The myths of Semite migrations – Part I

( Eng. Nikola Fayyad )

We often encounter the common terms of Semitism, Semites, non-Semites and/or anti-Semitism.

But wherefrom had these terms originated? And who has/have coined this terminoglogy ?

The word “Semitism” was introduced for the first time in a historical research conducted by a team of  students at the Geschichtswissenschaft University in Goettingen, Germany, in 1773, the very same year in which the University was founded.

The students based their study on Noah’s story as related by the Torah (Old Testament), Genesis 10. Accordingly, they divided mankind into three branches, or to be more accurate into the breeds of  Noah’s three sons. Hence the children of Sam (Shem) were called Semites (Semiten in the German language).

The name was used to describe a specific racial community speaking similar languages they opted to call “Semite” after Sam son of Noah.

The Torah had divided mankind into three basic races: The children of Sam (Shem) and those are the peoples of the Middle East, the children  of Ham and they represent the Afro-Asian peoples such as Egyptians and Kushians  and third: the Children of Japheth in Central Asia. But the Torah classification was random, arbitrary and has no scientific grounds.

Later on, the term “Semites” was used more broadly in 1781  by the German historian August Ludwig von Schoelzer, who classified all Middle Eastern peoples as “Semites” considering all of them as descendants of Abraham (Abram) or sons of Shem.

According to this classification, the Semites would  group together all of the Ethiopian Amharic, the Eritrean Tigrinya-speaking communities, Arabs, Hyksos,  Maltese, the Yemenites of Ma’en and Sab’a, the Amorites, the Ammonites, the Akkadians, the Babylonians, the Assyrians, the Hebrew-Aramaic, the people of Moab, the Nabateans, the Phoenicians, and the Samaria.

However, modern German history books no longer endorse this classification. It is considered  as untrue and as OUTDATED.

Jewish theologians wasted no time to embrace the term “Semites”, upon which they based a plethora of orientalist research papers and studies culminating with the Jewish Austrian orientalist Moritz Stenschneider who coined the term “Anti-Semitism” in 1860. The term was later commonly used to restrictedly mean antagonism to Jews solely!!

Arab History books are largely influenced by the Torah narrative, although the word “Semite” is purely a Torah term with no real historical origins.

And what is based on false premises would continue to be false no matter what. The Semite migration narrative as related in modern Arabic-language history books, especially those authored in the last two centuries are sheer myths heavily woven with stories taken from ancient Mesopotamian civilizations.

Key remarks/questions:

  • How on earth could dozens or perhaps hundreds of thousands of nomadic Bedouins, often depicted by Arabic history books as “ignorant” tribes known for their frequent fight with one another. (The term used in Arabic to describe pre-Islamic periods is known as “Jahilyia”, which according to some linguists might mean “ignorance”). So, how have these “ignorants” managed to be in unison and migrated under a united leadership to a specific geographic region where there have been prosperous civilizations, cities, population and armies and them manage overnight to overcome all those mighty armies, overtake their settlements and build a purportedly “unique”  civilization!  Imagine for a moment a hundred  thousand  fugitive fleeing drought, scarcity and poverty! How come that such escapees managed to travel on foot for over 1000  kilometers with their herds, their live-stock, their belongings and their swords and then enter a strong country with an advanced and might army!! Imagine what would happen, if true.

  • According to historians and orientalists, the earliest known migrations were those of Akkadians, who migrated to South Mesopotamia, where the native Sumerians had already have a far more developed civilization than any nomadic Bedouin could have built. According to these books, the Akkadians, (or the purported  Jazirah tribes)  have managed to overtake  the area, to impose their rule and to build a stronger civilization, ruling thereby for the first time in 2584 B.C. In other words, these historians admit that the lands these folks have entered were not empty. Hence, the question to historians: Do you consider the Sumerians “Semites” too?.

  • Scientifically speaking and as per anthropology, archaeological finds, fossils, and Mitochondrial DNA tests, the history of  Homo Sapiens  dates  back to 300 thousand  years ago. These are established  scientific  They are not mere rumors or fiction. The first  humans  lived in central and southern Africa, then some of them began to migrate north-wards about 200 thousand  years ago. The latest wave of migration was about 30 thousand years ago. In other words, these waves of migration lasted for some 170 thousand years. They came to Egypt, North Africa and Syria, wherefrom they moved to other parts of Asia, Europe and the world at large.

  • According to the American archaeologist Robert John Braidwoo (1940) of Chicago Oriental Institute, the archaeological discoveries show that the first human settlement with a mature agricultural community was Jarmo, to the east of Kirkuk in northern present-day Iraq. According to him, this first agricultural settlement dates back to the modern Iron Age, as per carbo-14 tests.

Jarmo people worshipped  the Goddess of Fertility, also known as the Mother Goddess. The pregnant  woman was deemed as “sacred”, as  depicted  by their statues and sculptures and as shown by several other antiquities. In later periods, they started to worship another “god”. This will be dealt with later on. Other antiquities and traces of these early settlements might date back to more than 10200 years  Before Christ. These antiquities show how  the life-style started to shift from hunting to the more settled live-stock development and agriculture. This was not a fully-grown settlement and is believed to be dating back to the Ice Age.

To be continued..

Authored by Eng. Nikola Fayyad, Germany, of the Editorial Desk at Firil Studies Centre founded by Dr. Jameel Shahin. And it was translated into English for ( Syrianfacts )

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