Israeli Source of the Pathan Tribes
the book, Lost Tribes from Assyria, by A Avihail and A Brin,
1978, in Hebrew
by Issachar Katzir
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
is the Ethnic Origin of the Panthim?
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.
to the Tribes of Israel
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.
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.
Place of the Assyrian Exile
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 Bnei
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
Similarity of the Pathans to the Jews
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.
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 doesnt
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), womens
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
patients 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
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 Other Evidence
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
of the Bucharian Jews have a tradition that they are among
the people of the First Temple possibly from the Ten Tribes,
but he doesnt know about this and afterwards they
were joined by Jews from the Second Temple Exile.
Pakistani Cricketer Imran Khan who married Jemima Goldsmith
is a Pathan.
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