A Short Sketch
The Khazars, an Overview
The Khazars were first known as "Agathyrsi." This was also the name of the Picts of Scotland.
A section of the Agathyrsi crossed the Sea from Scandinavia to Scotland where they settled among the Picts.
The Agathyrsi were related to the Scythians and according to Herodotus they were brother nations with the Royal Scyths who were to be found along the Don River and Crimea.
There had been 12 Israelite Tribes. The 10 northern Tribes separated and were exiled. One of their areas of Exile was the region of Armenia and Azerbaijan. The Khazars first appear in the 700s CE north of the Caucasus and along the Black Sea shores.They were both allies and rivals of the Byzantine Christians centered on Constantinople. They helped the Byzantines at first against the Sassanian Persians and after that in wars versus the Sassanian Persians.
The Khazars themselves had traditions about their Israelite origins. They claimed they were from the Tribe of Simeon with leaders from the Tribe of Manasseh. They reached the area near the Caucasus during the reign of King Hezekiah of Judah in ca. 700 BCE according to conventional chronology. This was the same period when the Ten Tribes being exiled. They intermixed with Gentiles in the region. Later in ca. 450-500 CE very many Jew fleeing from persecution joined them. Before this the Jews who came to Khazaria seem to have been in Armenia but had been driven out of it. At least part of the Khzars themselves had also previously been in Armenia. The Exiled Ten Tribes had been re-settledv in Armenia. The Khazars had been a part of them. Others area associated with the Ten Tribes (such as the Sambation River identified with both the Don and Daneister Rivers) were also regions of Khazaria. The Jews in Khazaria may have come to comprised a a good portion of the population. Their religious observance however was very low and almost non-existent. Some of them kept the Sabbath and the practice of circumcision. Eventually, a religious arousal took place in Khazaria. Many felt inclined towards Judaism. There was pressure from their Christian neighbors and later also from the Muslim to accept Christianity or Islam. A Disputation took place between representatives of Islam, Christianity, and Judaism. The king decided to convert to Judaism. Many of his nobles followed and some time after that most of the Khazar people. The whole process of conversion took about a 100 years, from ca. 600 - 700 CE. At first it was only a partial acceptance but later this became a full fledged Rabbinically-Kosher conversion.
The Khazars were recalled in Medieval Christian and Jewish legends as the "Red Jews." They were described as being military powerful, having red hair and belonging to the Ten Tribes.
The Khazars once ruled over areas of Hungary, Poland, and Austria. This was in addition to their domainthat extedned over southern Russia and what is now the Ukraine.
The Khazars (from their pre-Jewish period) also had had cultural and trading relationships with Scandinavia including some Khazar settlers. Elements that latter settled in Scandinavia, such as the Nephtalites, also contributed to the Khazar forces.
There were different physical types among the Khazars, one was fair and reddish haired, another was pale with dark hair, a third was dark haired and dark skinned in comparsion to peoples around them..
Their Kings were described as from the House of Jesse i.e. descendants of David, King of Israel and Judah.
In ca. 960 CE they suffered a defeat at the hands of the Russians. Nevertheless some kind of independent Khazar polity remained until 1200 CE after which they disappeared. They may have been eliminated by the Mongols.
The Khazars are important since they represent a section of the Ten Tribes who returned to Judaism and re-united with the Jewish People. See, "Khazars Importance."
The Khazars were historically important and had the reputation of leading a civilized existence where all were treated fairly.
Many Christians and Muslims preferred to live in the Khazar domain rather than in that of their own religions.
Descendants of the Khazars were to be found in some Jewish communities of Eastern Europe but only as isolated minorities.
See: Hebrew Warriors. The Khazars