The "Ten Lost Tribes" of Israel
In 722 B.C., the people of the northern kingdom of Israel were invaded by the Assyrians and the population forced into exile in the Assyrian empire. That empire included present day Syria, parts of Turkey, and most of Iran. The Israelites evidently dispersed from there into other parts of Asia, so that there are customs and practices all over the Asian continent and as far as Japan which resemble ancient Israelite practices. Indeed, the so-called “lost” tribes are by no means lost but assimilated to the surrounding population. They moved east across the continent and left their practices and beliefs along their route.
In Afghanistan there is a group of
people called “Yusufzai,” meaning the sons of Joseph. To this day they
practice some of the customs associated with ancient Israel. The Pathans also
live in Afghanistan and in Pakistan. They circumcise on the 8th day
and engage in ceremonies associated with the Sabbath. The Kashmiri people claim
to have come from Israel. They celebrate the Passover and call their provinces
by names similar to those used in ancient Israel.
In India there are “Kanaites,” or
the People of Canaan. They speak Aramaic, a form of Hebrew, and use the Aramaic
Bible. In Burma, also called Myanmar, live the Shinlungs. They also called
themselves Menashe, one of the tribes of ancient Israel. The Chiang live in
China. They believe in one God and claim to have come from the west. They say
their ancestor had 12 sons. They practice the Passover and the Levirate. In the
Nagano province of Japan there is a large shrine where every year a festival is
held which illustrates the story of the sacrifice of Isaac, including a priest
who ties a boy to a pillar until another priest unties him after the first
priest appears to come at him with a knife.
The crest of the Imperial House of
Japan is a replica of the mark on the Herod gate in Jerusalem. A Japanees priest
called a Yamabushi puts a black small box, called a “tokin,” on his head,
where it is tied with a black cord. The size of the box is the same as the
Jewish “tefillin.” The Yamabushi also use a horn that sounds like a shofar.
Furthermore, the Yamabushi have a book called a Tora, which was given them by a
Tengu at a mountain, thereby gaining supernatural powers. These same Japanese
also carry an “omikoshi,” which is an ark carried by four men using sticks
to uphold the ark. This is exactly what was done in ancient Israel. Even the
robes of the Japanese priests resemble the robes of the ancient priests in the
I could go on an on and demonstrate
that all over Asia ancient Israelite usages are present today. This is not
surprising. The ancient Israelites were assimilated and their customs were
acculturated into the huge Asian community. The Israelites were indeed
“lost” to the Jewish community. But they are still alive in the ceremonies
and customs of those with whom they merged so many years ago.