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View Full Version : Historical question: How did the Jews get to Europe?


Pseudolus
08-09-2006, 06:32 PM
I suspect the short answer is "The Diaspora", but, if possible, I'd like something just a little longer.

Just curious, and trying to rid myself of a historical lacuna.

(Please note, as if it will help, that this is not in Political.)

SamTheEagle
08-09-2006, 07:20 PM
I imagine they probably walked there. Boats might have been involved, too.

SamTheEagle
08-09-2006, 07:22 PM
If that was in any way racist, I apologize.

Actuary321
08-09-2006, 08:07 PM
I imagine they probably walked there. Boats might have been involved, too.When I saw the thread title I would have bet anyone $100 bucks that the first response to this thread was that they walked.:tup:

Pseudolus
08-09-2006, 08:13 PM
Specifically, to get back on topic, why did the Jews end up so tightly bound up in European life and Muslims/Arabs/other MEers not?

Emily
08-09-2006, 08:33 PM
Specifically, to get back on topic, why did the Jews end up so tightly bound up in European life and Muslims/Arabs/other MEers not?
The same reasons Christians did. Or maybe a different reason.

Brad Gile
08-09-2006, 08:40 PM
I have seen serious evidence that Jews settled in Japan as well! They fit in, yet continued their jewish customs. Sorry, I have long since lost the links.:D

Brad

whisper
08-09-2006, 08:54 PM
Specifically, to get back on topic, why did the Jews end up so tightly bound up in European life and Muslims/Arabs/other MEers not?

Christian restrictions against money lending.

Pseudolus
08-09-2006, 09:31 PM
The same reasons Christians did. Or maybe a different reason.Did anyone ever tell you how useful you are? Didn't think so.

Pseudolus
08-09-2006, 09:32 PM
Christian restrictions against money lending.
I know that's a big reason why Jews in Europe got into banking, but is that why the Jews came to Europe in the first place?

Dr T Non-Fan
08-09-2006, 10:22 PM
I know that's a big reason why Jews in Europe got into banking, but is that why the Jews came to Europe in the first place?
No.
Read this. This seems like a likely history:
http://www.infoplease.com/ce6/society/A0859040.html

Lucy
08-09-2006, 10:48 PM
I'm sure Malik can do a better job of this than I, but I'll give it a try until he shows up:

After the Jews revolted against Rome, the Romans forced most of them to leave Israel and Judea, Despite their differences with the other groups in the Roman empire, they were a part of the Roman empire, and most stayed within the area of the Roman empire. That would be Europe and the middle east.

Many other groups came and stayed, too. The Huns conquored, and many of their descendants make up the nation of Hungary. On a smaller scale, the Angles and Saxons moved to England, and their descendants remain, as well. Pretty much every ethnic group in Europe, except maybe the Basques, can trace their origin to somewhere else. What's unusual about theJews is not that they stayed and put down roots, but that they didn't just melt into the local cultures, nor did the local cultures change to become theirs. They remained a separate people partly because of the somewhat isolationist tenets of Judaism, and partly bacause they retained a strong emotional tie to the land of Israel and to the Jewish people in total, not just the neighbors.

Some of the Jews may not have "come to" Europe, but were already there. That is, there's some evidence that some of the central European tribes converted to Judaism. They were between warring Muslim and Christian nations, and Judaism may have seemed the choice of neutrality, since by-and-large the Jews weren't at war with either the Christians or the Muslims. Jews are allowed to drink, their clergy are allowed to marry, and Jewish nations didn't have to answer to either Rome (or Constantinople) or the Caliphate, which might have been other attractions. This theory would tend to explain the rather European features that European Jews tend to have, although obviously there was some cross-breeding (both between converted tribes and the original Jewish tribes and between Jews and their gentile neighbors.) For instance, Jews have the second highest rate of red hair after the Irish. There was a Scythian tribe known for its red hair which has completely disappeared from history. I sometimes wonder if they became European Jews. (Of course, all the Scythians seem to have disappeared from history, so maybe that's irrelevant. I've often wondered what happened to them, though. They were a rather large and important group of tribes in ancient times.)

Lee Mellon
08-09-2006, 11:39 PM
... and if they had the money, they took the Orient Express.

Listeria
08-10-2006, 12:23 AM
Lucy, I have seen some people propose that the conversion of the Khazars explains the European appearance of many Ashkenazi Jews, but in actuality, I am pretty sure that scholars believe them to have died out. (Also, the conversion of that group specifically is believed by some to have been mostly an economic decision, I can't remember exactly why).

The thing is modern genetic studies have stablished that in many disparate (and disparate-looking) Jewish groups there is a common gene passed down only through males (including among the Lemba tribe of southern Africa). Additionally, genetic studies have caused cartain scholars to conclude that the pattern of spread was one of merchants braching out to new areas, setting down roots and taking local women as wives -- both contradicting to some degree notions about mass conversion and the religious script re: repeated waves of persecution and flight en masse (which certainly did happen in parts of Europe). I remember Erica Jong speculating that her Polish "potato nose" was "probably" due to an ancestor being raped by a Pole. In reality, it was probably, without quotes, due to other things.

Lucy
08-10-2006, 08:11 AM
I think "economic" meant "Jews can trade with both Christians and Moslems", and don't waste money fighting wars with either, which is sort of what I said above.

I've heard theories that the Khazars converted, and also heard that some of the Mongols converted to Judaism, although more converted to each of Christianity and Islam. I bet isolated tribes converted here and there, even if no major tribes did.

If merchants were marrying local women and having Jewish children, those women must have been converting, too, which would also count (in my books) as some of them already being there and converting. But I hadn't heard that genetic studies suggested male merchants marrying local women. That's really interesting. And less depressing than the massive-rape-of-Jewish-women theory that is the obvious alternative.

The African Jews certainly trace themselves to Jewish males marrying local women, specifically King Solomon, IIRC.

There also used to be some Chinese Jews. I doubt their heritage survived the cultural revolution.

JMO
08-10-2006, 08:35 AM
I imagine they probably walked there. Boats might have been involved, too.
According to LDS scriptures, some of them came to the America's by boat. Seriously.

Listeria
08-10-2006, 08:39 AM
Lucy, I hardly see "massive rape" as "the obvious alternative." The "mass conversions" notion is at least as probable, and , beyond just the newly arriving merchants, a small but present degree of intermarriage, going both ways, was a fact, especially in certain classes.

The Mantastic Actuary
08-10-2006, 08:48 AM
there are also Indian jews http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_Jews

UNCORRELATED LAY
08-10-2006, 08:52 AM
According to LDS scriptures, some of them came to the America's by boat. Seriously.
According to my college anthropology most people came to the america's by boat. Except the Native americans who were really asian, they walked.

Pseudolus
08-10-2006, 09:17 AM
What's unusual about theJews is not that they stayed and put down roots, but that they didn't just melt into the local cultures, nor did the local cultures change to become theirs.So, would it be correct to say that Arab/Muslim groups came, too, but just did not remain distinct peoples? (Although Islam did not exist until significantly later, so maybe the major movements of people from the ME to Europe had already happened by then?)

Lucy
08-10-2006, 10:20 AM
So, would it be correct to say that Arab/Muslim groups came, too, but just did not remain distinct peoples? (Although Islam did not exist until significantly later, so maybe the major movements of people from the ME to Europe had already happened by then?)Actually, Turkey and all those "stans" were Christian nations before Muslims moved in. But yes, those immigrants became a part of the dominent population, sometimes keeping their own name/identity (e.g. Turks) and sometimes blending into whoever was there.

Amateur Linguist
08-10-2006, 08:46 PM
So, would it be correct to say that Arab/Muslim groups came, too, but just did not remain distinct peoples? (Although Islam did not exist until significantly later, so maybe the major movements of people from the ME to Europe had already happened by then?)

I think your second point is important. A large number of Jews had migrated peacefully to western Europe when it was still part of the Roman Empire. Arabs would not have shown up in large numbers until the Arab conquest of Spain after the coming of Islam, and when the Muslims were expelled from Spain after the Reconquest, they mostly went to North Africa. Different circumstances meant there was much less peaceful migration of Arab/Muslim groups.

I've read that some views on Islamic law that were widespread at times held that it was not permissible for a Muslim to move to a country not ruled by Muslims. Naturlly that would have cut down on migration to Europe.

Amateur Linguist
08-10-2006, 08:54 PM
Some of the Jews may not have "come to" Europe, but were already there. That is, there's some evidence that some of the central European tribes converted to Judaism.

One should also not overlook earlier occasions of conversion. In his book Antisemitism: The Longest Hatred, Robert Wistrich says that in Pagan Roman times, Jews conducted "a vast and rather successful proselytising campaign," with the result that Jews made up about 10-12% of the Empire's population at the beginning of the Christian era. That's a large pool of Jews not necessarily physically descended from a Middle Eastern population.

E. Blackadder
08-10-2006, 09:14 PM
I have seen serious evidence that Jews settled in Japan as well! They fit in, yet continued their jewish customs. Sorry, I have long since lost the links.:D

Brad

Jewish Ninjae? Cool!

Malik Shabazz
08-10-2006, 10:55 PM
Specifically, to get back on topic, why did the Jews end up so tightly bound up in European life and Muslims/Arabs/other MEers not?Lucy is basically right. The Jews revolted against Rome three times, in 70 CE (which ended in the destruction of the Temple) and in smaller rebellions in 115-117 and the Bar Kochba rebellion in 132-135. The Romans responded by exiling most of the Jews to various parts of the Empire, primarily Europe. (I recently learned that Jewish slave labor was used to build the Roman Coliseum after the first revolt.)

After the fall of the Roman Empire, Jews generally were not integrated into Christian society. They lived in Jewish enclaves, and disputes between Jews were settled by Jewish religious authorities. Jews could be expelled from a country at the whim of a king or prince, and at one time or another the Jews were expelled from practically every country in Europe. In the 13th Century, the king of Poland invited Jews to settle there, though, and Poland remained hospitable to Jews when other European countries were not, which is why so many European Jews come from Poland and elsewhere in Eastern Europe.

It wasn't until the Enlightenment and the rise of (classical) Liberalism that Jews became integrated into European society as equal citizens, a process that started in France and spread throughout Europe with Napoleon.

In terms of trades, as others have mentioned, many European countries didn't permit Jews to practice trades or own lands, so some Jews became involved in lending money. The fact that some Churches believed that charging interest was prohibited by the Bible kept some Christians out of banking as well. The spread of Jews throughout Europe, and their common language and religious ties, made them useful partners in international trade.

Malik Shabazz
08-10-2006, 11:38 PM
The thing is modern genetic studies have stablished that in many disparate (and disparate-looking) Jewish groups there is a common gene passed down only through males (including among the Lemba tribe of southern Africa). Additionally, genetic studies have caused cartain scholars to conclude that the pattern of spread was one of merchants braching out to new areas, setting down roots and taking local women as wives -- both contradicting to some degree notions about mass conversion and the religious script re: repeated waves of persecution and flight en masse (which certainly did happen in parts of Europe).I've read that too.

Many modern Jews believe that inter-marriage (marriage between Jews and non-Jews) is a recent phenomenon, but genetic studies (like those you mention) show otherwise.

So does the Bible, but that's a story for another thread. ;-)