Myths, Hypotheses and Facts
Concerning the Origin of Peoples
The Ancient Identity of Hungarians
The Hungarian-Hebrew Connexion
- An essay realized with the valuable contribution of the Hungarian scholar Hargita Csaba -
Preliminary remarks: Owing to the lack of conclusive evidences available until now, this research proposes likely hypotheses, not definitive solutions. The historic facts exposed here and the reasonable credit that may be bestowed on ancient myths allow the author to frame feasible hypotheses open to further discussion.
Is it there any link that relates with each other peoples that apparently are quite different? Is it there any relationship between Sumerians, Hurrians, Mitanni, Habiru, Hyksos, Kassites, Chaldeans, Medes, Khwarezmians, Scythians, Massagetas, Alans, Sabirs, Avars, Huns, Magyars, OnOgurs, Khazars, Uyghurs and a present-day European nation? Can these peoples, having different origins - namely Kushitic, Semitic and Japhetic - converge into the ethnogenesis of a single modern nation? The answer to these questions is: Yes!
Indeed, most of the peoples mentioned above had vanished leaving hardly any trace of themselves; yet, it is unlikely that entire nations that have even ruled over vast empires disappear: after their defeat or collapse, they have to be sought for somewhere else, known under different names.
A further query: May two different, unrelated modern nations be mysteriously linked by a thread running through history of mankind since the dim and distant past, namely since the very beginnings of recorded history? May they still be organized States as they were then, after having undergone migrations, wars, exiles, and even temporarily "disappeared" from the historic scene? Also to these questions, the answer is: Yes!
This is the case of Hungarians, a "non-European" people of Europe, and their enigmatic connexion with the Hebrew people... In fact, Hungary has not only been one of the most important centres of development of Jewish and Romany culture not by chance , but it is also certain that a good amount of Hebrew blood flows through the veins of the non-Jewish Hungarians... more than commonly thought.
The complexity of this research requires an accurate, detailed fragmentation of topics arranged like the pieces of a puzzle, that may be understood once they all have been properly placed together in a meaningful order.
The Legends of Origins
There are very few records of the Hungarian ancient history except two myths of the origins, so that they have to be taken as the first reference in order to understand their beginnings through their own oral traditions. These two accounts are the Legend of the White Stag and the Legend of the Turul Hawk. Both of them, surprisingly for an Eurasian people of the steppes, mention characters having Biblical and ancient Mesopotamian names! Unlike other Asian or European myths, that may have some resemblances with the most ancient legends of the Middle East but usually with a completely different nomenclature, the Hungarian accounts keep the original names.
The Legend of the White Stag ascribes the origin of the Hungarians to the merging of three peoples: Huns, Magyars and Alans. Since the Alans, together with the Yazyg and Roxlans are classified as Massagetas in early records and as Sarmatians in later ones, henceforth the terms "Alan", "Yazyg", "Roxlan" and "Massageta" will be mentioned as "Sarmatian" in order to make this essay more intelligible, avoiding synonymous or quasi-synonymous terms (unless specification is required). They are identified with the Moshkhi of the Assyrian chronicles and Meshekh of the Bible. For detailed information on this topic, please see Eurasians and Sarmatians.
This legend starts with Tana, that is undoubtedly the same as the Sumerian Etana of the city of Kish (Kush) and who is equivalent with the Biblical Kush, the father of Nimrod The Kushan Scythians also had an ancestor called Kush-Tana. The Sumerian Etana was the first mighty one on earth who wanted to visit heaven, and did. This story coincides with the Biblical account concerning Nimrod, though it is feasible that Nimrod set up the construction of the Tower of Bavel on behalf of his father, being coherent with the Babylonian myth in which the founder of Babylon was Bel, the father of Ninus (Nimrud), that was the first king. In the Hungarian account, the son of Tana is Ménrót or Nemere (Nimrod), who had twin sons called Magor and Hunor. Also Nimrud's wife, Anuta/Bau, has similar names in the Hungarian version, Eneth/Boldog-asszony. The Assyrian accounts refer that Nimrud had twin sons, one of whose names was Magor, confirming the Hungarian myth.
The legend says that Hunor and Magor were pursuing a female stag that led them into a foreign land and there she vanished without leaving any trace. The disappointed hunters however, met there two sisters, princesses of the Sarmatians, kidnapped and married them, becoming the forefathers of the Huns and Magyars. The stag is also relevant in Scythian mythology the role of Scythians will be considered afterwards. It is significant that in the Hungarian legend the sons of Ménrót/Nemere were hunters, and Nimrod in the Bible is described as a "mighty hunter" (Genesis 10:9). His Sumerian name or better, his title was Nimb-ur-shag, meaning "Lord of the Panthers", which in Hungarian is translated "Parduc-Uraság", conveying the same meaning of the Hebrew name quoted in the Bible, related with the word "nimra", that means "panther, leopard", combined with the verb "rad", that is "to subdue". Therefore, the first part of the Sumerian name resembles the Hebrew one, but the second component is definitely quite similar to Hungarian. It is relevant that Nimrod had to "subdue" panthers in order to become a "mighty" hunter: this title is often misinterpreted as he being a leopard-hunter because it was the most dangerous animal in those times but the actual meaning is another; in fact, the "lord" or "subduer" of the panther, implies that he was able to tame these animals in order to use them as a valuable aid in hunting other wild beasts. Indeed, also the kings and notables of Central Asia (from where the Hungarians departed towards Europe) trained the panthers to employ them in hunting. Panther skin has traditionally been the most precious garment among Hungarian kings and leaders, recalling the very fashion in which Nimrod himself was portrayed.
The historian Yosef ben-Gorion ha-Kohen, also known as Yosippon, thought that Ménrót was to be identified with the first Egyptian king Menes, later merged with the Mesopotamian Nimrod, and his wife Eneth with the Egyptian female deity Neith.
The second account is the Legend of the Turul Hawk, a mythical bird identical to the Sumerian "Dugud", that is the emblem of both the house of Attila the Hun and the house of Árpád. This story is about Emeshe, a Sumerian princess that was sterile until the Turul hawk came down from heaven and gave her fertility. She was married to Ügyek, the king of Scythians, of the lineage of Magog in agreement with the Assyrian chronicles, that report Magog as the founder of the Scythian nation in northern Mesopotamia. Emeshe conceived Álmos (the same name of Árpád's father, that was a descendant of Attila the Hun), and in her dream she saw her descent as a river flowing from her womb that was growing towards the west, passing over the mountains and from which a great golden tree arose, representing a royal lineage of kings ruling in a far away land in the west. This story recalls the dream of the Mede king Ištumegu (Astyages) concerning his daughter, from whose womb he saw spring a river that flooded the earth, and in a second dream he saw a grape vine growing from her womb that became a mighty tree that covered the continent. These dreams were interpreted as a royal line from his daughter's offspring that would have built an empire, though dethroning him. The parallelism between both legends is amazing. Indeed, there is a relationship between ancient Medes and Hungarians, that will be exposed later in this essay.
The characteristic aspect of this story, that credits the actual Sumerian origin of Magyars, is that Álmos is described as dark complexioned and black-eyed, namely, a Kushite. His name means "dreamer", since according to the legend he was conceived after his mother's dream.
Even though the most widely accepted hypothesis regarding the origin of Hungarians has been the Finno-Ugrian theory (promoted mainly by Austrians for political reasons), the fact that Hungarian legends have an indubitable Mesopotamian origin and that Magyar language has been proven essential to decipher Sumerian writings leads research in a different direction. Cuneiform writing was also found to be used by the Hungarians long before they entered the Carpathian Basin. However, language is only one of the elements to be considered, as there are others more relevant, like cultural features and spirituality of Hungarians, that show remarkable differences from Ugro-Finnic peoples and place them unexpectedly closer to ancient Middle-Eastern, Biblical peoples.
A recurrent characteristic that is found throughout Hungarian history is the duality - within multiplicity: there are always two main components assembled in such a way that they constitute a solid unity, complementary to each other like male/female, black/white, north/south, east/west, consisting in two ethnic unities that vary from one period to another, resulting in the complexity that has generated all the different approaches and theories about the origins. This duality, expressed in the first legend through the twins Hunor and Magor, figures of the most representative ancestors of modern Hungarians, namely Huns and Magyars, existed since the very beginning: the first pair were Sumerians and Scythians. Since there is an interdependence between both components, before going on dealing with the Sumerians and their evolution, it is necessary to consider the Scythians in order to have a comprehensive view of the whole picture.
The Ancient Scythians
As I have written in my essay about the Eurasians, it is not easy to define who the true Scythians really were, since such term has been used with reference to different peoples sharing outwardly similar characteristics. This confusion is mainly caused by Greek historians, who were fond of creating myths and fanciful tales about the Middle Eastern peoples, that they did not understand properly - a clear example are the eccentricities ascribed to the Assyrian king "Sardanapalos" (that indeed did never exist), mixing together some actual historic facts related with four kings, Ashurbanipal II, Ashur-etif-ilani, Shamashshumukin and Sinsharishkun, but referred as belonging to one king alone and adding a series of oddities that were not typical of the Assyrian character. Even the name Sardanapalus is a distortion that may have more resemblance with Ashur-dan-apal or Ashur-dan-apli, that reigned a century before and whose name was just Ashur-dan (being "-apal" or "-apli" likely added by some chronicler). So, when quoting Greek classic historians it is convenient to have in mind that they are not quite reliable when dealing with non-Hellenic matters. The Hungarian scholar Gyula Mészáros remarked this fact: «It is a common fallacy to call Scythians Iranians based on the fact that the Greeks continued to use the Scythian name long after the disappearance of the northern Mesopotamian and Anatolian Scythians who were conquered and absorbed by the Iranian Sauromata. The association of the conquered with the conqueror however is common but still inaccurate. After this event there occurred such a confusion in the minds of the Greeks concerning their previous northern neighbours that they applied the term to other nomadic or equestrian people with similar outward habits, including the Sauromatians, Huns, Turks and later even Germanic tribes. This progression only occurred over a long time when the term "Scythian" became a gross generalization of a horse-nomad. Yet the original Scythians were not nomads and had cities, ships arts and trades, which the early Greeks admired. The later Pseudo-Scythians often copied some of their arts and habits but were but a poor imitation of the original». Nevertheless, as a much of the information we have about Scythians comes from Greek sources, we can try to give them a coherent interpretation, granting them credibility as founded on true facts.
Professor Csaba Hargita quotes some classic historians:
Justinus: «The nation of the Scythians was always regarded as very ancient; though there was long a dispute between them and the Egyptians concerning the antiquity of their respective races». (Annales)
Trogus Pompeius: «The Scythians possessed the land of Chaldea (Mesopotamia) for 1500 years before any other nations and they are the oldest people of the earth vying even the Egyptians in ancestry».
Plinius: «The Scythian nation by the Persians called Saka was kept as the closest nation to the Arameans of old». (Historiae Naturalis, Book VI)
Who are the "Scythians" that these historians speak about? Not the Scythians of Herodotus or Diodorus Siculus that settled in present-day Ukraine until the Sarmatians subdued them, namely the "authentic" Scythians of history (properly or conventionally defined as such), but another people that shared with those Scythians the same homeland: the Subarians. Let us consider the assertions of the historians reported above: they "disputed with the Egyptians about who were the oldest" and "possessed the land of Chaldea before any other people"... It is clear that these writers are indeed referring to the Sumerians, who were actually the oldest established civilization and dwelled in southern Mesopotamia, that is Chaldea. They are also regarded as "the closest nation to the Arameans of old": this must be understood not ethnically but geographically, as it is known that the Arameans are Semites. This term belongs to the later period, replacing the earlier Akkadians, that were the first Semites that inhabited Chaldea and shared this land with the Sumerians. Therefore, these Scythians are indeed the Sumerians or their northern counterpart, the Subarians, and may also include other peoples of the same region and roughly the same stock, like Hurrian/Mitanni, Sarmatians (in that period called Massagetas), Togarmans and even Hittites.
There is still another people usually regarded as "Scythian" by many writers, the "Askuza" of the Assyrian chronicles, and these are the "Scythians" mentioned by the Hungarian scholar Alfred Hámori in the following statement: «Cyaxares was the next Mede ruler (625 to 585 bce) who organized with the Chaldean Nebopalessar an alliance against the Assyrians. Their attack was unsuccessful partly because the Scythians under Madyas sided with the Assyrians. The Scythians were very well paid off too. Given an Assyrian royal bride and the usual lands and wealth to go with it». Indeed, they cannot be the Scythians that were pushed by the Assyrians to withdraw as far away as Ukraine, but the "Ashkenazi" of the Bible, who were engaged by the Assyrians to guard their boundaries from Scythian plunderers. They were the forefathers of the Scandinavians and the Rus', though in an early period they may have been closely related with the ancestors of the Hungarians, as it might be suggested by the enigmatic name of their leader: Madyas, a word that recalls the land of Madja, which will be mentioned later in this chapter as a name probably identical with Magyar.
The land of Subartu was also the original settlement of Japhetic peoples, including the forefather of all the Scythians, Magog. This region was ruled by the Sumerian king Nimrod, as it is written in Genesis 10:10,11 that he extended his kingdom over [the region later known as] Assyria. It is very likely that the Japhetic nations were subdued by the Kushite king, as the Armenian tradition also refers to their eponymous hero, Haik son of Togarmah, as having delivered his people from the rule of Nimrod. Consequently, it is not unlikely that Magog's folk were once under Sumerian rule, and perhaps the Hungarian "Magor", supposedly son of Nimrod, is to be actually identified with Magog, son of Yefet, although belonging to a different lineage.
The land known by Sumerians as "Subar-Ki" or "Subar-Tu" was inhabited by the Hurrians, whose language was the oldest form of Sanskrit - consequently, the mother of all Indo-European languages! Therefore, the Hurrians cannot be directly related with Hungarians. Yet, they were not the only people in that region and their tongue had also many words in common with Sumerian and Elamite, that are agglutinative languages. The Hurrites indeed were associated with (or subdued by) the Mitanni, that became the Hurrian élite in the same way as the Chaldeans and the Magi in other States, as it will be exposed later in this essay. In fact, the same country was known under different names, depending on the people taken as reference: in Assyrian documents they are mentioned as "Sapar-da", Egyptians called them "Magor", in Persian records they are known as "Sabarda" and "Matiene/Mada", while the Biblical name Haran/Charan is obviously connected with the Hurrians. Greek sources refer to those peoples as "Sapir/Sabir", "Makr/Magar" and "Matiene". All these terms point out to the denomination of two Hungarian tribes: Sabirs and Magyars. These two names however, may belong to one and the same people that probably split into two branches. The Sabirs seem to be the oldest group from which Sarmatians originated, as they dwelled in a vast area from Central Asia to the heart of Europe. Indeed, the name "Siberia" (Sibir') is ascribed to them, but also the Roman name of the western area of present-day Hungary was "Sabaria", and was indeed, inhabited by Sarmatians (Yazyg). The writer István Gyárfás in his work "The History of the Jász-Kun" ("The History of the Yazygs and Kumans"), vol. I, reports that the Greek geographer Ptolemy mentioned the Jász dwelling in present-day Szombathely, Hungary. The Jász (Yazyg) were known by the Romans as "Sabarians" or "Savarians". Byzantine documents concerning the Hungarian prince Termatzu from Árpád's lineage assert that the oldest name of the Hungarians was "Sabartoi Asphali", recalling their ancient Mesopotamian name Subar-tu and Sabir-ki, while Asphali was the Arab name of the Lower Zab river, in Assyria. Professor Csaba Hargita suggests another possible explanation: if they were speaking of themselves on their own language, Hungarians may have said "azfile Szavardok", that is "a kind of Sabartians", as it is an usual answer to say "I would be a kind of..." that could be heard by the Greeks like "Asphaloi Sabartoi".
In reference to the Mitanni, the northern Mesopotamian region was also known as "Mada/Mata/Madja" (not to be confused with Maday, the land of the Medes, that was beyond the eastern border of Assyria). The term that may be transliterated as "mat", "madh", "madj" means "country" or "district" in Sumerian, Subarian, Parthian, and other related languages, and it was also used by the Assyrians and Egyptians with the same meaning. Notice that in those languages, the phoneme "dh" or "dj" is equal to the modern Hungarian "gy", and "megye" is still "district" or "province" in Hungarian. Therefore, if the denomination has been transferred along the generations, the Magyars might be the ancient tribe of Mitanni. The territory of the Mada or Mitanni is referred by some Egyptian documents as Magor. There are many other linguistic evidences that prove the close relationship between modern Hungarian and Sumerian/Subarian tongues; for example, in Hurrian/Subar language, the word "tarshua" means "all the people", while in Sumerian "shag" conveyed the meaning of people as well as head or high. In Hungarian, the combination of both is seen in "társaság", that means "society"; "köztársaság" is "republic" (notice that "s" in Hungarian sounds like "sh"). Also the name of the horse, warhorse and chariot in Hungarian are found in Northern Mesopotamia.
Therefore, the Scythian component of the Hungarian ancestry was closely associated with the descent of the ancient Mitanni.
Herodotus asserted that the Sarmatians were the offspring of Scythian males with the Amazons (legendary female warriors) and that Sarmatian women learnt the Scythian tongue, but the men could not learn the women's language. This is somewhat unlikely; although it is known that in Hunan, China, a written code -"nushu"- was known only by women, who taught it only to their daughters and kept it secret from male members of their family, it does not seem to be a spoken language and in any case there is no proof that such a peculiarity existed among Sarmatians. Nevertheless, this assertion of the Greek historian may have been founded on an ancient tradition, connected with the legend of the Turul hawk, or better with the female protagonist, the princess Emeshe:
It is interesting to notice that Sumerians called themselves and their language "Emegir" (a word with apparent resemblance with Magyar), while their country was called "Kiengi". Yet, the Sumerian language was composed of two dialects: Emegir was the "tongue of men", and Emeshal was the "tongue of women", identified respectively as the northern and southern dialects. Professor Hargita proposes that it would be possible that the word "Amazons" might be associated with Emeshe and the Emeshal language. Therefore, the legend of the Amazons and their mysterious tongue may have been a Greek imaginative development of the Sumerian myth.
The same figure may be applied to represent the Sumerian-Mitanni relationship ["Emeshal/Emegir-Madja"], as two counterparts of the early Magyar peoples.
As well as in Subartu coexisted different nations of unrelated stocks, in Sumer emerged other people: the Semitic Akkadians, namely the early Assyrians, and it was in Sumer where the forefather of the Hebrews was born. The "Hungarian-Hebrew connexion" begins in Ur of the Chaldees, Ur haKasdim of the Scriptures. Who were the "Chaldeans" of Avraham's times? Many scholars raise objections concerning the date of the Bible text because the Chaldeans (those of the Neo-Babylonian Empire) were still not in that area until the 11th century b.c.e., about a millennium later. Nevertheless, the Scriptures say "Ur ha-Kasdim", and the Kasdim of Avraham's times not necessarily mean the people known to us as Chaldeans, but may very well apply to the Sumerians. On the other hand, also the name "Sumerian" has been arbitrarily given to them by others and not by themselves, and we have already shown how the term "Scythian" was used to indicate several different peoples. There are evidences that the term Kasdim referred originally to the Babylonians before the Chaldeans took control of the city in the 8th century b.c.e., and only after Babylon became a Chaldean city the older term Kasdim - or also Kashdim - was transferred to the new rulers, or maybe only to a particular social class, as it will be shown later. Consequently, those whom the ancient Israelites called Kasdim may comprise more than one defined ethnic entity. Indeed, they may also be the Akkadians, that were Semites as Avraham was. Notwithstanding, Avraham is not identified as one of the "Kasdim", but is called to leave the city where he dwelled, that belonged to the Kasdim. He is actually called, since the beginning, a "Habiru" (Genesis 14:13), never a "Chaldean", and his brothers are called "Arameans" (Genesis 25:20), confirming that they were Semites.
On their way to Canaan, we know that Avraham and his family stopped and settled in Charan, the land of the Hurrians and Mitanni. It is meaningful that, even though that was an Akkadian family, they willingly stayed in a land whose inhabitants were closely related with the Sumerians that they had left behind. And in fact, most of Avraham's relatives remained there and did not go with him to the Promised Land. That he was attached to his Semitic bloodline is evident by the fact that he did not want that his offspring would marry other women than his own brothers' descent - and also his brothers would have kept their lineage pure; nevertheless, these Akkadian Habiru seem to have felt comfortable within the Sumerian/Subarian environment, as many Jews and Roma feel at home in Hungary since centuries...
Avraham settled in Canaan, but kept in touch with his family in Aram-Naharayim. He visited also Egypt, where his offspring would have sojourned some time later. He was surely regarded as an "Apiru" by the Egyptians, but it is known that the term 'Apiru did not convey a meaning of defined nationality, but rather a social status; this word was used generally for Semitic tribes but they may have included also non-Semitic people - like the term "Gypsy", that refers mainly to Roma but not only, or even "Cossack", that is usually associated with Russians but indeed is not related with ethnicity. So Avraham was an Akkadian by nationality but also a Habiru. Nevertheless, according to his original homeland and his permanent contact with his family in Charan, he may have been also considered as one of the Kasdim. His son Yitzchak and his grandson Yakov kept strongly bound to their Semitic lineage and married their cousins. Then, Yakov and all his family settled in Egypt, to stay there for a long time.
By the time of the Israelite Exodus from Egypt to Canaan, a mysterious people arose in Southern Mesopotamia: the Kassites (Kasu). They came from a still unknown place and after they lost control of Babylon they retreated to the Zagros Mounts and had not any further history. Very likely, they and not the Neo-Babylonian Chaldeans were the authentic Kasdim. The Kassites apparently spoke a language similar to Sumerian, if not identical, and probably they were indeed the Sumerians that came to take their land back after having been displaced by the Akkadians centuries before. Then the land of Shin'ar was no longer structured as autonomous city-states but as a centralized kingdom, therefore they founded their own capital, Dur-Kurigalzu. The Kassites were excellent horse-riders, a feature that primarily distinguished the peoples of the north, namely, those coming from the land of Subartu/Mitanni, peoples that were linked with Sumerians since the earliest times. In fact, in the Zagros region a kind of alliance between Northern and Southern peoples might have taken place, of which it will be discussed later in this essay. By some Kassite king names, which are evidently Indic (for example: Shuriash = Surya, Maruttash = Marut, Inda-Bugash = Indra-Bhaga), we can understand that they were also influenced by Hurrians or perhaps by the Medes, that in a later period were the owners of the Zagros and appointed the Magi as their priestly caste. Such kind of alliances between Sumerian/Subarian tribes and Indo-Aryan peoples seem to have been very common, and even achieved in taking control of the whole Mesopotamia during that period: the Kassite kingdom in the south preceded about 90 years the Mitanni kingdom in the north, and survived it for other 90 years.*
At this point, the other meaning of the word Kasdim, "Chaldeans", and their relationship with Sumerians allows us to link our reasoning again with the "Hungarian-Hebrew connexion".
The dynasty that ruled over Babylon about 130 years after the Kassites were dethroned is known as "Chaldean", the one to which Nebukhadnetzar the Great belonged. Now let us consider who the Chaldeans are in the Book of Daniel:
"Youths in whom was no blemish, but well-favoured, and skilful in all wisdom, and endowed with knowledge, and understanding science, and such as had ability to stand in the king's palace; and that he should teach them the learning and the language of the Kasdim". (Daniel 1:4)
"Then the king commanded to call the magicians, and the enchanters, and the sorcerers, and the Kasdim, to tell the king his dreams. So they came in and stood before the king... Then spoke the Kasdim to the king in the Aramaic language, O king, live forever: tell your servants the dream, and we will show the interpretation. The king answered the Kasdim, The thing is gone from me: if you don't make known to me the dream and the interpretation of it, you shall be cut in pieces, and your houses shall be made a dunghill". (Daniel 2:2,4,5)
"The Kasdim answered before the king, and said, There is not a man on the earth who can show the king's matter, because no king, lord, or ruler, has asked such a thing of any magician, or enchanter, or Kasdai". (Daniel 2:10)
"Then came in the magicians, the enchanters, the Kasdim, and the soothsayers; and I told the dream before them; but they did not make known to me the interpretation of it". (Daniel 4:7)
"The king cried aloud to bring in the enchanters, the Kasdim, and the soothsayers. There is a man in your kingdom, in whom is the spirit of the holy gods; and in the days of your father light and understanding and wisdom, like the wisdom of the gods, were found in him; and the king Nevukhadnetzar your father, the king, [I say], your father, made him master of the magicians, enchanters, Kasdim, and soothsayers". (Daniel 5:7,11)
It results evident that here the "Chaldeans" (Kasdim) are not a people but a kind of social class or caste associated with the magicians, enchanters, sorcerers, soothsayers, namely, they were astrologers, exactly like the Magi in Persia. They probably belonged to a different people, as they had their own language, "the language of the Kasdim", but spoke to the king in Aramaic, the Assyrian tongue of Babylon. Consequently, they may have been related to former rulers of the city, restored by the neo-Babylonian kings to their influent position because of their qualities. The likely hypothesis is that, after the Kassites were defeated by the joint Assyrian-Elamite armies and the 2nd Dynasty of Isin took the power, they withdrew to the Zagros Mountains, where probably the old Sumerians settled after having been obliterated from history by the rising Semites that took complete control over the whole Mesopotamia. When the 2nd Dynasty of Isin came to an end, it was replaced by the "Chaldean" Dynasty... but who were exactly these Chaldeans and where did they come from, is still subject to discussion.
Those conventionally regarded as Chaldeans are indeed the southern branch of the Assyrians, the descent of the ancient Akkadians, namely a Semitic people to which the royal house belonged. It was the land that was known by the Assyrians as Kaldu, maybe an equivalent of the Biblical Shin'ar, having in mind the early inhabitants, the Sumerians. Therefore, it is very likely that Sumerian was the lineage of the Babylonian astrologers, although not that of the people and not even the king, whose language was Aramaic, that is Semitic like Hebrew. The mysterious language of the Kasdim should have been no other than Sumerian. They were the holders of the religious authority and it is a fact that the ancient Babylonian mysteries were built around the myths of Nimrod, who was deified as Merodakh/Marduk, and Nimrod was a Sumerian.
The presence of Hebrews in this circle is not unlikely, as they have been always appreciated for their prophetic skills - indeed, the first act of King Nebukhadnetzar after his conquest of Jerusalem was to choose young Israelites to be appointed as "Kasdim", and Daniel himself was raised to the rank of Rab-mag, head of the Magi. Also Yosef was the Wise one of Egypt and regarded as a diviner (Genesis 44:15). With Daniel, at least other three Jews were appointed as Kasdim: Hananyah (Shadrakh), Mishael (Meshakh) and Azaryah (Aved-Nego). So, from the Book of Daniel we understand that the Chaldeans were like the Persian Magi, a social class into which individuals of different ethnic backgrounds may be accepted if they fulfil particular requirements and follow an initiation ritual. This spiritual development is a characteristic that Hebrews have in a special way, so that along history many of them have reached important positions at the royal courts as well as in democratic institutions.
The Northern Complexity
Southern Mesopotamia was inhabited by different peoples belonging to unrelated origins, and in the neo-Babylonian period we find that a Semitic dynasty is ruling but the early Sumerians are still present as a very influent caste close to the king, so that the dynasty itself is called after them, "Chaldean".
The situation in Northern Mesopotamia is even more complex: indeed, this land is not only the heart of the Assyrian realm (Semitic), but also the very birthplace of the Indo-Aryan languages (the old form of Sanskrit spoken by the Hurrians), and is also the original country of the [non-Aryan] Eurasian peoples.* Such a complexity justifies the confusion and divergences between historians and scholars, that usually associate peoples with languages and consequently leading their research to a dead end.
In the early period, we find the kingdom of Hanigalbat, a joint Hurrian-Mitanni state: we have already considered the possible identity of ancient Magyars with the Mitanni, whose land was known as Magor/Mada/Matiene/Subartu/Saparda, in Hurrian territory. Likewise we know that Hungarians are not Indo-Aryan and their language is agglutinative, not Indo-European. Yet, ancient documents reveal that the language of Mitanni was Hurrian: there is a clear evidence of the use of Indic vocabulary in the Mitanni documents; the gods of the Mitanni treaties are specifically Vedic gods: Varun-a and Mitra, Indra and N-satyau; and in addition there are a series of names of the noblemen or aristocracy of Mitanni which are clearly Indic, as well as the Mitanni kings: Barattarna, Saushshatar, Artatama, Shuttarna, Tushratta (Dushratta), Sattvara (Sattiwaza), Varashatta, all of them are undoubtedly Sanskrit names. Other Mitanni texts show Indic words for numbers and colours. What happened then, with the presumed Magyars? A likely explanation is the following: we have seen that the "Chaldean" kingdom of Babylon was actually a Semitic realm, whose inhabitants and royal family were Babylonians (namely, Southern Assyrians), and the official language was Aramaic, but the most influent class were the Kasdim, who had their secret language and that very likely was Sumerian. It is also the Sumerian religion that was adopted by the Semitic Akkadian/Assyrian/Arameans, originally monotheistic. A similar situation is feasible that happened in the enigmatic Hurrian-Mitanni kingdom, concerning which the scholars have still not taken a definitive position about the relationship between the two peoples, whether the Mitanni were the subduers or just the denomination of the Hurrian ruling class. The most likely hypothesis is that the Mitanni took control of the Hurrian lands in the same way as Israelites did in Canaan: it seems that the Hurrians in fact did not have an unified state but had their own self-governing tribal unities some of them were also in Canaan (Hivvites, Yevusites) and another country in the south, around Mount Seir, that was subdued by the Edomites. So, the Mitanni conquered the Hurrian territories in Subartu and organized them in a solid state able to compete with their Hittite and Assyrian neighbours and to make treaties with Egypt. Such a state would have obviously adopted the language of the majority population, and even the rulers may have very well taken Hurrian names and religion in the same way as peoples of different ethnicities adopted Christianity and western names or Islam and Arabic names. The second possibility is that the Mitanni were like the Kasdim, not the royal family but the most influent social class, though this should not be the case in this period, but maybe later, after the Mitanni kingdom was destroyed by the Assyrians.
The Assyrians introduced a new ethnic element in the land of the Hurrians: the exiled Israelites of the Northern Tribes: "In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Ashur took Shomron, and carried Yisrael away to Ashur, and placed them in Chalach, and on the Chavor, the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Madai" (2Kings 17:6). There are some controversial opinions concerning the exact location of these places mentioned in the Scriptures, as they have been equated with Balkh and the Khyber Pass, or Bukhara, or even the Caucasus and the Volga Basin, where cities like Samara and Kazan remind us Samaria and Gozan, identifications that, if they were proven right would simplify our task as these are the lands where with certainty the Hungarians have dwelled since old. Yet, I prefer to discard all these supposed identifications and keep a more conservative line. Although it is certain that Assyrians extended their conquest beyond the Caucasus, it is also written that "Israel was carried away out of their own land to Ashur" (2Kings 17:23), and this implies that the land of exile was comprised within the territory of Ashur, Assyria. Therefore, these toponyms are rather the same as the Assyrian Halahhu and Guzana, districts of the empire in the former Hurrian kingdom. Only the cities of the Medes are outside this region, quite more eastwards.
The Assyrians, as all the other nations, had a circle of astrologers close to the king, and it is certain that they appointed some of the Israelites within this special class as well as ministers.
When Babylonians overran the Assyrian Empire, they did so in alliance with another people that was a rising power: the Medes. It is a common mistake to identify the Medes with the Mitanni just because of the apparent name similarity ‒"Madai" with "Mada/Mata/Madja"‒. Although the Persian name of Media was also Madâ; the Medes were a different people, or perhaps a group of associated tribes of which the Madai were the most relevant. Quoting again the Hungarian scholar Alfred Hámori, «Cyaxares was the next Mede ruler... Their attack was unsuccessful partly because the Scythians under Madyas sided with the Assyrians», it is clear that a name resemblance may be misleading; the enigmatic Scythian leader, called Madyas, was against the Medes. This scholar also asserts that Scythians and Medes may have common roots but developed separately, as the Scythians were mainly nomads while the Medes were city dwellers this may be enough reason to find both parties on different fronts. On the other hand, also Assyrians distinguished the Medes from the Mitanni; in the Assyrian records the Medes are called Manda or Amadai. Concerning the geographic location, the Mitanni were to the west/northwest of Assyria, while Media was to the east/southeast. In fact, the Assyrian accounts report that Shalmaneser III received tribute from the Amadai from his wars against the tribes of the Zagros (Media). Among the names of the Mede kings, two are definitely Indo-Aryan: Kshatrita (Phraortes), and Hwakshatra (Cyaxares) between them ruled Madyus, "the Scythian". What kind of Scythian was this Madyus? An Askuza, or a Magyar, maybe?
At present there is a people that claims direct descent from the Medes: the Kurds. It is significant that they are genetically close to Armenians, Southern Italians, Hungarians and Ashkenazi Jews... This is not quite surprising, as the Israelite exiles dwelled in that area for centuries and intermarrying was unavoidable, mainly because many of those Israelites were no longer observing the whole of the Judaic rules. The Kurds are still dwelling in the land of the Northern Israelite exile, namely, ancient Assyria and Haran.
Meanwhile, what happened with the Hurrians and Mitanni, of whom there is no mention since they were conquered by the Assyrians? After the fall of Nineveh, they were subject to Babylon, and then to the Medo-Persian empire. In this later period, most Hurrians with part of the exiled Israelites emigrated eastwards and founded Khwarezm. They had to pass by the Medes' land, and it is not excluded that some Mitanni settled among them, or among the Scythians of Media. In fact, the land of the Medes covered a vast territory: in 836 b.c.e. the Assyrian king Shalmaneser III received tribute from them after his campaign against the peoples of the Zagros Mounts; then in 715 b.c.e. Sargon II subjected them "up to the far mountain Bikni" (Elburz) and the borders of the desert, that is in Khorassan. They remained under Assyrian rule until the fall of Nineveh. However, concerning the Mitanni, it is likely that a consistent group of them settled in Atropatene (modern Adzerbaidzhan), as that land was called "Mada" - in fact, as well as many scholars still do, the Greek historians did not distinguish the Medes (Madai of the Bible, Manda/Amadai of the Assyrian inscriptions, Madâ of the Medo-Persian records) from the Mada of Atropatene; they confused both peoples so badly that they even called "Ecbatana" the capital of the Mada! According to pre-Hellenic documents, there was no other city named Ecbatana besides the best-known one in Media, the present-day Hamadan.
A further misleading factor is that the Medes were likely related with Hurrians, at least by the Aryan elements that both peoples had in common. As it has been said before, the Medes were rather a group of tribes more than a homogeneous people; indeed, the "Umman-Manda" (hosts of the Medes) of the Babylonian chronicles apparently included many nomadic bands of probable Scythian or Sarmatian stock. According to Herodotus, the Medes were composed by six different tribes, of which one were the Medes properly (Madai), four of them seem to be actually Scythian-related groups, and one is the prestigious caste of the Magi. Who were the Magi, and which was their origin?...
The Magi indeed belonged to a particular lineage traced from the earliest times: they were the same Kasdim of Babylon, namely, Sumerians. With the Semitic expansion and the Akkadian rule over Lower Mesopotamia, the displaced Sumerians moved towards the Zagros region, from where the Kasdim returned back to Babylon as the king's counsellors and from where the Magi that joined the Medes came from as well. Therefore, they were two branches of the same people: their name Magi probably referred in origin to their secret language, Emegir, while their Semitic name was Kasdim, meaning Sumerian ("Chaldean"). However, the Magi of Media - and later also of Persia - probably resulted from an alliance between two counterparts that met in the Zagros to gather and become one people: the Sumerians and the Subarians, Emeshal and Emegir, which reflects the constant duality of the Hungarian origins, like the most ancient pairs: male/female, black/white, north/south, east/west, Kasdim/Magi, Hunor/Magor... The Mitanni aristocracy joined the Chaldean one, the once influent castes in fallen kingdoms became the Magi of the rising Media. Of course, both the Magi of Media-Persia and the Kasdim of the Babylonian court were just a selected class (as perhaps also the Mitanni in the Hurrian realm), not the whole of the Sumerian/Subarian people. Besides this particular élite, there must have been a mass of non-aristocratic people, warriors, farmers, metal-forgers, horse-breeders, artisans, etc., that with the privileged caste of the Hurrian, Babylonian or Persian court had in common only the language and genetic features.
The Magi are commonly associated with the Zoroastrian cult, yet in origin it seems that they did not follow such religious philosophy but the essential patterns of the ancient Sumerian religion, which they developed as a mystery belief, and only later they joined the revolutionary monotheistic-dualistic reformation of Zarathustra. Why did the Magi adopt such a novelty within a polytheistic environment? The following may be a feasible explanation:
We have already established that the Magi, like the Kasdim, were a social class into which individuals of different ethnic backgrounds may be accepted if they fulfil particular requirements and follow an initiation ritual. The identity of both groups is also confirmed by the fact that the Jewish Prophet Daniel, appointed by King Nebukhadnetzar as the head of the Kasdim, was confirmed by King Dareyauvesh the Mede as one of the chief officers of the Medo-Persian Kingdom, a position that was a privilege of the Magi. On the other side, the very identity of Zarathustra is shrouded in mystery, and even the period in which he lived is uncertain. If the conventional date is correct, he should have lived some few years before Daniel, and was his contemporary for a while. Also his birthplace is subject of controversy, but the most commonly accepted one is Mada Atropatene, although his preaching is said to have taken place in Khwarezm. Also the original Zoroastrian philosophy is not known in detail as many things were added in later times, but it was essentially presented as the only widely known monotheistic belief in the Ancient World besides Judaism. Notwithstanding, there are some interesting elements concerning places and period: Mada Atropatene was a Mitanni settlement, Khwarezm was a Hurrian realm, and since the 7th century b.c.e. a consistent Israelite component was added to these peoples. As well as Daniel and at least three of his companions were appointed as ministers at the Babylonian court, it is very likely that some Israelites took similar positions at Nineveh at least we know of Ahiqar, who may be only a legendary character, but may also be a real person. Also Assarhaddon's wife Naqi'a (Zakutu) was either an Israelite or an Aramean. After the fall of Nineveh, some of the Northern Israelites joined the Hurrians and Mitanni on their way eastwards, carrying with them their consciousness of the One God that they worshipped in the past. Consequently, Zarathustra may have been an Israelite, who was appreciated by his prophetic gifts at the court of Vishtaspa and promoted to the rank of Rab-mag in the same way as Daniel and probably Ahiqar. The land where it is thought he was born was inhabited by Mitanni, the one where he preached was founded by Hurrians, in both of them there were also Israelites.
Even though the number of Northern Israelites deported was not so enormous (besides the 27,290 claimed by Sargon II we may guess that those previously exiled by Tiglat-Pileser III may double that amount), after two centuries they should have become an important component within the Mesopotamians, and not only influenced the priestly caste but also the common people. Besides these figures, if the Prism of Sennakherib is reliable, he exiled 200,250 people from Judah − although it is known that he failed in taking Jerusalem having great loss within his army, a fact that the most arrogant of Assyrian kings obviously did not mention. Nevertheless, he may have taken captives from the other cities of Judah during his campaign, as he himself settled at Lakish. The deportees of Judah were very likely resettled together with the Israelites of previous deportations. Part of the Israelites were relocated in the "cities of the Medes", a vague definition that may comprise from the Zagros region to the lake Urmiah. Besides this, as it was said before, the Magi were probably the result of an alliance between two counterparts that met in the Zagros, namely the Sumerians and the Mitanni, these ones already having Hebrews among them. Consequently, the adoption of Zoroastrianism by the Magi may be a direct influence of some Israelites that occupied key positions within their caste. It is significant that the Medo-Persian monarchs were quite sympathetic towards the Jews - one of the first Imperial decrees concerned the return to their homeland and the order to rebuild Jerusalem and the Temple. The Parthians followed the same favourable policy.
The Assyrians did not only introduce the Israelite element in the Mesopotamian and Iranian population, but also carried away some of these peoples to Samaria: Babylonians, Elamites, Arameans, "Apharsathkites" (Aparni), and "Dehites", that is Dahae (Scythians). These immigrants intermarried with the Israelites left in Samaria and became Jewish after some centuries, so that in the only Hebrew records existing from the 1st century c.e., the Gospels and Josephus, we find that there were the Jews properly and others that were Jews by belief, but technically Goyim: the Galileans indeed, their land was called "Galil haGoyim" (the Samaritans have a different background, but it is off-topic here). There were also some strange connections and spiritual movements that flourished mainly in Galilea, of which the best known were the Essenes, whose philosophy was close to that of the Magi the reason of such a coincidence may be found in the ethnic origin of the Galileans.
Of course, as it was elucidated before, the Magi by themselves were not an ethnic group but belonged to a people of Sumerian-Mitanni origin, to which the Israelites were added. Who are these peoples today is what this essay is concerned about. Going back to the Hungarian legend, it says that Nemere/Ménrót asked his twin sons what ability they wanted to develop: Hunor chose the art of war, while Magor preferred wisdom. This episode may represent the covenant between two parts, or the composition of the ancient people: wisdom as a characteristic of the Magi, the art of war as the main feature of the Huns. Apparently, there are not many things in common between these two groups as to suggest such an association, but we can at least consider the possibility that a link actually exists.
Arpakhshad and the "Habiri"
Arpakhshad was a son of Shem, a brother of Ashur, and ancestor of the Hebrews according to the Scriptures: "Shem, the father of all the children of 'Ever,... the sons of Shem: 'Elam, Ashur, Arpakhshad, Lud, and Aram... Shem was one hundred years old and became the father of Arpakhshad two years after the flood" (Genesis 10:21, 22; 11:10). The name of this mysterious ancestor of Avraham has been object of different interpretations: being one of the Patriarchs, as well as his brothers he must have given origin to a nation, the one from which the Hebrews came as a branch: that nation were the Akkadians. Yet, the name of the Akkadians is not related with their ancestor's name, and therefore some meanings have been suggested: Arpa-Kesed, "the coast/boundary of the Chaldeans", or else Ar-pa-Khesed, that is an Egyptian name equivalent to "Ur of the Chaldeans". These hypotheses seem to find support in Josephus' declaration that "Arphaxad named the Arphaxadites, who are now called Chaldeans..." (Josephus, Antiquities 1.6.4). These interpretations are however unlikely because Arpakhshad is a proper name and "the boundaries of the Chaldeans" do not indicate any specific people but rather an indeterminate geographic area; while an Egyptian terminology is completely out of place in this context. Concerning Josephus, he probably referred to the Akkadians calling them Chaldeans, based on the belief that Avraham was a "Chaldean" because he was born in Ur. As we have seen before, Avraham is never called himself a Chaldean, but that he "came out of a Chaldean city", in the same way as Mosheh is never called "Egyptian" (although he was thought to be an Egyptian by Yethro's daughters because he came from Egypt, where he was born, and was likely clad like an Egyptian - Exodus 2:19). The Chaldeans (Kasdim) of the Book of Genesis were indeed the Sumerians, not the Akkadians. Avraham is called "Hebrew" as well as Mosheh, regardless their birthplace. Another interesting detail is that Arpakhshad is Shem's third son, and was born two years after the Deluge. Unless Elam was born on the Ark, which is improbable, the most likely possibility is that Arpakhshad was Ashur's twin brother. Regarding this hypothesis, we can find a parallel with two ancient neighbour cities: Ashur and Arrapkha. From this viewpoint, the identity of Arpakhshad with Arrapkha seems to be the most likely. Nevertheless, Arrapkha was not always a Semitic land and was instead a centre of Hurrian culture. This divergence may anyway be solved: it is known that the Akkadians arrived in Sumer from the north, and that they were the same stock of the Assyrians. Previous to the Semitic takeover, we know that Nimrod extended his Sumerian kingdom over Northern Mesopotamia, and even Kalah, in the very heart of Assyria, was called Nimrod during the Assyrian dark ages. Therefore, it is feasible that the two original Semitic centres, Ashur and Arrapkha were colonized by Sumerian/Subarian peoples. While the Semites of Ashur remained in their original settlement, those of Arrapkha moved southwards and settled in Akkad, taking that city from the Sumerians and later the whole land. Arrapkha was first annexed to Assyria by Shamshi-Adad I about 1810 b.c.e. but conquered by the Mitanni by 1470 b.c.e., and remained a Hurrian city until the Assyrians took it back after they completely obliterated the Mitanni kingdom in 1270 b.c.e. The Semitic cultural identity of Arrapkha by the time of Avraham, ten generations after Arpakhshad, is proven by the Tablets of Nuzi, which show surprising coincidences with the Pentateuch concerning social practices and laws regarding family life, marriage, adoptions, birthright, blessings, trade, etc. In the tablets, also Habiru are mentioned, and a particular law that established that a Habiru servant can be hired for a maximum period of seven years, then must be left free (cf. Exodus 21:2). Through the centuries and different ruling powers, the region of Arrapkha/Nuzi remained a meeting point of Semitic and Subarian cultures.
Now, what relationship has all this with our topic? It was said before that this essay is arranged like a puzzle, and this is one of the pieces... The geographic location of Arrapkha by the eastern border of Assyria on the way towards Media is relevant, as the descent of Arpakhshad may have been split following different directions. We only know the lineage of Avraham because it was recorded in the Scriptures, but obviously there were other descendants. The main line of the "Arpakhshadites" were the Akkadians of history, a branch of them were known as Habiru, others may have been assimilated into the Hurrian/Mitanni groups, or migrated eastwards, adopted Indo-European or Sumerian-related languages, settled as far as India or Central Asia - as the Sumerians had since old intense trade with Harappa and the Indus Valley civilizations. They may have prepared the ground for a future reception of Jewish exiles or favourable laws in the lands where they ruled.
Notwithstanding, apparent name resemblances should be considered carefully in order to avoid speculative theories; please see: Names, Languages and Ethnicity.
In the table of nations of Genesis 10, there are two Patriarchs who are mentioned in a special way as particularly important within their respective groups: one is Nimrod, renowned among the descent of Cham of whom is grandson through Kush, and 'Ever (conventionally written "Heber") as an illustrious descendant of Shem, and his great-grandson through Arpakhshad. He is so relevant among the Semites that Shem himself is called "the father of all the children of 'Ever" (Genesis 10:21). An essay concerning this subject is available at: Habiru that is the name with which 'Ever's offspring was known in the dawn of history. The Habiri existed since the most ancient times. They are present in the first documents available to us, hundreds of years earlier than Avraham. They were scattered all over the Near East from Egypt to Mesopotamia, to the extremities of Assyria, along the coast of the Mediterranean through Canaan, and in the regions of Anatolia. They are not limited to any geographical area, any nation, or any social category; they appear at every level of society, in many different activities. They usually wandered from place to place. The movements of Terah, Avraham, and other members of that family were according to the habits of the general Habiri people. They certainly played an unique role in reconnecting us with the remote history of mankind. They also brought a genetic line down into historic times, with Avraham chosen as the outstanding representative of that blood blessing. The Habiru had a Deity whose Name was unknown to the other peoples, and also to themselves, as the Name was not revealed to anybody before Mosheh Rabainu. The fact that their Divinity's name was unknown is a further proof that identifies them with the "Children of 'Ever". Strictly speaking, the term Habiru would be equal to Hebrew, consequently, indicating a Semitic people of the lineage of 'Ever. Yet, the ancient records attest that there were also non-Semitic elements among them, particularly Subarian. 'Ever's descent was divided in two branches: a southern group (Yoqtan) and a northern group (Peleg). The Habiri of the ancient accounts belong to the line of Peleg. Besides this, it is important to distinguish two phases concerning their history: an early stage in which they are found mainly in Mesopotamia and Anatolia, in pre-Avrahamic times, and a later period that begins with their appearance in Egypt, that is recorded in connection with the arrival of Avraham's tribe in that land. While the northern branch of the Habiru gets progressively assimilated within the peoples of that region, the 'Apiru of the Egyptian accounts still exist as a distinguishable group until their settlement in Canaan, when the term Habiri/'Apiru is replaced by Israelite, the only Hebrew group that kept an identity as such.
Concerning the descent of 'Ever, the Scriptures say: "Their dwelling was from Mesha, as you go toward Sefar, the mountain of the east" (Genesis 10:30). Where is that place, "Sefar, the mountain of the east"? The equivalent in the Assyrian chronicles is the land of Sapar-da, that is the Subar-ki of the Sumerian inscriptions and the Sapardia-Hunae of the Persian records. In Hebrew, it is identical with Sefarad, being written exactly like the Assyrian Saparda (f and p are the same letter in Hebrew and Aramaic, therefore, as vowels are not written, SeFaRaD = SaPaRDa). Notwithstanding, the exact location of this land is not clear, as in the Sumerian sources it indicates the traditional Subartu in Northern Mesopotamia/Eastern Anatolia, that is the Biblical Charan, while in other documents the same name is given to the region in the east of Assyria, namely between Arrapkha and the southwestern shore of Caspian Sea. In fact, the "mountain of the east" cannot be referred to the Caucasus or Ararat, but rather to the Zagros or Elburz. This last one appears to be the best interpretation. Only centuries later this name was applied to Sardis and then to Spain, as the term "Sefarad" conveys also the symbolic meaning of "end of wandering", namely, end of the Diaspora. Nevertheless, the name Sefarad/Saparda may indicate a population rather than a country, and then the lands where that people dwelled: the Habiru/Subar/Mada, that inhabited in Northern Mesopotamia, in the Caucasus, in Arrapkha and Atropatene, adopting cultural and linguistic features of their Indo-European neighbours, yet keeping their original characteristics. This people was a mixed company of Semitic Habiru and Kushitic Subarians (Sefar/Sapar/Sabir) with the Japhetic descent of Meshekh and Magog (Moshki/Mada/Magor), that shared much of their territory with the Indo-Hurrians in the west, with the Semitic Assyrians in the middle, and with the Iranic Medes in the east.
The eastern location of Saparda/Sefar is confirmed by Herodotus, that stated: "The Persians live by the Southern, so called Red Sea. Medes live north to them, Sapeires over Medes and Colchians over Sapeires..." (Historiarum IV. 37) The "Red Sea" here is the Persian Gulf; Greek historians called "Eritrean Sea" -translated "Red Sea"- the Indian Ocean and dependences (namely, all the annexed seas and gulfs, like Aden, Oman and Persian Gulfs, and the Red Sea properly). Colchians is the name given by the Greeks to the peoples of the present-day Georgia in the Caucasus, and the "Sapeires" in this list are placed between them and the Medes, that is immediately southeast of the Caucasus, in Atropatene. This location identifies them with the Mada/Subarians/Sabir.
A further consideration regarding the Colchians is relevant now. Strabo in his Geography stated: "...the Tybareni and Chaldaei, extending as far as Colchis... Tybareni and Chaldaei and Sanni, in earlier times called Magor". The "Chaldaei" (Chaldeans!) here are identified with the Chalybes, a tribe of the Mitanni. Because of the presence of these "Chaldeans" in Asia Minor, some scholars have assumed that there was a "Northern Chaldea" - indeed, they were called that way because they were Subarians, therefore, closely related with the Sumerians, the original Chaldeans/Kaldu/Kasdim. It is likely that the Assyrians called Kaldu and the Hebrews Kasdim the peoples of the same stock to which Sumerians belonged, therefore including the Subarian/Mitanni. The Chalybes were renowned as iron-forgers and often appear associated with the Tybareni, the inhabitants of Colchis. In Achæmenid records they are identified with the people called Mushki by the Assyrians, consequently, they are no other than the Massagetas. The names Chalybes/Kaldi and Mushki are interchangeable. In fact, also their geographic location is the same, as the Moshkhi settled within the land of Tilgarimmu and beyond, in the north of Ararat, and their capital was Mtskhet in the Caucasus, in the land known as "Iberia", a name connected with the Armenian ethnonym "Ivirk", in reference to the Tybareni. Such variation from "Tybareni" to "Iberi" is typical of the ethno-toponyms of the classical times of the Black Sea and the Caucasus areas, which are often characterized by such a disappearing of the dental consonants d, t or t'. On the other hand, Tuval and Meshekh are frequently mentioned together any apparent relationship between "Iberi" and "Ivri" (Hebrew) is unfounded. In history records, the Kavkaz Mountains are also known as "Moskhian Mountains". Josephus Flavius considered the Moschs, as well as the Iberians, as being of Anatolian origin. In his commentary he wrote that the Mosoch were derived from the Biblical Meshekh and that they afterwards received the name of Cappadocians, though from the designation of their capital Mazakha it is obvious that the name of their whole people was the same (Josephus, Antiq., I, 124-125). What is quite interesting is Strabo's statement that "Tybareni (Tuval) and Chaldeans (in this case, Meshekh) in earlier times were called Magor", giving us a further confirmation that these peoples were related with the ancestors of the Hungarians and with the land of the ancient Mitanni, known as Magor by Assyrians and Egyptians.
In order to complete the ethnic picture of this geographic region, it is relevant to mention other complex of peoples mainly originated in Asia Minor that moved southwards with the primary goal of conquering Egypt and that settled in southern Canaan until they were subdued by King David: the "Sea Peoples". There is one of them particularly interesting to us: the Tzekel or Tjeker. They were associated with the Philistines and their capital was Tziklag in the Negev. After their city-state was completely annexed to Judah, they migrated westwards and settled in the isle to which they gave the present-day name: Tzekeliyah, Sicily. Notwithstanding, those of them that joined the Sea Peoples were probably not the whole tribe, and some of them should have remained in their Anatolian homeland and assimilated into the Moshkhi or Mitanni. In fact, there are some interesting coincidences: the ancient Hun tribe of the Carpathian Mounts known as Székely may be connected with the Tzekel, and one of their sub-tribes are the Kézdi, namely Chaldeans! One of their main cities is Kézdivásárhely, Kovászna district, a name that may be translated as "Chaldean Marketplace"; the same city is called by Romanians "Târgu Secuiesc", meaning "Sicul Marketplace", identifying the Siculs with the Chaldeans. A particular feature concerning the change of "l" into "s" from Assyrian into Hebrew in the term "Kasdim/Kaldu" is verified also in Hungarian, as well as the Kasu-Kasdim identity (Kassites-Chaldeans): one of the Hun tribes were the Keszi, which is likely the same as Kézdi [equalling Kasu with Kasdim]; on the other hand, many tribe or place names have become Hungarian surnames, usually with the ending "-i" or "-y", that indicates origin: common family names like Káldi/Káldy/Káltai/Káltay and some variations of the same terms should indicate hypothetic places called "Káld/Kált", which are not identified if not in the remote past: Káldea is Chaldea in Hungarian - as well as there is not any place named Kézd; therefore, Kézdi may only refer to an ancient tribe.
It may be only a coincidence that both the ancient Sicilians and the Székely are called "Siculs" by western sources; what is not a coincidence is that the Hungarians share most of their genetic characteristics with Southern Italians, Ashkenazi Jews, Armenians and Kurds. This link between Hungarians and Southern Italians may be related with both Sicul peoples. Another tribe mentioned by Strabo in connection with the Chaldeans and Tybareni are the Sanni, a name that is identical with another Italic people, the Sanniti; and it is noticeable that the Tyrrhenian Sea takes its name from the Tybareni... It is proven that some of the Italic tribes were originated in Asia Minor, and associated with the Tzekel among the Sea Peoples there were the Shardana, probably from Sardis (a land that later was called Sefarad), that colonized the Isle of Sardinia, and the Danauna, whose name recalls the Daunii, that dwelled near the Sanniti.
Back to our Habiri and the land of Sefar, there are many hints that suggest their assimilation within the northern Kasdim, namely, into the descent of Meshekh. They may have exerted spiritual influence within their environment and in the future beliefs of the peoples they generated, as we shall consider in the chapter about the religion of the ancient Hungarians. In the travel diaries of Pethahiah of Regensburg, written in the second half of the 12th century c.e., the Ararat country is identified with "Meshekh Land", from where some messengers were sent to Baghdad and those messengers related that "the kings of Meshekh and all their Lands became Jews" and that there were teachers among the inhabitants of Meshekh "educating their children in Torah". However no support has been found for the theory that this tribe as a whole or partially adopted Judaism. In any case, the Hebrew elements among the Subarian peoples in the early period are pre-Israelite, belonging to the descent of 'Ever, not of Avraham it is only after the deportations that the Israelites will partially contribute to the ethnogenesis of these peoples, and not in the Middle East but in Central Asia and India.
Concerning the Habiri dwelling in the eastern region beyond Assyria "toward Sefar, the mountain of the east", they may be recognized mainly in another enigmatic people: the Apar-di or Apar-ni, that by the 13th century b.c.e. are found in Central Asia, probably directly involved in the foundation of Khwarezm.
The Blood Covenants
As we have announced in the introduction of this essay, there are some mysterious links that connect Hungary and Israel: one of them is that both nations were founded by a blood covenant. This probably was a common practice among Habiri groups, as it will be shown. In fact, Hungary is the only European State having a quite defined beginning, when the Magyar tribes sealed a blood covenant to enter and possess a "Promised Land", the Danubian Basin. That ritual agreement between tribe chieftains performed in Etelköz was not an exceptional fact, but the last one of a series of similar events according to the most ancient traditions. In the same way as the people of Israel was bond to successive covenants, each one of them completing the previous one by establishing a new feature or leading house − for instance, the Sinaitic Covenant, by which the Law was given, or the Davidic Covenant, that appointed the royal lineage − the Hungarian Blood Covenant established a new organized nation in a defined land and under the rule of Árpád. This "Magyar" Covenant should have been one that completed or replaced a previous "Hun" Covenant by which the same tribes gathered under the leadership of Attila to conquer the same "Promised Land", as well as the Avars, OnOgur, Khazars and other groups that generated the present-day Hungarian nation have sealed solid alliances of tribes with a common purpose through covenants.
Back in the ancient age, we find the Habiri chieftain Avraham performing two blood covenants:
“He said to him, «I am Adonay who brought you out of Ur of the Kasdim, to give you this land to inherit it». He said, «Adonay G§D, how will I know that I will inherit it?» He said to him, «Bring Me a heifer three years old, a female goat three years old, a ram three years old, a turtledove, and a young pigeon». He brought Him all of these, and divided them in the middle, and laid each half opposite the other; but he did not divide the birds... It came to pass that, when the sun went down, and it was dark, behold, a smoking furnace, and a flaming torch passed between these pieces. In that day Adonay made a covenant with Avram, saying, «To your seed I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river P'rat»” (Genesis 15:7-10,17-18). This was the first blood covenant, an act that apparently was not strange to Avram as it should have been known to him, perhaps following a Habiri tradition. The second covenant is similar and completes this one, establishing a rule that the chosen lineage must follow:
“«I am El Shaddai. Walk before Me, and be blameless. I will make my covenant between Me and you, and will multiply you exceedingly. As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you. You will be the father of a multitude of nations. Neither will your name any more be called Avram, but your name will be Avraham; for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations. I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your seed after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a G§d to you and to your seed after you. I will give to you, and to your seed after you, the land where you are wandering, all the land of Kena'an, for an everlasting possession. I will be their G§d." This is My covenant, which you shall keep, between Me and you and your seed after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised. You shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin. It will be a token of the covenant between Me and you. He who is eight days old will be circumcised among you, every male throughout your generations, he who is born in the house, or bought with money from any foreigner who is not of your seed»” (Genesis 17:1-12). This is the blood covenant observed by Israelites until now. It is remarkable that also non-related people were allowed to enter and fully belong to the Hebrew nation through this blood covenant, as performing "b'rit milah" is an essential requirement as well as an acknowledgment by which Israelite nationhood cannot be denied (it could be rejected on other grounds depending on successive covenants, but not on this one).
The integration of tribes of mixed origins that from ancient Mesopotamia, Anatolia and the Caucasus expanded through Central Asia up to India and China and then in successive flows marched westwards, settling their headquarters in the Volga-Dniepr region and having the common purpose of conquering the Danube-Carpathian Basin may have been possible to achieve only through blood covenants like the ones we have already mentioned. Such heterogeneous groups need a common law and must be strongly bond to rules accepted by every single tribal unity: the cohesive element seem to be the Habiri, whose religious and legal system appears to be the one that prevailed and was transferred until the foundation of modern Hungary by Árpád.
The Achćmenian Empire established a new "world order" in which the centre of the political power was displaced to the east of Mesopotamia. The previously indeterminate eastern borders were better defined, enclosing large territories of the former "no man's land" where the nomadic tribes inhabited. Those that once were distant realms became neighbouring countries: the Persian dominion reached the gates of India and the most direct way to China. This was the propitious time for the movement within the vast empire for the Mesopotamian/Anatolian peoples to establish settlements in the east, along the Silk Road and on the old trade route to the Indus Valley. Thus the state of Khwarezm was founded (Hwârazmiya, in Persian).
In this period, the old ethnonyms progressively faded away, leaving their place in history to Iranian, Indian or even Chinese terms with which these ancient peoples would be known until they arrived in Europe. The language of history records changed. In fact, it is during this time that it seems that ancient peoples vanished into thin air while others sprung up from nowhere. The end of the Assyrian-Babylonian Empire appears almost like the end of the world for most of the nations that once were under their rule: many of those peoples recorded in the Assyrian chronicles would not be mentioned again... Even in the Hebrew Scriptures the name "Israelite" is equalled with "Jew", the term used by Persians in reference to the whole nation. In the Book of Ezra, we find a list of peoples that were transferred to Israel by the Assyrians, whose ethnic denominations were unknown in earlier Biblical records: «Then wrote Rechum the chancellor, and Shimshai the scribe, and the rest of their companions, the Dinaites, the Apharsathkites, the Tarpelites, the Apharsi, the Arkevi, the Bavlites, the Shushankhites, the Dehites, the Elamites, and the rest of the nations whom the great and noble Asnappar brought over, and set in the city of Shomron, and in the rest of the country beyond the River, and so forth» (Ezra 4:9,10). Some of them are easily recognizable, while others belong to the peoples that will play a relevant role in the post-Achćmenian era. [For their geographic location, please see the map here]. It has been difficult for exegetes and scholars to identify some of these peoples with certainty; nevertheless, from the Biblical text we can find their identity in agreement with historic sources. For example, the Apharsathkites (called Apharsakites in Ezra 5:6; 6:6) have often been thought to be the same as the Apharsi or Apharsites, accidentally mentioned twice, but from Aramaic and Persian records we can acknowledge two different peoples corresponding with each of both terms: the Aparni or Parni and the Pārs, that might roughly be translated as "Parthians" and "Persians". Therefore, having established that Apharsi is an alternative term for "Persian", the exact identity of the Aparni requires a deeper research, which is what we intend to do in this chapter. It is important in this people list the mention of the Dehites, that are the same as the Dahae (Dahâ) of the Persian accounts, as they were a Scythian tribe associated with the Aparni in the foundation of the Parthian Empire.
Before dealing with the probable origin and identity of the Aparni, it is important to make a brief reference to the foundation of Khwarezm, which is very relevant for the development of the Hungarian nation from the geographic and ethnic viewpoints. It was the Hurrians that moved from their original land in Subartu and settled in the area of modern Turkestan, namely Khwarezm, a region that is closely next to the province of the Persian Empire called Harauvatya, Harahwaty, regarded as the original Croatia (see Croatians). We will find the Hurrian-related peoples also widespread throughout the Indian sub-continent, and as it was said, they belonged to the Indo-Aryan group and their language was closely related with Sanskrit and not with Sumerian or Hungarian; nevertheless, they have since the beginning coexisted with Subarians and Habiri in the same country and moved together to the same lands along history, until now. As we found the Mitanni and Avraham's relatives dwelling among Hurrians in Mesopotamia, we find them again in Khwarezm, in the Indus Valley, in Scythia and in the Balkan region.
The Aparni are often identified with the Parthians or else with their leadership. Indeed, they were likely the ruling class, certainly not the whole of the Parthian people. According to Armenian and Turkish inscriptions, the Aparni dwelled by the southern/south-eastern shore of the Caspian Sea, and were in some way related with the Kushan - an enigmatic ethnonym that clearly recalls the name of Kush, the Sumerian forefather. From these sources we obtain a further confirmation that the word Apar/Aparni is not connected with Pārs but with Awar, as it is geographically identified with the land of Khorassan-Nishapur, in Khwarezm, and not with Persia, which is in the south of Iran. Their country is called Abarshahr, or Aparašxart in Armenian, which corresponds to Abarország in Hungarian - the Avars' land. Conventionally they were considered a Scythian tribe, but as we have said, this term was applied to every people sharing similar features or lifestyle, either ethnically related or not. In a later period of their history, a consistent part of the Avars reached China and very likely joined the Juan-Juan, with whom they are often identified, and surely played an important role in the composition of the Uyghur nation. By the time with which we are concerned now, the Achćmenid and Parthian period, the Avars (Aparni) were regarded in classical sources as one of the main tribes of the Dahae federation ‒ and the Dahae were, indeed, Scythians. Notwithstanding, there are several interesting elements that relate the Avars with Hebrews rather than Scythians: when the Avars arrived in Europe, in spite of the fact that the Mongol influence was quite noticeable in their somatic traits due to their long sojourn in Asia, their graves were plenty of Jewish items! Such a peculiarity is obviously referable to their stay in Khazaria and their alliance with Judaized Kabars and OnOgurs, but very likely they also had an atavic link with their remote past when, by some reason, they were very favourable to the Jews dwelling in the Parthian Empire. This may be deeply, perhaps unconsciously connected with the very origins of the Avars: what about the Habiri dwelling in the lands toward "Sefar, the mountain of the east", of whom we have discussed above? If that mountain was the Elburz, there is not a great distance from there to the Avars' land, actually irrelevant considering that many centuries had passed between Avraham's times and the rise of the Parthian kingdom. The Assyrian name Sapar-da is not quite different from Apar-na. What is more, the Hebrew transliteration of the term "Avar" is written 'ayin-bet-resh, exactly the same as 'Ever, the name of the Patriarch Heber! This may be a coincidence, but there is not any proof against the possibility that the Avars/Aparni were indeed Habiri/'Apiru in origin ‒ Even the fact that the Hyksos capital in Egypt was Avaris seems to be more than a coincidence, as the Hyksos were 'Apiru.
Another interesting detail is their relationship with the Sabirs, with whom they have always shared the same land since the dawn of history. The Sabirs are identified with the Subarians, though in later times they are counted among the Sarmatians, as the Mitanni/Mada ethnicity prevailed. Nevertheless, Professor Hargita suggests a possible connection between the terms "Sabir" and "Habiri", which is feasible considering that an actual passage from "h" to "s" occurred in many words transferred from Persia to India, and vice-versa. For example, the Indian river Sarasvati and the Persian province of Harahvati appear as the same name, as well as the Indian region of Sindhu is the source of the name Hind given to the whole sub-continent. The difficulty of this hypothesis is that the name Sabir as derived from Habiri needs a passage by India to undergo such a transformation. In any case, since many terms have been promiscuously applied without precision, and the definition of Sabir is among the most uncertain ones (they are often identified with peoples from which they are also distinguished), it may happen that there is not just one people having this name, as we find that the Yazyg settled in Pannonia are known as "Savarians" by the Romans, while the Sapeires are located in the Caucasus by Herodotus; both of these groups very unlikely passed by India by that time, therefore such names are referable to Subar-tu rather than to Habiru. This fact does not prevent the possibility that a group of Habiri settled among the Hurrians and Scythians in India may have taken the name Sabir according to the linguistic transformation discussed above.
Even though the Habiri component within the Subarian/Mitanni and Hurrian peoples was quantitatively exiguous in comparison with the Japhetic stock to which these peoples belonged, and was even smaller among the Sumerian/Chaldean group, their influence regarding spiritual matters seem to have been rather relevant. Their importance seems to have been increased with the further contribution of exiled Israelites that would have been easily assimilated within the priestly social classes like the Magi. Indeed, not even the Israelites were a large number, according to the Assyrian figures given above, and it is clear that the Hebrew elements that are present in these peoples have absolutely nothing to do with the "lost Tribes" myth. Besides, the largest number of exiles from the Israelite Tribes continued their way eastwards and settled in the Indus Valley and neighbouring regions. Therefore, in establishing the Hebrew-Hungarian ethnic connexion we emphasize on the pre-Israelite Hebrews rather than on the exiled Tribes.
The Persian name of Abarshahr was Varkâna (Hungarian Várkony, Hyrcania - see additional information on this name below), a term that leads us to acknowledge that the Avars were not a single tribe but a composed group, as well as it might give us the key to the origin of the name "Hun". Nevertheless, the Persian words as they were interpreted by Greek historians have caused a significant confusion among scholars until today, and more difficulty for a certain identification was added by the Chinese and Indian terms ascribed to these peoples, either rightly or not. Apparently, from Varkâna derived the name Varkhon, Varkhunites, people identified with the so-called "White Huns" and the Hephthalites. They were supposedly the association of two peoples, the Var (Avars) and the Khun or Hua (Huns). The further migration of Avars and Huns to the northeast and their possible involvement respectively with the Juan-Juan and Hsiung-Nu (Xiung-Nu) has not contributed to a better definition but rather to a greater confusion and several chronology problems. Such a complexity generated controversial hypotheses and a complicated nomenclature so that it is a hard task to say who is who. In fact, the scholars have still not reached an agreement - and it is unlikely that they would - about the identity and origin of these peoples. So we find that the term "Avar" is applied to different peoples, as well as "Scythian" or "Hun". Some are called "Red" or "White" or other colours given before their ascribed ethnonym, without adding any important element that may help to know their identification besides a vague geographic location. In fact, the assignment of colours to represent the four cardinal points is typical of Iranian cultures, therefore, they only indicate different territories where these peoples dwelled or from where they came. Consequently, the indication "Red Huns" or "White Huns" is not a better definition than for example saying "Southern Barbarians" or "Western Barbarians", terms that indeed, have not any precise meaning. In other cases, the adjective "Royal" is given to distinguish the "true" from the "so-called", but the problem remained since it is still not clear who the "Royal Scythians" or the "Royal Huns" were, if they are to be identified with other people or else they are a distinct one ‒ in the case of the "Royal Scythians", some authors think that it's another name for the Sarmatians, while others consider them a branch of the authentic Scythians; and the term "Royal Huns" is often applied to Attila's Huns to distinguish them from other groups having the same name. The White Huns are usually equalled to the Hephthalites, but other sources lead us to consider them two different groups, and in any case, both of them not related with Attila's Huns.
By the later half of the 3rd century b.c.e., we find most of the peoples with which we are concerned here gathered under an empire ruled by kings related with their own kin: the Parthians. Who they were really, is still an enigma. While they quite differed from Medes and Persians as ethnic entity, their religious behaviour was shown in many aspects similar to the Achćmenian spirituality in contrast to the Greek-Seleucid cultural colonization: besides promotion of Zoroastrianism, their favourable policy towards Jews followed that of the Persian monarchs, and even more than them.
Parthians were not mentioned any longer after their empire collapsed. Their ethnos was undefined; they indeed were not any specific people but the alliance of different tribes, mainly of Avar-Scythian stock. Some scholars identify the Hephthalites as their direct descendants; if such assertion is correct, the Hephthalites may be only one of the tribes composing the former Parthian alliance, not certainly the whole. The complexity resulting from the overlapping of peoples and ethnic denominations has unavoidably generated intermarriages and cultural assimilations between the different tribes and groups, so that most of them, if not all, have adopted for themselves a Scythian pattern. Considering the original Avar-Dahae confederation from which the Parthians emerged, at the end of their empire their heritage was shared out by peoples that followed different directions: the Scythians proper towards the Indus Valley, and the Avar-Huns followed two ways, one westwards to the Ural-Volga-Don Basin and other eastwards to Siberia, Mongolia and China.
The ethnic puzzle appears rather intricate and hard to compose in a meaningful order. Since somatic traits and language are scarcely helpful because they may change either being acquired through intermarriage or adopted due to several factors, the best indicator ‒as I emphasize in all my research works‒ are the spiritual patterns that in every people are manifested through their inner feelings, typical behaviours, subconscious memory, namely, features that exist in them as an atavic heritage.
Therefore, it is essential to consider the spiritual aspects, beliefs and traditions of the ancient peoples to know which of them have determined the present-day character of the Hungarian nation. In this chapter we make a brief resume about these cultural features regarding the peoples existing since early times until the Parthian and Sassanian periods, which were involved or presumably involved in the Hungarian ethnogenesis:
· Mitanni (Mada, Magor): Subarian in origin, they likely settled in Atropatene following the Hurrian migration to Khwarezm. By that time they had abandoned the Vedic religion of the ancient Hurrians and adopted Zoroastrianism. Their homeland was since the earliest times inhabited also by Habiri, and later received deportees from Israel. Their language was likely the Emegir/Emeshal, closely related with Sumerian ‒ different from the Hurrians' Indic one. Their Biblical ancestors were primarily Magog and Meshekh; intermarriage with the Habiri contributed with a Semitic component.
· Massagetas (Sarmatians, Alans, Yazyg): Their identification with the Moshkhi of the Assyrian chronicles is well established, that is Meshekh in the Hebrew Scriptures. In early times they were connected with the people of Tilgarimmu (Togarma) and the Mitanni, and subsequently they interacted with the Scythians in such a way that they were often considered of Scythian descent ‒ allegedly from intermarriage with the mythical Amazons. Their belief consisted in the worship of nature. Their contribution to the Hungarian nationality took place mainly in later times, when they were absorbed by the Huns.
· Medes (Madai): They were, like Hurrians, an Aryan people. Their language was Zend, which had much affinity with Sanskrit - consequently, with the Hurrians' language. Their primitive religion was probably Mithraism, inspired in the Chaldean mysteries, of which the Magi were the appointed ministers. In a later phase, the Magi adopted Zoroastrianism and the Medes practised both religions (that later merged into Mazdeism). Even though the Medo-Persian Empire held a favourable policy towards Jews, they did not appear quite friendly in at least two circumstances: when the satraps of Daryavesh the Mede conspired against Prophet Daniel (Daniel 6), and when Haman, son of Hammedatha, proposed the first mass extermination recorded in history (Esther 3:6) - he belonged to a Median district called Agag.
· Scythians: It has been widely exposed in "Eurasians" that the original Scythians came from the line of Magog, being an Indo-European people. Notwithstanding, this term was applied to every sort of wandering tribes, and since the Scythians were present in a very vast area of the continent, they have taken many cultural features of the peoples with whom they were in contact, usually as allied. Therefore, there is a wide range of peoples, from Europe to India, sharing several Scythian features and claiming Scythian ancestry, even peoples from opposite sides, Aryan and non-Aryan, Indo-Iranian and Eurasian, Turks, Slavs, Hungarians, Rajputs, etc. Their original language is still unknown, probably Hattic, but when they became known to historians, they apparently spoke an Iranic tongue (Zend?). Their religion was centred in the worship of natural forces and they had a chief female deity, Tabiti, comparable to the Indian Kali. The death of a Scythian king was followed with that of his wives, servants and horses, a characteristic common to the Indo-European peoples. On the contrary, the queens' graves were richly ornate but their funerals did not imply sacrifices. The Scythian myth of origins is also Indo-European, very similar to that of the Spartans and Dorians, consisting in a tripartite structure: Targitay and his three sons, Lipoksai, Arpoksai and Kolaksai. Targitai is an important ancestor name also among Avar and Hun tribes like the Székely. This eponym recalls that of Thargamos of the Georgians and Armenians (Togarma), as well as Arpoksai may suggest the Arpakhshad of the Habiri, but it is important to consider that when the Scythian myths were known, they were already influenced by the surrounding cultures and did not speak their original language, consequently, these names may have been taken from other traditions. In fact, attempting to relate such names with some others apparently similar results in additional confusion and speculative un-scientific theories. These names indeed are not related to known patriarchs, but rather express the Scythian character; the most creditable hypotheses support that they recalled the spirits of natural phenomena, animals or warlike symbols and weapons and are connected with terms like arrow, sunshine, water, nobility and possession.
Another important factor is their geographic distribution during the Persian/Parthian periods and afterwards: the Scythians were recognized as three groups, Saka Paradraya dwelling in present-day Ukraine, Saka Tigraxawda in Khwarezm and Saka Hawmavarga in Sakastan; the first group was completely absorbed by Sarmatians and those that came after them (Avars, Huns, etc.), the other two, together with the Dahae, migrated to the Indus Valley and their descent is to be found among the Rajputs, Jats, Dahya, etc. Therefore, it is the first group that contributed to the Hungarian ethnos through assimilation within the Sarmatians, Avars, Huns and Khazars. Notwithstanding, even though Scythians had not any Habiri ancestry, it was the Scytho-Sarmatic area of the Indian sub-continent (namely, the Indus Valley, Kashmir, Rajasthan and the upper Ganges region) where the exiled Israelites preferred to settle during the Macedonian rule and afterwards, having found a tolerant environment.
· Hephthalites or Hayathelaites: It is one of the peoples concerning whose origins there are many controversial theories and opinions. Usually known as "White Huns", they had indeed not any real relationship with the Huns. Such association is caused by misleading name resemblances: apparently they called themselves "Hua", according to the Chinese accounts, while their Sanskrit name was "Huna", terms that historians have connected with the Huns. Indeed, not only their physical features but also their culture, language, traditions, etc. were markedly dissimilar to each other. Theophylaktos Simokattes asserted that the White Huns were the fusion of two tribes, the Uar and the Hion, which some authors erroneously interpret as the Avar-Hun league. Indeed, the Greek historian confused the Chionites -improperly called "Red Huns"-, rulers of Kushan and probably originated in Varkâna, as one of the White Hun tribes. Considering the cultural features of the Hephthalites, their geographic distribution and migratory flows, the Japanese scholar Kazuo Enoki concludes in a convincing manner that they were of Iranian origin. One of their peculiarities was that they practised polyandry, which has never been a characteristic of any Hunnish people but rather of some Aryan clans and of Tibetans. By their background, the Hephthalites may be related with Parthians, but there is not any certainty to assert that they were. They almost disappeared, leaving very little of themselves to their descent. Considering their belief, it seems that they followed the most diffused religious trends of Iranian peoples, with some differences.
· Sabirs: This name is probably synonymous of "Hun" or "Magyar". In fact, Herodotus mentions them as Sapir/Sabir, Makr/Magar, in reference to Subarians and Mitanni. Other classical sources and historians always mention these two terms together (Sabir and Magor). In Persian inscriptions, Sapardia and Hunae are also consecutive. The descriptions of their mastery in the art of war and powerful cavalry and their somatic and cultural features lead to identify them with the Huns, so that they appear as the same people. The equation Subarians-Mitanni of old is paralleled in later times by the association Huns-Magyars. Therefore, further considerations about the Sabirs are those in reference to the Huns.
· Avars: The Avars, as exposed in the previous chapter, were culturally related with Scythian-Dahae tribes, but probably their early origin was Subarian/Habiri. Concerning their homeland, the Persian name Varkâna means "Land of Wolves", name that translated to modern Hungarian would be "Farkasok-földje/Farkasok-országa", but in old Hungarian it is correct to say "Farkasok-hona", which resembles to the historic Persian name. Even more similar is "Avarok-hona", meaning "Land of the Avars". Therefore, a possible sequence may be that the Persians adapted the Avar designation of the land, either translating the meaning (in case that the Avar name was actually "Land of Wolves") or else applying a meaning in Persian (converting the term "Avar" into "Wolf"); therefore, the modern Hungarian term was translated after the Persian historic name, being the complete sequence as follows: Farkasok-hona»Varkâna»Várkony, or Avarok-hona»Varkâna»Várkony. In this case we assume that the Avars' language was an old form of Hungarian, which is not unlikely considering that they were Subarian Habiri, speaking a transitional tongue between Emegir and Magyar. There are additional evidences to establish these facts: The Avars' arrival in Europe and subsequent settlement in the Danubian Basin is chronologically placed after that of Attila's Huns and previous to the HunOgurs and Árpád's Magyars. Even though these migratory waves are interpreted as different, as a matter of fact, they represent a continuity, a "proto-Hungarian" territorial claim. The Avars held the land previously conquered by the Huns as a permanent resistance force against European occupants. Indeed, contemporary sources were not able to explain a clear distinction between the Avars and the Huns that preceded them, nor did between them and the Magyars that followed. The Avars easily "assimilated" the remnants of Attila's Huns, and in the same way did the Magyars with the Hun/Avar/HunOgur inhabitants - having the same language, life-style, clothing, cooking, ornaments, metallurgy, etc. The linguistic map of the Carpathian Basin during the Hun-Avar-HunOgur-Magyar settlement shows a homogenous territory in which no areas having different languages can be identified, not even Turkic tongues. Since the remnants of Avars were still living there by that time, as well as the Székely and other Huns, it results evident that they spoke the same language as the Magyars.
Having established this identity, another determinant element is their belief: regarding this matter, what may be known about the Avars is revealed by the archaeological finds, in which a considerable number of items show unequivocal Jewish origin. Of course, they may have been influenced by the exiles of Israel first and those of Judah later, but their permeability towards the Jewish culture is explained by their consciousness of a common origin and their acknowledgement of the Israelites as the holders of the legacy of Arpakhshad, their forefather.
· Huns: The Huns are undoubtedly the most famous of the Hungarian ancestors, though much of what is known of them is tainted with biased accounts and legends that exalt their allegedly ferocious character, so that any horde of invaders is still qualified with this name. The western civilizations have received the Roman viewpoint first and the Catholic superstition later ‒ the mediaeval prayer "De sagittis hungarorum libera nos, Domine", that is "Save us from the arrows of the Hungarians, O Lord" (similar to the plea "De furore Normannorum libera nos, Domine", "From the fury of the Vikings deliver us, O Lord"), was framed as an invocation for protection from the Magyars, enhancing the excellence of their archery. The Magyars were recognized as the same Huns that four and half centuries before rushed into the heart of Europe with their outstanding archers. The outward characteristics of these peoples are widely discussed, but what is now of our interest regards their spirituality, which is the topic of the next chapter.
A definition problem: Notwithstanding, it is still necessary to make clear some concepts concerning the Hun-Scythian issue, as modern scholars emphasize the Scythian lineage of Hungarians, based on several elements and accounts. We should consider that the term "Scythian" is not a self-designation, but comes from the word "Skythai" with which the Greeks referred to every Eurasian people including Huns and Sarmatians, but we do not know how did Scythians call themselves. Indeed, "Skythai" is not exactly equivalent to the Persian "Saka", that was used in a more restricted way. Since it was the term with which the Greeks knew the Eurasian tribes, it is possible that they used it to identify themselves when dealing with the Greeks, in the same way as today the "Native Americans" have widely adopted such general identification given them by others ‒ no matter if they are Algonquian, Athapaskan, Muskogean, Sioux, etc., peoples that are only remotely related to each other, and that surely do not refer to themselves as "Native American" in their own languages.
The Huns' Ancient Belief
One of the main features that distinguish the early Hungarians from the other Eurasians and primarily from the Finnic peoples (with whom many scholars have always tried to find a common root) is their ancestral belief. The chroniclers were not able to mention names of Hun deities, simply because there were not. Notwithstanding, they recognized that the Huns/Magyars indeed had a Divinity whom they worshipped, who was never represented with images and whose name was not revealed. They called Him "Creator of universe", "Lord of all", "Almighty God" and titles like these. Ibn-Fadlan, the Arab historian of the Rus' people, said: «Hungarians worship God in Heavens above all»; Theophylaktos wrote: «[they] invoke and worship as God the One that created the universe»; the Illustrated Chronicle, the Buda Chronicle and the Chronicle of János Thuroczy report the Hungarian settlement with the statement «Árpád asked the mercy of the Almighty God»; the Gesta Hungarorum states: «Árpád asked the grace of the Almighty God, to give them that land forever». From these and other records it appears evident that they were monotheist since old, before they had contact with Christianity, and even before they were involved in any association with the Khazars. The descriptions of their relationship with the Supreme Being recalls those found in ancient records about the Habiri, to whom the ancient peoples ascribe a mysterious relationship with the Divinity: for example, a Hittite document in which an extensive list of deities from different countries are invoked, concludes with the following words: «and so on to... and the Hapiri Gods,...»; although the Habiri Divinity is not identified by Name, could not be forgotten. In fact, the Huns seem to have kept many features of the pre-Israelite Hebrew belief existing in Mesopotamia by Avraham's times and before. These characteristics may not be related with the Zoroastrian religion since they differ in many aspects, like the burial rituals, and the very fact that Zoroastrians call their deity by the name Ahura-Mazda. Nevertheless, the religious trends of the Parthian period are also traceable, as well as the remains of the ancient Sumerian polytheism. Besides this, also the Scythian environment influenced in the religious practices, so that they may be confused with shamanism ‒ mainly in reference to the character of the táltos. While shamanism is centred in rituals involving ecstasy and trance usually produced by cannabis, mushrooms or other hallucinogen substances through which the shaman allegedly mediates before the world of spirits, the táltos was a kind of priest with particular knowledge in natural medicine, astrology and the sciences of the Magi.
The ancient Hungarians believed that the earthly order is ruled by heavenly powers and reflects the spiritual order. They distinguished the body from the soul, which was complex, having different natures or levels: the first soul closely related with breath; other soul is the centre of emotions, intellect and will during consciousness; other soul rules the mind during dream - what in modern terms would be the subconscious; other soul that abides in the underground after death - a concept similar to the Hebrew sheol; other that may be defined as the personality. Even if not the same, these conceptions may be roughly compared with the Hebrew soul categories nefesh, ru'ach, neshamah, hayah and yechidah, and perhaps both ideas had the same origin. Also the early Hungarian belief in afterlife reveals a common inspiration with Judaism, and some of these ancient customs are still practised. For example, when somebody dies it is believed that the soul wanders and the windows are opened in order to ease his/her departure, mirrors are covered so that he/she cannot see his/her own reflection and may not return.
An astonishing feature connected with the conception of the spiritual universe is the "Tree of Life", that is still represented in Hungarian art and that is exclusive of Magyar territories, not found anywhere else in Europe. It is a cosmic tree composed by nine main branches disposed in three rows, in which reside life and knowledge, the sun and the moon, the winds, the male and female essence of human nature and the renewal of life. Its fruits mature in the far away land where only the chosen ones can arrive, while common people may only hear about this tree. As it is well known, the Tree of Life is essential in Jewish mysticism. Even though the Hungarian conception differs from the Kabbalistic one, both have developed from a common background originated in the Babylonian realm.
The early Hungarian monotheism was anyway mixed with the ancient Sumerian idolatry, whose deities were declassed to lower categories like angels, nymphs, spirits or even legendary heroes, in the same way as the Catholic and Orthodox churches have turned the Greek-Roman deities into saints and virgins. The legends of the Turul Hawk and the White Hind are of Sumerian origin, as well as legendary characters that have a parallel in the Sumerian deities or kings, for example Ménrót/Nimrod, Eneth/Anuta (Iranian Anahit), Damacsek/Dumuzi (Chaldean Tamuz), later identified with Csaba the shepherd, etc. The Babylonian/Persian influence is also apparent in the fact that the Divinity, even if not represented by images, is often associated with the Sun and the Heaven. Indeed, the ancient Hungarian religion may be compared with that of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, having the One Creator of universe and additional symbols of the surrounding heathen nations.
To conclude with this chapter, we can say that the Hungarian ethnic origins are revealed also through their religious heritage, composed by a monotheist belief that belongs to the Habiri, a Sumerian mythology and some Zoroastrian elements introduced during the Persian and Parthian periods.
Some authors that oppose the Sumerian-Hun origin of the Hungarians consider these facts as legends, very likely following some pseudo-scientific trend promoted by political interests that intend to go on denying the Hungarian nation the knowledge of the own roots and identity, or else because they want to support other theories. Yet, they cannot deny that these myths, as every people's myths, have an origin, nor they can disavow the fact that these legends belong to the ancestral Magyar tradition and that their origin is unequivocally to be found in ancient Mesopotamia.
The Altaic and Ugro-Finnic Peoples
One of the major controversies among different scholars regards the common origin of Hungarians and Turks. Undoubtedly, Hungarians are not a Turkic people, and probably they never were. The cultural differences existing between these two groups, mainly after the Magyar settlement in the Carpathian Basin, generated the elaboration of a new "official" theory of origins supported by the Austro-Hungarian élite, followed by the Soviet-ruled Hungary and by the Hungarian Academy of Sciences until now: the Ugro-Finnic theory. This thesis, however respectable it may be, lacks of proofs and leaves many enigmas unsolved, as it was formulated only in the later 18th century c.e. neglecting all the previously existing historic records. Even though the process of Germanization of the Hungarian people began with King Vajk (then christened as István) by the end of the 10th century c.e., it was under the Austrian rule that the need of a sharp distinction from the rival Ottoman Empire required a new theory of origins which placed the Hungarians definitely on the European side. Besides this, the religious leadership of Rome monopolized the official history of Europe, and Hungarians had to be "cleansed" of the ugly picture of the Huns portrayed by the Romans ‒ the alleged higher degree of civilization attributed to the Romans in comparison with Attila's Huns is strongly disputable, however. Consequently, a prestigious leading monarchy as the Austro-Hungarian could not acknowledge any non-European component, and the Ugro-Finnic theory, strongly supported by German linguists, was hallowed as the only feasible one that may have made of Hungarians a fully European, western people that with time would have finally forgotten its obscure, barbaric origins and recognized the valuable contribution of Germanic civilization to their cultural development ‒ according to the racial prejudices of that epoch.
In any case, before we consider the Altaic (Turkic) issue and for the sake of impartiality, it is correct to present the main postulates on which the Ugro-Finnic theory is founded:
According to linguistic patterns, Hungarians belong to a common root with the peoples classified as Ugrian [Khanty (Ostyak) and Mansy (Vogul)] and Finnic [Finn-Karelian, Estonian-Vepsa, Erzya-Moksha (Mordvin), Mari (Cheremiss), Komi (Zyrien), Vudmurt] as well as the Sami (Lapp) and Nentsy. Other Uralic peoples like Bashkir and Chuvash are set aside of any relationship with Hungarians simply because they are considered Turkic on a language basis. On this linguistic classification, it is assumed that a Finno-Ugrian stem emerged from a purely hypothetical Uralic group of primitive peoples. Then occurred a later split into two branches, Ugrian and Finnic, and a further separation between the "Ob-Ugrians" and the western Ugrians from which the Hungarians are supposed to descend. They were forest-dwellers whose cultural degree was that of the nomadic hunters until they got in touch with higher European civilizations (!). These allegedly peaceful early Magyar farmers organized themselves to migrate westwards in order not to be subdued by the fierce Turkic hordes that invaded their homeland in the Volga-Ural Basin, and so the conquest of the Danubian plains under the legendary chieftain Árpád took place.
This theory, as it was stated, is founded on supposition and leaves many things unexplained:
·First, it is based on linguistic patterns, which not necessarily reflect an ethnic relationship; consequently, even though it is asserted that the Finno-Ugrian tribes shared a common homeland in the east of the Ural Mounts and spoke a common language, it is not possible to ascertain that they were ethnically homogeneous, since the association of different peoples speaking one language was common in Central Eurasia.
·The upholders of this theory also admit that they cannot prove that the Huns, Avars, Sabirs and other tribes spoke a language different from that of the Magyars, and if so, which tongue it was. On the contrary, they give no plausible explanation concerning the fact that the different migratory waves from Attila to Árpád had a common language, according to the witness of contemporary sources, and had the same runic alphabet, the rovás.
·They also cannot give an answer to the origin of the Székely, considering of no esteem what the Székely themselves acknowledge, and have not given any scientific explanation for the origin of the term "Magyar" either.
·They admit that the Finno-Ugrians have no history or written records (and perhaps such a people never existed) and that there is not any documented information from the period previous to their arrival in European lands, not as a group but as different national entities. It is not clear how did those primitive hunters become herdsmen, horse riding masters and skilled warriors in the best Scythian style (while the "Ob-Ugrians" and the Finns did not).
·With regard to the alleged higher civilized Europeans with whom they got in touch and learnt to be gentlemen, it is hard to establish who they were: in the case of the Finns, that moved to the Baltic region, it is obvious that they were the Scandinavians ‒ by that time known as "Vikings", "Varyags", "Normans" and paradoxically compared with the Magyar predators ‒ and the Balts; in the case of the Magyars, the nearest European people with whom they interacted were the notorious Rus' and the Slavic tribes, whose degree of civilization was lower than that of the Turkic Khazars.
·Concerning the "Ugrians", alleged ancestors of the Magyars, they cannot be identified with any historically documented people except the Ugur, a tribe closely related with the Saragur, Utigur, Kutrigur and other Bulgar/OnOgur peoples. The Ugur lived in the heart of Khazaria, exactly in the region considered to be the Ugrians' homeland. Their very name is ultimately derived from the Turkic term "ogur", meaning tribe, and is related with the name Uyghur.
·To conclude, the Ugro-Finnic theory has not any reasonable explanation regarding Hungarian mythology. How could ancient Mesopotamian legends become so relevant in the Magyars' belief, while traces of the early Finnic peoples' religion are hardly found? How could names of evident Biblical origin like Ménrót and Magor, or Sumerian ones like Eneth and Damacsek, be perpetuated after so many centuries among the Magyars, while they are not found among other Ugro-Finnic peoples?
This theory, however, may not be completely discarded if it undergoes an impartial scientific review, setting aside dogmatic statements and making the appropriate research and comparison with the archaeological and documentary proofs that have been disregarded. We cannot exclude that the Finnic peoples were in some way related with the Scythians and other Eurasians, having shared with them the same lands for centuries. Yet, we cannot accept that they came into existence like mushrooms, appearing from nowhere around the Ural Mounts, without any origin. Taking account of the historic environment and political situation in which the Ugro-Finnic theory was framed and by whom it was supported, there are reasons to suspect that it was formulated with a specific purpose beyond the purely scientific research. As it is presented today, the Ugro-Finnic theory is as creditable as saying that the Spaniards and Romanians come from a common ethnos because both of them speak neo-Latin languages.
On the opposite side, there are mediaeval documents in which the Magyars are called "Turks" or numbered among the Turkic peoples. Nevertheless, such designation was used in a general way for every Eurasian people, actually replacing the old term "Scythian", which since the 4th century c.e. resulted anachronistic as the land called Scythia in Eastern Europe did no longer exist. This country was subsequently the dwelling place of Sarmatians, Huns, Avars, OnOgurs, Bulgars, Magyars, Slavs and Turkic tribes; a great part of that country belonged to Khazaria until it was taken by the Rus' ‒ when the Hungarians had to find another home and settled in the Carpathian Basin. Therefore, the tribes from the East once called Scythians became "Turks" for the European chroniclers, and the Hungarians were among them.
From the linguistic viewpoint, the Eurasian peoples have been conventionally classified as Uralo-Altaic, being the Uralic branch constituted by the Ugro-Finnic group and the Altaic one by the Turk-Mongol cluster. According to this artificial classification, Hungarians or any other Eurasian people must fit into one or the other, regardless of their actual genetic and cultural heritage. A relevant number of formerly Scythians were excluded from both and assigned to the Indo-Aryan or Iranian group only because of their acquired language, as in the case of the Rajputs, Jats, Gujjars, etc. As a result of this linguistic division, we find peoples now quite different and geographically separated by thousands of kilometres claiming the same ancestry, either Scythian, Sarmatian, Hun or other, but still improperly classified together with non-related folks just because they have undergone cultural assimilation or adopted the language of the geographically prevailing ethnos.
The complex of peoples dwelling in the Parthian Empire and particularly in Khwarezm, as we have said, separated their ways and destinies by following different directions and mixing themselves with other tribes, giving birth to new ethno-cultural entities that with time acquired their own identity. Such expansion aroused plurality of opinions and controversies among scholars, that have framed various theories without reaching any definitive agreement for a possible solution. For instance, one of the unsolved questions is if the Huns were related with the Hsiung-Nu or not: any answer would be relatively right; it depends on which branch of the Huns is referred to by the question. Almost certainly, Attila's folk and the subsequent Hun groups that arrived in Europe came directly from the region of Khwarezm without having been in touch with the Xiung-Nu, nor having performed any previous migration to the east. So, if the question regards Attila's Huns and the ancestors of Hungarians, the answer with a good amount of certainty is "no". On the other side, if the Huns are those that contributed to the ethnogenesis of the Uyghurs, according to Chinese records and other documentary sources, the answer is "yes". The same is valid for the Avars and their presumed link with the Juan-Juan: it should be true for the eastern branch of the Avars, though not for the whole. Notwithstanding, according to their noticeable Asiatic physical features, it is likely that the Avars reached Europe in a counter-migration from the eastern front. Hence, a further query arises: Since both Hungarians and Uyghurs have both Huns and Avars as forefathers, and the Uyghurs are definitely recognized as Turks, would the Hungarians be Turks as well? No. This is the heart of the matter: the Hun-Avar tribes were not a homogeneous block but autonomous entities, and expanded from Khwarezm following different routes in two main directions: eastwards and westwards. It is the eastern group that roughly coincides with the definition of Altaic peoples, or Turks in a broad sense, to which the Hungarians (and the whole western branch) do not belong.
Therefore, since the Hungarians are not Altaic peoples and do not fit the Ugro-Finnic group either, another classification is needed... Khwarezmian, maybe.
What About the Khazars?
Indeed, the last word is not said, because there were Turkic peoples that contributed to the definitive formation of the Hungarian nation: Khazars/Kabars, Kumans (Kipchak) and, in a lesser amount, the Besenyö (Pechenegs). Historically, the most relevant of them have been the Khazars, with whom the Magyars had intensive interaction as allies, subjects, confederates, neighbours or rivals. When the Khazar empire collapsed, they were welcomed by the Magyars in their already conquered Danubian land. Both peoples had similar languages, so that they were understandable to each other. The Khazar tongue was still spoken in Hungary until the 10th century c.e. Paradoxically and in apparent contrast with the purpose of this essay, the Khazars did not add any substantial contribution to the presumed Hebrew-Hungarian connexion: they were a Turkic people related with the Uyghurs that became famous for the adoption of Judaism of their leading class but they had not Jewish bloodline, facts that have generated a series of speculative theories mainly in an anti-Semitic sense. They remain an enigma concerning some aspects: who they were and how many, for example. They arose from the collapsed kingdom of the Kök Turks and built their own empire, which was ethnically quite heterogeneous, composed by almost every Scythian-related tribe between Khwarezm and the Dniepr. The OnOgurs and Bulgars were consistent elements within the population of Khazaria, as well as Magyars, that had also their own realm by the western border. In all likelihood, the Khazars proper were not numerous, perhaps not many besides the ruling class, as they were constantly renewing internal alliances with the subject tribes in order to keep their kingdom solid. Before going on with this topic, it is convenient to disavow two false theories about the Khazars: one is that they are allegedly the majority of the present-day Jews, which is utterly false; the Khazar lineage is to be found mainly among modern Hungarians, Bulgarians, some Caucasian peoples and many Hungarian Jews, that through intermarriage -mainly with Sephardic Jews- are no longer of pure Khazar origin but predominantly Semitic Jewish. Another groundless theory, following the misleading belief in the first one and with the purpose of contrasting it, asserts that the Khazars descend from the so-called "lost Tribes" of Israel. Nor the term "OnOgur", literally meaning "ten tribes", has any relation with them either; it was a common among Turks to call their alliances by the number of associated tribes (“Üchogur” =“three-tribes”, “Beshgur”=“five-tribes”, “Altigur”=“six-tribes”, “Tukurgur”=“nine-tribes”, “Uturgur” = “thirty-tribes”, etc.). There is no need to elaborate such inferences to legitimate the Ashkenazi Jews, as the actual proportion of Khazar blood among them is irrelevant, as proven by genetics. According to their own records, after their conversion to Judaism the Khazars did not pretend to be of Israelite origin but recognized themselves as the descent of Togarma, probably identifying that patriarch with Targitay, mythic forefather of the Scythians. Nevertheless, their adoption of the Jewish belief remains a mystery and perhaps such an uncommon event has been in some way connected with the Avars or the Huns of the Khazar Empire. (For further details about Khazars, see here). Yet, the relevant Khazar element in the origin of Hungarians is undeniable, so much that it partially contributed to support the anti-Semitic theory of the alleged Khazar origin of Jews, because when fleeing from the collapsed Kingdom of Khazaria to the Hungarian realm, the Jews themselves promoted for a while the suggestion that they were of Khazar rather than authentic Jewish origin, and hence legitimate Hungarians no less than the Magyars. Indeed, Khazars and Magyars were so closely related that both were equally regarded as Hungarians!
The official foundation of modern Hungary took place with the Settlement of the Seven Magyar tribes and their Khazar allies after the conquest of the Hungarian "Promised Land", a country that stretches from the Carpathian Mounts along the Danube up to the gates of Germanic Europe over a territory far much greater than present-day Hungary. However, the conquest of the land did not occur at once, but was the result of successive migrations and progressive population of the region, chronologically as follows:
∙The Jász ‒Yazyg‒, one of the components of the Hungarian ancestry, dwelled in the Danube Basin since the dawn of European history. The Yazyg, that may be rightly considered the autochthonous people of the land, were the western branch of the Sarmatians and were already present in the Balkan region in Roman times, dwelling in a vast area between the Black Sea and the Lajta/Leitha river, as it is attested by historic records. Indeed, the Yazyg were allied with Mithridates Eupator of Pontus in his war against Rome in 88 b.c.e., event which places them in south-eastern Thracia. Only ten years later the Romans carried on a punitive expedition against the Yazyg in western Pannonia in 78-76 b.c.e., after their repeated incursions into Roman territory. These facts prove the presence of the Yazyg people over the whole Balkan region. Also the Greek geographer Ptolemy mentions the Jassii dwelling in the area of present-day Szombathely. All evidences show that the Yazyg were in the Carpathian Basin at least two centuries before the Roman conquest of Dacia, and on this basis Hungarians can certainly claim those territories (now occupied by other state). Yet, a pseudo-scientific theory was framed for political reasons: the alleged "Daco-Roman continuity", in order to undermine the right of Hungarian peoples to their ownership of the south-eastern part of the Carpathian Basin, commonly known as Transylvania (a translation of the Hungarian name Erdély, as there is not any original Romanian term for that region ‒ the designation Ardeal has no meaning in Romanian but is simply an adaptation of the Magyar name). Erdély/Transylvania is a word that reflects the geographic position of that region with regards to Hungary; actually, from a Romanian viewpoint, that area would be called "Transcarpathia" and not "Transylvania"! The Daco-Roman theory aims at denying the Hungarians' ancestry and heritage. However, it is not the subject of this essay to deal with the true origin of the Vlach or Walachians (now known as Romanians), which would lead us off-topic. For further details on this subject see: Vlach. Documentary evidences show that when the Seven Magyar hosts entered the Carpathian Basin they found there remnants of the Goths, Gepids and Slavic peoples besides their kin-forerunners, Sarmatians, Huns, OnOgurs and Avars, but no trace of any Vlach people established in that area.
∙The arrival of the Huns by the end of the 4th century c.e. was the first immigration wave from the east. They established the first Hungarian kingdom in Europe and after their withdrawal they left a permanent presence by the Carpathian Mounts: the Székely. The Huns subdued the Gepids, a Germanic people that obliterated the Getć (Dacians) after the Romans' retreat. They were faithful allies of Attila and played an important role in the battle of Catalaunian Fields, though after his death the Gepids turned against the Huns.
∙The Avars settled in Danubian plains since 567 c.e., after having wiped out the Gepids. They were a permanent threat for Byzantium and conquered most of the Balkans until 626 c.e. Another immigration wave came from the east in 680 c.e., the Hunogurs and Kabars, that associated with them in a confederation known as the "Avar Ring", which endured for more than one century although progressively decaying after continuous pressure of Slavs and Bulgars. The Avar Ring came to an end in 791 c.e.
∙All these groups ‒Sarmatians, Huns, Avars, Hunogurs, Kabars and the peoples that they assimilated‒ were those found in the Carpathian Basin by Árpád's hosts when they conquered the land in 896 c.e., beginning the definitive Settlement and the consolidation of the different tribes in one nation. All these successive migratory waves were connected by a line of ethno-cultural continuity that resulted in the formation of the Hungarian people.
Constantine Porphyrogenitus (913-959) said that "after the Kabars, tribes who had split off from the Khazars and were placed at the head of the Magyar battle order, was the tribe of Neke (Nyék), second that of Megere (Magyar), third Kourtugermatos (Kürt-Gyarmat), fourth Tarianos (Tarján), fifth Genach (Jenő), sixth Kare (Kér) and last that of Kase (Keszi)". Notice the name of this last one, which we have already mentioned in relationship with Kasu/Kasdim.
Since the arrival of Attila's Huns until Árpád's Magyars and allied tribes, there has been a cultural and linguistic continuity in the Carpathian Basin that prevailed over any other influence from the different migration waves of non-related peoples, namely the Slavs (that, coming from the north, consolidated their culture in the south of the Danube-Drava line, but not in the Carpathian Basin), the Germanic tribes and the Roman-Byzantine expansion. The Settlement was the definitive establishment of a people that was longing for the possession of that land since centuries before. The previous kingdoms and realms established by the Huns and the Avars should be considered as stages in the same way as there were Old, Middle and New Kingdoms in ancient Egypt, with intermediate periods, rather than a sequence of separate dominations. Árpád's Magyar-Kabar confederation had not a great trouble in assimilating the remnants of Huns and Avars previously settled, because they shared the same culture, spoke languages intelligible to each other, had the same alphabet (Hun-Magyar-Székely rovásírás), and had the same religion. Otherwise, being the inhabitants of the Carpathian Basin quite more numerous than the newcomers, the Magyar language would have not prevailed long time after the Settlement took place ‒ it is unthinkable that a large majority would have learnt and adopted for themselves a tongue like Hungarian, spoken by invaders, leaving no traces of their presumed former tongue (mainly after the strong Germanization that began only one century after Árpád's conquest; if the mass of the already settled inhabitants did not speak a language closely related to the Magyars' tongue, today Hungary would be a German-speaking country). There are no traces of any cultural contrast either, since the Hun period and throughout the Avar period.
There are some events connected with the Settlement that show astonishing parallelisms with ancient history and that may keep the secret of the Hungarian origins. They also shed a little more light on the Hungarian religious practices and precepts, whose roots may have been known by the protagonists and that fell definitively into oblivion after a king of Hungary (that will be mentioned later) decided to upset the whole Hungarian heritage in favour of religious Romanization and cultural Germanization.
When the Vérszerződés (Blood Covenant) was sealed by the chieftains of the seven arrays, Álmos was elected as the prince and heir of Attila the Hun, and his descent as the rulers of the nation forever. Then they decided to take back the land that four and a half centuries before was chosen by Attila as his own kingdom: the Carpathian Basin. Álmos, being aged, died at Ungvár, at the gates of the "Promised Land" but without setting foot in it, and his son Árpád took his place. Árpád sent Kusid to spy out the land to be conquered, and he received a report that the country was delightful and splendid, rich and fertile. Therefore, Árpád took a horn and sought the favour of the Almighty that the land be given to the people forever, and then he and his allied chieftains moved towards the Carpathian Basin, not as invaders but as the legitimate owners.
Before going ahead, let us consider this set of parallelisms:
∙Álmos was committed to lead his people to the land that about four and a half centuries before was owned by Attila, who came from the east, as it was considered by them a "Promised Land" ‒ In the same way, Mosheh was appointed to lead the Hebrews to the land that 430 years before was promised to Avraham, who came from the east and settled there.
∙Álmos, like Mosheh, died of old age at the gates of the land without entering it.
∙Árpád, like Mosheh, sent somebody to spy out the land before taking possession of it. The report about the country was in both cases that it was a delightful and rich land.
∙Both leaders considered the conquest of the land as a promise of the Almighty.
Now we wonder, did Álmos, Árpád and their people have knowledge of all these facts? Did they perform all these events following a precise design? Are all these coincident facts in any way related with the secret of their origins?...
The Hétmagyar are usually considered to be seven tribes, however, it seems that they were not ethnic groups but rather arrays in which the people was organized. Seven is a meaningful number in ancient Middle East, not only among Hebrews. May these seven chieftains in some way represent the seven princes of Media that were close to the King of Persia, namely, the seven Magi? Has this tradition been kept since old, or is this also a coincidence?
Árpád was succeeded by his descendants, though the tribal chieftains had the effective control of their own groups. In this period, the Gyula of Erdély (Gyula was a title rather than a proper name as used today) became powerful and Transylvania was an autonomous Hungarian principality, associated with the Magyar realm but actually self-ruled. Árpád's house achieved again a strong leadership with Géza, who married Sarolt, the daughter of the Gyula of Erdély.
The events following Géza's death show some interesting social practices originated in ancient religious laws:
Koppány, who was one of the princes of the royal lineage, requested to marry Géza's widow, according to the law of levirate. This law establishes that the oldest brother of a dead man should marry his widow and take care of his children, or in case there are not, to generate a descent to his brother. This custom is a rarity, practised by very few peoples: it was a precept established among ancient pre-Israelite Hebrews , continued by Israelites , and followed by Jews and Roma, and was also a law among the Hsiug-Nu, the Huns and some Mongol and Turkic peoples.
Koppány, with this act, claimed the right of succession to the throne, another law that may be traced back to the same origin: Reuven, firstborn of Yakov, took his father's concubine with the purpose of keeping his birthright , and Avshalom did the same in his conspiracy against King David .
However, Géza had a son, Vajk, who moved war against his uncle. Vajk had sealed an alliance with German knights that provided troops to reinforce his army, and after having defeated Koppány, he torn his body into pieces that were nailed on the gates of the four main cities of the Hungarian realm, including Transylvania's capital ‒ to intimidate the Gyula, who had sided with Koppány.
Such an action is also traceable to ancient origins: according to tradition, the Patriarch Shem punished Nimrod for having opposed the Almighty and cut his body limb by limb to be scattered among the peoples as a testimony, tradition that in Egypt was known as the Myth of Osiris, slain by Set and torn into pieces that were spread throughout the land. There is a similar episode reported in the Bible (Judges 19:29), though not as a punishment but as a request of justice for a committed crime. Is it also a coincidence that Shem was the forefather of the Habiru, and that the Egyptians identified Set with the Deity of the Hyksos and the Apiru?
Though such an action was not so barbarous in that time as it appears to be in the present, Vajk did not perform an act of justice as, according to the meaning of this ritual, it was supposed to be. However, this ruler, that betrayed the blood covenant made by his ancestors and committed many other misdeeds, has been canonized saint under his acquired name, István.
 Genesis 38:8;  Deuteronomy 25:5-6 - The Israelite Law establishes levirate only if the dead man is childless, and only the firstborn of his brother with his widow is regarded as his son, not the other children.
 Genesis 35:22; 49:4;  2Shmuel 16:22.
During the Settlement and soon after it was completed, Hungarians were considered the dread of Europe and a threat to Christendom (as Vikings later), hence the famous mediaeval prayer "De sagittis hungarorum libera nos, Domine". However, only half a century after Árpád's rule, Prince Taksony sought for peaceful relationships with the European states to meet with their acceptance ‒ after all, the Hungarians did not take the lands from any sovereign nation but settled in a territory that had been rather considered "no man's land", and the establishment of an organized state in the region would have also granted more safety from further invasions from the east. Taksony as well allowed the diffusion of Christianity in his kingdom, without conflict with the ancient culture and traditions, and within the respect of the Vérszerződés. His son and successor, Géza, became a Christian himself, as well as the Gyula of Erdély. These conversions did not affect the Hungarian culture at all ‒ the Hungarian "pagan" religion was not so different from the "monotheistic" Roman Christianity, which as a matter of fact, had and has more idolatrous practices than the old heathen belief, having adopted the Greco-Roman deities and having turned them into patrons under the cover of disciples and saints.
It was Vajk, renamed István, that became a fanatic servant of the Roman church and openly violated the blood covenant of his ancestors. He married a German princess and aimed at making of Hungarians a Germanic people. His reign began with his first bloody action, murdering the legitimate heir to the throne according to the law established by the Vérszerződés, by which it was the eldest male within the ruling house the one having the right to succeed the sovereign. We cannot know with certainty who Koppány was, apparently he was not Géza's brother, maybe he was Taksony's grandson through another line (namely, Géza's nephew and Vajk's cousin). In any case, as the accounts were written by Vajk's chroniclers, they contain purposely falsified information and genealogies, omissions and distortions in order to legalize István as the king of Hungary. Many documents were destroyed, as the rovás runic writing was banned and replaced by Latin characters (which are not suitable for Hungarian language; many diacritics and composed letters had to be added in order to represent the phonemes, while rovás had one character for each sound). Even the Bibles already written in rovás were burnt! King István ("the saint") had done away with Hungarian culture and history in the name of Germanization, and for this bravery he has been sanctified by Rome. He devoted himself to obliterate the ancient Hungarian religion in the same way as the "fathers of the church" erased any trace of Judaism from the original Christian belief. We cannot know even if Koppány was a supporter of the old religion or if he opposed Christianity, as Vajk did not only fight against him, but also moved war against Catholic princes: Ajtony of Marosvár and Gyula of Transylvania, his uncle. However, István claimed his wars to be in defence of Christianity, and he soon learnt to apply the methods of annihilation of any religious idea different from the Roman church that were practised in Catholic Europe. His rule does not seem to have been peaceful: by the end of his reign, Vászoly, who was another of his relatives, rebelled against him. Vajk the murderer (István "the saint") made him to be blinded and tortured, and then executed. There is no record of atrocities similar to those committed by István "the saint" in the previous history of Hungarians ‒ surely not by Attila "the Scourge". István had not any living son to succeed him to the throne of Hungary, as they died before him. After a brief period of disputed succession, the house of Árpád was restored when András, the elder son of Vászoly that was exiled in the Kievan Rus', became the king of Hungary. Nevertheless, since that time onwards the ancient cultural heritage had been undergoing an irreversible process of Germanization and the secret of the origins had been perhaps lost forever with the destruction of the documents written in rovás alphabet.
Mysterious Remote Connexions
Before concluding with this essay, we considered that it would be of any interest mentioning some curiosities ‒ which are to be regarded as purely speculative since there is a complete lack of evidence to establish with certainty any actual relationship. These weird coincidences are by no means relevant to propose any creditable theory unless overwhelming evidences would be discovered in the future (which is quite unlikely). These mysterious remote connexions have to do with some linguistic affinities and other features existing in some Native American peoples: being the Bering Strait crossing theory the most creditable one about their origins, and being also their anthropological and biological features quite close to the Eurasian peoples, we can assume that some of the Scythians and other groups reached the Americas through the frozen Arctic and originated new ethnic entities. Consequently, it is not excluded that among these migrations there might have been also any Sumerian-related group, or at least, some "ziqqurat-builder" people. The interesting curiosity regards one of these outstanding civilizations of America, known as Maya ‒a word that may have the same root as Magyar‒, whose myth of origins deals with the twin heroes who were hunters ‒in the same way as Hunor and Magor‒, and whose names have significant meanings: Hun-Apu and Xbalenque. The name Hun-Apu, by chance, has an exact meaning also in Hungarian, that is "Hun-Dad", apu being the vocative of endearment for father, that is like dad in English, therefore, it would be understood by a modern Hungarian as "Hun-father". The meaning in Kiche (the Maya language) is anyway interesting: Hun-Apu may be translated as "Master Magician", exactly what in the ancient Middle East was known as the Rab-mag. His brother Xbalenque had a meaningful name as well: "Jaguar", that is the American counterpart of the leopard: is it only a coincidence that Nimrod, the mighty hunter, was the lord of the leopards? By analogy, the Maya twin heroes appear to have a Mesopotamian origin related to Nimrod, and also by analogy, the Maya as well as Sumerian-Babylonians built ziqqurats with the same religious purposes. Another curious fact is that the term "Hun" is very frequent in the composition of Maya mythological names found in the Popol-Vuh, like Hun-Hunapu, Vukub-Hunapu, Hunbatz, Hunchouen, etc. Did they keep the secret of the ancient origin of this term, that became the designation of a people in Asia? Other elements of the Maya mythology suggest that they indeed came from Asia through the Bering Strait: their account of origins relates about a time in which the people were confused because they were unable to understand the speech of each other, and so they had to leave their dwelling place according to the language groups. Along their journey they had to overcome many difficulties, crossing high mountains and even the sea, that by miracle was divided to allow them pass through (!). The Maya legend of origins refers also to the darkness where they lived before the sun appeared, and in the beginning its light was faint, concepts which may be explained by tracing back to their passage through the cold north in their migration from Asia, remembered by their ancestors as the land without sun in winter, and with a feeble sunlight in summer.
As it was said before, we do not pretend to assert any actual connexion between the Hungarians and the Maya, which would be hazardous, but only to mention these coincidences as curiosities. Undoubtedly, the Babylonian myth of Nimrod has been transferred to the mythology of every people all over the world, to which the Maya are not an exception; what we found interesting are these particular characteristics: the ziqqurat, the twin hunters and the meaning of their names, the recurrence of the term "hun", the designation Maya and some other subtle similarities that may be found when learning about their traditions.
There is still much more to study in depth concerning this topic. As it was said in the preliminary remarks to this essay, here we have presented some hints that may be either confirmed or not by further research and discussion. We are aware that the hypotheses proposed here are not conventional, however, they are founded on historical facts and taking account of research already done by many scholars, most of them Hungarian (Baráth Tibor, Bíró Lajos, Dümmerth Dezső, Gyárfás István, Györffy György, Hámori Alfred, Kiszely István, Lépő Zoltán, Magyar Adorján, Mészáros Gyula, to mention some of them). The purpose of this essay is to contribute with the study of the origins by suggesting that among the ancient documents the key to solve the mystery of the origins may be hidden and waiting to be discovered.
The Early History of the Hungarian Ethnic Designations