As the Descendants
of the Lost Tribes of Israel
subject of the Lost Tribes which has generally been ignored which
I found to be personally fascinating are the tribe of the Pathans.
people of Pathans now number 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.
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.
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.
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.
Live in Customs of Israelites
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.
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).
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.
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
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.
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.
Law Resembles the Torah
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Features of the Pathans
Pathans have many other features as descendants of Israelites.
wedding is like Jewish. Wedding ceremony with the Pathans includes
a marriage canopy and rings similar to the Jewish custom.
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.
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).
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.
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.
year he erred in his calendar and did not come, he wept bitterly
for one week for missing the observance of this day.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.