Thursday, July 17, 2008

Kingdom of Naphtali in Central Asia

Today many authors and researchers are associating the Lost Ten Tribes of Israel with the peoples of Asia such as the Pathans and similiar tribes from Afganistan, the Bnei Menashe (Chin and Mizo) of India/Burma/ China, as well as remnants in China and Japan. We know that before the 6th century there was a large Kingdom in Central Asia in the mountainous region known as the Kingdom of Naphtali (Hephthalites). 

We also know that the some of the clans of Dan were also associated with this kingdom. We also know that the Pathan and other similiar tribes in Afganistan claimed to be Bnei Yisrael and descendants of some of clans of the Tribe of Benjamin. Also there were Jewish descendants of Queen Esther and Alexander the Great in the Hunza Valley in Pakistan. 

Benjamin of Tudela writes of the large remnants of the Jews in this part of Asia in the 12th century. (see "In the footsteps of the Lost Ten Tribes" by Avigdor Shachan). Could these descendants of the Jews possibly be the bulk of the Ten Tribes. I don't think so. In Benjamin's accounts they are referred to as Jews (eventhough he does claim they come from the Ten Tribes)and they exhibit Jewish religious beliefs and prayers. The bulk of the Northern Kingdom of Israel did not follow the Israelite religion or circumcise their sons but followed a paganised version of the Israelite and Egyptian religions from the time of King Jeroboam. This was long before their exile by Assyria. the Lost tribes were to lose their language, religion and identity and they were never classified as Jews but as Israelites. 

The remnants of the Jews found in Asia demonstrate they are descended from Lost Jews not the Lost Tribes. Only 10 percent of the Judah returned to Israel from the Babylonian Exile. I believe many of these Jews went into the East where they also converted different tribes to Judaism. The Tribe of Benjamin was part of the Jewish exile to Babylon and it is from them that some of the Afganis descend.

 We also know from the Book of Tobit that some of the tribe of Naphtali returned to the Israelite religion and lived among their Jewish brothers. It would seem that it was the descendant of this group of Naphtalites that established the Kingdom of Naphtali in Central Asia and some of the clans of Dan joined them as did their paganised brothers of the Tribe of Naphtali. 

It would seem that in the 4th century their was a split between those of the Kingdom of Naphtali who wished to retain their paganised customs and those of the ruling class who wanted to enforced Judaism on the whole kingdom. The paganised Naphtalites and Danites then left and moved into Europe and eventually settled in Scandinavia. Later after the end of the Naphtalite kingdom in the early 6th century a large part of the ruling classes fled into Europe to Hungary and some into Finland. Other remnants of this once great Kingdom remained in Asia with their Benjaminite and Jewish brothers. Their symbol was of the Stag with horns that were shaped in the form of the Jewish menorah.