Question: Dear Brooks, Who were the Khazars? I was told they were people from the Nation of Judah but then told they were Turkish people. Which is correct, is it possible they are Israelite?
Editor: A question that is often asked and is of significance considering that the descendants of the Khazars (or Chazars) are said to make up over eighty percent of modern Jewry. However, rather than explaining it myself, let’s look at what The Jewish Encyclopedia, the Encyclopedia Britannica and Funk & Wagnall’s Encyclopedia say. Space doesn’t permit their entire explanation but the following should clarify your inquiry.
The Jewish Encyclopedia – CHAZARS: a PEOPLE OF Turkish origin whose life and history are interwoven with the very beginnings of the history of the Jews in Russia. The Kingdom of the Chazars was firmly established in most of South Russia long before the foundation of the Russian monarchy by the Varangians (855)…Among the classical writers of the Middle Ages, they were known as the “Chozars” “Khazirs” “Akatzirs” …..it was probably about that time that the chaghan of the Chazars and his grandees, together with a large number of his heathen people, embraced the Jewish religion…..The Encyclopedia Britannica – KHAZAR: member of a confederation of Turkic-speaking tribes that in the late 6th century AD established a major commercial empire covering the southeastern section of modern European Russia ….. But the most striking characteristic of the Khazars was the apparent adoption of Judaism by the khagan and the greater part of the ruling class in about 740. Funk & Wagnalls Encyclopedia – KHAZARS or CHAZARS: ….The ethnology of the Khazars was complicated by racial mixture and dispersion; most authorities classify them as a Turkish or, less probably, a Georgian people. In the 7th century their Khakan, or sovereign, embraced Judaism and a large part of the population was converted shortly thereafter….
Editor’s Note: Perhaps this is why the Jewish Almanac of 1980 in its first chapter had this to say, “Strictly speaking, it is incorrect to call an ancient Israelite a “Jew” or to call a contemporary Jew an “Israelite” or “Hebrew.”