Jews and Joes

Can DNA testing confirm Jewish or 10-Israel Ancestry?

Have you ever wondered if you have Jewish or 10-Israel Ancestry? Many people from non-Jewish families ask themselves, "Am I Jewish?", "Am I Hebrew?", or "Were my ancestors of the Lost 10 Tribes of Israel?" Believe it or not, you can actually have your DNA tested by FamilyTreeDNA (a simple cheek swab) to help confirm if you have Israelite ancestors.

Jewish Ancestry

FamilyTreeDNA is the first, most accurate, and most trusted genealogy-driven DNA testing organization available today. Because of their database size, history, and credibility among scientists, National Geographic uses FamilyTreeDNA exclusively to perform their DNA tests for human-migration research in the Genographic Project.

What DNA Test Should I Take to Determine if I have Jewish or 10-Israel Ancestry?

If you're male and your goal is simply to determine which Y-DNA Haplogroup you belong to for deep-ancestry purposes (such as Hebrew Identity questions), the "Y-DNA - Universal Male Test" (starting at $119.00) is highly recommended as a place to start.

Men can test their Y-DNA to determine the origin of their paternal line only (which is Biblically more significant in regards to tribal identity). The Y-DNA test strictly checks the father-to-grandfather-to-great-grandfather line, with no maternal genetic influence. Women do not receive Y-DNA, and therefore cannot themselves be tested for their paternal ancestry line, but they can ask a brother or a male relative to be tested. 

Both women and men can be tested individually with the Mitochondrial-DNA test (Mt-DNA) to confirm if they share a common ancestor with Jewish women. Similar to Y-DNA inheritance, Mt-DNA is only passed from woman-to-woman over many generations. Men receive Mt-DNA from their mothers, but they do not pass it to their children.

The Y-DNA and Mt-DNA tests both provide very insightful clues to our ancient origins, and they even help with connecting more recent genealogical questions (if that is of any interest to you). FamilyTreeDNA has thousands of surname projects that you can take part in and likely already have one or many specific to you.

Disclaimer: Even though FamilyTreeDNA is exclusively promoted by this website, FamilyTreeDNA does NOT endorse some of the views and/or genetic-based Hebrew-identity theories suggested within this website. FamilyTreeDNA is generally very careful when using a person's genetic haplotype to confirm association with any precise tribe or indigenous group, such as associations with the Cohen Modal Haplotype (Levitical Priestly class), descendants of Genghis Khan, Native Americans, etc.  Once you have been tested and discover your specific haplogroup, you'll be given a lot of useful and compelling information, but you can also visit research sites like this one where theories are suggested and hypothesized in greater detail (such as here) in regards to Biblical history, etc.

Some of the alternative views you'll find here may be grossly different in some time-origin specifics compared to what you may learn from most secular institutions... since our ideas are derived from Biblical time-frames (i.e., "young humanity", but not necessarily young Earth). We have the mindset that the Hebrew Scriptures are a valid, legitimate, and compelling instrument of Ancient History and a useful tool in interpreting modern realities foretold in many ancient Hebrew prophecies, such as the multitudes promised to Abraham and Ephraim(i.e., the "Lost 10 Tribes of Israel"). We use secular and biblical histories, mathematics, genealogy, and linguistics as supporting evidence wherever possible.

For official FamilyTreeDNA disclosure, see the short article Can DNA Testing Confirm Jewish Ancestry? by President and CEO of FamilyTreeDNA, Bennett Greenspan. 


Migration Map for Y-Chromosome Haplogroups:

FamilyTreeDNA - Migration Map

Compare with the Haplogroup Map of the World

Fundamental Genetic Problem regarding the 10-Israel and Jewish Question:

Finding Israelites with the use of Genetics has some fundamental problems. The first major problem can be understood by this verse:

Exodus 12:37-38:
37 And the children of Israel set out from Rameses to Sukkoth, about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides the little ones.
38 And a mixed multitude went up with them too, also flocks and herds, very much livestock.

The "mixed-multitude' aside... it is conceivable (even probable) Jacob and his twelve sons have many unbroken direct male descendant lines in the modern world (with their yChromosome still intact but with various mutations). Of course, there have been many converts into Judaism and there has been inter-marriage. Some direct male lines simply died because a father had numerous daughters and no sons, or no children at all. Those problems, in regards to our purpose here, are obvious, but there may be other important problems we're missing, working through, or haven't considered yet.

If you have specific questions regarding your own ancestry and DNA, please contact Hanok here.