Answers to Quora Questions by Yair Davidiy
Were Khazars really Jewish?
(27 April, 2018, 12 Iyar, 5778)
The Khazars were mostly referred to in Russian Chronicles as Hebrews which was the common term they used for Jews. They were recorded as keeping the Jewish Faith. The name given to them by the Arabs is the equivalent of Jesse indicating that their ruling house was descended from David son of Jesse. The oldest Jewish sources (e.g. Eldad Ha-Dani) as well as a Midrash and possibly also one reference in the Talmud identify them as from the Tribes of Simeon and Manasseh. Other Jewish sources mentioned other Israelite tribes. One source describes them as Jews fleeing from persecution who intermixed with the descendants of Israelite Tribes and Gentiles from Gomer son of Japhet. Later sources say they were converts descended from the offspring of Gomer or of Mesheck. Even if they were descended from Israelite Tribes conversion to Judaism may have been required to obviate doubt and complications (cf. Talmud Yebamot 17).