Origins of Old Testament priests

Origins of Old Testament priests


According to Jewish tradition, following the Exodus from Egypt, males of the tribe of Levi, of which Moses was a member, were assigned special religious responsibilities, and male descendants of Aaron, his brother, were selected to serve as Priests (Cohanim). To the extent that patrilineal inheritance has been followed since sometime around the Temple period (roughly 3,000-2,000 years before present), Y chromosomes of present-day Cohanim and Levites should not only be distinguishable from those of other Jews1, but — given the dispersion of the priesthood following the Temple’s destruction — they should derive from a common ancestral type no more recently than the Temple period. Here we show that although Levite Y chromosomes are diverse, Cohen chromosomes are homogeneous. We trace the origin of Cohen chromosomes to about 3,000 years before present, early during the Temple period.


  • Thomas, M. G.; Skorecki, K.; Ben-Ami, H.; Parfitt, T.; Bradman, N. & Goldstein, D. B. (1998). Origins of Old Testament priests. Nature, 394(6689), 138-140.

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Peoples: - | Places: - | Topics: - | DNA Type: Y-DNA

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