Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The Blot in Our History, Losing the Ten Tribes of Israel

Nadene Goldfoot                                                                             

Assyria attacked Israel after it had divided between the North and the South when King Solomon died in 920 BCE.  The North remained as Israel with with their capital now being Samaria.  The South was the tribe of Judah so remained to be called Judah who kept Jerusalem as their capital.  Israel was ambitious and kept involved in the world events an business, different from Judah who had rebelled at the amount of high taxes used for building purposes and such, and who remained more in tune with the Moses traditions and laws.  Moses was born in 1391-died in 1271 BCE). The Assyrian attack happened 550 years after the 12 tribes entered Canaan.  Israel had been an empire for 550 years already.
Each tribe had its own area assigned to them either by Moses or Joshua.  Being in the south, Judah evidently was not able to protect the other tribes as they were accosted brutally and taken by the Assyrians.
Leah and 6 sons Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun.  Jacob with Rachel and son Benjamin.  Joseph is in Egypt but his sons, Ephraim and Manasseh inherit his land, Zilpah, Leah's handmaid and sons Gad and Asher, and Bilhah, handmaid of Rachel  with sons Dan and Naphtali.

When Solomon died, Israel divided between the North and South.  He had changed the position of the tribes also, so when the Assyrians conquered  with King Tiglath-Pileser III in 732 BCE and Sargon in 721 BCE, they were taken to Assyria, Media and the lands neighboring Aram-Naharaim (Syria) .  The South, Judah, had the tribes of Judah, Simeon and most of Benjamin. Many of the Judeans were captured by Nebuchadnezzar and taken to Babylon in 586 BCE.  

Now many Israelites were captives, taken away to places that the remaining Jews knew not.  Centuries later all sorts of myths developed as to where they were.  Christians wished to find them to bring on the End of Days and their Messiah, Jesus.  Jews wished to find them to bring on the End of Days as this is what their prophets had foretold.  Today they are appearing at the gates of Israel and gaining entrance.

An extraordinary little book has been written about these myths, some of which may hold kernels of truth, called "Letters From Beyond the Sambatyon," the myth of the Ten Lost Tribes, edited by Simcha Shtull-Trauring in Tel Aviv's Jewish Diaspora Museum.  In 1991 the Museum had an exhibition called by the title of this little book, to look at the communities across the world linked to the Lost Tribes.
Pathans (Pashtuns)  in Jerusalem 
One group of people I have run across most promising of being made up of the Lost 10 are the Pashtuns of Pakistan,  Afghanistan and India, which borders Iran on the east. Pashtuns number  more then 10 million in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan.  They also are divided between northern and southern Pashtuns.  I doubt if all are descendants of the lost 10 tribes, but some are.  The Taliban terrorists are also from this area, often terrorizing the Pashtos.  Pashtuns have led a life of being the scapegoat of others around them as they are different.  There are reports of them keeping certain customs relating back to Jewish customs.  My Jewish father's DNA haplogroup is Q1b1a, a Jewish line which shows up in 5% of the Jews of today.  18% of Pashtuns in Kabul, Afghanistan are Q1b.  Both lines are labels as Q M242.  There is probably a slight change in alleles for the Pashtun line, but it shows a shared origin.

Many are most curious about their history and the rumor, both from their family and friends, and from the outside world that they may be from the captive Israelites.  Today they are Muslims, so their searching is limited.  Here I have  condensed and extrapolated some of the information from this little book in order to gain knowledge.
Lands of the 10 Lost Tribes
From the book by Eldad:  In 883, a letter was sent to the Jews of Spain by a man calling himself Eldad from the tribe of Dan, one of the Lost Tribes.  He said he came from the east of Africa, near the Gulf of Aden., which would have been today's Yemen.  In the letter he told them about how he got to their "glorious kingdom of the Ten Lost Tribes, a land overflowing with precious gems, fertile livestock and exotic produce."  He told how the tribes communicated with each other.  Evidently they lived on both sides of a river he called "Sambatyon" that had a connection to the world, Shabbat (Sabbath).

He started from a point from Ethiopia from the other side of their rivers.  He said that he and a Jew from the tribe of Asher got on a small ship in order to do trading with the men on board and by midnight and wind came up and the ship was wrecked.  Here they were out in the water and they found some box to hold onto and were cast on shore.  The native people there were the Romranos who were black Ethiopians, tall, naked and were cannibalistic.

The Jew of Asher was fat, and they ate him.  The storyteller was thin, so they put him in chains and tried to fatten him up.  He didn't eat all the food they gave him and remained thin.  Finally another army raided them and killed them so took him captive.  These men were fire worshippers and he lived with them for 4 years.  Every morning they would build a big fire, bowed down and worshipped it.  Then they took him to the province of Azania.

Here, another Jew from the tribe of Issachar (2nd census 64,300-up from 54,400 with Moses) who was a merchant found him and bought him for 32 gold pieces and brought him back to his country in the mountains of the seacoast.  It belonged to the land of the Medes and the Persians.  To do this he would have had to cross Yemen and Saudi Arabia to get to Persia (today's Iran), or go by boat from the Gulf of Aden to the Gulf of Oman, which they most likely did.  They followed the Mosaic Law and lived in peace and comfort.  It was as big as 10 day's journey by 10 days.  Persia is a huge country compared to Yemen.  They had great flocks and camels and asses and slaves.  They did not raise horses, which the Dannite knew about.  They didn't use weapons except the man who did slaughter sheep.  They had no criminal acts going on in their country, no robberies, and even if they found money on the road belonging to someone else, they refused to take it.
He said that the tribe of Zebulun (2nd census 60,500 with Moses) were living in the hills of Paran and that population reached to the neighborhood of Issachar.  They lived in pitched tents made of hairy skins which came to them from the land of Armenia.  Their land reached up to the Euphrates River.  They were businessmen, most likely traders.  They still observed the Jewish Law of the 4 death penalties set down by the court.  There was a Paran.  It was a desert wilderness in the Negev, the home of Ishmael (Arabs).  The Israelites had traveled through this area after they left Mt. Sinai.  It was in the NE of the traditional Mt. Sinai, south of Kadesh, and went to the shores of the Gulf of Elath and the Arabah.  

The tribe of Reuben (at 2nd census was 43,730 with Moses) was over against them behind Mt. Paran, and of course there was peace between the two brotherly tribes.  They would join together in war, and they made roads and divided the spoils amongst themselves. I hope by "spoils" this meant the gross products bought through trading and using these roads."   They went on the highroads of the Kings of Media and Persia and they spoke Hebrew and Persian.  In their homes they had Scripture and Mishna, Talmud and Aggadah.  Every Sabbath they read the Law with accents.  They read the text in Hebrew and the interpretations in Persian.  Mishna was the Oral Law;  Talmud (2 of them, Babylonian and Palestinian, from before the year 500; a record of discussions about the Laws;  Aggadah a collection of stories from Oral Law, a sequel, sayings, chronicles, moral  instructions, etc.  
The tribes of Ephraim (at 2nd census was 32,500 with Moses) and the half-tribe of Manasseh (2nd census 52,700-up from 1st census of 32,200of Manasseh with Moses)   are in the mountains over against the city of Mecca (Saudi Arabia).  They were problems to the Ishmaelites. they were also descendants of Joseph, since Moses divided his tribe into Ephraim and Manasseh.   They were very strong and had an iron heart.  They were horsemen and were on the roads.  They have no pity for their enemies.  They make a living by robbing, so they were highway robbers.  They were warriors,  One was a match for a thousand.  This was pretty shocking to read.  They seem to be people who had disregarded all Moses taught the tribes.  Ephraim was the younger son of Joseph, and Joseph was the favorite youngest son of Jacob.  He's the one who wound up being the Pharaoh's right hand man of Egypt.  Ephriam was a name used for the more northern of the 2 Israelite kingdoms.  It included the hill-country in central Israel, noted for its fertility.  In the early days before King Saul, the 1st king of Israel, they claimed priority among the Israelite tribes because of their religious center at Shiloh on their land.  When the North and South of Israel divided, Ephriam was imporatnat because their new king was Jeroboam and he was from the tribe of Ephriam.   Later, prophets would talk about the House of Judah and the House of Ephraim, the 2 branches of the Hebrew people.  To find the tribe of Ephraim would be a major accomplishment.  Manasseh was the 1st son of Joseph and his wife, Asenath.  

The tribe of Simeon  (2nd census of 22,200-down from 59,300 with Moses) and the other half of Manasseh lived in the country of the Babylonians, 6 months journey away.  They have the largest population of the 10 tribes.  They take tribute from 25 kingdoms and even some Ishmaelites pay tribute to them.  A tribute is money paid for protection.  It is looked on as a tax for protection.  They are getting this money in showing their submission to the more powerful Simeonites.  This letter seems to be extolling the traits of the day that are things to brag about, their power, how great they were and how well they have done after being taken captives in these past  1,604 years.  

The tribes of Dan (64,400), Naphtali (45,400) , Gad(40,500)  and Asher(53,400)  lived in ancient Havilah, where gold was, and they trusted in G-d, who helped them.  Every year they made war with the 7 kingdoms and 7 countries.  The kingdoms were Tussina, Kamti, Duba, Tariogi, Takula, Kakrma and Kalom which were on the other side of the rivers of Ethiopia.  These 4 tribes had gold and silver and precious stones, many sheep, cattle, camels and asses.  They farmed, lived in tents and traveled and lived in tents from border to border.  Their king's name was Uzziel.  This is very similar to the name of Uzziah, king of Judah (780-740 BCE) the king who died just before Assyria attacked Israel in 722 and 721 BCE and took the 10 tribes.  He was a king who conquered Philistia and defeated the Arabians and Meunites living in the South of his kingdom.  He also headed a league of kings who hated Tiglath-Pileser of Assyria.  He rebuilt  the Red Sea port of Elath, and during his reign Judah reached the height of their  development.  In the end he suffered from leprosy and his son Jotham took over as king from 740 to 735 BCE.  Then Ahaz ruled from 735 to 720 BCE when Assyria attacked.   As I see it, Judah may have caused Assyria to want to get even and attacked Israel first.  They couldn't get to Judah as the Judeans guarded the walls of Jerusalem .

Every 3 months a different tribe goes out to war and stays away for 3 months.  What they bring back of the spoils  of their enemies they share with their own tribe.  The descendants of Samson from the tribe of Dan are superior to all.  He would say that because he was from the tribe of Dan.  

Then the storyteller, the Dannite, makes the error when he writes about the tribe of Moses.  Moses was a Levite so he should have said the tribe of Levi.  Moses had 2 sons, Gershom and Eliezer.  Gershom's son was Shebuel and Eliezer's son was Rehabiah.    However, the tribe of Levi had not been granted any land.  They were the  the descendants of Levi whose jobs were to teach.  This meant they had to travel from tribe to tribe, live with people in their homes just like our American teachers did in the pioneer days.  They had no land of their own.  So, maybe he meant that since they had been captured, they no longer taught the others, and had to live with themselves for a change.  

He told how Moses descendants (Levites?) were from the Babylonian capture of Judah in 586 BCE and  lived on an island in the sea of 3 months' journey by 3 months.  They lived in beautiful homes and had fine building as castles.  They trained elephants They had no dogs or any unclean animal as listed by Moses.  They had sheep, oxen and fowl and the sheep produced 2 times  a year.  They planted 2 times a year.  They kept gardens and had olives and pomegranates and figs, beans and cucumbers, melons and onions, garlic and barley and wheat and had good fertilizer as from 1 came 100.  They were perfect people following the Mosaic Law.  They did not have any rabbis as at the destruction  of the 2nd Temple after their capture did away with rabbis (as he told the story--Actually, rabbis were the answer to the Temple's destruction).    He said they only spoke Hebrew, took baths in a mikva and never swore.  He said they were all Levites but had no Priests (Cohens) or Israelites   The only other people who have seen them were the 4 tribes who dwelled near each other, Dan, Naphtali, Gad and Asher who lived on the other side of the river of Ethiopia.  The River Sambatyon was between them.  Communication was done with pigeons, letters fastened to their wings or feet.  They have silver, gold, precious stones and sow flax, rear cochineal and  make beautiful clothing.  They were 5 times as numerous as those that came out of Egypt (see census with Moses) for they are innumerable.  

He said that the river was 200 cubits bowshot, full of large and small stones, had rumbling sound like the sea which you could hear a day away.  Six wells make up a lake which they used to irrigate their land and where clean fish lived. (no pollution).  

This is not to be taken literally, though oftentimes stories like this passed down through generations may have a kernel of truth.  No telling what happened to the Israelites after 550 years when they were captured.  Of course, talking with someone who has been found to from the lost tribes, they are surprised and say that they are not lost.  They know where they are.  Many are now returning to Israel.  

Resource: Letters From Beyond the Sambatyon-the myth of the ten lost tribes, edited by Simcha Shtull-Trauring
The New Standard Jewish Encyclopedia

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