Aaron's Cromosomes are Identified

The Alleged Discovery Shakes up the Rabbis of Israel

Reported by Daryl Coats
Soldiers in Training
- Winter 97-98

"AND THE PRIESTS, WHICH MINISTER UNTO THE LORD, ARE THE SONS OF AARON" (2 CHRON. 13:10). In mid-November my 11-year-old son informed me that on National Public Radio's All Things Considered he'd heard a report of a controversy in Israel involving people who claim to be physical descendants of Moses and Aaron. I don't know if that report is related to the following, but in January 1997 newspapers around the world announced that "an international research team, with members from England, Canada, Israel, and the US" thinks that it has genetically identified the actual physical descendants of Aaron.

Concerning the team's findings, Dr. Karl Skorecki of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa said, "The simplest, most straight-forward explanation is that these men have the Y chromosome of Aaron," adding, "The study suggests that a 3000-year-old tradition is correct, or has a biological counterpart." (The Y chromosome was especially studied, because, as noted in Fortean Times, it "does not swap sections of DNA with other chromosomes. Any change which occurs tends to persist in a lineage over time, which can allow the genetic tracing of a male line through several centuries.")

How seriously should we take the research' s team's findings? Some orthodox and conservative Jews are taking them seriously enough that at least one liberal rabbi is concerned. Aaron Pankin of Hebrew Union College Jewish Institute of Religion (New York) warns of the "danger" that "fundamentalists" will use the findings to "weed out" priests who are not descended from Aaron and fears that they will insist on "genetic tests" on any Jewish man who wants to marry a divorced woman (see Lev. 2 1:7, 13-15). All 1 know is that God knows who the physical descendants of Aaron are--and that in the millennium, "the Levites that are gone away far from me, when Israel went astray, ... yet they shall be ministers in my sanctuary and they shall stand before them [Israel] to minister unto them" (Ezek. 44:10-11).