The tricky thing about DNA testing is that, like any kind of medical testing, interpretation of the results is not an exact science. Have you ever had a medical diagnostic procedure performed, then read the pathologist’s report? They often look something like this: “Well, it looks like Mr. Cohen could have such-and-such disease, but it could also be this other disease, or it may be nothing at all.” In other words, the doctors are taking their best guess as to what might be wrong with you, based on the conditions other people with similar test results have had in the past. Sometimes the doctors are right—sometimes they’re wrong. Sometimes you need more testing, and sometimes the tests never help your doctor devise a treatment. Way to go, science!
According to present-day halachah, in order for a Jew to make aliyah (emigrate) to the State of Israel, he must have at least one Jewish grandparent. While traditional halachah does not carry any divine authority, in this case, it does agree with the pattern of Scripture. Assuming other factors (i.e. a living heritage passed down generationally), Scripture appears to qualify a person as a Jew who is (genetically speaking) ¼ or 25% Jewish (see graphic, right)—that is, he has at least one fully Jewish (statistically-significant) grand-parent or equivalent lineage.
Why is this important? For Jews whose heritage has been obscured from them, it aids in the restoration of their birthright as sons or daughters of Israel. For Gentile believers in Yeshua who may otherwise be tempted to covet Jewishness (see “Am I Really a Gentile?”), it helps to affirm their birthright as the recipients of the blessings of Israel (Genesis 12:1-3), and keeps them strong in their identity as fellow-citizens with Jewish believers in the Household of God (Ephesians 2:19).
This “Fast Foundations” article was originally published in Messianic Jewish Issues.
Black hats davening at the western wall. Jerusalem’s skyline, marred by the Dome of the Rock. Falafel and couscous from Ben Yehuda Street. Suicide bombings… the sea of Gallilee… the birthplace of Jesus.
The very thought of “Israel” can transport us to a foreign and mystical land. We are enamored with its beauty and power; captivated by its historical and spiritual meaning; fixated upon our minds’ fantastic images of an exotic and distant world. We send it money and humanitarian aid, we lobby for its support by our policymakers, and we pray for its peace, petition for its prosperity, and intercede for its salvation. And yet…
… there is no such place as a land called “Israel.” It is a figment of our imagination.
When a Jewish person “confess[es]… Yeshua as Lord, and believe[s] in [his] heart that God raised Him from the dead,” (Ro.10:9) he immediately becomes caught between two worlds. To his Jewish family, he is either meshuginah (Yiddish for “crazy”) or he has abandoned and forsaken his people. To most Christians, his Jewish ethnicity is either just an interesting novelty, or has now become irrelevant, because he is “a new creature; the old things [have] passed away… new things have come.” (2Co.5:17) These opposing forces are an ever-present source of pressure for the Messianic Jew. Does he disown the Messiah Yeshua and return to the unbelieving Jewish fold? Or should he turn his back on his family, his people and himself by assimilating into the foreign religion of Christianity? It is a heart-wrenching, lonely existence that Messianic Jews often face, but all believers in Yeshua can—and should—take an active role in encouraging Jewish believers to be restored to the distinctive identity that is their God-given birthright.
Q: After my husband and I came to the Lord, we continued to abstain from eating the foods forbidden in the Law of Moshe. We found no scriptural reference releasing us, although we found that gentiles do not need to follow the Law of Moshe. While we understand that the Kingdom of our God is not about eating or drinking, we do want to know what to answer those who ask.
A: It was not until after The Flood, when Adonai made the covenant with Noah, that animals were even considered by God to be “food.” This was a universal provision for all humankind, “Every creeping thing that is alive, to you it is for food… only flesh with its life — its blood — you are not [to] eat.” (Genesis 9:3-4, YLT)