Came To Ancient Japan
Ten Lost Tribes of Israel
What Are Israelites?
Around the time of
1900 B.C.E., there was a man named Jacob who was
the ancestor of the people of Israel.
Later Jacob's name was changed to Israel.
had 12 sons, who were Reuben, Simeon, Levi,
Dan, Gad, Asher, Naphtali, Joseph, and Benjamin.
The descendants of these sons formed 12 tribes
These 12 tribes are called "Israelites".
When they had territories in Canaan (Israel, Holy Land), the tribe
of Levi did not have a territory for they were
the tribe of priests. Instead, the tribe of
Joseph was divided into the tribes of Ephraim
and Manasseh and has their own territories. Thus
was divided into 12 territories.
Later, the 12 tribes of Israel
experienced the height of prosperity in the time
of King Solomon in the 10th century B.C.E..
But after Solomon died, the united kingdom
was divided into two countries: One is the
Northern Kingdom of Israel and the other the
Southern Kingdom of Judah. The Northern Kingdom
is also called Samaria,
the Southern Kingdom is also called Judea.
The word "Jews" is used basically for the people
and descendants of Judea,
the Southern Kingdom, but sometimes used for the
same meaning as Israelites.
The Ten tribes of Israel
belonged to Samaria,
the Northern Kingdom of Israel. They were Reuben,
Gad, Ephraim, Issachar, Zevulun,
Naphtali, Asher, Dan, Simeon, and Manasseh. While
the other tribes belonged to the Southern Kingdom
In the 8th century B.C.E., the Northern Kingdom of
Israel was conquered by the army of Assyrian
empire, and the Ten Tribes of Israel was led
captive and compelled to march to the land
They did not come back to the land of Israel.
They are so called "the Ten Lost Tribes of
Josephus Wrote About the Lost
Tribes of Israel
Where was the exact place of
the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel to be carried
captive in Assyrian Empire? The Bible records:
"the king of Assyria carried Israel away
captive to Assyria, and put them in Halah
and by the Habor,
and in the cities of the Medes." (2 Kings 18:11)
These places are located in today's northern Iraq or
Northwest Iran called Kurdistan.
The Ten Tribes of Israel were firstly compelled to
emigrate there, and this is also a starting point
of our research.
There is a Jew named Josephus Flavius, a very
reliable historian who lived in the first century
C.E.. In his book of
history, there is a description about whereabouts
of the Ten Tribes:
"...the Ten Tribes who are beyond the Euphrates till now, and
are an immense multitude, whose numbers cannot be
estimated." (Antiquities 11:2)
Josephus wrote that in the first century C.E., the
Ten Tribes of Israel lived as an immense multitude
This may mean that some of them lived in the close
area east of Euphrates River and others moved to a
place far beyond east of the Euphrates.
The Lost Tribes of Israel in Afghanistan
The Bible mentions the cities
of Medes, today's Iraq
as the locations of the Assyrian exile of the
Ten Tribes of Israel. It is an accepted
tradition that the people of this area are from
the Assyrian exile.
It seems that later, many of the Ten Tribes of
Israel moved to the east along the Silk
Road. We find the descendants of
them in Afghanistan,
Kashmir, Myanmar (Burma), China and
other countries, which are along the Silk Road. I will have
a brief explanation about them in this chapter.
The information is mostly from the books which
were written by Rabbi Marvin Tokayer
and published in Japan, and "Beyond the Sambatyon,
The Myth of The Lost Tribes" written by Simcha
East of Iran is Afghanistan.
There are so many tribes in Afghanistan
with names that have Yusuf in the name as Yusufzai, Yusufuzi,
Yusuf means Joseph and Yusufzai
means children of Joseph.
They claim their origin to be from the Lost
Tribes of Israel, that is, from the tribes of
Joseph, which are the tribes of Ephraim and
Manasseh and are a part of the Ten Lost Tribes
of Israel. They also call themselves Bani-Israel
meaning children of Israel.
Their tradition is that they were carried away
from their ancient homeland.
Formerly they were shepherds in search of
pasture but they gave up their nomadic life and
settled into village communities. The people of
separated from the rest of the world by
mountains and difficult rivers and it is hard to
find them. They marry among themselves.
Today they are devout Muslims but have Hebrew
names, wear the fringes which only Jews and
Japanese Shinto priests wear, light candles for
the Sabbath on Friday night which only Jews do
(The Sabbath is from the sunset of Friday until
the night of Saturday). They also have the
custom called peyot
(side-curls) which is to have curled hair of
about 10 centimeters long in front of both ears.
This is a custom which only Jews have and which
may very well be of the Lost Tribes of Israel.
Pathans As the Descendants of the Lost
Tribes of Israel
there also live people called Pathans
numbering about 15 million. They live mainly in
as well as in Persia
Most of them are Muslims but they have a
tradition of being of the Lost Tribes and have
According to a book written by Rabbi Marvin Tokayer, the Pathans
have custom of circumcision on the 8th day. This
is a known Jewish custom, and is the oldest
Jewish tradition. Rabbi Tokayer
once told me that he had witnessed and been
present at a very joyous circumcision ceremony
on the 8th day after birth among the Pathans.
Muslims have custom of circumcision but it is
not on the 8th day, usually at the age of 12.
The 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
The Pathans have
custom of the Sabbath, Israeli tradition of the
day of rest. On the Sabbath 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
Israeli 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. This is the same as Israeli
Pathans 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 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
Some still wear a small box which Jews call Tefilin (phylactery)
containing a verse of the Bible. This box
resemble Japanese Tokin of Yamabushi's
forehead, too, which I will mention later. This
is an ancient custom of Israel.
In the Jewish box there is the verse of Shema
that is, "Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the
Lord is one!" (Deuteronomy 6:4) This custom of Tefilin 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).
It 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
Samuel, and so on, which are never found among
The Pathans were
mostly called "Bani-Israel"
meaning children of Israel
even though they live today as devout Muslims.
The 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 Islam.
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. These 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 Simeon, 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 children of Joseph, and the Afridi
Tribe is really Ephraim. These are the names of
the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel.
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.
Women 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 Lost Tribes of Israel Who
Came to Kashmir
where the Pathans
live, when one goes east, it is the State of Kashmir in northern
part of India
which is west of Nepal.
There are 5 to 7 million people there. Generally
speaking, they have clearer complexions and are
different from the other citizens of India.
An Interesting tradition is passed down among
the Kashmiri people regarding their ancestry
from the Lost Tribes of Israel.
The people in Kashmir
perform a feast called Pasca
in Spring, when they adjust the difference of
days between the lunar calendar and solar
calendar and the way of this adjustment is the
same as Jewish. Several books are published on
this. The Udu
language which is used in Kashmir
includes many words of Hebrew.
various places are called with Israeli names,
like Har Nevo,
Pisga, Heshubon. These
are all the names in the land of the Ten Tribes
The same thing is true in the names of people,
male names, female names, and names of village.
For example, one of the tribes of Kashmir
is called Asheriya
which is Asher, the tribe of Dand
is Dan, Gadha is
is Levi. The Tribe of Shaul
is the Hebrew name of King Saul. Musa is Moses,
Solomon. And you also have the tribe of Israel,
the tribe of Abri
which is the tribe of Hebrew, and the tribe of Kahana which is the word
for Jewish priest.
There are also 50-75 names of places in Kashmir which are in
fact the Hebrew names that ancient Israelites
were very familiar with. There is a place called
Samaryah which is Samaria.
Mamre is Mamre,
Pishgah is Pisgah, Nabudaal is Mt. Nevo,
Bushan is Bashan, Gilgit is Gilgal,
Heshba is Heshbon,
Amunah is Amon,
Gochan is Goshen,
Median-pura is Midian, and Guzana
is Gozan which is a
place name in Assyria
and the very place where the Ten Tribes of Israel
The name Israel
is very common among them as it is among the Pathans, and this name is
never used among the Muslims.
The history of Kashmir
is shrouded in mystery as is the history of other
people in that region. Most Kashmir researchers
are of the opinion that many inhabitants of Kashmir are descendants
of the Lost Tribes who were exiled in 722 B.C.E..
They wandered along the Silk Road into the
countries of the East, Persia
until they reached the Kashmir
valley and settled there.
The priest Kitro in
his book, the General History of the Mughal
Empire, said that the Kashmir
people are the descendants of the Israelites. The
priest Monstrat said
that in the time of Vasco da
Gama in the 15th century, "all the inhabitants of
this area who have been living here since ancient
times can trace their ancestry, according to their
race and customs, to the ancient Israelites. Their
features, their general physical appearance, their
clothing, their ways of conducting business, all
show that they are similar to the ancient
Among Kashmiri people there are customs to light a
candle for the Sabbath, have sidelocks,
beards, and emblem or design of the Shield of
David (Star of David) just like Jews do.
In an area which is on the border of Pakistan, called
there lives a group which to this very day calls
itself B'nei Israel
meaning children of Israel.
Many of the inhabitants of Kashmir say that this
is the ancient name of all the people of Kashmir. The two primary
historians of Kashmir, Mulla
Nadiri, who wrote The
History of Kashmir and Mulla
Ahmad who wrote Events of Kashmir have established
without a trace of doubt that the origins of the
Kashmiri people are to be found in the people of Israel.
In Kashmir there is a strange legend which says
that Jesus did not die on the cross but in his
search for the Ten Tribes reached the Kashmir valley and lived
there until his death. They even point to his
grave in Kashmir.
This is very much like a legend which exists in Japan (Herai
village, present Shingou
village in Aomori
prefecture), where they also have the legend that
Jesus came to Japan and died there. They even
point to his grave. It seems that sometimes the
legend of coming of Jesus and his tomb is born
where the Ten Tribes are said to come.
there is another strange tradition of a small
community next to the Wallar
Link who point out the grave of Moses. There is
yet another tradition in connection with King
Solomon according to which even King Solomon
reached the Kashmir
and through his wisdom aided the people of Kashmir by successfully
regulating the Jalum
river. This tradition is also connected to a place
called Solomon's throne which is situated above
the capital of Kashmir, Srinagar.
Isn't it strange and fascinating that there are
historical and even folkloristic tales of ancient
Israeli heroes in these strange and exotic places?
These also strangely resemble the legends of Japan.
There is so called the grave of Moses on Mt. Houdatsu
in Ishikawa prefecture, Japan,
and also a legend says that many secret treasures
of Solomon are kept in Mt.
What is this phenomenon?
The Lost Tribes of Israel Who
Came to India
In the mountainous region
which lies on both sides of the border between India and Myanmar
lives the Menashe
(Shinlung) tribe which numbers between 1-2
million people. They intermarried with the
Chinese and look Chinese-Burmas,
but the entire tribe is conscious of their
Recently, Rabbi Eliyahu
Avichail, who is the
president of Amishav,
an organization in Jerusalem
for the search of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel,
went to Myanmar
and investigated the Menashe
Menashe people with
The word Menashe
appears often in their poetry and prayer. It is
the name of their ancestor and they call
themselves children of Menashe
When they pray, they say, "Oh, God of Menashe,"
which is from the name Manasseh, a tribe of the
Ten Lost Tribes of Israel.
According to the history which Menashe
people say, they were exiled to Assyria
in 722 B.C.E. with other Tribes of Israel.
Assyria was later conquered by Babylon
(607 B.C.E.), which was later conquered by Persia (457
B.C.E.), which was later conquered by Greece of
Alexander the Great (331 B.C.E.), when the
people of Menashe
were deported from Persia
and other places.
There Menashe tribe
became shepherds and Idol worshipers. They were
later conquered by Islam and forced to convert
to Islam. Because of their speaking Hebrew they
were called the Semitic speakers. Throughout
this entire period they possessed a Hebrew Torah
scroll which they guarded with their elders and
Among them there were those who left Afghanistan
and migrated eastward until they reached the
area of the Tibetan-Chinese border. From there
they continued into China
following the Wei
until they reach the central China, near Kaifeng.
They settled there at about 231 B.C.E..
But the Chinese were cruel to them and made them
as slaves. Some of them escaped and lived in
caves in the mountainous areas called Shinlung,
which became another name for the tribe of Menashe. They are also
called the cave people or the mountain people.
Menashe people lived
in caves in poverty for about two generations
but they still kept the Torah scroll with them.
But they started to assimilate and have Chinese
influences. Later they were banished from their
cave area and went west through Thailand and
eventually reached the area in Myanmar.
There they wandered along the river until they
From there they reached the Chin Mountains.
In the 18th century a part of them migrated to
Manipur and Mizoram which are in northeastern India.
Generally, they maintained the tradition about
their wandering and they realized that they were
not Chinese even though they spoke the local
They call them themselves Lusi
which means the Ten Tribe ("Lu" means tribes,
and "si" means ten).
According to the history which Menashe
people state, when they were banished from their
cave area they lost their Torah scroll when or
perhaps it was stolen or burnt by the Chinese.
But the priests of the tribe of Menashe
continued to hand down their tradition orally
including their ritual observances until the
They had kept the custom of circumcision, which
when it became difficult was no longer practiced
but they blessed the child in a special ceremony
on the 8th day. They also had holy days which
were very similar to the Jewish days.
The following poem accompanied them throughout
their migrations. It is a traditional song about
the crossing of the Red
Sea which was written by their
ancestors. This is the English translation:
We must keep the Passover
Because we crossed the Red
Sea by dry land
At night we crossed with a fire
And By day with a cloud
Enemies pursued us with chariots
And the sea swallowed them up
And used them as food for the fish
And when we were thirsty
We received water from the rock
This content is similar to the
experience of Israelites written in Exodus. The
people of Menashe
call their God Y'wa,
which is the same as Biblical God's name Yah, or
In every village they had a priest whose name
was always Aaron, the brother of Moses and the
first Jewish priest. One of his duties was to
watch over the village.
The priest wore a tunic and a breastplate and an
embroidered coat fastened with a belt and a
crown on his head. And they always sang about Menashe at the beginning
of each gathering.
Rabbi Tokayer says
that he met this group in the jungles of Burma
in 1963 or 1964 and he can describe their
offerings and sacrifices as exactly the same as
was offered in the Bible.
Recently a return to Judaism began. Several
thousand people of Menashe
decided to observe the laws of the Torah and
returned to Judaism. They have synagogues in Manipur,
and Mizoram. There are also those who immigrated
Thousands long for returning to Israel.
The Lost Tribes of Israel Who
Came to China
In the mountainous area of
northwest China, west of the Min River, near the
border of Tibet, in Szechuan lives the ancient
people called by the Chinese, Chiang or
Chiang-Min, who numbers about 250 thousand
In 1937, a book was published entitled, China's
First Missionaries, subtitled, Ancient
Israelites, by Rev. Thomas Torrance, who was a
missionary in this area of China and was the
first to write about this tribe and what he
believed to be their ancient roots of the Lost
Tribes of Israel.
According to the reports by Torrance,
he believed that the customs, rituals, modes of
thought, domestic and religious practices of the
Israelites who were the contemporaries of Amos,
Hosea and Elijah, were found within the Chiang
people of northwestern China.
basically very impressed with the simple
monotheism of this people in China
in an area where the term God was not even
The language of the Chiang tribe had been
forgotten and they had also lost their ancient
script. Today they speak Chinese.
They themselves see themselves as immigrants
from the west who reached this area after a
journey of three years three months. The Chinese
treated them as Barbarians, while Chiang people
related to the Chinese as idol worshipers.
Chiang Min people (Photo: Thomas Torrance in
Hate and enmity existed
between the Chinese and this tribe for a long
time. They lived independently until the middle
of the 18th century when they became part of the
general population to earn more freedom. The
religious pressure from the Chinese, the spread
of Christianity, and the influence of
intermarriage caused the Chiang tribe to
generally and greatly give up their special
monotheistic way of life.
However it is still possible even today to learn
about the past traditions of the Chiang tribe
through their customs and their faith which they
still keep. This tribe had been living a special
Israeli way of life since the time of B.C.E..
According to their tradition, the Chiang tribe
is the descendant of Abraham and their
forefather had 12 sons. Those among them who did
not take Chinese wives after their victory in
war still look Semitic.
They believe in one God whom they call Abachi
meaning the father of heaven, or Mabichu,
the spirit of heaven, or also Tian,
heaven. As a result of Chinese influences they
all call Him God of the mountains as the
mountains are the central place for worship of
Their concept of God is that of an all powerful
God who watches over the entire world, judges
the world fairly, rewards the righteous, and
punishes the wicked. This God gives them the
opportunity to do repentance and to gain
atonement for their actions. In times of
trouble, they call God in the name of "Yawei",
the same as Yahweh.
They also believe in spirits and demons and they
are forbidden to worship them, but this is
probably a Chinese influence. In the past they
had written scrolls of parchment and also books
but today they only have oral traditions. They
themselves do not understand the prayers that
they recite every week.
The Chiang tribe lives a very special way of
life based on the offering of animal sacrifices
which seems to have been seen among the Ten
Tribes of Israel. It is forbidden to worship
statues or foreign gods and anyone who offers a
sacrifice to another god faces the death
These priests wear clean white clothes and
perform the sacrifices in a state of purity as
the priests in ancient Israel
did (1 Samuel 15:27). I recall that Japanese
Shinto priests also wear clean white clothes at
A priest of Chiang Min tribe (Photo: Torrance in
The priest of the Chiang tribe
wears a special head turban. The priest is
ordained in a special ceremony in which
sacrifices are also offered. Unmarried men may
not be a priest, which was the same in ancient Israel
(Leviticus 21:7, 13).
The altar itself is built of earth which is
molded into stones which are then laid one on
top of the other without being cut of fashioned
by any tool of metal. It is important to
remember that in the Torah, the ancient altar
could not be made of cut stones (Exodus 20:25),
since the sword or whatever tool to be used to
cut the stone was also an instrument of war and
The main part of the service is performed at
night perhaps to conceal it from other Chinese
or because of the special effect of the silence
and the tranquility of night. This was also
ancient Israeli tradition. It is interesting
that the important rituals of Japanese Shinto
religion are also performed at night.
Before the offering of sacrifices, one is
required to wash one's self and one's clothing
and to dress in clean garments. Sacrificial
animals themselves must be washed and purified.
There is a special place for purification and
washing. The elders and priest place their hands
on the head of the sacrifice which is to be
slaughtered then offer their prayers.
Circumcision is not performed. It seems to have
become obsolete. But after the 7th day or at the
eve of the 40th day of the child's life, a white
rooster is slaughtered in the child's honor and
he is given a name.
Ancient Jewish Communities in Kaifeng,
As I mentioned before, Menashe people once went
to the region near Kaifeng, China.
The Jewish community in Kaifeng is
most famous as the very ancient one which had
existed since the time of B.C.E..
Kaifeng was the
former capital for several dynasties in China.
The Jews there did not eat the sinew of the hip
which is on the socket of the thigh, which is a
custom of Israelites, and their religion was
called by the name meaning this.
There are still a few thousand Jews in Kaifeng.
They had maintained some Jewish tradition. In Kaifeng
they had a synagogue. They intermarried with the
Chinese and look Chinese.
We can trace the history of Israelites in China
to very ancient times. According to a stone
monument in Kaifeng,
Israelites already came to Kaifeng in
231 B.C.E.. Many
Israelites or Jews lived in parts of China even
before the destruction of Jerusalem
in 70 C.E..
The Lost Tribes of Israel Went
East Along the Silk
I have mentioned above about
the people of the Yusufzai
and the Pathans in
the people of Kashmir, the Menashe
tribe in India
and the Chiang (Chiang-Min) tribe in China.
These places are all along the Silk
Road. Are these all where they
Otherwise, were there any other people who went
further east along the Silk
Where is the destination of the Silk
Did the Ten Tribes of Israel come to Japan?
If the Ten Tribes came to China,
we must say that there is a strong possibility
that they came to Japan
also, for next to China
But someone may think, "There is a sea between China and Japan, which
makes it difficult to get to Japan."
However, it was not a big problem for the
Israelites. Scholars say that Israelites already
traded in the time of King Solomon (the 10th
century B.C.E.) with India and other countries
of the Mediterranean Sea with a fleet of ships
(see 1 Kings 10:22, Some of the words are from
Sanskrit). Israelites knew well about ships even
in the times before the country of Japan
The Silk Road
was actually Silk Roads because there were
several roads on the land and the sea already in
the time of B.C.E. The Israelites were
experienced people for getting across the ocean.