OF THE TEN TRIBES OF ISRAEL.
“More than two thousand five hundred years ago, the Ten Tribes of Israel were carried captive into Assyria. About a hundred and fifteen years after this, Judah and Benjamin also were carried away to Babylon. These returned, and some few Israelites of the other tribes with them; but as a nation, Israel was never restored. According to Esdras—2 Esdras 13: 41-50—they took counsel among themselves, and emigrated into a distant country, where never man dwelt; and the name of this country was Arsareth, at the distance of a year and a half’s journey, where they are to dwell till the latter time, when God will bring them back with great wonders. The prophets abound with promises, not only respecting the restoration of Judah, but of Israel also. From these Ten Tribes not having been heard of for so many ages, and the improbability of such a people escaping the notice of all travellers, the generality have been induced to conclude that they nowhere exist as a distinct people, but have long ago been melted down among other nations, except those that united themselves with Judah and Benjamin at their return from Babylon. That they should still exist is certainly a very extraordinary circumstance, and should Providence bring them forward bye and bye to act a conspicuous part in the great scene which is now opening, it will doubtless excite great astonishment; but both the event and the surprise were foreseen and predicted by the prophets. They foresaw that the reunion of Ephraim with Judah would not take place till after the great dispersion, and their resurrection from the long political death they were to suffer for their sins. Then are Ephraim and Judah to be one people again—Ezekiel 37: 16-22. And Zion shall say,
“Who hath begotten me these? Behold I was left alone, these, where have they been?”—Isaiah 49: 21.
“Independent of the prophecies, there is reason to conclude that this people does still exist distinct from other nations. The grounds for this conclusion may be seen in the second volume of the Asiatic Researches. That the reader may judge for himself, I shall take the liberty of quoting the extract which we find in the Monthly Review enlarged—Volume 10 page 502. The account is whimsical enough, but considering the number of ages since the carrying away of Israel captive, their corrupt state at that time, their miserable condition since, their ignorance of printing, &c., it affords as much proof as can be expected, at the first dawn of their existence. When we are better acquainted with them, their manuscripts, customs, &c., we may expect more light.”
Thus much writes the Hebrew editor of the Occident. But before presenting our readers with the article from the Monthly Review he refers to, we shall produce an extract from the “Researches.”
“The Tribes of Israel,” says Claudius Buchanan, “are no longer to be inquired after by name. The purpose, for which they were once divided into tribes, was accomplished when the genealogy of the Messiah was traced to the stem of David. Neither do the Israelites themselves know certainly from what families they are descended. And this is a chief argument against the Jews, to which the author never heard that a Jew could make as sensible reply. The tribe of Judah was selected as that from which the Messiah should come; and behold, the Jews do not know which of them are of the tribe of Judah.
“While the author was among the Jews of Malabar, he made frequent inquiries concerning the Ten Tribes. When he mentioned that it was the opinion of some, that they had migrated from the Chaldean provinces, he was asked to what country he supposed they had gone, and whether he had ever heard of their moving in a great army on such an expedition. It will be easy perhaps to show, that the great body of the Ten Tribes remain to this day in the countries to which they were first carried captive. If we can discover where they were in the first century of the Christian Era, which was seven hundred years after the carrying away to Babylon, and again where they were in the fifth century, we certainly may be able to trace them down to this time.
“Josephus, who wrote in the reign of Vespasian, recites a speech made by king Agrippa to the Jews, wherein he exhorts them to submit to the Romans, and expostulates with them in these words: “What! Do you stretch your hopes beyond the river Euphrates? Do any of you think that your fellow-tribes will come to your aid out of Adiabene? Besides, if they would come, the Parthian will not permit it”—Joseph. De Bell l. ii. c. 26. We learn from this oration, delivered to the Jews themselves by a king of the Jews, that the Ten Tribes were then captive in Media under the Persian princes.
“In the fifth century, Jerome, author of the translation of the Scriptures called the Vulgate, treating of the dispersed Jews in his Notes upon Hosea, has these words: “Unto this day the Ten Tribes are subject to the Persian kings, nor has their captivity ever been loosed”—Tom. vi. p. 7; and again he says, “The Ten Tribes inhabit at this day the cities and mountains of the Medes”—Tom. vi. p. 80.
There is no room left for doubt on this subject. Have we heard of any expedition of the Jews “going forth from that country since that period, like the Goths and Huns to conquer nations?” Have we ever heard of their rising in insurrection to burst the bonds of their captivity? To this day, Jews and Christians are generally in a state of captivity in these despotic countries. No family dares to leave the kingdom without permission of the king. (Joseph Emim, a Christian well known in Calcutta, wished to bring his family from Ispahan; but he could not effect it, though the Anglo-Indian government interested itself in his behalf.)
“Mohammedanism reduced the number of the Jews (professing Judaism) exceedingly. It was presented to them at the point of the sword. We know that multitudes of Christians received it; for example, “the seven churches of Asia;” and we may believe that an equal proportion of Jews were proselyted by the same means. In the provinces of Cashmire and Afghanistan some of the Jews submitted to great sacrifices, and they remain Jews to this day: but the greater number yielded, (forsook Judaism. —ED.) in the course of ages, to the power of the reigning religion. Their countenance, their language, their names, their rites and observances, and their history, all conspire to establish the fact. (Mr. Forster was so much struck with the general appearance, garb, and manners of the Cashmirians, as to think, without any previous knowledge of the fact, that he had been suddenly transported among a nation of Jews. See Forster’s Travels.) We may judge in some degree of the number of those who would yield to the sword of Mohammed, and conform, in appearance at least, to what was called a sister religion from the number of those who conformed to the Catholic religion, under the influence of the Inquisition in Spain and Portugal. Orobio, who was himself a Jew, states in his history that there were upwards of twenty thousand Jews in Spain alone, who, from fear of the Inquisition, professed Romanism, some of whom were priests and bishops. The Tribes of the Afghan race are very numerous, and of different casts; and it is probable, that the proportion which is of Jewish descent is not great. The Afghan nations extend on both sides of the Indus, and inhabit the mountainous region, commencing in western Persia. They differ in language, customs, religion, and countenance, and have little knowledge of each other. Some tribes have the countenance of the Persian, and some of the Hindu, and some tribes are evidently of Jewish extraction.
“Calculating, then, the number of Jews who now inhabit the provinces of ancient Chaldee, or the contiguous countries, and who still profess Judaism; and the number of those who embraced Mohammedanism, or some form of it, in the same regions, we may be satisfied, “that the greater part of the Ten Tribes which now exist, are to be found in the countries of their first captivity.”
In another place, Dr. Buchanan remarks, that Usbec and Independent Tartary are “the country which Dr. Giles Fletcher, who was envoy of Queen Elizabeth at the court of the Czar of Muscovy, has assigned as the principal residence of the descendants of the Ten Tribes. He argues from their place, from the name of their cities, from their language, which contains Hebrew and Chaldaic words, and from their peculiar rites, which are Jewish. Their principal city Samarchand is pronounced Samarchian, which Dr. Fletcher thinks might be a name given by the Israelites after their own Samaria in Palestine. Benjamin of Tudela, who travelled into this country in the twelfth century, and afterwards published his Itinerary, says, “In Samarchand, the city of Tamerlane, there are 50,000 Jews under the presidency of Rabbi Obadiah; and in the mountains and cities of Nisbor, there are four tribes of Israel resident, namely, Dan, Zebulon, Asher, and Naphthali—Benjam. Itin. p. 97. It is remarkable that the people of Zagathai (Great Bucharia) should be constantly called Ephthalites and Nephthalites by the Byzantine writers, who alone had any information concerning them. The fact seems to be, that, if from Babylon as a centre, you describe a segment of a circle from the northern shore of the Caspian sea to the head of the Indus, you will inclose the territories containing the chief body of the dispersed tribes of Israel.”
The following is the extract from the Monthly Review reproduced in the Occident under the caption of
THE DESCENT OF THE AFGHANS FROM THE JEWS.