One subject of the
Lost Tribes which has generally been ignored which I found to be
personally fascinating are the tribe of the Pathans.
are about 15 million people living mainly in Pakistan and Afghanistan as
well as in Persia and India. They have a tradition of being of the Lost
Tribes and have Israeli customs.
The Pathans have custom of
circumcision on the 8th day. This is a known Jewish custom, and is the
oldest Jewish tradition. I myself witnessed and was present at a very
joyous circumcision ceremony on the 8th day after birth. Muslims have
custom of circumcision but it is not on the 8th day, and 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 Israeli origin. They also have
bigger Tallit which they call Joy-Namaz. It is a garment 2-3 meters sq.,
and it is made to cover the head and part of the shoulders, and is used
for prayer by spreading on the ground in the Muslim fashion. It has no
The Pathans have custom of the Sabbath. The Sabbath is considered a
day of rest and 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 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.
Pathans Live in Customs of Israelites
custom of Kosher, dietary laws same as Jews. Pathans do not eat horse or
camel meat, which is most common in their area but of course 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 Torah.
wear a small box which Jews call Tefillin (phylactery) containing a verse
of the Bible. This box resemble Japanese Tokin of Yamabushi's forehead,
too. This is an ancient custom of Israel. In the Jewish box there is the
verse of Shema Israel, that is, "Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the
Lord is one!" (Deuteronomy 6:4) This custom of Tefillin 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).
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 called
Israel, Samuel, and so on, which are never found among the Muslims. There
are also many areas as locations, neighborhoods and villages with names of
places that are similar to names in the land of Israel.
has archeological finds testifying to a Hebrew past, and they also
resemble Jews of the area and their language Pashtu surprisingly has many
Hebrew words. The Pathans are also called Afghans, or sons of the Pashtu
which is their language, were mostly called "Bani-Israel" meaning children
of Israel even though they live today as devout Muslims.
external appearance of the Pathans resemble the Jews of the area. Together
with their ancient customs and other data there is a definite connection
that can be made to the Tribes of Israel.
The Pathans number 6 to
7 million in Afghanistan and 7 to 8 million in Pakistan. They live in the
border area between these two countries and about 2 million live as
nomads. These Pathans desire for their independence, which is supported by
Afghanistan and is a cause of constant tension in Pakistan which does not
desire their independence.
Pathans' Law Resembles the
Afghanistan is one of the least developed countries of
Asia and the majority of the population is illiterate. They work primarily
in farming and sheep-raising and other domesticated animals.
people still live in villages and some even live as nomads. It is a
country that is ruled by Islamic religious law and more than 90 % of the
population are Sunni Muslims. But whatever modernization has taken place,
it has not reached the mountainous border areas. Here the Pathans continue
their centuries old tribal life.
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
The Pathans are very healthy, tall, and have strong
light-skinned appearance. They are warriors and carry arms from a young
age, they are hardworking, wise, truthful and extremely loyal and they
also have a worldwide reputation for exemplary hospitality.
ethnic origin of these Pathans has puzzled people for some time because
they are different both externally and in the character traits from the
other groups around them such as the Turks, the Mongolians, the Persians,
or the Indo-Iranians. It is also difficult to trace their past history in
a region in which tens of nations and major tribes of various origins have
come and gone.
The personal identification of the Pathan Tribes
with their Israelite origin is expressed in various ways. 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 Shimon, 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 sons 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.
There are some Jews of Afghanistan today who count
the Tribe of Israel among the Pathans. The physical similarity between the
Pathans and other Jews is exemplified by the British ruled Afghanistan for
a great length of time and called the Pathans Jews. When not wearing their
traditional clothing Pathans are indistinguishable from other Jews of the
area. Among the 21 nations of Afghanistan only the Pathans and the Jews
have Semitic features, their faces are longer and lighter, and some even
have blue eyes. Like the Jews of the area, Pathans grow beards and
sidelocks which further serve to make them indistinguishable from Jews.
Israeli Features of the Pathans
have many other features as descendants of Israelites.
wedding is like Jewish. Wedding ceremony with the Pathans includes a
marriage canopy and rings similar to the Jewish custom.
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 Bible.
Pathans have custom of levirate marriage, which is the custom when
a husband dies without children, his brother marries the widow to keep the
name of the house. This custom no longer exists today, but was an ancient
Israeli custom mentioned in the Bible (Deuteronomy 25:5-6).
commandment to honor one's parent is kept in exemplary manner in these
tribes. The son must obey the parents in all matters. When the father
enters the room all stand and bow their heads in his honor. This was a
Israeli tradition as well.
Pathans have custom of Yom Kippur. We
know of some of the members of the Lewani Tribe who came to the Jewish
synagogue on Yom Kippur each year in Afghanistan. He would stay there
until sundown without uttering even one word. He spoke of the tradition of
the Temple on this day and of the high priest and his work there.
One year he erred in his calendar and did not come, he wept
bitterly for one week for missing the observance of this day.
Pathans have custom of scapegoat. In ancient Israel there was the custom
to put sins of the nation onto a goat and send the goat away to desert.
This custom of scapegoat was done to atone the sins of the nation
(Leviticus chapter 16). Similar custom is found even today among the
The Pathans usually pray in mosque. However some pray
towards Jerusalem which is most unusual. There are some very old
synagogues in their area and Pathans come to these synagogues on special
days in times of great stress or tragedies or for special prayers. The
individual who seeks help comes there to touch the lock and to pray. There
are those who say that these places once contained scrolls of the Torah.
This is interesting because today they are actually devout Muslims.
At the time of plague the Pathans slaughter a sheep and sprinkle
its blood on the doorpost of their homes. This is what the Israelites did
in ancient Egypt during the plagues that occurred there.
interesting testimony relates to the placing of a wrapped book of Psalms
of the Bible under the pillow of the ill in order to heal that person.
There are those who have said that there are Amulets written in
Hebrew. Some contain the phrase "Shema Israel" and it is secretly written
by the head of the tribe and it is forbidden to open it.
symbol of Shield of David (Star of David) is found in almost every Pathan
house. The wealthy make it out of expensive metals and the poor out of
simple wood. It can be seen in towers, in schools and also in tools,
bracelets, and jewelry. I saw it at least 20 times in a variety of places.
In Minerajan, the center of Afghanistan, there are even schools that have
the Shield of David on the door or in the stone above the door.