1. Jewish Families descended from King
David. Rabbi Yoseph Klausner Yedidiyahu in a lesson on Jewish Demography noted:
Many Jewish families have traditions that they are descended from King David.
Among Ashkenazic families with such traditions we find Friedman, Rabinovitz,
Twersky, Rapaport, Franco, Schwartz, etc.
This does not mean that every family with such a name has such a tradition but
rather a portion of them do and there are numerous other such families.
Amongst Sephardic families with the tradition are Dayan, Abarbanel, Peretz, Shealtiel, Amar,
During the Dark and Middle Ages the total world population diminished. The
number of Jews especially went down due to conditions in general and
persecutions. Genetic bottlenecks occurred. Some families disappeared, others survived and grew etc. Families descended from David appear
to have survived at a greater rate than their previous statistical proportions
would have allowed for.
The result was that a high percentage of present-day Jews may now descend from
[In case anyone considers this proposal far-fetched it is enough to consider the
family of Nial in Ireland where DNA (compared to genealogical records) traces
12% of the population (in some areas ca. 20%) to one ancestor who lived less
than 2000 years ago. If Nial could do it why not David? Where did Nial come
cf. [Jeremiah 33:22]
AS THE HOST OF HEAVEN CANNOT BE NUMBERED, NEITHER THE SAND OF THE SEA MEASURED:
SO WILL I MULTIPLY THE SEED OF DAVID MY SERVANT, AND THE LEVITES THAT MINISTER
See: Sons of David as Rulers
http://www.britam.org/Proof/Attributes/roleDavid.html 2. All High Priests Descended from
(Phineas). The Priests (Cohens) and Levites served in the Temple.
All the Priests were descended from Aaron the brother of Moses.
Over them all was a Chief Priest who wore a special uniform of eight vestments
and carried out the most important tasks on certain dates of the year.
In Numbers ch 25 we are told how the Israelite Males began to commit mass
fornication with Moabite and Midianite women.
Consequently a plague broke out amongst them and they were in danger of
As if this were not enough "Zimri the son of Salu, a leader of a father's house
among the Simeonites" (Numbers 25:14) took a Midianite woman "Cozbi the daughter
of Zur..was head of the people of a father's house in Midian" (Numbers 25:14)
and publicly had intercourse with her in a tent before all the people.
7 Now when Phinehas
the son of Eleazar,
the son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he rose from among the congregation and
took a javelin in his hand; 8 and he went after the man of Israel into the tent
and thrust both of them through, the man of Israel, and the woman through her
body. So the plague was stopped among the children of Israel. 9 And those who
died in the plague were twenty-four thousand.
10 Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying: 11 'Phinehas
the son of Eleazar,
the son of Aaron the priest, has turned back My wrath from the children of
Israel, because he was zealous with My zeal among them, so that I did not
consume the children of Israel in My zeal. 12 Therefore say, 'Behold, I give to
him My covenant of peace; 13 and it shall be to him and his descendants after
him a covenant of an everlasting priesthood, because he was zealous for his God,
and made atonement for the children of Israel.''
Rabbi Shimshon Rafael Hirsch comments that all the High Priests were descended
He quotes from 1-Chronicles ch 6, and concerning the High (i.e. Chief) Priests
in Second Temple Times from the Midrashic Sifrei and the Talmudic Tosefta (Yoma
3. Levi Characterised
by Religious (and other) fanaticism?
Rabbi Shmuel Zafroni ("Oneg Shabat" no.21) in a short article discusses the
phenomenon of fanaticism especially of the religious kind in the Tribe of Levi.
Levi with his brother Simeon were responsible for wiping out the city of
Schechem after the local prince had abducted, raped, and abused their sister,
Dinah. Jacob condemned them for this (Genesis 34:30). Maybe they had
It was prophesied that tools of violence would be their livelihood (Genesis
Moses was from the Tribe of Levi. When Moses saw an Egyptian taskmaster
mistreating a fellow Hebrew Moses killed the Egyptian and hid his body in the
When the occurrence was discovered Moses had to flee.
When the Israelites in the Wilderness committed idolatry and worshipped the golden bull calf,
Moses called out,
'Whoever is on the LORD's side, come to me!' And all the sons of Levi gathered
themselves together to him (Exodus 32:26).
They then proceeded to kill three thousand of the offenders.
So too, we have the case of Phinehas (Numbers ch.25) who killed the Prince of
Simeon and his Midianite lady-love for the offence of public copulation and
miscegenation (?) with strange women.
Moses himself had taken a Cushite woman and so according to tradition was in a
sense too compromised to act, but see our article: The Black Woman http://www.britam.org/CushiteWoman.html
4. Redheads Amongst Levi? A Midrash says that albino blond and red-haired types ("Bohakanim") were
common amongst the Tribes of Simeon and Levi.
I was told by a reliable source that another Midrash says that Moses had
One relatively recent and somewhat obscure commentator (Etz Yoseph, ca. 1845, on Midrash Tanchuma) opines that
most of the high Priests had red or golden hair.
At all events red-hair is fairly common amongst Jews. It could be that those who are Levites may have a slightly higher percentage
of red-heads amongst them.
5. Manasseh: Various Degrees of
Clannishness. Rabbi Shimshon Rafael Hirsch (Numbers 27:1) points out that different
Tribes were divided up into sections and sub-sections.
These divisions are not related to relative size of population but rather to an
innate tendency to assert clan and family individuality within the Tribe. He
points to Manasseh as an example of this. Menasseh himself was a sub-grouping of
Joseph and amongst Manasseh, Machir (the son), Gilead (the grand-son), and
Hepher (great-grandson) all had separate sub-groups named after them.
6. Manasseh and American Womens
Rights? Numbers ch. 27 tells of the Daughters of Zelophehad who demanded an
inheritance in the Land. These women were praised highly by the Sages and
Commentators. They were from the Tribe of Manasseh and their attitude has been
interpreted as showing the great love that Tribe had (or will have, in the future) for the Land of Israel.
7. Manasseh, Benjamin, Naphtali:
Numbers up for Good Behaviour?
Numbers 26 gives both the names of clans within the Tribes and the number of
warriors between the ages of 20 to 60 in each Tribe.
There is a discrepancy with the clans given in Genesis 46 and also with the
census numbers of Numbers ch.1. Some Tribes increased their overall numbers and
relative proportions whereas others decreased them. [The overall total numbers
also changed but not so greatly.]
Rabbi Shimshon Rafael Hirsch (Numbers 34:1) explains the differences as a result
of events in their traveling through the Wilderness.
People had been dying out and others coming up. The revolt of Korah, punishment
by snake-bite, death by plague due to idolatry of Peor, etc. all resulted in a diminishment of population.
All these had taken their toll of some groups while leaving others to take their
places. Tribes whose numbers had increased may therefore be assumed to have been
the better behaved amongst them.
Manasseh had increased by more than 20,000.
Benjamin by ca 10,000.
Naphtali by 8,000.
On the other hand Dan in Genesis 46 had only one son and in Numbers 26 still
has only one sub-division but his total numbers are second only to Judah.