The Evidence against the 'Israelites-from-Indus' thesis

Given that @riversea and @OneGod have repeatedly inserted this thesis in off-topic posts to threads on Thomas Nagel and the Authorship of the Pentateuch, I thought it was high time this topic had a thread of its own.

Genetic evidence

Finally, we show that the genomes of present-day groups geographically and historically linked to the Bronze Age Levant, including the great majority of present-day Jewish groups and Levantine Arabic-speaking groups, are consistent with having 50% or more of their ancestry from people related to groups who lived in the Bronze Age Levant and the Chalcolithic Zagros.[1]

Genetically therefore, Jews are local to the Levantine area.

Linguistic evidence

Hebrew is a Northwest Semitic language within the Afroasiatic language family, closely related to other languages of the Near East, such as Canaanite.

Afroasiatic languages are not spoken anywhere close to the Indian-subcontinent (see map below), nor have I seen any evidence of any historical link to that area.

Linguistically, therefore, Jews are local to the Levantine area.

Writing systems

The Paleo-Hebrew alphabet derives from the Phoenician alphabet which in turn derives from the Proto-Sinaitic alphabet. (The current Hebrew alphabet is of Assyrian origin, and is called in Hebrew Ktav Ashuri, literally “Assyrian script”.)

In terms of writing systems therefore, Jews are local to the Levantine area (and any “parallels” to other writing systems are likely to be spurious).

What is “evidence”?

Evidence is facts tending to prove or disprove a conclusion.

This means that to be evidence, they must (i) be factual and (ii) be *dispositive, i.e. they must be relevant to the conclusion under discussion.

What is not factual

Legends are not factual.

This quote from Israel Finkelstein’s chapter in The Archaeology of Israel_ Constructing the Past, Interpreting the Present seems relevant:

A special word should be devoted here to the biblical text and its meaning for the question of ethnicity in the Iron I. It is widely accepted today that historical narratives, especially those dealing with origin myths of early nations, tell us not only how the past led to the present, but also how the present creates the past (on this in ethnicity studies, see Chapman et al. 1989: 1). Regarding the early history of Israel, the Bible presents a 'fictional but functional' origin myth. As such, one must remember Cohen's words that

ethnic group formation is a continuing and often innovative cultural process of boundary maintenance and reconstruction. Once the ethnic identities and categories are triggered into being salient, cultural rationalizations for the legitimacy of the mobilized grouping are actively sought for and created by those involved… The emerging history can be part real part fancy (Cohen 1978: 397-98; see also Horowitz 1977).

This applies very well to the biblical account on the origin of early Israel. Though it may have some historical seeds, which are extremely difficult to extract from the myth (Na’aman 1994), it is concealed in the wrap of the ideology and politics of a much later phase in the history of Israel, that of the late-monarchic or even post-exilic period.

Also this comment seems relevant:

Importantly, no evidence of the Mature Indus civilization with cities (2600–1900 BCE) is seen in the Vedic texts: there are no cities, no international trade, no seals, none of the major Harappan religious features. The Vedic texts do not correlate with or overlap at all with the Harappan civiliza- tion, one of the several reasons to date the Vedas much later than 1900 BCE. [2]

What is not relevant

Anything that does not establish a link to both (pre-Diaspora) Jews and the (ancient) Indus Valley.

This includes:

  • R-M124 (lacking any evidence linking it to either pre-Diaspora Jews or the Indus Valley, let alone the ancient Indus Valley).

  • Indian genetic studies that do not include the Indus Valley.

  • Localities outside the Indus Valley.

  • The Hebrew word “Mizraim”, which has no established connection to the Indus Valley.


Welcome and thank you. Sincerely.

True. Levantine genes are expected if the Jews migrated from Indus and intermarried in the Levantine area. That does not explain where from the R-M124 gene has entered this gene pool. Especially the Askenazi who, I believe, are the most ancient priestly tradition.

The language groups are determined by grammatic parallels. Unfortunately the Indus script has not been deciphered hence it is not possible to determine whether the parallel between Old Hebrew and Indus is more or less than the parallel between Old Hebrew and Canaanite. As a second line of inquiry is to look at the signs. I am attaching paper by archaeologist S R Rao to show the parallels between Indus and Phoenician. Also a pic of the parallels betwee
sahoo table 3 r-m124.pdf (17.6 KB)
sahoo.pdf (949.9 KB)
01 sr rao phoenician.pdf (614.2 KB)

n the signs of Old Hebrew and Indus c. 1500 BCE. Thus, I am challenging the assumption that Old Hebrew is a Cananite language.

True. But if one looks at the huge literature looking for evidence of the Hebrews in Egypt, there is regular reference to legends like Sinhue and others. The Bible too can be called a legend depending upon one’s theological disposition. The Legends themselves may not be factual but let us recognize that even written history is not factual. Yet the legends are VERY important to see if the people in the respective area tell of some association with the Biblical characters. Here I assert that the legends of Krishna are FAR MORE parallel to the legends of Biblical Moses than any character in Egypt or Levant.

Not quite. Historians have established that the people of the Indus Valley migrated to the Ganga plains c. 1500 BCE as the Hakra river dried up. The genes of the Indian people (except, maybe, the Dravidians–a view not yet established) would be same as those of the people of the Indus Valley.

The paper by Sahoo establishes the link of R-M124 with Indus. It does not work to say that the sample of 8 among Yadavas is weak. If you see the table in its entirely you will see much larger samples of other communities.

We have to make a comparative assessment. There is ZERO parallel of “Mitsrayim” with Egypt before 1300 BCE. The Indian city of “Mathura” has the same consonants M-T-R. It is mentioned both in the texts of Rama (~Abram?) and Krishna (~Moses). On comparative basis Indus stands tall.

False. You would not expect “50% or more” of Levantine genes if it were merely due from “intermarriage”.

As has been explained to you repeatedly, R-M124 entered some Jewish populations AFTER the Diaspora through intermarriage with populations in southwest Asia, many of which have comparatively high levels of the gene. I would note that, even among non-Ashkenazi, R-M124 is at levels far below the 50% reported for Levantine genes.

As I have already demonstrated, Ashkenazi have little or no R-M124!

R-M124 is therefore irrelevant. Have a Red Herring:

Then you have no evidence that “Old Hebrew and Indus” are even remotely related. But we do have evidence that Old Hebrew and Canaanite are related.

Further, Afroasiatic languages exist nowhere on the Indian subcontinent (or anywhere near it), and there is no evidence that it ever existed there. Therefore it is highly unlikely that the ancient Indus language was Afroasiatic.


Please STOP posting web-links as (often garbled) pdf files!

Just post the link – like this:

… or this …

False. This is not a “paper by archaeologist S R Rao”, it is a chapter from a book by Rama Sarker. Further, the type-setting of this chapter is not of a professional quality – in fact it looks like it was typeset on an old dot-matrix printer. This, along with the fact that I can find no citations of this book on Google Scholar make me unwilling to accept this as a credible source.

I am certainly unwilling to trawl through 46 pages of poorly-typeset print to try to ascertain exactly what your rather vaguely-expressed point is.

In particular, it is completely unclear exactly who you are claiming has a script in common with the Harappan – just the ancient Israelities? The Phoencian too? All the Northern Semitic language group? Are you claiming that all these groups came from the Indus Valley?

Until you can find a more credible source, and articulate a more precise claim, none of this is even remotely compelling.


No you are not – because a script isn’t the language. Many languages have been written in multiple scripts, and many scripts have been used to write multiple languages.

This is therefore irrelevant – have another red herring:


The scholarly consensus is that the Story of Sinuhe is a work of fiction – therefore it is not evidence.

It is also unclear what relevance, if any, this has to the ‘Israelites-from-Indus’ thesis – so have another red herring:


Yes, and the scholarly consensus is that the Exodus narrative is legend.

This is mere unsubstantiated assertion.

Legendary parallels are pervasive and thus likely spurious – so your assertion is irrelevant – have another red herring:


As would a number of migrations before and since then. It is unclear (i) whether the Indus migrants left any descendants after all these millennia and (ii) if they did, which genes are due to them, and which are due to other migrations and/or endemic inhabitants.

This claim therefore does not follow from your previous claim. I would also note that we have no evidence that the “Indian people” are sufficiently homogeneous that we can consider them “the same” as anything.

Where in that paper? The provinces listed do not include Sindh, which would likely be the densest populated area in the Indus Valley.

There is no “sample” of “Yadavas”!

The sample is of Yadavs – a group label that only goes back to the 19th century, and for which there is no evidence of any genetic connection to the legendary ancient Yadavas.

Yadavs are irrelevant – have a great big red herring:


“Larger” but still quite small – less than one thousand in total. For such a heterogeneous population that sample size is far too small.

Also, if you are not making inferences from the whole sample (and you have made none as yet), the “much larger samples of other communities” are irrelevant – have another red herring:


This is hardly surprising.

  1. Mizraim is a Hebrew word.

  2. There is little or no Hebrew written records from before this time.

Therefore the lack of “parallel” is irrelevant – have another red herring:


  1. That relies on translating the Hebrew letter Tsade as “T” rather than “TS” (as in your own Roman-script spelling of “Mitsrayim”), or “S” (as in the more common Roman-script spelling of “Mizraim”). As the Wikipedia article says, “Its oldest phonetic value is debated, although there is a variety of pronunciations in different modern Semitic languages and their dialects.”

  2. There are probably dozens of localities with the consonants “M-T-R” – more if we include “M-TS-R” and “M-S-R”.

  3. “The Indian city of ‘Mathura’” is outside the Indus Valley, and has been at its current location for thousands of years.

Therefore Mathura is irrelevant – have another red herring:


Indus, as I have demonstrated, is utterly worthless as a hypothesised origin of the Israelites.

By my count that is eight red herrings (including a great big one) – I will therefore suggest renaming yourself ‘OneIrrelevanceAfterAnother’.

Further, I would point out the contradiction between the claim:

… and the claim of strong:

If the parallels are as strong as has been claimed, then they could be used to decipher the script.

Zvelebil, Kamil (1990). Dravidian Linguistics: an introduction. states:

6.5. The Indus script does not bear a close resemblance to any other known script so that it could be proved genetically related to any. The idea of writing may have come from Elam, but the script was probably invented independently. Already Hunter (1934) and Gelb (1963) among others noted the possibility of a common source of some signs in the corpus of Proto-Sumerian, Proto-Elamite and Proto-Indie. Both Proto- Sumerian and Proto-Elamite appear to have a distinct chronological priority over Harappan. However, none of the speculations in any of these directions has so far helped in the actual decipherment.

To sum up the enormous difficulties of the Harappan problem: a) an unknown language in an unknown script; b) the absence of any bilingual text; c) the ‘unfortunate’ nature of the texts—they are simply too short and very probably too limited in character; d) the absence of any real clue (like place-names or personal names); e) Harappan civilization is geographically remote from other civilizations of its time, and also historically remote from later cultural developments on the Indian subcontinent.

This seems to contradict the claimed “parallels”.


On closer examination, your “pic of the parallels between the signs of Old Hebrew and Indus c. 1500 BCE” (source unknown) only identifies 19 parallels with “1500-1000 BC North Semitic South”. There are apparently over 400 “principal signs”, with an estimated total number of as many as 694 distinct signs. With that many signs, I’d be surprised if at least some of them didn’t have parallels to other simple scripts, simply by chance. What are the chances that you can’t find at least one other script with such simple signs as a square, a triangle, a semi-circles, a circle-bisected-by-line(s), etc, etc?

I would like to point out, for what it’s worth, that current Indian scripts are all descended from Semitic consonantal scripts. They don’t appear to have anything to do with the Harappan, presumably syllabic, script.

We all have the same genes. You are using “gene” when you should be using “allele” or “haplotype.” I strongly suspect that your failure to grasp this difference is negatively affecting your understanding.

Bharat Jhunjhunwala is the author of this whole ‘Common Prophets’/Isrealites-from-Indus’ nonsense. He appears to have no background in Linguistics, History, Anthropology, or any other relevant field. So his opinions would appear to based more on a desire to shoehorn the Indus into the Exodus narrative than on the evidence. Based on the similarity to Bharat’s posts on Biologos, I have the strong suspicion that he is @OneGod.

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This is neither peaceful nor science. You are welcome if you wish not to resolve the questions regarding historicity of the Exodus. Let it rest here.

Yes please.

Thanks. Correction accepted. I should have used Haplotype. The thesis, however, still holds.

The current Indian scripts were formed from a combination of afro-asiatic Proto-Indo-European and Harappan. To my knowledge there is no consensus on what was inherited from each of the two contributors. The important point is that the Exodus, I understand, took place at c. 1500 BCE; and the PIE entry into India took place at the same time. Hence, if the Hebrews carried the script from Indus Valley, they could be carrying the Harappan script; not necessarily the current Indian scripts. Thus, parallels between Harappan and Old Hebrew signs could be an important evidence supporting the Exodus from the Indus Valley.

There is no such thing as a “Proto-Indo-European script”. And it isn’t clear, but you seem to be claiming that PIE is an Afroasiatic language, which is not true. There is no evidence of Harappan influence. Hebrew script is descended from prior Semitic scripts and doesn’t come from the Indus Valley. There are no significant parallels between Harappan signs and the Hebrew consonantal script.

Why are you so anxious to have biblical Egypt be the Indus Valley and Moses be Krishna? It seems as if you’re trying to support a cherished idea rather than follow any evidence.

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Indeed, I am not very knowledgeable about language. Please accept my weakness. Trying to learn.
The PIE does seem to have a script: Gerbh alphabet

You may be right. PIE originated in the Caucasus. I have not studied whether it may have any Afro-Asiatic roots.

Possible but also not so is possible. The association of Hebrew with proto-Semitic is well accepted in literature. This association comes from the parallels in the grammatical structure of Hebrew and other known Semitic scripts. But, parallels do not necessarily establish origins. I have studied Wadell’s work that shows that Sumerian script may have Indus origin:
(waddell.pdf - Google Drive).
The parallels noticed between Hebrew and Proto-Semitic can have three pathways.
1] Indus > Sumer > Semitic > Hebrew. The last two steps here lead to the “consensus” that Hebrew is a Semitic language.
2] Indus > Hebrew.
3] Proto-Semitic > Hebrew.
The parallels between Proto-Semitic and Hebrew could arise from 1] and 2] taken together.

Please see this, Page 20

I am not “anxious.” I believe that the Bible is a Word of God. The events portrayed are basically true (maybe somewhat redacted). The evidence for Exodus from Egypt is very weak. Thus we are caught in a conundrum. If we say Exodus was from Egypt then we do not have evidence. If we say it was not from Egypt, then we have to show such alternative place and provide evidence. This latter is what I am trying to do. Let me say that I am a practicing Hindu. My motivation is to draw the Abrahamic and Hindu religions closer.

I never said that I was unwilling to “resolve the questions regarding historicity of the Exodus”, as long as the resolution is based upon evidence.

But you have presented no evidence on its historicity – you have simply assumed that the elements that are convenient for you – volcanoes, straw-and-bricks, Moses, etc, are true, and assumed that the elements that are inconvenient for you – Egypt, Pharaoh, Sinai, Nile, etc, are false.

Not as long as you keep pushing your inconsistent and unsubstantiated claims about Exodus – as you do immediately here:

What factual basis do you have for this claim?

I ask this because the scholarly consensus, even among those who agree that the Exodus had a (modest) historical core, seems to be that it occurred in the 13th to 12th Centuries BCE:

While there is a consensus among scholars that the Exodus did not take place in the manner described in the Bible, surprisingly most scholars agree that the narrative has a historical core, and that some of the highland settlers came, one way or another, from Egypt [citations omitted]

In this, I am not referring to the various traditions of Israel’s interaction with Egypt resulting from the era of Egyptian control in Canaan or from some relations with the Hyksos, which found their way into the Bible (Russell 2009; see also Hendel 2001; Knohl 2008; Na’aman 2011; more below), but to the possibility that there was a group which fled Egypt, and brought this story of Exodus with it. Though the size of this group is debated, most of the above scholars agree that it was in the range of a few thousands, or even hundreds (some give it more weight, e.g., Hoffmeier 1997). Still, despite the limited size of this group, it appears that during the process of Israel’s ethnogenesis its story became part of the common history of all the Israelites.

Most of those who accept some historical core for the story of the Exodus from Egypt, date it to the thirteenth century (e.g., Hoffmeier, Chap. 15), at the time of Ramses II, while others date it to the twelfth century, during the time of Ramses III (e.g., Halpern 1992; Rendsburg 1992; cf. Bietak, Chap. 2).

– Faust, Avraham (2015). The Emergence of Iron Age Israel: On Origins and Habitus, p476

Then perhaps you should stop making claims about language until you become more knowledgable on the subject.


Given that the “Gerbh alphabet was created by Kauan Luz”, it would seem to be of modern creation and thus irrelevant to your claim (that “the current Indian scripts were formed from a combination of afro-asiatic Proto-Indo-European and Harappan”) – have a red herring:



  1. That book is nearly a century old, making it hopelessly outdated.

  2. The author, Laurence Waddell was only an “amateur archaeologist” and “his reputation as an Assyriologist gained little to no academic recognition and his books on the history of civilization have caused controversy.” This does not suggest that his book is a remotely reliable source.

No we do not. We can simply point to the evidence (that I presented in my OP) that the Israelites came from local origins within the Levant, and conclude that the Exodus narrative is largely or completely legendary.

I would note that you have provided no evidence of your Indus claims, just a large number of falsehoods, unsubstantiated claims and irrelevances.

You remind me more than a little of this Churchill quote:

A fanatic is one who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject.

You appear to be interested in discussing nothing except your ‘Israelites-from-Indus’ thesis, and unwilling to accept any criticism of it.

This is a modern invention and has nothing at all to do with any early history.

Actually, nobody knows where PIE originated. There are many candidates. And you are confused about languages. Afroasiatic is not a location; it’s a language family that includes Hebrew, Arabic, Phoenician, Coptic, Berber, and various others. Indo-European is another and separate language family. The two may be related, but veery deeply.

I should point out here that you have a tendency to confuse languages with scripts. (And both with genetics.) They are not the same thing, and any script can be adapted to any language. It happens that most scripts in current use were adapted from the Semitic consonantal script, the earliest of which is often called Proto-Sinaitic. There is evidence that this script itself was derived from Egyptian hieroglyphics. Nothing to do with Sumerian script (cuneiform) or Harappan. Whether Sumerian cuneiform was influenced by Harappan characters is irrelevant.

Proto-Semitic is a language, not a script. It’s the reconstructed ancestral language of the Semitic language family. Here you are discussing languages, whether you know it or not. Nothing is known about the language or languages spoken in the Harappan civilization, but a Semitic language must be a very unlikely candidate. Sumerian, of course, isn’t Semitic either, and has no known relatives.

That demonstrates a good imagination, nothing more.

Not a useful motivation if you’re interested in the truth. What you want to be true is the enemy of evidence.

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Thank you for the response. I am trying to learn. Be my Guru.
Agree. My understanding is that the prime candidate is the Caucasus. But this is not a sticking point in our conversation.

I agree.
Our point of discussion is whether Hebrew was derived from Proto-Sinatic or Indus. Your view seems to be: Egyptian > Proto Sinatic > Semitic > Hebrew. My view is Indus > Hebrew. There are two ways to determine the answer–grammar and script. Unfortunately, the grammar of the Indus language is not available hence a comparative study of match of Hebrew with Proto Sinatic and Indus in not possible. That leaves us with only the script. I have not studied the script of Proto-Sinatic or Canaanite. I want to do this but have not had the time. I think you may reconsider the parallels between Indus and Hebrew scripts. Cannot dismiss one as imaginary and other as rockbed.

I never said that Indus and Semitic are connected. I am saying that origins of Hebrew may be in Indus, not Semitic.

I agree. The point was that if Sumeric could have origins in the Indus, and if Hebrews went durng the Exodus from the Indus, then it is conceivable that Hebrews followed that earlier path.

I am very much interested in truth. But the quest for truth truth does not allow dismissing alternatives as imagination. Thanks.

What evidence is your view based upon?

For somebody who has acknowledged that they are “not very knowledgeable about language”, you certainly seem more than free with your views on the subject.

I would note that your Sarker chapter and your " pic of the parallels" seem to be indicating parallels with the “Semitic” script, rather than with the proto-Hebrew script. This would not support a direct Indus to Hebrew relationship. It could be argued that they support an Indus to Semitic to proto-Hebrew relationship (but then you’d end up having to argue that the entire Semitic group migrated from the Indus). But it could also be argued that the relationship is from Semitic to both Indus and proto-Hebrew. And it could also be argued that the “parallels” are of sufficiently simple/common signs that they could have appeared independently in scripts by simple coincidence.

My understanding would be Anatolia, based largely on the genetic history of population migrations. What’s your source for the Caucasus?

This again seems to confuse language and script. It’s hieroglyphics > Proto-sinaitic (a consonantal script) > various semitic scripts including the Hebrew script. Your subsequent comments also seem to confuse the two.

There is no evidence for this view. I’m afraid that this is indicative of your technique: start with what you would like to be true and then concentrate on little facts that you can interpret to fit.

Again, there seems confusion between language and script. The Hebrew language is unquestionably Semitic. The Hebrew script is unquestionably a West Semitic script. None of this is controversial, and approaching it from a perpective of complete ignorance doesn’t help your position.

It’s unclear what you’re even trying to say at this point. Your confusion among language, scripts, and peoples serves to obscure your meaning.

It does if the alternatives are supported only by your desire to believe them.


I’m learning I’m learning more about the pie

is it ok to learn about the pie?

PIE = Proto-IndoEuropean. That’s a language, not a script.