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Unleavened Bread Ministries with David Eells

New Testament Israel and the Lost Tribes

David Eells

The racist Anglo-Israel theory put forth by cults such as English Freemasonry and Herbert W. Armstrong's World Wide Church of God contend that the northern 10 tribes of Israel were taken away in the Assyrian captivity never to return. They falsely claim that these tribes were traced to the British Isles, and now exist in the British, Anglo-Saxon peoples, including America. The Mormons have their own slant on this error. Christians have picked this up from these cults because of reading convincing material without doing independent research themselves.

After a portion of the northern ten tribes were taken captive by Assyria and deported in 756 BC, Babylon conquered Assyria and took possession of these captives. Ezekiel, who was taken captive to Babylon was then sent to those tribes. {Eze.3:4} And he said unto me, Son of man, go, get thee unto the house of Israel, and speak with my words unto them. These were then called "all the house of Israel" in verse 7. The house of Israel returned from Babylon. Ezekiel was told by God, {Eze.47:13} ... ye shall divide the land for inheritance according to the twelve tribes of Israel: Joseph [shall have two] portions. {47:14} And ye shall inherit it, one as well as another; for I sware to give it unto your fathers: and this land shall fall unto you for inheritance... {47:21} So shall ye divide this land unto you according to the tribes of Israel. In chapter 48 the land was re-divided to the twelve tribes. Jeremiah also prophesied that this happened. {Jer.23:8} but, As Jehovah liveth, who brought up and who led the seed of the house of Israel out of the north country, and from all the countries whither I had driven them. And they shall dwell in their own land.

Before the Assyrian captivity righteous people from among the 10 tribes escaped and joined Judah and Benjamin because of apostasy in Israel. Because of this Judah has never been without a representation of the northern 10 tribes {2 Chr.11:13} And the priests and the Levites that were in all Israel resorted to him out of all their border. {11:14} For the Levites left their suburbs and their possession, and came to Judah and Jerusalem: for Jeroboam and his sons cast them off, that they should not execute the priest's office unto Jehovah; {11:15} and he appointed him priests for the high places, and for the he-goats, and for the calves which he had made. {11:16} And after them, out of all the tribes of Israel, such as set their hearts to seek Jehovah, the God of Israel, came to Jerusalem to sacrifice unto Jehovah, the God of their fathers. Here it is again. {15:9} And he gathered all Judah and Benjamin, and them that sojourned with them out of Ephraim and Manasseh, and out of Simeon: for they fell to him out of Israel in abundance, when they saw that Jehovah his God was with him. {15:10} So they gathered themselves together at Jerusalem in the third month, in the fifteenth year of the reign of Asa.

All were not taken away in the Assyrian captivity and many of those who were returned. Years after the dispersion, Hezekiah wrote to Israel in their own land "from Beer-sheba even to Dan" to come and keep the Passover. {2 Chr.30:1} And Hezekiah sent to all Israel and Judah, and wrote letters also to Ephraim and Manasseh, that they should come to the house of Jehovah at Jerusalem, to keep the passover unto Jehovah, the God of Israel... {30:5} So they established a decree to make proclamation throughout all Israel, from Beer-sheba even to Dan, that they should come to keep the passover unto Jehovah, the God of Israel, at Jerusalem: for they had not kept it in great numbers in such sort as it is written. {30:6} So the posts went with the letters from the king and his princes throughout all Israel and Judah, and according to the commandment of the king, saying, Ye children of Israel, turn again unto Jehovah, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, that he may return to the remnant that are escaped of you out of the hand of the kings of Assyria. {30:7} And be not ye like your fathers, and like your brethren, who trespassed against Jehovah, the God of their fathers, so that he gave them up to desolation, as ye see. (What lost tribes? We see here that only some apostates were lost.) {30:8} Now be ye not stiffnecked, as your fathers were; but yield yourselves unto Jehovah, and enter into his sanctuary, which he hath sanctified for ever, and serve Jehovah your God, that his fierce anger may turn away from you. {30:9} For if ye turn again unto Jehovah, your brethren and your children shall find compassion before them that led them captive, and shall come again into this land: for Jehovah your God is gracious and merciful, and will not turn away his face from you, if ye return unto him... {30:21} And the children of Israel that were present at Jerusalem kept the feast of unleavened bread... Here we can see that not only did God cause the righteous among the 10 tribes to escape deportation, but promised to bring their brethren back if they would repent, which they did. Some contrary to God's command mixed among the heathen and never returned. That these mixed apostates eventually gravitated to Britain to make an Israelite race is beyond fantasy.

It is not true that the ten of the twelve tribes were lost when they were taken into captivity. Jesus was sent, and sent His disciples, to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. He was speaking of all Israel including Judah and Benjamin. {Mt.15:24} But he answered and said, I was not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. {10:5} These twelve Jesus sent forth, and charged them, saying, Go not into [any] way of the Gentiles, and enter not into any city of the Samaritans: {10:6} but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Since this was their evangelistic field, Israel was not lost physically or geographically but spiritually. In other words they needed salvation.

Though some of the people of all of the tribes were scattered the Apostles did not believe they were lost long after the captivity. {Jas.1:1} James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are of the Dispersion, greeting. {Acts 26:6} And now I stand [here] to be judged for the hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers; {26:7} unto which [promise] our twelve tribes, earnestly serving [God] night and day, hope to attain.

Certainly the people of these tribes who were living in the land of Israel would have been surprised to know that they were actually lost. {Lk.2:36} And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher... One tribe that was not lost still took tithes from the other tribes that were not lost either. {Heb.7:5} And they indeed of the sons of Levi that receive the priest's office have commandment to take tithes of the people according to the law, that is, of their brethren, though these have come out of the loins of Abraham. In Galilee Jesus sees Nathaniel and exclaims "Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no guile!" (John 1:47).

If we were physically the offspring of Israel there would be no advantage whatsoever. Abraham is the father of spiritual Israel, the church: those who walk in the same gift of faith that Abraham walked in. (Gal.3:7) Know therefore that they that are of faith, the same are sons of Abraham. (8) And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand unto Abraham, [saying,] In thee shall all the nations be blessed. (9) So then they that are of faith are blessed with the faithful Abraham. Our kinship with Israel has nothing to do with being physically related to Israel. All nations of those who walk by faith are spiritual Israel. (16) Now to Abraham were the promises spoken, and to his seed. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ. (29) And if ye are Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, heirs according to promise. Since the promises belong only to Abraham and Christ, then we can inherit them only if we abide in Christ. (1 Jn.5:11) And the witness is this, that God gave unto us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Now it doesn't matter who your flesh is related to but whether you are in Christ by faith.

Paul told the gentile church at Rome that the people of all nations who believe the promise were Abraham's children. (Rom.4:16) For this cause [it is] of faith, that [it may be] according to grace; to the end that the promise may be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, (natural Israel) but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all (17) (as it is written, A father of many nations [Gentiles] have I made thee). Only faith makes us a part of the nations of Abraham's seed in Christ. True, spiritual Israel believes the promises even now. (Rom.9:6-9) ... For they are not all Israel, that are of Israel: (7) neither, because they are Abraham's seed (naturally or physically), are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called. Even if you were physically related to Israel you still would not be the chosen seed. (8) That is, it is not the children of the flesh (natural Israel) that are children of God; but the children of the promise are reckoned for a seed. (Gal.4:28) Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are children of promise. Those who believe the promises are born again children of the promises. These are Abraham's seed.

A New Testament spiritual Jew is circumcised in heart, not flesh. (Rom.2:28) For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly (physical); neither is that circumcision which is outward in the flesh: (29) but he is a Jew who is one inwardly (spiritual); and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit not in the letter. Notice that a Jew now is not a physical Jew. A Jew now has the flesh cut off from his heart through the new birth. (Gal.6:15) For neither is circumcision (in the flesh) anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature. (16) And as many as shall walk by this rule, peace [be] upon them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God. The Israel of God are they who walk as new creatures. Notice in the last four verses used that God is calling the born again both Jews and Israel. So much for the distinction made by the cults.

The unregenerate physical Jews who worship in Synagogues are not New Testament spiritual Jews until they are born again. (Rev.2:9) I know thy tribulation, and thy poverty (but thou art rich), and the blasphemy of them that say they are Jews, and they art not, but are a synagogue of Satan (the same in Rev.3:9). We were not Jews but now are in Spirit. (Rom.9:25) As he saith also in Hosea, I will call that my people, which was not my people; And her beloved, that was not beloved. (26) And it shall be, [that] in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, There shall they be called sons of the living God. Notice that we were not His people; not related to Israel, but are now His people, spiritual Israel.

(Rom.9:27) And Isaiah crieth concerning Israel (natural or physical), If the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, it is the remnant that shall be saved. A remnant of natural Israel will be born again mostly after the elect Gentiles have been saved. (Rom.11:25) ... a hardening in part hath befallen Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in". "In part" here means that the line between Gentiles and Jews is not a sharp demarcation. Neither was it in the book of Acts. Jews are even now being saved more than ever. This is a sign that we are nearing the end of the times of the Gentiles. Most of the physical Jews who are saved will come in after the Gentiles.

We who sought not after God were given the gift of faith to be spiritual New Testament Israel when natural Israel turned her back on God. (Rom.10:20) And Isaiah is very bold, and saith, I was found of them that sought me not; I became manifest unto them that asked not of me. God revealed himself to the church who on their own neither knew nor sought Him. (21) But as to Israel he saith, All the day long did I spread out my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people. (Rom.11:7) ... that which Israel (physical) seeketh for, that he obtained not; but the election (chosen) obtained it, and the rest were hardened: We see here that only the few chosen among the many called of Israel accepted Christ and the New Testament. The rest were reprobated. (8) according as it is written, God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear, unto this very day. In that day and in this, those who walk by faith are chosen from among the called to be the eternal people of the living God.

All of the seed of natural Israel that did not come to faith were cut off, including the falsely called Anglo-Israeli's. (Rom.11:20) Well; by their unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by thy faith. Be not highminded, but fear: (The only thing that connects us with the seed of Abraham is faith.) (21) for if God spared not the natural branches, neither will he spare thee. Notice that we are not natural branches or in other words we are not naturally related to Israel. (22) Behold then the goodness and severity of God: toward them that fell, severity; but toward thee, God's goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off. Christians who were grafted in but do not walk by faith will be cut off too. Those who are still grafted in at the end are called "all Israel". (Rom.11:26) and so all Israel shall be saved. "All Israel" is now the spiritual Jews who are the born again physical Jews and Gentiles who abide in the olive tree by faith.

It matters not what flesh and blood we were born of for "That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit" (Jn.3:6). All that is born of flesh is cut off from the kingdom. (1 Cor.15:50) Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. They who are born of Gentile or Israel are still only sons of men. The sons of men are only the dirt into which God sends the seed of the Word to create sons of God. (Jn.3:7) Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born anew. The sons of men are made from the same thing as Adam, the dirt. God is using this world as a farmer uses the dirt, to bring death to the outer seed that the inner seed would have life. God is not ultimately after the dirt or the plant that comes from it, but the fruit from the plant, which is "Christ in you, the hope of glory". Christ recreated in you by the Holy Spirit is the son of God. Jesus said, "The words that I have spoken unto you are spirit, and are life". His words recreate His spirit in us who believe them. Jesus, who is called the last Adam, is the spiritual father of the spiritual man creation.

(1Cor.15:21) ... as in Adam all died, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. When Adam died, all of the seed of the sons of men was in his loins and they died too, even those who were born of physical Israel. (1 Cor.15:45) The last Adam became a life giving spirit. When the last Adam died and was resurrected, all the seed of the sons of God were in him because He is the Word of God, the seed (Greek: "sperm") that the sower went forth and sowed. So the seed of all his children was in him when He was resurrected. Everyone who abides in Christ, or the Word, is resurrected above sin and the curse. They are sons of God through the Word that dwells in them. We, as Jesus, are son of man in the fleshly man but son of God in the spiritual man. (Heb.2:17) Wherefore it behooved him in all things to be made like unto his brethren. The sons of man are earthly and will return to the earth. The sons of God are born from above, first spirit, then soul, and finally body. Those who claim to be special because they are born of Israel are still foolish sons of men.

James Lloyd points out that Israel had the effect of evangelizing the world long before the Assyrian captivity. This of course does not mean that these people are offspring but they were at least religious converts. Again if some were offspring that would give them no New Testament advantage whatsoever. I quote James here.

While "Identity" proponents continue to point at evidence of an ancient Israelite presence in various Western nations in order to support their system of Anglo pre-eminence by connecting the prophecy that Israel is to be "a company of nations" with the British political dominance of the 19th and 20th centuries, they usually fail to mention the substantial evidence indicating the Hebrews had already gone around the world during the time of Solomon - several hundred years before the Northern tribes were deported to Assyria. For example, archaeologists have now found paleo-Hebrew inscriptions in Tennessee that go back 3,000 years!

At this point it may be instructive for the reader to recall the peculiar custom of how the American Indian tribes are all called nations.

In North Carolina, native Americans known as Machapunga circumcise their infants and have ceremonial practices eerily similar to Old Testament ritual. Familiar customs which parallel Israelite practices are seen in the Savanna Indians from the banks of the Mississippi. Astonishingly, deep in the middle of the New Mexico desert, an ancient stone inscription of the Ten Commandments has been found -- written in an archaic Hebraic script. The truth is, the Israelites appear to have planted their seed all over the world - and centuries before the Assyrian deportation at that.

Writer William Dankenbring has demonstrated that the Yuchi Indians of Oklahoma keep a festival which is clearly derived from the Israelite Feast of Tabernacles. He writes how "they are racially and linguistically different from their neighbors. Every year on the fifteenth day of the sacred month of harvest, in the fall, they make a pilgrimage. For eight days they live in `booths' with roofs open to the sky"... (True Discoverers Of America, W Dankenbring).

The origins of these tribes are all dated long before Columbus supposedly "discovered" America. In fact, the evidence suggests that the Israelites (or the indigenous peoples emulating the Israelites) quickly became dominant forces in many of these ancient nations. Furthermore, some of these global contacts even predate the formation of Israel as a people. For instance, in Genesis we read how Cain, who apparently wandered to distant lands "builded a city, and called the name of the city, after the name of his son Enoch" (Genesis 4:17).

Although archaeologists have excavated extensively around the Fertile Crescent where Eden was believed to have been, no city with the name of Enoch has ever been found. However, Tenochtitlan was an important ancient city that carries the name - the only problem is, Tenochtitlan was the capital of the Aztec empire and later became known as Mexico City!

Further South, the Peruvian Incas have been repeatedly linked to the ancient land of Ophir - where Solomon was said to have significant interests in gold mining. There are linguistic connections that show the likelihood of this South American connection to the Solomonic throne. For instance, writer Hugh Fox has shown a clear connection between the Quechuans of Peru and the Phoenicians - who were employed in the sea-faring transport of gold on behalf of King Solomon in 1000 BC (Gods Of The Cataclysm, Hugh Fox).

William Dankenbring, citing historians like Fernando Montesinos from the 17th century, points out that Peru was named for the Pirua dynasty. This word is sometimes pronounced with the sound of an F - as is Phirua. The linguistic cognate to the Biblical place Ophir is striking.

Other historian-researchers, such as video producer Simcha Jacobovici, are convinced they've located Israelite tribes scattered all over Central Asia. Old Testament verses tell us "the king of Assyria did carry away Israel unto Assyria, and put them in Halah and in Habor, by the river of Gozan".... (II Kings 18:11). In the border region between modern Afghanistan and Northwest Pakistan is the Khyber Pass - which is pronounced in a similar fashion to "Hybor". In the immediate vicinity is a river with the name of Gazni and a city named Harat - very similar to the Biblical place names.

The region is dominated by a people called the Pathans who follow a pre-Islamic code known as the Puchtanwalli - a harsh version of the Old Testament legal system. The 15 million strong Pathans say they are Musa'ha - or the people of Moses. Filmmaker Jacobovici, narrating in his magnificent video The Quest For The Lost Tribes, has shown the Pathans have multiple tribes known as Rabani (Reuben), Levani (Levi), Shinwari (Shimon), and Gadun (Gad). The Pathans most numerous tribe is called the Ephriedi - whereas the most numerous Israelite tribe was known as Ephraim.

Jacobovici also traces the Israelites to Bukhara and Samarkand in Uzbhekistan, Burma, India, and even China. In several instances, they were associated with a people group that ruled significant portions of India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan in the 5th and 6th centuries AD. In other words, they ruled a company of nations...

- Source: NewsTelegraph -
Squeezed between Burma and Bangladesh, 'descendants' of the Lost Tribes of Israel convert to Judaism
By David Orr in Aizawl, Mizoram, NE India (Filed: 04/17/2005)

Passover is around the corner and Arbi Khiangte is helping her aunt, Dovi, clean and redecorate her home for one of the most important feasts in the Jewish calendar.

The house is next door to the Shalom Zion synagogue where Arbi's uncle, Eliezer, is the cantor. Like most buildings in Aizawl, the synagogue - a large, corrugated-iron structure - is perched precariously on a hillside with nothing but wooden stilts to stop it tumbling into the ravine below.

Though Arbi, 20, has never travelled out of Mizoram - a remote outpost of Indian soil squeezed between Burma and Bangladesh - her heart lies thousands of miles away.

She greets visitors with "Shalom", and a silver star of David hangs from a chain around her neck. Her orange T-shirt declares that "Gush Katif is my Home" -a reference to an Israeli settlement in the Gaza Strip where her cousins and 800 other tribal Indians have moved, converting to Judaism.

She and her family hope that soon after Passover they will follow. "We feel more Israeli than Indian", says Arbi who, when not working in a hospital canteen, spends long hours poring over her Hebrew lessons. "People ask me, 'How can you be Jewish?' or 'How can you want to leave Mizoram?' Sometimes they're quite hostile, but I just smile".

The incredulity stems from the fact that nearly 90 per cent of Mizos are Christians. Their ancestors were converted by missionaries from Wales and northern England after the region's annexation by colonial administrators in 1891.

Mizoram is today a protected tribal area which foreigners may visit only with a government permit. Most people are Presbyterian - and "happy-clappy" hymns sung in English and Mizo are the staple listening of the youth.

In Aizawl, hilltop neighbourhoods take their names from the Bible - Bethlehem, Salem and Kanan (Canaan). People walk along Zion Street, past shops called Israel Electricals and the Jewish Store.

Arbi, and 6,000 fellow believers in India's north-east, have been bolstered by a recent declaration that their claim to be descended from one of the legendary Ten Lost Tribes of Israel - said to have been driven from the Middle East by invaders in the eighth century BC - is to be officially acknowledged. Last month, after a visit to the Indian states of Mizoram and Manipur, the Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Israel, Shlomo Amar, announced that a team of rabbinical judges would convert them to Orthodox Judaism. This would allow them to settle in Israel under the Law of Return, which grants the right of Israeli citizenship to Jews. "I was so glad", says Arbi, who wants to become a nurse in Israel. "It was like my dream became real".

Despite their ethnic Mongoloid appearance and Tibeto-Burman tongue, Arbi's family believe that their ancestors belonged to the tribe of Menasseh or Menashe, which travelled through Iran and Afghanistan to China.

According to tribal belief, all Mizos spring from a cave in China called Chhinlung. Their odyssey is said to have continued through Thailand and Burma before it came to these hills. Arbi and her co-believers call themselves Bnei Menashe - Children of Menashe.

Zai Zaithangchungi, a former teacher who has written a book about Israeli-Mizo links, said: "All Mizo people are children of Menashe but only a few have become Jews. It's no coincidence that before Christianity came here, the Mizos believed in a common ancestor called Manase or Manasia. They worshipped one God and, like the ancient Israelites, made animal sacrifices".

"Like the Jews, they held stars and the number seven in special reverence. Their marriage and burial practices were very similar". Circumcisions, for example, were performed using sharpened stones, as is ancient Hebrew custom.

It was more than 50 years ago that, inspired by a tribal elder's vision that Mizos were a Lost Tribe of Israel, a group of believers set off on foot in search of the promised land. One of Zai's relatives was among them. "She got as far as Assam", says Zai, "but was told Israel was very far away and they'd never reach it on foot. She stayed in Assam for many years before coming home".

The trip nonetheless inspired others. Belief in Judaism took root in neighbouring Manipur where there are now 5,000 Bnei Menashe. Arbi's uncle Eliezer and his wife Dovi changed faith in the mid 1970s and Arbi was brought up as Bnei Menashe.

Yet the recent intervention from Israel is not without controversy. Critics say that Right-wing Jewish groups are promoting such projects to boost the populations of areas disputed by the Palestinians.

In Mizo, meanwhile, Christians are alarmed. "Lying, evil spirits have led our people astray", said Dr Pachuau Biaksiama, a Presbyterian evangelist. "Physically, culturally and linguistically, we're very different from the Jewish people. It's nonsense about us having the same rituals. If you compare any two religions you'll always find some similarities".

Genetic studies at the Central Forensic Science Laboratory in Calcutta and a technical institute in Israel have so far established no ethnic link.

Undeterred, Arbi and her family are determined to go to Israel. "Of course, we'll miss Mizoram", she says. "But the Holy Land is where we belong".

More: Where are the Ten Lost Tribes?

Finding a lost tribe of Israel
Posted: July 5, 2005 By Michael Freund - © 2005 WorldNetDaily.com

Last August, in the farthest reaches of northeastern India, I saw a miracle.

Standing in the village of Churachandpur, near the border with Burma, I watched in amazement as hundreds of members of the Bnei Menashe (Hebrew for "Children of Manasseh") - a group descended from one of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel - gathered to sing and pray in Hebrew.

With a mixture of tears and joy, they reaffirmed their determination to return to the land of their ancestors, the land of Israel.

Those present were all students at the educational center operated by Shavei Israel, a Jerusalem-based group I founded with the aim of locating and assisting "lost Jews" who wish to return to their people.

The story of the Bnei Menashe is truly breathtaking, one which almost defies rational explanation. Despite more than 2,700 years of exile and persecution, they managed to preserve their Jewish heritage, and nourished the dream of Zion.

And now, thanks to a historic decision by Israel's chief rabbinate recognizing the Bnei Menashe as "descendants of Israel", that dream is soon to become a reality.

Evidence of the Bnei Menashe's ancient connection with the Jewish people abounds. On one of my visits to India, I met with Yossi Hualngo, a 67-year-old resident of Aizawl, capital of the state of Mizoram, where many of the Bnei Menashe currently live.

Two of Hualngo's uncles served as village priests and, speaking through an interpreter, he offered a detailed description of the ceremonies they performed. His uncles, he said, would don white garments before carrying out sacrificial rites, including one with strings dangling from its four corners, reminiscent of the tallit with arba kanfot (the four-cornered ritual prayer shawl) worn by Jews.

In the spring, at Passover time, they would mark an annual festival of deliverance by sacrificing an animal, but not before smearing its blood on people's doorways, just as the Israelites had done during the Exodus from Egypt. Indeed, according to Hualngo, there was a rule that the priests had to carefully remove the meat from the bones of the animal without breaking any of them, just as the Bible instructs regarding the Passover sacrifice (Exodus 12:46).

Then, in a remarkable scene, Hualngo proceeded to chant one of the prayers that his uncles used to say while conducting the sacrificial ceremony. The words in the song, and their biblical origin, are unmistakable: Terah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, the Red Sea, Marah and Shiloh (site of the ancient tabernacle and capital of the northern tribes of Israel until the Assyrian conquest).

This ancient Bnei Menashe prayer parallels the biblical account of the Exodus from Egypt:

We had to cross the Red Sea, our enemies were coming after us with chariots, the Sea swallowed them all, as if they are meat. We are led by the cloud during the day, and by fire at night. Take those birds for the food, and drink water coming out from the rock.

To locals living in Mizoram, there is no question regarding the origins of the Bnei Menashe. Lal Thlamuana, 45, a devout Christian who is the proprietor and principal of the local Home Mission School, has no doubt about the Israelite origins of the Mizos (the local name for the tribe, numbering some 800,000 in total, from which the Bnei Menashe come).

"Even Christian Mizos believe the Bnei Menashe are descendants of Israel", he said, and proceeded to expound on a number of the community's ancient customs and traditions, such as circumcision of newborn boys on the eighth day, levirate marriage, and strict laws regarding menstruation, all of which are strikingly similar to Jewish law.

The British colonialists, Thlamuana notes, referred to the Mizo people as Lushei, a mispronunciation of Lu Se, which means "Ten Tribes". According to the Bnei Menashe, their ancestors migrated south from China to escape persecution, settling in Burma and then moving westward into what is now Mizoram and Manipur in India.

Over the past decade, some 800 Bnei Menashe have immigrated to Israel. They serve in the army, live observant Jewish lifestyles and are productive members of Israeli society.

Two members of the community have received rabbinical ordination, while another is a certified religious scribe whose quill has produced beautiful Scrolls of Esther. Others have enlisted in elite combat units, risking their lives in defense of God's Holy Land.

Nonetheless, in the summer of 2003, Israel's Interior Ministry inexplicably decided to freeze the aliyah of the Bnei Menashe, refusing to allow any of the remaining 7,000 still in India to come here.

But all that is now about to change. On March 30, at a meeting I attended at Israel's chief rabbinate, the Sephardic chief rabbi, Rabbi Shlomo Amar, decided to recognize the Bnei Menashe as "descendants of Israel".

This is a dramatic development, one that will open the door once again for this lost tribe of Israel to return ... to the Jewish people and to Zion.

In the rush of everyday life, it is easy to forget that we are living in very special times. But just as the prophets foretold so long ago, the dispersed of Israel have at last begun their long journey home.

Indian 'lost tribe' set for their promised land
BEN LYNFIELD IN JERUSALEM - The Scotsman 11-21-2006

A GROUP of 51 Indians who claim to be descendants of one of the ten lost biblical tribes were on their way to Israel last night, in what is viewed by their supporters as a fulfilment of prophecy.

They were converted to Judaism in India by rabbis after Israel's chief rabbinate last year recognised about 7,000 people from the remote north-eastern states of Mizoram and Minapur who claim ancient Israelite ancestry through belonging to the Bnei Menashe, one of the ten tribes that were lost after being exiled by the Assyrians in 586BC.

Michael Jankelowitz, spokesman for the Jerusalem-based Jewish Agency, which is co-ordinating the Indians' arrival, said "they have lived a Jewish way of life for decades" including by keeping Saturday as the Sabbath and observing Jewish dietary laws.

The "homecoming" highlights the strange mix of religion and nationalism that a country that views itself as the heir of biblical forebears can throw up. Ironically, the arrival of the Indians comes soon after a senior government minister, Avigdor Lieberman, raised questions about the future of Israel's Arab citizens, by advocating making Israel "as much as possible" a homogenous Jewish country.

The Indians' Jewish practices were observed after 1953, when a holy man from a remote village in Mizoram said the Holy Spirit had appeared to him in a vision, to explain that the Christian tribe he belonged to were actually the children of Menashe, son of the biblical Joseph, and that God instructed them to return to what he determined to be their previous religion, Judaism and to their homeland, Israel.

Some researchers say certain practices involving animal sacrifice were similar to ancient Hebrew traditions, while an ancient song among one tribe talked of crossing the Red Sea.

The tale of how the community's ancestors supposedly came to India's north-east -sandwiched between Bangladesh and Myanmar - is grand in its historical sweep but short on scientific support. Exiled from ancient Israel by the Assyrian empire around 730BC, the tribe was apparently forced east and travelled through Afghanistan and China before settling in what is now India's north-east.

On the way, they forgot their language, their history and most of their traditions.

The Israeli rabbinate said that because of their separation from the rest of the Jewish people for millennia, the Bnei Menashe would have to undergo conversion in India before being eligible to immigrate to Israel under the country's Law of Return, which grants automatic citizenship to anyone with a Jewish maternal grandparent.

"We are returning to the land of our forefathers. I am very happy", Eleazor Sela, a Bnei Menashe leaving for Israel with his wife, said yesterday.

In Israel, Hanan Porat, a leader of Jewish settlers in the West Bank, said "You have to be careful with the matter of the ten tribes, but I definitely see this process as joining in the process of an ingathering of the exiles".


AN ORTHODOX rabbi who has spent the last half century searching for descendants of the lost tribes is the man who "discovered" the sons of Menashe.

His quest to bring the lost tribes back to Israel began in 1979, when Eliyahu Avihayil was shown a letter sent to a friend from India, from a group calling itself "the Jews of north-east India".

"I decided to find out who they are", Rabbi Avihayil said.

"Within two years I held that they belonged to the tribe of Menashi".

Among the clues that he took to be telltale signs, he said, were traditions resembling those of the ancient Israelites, including having places of refuge for those who had killed someone by mistake.

Rabbi Avihayil said his research revealed that the descendants of Menasseh also practised circumcision, albeit with sharpened flint rather than a knife.

In 1982, Rabbi Avihayil travelled to India, where he met Bnei Menashi. Then in 1989 he sent a religious official there to convert 24 people.

By Rabbi Avihayil's estimate, there are tens of millions of descendants of the lost tribes of Israel living in Japan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, China, Thailand and Burma.

"It is not our task to bring all of the ten tribes back, that is the task of the Messiah", he said.

"But it is our task, before the Messiah comes, to create an opening in this matter".

'Lost tribe of Israel' arrives in Jewish state
By Aaron Klein - Posted: August 30, 2007 - 1:00 a.m. Eastern - © 2007 WorldNetDaily.com

TEL AVIV - One-hundred-seventy-four people from a group of thousands in India that believes it is one of the 10 "lost tribes" of Israel landed here this week, fulfilling for many a life-long dream of returning to what they consider their homeland.

Shavei Israel, a Jerusalem-based organization led by American Michael Freund, hopes to bring to the Jewish state the remaining 7,000 Indian citizens who believe they are the Bnei Menashe, the descendants of Manasseh, one of biblical patriarch Joseph's two sons and a grandson of Jacob.

The tribe lives in the two Indian states of Mizoram and Manipur, to which they claim to have been exiled from Israel more than 2,700 years ago by the Assyrian empire.

"I truly believe this is a miracle of immense historical and even biblical significance", Freund told WND as the group of 174 arrived here earlier this week.

"Just as the prophets foretold so long ago, the lost tribes of Israel are being brought back from the exile", said Freund, who previously served as deputy communications director under former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Another planeload of 57 Bnei Menashe is slated to touch down in Israel tomorrow.

The group, which has preserved ancient Jewish customs and rituals, has been trying the past 50 years to return to Israel.

Over the last decade, Freund's Shavei Israel, at times working with other organizations, brought about 1,200 Bnei Menashe members to the Jewish state. Many settled in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria. About 80 lived in Gaza's slate of Jewish communities, which were evacuated by the Israeli government in 2005.

The original batches of Bnei Menashe to arrive here were brought to Israel as tourists in an agreement with Israel's Interior Ministry. Once here, the Bnei Menashe converted officially to Judaism and became citizens.

But diplomatic wrangling halted the immigration process in 2003, with officials from some Israeli ministries refusing to grant the rest of the group still in India permission to travel here.

To smooth the process, Freund enlisted the help of Israel's chief rabbinate, which flew to India in 2005 to meet with and consider converting members of the Bnei Menashe. Once legally Jewish, the tribe can apply for Israeli citizenship under the country's "Law of Return", which guarantees sanctuary to Jews from around the world.

Six rabbis were sent by Israel's Sephardic chief rabbi, Shlomo Amar, to begin converting the Bnei Menashe. The rabbis met with hundreds of tribal members, testing their knowledge of Judaism and assessing their conviction, converting 216 individuals - over 90 percent of the members interviewed.

"The rabbis were incredibly impressed with the Bnei Menashe", said Freund. "They saw for themselves that the group is very serious and should be integrated into the Jewish nation. That they are a blessing to the state of Israel".

Last year, 218 converted members arrived in Israel. Freund hoped to repeat the process for 231 more Bnei Menashe who had been approved for conversion, but the Indian government, which heavily restricts conversions, put a halt on the plan.

Instead, the batch of Bnei Menashe that arrived this week were brought to Israel as tourists in coordination with the Israeli government. Once here, the tribe will be officially converted by the country's chief rabbinate and qualify for Israeli citizenship.

The new immigrants will spend the next few months studying Hebrew and Judaism at a Shavei Israel absorption center in northern Israel.

The Bnei Menashe that arrived here over the years have fully transited into Israeli society. Many attended college and rabbinic school, moved to major Israeli communities and even joined the Israel Defense Forces.

Twelve Bnei Menashe served in the Israeli army in the Gaza Strip and in Lebanon in 2006. One of them, Avi Hanshing, a 22-year old paratrooper, was injured during a clash with Hezbollah in southern Lebanon. Hanshing's father was among those who arrived here earlier this week in an emotional reunion at Israel's international airport.

"As much as we might think that Israel is helping the Bnei Menashe, it is the reverse that is true. It is they who strengthen us - with their faith, with their commitment and with their undying love for Zion", said Freund.

According to Bnei Menashe oral tradition, the tribe was exiled from Israel and pushed to the east, eventually settling in the border regions of China and India, where most remain today. Most kept customs similar to Jewish tradition, including observing Shabbat, keeping the laws of Kosher, practicing circumcision on the eighth day of a baby boy's life and observing laws of family purity.

In the 1950s, several thousand Bnei Menashe say they set out on foot to Israel but were quickly halted by Indian authorities. Undeterred, many began practicing Orthodox Judaism and pledged to make it to Israel. They now attend community centers established by Shavei Israel to teach the Bnei Menashe Jewish tradition and modern Hebrew.

Freund said he hopes the arrival this week of more Bnei Menashe would "jump-start the process of bringing back the rest of the 7,000 Bnei Menashe who are in India yearning to return home".

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