01 January 2012

Jewish Geniza Found in Afghanistan

ANCIENT JEWISH GENIZA FOUND IN AFGHANISTAN

Scrolls, which were part of a geniza – a burial site for sacred Jewish texts – date from around 1,000 years ago and are in Arabic, Judeo-Arabic and ancient Persian. One scroll, a replica of which was shown to the cameras, was apparently a dirge written for an important person whose identity has not been determined. “Where has he gone?” reads the text. “His family members are now alone.” Other texts said to have been found include an unknown history of the Kingdom of Judea, passages from the Book of Isaiah and some of the works of 10th-century sage Rabbi Sa’adia Gaon.

In addition, rings with names such as Shmuel Bar-Yosef inscribed in Hebrew on them have surfaced. The area in which the scrolls were discovered is on the Silk Road, a trade route that connected eastern Asia with the Middle East and Europe, and that Jewish merchants often traveled. [more at Jpost]


I'm so excited over this. Little by little, we are witnessing revealing discoveries from our historical living in the Land of Israel, all gifts from HaShem to reveal to us our physical heritage. Next, the people of Eretz Yisrael need to learn more about their spiritual heritage and how the two go together.

I find this so exciting, because I believe most of the Northern Tribes' descendants, or a very large group of them have segregated themselves in the rugged mountain area of northern Afghanistan. Especially since this current discovery is along the Silk Route which would be the route they might have travelled eastward while seeking a new place to settle. These people I refer to are known as the Pashtuns. I've gathered the following from several sources:

Wikipedia: The Pashtuns are the world's largest (patriarchal) segmentary lineage ethnic group. According to Ethnologue, the total population of the group is estimated to be around 50 million but an accurate count remains elusive due to the lack of an official census in Afghanistan since 1979. Estimates of the number of Pashtun tribes and clans range from about 350 to over 400.

From these scrolls and accompanying texts we may yet find a stronger link with our Lost Israelites .

This could possibly indicate that their time has come to be revealed and brought into the 21st Century and reunited with the rest of Am Yisrael? Certain Pashtuns keep to their 'tribe' and don't mix with non-members. They keep certain Jewish religious rituals, even though they were forced into the muslim world centuries ago.

The Ingathering is proceeding. Of course much familial identifying, genetic clarifications, and verbal accounts of their senior religious leaders needs to be compiled. Since there are so many of them, those who have rigidly kept to traditions that accompanied them through their diaspora could be a possible validating source, if there are any (legends) that have survived intact.

In his 1957 classic The Exiled and the Redeemed, Itzhak Ben-Zvi, second President of Israel, writes that Hebrew migrations into Afghanistan began, "with a sprinkling of exiles from Samaria who had been transplanted there by Shalmaneser, King of Assyria (719 BC). From the recurrent references in the Book of Esther to the "one hundred and twenty seven dominions" of King Ahasuerus, the deduction is permissible that eastern Afghanistan was among them." [The Exiled and the Redeemed, Ben-Zvi continues,

"The Afghan tribes, among whom the Jews have lived for generations, are Moslems who retain to this day their amazing tradition about their descent from the Ten Tribes. It is an ancient tradition, and one not without some historical plausibility. A number of explorers, Jewish and non-Jewish, who visited Afghanistan from time to time, and students of Afghan affairs who probed into literary sources, have referred to this tradition, which was also discussed in several encyclopedias in European languages. The fact that this tradition, and no other, has persisted among these tribes is itself a weighty consideration...."

A DNA connection.

Dr. Navras Aafreedi, an Indian historian who did a genetic study on the Afridi clan of Pashtuns in Malihabad, India, said that 650 out of the 1,500 members possess genetic material similar to genetic material found in Jews.
  • Pathans, or Pashtuns, are the only people in the world whose probable descent from the lost tribes of Israel finds mention in a number of texts from the 10th century to the present day, written by Jewish, Christian and Muslim scholars alike, both religious as well as secularists.—Navras Aafreedi
Israel is planning to fund this rare genetic study to determine whether there is a link between the lost tribes of Israel and the Pashtuns.
  • Of all the groups, there is more convincing evidence about the Pathans than anybody else, but the Pathans are the ones who would reject Israel most ferociously. That is the sweet irony.—Shalva Weil, anthropologist and senior researcher at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem

The scholarly world is abuzz over the discovery of ancient Jewish scrolls in a cave in Afghanistan’s Samangan province. If the scrolls are authenticated, they may be the most significant historical finding in the Jewish world since that of the Cairo Geniza in the 19th century, Channel 2 Arab affairs correspondent Ehud Ya’ari

“We know today about a couple of findings,” Haggai Ben- Shammai, professor emeritus of Arabic language and literature at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, was quoted as saying. “In all, in my opinion, there are about 150 fragments. It may be the tip of the iceberg.” The scrolls, which were part of a geniza – a burial site for sacred Jewish texts – date from around 1,000 years ago and are in Arabic, Judeo-Arabic and 'ancient Persian'.

Megillat Esther

"The Megillah of Esther attests that the Jews were so numerous and dispersed throughout the empire that any decree concerning them had to be sent to all 127 Persian provinces, from India to Ethiopia. The account in Esther 8:17 records that in that time in the Persian Empire "many of the people of the land became Jews". This implies that many of the original Israelites that by that time had lost their Jewish lifestyle (mainly those of the Assyrian deportations) may have returned back to the Laws known to their forefathers in the old Kingdom of Israel." Im Nin'alu's Book of Origins


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