Youth Awareness











The Israeli Source of the Pathan Tribes

From the book, Lost Tribes from Assyria, by A Avihail and A Brin, 1978, in Hebrew
by Issachar Katzir

As children, we heard from our parents, who come from Afghanistan, stories about the Ten Tribes who were lost during the destruction of the Temple, about meetings with the country people with whom they had contact in trade matters, about Jewish customs and names – and it all sounded inconceivable and fascinating. Like all children, we enjoyed hearing about tribes of Israel preserving their forefathers’ tradition, bearing arms and awaiting the day of redemption.

From Mr Yisrael Mishal, who lived in Afulah and was formerly President of the Afghanistan Jewish community, I often heard unusually fascinating quotations and stories uttered repeatedly and Mr Mishal gave live examples of his meetings with Pathans who dwell on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

Who are the Pathans? They are also called Afghans or Pishtus after their language. They identify themselves with their former name ‘sons of Israel’, even though nowadays they live as Muslims. In Afghanistan they are said to number six to seven million, and in Pakistan seven to eight million. Two million of them live as beduins. Outwardly, the Pathans are similar to the Jews.

From their ancient customs, one can point to a connection between the Pathans and the Jewish people. They make up about half of the population of Afghanistan, in the region called Pushtunistan, on the eastern border of Afghanistan. Over ninety per cent of the inhabitants are Sunni Muslims. Later modernisation has penetrated into this State, and even less in the hilly areas near the border. In these places, the Pathans continue to live in the tribal framework as their fathers and forefathers did. The legal system operates according to the Pashtunwali,” the Pashtun Laws, parts of which are similar to the laws of the Torah.

The Pathans are known for their physical strength. They are tall, light-coloured and handsome, good soldiers and for the most part bear arms from a young age. They are diligent and intelligent, faithful to an exemplary degree and are known in the world as outstanding hosts.

What is the Ethnic Origin of the Panthim?

The Panthim are not similar in their outward appearance or in their character to any of the ethnic groups which populate this environment: the Indian group-Iranians, Mongolians, Turks or Persians. Most of the researchers are of the opinion that the origin of the Pathans is indeed Israeli. The aliyah to Israel of Afghanistan Jews and the volume of evidence heard from them on this subject about the customs of the Pathans corroborate this idea.

Relationship to the Tribes of Israel

There is interesting evidence about the preservation among the tribes of family trees on their origin, and on their relationship to the fathers of the Israeli people. These family trees are well preserved. Some of them are penned in golden lettering on deerskin. The names of the tribes speak for themselves: the tribe of Harabni (in the Afghan tongue) is the tribe of Reuben, the shinwari is Shimeon, the Levani – Levi, Daftani – Naftali, Jaji – Gad, Ashuri – Asher, Yusuf Su, sons of Josef, Afridi – Ephraim, and so on.

The former monarchy in Afghanistan has a widely-spread tradition according to which their origin was from the tribe of Benjamin and the family of King Saul. According to this tradition, Saul had a son called Jeremia and he in turn had a son called Afghana. Jeremia died at about the same time as Saul and the son Afghana was raised by King David and remained in the royal palace during the reign of Solomon too. About 400 years later, in the days of Nebuchadnezer, the Afghana family fled to the Gur region (Jat in our times). This is in central Afghanistan and here the family settled down and traded with the people of the area. In the year 622, with the appearance of Islam, Muhammed sent Khaled ibn Waleed to the ‘sons of Ishrail’ to spread the word of Islam among the Afghanistan tribes. He succeeded in his mission, returned to Muhammed with seven representatives of the residents of Afghanistan and with 76 supporters. The leader of these people was ‘Kish’ (the name of the father of Solomon). According to the tradition, the emissaries succeeded in their assignment and Muhammed praised them for this.

The Place of the Assyrian Exile

According to the Bible (the second Book of Kings, Chronicles 1 and 2), the ten tribes were exiled to Halah and Havor and the river Gozan and to the cities of Maday. According to the tradition of the Jews of Afghanistan, the river gozan is ‘rod jichan’ (river in Persian is rod), one of the tributaries of the Emo-daria, which descends in the vicinity of the town of Maimane. The city of Havor is, they say, peh-Shauor (Pash-Havor’) which means ‘Over Havor’ in Afghanistan, and today serves as the centre of the Pathans on the Pakistan that the whole area populated the ancient Assyrian Exile. There are researchers who claim that all the Jews living in southern U.S.S.R. along the Emor-daria’ are the descendants of the ten tribes – the Bucharins, Georgians, etc. As we know, a group of ‘‘B’nei Yisrael’ some of whom settled in Israel, is also found in India and Afghanistan. The existence of the Pathan tribes is therefore in the heart of the area in which the ten tribes are found.

The Similarity of the Pathans to the Jews

The British, who ruled Afghanistan for a long time, found it difficult to distinguish between the Pathans and the Jews, and called the Pathans ‘Juz’ – Jews. The Jews, too found it hard to distinguish between themselves and the Pathans when the latter are not wearing traditional dress. Afghanistan has about 21 peoples and languages and only the Pathans, apart from the Jews, look clearly Semitic; their countenance is lighter than that of other peoples and their nose is long. Some of them also have blue eyes. Since most of them grow beards and sidelocks like Jews, this also adds difficulty to an attempt to distinguish between them and the Jews.

Jewish Customs

Even though the Pathans accepted Islam voluntarily and forcibly, they maintain Jewish customs preserved from the recesses of their past. The book contains considerable evidence taken from Jews of Afghanistan who lived in the neighbourhoods of the Pathans and had contact with them. The evidence doesn’t relate to all the Pathans or to all the tribes and places. However, it does prove the existence of Jewish customs among the Pathans. The research on this subject still requires completion, both quantitative and qualitative. Let us note the customs in headline form only: sidelock, circumcision within eight days, a Talith (prayer shawl) and four fringes (Tsitsit), a Jewish wedding (Hupah and ring), women’s customs (immersion in a river or spring), levirate marriage (Yibum), honouring the father, forbidden foods (horse and camel food), refraining from cooking meat and milk, a tradition of clean and unclean poultry, the Shabbat (preparation of 12 Hallah loaves, refraining from work), lighting a candle in honour of the Shabbat, the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) prayer (some of them pray turned in the direction of Jerusalem), blood on the threshold and on the two Mezzuzot (in times of plague or trouble), a scapegoat, curing the ill with the help of the Book of Psalms (placing the Book under the patient’s head), a Hebrew amulet (Kamia), Hebrew names (also. for neighbourhoods and villages), Holy Books (they especially honour ‘the Law of Sharif’ which is the Law of Moses), and rising when the name of Moshe is mentioned.

As for the Pathan law, they have laws similar to the Jewish law. The Magen David symbol is found in almost every Pathan house on an island in the Pehshauor district. The rich make it of expensive metals, the poor from simple wood. The Magen David can be seen on the towers of schools and on tools and ornaments.

Archaeological and Other Evidence

Apart from synagogues, Sifrei Torah, Hebrew placenames and tribal family trees, there also exists evidence on important archeological finds: near the town of Herat in Tchcharan, old graves were found on which the writing was in Persian and in the Hebrew language. The graves date from the 11th to the 13th centuries. In an opposite fashion, so it seems, there are a number of inscriptions engraved on rocks in ancient Hebrew script near the town of Netchaset.

In the ‘Dar el amman’ museum in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, there is a black stone found in Kandahar, on which is written in Hebrew.

It would be appropriate to end this article with one of the pieces of evidence. Mr Chiya Zorov of Tel Aviv notes: When the Bolsheviks rose to power in Russia, they divided the large area of the southern part of central Russia into smaller districts such as Tanjekistan, Turkemanistan, Kazchastan, etc. In Tanjekistan, which is in northern Afghanistan, there was a village by the name of Dushme. When Stalin gained power, he called the village in his name, Stalinabad. It started to develop and grow and many Jews then began to stream into Tangekistan. They found that the Tanyakis light candles on Friday evening. When the Jews went to visit them, they revealed that they eat a dish made of meat stuffed with rice called Pacha, which is characteristic of the Bucharian Jews and is eaten on Friday night. When they asked them what it was, the Tajiks replied that this is an ancient traditional food of theirs and its name is Pacha. They also said that they have a tradition that they were once Jews.

Rabbi Saadia Gaon discussed at length with the Hacham Hivay Habalchi and in the opinion of the speaker, in that period (10th century) the Jews were inclined to assimilate into Islam and it was about this that they were arguing.

The scholar Ibn Sina, born in Buchara, also lived at the time. The teacher Tajiki said that he, too, belongs to the Jews who were forced to convert, assimilated into Islam and are called Tchale. As recounted, the meaning of his name is Even Sina – son of sinal (and up to this day in many languages, and also in Hebrew, the words are similarly pronounced – Sinai, Sin Sina) and perhaps this is why he called himself Ben Sinai, in other words, son of the Torah which came forth from Sinai.

The Maharaja of Mardan was a scholar who completed his studies at the University of London and would often visit the converts of Mishhad who lived in Pehshaurf. He also visited a Jew called Carmeli, who told Mr Hiya Zorov that the Maharaja always said the day would come when they would learn to distinguish the origins of all people and then they would know that all the peoples in the vicinity of Afghanistan were once Jews. The Maharaja published a book in English and wrote of this in the introduction to the book. But the book was lost. There was a time when the author Hiya Zorov, with late President Ben-Tsvi, who considered it of great importance, tried to find the book, but in vain.

Some of the Bucharian Jews have a tradition that they are among the people of the First Temple possibly from the Ten Tribes, but he doesn’t know about this and afterwards they were joined by Jews from the Second Temple Exile.

Scribe:
Pakistani Cricketer Imran Khan who married Jemima Goldsmith is a Pathan.

also see…..

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ten_Lost_Tribes

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theory_of_Pashtun_descent_from_Israelites

Jewish Features of the Pathans

The Pathans have many other features as descendants of Israelites.

Their wedding is like Jewish. Wedding ceremony with the Pathans includes a marriage canopy and rings similar to the Jewish custom.

Women of the Pathans keep laws similar to the Jewish laws regarding menstruation. During this time and for 7 days after, no contact is allowed with the husband. After this period, the woman immerses in a river or spring or in a bathhouse if a natural spring is not available. This is exactly the same as the Israeli tradition going back to the days of the Bible.

Pathans have custom of levirate marriage, which is the custom when a husband dies without children, his brother marries the widow to keep the name of the house. This custom no longer exists today, but was an ancient Israeli custom mentioned in the Bible (Deuteronomy 25:5-6).

The commandment to honor one’s parent is kept in exemplary manner in these tribes. The son must obey the parents in all matters. When the father enters the room all stand and bow their heads in his honor. This was a Israeli tradition as well.

Pathans have custom of Yom Kippur. We know of some of the members of the Lewani Tribe who came to the Jewish synagogue on Yom Kippur each year in Afghanistan. He would stay there until sundown without uttering even one word. He spoke of the tradition of the Temple on this day and of the high priest and his work there.

One year he erred in his calendar and did not come, he wept bitterly for one week for missing the observance of this day.

The Pathans have custom of scapegoat. In ancient Israel there was the custom to put sins of the nation onto a goat and send the goat away to desert. This custom of scapegoat was done to atone the sins of the nation (Leviticus chapter 16). Similar custom is found even today among the Pathans.

The Pathans usually pray in mosque. However some pray towards Jerusalem which is most unusual. There are some very old synagogues in their area and Pathans come to these synagogues on special days in times of great stress or tragedies or for special prayers. The individual who seeks help comes there to touch the lock and to pray. There are those who say that these places once contained scrolls of the Torah. This is interesting because today they are actually devout Muslims.

At the time of plague the Pathans slaughter a sheep and sprinkle its blood on the doorpost of their homes. This is what the Israelites did in ancient Egypt during the plagues that occurred there.

An interesting testimony relates to the placing of a wrapped book of Psalms of the Bible under the pillow of the ill in order to heal that person.

There are those who have said that there are Amulets written in Hebrew. Some contain the phrase “Shema Israel” and it is secretly written by the head of the tribe and it is forbidden to open it.

And the symbol of Shield of David (Star of David) is found in almost every Pathan house. The wealthy make it out of expensive metals and the poor out of simple wood. It can be seen in towers, in schools and also in tools, bracelets, and jewelry. I saw it at least 20 times in a variety of places. In Minerajan, the center of Afghanistan, there are even schools that have the Shield of David on the door or in the stone above the door.

Pathans Live in Customs of Israelites

Pathans have custom of Kosher, dietary laws same as Jews. Pathans do not eat horse or camel meat, which is most common in their area but of course forbidden to Jews. There is some evidence to their not eating meat and milk together which is also an ancient Israeli tradition. And they have a tradition regarding differentiating between pure and impure birds which means permitted and not permitted birds similar to the Torah.

Some still wear a small box which Jews call Tefillin (phylactery) containing a verse of the Bible. This box resemble Japanese Tokin of Yamabushi’s forehead, too. This is an ancient custom of Israel. In the Jewish box there is the verse of Shema Israel, that is, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one!” (Deuteronomy 6:4) This custom of Tefillin came from a verse of the Scriptures, “You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes” (Deuteronomy 6:8).

It is interesting to note that the Pathans retain family names of the Lost Tribes such as Asher, Gad, Naphtali, Reuben and Manasseh and Ephraim. Among them there are people who are called by these names, which are of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel. There are also people who are called Israel, Samuel, and so on, which are never found among the Muslims. There are also many areas as locations, neighborhoods and villages with names of places that are similar to names in the land of Israel.

The region has archeological finds testifying to a Hebrew past, and they also resemble Jews of the area and their language Pashtu surprisingly has many Hebrew words. The Pathans are also called Afghans, or sons of the Pashtu which is their language, were mostly called “Bani-Israel” meaning children of Israel even though they live today as devout Muslims.

The external appearance of the Pathans resemble the Jews of the area. Together with their ancient customs and other data there is a definite connection that can be made to the Tribes of Israel.

The Pathans number 6 to 7 million in Afghanistan and 7 to 8 million in Pakistan. They live in the border area between these two countries and about 2 million live as nomads. These Pathans desire for their independence, which is supported by Afghanistan and is a cause of constant tension in Pakistan which does not desire their independence.

Pathans’ Law Resembles the Torah

Afghanistan is one of the least developed countries of Asia and the majority of the population is illiterate. They work primarily in farming and sheep-raising and other domesticated animals.

Most people still live in villages and some even live as nomads. It is a country that is ruled by Islamic religious law and more than 90 % of the population are Sunni Muslims. But whatever modernization has taken place, it has not reached the mountainous border areas. Here the Pathans continue their centuries old tribal life.

The legal system which is known as Pashtunwali, the law of the Pashtu, is very similar to the Torah, which is the holiest Jewish book and the book of ancient Jewish way of life. There are pages and even complete books among the pathans and they honor greatly what is called Tavrad El Sharif (the Torah of Moses), and they rise at the mention of the name of Moses even though it is not important in Islam.

The Pathans are very healthy, tall, and have strong light-skinned appearance. They are warriors and carry arms from a young age, they are hardworking, wise, truthful and extremely loyal and they also have a worldwide reputation for exemplary hospitality.

The ethnic origin of these Pathans has puzzled people for some time because they are different both externally and in the character traits from the other groups around them such as the Turks, the Mongolians, the Persians, or the Indo-Iranians. It is also difficult to trace their past history in a region in which tens of nations and major tribes of various origins have come and gone.

The personal identification of the Pathan Tribes with their Israelite origin is expressed in various ways. Besides the oral tradition related by the elders of the tribe, there are also interesting testimonies of keeping of scrolls of genealogy among the tribes, reaching back to the Fathers of the Jewish nation.

These scrolls are well preserved and some are written in gold on the skins of a doe. No less interesting and significant are the names of the tribes which bear close resemblance to the Tribes of Israel. The Rabbani Tribe is really Reuben, the Shinware Tribe is Shimon, the Lewani Tribe is Levi, The Daftani Tribe is Naphtali, and the Jaji Tribe is Gad, and the Ashuri Tribe is Asher, The Yusefsai Tribe is sons of Joseph, and the Afridi Tribe is really Ephraim. These are the names of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel.

The Pathans themselves point out the differences between the original names of the tribes and their present names are because of the different dialects of the languages so that, for instance, Jaji was actually called Gaji for the tribe of Gad.

There are some Jews of Afghanistan today who count the Tribe of Israel among the Pathans. The physical similarity between the Pathans and other Jews is exemplified by the British ruled Afghanistan for a great length of time and called the Pathans Jews. When not wearing their traditional clothing Pathans are indistinguishable from other Jews of the area. Among the 21 nations of Afghanistan only the Pathans and the Jews have Semitic features, their faces are longer and lighter, and some even have blue eyes. Like the Jews of the area, Pathans grow beards and sidelocks which further serve to make them indistinguishable from Jews.

The Pathans are about 15 million people living mainly in Pakistan and Afghanistan as well as in Persia and India. They have a tradition of being of the Lost Tribes and have Israeli customs.

The Pathans have custom of circumcision on the 8th day. This is a known Jewish custom, and is the oldest Jewish tradition. I myself witnessed and was present at a very joyous circumcision ceremony on the 8th day after birth. Muslims have custom of circumcision but it is not on the 8th day, and usually at the age of 12.

The Pathans have a sort of small Tallit called Kafan. This is a 4 cornered garment which they tie strings similar to the fringes (Jews call them Tzitzit) and is one of the oldest Jewish traditions going back to the Torah and it is a sign of their Israeli origin. They also have bigger Tallit which they call Joy-Namaz. It is a garment 2-3 meters sq., and it is made to cover the head and part of the shoulders, and is used for prayer by spreading on the ground in the Muslim fashion. It has no fringes.

The Pathans have custom of the Sabbath. The Sabbath is considered a day of rest and they do not labor, cook or bake. The Pathans prepare 12 Hallot (traditional Jewish bread, Leviticus 24:5) in honor of the Sabbath as was done in the ancient temple. One of the significant indicators proving the Israeli origins of the Pathans is the lighting of the candle to honor the Sabbath. After lighting, the candle is covered usually by a large basket. The candle is lit by a woman past her menopause.

Pathans Live in Customs of Israelites

Pathans have custom of Kosher, dietary laws same as Jews. Pathans do not eat horse or camel meat, which is most common in their area but of course forbidden to Jews. There is some evidence to their not eating meat and milk together which is also an ancient Israeli tradition. And they have a tradition regarding differentiating between pure and impure birds which means permitted and not permitted birds similar to the Torah.

Some still wear a small box which Jews call Tefillin (phylactery) containing a verse of the Bible. This box resemble Japanese Tokin of Yamabushi’s forehead, too. This is an ancient custom of Israel. In the Jewish box there is the verse of Shema Israel, that is, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one!” (Deuteronomy 6:4) This custom of Tefillin came from a verse of the Scriptures, “You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes” (Deuteronomy 6:8).

It is interesting to note that the Pathans retain family names of the Lost Tribes such as Asher, Gad, Naphtali, Reuben and Manasseh and Ephraim. Among them there are people who are called by these names, which are of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel. There are also people who are called Israel, Samuel, and so on, which are never found among the Muslims. There are also many areas as locations, neighborhoods and villages with names of places that are similar to names in the land of Israel.

The region has archeological finds testifying to a Hebrew past, and they also resemble Jews of the area and their language Pashtu surprisingly has many Hebrew words. The Pathans are also called Afghans, or sons of the Pashtu which is their language, were mostly called “Bani-Israel” meaning children of Israel even though they live today as devout Muslims.

The external appearance of the Pathans resemble the Jews of the area. Together with their ancient customs and other data there is a definite connection that can be made to the Tribes of Israel.

The Pathans number 6 to 7 million in Afghanistan and 7 to 8 million in Pakistan. They live in the border area between these two countries and about 2 million live as nomads. These Pathans desire for their independence, which is supported by Afghanistan and is a cause of constant tension in Pakistan which does not desire their independence.



shakir says:

This is not a true history of Afghans or Pashtoons,what ever is here is totally wrong about Afghans (Pashtoons)they are not from the Bani Israel but they get started from Aryans….



Tamana says:

Thank you so much for the infos,but still many things are missing, such as pictures to your founded places, monuments, towns, and links,
Der manana,



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