The Divergence of Judaism and Islam. Interdependence, Modernity, and Political Turmoil

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232 · Rachel Maissy-Noy

nations. Among the frequent examples in Egyptian historiography to il-
lustrate this were Zipporah, the black wife of Moses, David, who had
Moabite blood in his veins, and Solomon, who was a descendant of the
Hittites. Another example of the existence of mixed marriages is when
Nehemiah, leader of Shivat Zion (the Jews’ return to Judea after the Baby-
lonian exile), ordered the Jews to divorce their foreign wives. Zubayda
Muḥammad ̔Aṭa mentions this as an outstanding example of the extent
of mixed marriage on the leadership as well as on the personal level.^4
Another claim concerning the genealogical distance of Jews today
from Abraham is that during the course of time and due to historical
circumstances the Jews assimilated with their environment, freely or un-
der duress. In addition, they were joined by tribes of various races and
cultures, and as a result of that mingling, the Jewish race lost its genetic
distinctiveness from the biblical Jews. At this point, the researchers use
the conclusions of anthropological research, which indicates a racial blur
that manifests itself in the conspicuous physical differences between the
European Jews and those from Asia and Africa. One of the most impor-
tant historians who paid attention to the distancing of the Jews of today
from the biblical ones is Jamal Ḥamdan. At the end of the 1960s he wrote
a comprehensive study of this subject in al-Yahud Antrupulujiyyan (Jews
from the Anthropological Angle). This study was devoted entirely to the
anthropological aspect in order to prove that most of today’s Jews do
not belong to the Semitic race. Ḥamdan tried to base his conclusion on
two levels: biological and statistical. Biologically, he analyzed anatomi-
cal characteristics of contemporary Jews, such as height, body and skull
structure, and color of hair, skin, and eyes. From the significant differ-
ences he found in these characteristics among the Jews themselves, he
concluded that the anatomical variables were related both to mixed mar-
riages and to conversion processes that were very common in ancient and
medieval times. Consequently he stated: “There is no Jewish community
today which has not undergone biological mingling with the environ-
ment. Therefore we cannot say that they represent the ancient Jews of
Palestine, with the exception, probably, of the Samaritans, who are the
only group, claim many, which remained in Palestine throughout history
in perfect seclusion.”^5
On the second level Ḥamdan relied on statistics of Western research
according to which the number of Jews after the Edict of Hadrian in 138
ce was about forty thousand people, whereas some five hundred years

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