home / special features / mystery of the ten lost tribes /

Mystery of the Ten Lost Tribes

by Rabbi Marvin Tokayer

Intensified attention to the subject took place in the 17th century in England. It was all due to the writings of Manasseh Ben Israel, an Amsterdam Rabbi, who convinced Oliver Cromwell to allow the Jews to Return to England after their banishment from that country four centuries previously.

Manasseh was fully convinced of the authenticity of the Sambatyon legend. He wrote in his book that all think that the Ten Tribes dwelled beyond this Sabbatical river. He cites many authorities in support of his belief including the statement of Josephus that Titus himself had seen the river. Later on, after his meetings with a remarkable missionary, the Marrano Jew (Jew who was forced to convert to Christianity in Spain and Portugal), Antonio de Montezinus, he became fully convinced that the American Indians constituted some of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel.





Pakistan - The Pathans





Manasseh heard a very remarkable thing from Montezinus that in 1642 when Montezinus was deep into the mountainous wilderness of Ecuador, he met with four Indians who greeted him with "Shema Israel" which is the traditional creed of Israelites beginning with "Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one!" (Deuteronomy 6:4). He claimed that he spoke with them in Hebrew and claimed they were from the Lost Tribe of Reuben and Levi.

Through the conversation with Montezinus, Rabbi Manase Ben Israel was convinced that the American Indians were from several tribes of the Lost Tribes of Israel. He wrote on Dec. 23, 1649, in a letter to John Drury, the Puritan divine, "I think the Ten Tribes lived not only there in America, but also in other lands scattered everywhere, these never did come back to the second temple, and they keep to this day still the Jewish religion seeing that all the prophecies which speak of the bringing back into their native soil must be fulfilled."

Menorah Was Found in South America

As for the Indians in South America and the Lost Tribes of Israel, there was an interesting article in a newspaper published in Israel (Maariv, Dec 31, 1974) as follows:

In 1587, a Jesuit Nicholas Delttsu was sent to South America by the king of Spain to convert the Indians. In Argentina, he found a tribe with Hebrew names, Abraham, David, Moshe, etc.. When he asked them if they were circumcised, they answered, "Yes, just as our ancestors." In the same area were found knives of stone used for circumcision. Sharpened stone knives are cited in the Bible as used for circumcision.

Of equal interest is the recent find of a tribe in Argentina related to the Incas of Peru. On a stone tablet were found 3 commandments - "Do not steal." "Do not lie." and "Do not murder." Scholars concluded that these commandments come from the Ten Commandments of Moses but existed hundreds of years before the Spaniards arrived.

And in 1974 in the same area, round stones were found with Hebrew Menorah (candlestick with 7 arms of ancient Israel) on the stone, and on the side is written in Aramaic, Pascha (Passover). Aramaic is an ancient language which ancient Israelites used and this itself means very old.
A few meters away was found a long stone in the shape of a brick with an engraving of a boat (the emblem of Zevulun is ship) with the word Tzipora (the same name as the wife of Moses and one of names of Israelites. The name of the ship?) written on it. Does this mean that they came here on boat? Scholars believe it is 3000 years old.

Overview Afghanistan Burma Pakistan - The Pathans Kashmir Japan Ecuador China

Reprinted from "Nihon-Yudaya, Huuin no Kodaishi" by Rabbi Marvin Tokayer, translated from Japanese by Arimasa Kubo. Following his ordination, Rabbi Tokayer served as a U.S. Air Force Chaplain in Japan, and upon his discharge from the military, returned to Tokyo to serve for many years as rabbi of the Jewish Community of Japan as well as Vice President and Director of Culture, Religion and Education for the Jewish communities of the Far East.