Ezra claimed that those who live on Israel are totally different people that happen to worship the same God. He probably didn't know for sure because he was in Babylon during their birth.

I wonder how he knew.

Nevertheless if it were true, then genetic relatedness between Samaritan and Jews would be farther than Jews and other Middle Easterners.

Turns out the answer is no.

How come?

This question is not about beliefs. It's about facts. One guy says historically one thing happen. Genetic tests show otherwise. Also it's not about definition of Jews. I've heard the rule that the mom must be Jewish was made much later. The question is about, okay, historically, Ezra said this happened. Genetic testing shows it can't be true. So how come?

Genetically, Samaritans are related, no?

The Samaritans are an ancient northern population of historic Israel, where they are historically well identified since at least the 4th century BC. They define themselves as the descendants of tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh (two tribes from the Tribe of Joseph) living in the Kingdom of Israel before its destruction in 722 BC. For them, the Jews are the descendants of the Israelites from ancient southern kingdom of Judah (and Jerusalem).

A 2004 study by Shen et al. compared the Y-DNA and DNA-mt Samaritans of 12 men with those of 158 men who were not Samaritans, divided between 6 Jewish populations (Ashkenazi origin, Moroccan, Libyan, Ethiopian, Iraqi and Yemeni) and 2 non-Jewish populations from Israel (Druze and Arab). The study concludes that significant similarities exist between paternal lines of Jews and Samaritans, but the maternal lines differ between the two populations. The pair-wise genetic distances (Fst) between 11 populations from AMOVA applied to the Y-chromosomal and mitochondrial data. For the Y-chromosome, all Jewish groups, except for the Ethiopians, are closely related to each other. They do not differ significantly from Samaritans (0.041) and Druze (0.033), but are different from Palestinians (0.163), Africans (0.219), and Europeans (0.111). Nevertheless, the data in this study indicated that the Samaritan and Jewish Y-chromosomes have a greater affinity than do those of the Samaritans and their geographical neighbors, the Palestinians.[37]

So what went wrong?

  1. Ezra got wrong info from God? (obviously wrong. pardon, just stating all options)
  2. Ezra got the history wrong? (quite likely. he's not a prophet. he got wrong info. but that means the scripture is wrong and we put opinion of a slightly racist wrong guy into bible)
  3. Ezra made this things up to justify kicking people he may have problem with? (again, pardon)
  4. Ezra is right. It's just that something happened. What happened?

Here is another reference to history and descent.

This question is not about whether the Samaritans are halacically Jewish or not. This is about facts. I want to know whether I can trust the bible for historical facts.

I want to know whether they are descendants of Israelites genetically as genetic testing shows, or just some outsider brought there as Ezra must have thought. This is about fact. I want to know if Ezra, as part of a book of Bible, tells historically true stories or not.

I also wanted to know what does Ezra think of the Samaritans.

I saw a piece saying they are Jews marrying others. Then another piece saying they are totally different people. I forget where I found them and got them and must have gotten them mixed. There is something along Ezra took the Samaritans by the hair and throw them out.

It looks like the books of the Bible tell different stories and the book of chronicles match the genetic data more:

The emergence of the Samaritans as an ethnic and religious community distinct from other Levant peoples appears to have occurred at some point after the Assyrian conquest of the Israelite Kingdom of Israel in approximately 721 BC. The records of Sargon II of Assyria indicate that he deported 27,290 inhabitants of the former kingdom.

Jewish tradition maintains a different origin for the Samaritans. The Talmud accounts for a people called "Cuthim" on a number of occasions, mentioning their arrival by the hands of the Assyrians. According to 2 Kings[21] and Josephus[22] the people of Israel were removed by the king of the Assyrians (Sargon II)[23] to Halah, to Gozan on the Khabur River and to the towns of the Medes. The king of the Assyrians then brought people from Babylon, Cuthah, Avah, Emath, and Sepharvaim to place in Samaria. Because God sent lions among them to kill them, the king of the Assyrians sent one of the priests from Bethel to teach the new settlers about God's ordinances. The eventual result was that the new settlers worshipped both the God of the land and their own gods from the countries from which they came.

This account is contradicted by the version in Chronicles,[24] where, following Samaria's destruction, King Hezekiah is depicted as endeavouring to draw the Ephraimites and Manassites closer to Judah. Temple repairs at the time of Josiah were financed by moneys from all "the remnant of Israel" in Samaria, including from Manasseh, Ephraim and Benjamin.[25] Jeremiah likewise speaks of people from Shechem, Shiloh and Samaria who brought offerings of frankincense and grain to the house of the Lord.[26] Chronicles makes no mention of an Assyrian resettlement.[27] Yitzakh Magen argues that the version of Chronicles is perhaps closer to the historical truth, and that the Assyrian settlement was unsuccessful, a notable population remained in Samaria, part of which, following the conquest of Judah, fled south and settled there as refugees.[28]

A Midrash (Genesis Rabbah Sect. 94) relates about an encounter between Rabbi Meir and a Samaritan. The story that developed includes the following dialogue:

  • 4
    My rabbi said to me that a practical understanding of the ten tribes being lost is that they died out or were assimilated. So they intermarried to a point where they were no longer Jewish, meaning they had non Jewish mothers, at least predominately. Maybe that was Ezra's reasoning
    – user3114
    Commented Sep 13, 2013 at 12:06
  • 10
    The question is based on the flawed premise that Judaism uses genetics to prove membership or that one outside Judaism can use genetics to prove membership.
    – rosends
    Commented Sep 13, 2013 at 12:27
  • 1
  • 4
    You're taking it too literally. Once they aren't halachic Jews, they are totally different people.
    – user3114
    Commented Sep 15, 2013 at 15:13
  • 2
    I think some might disagree with your notion that Ezra was not a prophet. I'm pretty sure he is considered one. (And I'm not saying that just because my name is Ezra, lol)
    – ezra
    Commented Jun 7, 2017 at 15:35

4 Answers 4


Samaritans, much like Jews, are an isolated and endogamous community who remained in a single region for much of their existence. So while empires came and went and conquered the region, intermixed with the locals to a certain extent, expelled, and resettled different people and themselves, the Samaritans remained in their "habitat" and continued practicing endogamy with their own kin. Therefore in contrast to the various surrounding peoples that currently inhabit the Middle East, the Samaritans would constitute a fairly reliable proxy for what the ancient Middle Eastern genome would have most likely resembled.

With that said, Jews hold ancient Near Eastern DNA with a fair amount of Italian ancestry maternally (at least as far as Ashkenazi Jews are concerned), so it is of no surprise as to why there is a lot of genetic proximity between the two.

"I want to know whether they are descendants of Israelites genetically as genetic testing shows"

Genetics in fact do not show that they are descendants of Israelites, genetics show that Samaritans have a close affinity with modern Jewry, but it may or may not vindicate their claimed ancestry. Immediately conceding that they are simply outcasted yet legitimate Israelites is simply false. If we ought to solely rely on the biblical narrative, then this issue is even made easier, because according to the biblical narrative Abraham was supposedly born in the ancient Mesopotamian city of Ur, similarly to the Samaritans who also would've originated in Mesopotamia. If we were to apply any sort of logic, the Samaritans would've most likely also absorbed the remnant population of the remaining Israelites, and even other locals with their settlement in Samaria.

Historically the Levant and Mesopotamia were very closely interwined (first Eblaite Kingdom, the Amorite Kingdoms, the Akkadian Empire, the Neo-Assyrian Empire, the Neo-Babylonian Empire etc etc) geographically and economically, so genetic overlap is to be expected. According to your own study the Druze in fact show an ever closer genetic affinity to modern day Jewry, so are they Israelites?

The answer is not necessarily. They might share some ancient Israelite ancestry somewhere down the line, but as with the Samaritans, this may or may not be the actual case.

  • In fact, interestingly enough, according to the gemara, a certain part of Kuta, where the Samaritans came from, is to be identified with Ur Kasdim, where Avraham came from.
    – Harel13
    Commented Oct 1, 2021 at 15:07

This is a great question by the opening commenter, the answer is that Ezra is right IN A WAY, but the Samaritans are 100% related to the " ORIGINAL Male Jews".

Looking at the ancient Samaritans gives us a great look at how the ancient Hebrews physically looked.

Here are some remarkable facts about the Samaritans

  1. They hardly ever intermarried according to dna research they are all INBREED for 2500 years!

  2. They are original Hebrews from the 10 northern tribes

  3. Ezra did not like the fact that Samaritan MEN took foreign wives so he said dump the women are you can be a part of us, the split was permanent.

  4. The Samaritans give us the purest look of the ancient Jews that we have, DNA shows the American Jews are 80% European and 20% middle eastern

  5. Ezra was saying they lost their right to being Jews when they married FORIEIGN WOMEN

Read Here http://boingboing.net/2009/12/09/good-genes-how-scien.html

  • So the samaritans are more jewish than contemporary jews? At least genetically? I mean, religiously the muslims are more jewish than modern jews right.
    – user4951
    Commented Sep 21, 2014 at 5:08
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    though I upvoted your answer, I do not understand which evidence there is for "They are original Hebrews from the 10 northern tribes"
    – John Donn
    Commented Jan 12, 2015 at 7:19
  • Genetically speaking jews in china is 90% chinese. Jews in europe is 95% europe. Jews in Africa is 90% black. How else they look so similar with their neighbor?
    – user4951
    Commented Aug 22, 2017 at 8:06

The thing with genetics is to take it all with a grain of salt. For instance we know that edom is our long lost brother and genetics should show this. And it does to a degree. But the apparent split happened around fifty thousand years ago. So now what? The whole premise of genetics is using information outside of our basic concept of our religious history so how can we nitpick on specific points? Of course we cant turn around with something like the edom israel connection and scream Aha! See Chazzal were right! What would have made a downtrodden group of rabbis in post diaspora Judaism make an outlandish claim like the fact they are related to their worst oppressors if not for their knowledge of an undeniable truth. And yet the timeline is so off. So now what? Hope for this soft science to be perfected and not make any claims against the ultimate truth based on a fledgling theory.

  • 1
    Not 50k. Humans history is only 10k at most. We are descendants of homo pre historicus and we are evolving to homo technologicus
    – user4951
    Commented Jul 4, 2014 at 8:27
  • @J.Chang, no. Genetic studies of en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mitochondrial_Eve give her an age almost always quoted as over 100,000 years ago.
    – user6297
    Commented Aug 17, 2017 at 16:10

Well, here is the whole thing: before the sacking of Jerusalem (70 AD) jews did not marry outside their race. As such anyone who would marry a non-jew would be evicted from jewish society and be considered a non-jew. At some point in history a number of jews did just that and become known as samaritans. Most samaritans did not respect the law of Moses completely as the jews did and as such they were not considered jews. So the question you should ask is this: what percentage of jewish DNA one should have to be considered a jew? At the time of Ezra the answer was 100% . So Ezra was not wrong. About whether today they would be considered jews well... if they would have at least 30% jewish DNA maybe but I doubt samaritans fit this criteria. Maybe the Ashenazi do.

  • 1
    This is incorrect. The definition of a Jew has always been the current recursive algorithm (which includes converts). The Samaritans are the descendants of the people imported into the territory of the Northern Kingdom (the ten lost tribes) as part of the conquest policy. They started worshiping Hashem (in a pagan manner) because of a plague of lions and did not convert properly. The destruction of the Northern Kingdom occurred well before the destruction of Yehudah by Babylonia, so it was known well before Ezra was born. Thus, Ezra knew it as part of history. Commented Jun 7, 2017 at 12:28

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