Q&A: Are Palestinians descendants of formerly Jews who converted to Islam and Christianity?

This is indeed one of the conclusions that Yitzhak Ben-Zvi—a historian and ethnographer who would later become Israel’s first President—reached from studies of the names and traditions of many Palestinian villages and Bedouin communities.

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Why did Mohammad replace Isaac with Ishmael as Abraham’s sacrifice in the Koran?

The Quran’s version of the story is reflective of the conventional practice in the Middle East (and throughout the world) of primogeniture—i.e., succession by, or preference of, the first-born son.

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Q&A: Why did Elijah take 40 days and 40 nights to walk a 12 days’ journey distance?

Elijah went from near Beersheba to Horeb. 1 Kings 19:3–8. Deuteronomy 1:2 says Kadesh is an 11 days’ journey distance away from Horeb. Beersheba was near Kadesh, both near the south extreme of the promised land. So, why would Elijah take 40 days and 40 nights to cover that distance?

Beer-Sheba (or Be’er-Sheva, in Hebrew) may be “near” Kadesh by the standards of someone living in the US or Canada today, with modern vehicles, but not for an Israelite in the 9th B.C.—especially a northern Israelite, like Elijah, who was accustomed to the greener and more hospitable climate of northern Israel, rather than the desert wilderness of the Negev and Sinai.

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Why hasn’t Ladino (Judaeo-Spanish) been transmitted to young Sephardim in the way Yiddish has been transmitted to young Ashkenazim?

(My answer to this question at Quora.com)

Yiddish is being passed down to the younger generation only among the Ashkenasi ultra-Orthodox Jews (in Israel and in the U.S.—mainly Brooklyn). They do so because they consider Hebrew a sacred language to be used only for the study of Scripture, and not for the profane needs of everyday life.

Everywhere else Yiddish has pretty much died out.

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Do descendants of Jews living in Eretz Yisrael before Zionism have a distinct status or identity in Modern Israel?

Actually, yes. Broadly speaking, there were two types of Jews living in Eretz-Israel in the nineteenth century before the first Zionists arrived: small Ashkenazi Orthodox kollelim (communities supported by donations from their communities of origin abroad), and Sephardi Jews who were the descendants of Spanish Jews who had reached the Holy Land, directly or indirectly, after the expulsion of the Jews from Spain and Portugal in the 1490s.

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Is there sound evidence that the Hebrew exodus from Egypt occurred in Biblical times?

 

(My answer to this question at Quora.com)

As Ricardo Almeida points out, the story of the Exodus bears much resemblance to the historical explusion, around 1550 BCE, of the “Asiatics” (Canaanites) who had settled and eventually took over and ruled northern Egypt for well over four hundred years.

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