Sunday, December 23, 2012

Why Finding Israel's Lost Ten Tribes Has Been Important

Nadene Goldfoot

Will Jews ever unite with their lost ten tribes?  What happened to them after they were taken away?

The Assyrians attacked Israel in 721-715 BCE and took away a good portion of 10 of the 12 tribes.  King Manasseh of Judah was exiled to Assyria in 652 BCE.  After this, Assyria declined rapidly and was succeeded by Babylon.

Ezekiel, from the 6th century BCE, one of the exiled  to Tel Abib on the Kebar River in Babylonia where he prophecied for 22 years,  made prophecies 37:16, 17  which connected the final Redemption with the reunion of the whole house of Israel.  He had said, "Now you, Son of Man, take for yourself one piece of wood and write upon it, "For Judah and for the Children of Israel, his comrades."; and take one piece of wood and write upon it , "For Joseph,  the wood of Ephraim and all the House of Israel, his comrades. Then bring them close to yourself, one to the other, like one piece of wood, and they will become  united in your hand."  The 12 tribes had been from the 12 sons sons of Jacob; Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph, Benjamin, Dan, Naphtali, Gad and Asher. Jacob was the grandson of Abraham.  His father was Isaac.

 Moses (1391-1271 BCE),  our Prophet of Judaism, had picked Levi to carry on the priestly office as he and his brother Aaron were of this tribe.  Levis were not allotted territory in the land division between tribes, so to keep the number 12, Moses divided the tribe of Joseph into 2 tribes for his sons, Ephraim and Manasseh.  The Levis' job was to be teachers, so were to move around to each tribe and live with families, very much like teachers did in early America.  We had 603,550 tribal members entering Canaan with Judah having 74,600 and Benjamin with 35,400.  Ephraim had 40,500 and Manasseh had 32,200.

Joshua led everyone into Canaan and was in charge of the assignment of land.  Reuben, Gad and half of Manasseh were to live in what was later called Transjordan (today's Jordan).. Naphtali and Asher were given the Sidonian frontier in Galilee, around where I lived in Tzfat (Safed).  Issachar and Zebulun were to have the Valley of Jezreel area (Megiddo, Beit Shean, Afula) .  Ephraim and the other half of Manasseh were to live in the mountains of Samaria (now the West Bank) with Benjamin to their south and Judah further south.  Dan got to live along the seacoast where Jaffa and Tel Aviv  lie.  Simeon got the Negev, which is a desert area and today makes up half of Israel.  Beersheba, Makhlesh Ramon, Kibbutz Sde Boker and Eilat are in the Negev.  .

When King Solomon died, Israel split into two states.  Judah, Simeon and most of Benjamin became the southern state  of Judah.  Then the Assyrian kings invaded in 732 and 721 and exiled the northern tribes of Israel to Assyria, Media and the neighboring lands of Aram-Naharaim.  Later more were exiled by the Babylonians in 586.

Assyria was an empire in existence from the 25th Century BCE to 608 BCE.  It included today's Syria when Damascus was an important center, Turkey, Iran and Iraq.  Today, Media (Medes) constitutes the NW part of Iran.  The empire extended from Aran (Azerbaijan) to Afghanistan.  Persian speakers, Kurds and Azaeris  are the descendants.   Mesopotamia is today's Iraq and the homeland of Babylonia. Shortly after Muhammad died in 632, the Muslims conquered it in 637. Jews who had been expelled from Arabia settled here in Kufa, which was 110 miles south of Bagdad.  .

Since 1948, Israel's re-birth in today's period, Jews have been again returning to their Holy Land.  I lived there from 1980-1985 and saw Jews from every country imaginable who no doubt are representatives of mainly, only 2 of the tribes.  We have been seeking the other 10 and wonder what happened to them and if there are any remnants of those tribes still living.  The hunt has turned up some surprising results. totday's Jewish population is almost 6 million.

It turns out that the Taliban contains many Pashtuns of Pakistan and Afghanistan who claim descendancy of the lost 10 tribes.  There are 15 million Pathans.  Not only that, but their culture has included many Jewish practices in their homes, but not in their religion, which today is Islam.  They do such things as circumcise their boys at 8 days, wear a fringed garment like a tzizit, light candles on Friday night and have food taboos similar to today's Jews.  However, those I have spoken with claim to hate Jews.  As one very influential young man told me, "Let me be straightforward towards you.   Like my friends I too am against Jews, and dislike Jews and their views.  It doesn't matter what you think about me after this comment of mine. I might have lost Israelite roots but I reject that and I declare I have Aryan roots from now on, so that I don't be related or bonded with any Jew."

Historically, some people from the 10 tribes remained in their homeland living with the other remaining 2 tribes.  They most likely were absorbed with the last Judean exiles who were deported to areas nearby in 597-586 BCE such as Media, Assyria and Mesopotamia.   The Pashtuns could have been part of this group who have definitely assimilated but still recall  their past history.  What they'd like to do is just take all of Israel and especially Jerusalem, as many Muslims have as a goal.

Throughout history, we have received reports of such claims.  Eldad Ha-Dani thought he found them in  African mountains. Today the Lemba tribe is found to have the Cohen gene, tested and found by Tudor Parfitt in his search for the Ark of the Covenant. A group of Ethiopians claim descendancy from the Queen of Sheba who visited Solomon.  They have been airlifted to Israel. Their dna does not reflect this with today's testing, but they have been practicing much of Judaism for a long time and see themselves as Jews.     Benjamin of Tudela heard rumors of them living in Central Asia.  David Reuveni said he was the brother of one of their rulers somewhere in Arabia.  We now know that there were many  Jewish tribes in Saudi Arabia at the time of Muhammad (570-620 CE).  Antonio de Montezinos said he found them in South America.  Shabbetai Tzevi (1626-1676) was  a false messiah from Turkey,  appointed rulers over various tribes. The Turks forced him to convert to Islam.   One rumor was that they were the Japanese, and another thought the Anglo-Saxons were the lost tribes, even thinking that the royalty of Britain were from them.

If we are still depending on our final Redemption to take place when our 10 tribes unite with us remaining 2, it is not happening soon.  It would be wonderful, though, if only in peace.

Reference: The New Standard Jewish Encyclopedia about Assyria
The Lost Ark of the Covenant b Tudor Parfitt - Negev
Tanach, The Stone Edition, Art Scroll Series

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