the KHAZARS Revealed!
Many Anglo-Israel groups and anti-Semitic churches claim
that the modern Jews are not Jews at all, but really are des-
cended from an ancient Turkish people dwelling east of the
Caspian Sea known as the Khazars. Is this true? Just who
were the Khazars, anyway? New astonishing historical re-
search reveals the incredible answer!
William F. Dankenbring
When is a Jew not a Jew? Or, are modern Jews really Jews?
This may seem like a dumb question to some, but there are a number of churches and groups today who deny that the people identified as “Jews” are really Jews at all! Some go so far as to claim that the Germans are the true Jews, and that the holocaust which led to the extermination of six million Jews did not happen. Furthermore, according to this strange theory, the "Jews" who were killed in the concentration camps and in Hitler’s ovens, during World War II, were not really Jews at all but a people masquerading as Jews -- actually descendants of an Asiatic kingdom known as the Khazars!
What about the Khazars?
When we look around the world today, we find that only ONE PEOPLE down though history have preserved the observance of the weekly Sabbath day, the observance of the annual Feast days of God (Lev.23) -- and that people is the JEWS! Only one people have preserved the sacred calendar -- known as the Jewish calendar, because they are the only people on earth who have maintained and preserved it -- and that is, once again, the Jewish people!
How bizarre it would be to think that the Jews at some point in history disappeared, and were somehow replaced by an altogether different ethnic people -- and to think that THAT people took on the responsibility of maintaining the Scriptures, the sacred calendar, the weekly Sabbath, the annual holy days -- and not the Jews!
In his controversial book The Thirteenth Tribe, Arthur Koestler goes to great lengths to attempt to prove that the modern Jews of the Western world descend from the people of the kingdom of the mysterious Khazars. The Jews themselves, admit that the rulers and many people of the Khazars converted to Judaism in historical times. But Koestler puts a different spin on the facts of history.
In his book, Koestler points out that the Khazar Empire was a mighty Jewish state, which ruled from the seventh to the tenth centuries, A.D., and which dominated Eastern Europe between the Volga river and the Caucasus. It played a significant part in shaping the destinies of all of Europe and the world. An indication of the power and prestige of the Khazars revealed in the fact that in the tenth century, letters addressed to the Pope in Rome, and to the Roman Emperor in the West, had a gold seal worth two solidi attached to them; however, letters to the King of the Khazars displayed a seal worth three solidi!
Who were these Khazars? Koestler says they were “a people of Turkish stock.” As we will see, however, this is a complete misidentification. The Khazars
“. . . occupied a strategic key position at the vital gateway between the Black Sea
and the Caspian, where the great eastern powers of the period confronted each other.
It acted as a buffer protecting Byzantium against invasions by the lusty barbarian
tribesmen of the northern steppes -- Bulgars, Magyars, Pechenegs, etc. -- and, later,
the Vikings and the Russians. But equally, or even more important both from the
point of view of Byzantine diplomacy and of European history, is the fact that the
Khazar armies effectively blocked the Arab avalanche in its most devastating early
stages, and thus prevented the Muslim conquest of Eastern Europe” (The Thirteenth
Tribe, Koestler, p.13-14).
According to Professor Dunlop of Columbia University, whom Koestler quotes, the Khazars played a key role in history. Dunlop wrote of their importance, “It can . . . scarcely be doubted that but for the existence of the Khazars in the region north of the Caucasus, Byzantium, the bulwark of European civilization in the east, would have found itself outflanked by the Arabs, and the history of Christendom and Islam might well have been very different from what we know” (ibid.).
At the peak of their power, the Khazars controlled and exacted tribute from some thirty different nations and tribes inhabiting the vast steppes between the Caucasus, the Aral Sea, the Ural Mountains, and the steppes as far as the Ukraine. They ruled over Bulgars, Burtas, Ghuzz, Magyars (Hungarians), Goths, Greek colonies of the Crimea, the Slavs, and their armies raided Georgia and Armenia and even the Arab Caliphate of Mosul. Says Soviet archaeologist M. I. Artamonov, until the ninth century the Khazars had “no rivals to their supremacy in the regions north of the Black Sea and the adjoining steppe and forest regions of the Dnieper. The Khazars were the supreme masters of the southern half of Eastern Europe for a century and a half, and presented a mighty bulwark, blocking the Ural-Caspian GATEWAY from Asia into Europe. During this whole period, they held back the onslaught of the nomadic tribes from the East” (Koestler, p.19).
Characteristics of the Khazars
Let us take note, now, of the characteristics of this powerful people, whom Koestler says were of “Turkish stock.” About the year 740 A.D. the King of the Khazars, his court, and the military ruling class, embraced the Jewish faith. Judaism became the state religion of the Khazars. This fact has astonished modern scholars. One Hungarian historian spent several chapters of his history of the Magyars dealing with the Khazars, who ruled over them, but he discussed their conversion to Judaism in just one brief paragraph! What amazed him was that the Khazars would convert to Judaism, which had no political support but was universally persecuted, when they could have converted to Christianity or the Muslim religion instead, which were also vying for converts.
After the destruction of their empire in the twelfth or thirteenth century, Khazar settlements are mentioned in the Crimea, Ukraine, Hungary, Poland, and Lithuania. Many of them migrated into the region where at the dawn of modern times the greatest numbers of Jews were also found. This has led several historians to conjecture that many Jews from Eastern Europe might be of Khazar origin. The assumption is, of course, that the Khazars were a non-Semitic people.
What is the truth? What kind of people were the Khazars?
Arab sources tell us that they were a mighty sheep and cattle herding people. They lived in houses built in a circular shape, which symbolized the transition from being tent dwellers to more permanent homes. They stayed in their towns only during winter. In the spring the packed their tents, left their houses, and sallied forth with their sheep and cattle into the steppes, or camped out in their cornfields and vineyards.
A Remarkable People
Arthur Koestler himself calls them a "remarkable people.” He quotes an Arab chronicler who writes, "their complexions are white, their eyes blue, their hair flowing and predominately reddish, the bodies large and their natures cold. Their general aspect is wild" (ibid.). These people certainly do NOT sound like or look like a “Turkish” race! White skinned, with blue
eyes, red hair? If anything, these people sound like the Scots, or Anglo-Saxons -- that is, Western European in their physiognomy and general features!
The Arab geographer Istakhri, a main Arab source of information, writes of the Khazars:
“The Khazars DO NOT RESEMBLE THE TURKS. They are black-haired, and are
of two kinds, one called the Kara-Khazars [Black Khazars] who are swarthy verging on
deep black as if they were a kind of Indian, and a white kind [Al-Khazars], who are
Who were these powerful, mighty people? It is known that they dominated the Caucasus region in the sixth century, and were much in evidence a century earlier (in the mid-400s A.D.). Some of them were skilled gold and silver smiths. Some of the archaeological finds in Hungary may be Khazar in origin. The Jewish Encyclopedia points out, "In a time when fanaticism, ignorance and anarchy reigned in Western Europe, the kingdom of the Khazars could boast of its just and broad-minded administration." The Khazars practiced religious tolerance. In the capital city of the kingdom, Muslims were allowed to worship in their mosques, Christians in their churches, and each had their own courts and clergy. None was persecuted. Christians, Jews and Muslims all got along in the Khazar kingdom.
Another interesting fact is that the number 40 was very important to them. The king of the Khazars was allowed to rule for forty years, relates the Arab historian Ibn Fadlan. “If he exceeds this time by a single day, his subjects and attendants kill him, saying, ‘His reasoning is already dimmed, and his insight confused.’”
The number “40,” of course, is a very important number to the children of Israel. It rained 40 days and 40 nights during the Flood (Gen.7:4, 12). Noah opened the window of the Ark after 40 days (Gen.8:6).
The ancient Israelites wandered "forty years" in the wilderness" (Num.14:34). The land of Israel had "rest" for forty years on several different occasions (Judges 3:11, 5:31, 8:28), but God punished Israel for forty years on one occasion (Judges 13:1). The high priest Eli judged Israel for 40 years (I Sam.4:18). The first two kings of the dynasty of David, David himself and Solomon, reigned for "forty years" (II Sam.5:4). Moses was up in Mount Sinai receiving the Torah from God for 40 days, on two separate occasions (Deut.9:11, 18). The fact that this number was of deep significance to the Khazars is certainly very significant in identifying who they were!
In a world where Jews were being viciously persecuted, and harried by the Romans, it was only natural that they should migrate to a kingdom where tolerance and fairness and freedom of religion was a characteristic of the culture. Many Jews fled the confines of the Roman Empire, where Leo III had ordered all Jews to be baptized, and took refuge in the kingdom of the Khazars.
The Identity of the Khazars Revealed
The Khazar kingdom was located in the precise region where the northern ten tribes of Israel migrated and settled, after they were taken into captivity by the Assyrian Empire in 718-721 B.C. During the time following their release from Assyrian captivity, with the conquest of Persia and Babylon by Alexander the Great in 331 B.C., the Israelites blossomed and grew strong. But they had lost the sure knowledge of their identity during the 1400 years spend in the steppes of Asia prior to the kingdom of the Khazars. They had lost the Torah, gone into Baal-pagan worship, and appeared just like the Gentile cultures and peoples around them, on the surface. They had departed from the laws and commandments of God, and had lost the religious and spiritual identification marks of their heritage. But they still had the same physical characteristics -- white-skinned, blue-eyed, red-hair common among them. King David himself was of a “ruddy” complexion (Heb., “fair of eyes”), and probably had reddish hair! (I Sam.16:12).
Why, of course! These blue-eyed, often red-haired white skinned people, who practiced religious tolerance, and who were a mighty nation militarily, could be none other than a branch of the "lost" tribes of Israel, to whom the number “40” has a special significance.
This fact helps explains the mystery of why the Khazars converted to Judaism instead of Christianity or the Muslim religion -- for it was in reality the religion of their ancestors, centuries before!
What's in a Name?
The very name “Khazar” helps pinpoint their identity. In Hebrew, “ar” or “tsar” -- from which we derive the titles “Caesar,” “Kaiser,” and “Tsar” -- titles of rulership common to Rome, Germany, and Russia -- actually means, “lord,” “chief,” and “ruler.” The prefix “ka” in Hebrew is “an adverb of quality,” as “so, as much as possible,” therefore “to be so in a very high degree” (Gesenius Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament ). Thus, using “ca” as a prefix of the word “sar,” we have the inference of “very great or high king,” “powerful ruler,” “very high lord,” or “mighty chief.” There are no superlatives in Hebrew. Therefore, this combination of syllables or roots would have a meaning similar to “highest ruler,” or “king of kings,” or “lord of lords.”
Interestingly, the word “sar” or “shar” also means, “to be left, to remain,” and, “remnant”! These people, then, were a REMNANT of the lost tribes of Israel, who had been carried into captivity centuries previously! One of Isaiah’s sons was named “Shar-Jashub,” meaning “a remnant shall return” (compare Isa.7:3). God Himself prophesied of Israel, “And it shall come to pass in that day, that the REMNANT of Israel, and such as be escaped of Jacob, shall no more stay upon him that smote them; but shall stay upon the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, in truth. The remnant shall return, even the remnant of Jacob, unto the mighty God” (Isaiah 10:21).
Thus the name Ka-Shar’ could also mean the “special remnant,” the “unique remnant” people -- meaning the REMNANT of the “lost ten tribes” in that region!
The conversion of the Khazar Kingdom in 740 A.D. is no doubt a “type” of the true future conversion of ALL ISRAEL, when they return to God, admitting their sins, and confessing their iniquities. God says, "For though thy people Israel be as the sand of the sea, yet a remnant of them shall return: the consumption decreed shall overflow with righteousness" (Isaiah 10:22).
Judging by the military exploits and leadership characteristics of these people, some of them seem to have been the descendants of the house of Joseph, long since carried into captivity -- very likely descended largely from the tribe of Ephraim itself! For the characteristics of the house of Joseph, see the prophecies concerning them in Genesis 48:15-20; 49:22-26; Deuteronomy 33:13-17.
The white-skinned, blue-eyed, red-headed Khazars were related directly to our distant, ancient, forebears! It appears that they were also of the tribe of Joseph, and “possessed the GATES of their enemies” -- the strategic passes that connected Asia, and Europe, through the Caucasus region. It was the descendants of Abraham, through Isaac, and Jacob, of whom God said, “Thy seed shall possess the GATE of his enemies” (Gen.22:16). Their descendants were to “possess the gate of those which hate them” (Gen.24:60).
During their time, the Khazars did this very thing, possessing the strategic passes into Eastern Europe, thus controlling and greatly influencing the course of history, and the future of the world for many generations!
Eldad HaDani and the Cochin Scroll
Eldad HaDani (circa 800 A.D.) collected legends extant in his day about the Ten Tribes of Israel and their locations, known as the Cochin Scroll. He mentions the tribe of Zebulon in the Paran mountains, to the east of Mesopotamia. Eldad said that the tribe of Issachar was in Carmania to the south and also east of the Caspian Sea. Also in Carmania were the Pasagadae, whose name means "sons of Gad." The Naphatali Huns, in those times, were
descended from the tribe of Naphatali, and were partly east of the Ural Mountains and in northern Scythia.
According to the Cochin Scroll -- the Ten Tribes of Israel migrated eastward. The tribes of Simeon, Ephraim and Manasseh settled the area of Margiana, north of Hara. In addition, some of Manasseh and Simeon settled in the Khazar kingdom beside the Caspian Sea. A famous king of the Khazars was King Joseph (circa 960 A.D.) -- obviously named for Joseph, son of Jacob, who was his ancient forefather!
Israeli scholar Yair Davidy in his new book, The Tribes: The Israelite Origins of Western Peoples, informs us:
“The Khazar kingdom is usually considered as having been centered north of the
Caucasus but it has been shown that an important part of its population derived
from the region east of the Caspian, in Chorasmia. The various reports therefore
agree in tracing the Tribes of Simeon and Manasseh to this area.
“It should be noted that the Israelites had been exiled in stages after being split up,
but not scattered, meaning that parts of one tribe could appear together with parts
of another in several areas. Likewise the nomadic lifestyle imposed upon them by
geographical and political necessity meant that they were highly mobile and there-
fore are difficult to localize historically” (p.71-72).
In those days, all of eastern Russia and even parts of northern China were populated by nomadic peoples whose dominant element were, report Chinese sources, fair-skinned, fair-haired, and fair-eyed. These were identified as Scythians, and Israelites were among them, though other types were also present. Writes Yair Davidy:
“The Cochin Scroll reported that parts of Ephraim, Simeon, and Manasseh settled in
MARGIANA (Merv). The name MARGIANA is cognate with Maracanda of southern
Bactria just north of Hara. In Sogdiana, to the northeast of Bactria, Ptolemy placed
the Marycae and the city of Maruca, which was also derived from the same root as
Maracanda. MARACANDA was to be renamed 'Samarkand.' The name Samarkand
appears to have been in honour of Samaria, the former Israelite capital in the territory
of Manasseh” (p.73).
The Mercian Saxons and Myrings in Europe, Davidy says, came from around Bukhara, north of Bactria, "both places being named after the BACHRI who were a clan of Ephraim (Numbers 26:35). From the Bachrites came the Boruchteri who participated in the Anglo-Saxon invasions of Britain.
After discussing the various tribes of the Scythians, and how many of them identified with tribes of Israel, Davidy concludes:
“This Israelite-origin of the above nations of Scythia together with evidence of their
migration to Northwest Europe is confirmed by similarity of names and legends as
well as by the Hebrew-connection of related groups, such as the Parthians and Khazars,
by archaeological findings, historical records, and Scriptural passages” (p.83).
Therefore, the Khazar Kingdom which converted to Judaism was not “Turkish” at all but undoubtedly Israelite in origin, composed primarily of remnants of the tribes of Simeon, Manasseh, and very likely, Ephraim. It is a historical fact that Ephraim and Manasseh often dwelt together. In ancient Israel there were Ephraimite cities located in the midst of the inheritance of Manasseh. In the book of Joshua we read, “And the separate cities for the children of Ephraim were among the inheritance of the children of Manasseh, all the cities with their villages” (Joshua 16:9). Likewise, Manasseh had cities located in the inheritance of Issachar and Asher (Josh.17:11). The tribe of Simeon, on the other hand, was prophesied to be “scattered” amongst the tribes of Israel, because of their cruelty and fierce anger (Gen.49:5-7).
Historically, the Khazars disappeared from history at the same time the greatest concentration of Jews entered Eastern Europe. Historians agree that immigration from Khazaria must have contributed to the growth of Polish Jewry. However, when we realize that these "Khazars" were undoubtedly primarily of the “lost” tribes of Israel, the strange idea that many Jews today are really “Turkish” people, descended from “Esau,” falls flat on its face.
The Origin of Most European Jews
The chart accompanying this article shows the migrations of the Jewish people from the time of the destruction of the second Jerusalem Temple in 70 A.D. to modern 20th-century times (from A History of the Jewish Experience: Eternal Faith, Eternal People, by Leo Trepp, p.107; c1973, Behrman House, Inc.). Also, this chart indicates the migration of surviving Khazarian nobles into eastern Europe from the Black Sea area after the fall and dissolution of the Khazarian Empire (circa 969 A.D. it was conquered by Russia). That the Khazarian nobility were officially converted to the Jewish religion is clearly acknowledged by Rabbi Dan Cohn-Sherbok:
“Khazars (Chazars; Hazars). Turkish or Finnish tribe which settled in the lower Volga
region. From the 8th to the 10th centuries the Khazar state extended westward as far as
Kiev. In the 8th century a Judaizing movement manifested itself among the people and
their king, Bulan, and thousands of nobles converted to Judaism. The central theme of
Judah ha-Levi's Kuzari is the legendary disputation which resulted in this conversion.
Chasdai ibn Shaprut believed that the Khazars were one of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel;
according to tradition, he entered into correspondence with their king, Joseph, in the 10th
century” (The Blackwell Dictionary of Judaica, p.290; c1992, Blackwell Publishers:
The vast majority of the Khazarian lay population accepted membership in the Eastern Slavic Church, while the nobles (who were in the Khazarian minority) remained faithful to Judaism, trekked westward, and joined their Jewish kinsmen of the faith in Europe.
The man who wrote a famous work about the conversion of the Khazarian nobles was Judah ha-Levi (1075-1141 A.D.), a Sephardic Jewish religious thinker who lived in Spain.
According to the book Kitab Tathbit Dala'il Nubuwwat Sayyadina Muhammad (The Book of the Establishment of Proofs about our Master Muhammad's Status as a Prophet), written by one ‘Abd al-Jabbar ibn Muhammad al-Hamdani around the year 1009 or 1010, there was a Jewish missionary in particular who was responsible for persuading King Bulan and the tribes in the Khazar Empire to convert to Judaism.
Medieval Jewish scholars, including Rabbi Moses ben Nahman (Nahmanides) in ToratAdonai Temimah written in the 13th century and Rabbi Yehuda Aryeh ben Joseph Moscato in Kol Yehudah written in the 16th century, both name Yitzhak ha-Sangari (Isaac Sangari) as the Jewish rabbi who was involved in the religious disputation at King Bulan’s court and who converted the king and taught him the principles of Judaism.
Judah ha-Levi, a native of Toledo, Spain, recorded the conversion in his famous
masterpiece Kitab al-Hujjah wa'I-Dahl fi Nasr al-Din al Dhalil (The Book of Argument of Proof in Defense of the Despised Faith), which was composed in 1120-1140 and translated from Arabic into Hebrew in the mid-12th century. Popularly known as The Book of the Khazars (Sefer ha-Kuzari in Hebrew, Kitab al-Khozari in Arabic), it consists of five chapters and presents the merits of Judaism. In it, Judah ha-Levi clearly states that Isaac Sangari was the one responsible for the conversion of King Bulan and the nobles –
“Ultimately, the king [Bulan] and all the subjects of his kingdom converted to Judaism. The arguments of the rabbi [Sangari] were the catalyst for this event, for, through them, the king found spiritual peace and intellectual harmony (Yehuda HaLevi, The Kuzari, trans. N. Daniel Korobkin -- Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson, 1998, p. 1).”
According to Kevin Alan Brook,
“The adoption of Judaism by the Khazars was one of the most interesting events in medieval European history. It was once thought that Yehudah ha-Levi created the conversion episode as an imaginary tale, but it has become clear that the story of the conversion of the Khazars in the Kuzari reflected actual events. In 864, only a few years after Saint Cyril’s Khazarian mission, the Khazars were described for the first time (in Expositio in Matthaeum Evangelistam) as observers of Judaism (see Chapter 1 )” (The Jews of Khazaria, Northvale, NJ: Aronson, 1999, p. 128).
The Khazarian nobles were converted and officially initiated into Sephardic Judaism, not Ashkenazic Judaism (Dictionary of Jewish Biography, by Geoffrey Wigoder, p.244; c1991, Simon & Schuster). Chasdai ibn Shaprut (915-970 A.D.) was, also, a Spanish Sephardic Jewish scholar, and “he wrote a well-known letter to the king of the Khazars expressing his joy at their independent Jewish kingdom” (The Blackwell Dictionary of Judaica, p.239).
If all modern European Jews were descended from the Khazars, as some current anti-Semitic groups allege, then European Jewry would be primarily Sephardic in character and culture! Rather, modern European Jewry is primarily Ashkenazic and would not have originated from Sephardic Judaism of the Khazarian nobles. The Khazarian nobles obviously accepted the Ashkenazic form of Judaism upon entering eastern Europe after the Russian invasion and conquest of the Khazarian Empire.
I find it interesting that the Khazars who converted to Judaism regarded themselves as being of the blood and seed of ancient Israel, as a simple matter of fact. Although some scholars consider this as being a “myth of Hebraic descent,” the fact remains that the Khazars themselves actually thought that they were descended from “the tribe of Simeon or the half-tribe of Manasseh” (The Meaning of Jewish History, vol.1, Abelard Schuman, 1963, p.42-43).
This certainly does NOT sound as if the Khazars themselves “refute” the belief or conclusion that they are descended, in part at least, from the “Lost Ten Tribes of Israel”! Yair Davidy concludes regarding the origin of the Khazars:
“The Agathyrsi (Akatziri) were to form the nucleus of the Khazar people. The
Khazars converted to Judaism and at one stage became a world power. Their
center was in southern Russia, i.e. in Scythia. Ethnically the Khazars were
related to the Anglo-Saxons and Scandinavians. Saksin the Khazar capital was
known as ‘The Saxon City.’ The Agathyrsi have been linked to the Goths.
Caucasian ‘Subarian traditions maintain that the Agathyrsians originated
in Asshur.’ – i.e. there exists a tradition that the Agathyrsians came from Assyria
and this is consistent with their having been Israelites who were exiled to
Assyria and re-settled by the Assyrians on the fringes of their empire” (Lost
Israelite Identity, p.269-270).
Davidy points out that the Agathyrsi Picts, representing microscopically all the northwest European peoples of Israelite origins, are descendants of Ay(g)-a-zar of Gilead of Manasseh. Most of the Picts and Scottish, he relates, are descended from Manasseh, the brother of Ephraim, son of Joseph, son of Jacob. He asserts:
“The Agathyrsi proper who came from Scythia derived from the clan of ‘Jeezer’
son of Gilead son of Manasseh (Numbers 26:30). The name transliterated as ‘Jeezer’
in Hebrew was probably pronounceable as ‘A-(g)a-zar’ and the Agathyrsi were also
known as ‘Acatzari,’ Kharari, and Gazari. Those of the Agathyrsi (Acatzari) who
remained in Scythia eventually formed the nucleus of the KHAZAR NATION and
a tradition exists (related by Eldad HaDani in ca.800 C.E. and by the Cochin Scroll)
that the Khazars came from the TRIBES OF SIMEON AND MANASSEH” (page
For further discussion on this volatile subject, I refer the reader to the works of Yair Davidy, especially The Tribes: The Israelite Origin of Western Peoples, and Lost Israelite Identity.