it has an implausible feel – ‘The fields from Islington to Marybone,/ To Primrose Hill and Saint johns Wood/ We builded over with pillars of gold,/ And there Jerusalem’s pillars stood but the agenda was clear. Britain was great because it was chosen by God its fate was ordained. By ruling much of the world it was doing nothing more than fulfilling prophecy. In the poem he addresses the Jews: ‘Yo ancestors derived their origin from Abraham, Heber, Shem and Noah who were Druids: as the Druid Temples (which are the Patriarchal Pillars and Oak Groves) over the whole Earth witness to this day.


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