domingo, 26 de febrero de 2017

How the G-d of Israel enlightened the Sakya Prince Siddhartha so that the Lost Ten Tribes could have a Messiah in Buddhism

The Lost Israelites were the First Buddhists – Part Two


The Ashokah Pillar called the “Topez of the Sanchi” on the Southern Gateway of the Sanchi Stupa

Equally mysterious in the origins of the Supreme Buddha was the role of the Sacae-Suni that were known as the “Sons of Isaac” upon which the 6th century Royal Lost Israelite Prince heir, Siddhartha Gautama was born as one of their peoples. He was later to become known as the Supreme Buddha, the “Sacae- Muni” or the “Great Hermit”. As written in the Bible Searchers Reflections article titled, “The Israeli-Scythian Migration to Europe” in the subtitled section called, “The Influence of the Sacae-Suni, the Sons of Isaac, upon Buddha and Confucius” we read:

Bible Searchers Reflections – “It was in the research of George Moore M.D. in his book published in 1861 titled, “The Lost Tribes and the Saxons of the East and the West, with new views of Buddhism and Translations of Rock Records in India” that the Scythian/Scuths began first to wander east of the Caspian Sea, along the east-west corridor in which they had full autonomy and control.

Bands of the Scythian-Scuth-Israelites who were called the Saki, Saghs, or Asa of Ariana, began penetrating south into the Kingdoms of Media and Persia and wherever they battled, they won in triumph. For a time, the Israelite-Scythians had possession of Media and Persia and ruled them from their homelands now to the far north and all the way over to the Indian Peninsula.
                         
The Daibutsu at the Asuka dera in Asuka. This is the oldest known sculpture of Prince Siddhartha Gautama as the Supreme Buddha in Japan with an exact known date of manufacture, 609 A.C. The sculpture was made by Kuratsukuri-no-Tori, son of a Korean immigrant.

It was in the year of 623 BCE, according to George Moore, that a child was born in the mountains of Northern India that was named, “Sacae- Muni”, meaning the “Great Hermit”. This was a bright child with mental, moral, and spiritual characteristics far in advance of his local peers. He was soon known to them as Buddha. In reality he was not spiritually theirs, but a “Hidden One” or and “Elect One” of the Lost Israelites in Exile.

Among the peoples of India, Buddha soon won their confidence for his teachings were from ascendant level of spiritual and moral supremacy. For the next forty years, Buddha taught a spiritual life that was based upon the principles of the Sinai Decalogue. He taught pure monotheism in what would eventually be known as Buddhism.

He taught that the Supreme Spiritual Ruler of the Universe was One and that “the future coming of the Lord of the world, who, destroying the serpent, should bring peace, and who should spring from the Sakyan race” of the House of Isaac. Here he was linking Buddha’s expectations with the Hebrew’s expectation, “In Isaac shall thy seed be called!” (Ingersoll on Moore in, “Lost Israel found in the Anglo-Saxon Tribe, Chapter 5”)

                                            The Ashokan Pillar called the “Topez of the Sanchi”

Frederick Haberman confirms the relationship of the Sakyas who as the Sakyas of northern India were the originators of Buddhism. He wrote of a 4th century BCE rock carving, called the “Topez of the Sanchi” near the city of Bhopal, India about the time the Israelite Sanchi (House of Isaac) were invading into the Indian continent.

“Not only is the name of Saki but also the picture itself is of great interest to us. Below we see a Lion and a Unicorn, which are the emblems of the whole house of Israel, the Lion of Judah and the Unicorn, the calf or Engle (Ephraim) of the separated kingdom of Northern Israel. Both figures are still on the British Coat of Arms.

In the center we see the shield of Britannia or the Brits or Covenant race, together with two tridents, the same as that held by Britannia…On one side hangs a double flag with the crosses of St. Andrew and on the other a starry banner.

Of all the ancient stone carvings this is the most striking and of the greatest importance to us, for in it we can see that the original pattern for the Union Jack and the Star Spangled Banner was in the minds of our ancestors twenty three centuries ago and probably before that, not only in Europe but in distant Asia.”

Ancient Pattern for the Union Jack and the Star Spangled Banner – The Topez of the Sanchi from a Rock Carving near Bhopan in India - 4th cent.) – Roberts, “British History Traced.” ch. Xi, Cited in Haberman, “Tracing our Ancestors, Face Sheet)

As the Sacae-Suni (sons of Isaac), centuries later were called the Saxons in Europe, they moved to the East and their religious and spiritual influence was felt all the way to the land of the dragon power of China. There rose, during these years, a new spiritual reformer called Confucius who lived almost contemporaneous with Buddha (Sacae-Muni) around the year of 584 BCE. Confucius started a spiritual revolution in China of a purer religion that challenged and changed the corruption, vice, and immorality of the ancient Chinese social way of life.
                                                  The Royal British Coat of Arms

"Confucius reformed the standards of morality when he taught the Chinese “to treat others according to the treatment which they themselves would desire at their hands, to guard their secret thoughts; that true renown consists in straightforward and honest sincerity, in the love of justice, in the knowledge of mankind, and in humility.” (George Moore, “The Lost Tribes and the Saxons of the East and the West, with new views of Buddhism and Translations of Rock Recorded in India”, cited by Ingersol, “Lost Israel found in the Anglo-Saxon Tribe,

Confucius’ teachings, in a world of paganism appeared to be lifted straight out of the Torah, for “he advocated the ‘law of retaliation’ so prominent in the Mosaic code; and he is called at the present day “the most holy teacher of ancient times.”(Ibid) With the life of Confucius and his descendants and the heir succession in the Chinese culture, Moore wrote:

“Though only a single descendant survived Confucius, the succession has continued through sixty-seven or sixty eight generations (in 1861) to the present day in the very district where their great ancestor was born. Various honors and privileges have always distinguished the family.” (George Moore, “The Lost Tribes and the Saxons of the East and the West, with new views of Buddhism and Translations of Rock Recorded in India”.

The Land of the Shakya Israelites in Nepal at the Foothills of the Himalaya Mountains (the mention of Israelite history in areas as Nepal & northern India reinforces my belief that certain peoples from these countries, that never before were regarded as Israelites: Baltis, Gaddis...)

Today, most scholars are honing into the life and times of the Prince heir, Siddhartha Gautama. We now know and accept that he was the son of the elected chief of the Shakya clan called King Śuddhodana. As we have now seen and will bolster the evidence later, the Shakya tribal clan were later known by the Persian Shah Darius as the Sacae transliterated as the “sons of Isaac”. So they were part of the Lost Ten Tribes of the House of Israel that had settled in the region below Himalaya Mountains in India.

This region was later separated by the British Empire, during the Indian Independence in 1951. The two kingdoms split, the “India of the West” called Pakistan inhabited predominately by the Muslim peoples of the Islamic faith, and the “India of the East” called India that was inhabited predominately by the various Hindu castes of the Hindu religious people, and the Buddhist which now appear to have been in large part the Lost Sheep of the House of Israel now living in Tibet, Nepal, and over into Laos, Cambodia and Viet Nam.

The Shakya infancy portrayal of Queen Maya giving birth to Gautama Buddha under the Bodhi Tree at Lumbini.

The mother of the Buddha called Prince Siddhartha Gautama was Queen Maha Maya (Māyādevī) a Koliyan princess whose people centuries later as the Kolis of Gujarat mixed with the Rajputs in what was called hypergamous marriages to elevate themselves from a lower social class to a higher social status in the Hindu caste system.

In the ancient days, before the modern era of the British Rajs (Rajputs), the Israelite Koliyan’s sided with the Rajputs, who had now become a martial warrior cult which later the British imperial occupiers used enforce land reform that ended in taking possession of the Lost Israelite’s land of the Koliyan peoples.

Siddhartha Gautama was born as a Kshatriya, the son of King Śuddhodana, “an elected chief of the Israelite Shakya (son of Isaac’s) clan”,whose capital was Kapilavastu. Their family were part of the Kshatriya recognized as the holder of Kshatra, or the rule and authority. The Kshatriya were one of the four varnas or social orders in the Hindu caste ruling system.

According to the Sanskrit, the Kshatriya were part of the elite of the ancient Vedic social culture when its members organized themselves into three classifications: the Brahmin, the Kshatriya, and the Vaishya. Over the centuries the Kshatriya represented the ruling and the military elite, while they were in charge of protecting the social culture by fighting in war and governing in times of peace. As such the Israelite Shakya were truly a part of the ancient ruling elite of the Hindu ancient past in India.

When they lost their august and once-equal standing with the Rajputs the Koliyans also lost their small princedoms in the Patidar community. Today, they are agricultural laborers called tenant cultivators and once again subservient to the higher classes within the greater Indian communities. Yet even they will be eventually known as one of the Lost Ten Tribes of the House of Israel, when according to the rabbanim of Israel, the Prophet Elijah returns before the era of the messiah begins and will give each one authentication of his own tribal identity.

Prince Siddhartha eventually married his own cousin, Princess Yasodharā, a member of his own Israelite tribe, according to the ancient Torah commandments from the mount called Sinai, for Princess Yasodharā was the daughter of Suppabuddha, the sister to King Śuddhodana. King Śuddhodana’s consorts were Queen Maya and Princess Mahapajapati Gotami, the later Buddha Mundi’s mother and stepmother. King Śuddhodana also had two other children, Princess Sundari Nanda and Prince Nanda, sister and brother of the later Buddha Mundi.

As such they remained a part of the Sakyan tribe that later in part moved on into Northern Europe called Gaul. In the largely unpopulated forested region of Northern Gaul, they were known as the Saxons in Germany. With their merger with the Engel or the Angle tribes (Engel, the Hebrew for heifer that was the tribal banner of the tribe of Ephraim) they later invaded and conquered the eastern portion of the British Isles in the 4th century CE as the Anglo-Saxons.


Dhâmek Stûpa in Sârnâth, India, site of the first teaching of the Buddha in which he taught the Four Noble Truths to his first five disciples

With the present UNESCO archeological digs at the Maya Devi Temple just completed at Lumbini, most scholars still accept that the royal palace was located in Kapilavastu, the capital of King Śuddhodanain present-day Nepal. This capital and palaces were later annexed by the growing Kingdom of Kosala during the Buddha's lifetime. Gautama was the family name and as we shall see later, Gautama represented the Israelite Tribe of Gad.

To see how tight the genealogies of the Lost Ten Tribes of the House of Israel had become enmeshed, the mother of the young Sakyan prince, Queen Maha Maya (Māyādevī) was the wife of King Suddhodana.


The Land of the Lost Israelite Sakyas at the Foothills of Nepal at Kathmandu looking towards the Himalaya Mountains

At the same time, according to Sanskrit traditions, Prince Suprabuddha, and the Lost Israelite in the Pali traditions, Prince Suppabuddha was the son of Añjana and his sister, Yasodhara, a Koliyan prince. Prince Suppabuddha had two children, Bhaddakaccānā, who became the wife of Prince Siddhartha Gautama whom we know today as Yasodharā) and the second daughter, Devadatta, was from Prince Suppabuddha’s wife Amitā.

Prince Suppabuddha also had two sisters, Princess Māyāand Princess Pajāpatī and a brother, Prince Dandapāni. As the mother of Buddha was Maya, that made Prince Suppabuddha the uncle of the Buddha Mundi called Prince Siddhartha, and as his daughter, Princess Yasodharā was the wife of Prince Siddhartha and as such Prince Suppabuddha became also the father-in-law to the Buddha Mundi.


                  The Buddhist Monk praying at the Bodhi Tree where Prince Siddhartha was born

According to the “oral traditions of the Lost Ten Tribes of Israel” the evening in which Prince Siddhartha was conceived, his mother, Queen Maya had a dream that a white elephant that had six white tusks entered into the right side of her body. Ten months later Prince Siddhartha was born.

According to the Shakya Israelite traditions, ten months later, just before the expected birth, Queen Maya left the royal Palace at Kapilavastu to go to the palace of her father to give birth to her son. Yet, he came prematurely and was born in Lumbini in a garden area beneath a sal tree identified as the Shorea robusta, while her hand was holding the Sal Tree.

According to the local traditions at Lumbini, it was in the year of 563 BCE (today accepted by UNESCO as 623 BCE) that the Buddha was born when his mother was traveling from one state to another. She passed by a pond that was surrounded by flowering sal trees. She first bathed in the cool water, and shortly after that went into premature labor and had only enough time to walk 25 steps to grab a branch of the sal tree for support when Prince Siddhartha, the future Buddha Mundi was born. Today the pond and the huge sal tree (Bodhi Tree) are still there by the Maya Devi Stupa where it was when the infant Israelite Buddha was born.


                      The Glorious Blooms on the Sal Tree like where the Buddha Mundi was Born

Today the birth date of Buddha is celebrated as a holiday called “Buddha Poornima” in India on a day of a full moon. Just after his birth, within the first seven days, Queen Maya, his mother died.

On the eight day (by no chance this is the Israelite age of circumcision), the famous seer Asitar, came down from his mountain abode and with the child in hand, announced that he would become either a great king (chakravartin) or a renowned holy man. Earlier on the fifth day, King Śuddhodana called a naming ceremony for his new son. Eight Brahmin scholars were invited to read the future of the new heir prince. All eight of them gave the prediction that this babe would either be a great king or a great holy man (sadhu). It was the youngest, Kaundinya (Pali: Kondañña), who unequivocally predicted that Siddhartha would become a Buddha and then went on to become the first arahantother than the Buddha.

With the death of his mother, Queen Maya, Prince Siddhartha was raised by his aunt, Queen Mawa’s sister, Princess Maha Pajapati in one of the three seasonal palaces built for the prince. At the orders of the king, his son was to be shielded from religious teachings and the evidence of human suffering. For the next 13 years, after his 16th birthday, Prince Siddhartha married his cousin, Princess Yasodharā, who together had a son, named Rāhula. But material wealth was not to be the supreme calling of this young Lost Israelite prince.








The Head of the Buddha from Hadda, Central Asia, Gandhara art, Victoria and Albert Museum (London)




At the age of 29, Siddhartha left the palace, left his wife, son, family and gave up rights to the throne of the Sakyas to become an ascetic. Interestingly the Buddha Mundi would later become the model for the Roman Catholic Church as they reinvented the life of the Jewish Orthodox Prince of David, known as the Nazarene who was an active family oriented orthodox rabbi and transformed him into a reclusive celibate to become the “christ” of the future monastic Roman Christianity and later modern Protestantism.


As an ascetic, Prince Siddhartha, the future Buddha Mundi went on to shave his head (shaving the head is an ancient Israelite tradition that some Igbos still practice). He had left the life of royalty and in a life of denial he hoped to find the religious pathway to end the suffering of disease and death. By overcoming ageing, sickness and death, it was his highest aim to accomplish this by an ascetic life of deprivation as a medicant. He did receive high levels of spiritual enlightenment, but soon it became evident that this was not the pathway to relieve the suffering of all mankind.


Buddha Mundi then went on to become a student of yoga, and succeeded to be even better than his own masters, so then he went on to try self-mortification with the austere life of deprivation of worldly goods, food, and including self-mutilation of his own body. Living on only a leaf or a nut a day, he one day collapsed in the river and almost drowned. It was then that he began to reconsider his ways.




The Bodhgaya temple, where Siddhartha gained enlightenment.


In essence, what is seen in Buddhism is neither pessimism nor optimism but realism of the human state of life. It neither considers a messiah or a Divine that will help us and lead us through times of chaos into the future called in Judaism as the “World to Come.” At that time the “children of Isaac” (Sacai or Sakya) are destined not to continue living in the Oriental World of Eastern Buddhism and neither are they expected to continue living in the Occidental World of Western Christianity. When they have experienced the “Time of Jacob’s Tribulation” they will become immersed in the synthesis of the Oriental and the Occidental spiritual mindsets of Orthodox Judaism, the repository of the true synthesis of One G-d of Israel.


Only by absolving ourselves of our independence, our arrogance, our “can-do” personality, only then can we claim absolute reliance on the Divine. This is what the Nazarene himself had to do, for he also was human and not the One G-d of Israel, as he himself admitted over and over in his personal testimony of the Gospel of John.


Only then can we begin to comprehend that restoration and redemption of the Lost Ten Tribes of the House of Israel go beyond our Western oriented world mindset of “we will overcome.” Yet it appears that there are separate pathways towards the future redemption of the “Lost Sheep of the House of Israel” as multiple tribes will be returning along multiple pathways as we are restored back into oneness with our tribal brothers and sisters the Jews and the Jewess of the House of Judah.


The Supreme Buddha described this state of being to his five disciples and his larger discipleship much like in the esteemed Orthodox Rabbinic sages do in the Jewish yeshivas throughout the ages and in Israel today. This is where the Jewish student disciples also in moments of meditative states watch with great focus and intent upon their Tzaddik, or rabbinic mentor focusing on a passage of the Torah in the TaNaKh while they watch and pray waiting his message of enlightenment.








The Ashokan Pillar in Lumbini, Nepal




What has been forgotten by both the Jews and Christians is that while most of the Lost Tribes of the House of Israel ended up in Europe and the United States, a large remnant remained in India and the Near East, far East & Africa. As such, we all share in the ultimate destiny of the Lost Tribes of Israel, as prophesied by her prophets. They too must someday come into an oneness with the Jews of the House of Judah, together as “two peas in a pod” or as the Prophet Ezekiel wrote, “Two Sticks in One Rod”:


Ezekiel 37:19-20 - “Thus says the Lord God: ‘surely I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel, his companions; and I will join them, with the stick of Judah and make them one stick, and they will be in My hand…I will make a covenant of peace with them, and it shall be an everlasting covenant with them.’”


Today, the sages of Judaism and the many of the scholars of Christianity accept that the Lost Tribes of Israel did spread all around the world, from the region of the Caspian Sea to China in the east, and to Europe and the Americas in California to the west. They are hidden by the One G-d of Israel, but soon shall be revealed. One of the premises of this revelation that must put fear in all the satanic forces of evil today, is the sacred law of retaliation or retributive justice. First spoken in the Pentateuch (first five Books of Moses), as we read:


Exodus 21:23 – “If any harm follows, then you shall give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.”





The 7th Century BCE: Scythian Lost Israelite “Deer in Gold”


Yet the Jewish rabbi called “The Nazarene” stated to his disciples:


Matthew 5:38 – “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.”


What this famous rabbi was trying to teach was the fact that, if you practice retributive justice literally on an individual basis, you are seeking to take the providence of G-d and leave it in your hands for revenge. As a Hasid, or one who kept the Laws of Torah, “beyond the letter of the law”, the Nazarene spoke of a standard of righteousness that was above and beyond the “letter of the law”. He understood that treating an evil act with another retributive evil act would become an ongoing cycle for eternity, one Jew for one Palestinian, one Jewish politician for one Palestinian politician, and the cycle goes on.


First we must look within our own hearts and remember that a vengeance based retaliation of “Lex Talionis” breeds a potentially endless cycle of violence, for it was Mahatma Gandhi who remarked”


Mahatma Gandhi – “An eye for an eye will make the whole world blind.”


What the G-d of Israel wants are spiritually minded, Torah (Laws of God) observing followers that will be “safe to safe” in the “world to come” for the Almighty to redeem and restore. It is hard not to take sides in such an issue, but the G-d of Divine Justice is rooting out evil within Christians, Jews, Islam, Buddhism, Zoroastrianism and Confucianism alike, for within these lands most of the Lost Tribes of the House of Israel resided.


They infected the “lands of their dwelling” with the concepts, however corrupted, of the Almighty One of Israel. The One G-d of Israel will even take the forces of evil, confound their conspiring plans to destroy Israel, such as the Gog-Magog War, and turn their plans against themselves.





Is this Green –Eyed Girl from Nepal a Lost 10-Israelite?


So today, this green eyed young lady from Nepal is depicting her genetic diversity which is no doubt from bloodlines to the Lost Ten Tribes of the House of Israel. This is not a racial issue but a “covenanted” issue for the G-d of Israel promised upon honoring His Holy Name that the House of Israel will be redeemed, not just in America, the European nations in Northern Gaul, and the colonies of the British Empire, but they also must include the Islamic Pashtun (I would add Tajiks, Kalashas, Baltis, Kashmiris...) Tribal peoples in Eastern Afghanistan and Western Pakistan plus the tribes of the Sache and Gad, which also included those that migrated as Buddhists all the way to China, the Koreas, and Japan.


When we consider carefully the implication of the genetic roots of the “Enlightened One” called the Supreme Buddha, how can we doubt that the G-d of Israel has been carefully watching over his “chosen ones” throughout the centuries?





The Golden Urn reputed to carry the Relics of Buddha, the Lost Israelite Prince Siddhartha




So the same G-d of Israel gave to the peoples of the Near East in Afghanistan, Pakistan and India a Divine promise for their redemption. Though many of them feel that they are unredeemable and lost forever, the prophetic promises of HaShem, the G-d of Israel is still the same.


Yet it appears that the Divine One gave to the Lost Israelites in the Islamic lands of Afghanistan and Pakistan, plus also the Hindu land of India that a “chosen one” of their own peoples, a “Lost Israelite”, would literally become a “messiah” for their ultimate redemption.


Was Prince Siddhartha Gautama, known as the Illustrious Sache, sent by the G-d of Israel to become their Supreme Buddha and offer them a pathway of restoration, though corrupted, like He sent the Nazarene to later become a messiah to the Christians living in the lands of west? Was it they, who laid the foundation for the redemption of those peoples to someday be restored as one family, Klal Yisrael, in the “world to come” as the Divine One of Israel uncloaks and no longer remains hidden, as He comes to redeem His Chosen People?








The 1985 National Geographic’s Most Famous Photo: Sharbat Gula; the Green-Eyed Afghani of the Beni-Israel




Does it mean that the modern Buddhists today will suddenly convert to Judaism? No doubt all of them will when a divine reality occurs to each one of them that they are the Lost Ten Tribes of the House of Israel. Yet, that reality will not come because of their genetics and genealogies but because the G-d of Israel will begin to uncloak Himself and remove His hiddenness so that the numbed down senses of the Lost Ten Tribes will perceive that He is not far away, but near. He is wooing each of us as in whistling; it’s time to come home to the brotherhood of Klal Yisrael (All 12-Tribed Israel).


It does suggest that they will come and that they will convert in the Age of Messianic Enlightenment to Messianic Judaism in part because they were given “a messiah” that was a Jewish priest in the Temple of Solomon, whose followers or disciples would be called “The Budii.” And it appears that it was so, for by the Divine purpose of the Creator of the Universe, this Jewish “messiah” and one who would follow afterwards called the Sakya Muni and later the Buddha Muni would illuminate their pathway so that at the end of times his memory will be resurrected and will prepare the Lost Ten Tribes of the House of Israel absorbed in Buddhism today to wait also for “The Messiah” called the Maschiach ben Dovid (Messiah son of David)?


When we consider carefully the implications of the ancestral genetic roots of the “Enlightened One” called the Supreme Buddha, we are humbled over how the G-d of Israel is carefully watching over his “chosen ones” even so today. Is there any difference in the G-d of Israel watching over his errant and brazen faced children than a Mother Hen watching over her baby chicks?


Even though the Lost Ten Tribes of the House of Israel were over the ages desecrating and abominating the Holy Name of HaShem, the G-d of Israel, this same G-d promised that he will redeem the Lost Ten Tribes in that day when the Messianic Era of Enlightenment begins.


According to the Prophecy of Rabbi Judah ben Samuel, that day will begin in the Jewish Jubilee year of 5777 (5000 years as the era of Man and 777 the number of G-d) beginning on Rosh Hashanah 2016.


The same G-d of Israel also gave to the Buddhist peoples of the Near East in Afghanistan, Pakistan and India the promise that they too will be redeemed. As the prophets warned so eloquently 2,700 years ago, they will live a life of sackcloth and ashes, and their lives will be spent with their heads shaved and bald as they mourn lamentations for their destiny, as many of them feel that they are unredeemable and lost forever.


Even so, the Divine One gave to the Lost Israelites in the Islamic lands of Afghanistan and Pakistan, plus also the Hindu lands of India and the Buddhist lands of Pakistan, Nepal, Tibet, Viet Nam, Cambodia, Thailand and further on into Japan that a “chosen one of the Israelites”, Prince Siddhartha Gautama, who was known as the Illustrious Sakha was sent by the G-d of Israel for one purpose to become the Supreme Buddha. It was he, as a Sakya (“son of Isaac”) was elected to carry on the messianic mission to prepare the Lost Ten Tribes still trapped in a world of lamentations and grief, but even so, the foundation for their redemption in the “world to come” was already being prepared by the Holy One of Israel.

viernes, 24 de febrero de 2017

The Igbos Are An Israelitish People Dwelling In West Africa II

Igbo Musical Gift

I have read an article that said that the Igbos (or part of them) had a natural talent for music. It stated that this natural talent would come from their ancestor Tubal, a man with a great musical quality. Nevertheless the Bible also mentions a group of people with a remarkable gift for music. These people happen to be Israelites. They are the priestly Israelite tribe of Levi.

I found an article regarding the Levitish gift for music written by one of the experts on the Lost Ten Tribes of Israel, Steven M. Collins. I hope it makes people consider that that the Igbos' musical talent might have an Israelite source rather than from Tubal.

Levites' Talent for Music

The tribe of Levi had a special aptitude for music and entertainment. I Chronicles 15:14-28 and II Chronicles 5:12-13 show that the Levites served as official singers and musicians in ancient Israel. I Chronicles 15:16-22 states: “David spoke to the chief of the Levites to appoint their brethren to be the singers with instruments of music, psalteries and harps and cymbals... and Chenaniah, chief of the Levites, was for song: he instructed about the song, because he was skillful.”

These passages show that in Israel’s Temple services, the orchestra and choir were Levites with the “chief” Levite serving as choir director. Ezra 3:10 and Nehemiah 7:44 confirm that the Levites continued to perform these functions for centuries. The clear indication is that the Levites possessed superior musical, artistic and creative skills.

Consequently, we should expect to find many Levites in the music and entertainment business today. The tribe of Levi anciently attached itself to the tribe of Judah (II Chronicles 11:14), and Levites were among the Jews who rebuilt Jerusalem in the time of Ezra (Ezra 1:5). Therefore, one would expect that many Jews in today’s music, entertainment and movie industries are actually Levites because of the artistic talents of forefather Levi.

Like the Simeonites, the Levites do not compose a single nation today, but are scattered among all the modern nations descended from the original twelve tribes of Israel. Although many Levites are in the ranks of today’s Jews, God’s prophecy that they would be scattered among all the tribes of Israel demonstrates that many are also present among the non-Jewish nations of the modern ten tribes of Israel.

The African Kingdom of Juda

The African Kingdom of Juda became kown as Slave Coast. Nowadays corresponds to Togo, parts of Ghana & parts of Benin.

The slavers recorder the slaves' names & these are some of the names recorded:

Yahwah (girl), Yehweh (woman) Huhyahwah (woman), Yeowah (woman), Yahkobah (boy), Haywah (man), Yewah (man).

All of them had Hebrew suffixes bearing divine names like Jehovah, Lord, Adonai. 

Olaudah Equiano was captured in the former. Biafra, a city sitting on the deserts of Seth, modern Igboland, Nigeria. The name Ola-(uda)-h reveals that he was from the tribe of Yuda (J-uda). This might be why he was given a western new name.

According to a Ghanaian commentator the Whydah/Yuda people live among Ghanaians, Beninians & Togolese. Their men & women are known for their sheer beauty & perfection, hence their being targets for slavers.

Because local tribes couldn't say Ivri or Ibri (Hebrew in Hebrew) they called them Eyibreh or Eyivreh to become Ewe (pronounced Eway). The Ewe & Aja Ewe are the predominant language groups in southern Juda (Togo), southeast Ghana & western Benin.

The territory they once dominated was known as "Land of the Ewes" meaning "Land of the Hebrews". It almost extended from the Sahara to the Equator, encompassing countries like Chad, Niger or Guinea. Bowditch called it Yahodee, but the old cartographers called it Sudan (Soudan), which Thomas Vanda broke it down: "So" means land & "Uda" means Yuda.

European, Arab & Jewish sources prefer to call it Negroland. Take notice that the land north of the Sudan (Yuda) is inhabited by Arabs.

Igbo Torah Thoughts

Gen. 32:4-36:43, Oba. 1

Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed: and he divided the people that was with him, and the flocks, and herds, and the camels, into two bands; And said, If Esau come to the one
company, and smite it, then the other company which is left shall escape… And he put the
handmaids and their children foremost, and Leah and her children after, and Rachel and Joseph hindermost.

Gen. 32:7-8, 33:2

In Igboland an Igbomans compound is divided into camps or bands, each wife (if the Igboman was a polygamist, as it was before the white man) with their respective obi (home) where they and their children live. We see Jacob divide his camp up in the exact same way.

And they said unto them, We cannot do this thing, to give our sister to one that is uncircumcised; for that were a reproach unto us: But in this will we consent unto you: If ye will be as we be, that every male of you be circumcised; - Gen. 34:14-15


Because Igbos circumcise their male children on the 8th day they also did not intermarry with other African tribes unless they too became circumcised and thus become a part of the Igbo People.


But Deborah, Rebekah's nurse died, and she was buried beneath Bethel under an oak: and the name of it was called Allonbachuth.Gen. 35:8


n Igboland certain trees are used as grave markers just as it was in this verse. On the compound of Obu-Gad in Aguleri an Igbo king is buried under such a tree. Thus dwelt Esau in mount Seir: Esau is Edom. Gen. 36:8


It is believed by some that the Idoma (Edoma) may be descendants of Esau. Whether this is true or not, more research is needed to fully confirm or debunk this supposition. Point being, every people has its place and territory which God has given them. The Book of Obadiah deals with a prophetic oracle concerning the punishment of Edom (Esau’s Line), who epitomizes fraternal betrayal and how God will not let such a thing go unpunished. Igbo descendants of Jacob through Gad must take heed lest they betray their own people by believing others who deny their Hebraic heritage. But we will see such “Esau’s” such “Edomites” shall not prevail.

And the house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau for stubble, and they shall kindle in them, and devour them; and there shall not be any remaining of the house of Esau; for the LORD hath spoken it. Oba. 1:18

In Romans 9:13 Igbos (Hebrews via Jacob and Gad) should take pride in their Hebraic heritage and not fall for the doctrine and propaganda of the “Esau’s” who wish to betray and tear down the Igbo People and lower them to just another pagan people of Africa.


As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. Rom. 9:13



Climbing Trees and Women in Igbo Culture

The subject of climbing trees as a source of livelihood consists in both old and new pattern of occupation. All cultures climb. In some societies, gender is played around valued needs and restrictions to climb or not to climb but in all considered views, climbing brings excitement for occupation, leisure, sports and entertainment. The Igbo people of Nigeria do neither accommodate nor support their women to climb trees. It is a culturally given impression that women are not for and need not engage in climbing jobs to harvest tree resources for subsistence. A woman climbing a tree is assumed to be unacceptable in Igbo society. This restriction makes sense on the basis of assigned gender roles, occupational fields and carrying chores in the household and community. It should also be interesting to figure out why women are expected not to bother about climbing trees as work and to further harvest economic resources associated with trees. It pertains also to have the pleasure to play on tree tops and branches like the men do. Acquiring the skill to allay the fear of heights is seemingly a masculine insight. By heights it extends to all forms of climbing such as trees, roofs, caves, graves, tunnels, grand hills, mountains, fences. Even the use of bicycles introduced by Europeans was gender patterned. Generally, the Igbo love to protect their women from risks of falling down, injury and disabilities that might arise from climbing and falling. The fact that marriage is an obligation for everyone (like in ancient Israel), women are considered more delicate and vulnerable to face discrimination should injury and disability arise through climbing. A disfigured male can easily marry than a disabled female. Females are groomed to shun climbing heights to lessen the risks of injury and damage to their bodies aimed at procreative physical fitness and values. Let me put it simply, the role to climb trees is specifically considered a masculine enterprise. Women can assist men to climb and gather resources from trees. Women are not assigned to climb trees of all kinds. As such occupational activities around trees are exclusively for men. Palm trees can be harvested for their fruits, leaves, wine and so on. It takes a masculine training and courage for heights to do so successfully. Yet some women can teach or instruct young boys close to women the climbing skills. I was first taught by my niece on how to put climbing rope, ete nkwu, how to cross and tighten the knots of the rope, and how to place my body, rope-lift myself up and climb. It was an art. Palm wine tapping and how to source and tap prudently and successfully is a tricky and professional assignment.

To climb or not to climb trees by women in Igbo is a culturally prescribed gender differences emanating from social perceptions of men and women. First it is cautiously felt that women need to keep their legs closed and maintain their virginity, as well as avoid exposure of their buttocks (a remant of chastity as prescribed in the Torah). Tree climbing automatically places women at the circumstances of being sexually and inappropriately exposed to the view of onlookers. We recall that until recently, women in the culture did not wear trousers and shorts in public. Currently, dressing at home, institutions and public places with shorts and trousers by young females is a common place social and competitive behaviour admired by the males. At the time when protective under-wears or tights were rare, leg spreading is typically a sensitive cultural issue and one way to address it was to place a restriction or make climbing trees a serious taboo or restrictive code of honor and respect for women. In addition, women bleed or menstruate once a month which makes it unease to climb and compete with men. In modern day gender believes and practices, little girls yet to reach puberty can climb trees like oha, nmimi, udara, mango, and ube trees for fun and to help their moms as the urgent need might arise when boys are not available to play that role. By and large, climbing trees by some females may occur in a secured environment such as a mom needing vegetables like uha and using a ladder to climb up to reach the tree top to pluck the leaves for soup. But the cultural vexation will not be the same when a woman is discovered climbing a palm tree. This is certain due to the notion of sacred codes of life force and ambivalent relationship around palm trees as source of life and identity.

The image of a lady shown here in the link-post is a demonstration of a complex gender and body of the female folk with regard to palm trees. Women can cut palm leaves that they can reach from the ground. It is rare to see a woman decorated with climbing ropes and palm wine gallons to tap palm wine of any sort and heights. Symbolically, women can contest roles through jealousy to be like men.

In their imagination, women can do what men are classified to do as a role. Yet when it comes to contested palm wine tapping roles by both men and women, nothing is observed of women coming up to challenge men in the exclusive domain of tapping palm wine. Palm wine tapping is a sacred masculine occupation and duty of the men. Palm wine industry is widespread in the society and the notion that women can't tap wine from palm is deeply culturally embedded in the everyday gender issues and role conversations. The metaphor of "tapping wine" is well explained in the nuances of tapping life, fortune, women, love, pregnancy and birth, power and authority, spiritual forces and sacred influences, oratory skills, including illness and healing power domains. In the cosmology of a life-being and becoming, identity insertion and symbols of representation, palm trees are unique trees of reenactments. When a child is born, the fallen umbilical cord is treated with respect as an alter ego to connect the child to the realms of the soil and root of life. No other tree base is used in Igbo for this burying of the umbilical cord than the palm tree as a source of life and endless benefits. That is why it is said that everything from palm trees is relevant to life. Palm wine is used after birth to celebrate and it is equally used in living life events and moreover at death palm wine is poured for rites of passage. In consideration of the complex and valued nature of palm tree and wine, the palm being sacred to the living and the dead, the founding fathers of the society value makers assigned a special regard to palm trees and instituted a code of caution for palm life. Here women are seen to be climbed by men. And for that assumption, men are climbers be it women and trees. Men climb to tap palm wine and women as sources of life to keep the society in resonance with existence and continuity. The fear to encourage women to avoid tapping palm trees like the men do tallies with the cultural gridlock of zoning roles and authority between males and females in the embodied cultural contexts. The Igbo devote every amount of cultural time, penalty and fun to guard against activities and behaviors coming from women contestants that challenge the male power and authority over women. Palm wine tapping is one of such an exclusive occupation for men that any attempt by a female to go into that occupation will be looked at seriously and contemptuously if not to be referred as a sign of insanity and breakdown of social order of respectful life. When the Igbo would say this "Kwanyere onwe gi ugwu" (literally translated to be "respect and give honor to yourself"), they mean, each person - male or female - should by way of ethical gender frames and moral-social caution respect what is appropriately considered a fitting role to be a valued and honored man or a woman in the society. Let us take the symbolic idea or concept of climbing in Igbo thought pattern to elucidate the notion of survival and achievement a little further. To climb is to move up in height or career - from low to up, low to top, below to high and to higher and highest. Comparative degrees will be involved to show how well a climber is doing or progressing. In occupational activities, the Igbo think that we climb to things in our lives, and that things do not just climb to us. We climb to and hold fast those things that we labor for. That through climbing to achieve and getting better, we realize a beautiful connection in life. The Igbo also know that to climb up and climb down is an art. It must be learned and earned. In other words, the universal knowledge of the environment of the Igbo is not fixed. It is unveiled as we grow up, climb out and climb up, un-ropped and rolled back. A climber takes steps to tailor the art of lifting one leg, placing it and affirming it is secure to move the next leg and keep moving up until a destination point or height to be attained is mastered and conquered. The centrality of climbing therefore is to apply the notion that people climb to explore and achieve things of life. We climb to restore the unity of life. From below to above and from side to whole. As a learning process, climbing depicts a cultural manner in which knowledge is unveiled and occupation is acquired as a skill to live a productive life in society. What we obviously see is a combo of measures of growing to connect stages and steps of being and becoming. The Igbo systematically climb to learn, earn a living, tap resources, and move to exist and become. We climb up, travel out and connect. Yet we climb down to reconnect to our roots. Through climbing threes, especially palm trees, the Igbo are sending a message of the universal concept of being in a mission to explore and achieve things. One can seriously say that the Igbo climb for a purpose - to see the world as place to climb up and down to earn life and seek God. We climb to explore heights and to meet God out there as the giver of life and knowledge. As God is in heaven, the Igbo primarily climb to reach out to him and all that it takes to ecologically and cosmologically serve as the umpire of the universe to respond to the complex needs of life.

This is an individual Igbo's reaction to an Igbo woman climbing: She has gone contrary to Igbo's norms.

Sabbatharianism: A Christo-Judaic Development in Igbo-Israel.

The Sabbatharian Movement: A Judaeo-Christian development in Igbo-Israel.

The Sabbatharians are the Igbo converts to Christianity who resigned from Christianity in the early twentieth century, and formed a new religion that is known among the Igbos as “Sabbath.”

The Sabbatharians are not easy to categorize. The Sabbatharians could be taken for Jews. They could also be seen as Christians. The Sabbath groups observe Saturday, the day that the Lord commanded the Israelites to rest (as is found in the Bible) as a holy day. The groups observe all the biblical feasts and holydays that the Lord ordered the Israelites to observe. For examples; they commemorate Passover, Sukkot, Atonement, etc, on the days that the worldwide Jewish community, with its headquarters in Eretz Yisrael does. They rigidly abhor all the foods that the Lord commanded the Israelites not to eat (as seen in the Bible). The Sabbatharians believed that keeping the Commandments was a true way to please God. In their early years they maintained and stressed that God was distinct and separate from anybody else. Their belief about God could be said to be unitarian in their early years. In that period the doctrine of the Trinity had not become popular and widely known among the Igbos, because Christianity was still new then. ‘Jah Jehovah’ was their preferred designation for the Supreme Being.

I cannot recall that they had a position for anybody else in their worship in those their early years. On the Sabbath day which they called ubosi ezumike (day of rest), and other feast days they dress in white flowing robes, and when they get close to the precincts of their missions, as they address their places of worship they remove their foot wears, as they believe that their places of worship are holy ground. An essential aspect of their worship is ibu amuma (prophesying). They have guilds of prophets known as ndi ozi (the message carriers).
For Bibles they used the Tanakh; known by Christians as the Old Testament and by the People of Israel who received it from God as the Hebrew Bible. As the Bible which they use contains the Christian Bible; the New Testament, we can say they also use it. However one thing was discernible. They generally concentrated on the ‘Old Testament’.

Interestingly their main areas of interest in those years were the first five books of the Bible (Torah), and then the Psalms, and the Prophets. As far as I can remember the Sabbatharians were not particularly curious about the New Testament.

There is no evidence that they ever heard about the Talmud. Also they knew next to nothing about other important Jewish texts. Besides what they gleaned from the Bible about Israel; they knew next to nothing about Jewish history; and the modern Jewish religion.

However the Sabbatharians have a place for Jesus in their belief. But they do not equate him to the Almighty God; the Supreme Being. They see and respect him as a messiah.

And in organizational structure the Sabbath is Christian however. A Sabbath is headed by a person; the founder, who is known as onye isi nchu aja. This term could mean high priest. He is assisted by other persons who are known as ndi ozi. As I had observed ndi ozi could be ‘messengers. But the Sabbatharians see them as prophets. In recent years as the English language continues to gain precedence over Igbo language among the Igbos, and Pentecostal culture continues to permeate the Igbo society, the Sabbatharians have started to call the ndi ozi pastors.

A Sabbath could have branches everywhere as Christian churches. But it is remarkable that unlike Christian churches that they do not proselytize. I will try to explain what I think that inhibits them from proselytizing.

The development of ‘Sabbath’ as this movement is called is in my opinion inspired by some Igbos desire to practice Judaism; the religious culture of Israel. Unfortunately most of the founders of the Sabbaths did not write their personal histories so we do not have first hand information about what they thought about the Igbos descent from Israel. But we can say with certainty that they as most Igbos were aware of the knowledge that the Igbos came from Israel. Thus we can say that they developed the desire to practice Judaism because of this knowledge. But something is puzzling here. 

From what we know about the founders of the movement they did not know much, if anything about Israel’s religion. Most; especially the earliest founders did not have much Western education. So we can rule out the possibility that they read about Judaism. Even today, in the 21st century most Igbos, including the highly educated ones do not know much about the Jews and Judaism. So we can say quite safely that the Sabbatharian founders did not try to establish Judaic movements because they studied Judaism. Then what happened? Most said that they had visions of God calling on them to establish ‘Sabbath’.

I will set out what I think that it happened. The Igbos like almost every other African people were enslaved and colonized by Europeans. The Europeans foisted foreign cultures on the colonized peoples. Initially members of the colonized entities thought that the colonization was beneficial. But with time some of their elites began to realize that colonization could not be beneficial in any way. That its short term gains are more than off-set by its long term disadvantages. The elites of colonized peoples thus always seized the first opportunity they have to throw off the yoke of foreign rule. We saw Herbert Macauley, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Kwame Nkrumah, Nelson Mandela, etc, struggling against foreign rule.

Unfortunately historians concentrate only on those that used political methods to achieve certain objectives. Well, we must not allow ourselves to digress. After years of striving and failing to stifle the various anti-colonial movements the colonial powers packed and left. But they did not go with the institutions, and the ideas that they planted in Africa. Principal among such institutions is Christianity. We will now talk very briefly about how some of the various peoples of Nigeria reacted to Christianity. After a few years in the Western versions of Christianity the various peoples of Nigeria began to try to head back to their own religions. Naturally they tried to rediscover their religions through Christianity. Naturally they had to match through Christianity because it was what they had grown up in.

The Yorubas came up with the Aladura churches: The Celestial Church of Christ, the Cherubim and Seraphim, Jesu Oyingbo, etc. And Pentecostal variant, which they effectively Yorubanized. A good look at the ‘White garment’ churches as the former are known in Nigeria, Nigerian Pentecostal Christianity, and Yoruba religious culture will show that the Yorubas succeeded very well in indigenizing Christianity. The Igbo effort to do the same threw up the ‘Sabbath’. As the Igbos are Israelite ethnically what they would head back to must have distinctive Jewish features. In my estimation that’s why the Igbos ‘created’ a Judaeo-Christian movement. And the rapid spread of this movement throughout Igboland, and to wherever Igbos have migrated to is very interesting. A prominent Sabbath leader mentioned in 2005 that Sabbatharians number eight millions. They might have numbered up to the mentioned figure in the latter parts of the 20th century. Now they would number a million, because they lost many members to the Yoruba dominated Pentecostal movement.

Some of the Sabbatharians gained the respect and gratitude of the Igbos because of the feats which some of them were believed to have performed. Employing prayers, fasting, holy oil, etc, they tried to cure cancers, insanity and other difficult ailments. Many persons believe that they actually cured those ailments. Also the Sabbatharians were not known to have participated in Igbo intra-ethnic religious-denominational discrimination. This discrimination took the following form: Some groups that operate in Igboland have rules that bar their members from marrying outside their group. The Sabbatharians did not bar their members from marrying fellow Igbos. The groups that contributed to a major problem that is bedeviling the Igbo society today: a glut of Igbo spinsters, and a rising trend in Igbo marital instability. Many persons could not find ideal spouses in their groups, and waited for too long. By the time they realized that they should marry any Igbo with clean family histories they were already old-maids.

Also persons that had only very little in common were forced to marry because they found themselves in the same groups. Marital instability resulted in a great many of such arrangements. In addition the intra religious-denominational discrimination forced many Igbos into the traps of non Igbo religious con men who were out to build large congregations by promising everything in the world to vulnerable persons. The Igbos that fell into such people’s traps have turned out to be bitter haters of the Igbo people today, because the con men ensure that they turn them against the core ethos of the Igbos. The Sabbatharians could say with pride that they did not ‘teach’ any Igbo to shun fellow Igbos. Today that the Igbo society is fundamentally divided, and reuniting the Igbos is seemingly impossible many Igbos are beginning to appreciate that groups like the Sabbatharians, and the Anglicans did not join in preaching intra-ethnic religious divisions.

As I have mentioned before, prophesying enjoys preeminence in the Sabbatharian movement, as it did in the ancient version of the religion of Israel. But really there is no basis for comparison. The Israelite prophets were social reformers, and champions of true religious worship par excellence.
And while the Israelite prophet was quite national, and even international in outlook, the Sabbatharian prophet is quite provincial. It is difficult to recall a single Sabbatharian prophet who showed extraordinary concern for the Igbos as a people; as a community. We cannot also say that the poor and defenseless among the Igbos have occupied the attention of the Sabbatharian prophet very much. Nor can we say that they foresaw the dangers that the Igbos would be in as a consequence of their religiously and denominationally induced divisions, and preached against such evils. Almost all were concerned just with the welfare of their communities. Had they seen beyond their own communities they would have with their preeminence in the former years stemmed the collapse of the Igbo society.

However in one respect some of the earliest Sabbatharian prophets resemble the Israelite models. A few railed against Igbos who were trying to import a particularly heinous unIgbo practice: ikpa nsi (poisoning people).

Up till this stage I still can’t find where to place the Sabbatharians. In Christianity or in Judaism? This is because I can’t remember any early Sabbatharian who did not concentrate on ‘Jah Jehovah’ only, as his God, or who did not emphasize the importance of the Laws of God, found in the ‘Old Testament’. I have tried to find the reasons why the Sabbatharians inclined towards an indivisible (Unitarian God) in their early years. I think the reason may be that the prevailing dominant influence rubbed off on them then. Many Igbos as at when the Sabbatharian movement began to rise still retained a memory of only Chukwu as the Supreme Being. In Igbo theology Chukwu (God), was seen as a Person. A single Person. Thus it was easy for the Sabbatharians to revert to a belief on only God (Chukwu Abiama) as God. I think that this factor helped the Sabbatharians to focus only on ‘Jah Jehovah.’

Yet in spite of all the above, particularly their tendency to rigid monotheism, I still cannot bring myself to describe the early Sabbatharians as Jews or Judaists or Israelites in religion. There are features of Israel’s religion as shown in the Bible, which is not manifest in their practices: Oneness for example. From what I have seen of Judaism, or Omenana Igbo, a very important essence of the Jewish way, and the Igbo way, is the perception of the Jewish or the Igbo community, respectively as one. The community’s good is the primary concern of Judaism and Omenana. The Sabbatharians believed in communitarianism too, but they worked towards creating new communities, which were to be distinct from the Igbo community. I know several Sabbatharians who were giants in the Sabbatharian world, but I do not know any who stood out as an Igbo stalwart, as I would expect Jews to stand out in the Israelite world. Also until recent times Israel as a people, as a nation, and as a land was not of particular importance to them, as it is to Jews. I would say that they viewed their communities as kinds of ‘new Israels’.

At this stage I feel like asking some questions. And those questions are:

From what we have shown we can say that there was an effort to go to Judaism; some might call it a teshuvah; to return to keeping the Laws. But that due to dearth of information and other resources perhaps, that the Sabbatharians stopped midway with a new religion. My number one question is: Would the Sabbatharians have developed to become Jews/Judaists /Israelites? Two: Would they have grown if they had been given Torahs and other Jewish texts? Three: Would they have progressed if selfless intellectuals had joined them? Four: Would a Jewish rabbi have made the difference? I ask all these questions because I think that the Sabbatharians thought that they were replicating the Israelite worship.

My answer to these questions is a simple yes!

If they had been given Torahs, teachers; and if selfless intellectuals had joined them, they would have learned how Jews lived, and worshipped God, or how Jews are supposed to live and worship God, and they would have adjusted their practices. They would have seen the similarities between the Igbo and Jewish patterns of living, and they would have started fifty years earlier what many of them are just beginning now.

And just as I can’t call them Jews I can’t call them Christians either. I can’t recall their addressing themselves in those years as Christians, perhaps because in those years, the Igbo identity suffixed for every Igbo; unlike in the present era when the Igbo identity is loosing ground due to the erosion of Igbo culture.

Also their belief that obeying the Commandments (the Laws) of God is enough to earn them salvation clearly makes it difficult to classify them as Christians. This is because central in Christianity is the doctrine that it is Faith, not keeping the Law that saves.

I would still say that the Sabbatharians are Christians transiting to the Igbo religion, which among Jews is called Judaism.

I say this because in recent times, due to more availability of information many Sabbaths have introduced quite a lot of Judaic beliefs, practices and rituals into their practices. Many Sabbatharians have started to dress like Jews. Some wear skull caps, and don tallits while praying. Some have started to learn Hebrew. Many are familiar with elementary Hebrew. A Sabbatharian is likely to greet a friend with ‘shalom’; the customary salutation of peace that Jews are known with. Some have started to use the Jewish Siddurim to pray.

And many have acquired Hebrew Bibles designed for synagogue study. And in recent years the biggest Sabbath group formulated a document about burying the dead that its members should be using. In every detail their burial practices would match those of Jews if they implement what they drew up. I will say the following even though it is digressional. If the Sabbath group disseminates the afore-mentioned document widely they would be doing the Igbos a major favor. This is because their document is reminiscent of Igbo burial practices which are Israelite; and which most Igbos have virtually forgotten everything about.

Lastly the Sabbatharians are beginning to become voracious readers of books. And many are beginning to plan to invest in schools and education. As everybody knows the Jews are the people of the Book. I would say that there are many indications that the Sabbatharians are transiting to Judaism

CHALLAH ON AN OPEN FIRE: SHAVEI ISRAEL EMISSARIES SHARE STORIES OF THE IGBO JEWS OF NIGERIA

Abuja, the capital of Nigeria, sprawls over 275 square kilometers. A planned city that replaced Lagos as the country’s center of government in the 1980s, Abuja and its metropolitan area have close to three million residents who live either in the city’s relatively wealthy central core or one of five main suburban areas. In addition, a number of hardscrabble neighborhoods have sprouted up on the city’s outskirts – that’s where some of the estimated 2,000-3,500 Igbo Jews of Nigeria live.

Noga Kohl knew little about Nigeria’s Jewish community – one of the most fascinating possible “lost” Jewish tribes to be found anywhere in the world – before she and her friend Michal Elroy landed at Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja earlier this year. They spent three weeks in Nigeria as Shavei Israel’s unofficial emissaries to the Jewish community there.

By the time Kohl left Nigeria, though, she was convinced that the history of the Igbo Jews is “a key part of the Jewish story. It’s about a people who kept much of our tradition and culture over many years, in good times and in bad. The Torah connects us to people like the Igbo Jews. The way they choose to live their lives is very similar to the way I want to live mine. We have so much in common and, after three weeks in Africa, I feel very close to them.”

What Kohl discovered in this most unlikely of Jewish communities is that, no matter how far away we might live from one another, the Jewish people is a family. Which is exactly how Kohl says she was treated from the moment she landed in Africa. Kohl told her story to Shavei Israel.

“The community leaders came to meet us at the airport and, from those first minutes that we were on the ground, they didn’t leave us, not for a minute,” Kohl recalls. “They hosted us very well and gave us a lot of respect. And I thought – who am I? I’m just a 25-year-old education student from Jerusalem. [Kohl is studying special education and art therapy at the David Yellin Academic College.] These people can teach me way more about life than I can teach them. But they saw us as teachers. They had big expectations from us.”

Elroy, Kohl and Kohl’s husband Gabriel – who joined the two women a week into the trip – didn’t let the community down. “We taught them Hebrew, we talked about Jewish identity and the Jewish calendar, about the Ten Lost Tribes,” Kohl says. “We gave lessons to children and adults, from the ages of 8 to 50. Whatever their age, they all have a passion to learn.”

In return, Kohl and her friends received a crash course in Igbo Jewish history.

The Igbo Jews first came to the Western world’s attention more than 500 years ago when Portuguese missionaries sailed to West Africa. They sent written reports back home about a tribe of Africans who were keeping the Jewish Sabbath and kosher laws. Most significant, though, was circumcision. With a large Muslim influence, circumcision was common among other Africans. But the Igbo were observing the tradition specifically on the eighth day, as Jewish practice stipulates.

The Igbo, the missionaries concluded, were Jewish…and they quickly proceeded to convert most of them to Christianity. But the Igbo Jews didn’t forget their roots and in the last several decades have begun reconnecting with their heritage. Rabbis and Jewish leaders began to visit them and bring more knowledge. The Igbo Jews are keeping Shabbat and kashrut again, not to mention brit mila (circumcision on the eighth day), which was observed consistently even when other practices faded away.

The Igbo Jews live mainly in Igboland, the ancestral Nigerian region of the larger Igbo people, who comprise upwards of 35 million people in this poor African nation. Igboland today is a part of the Nigerian state of Anambra. A small number of Igbo Jews live in Abuja, which is where Kohl was based.

The Igbo Jewish neighborhoods of Abuja are chaotic “with no roads, lots of cars and people in the streets,” Kohl says of her time there. “It’s a big mess compared to what we’re used to in Israel.”
Kohl and her companions were hosted in local Igbo Jewish community member homes in Abuja. (Elroy spent most of her time in Lagos.) Every morning they were driven to a different neighborhood where they would teach. (The Igbo Jews of Abuja are not concentrated in a single area.) Their Igbo hosts would make them meals – but not the local dishes.

“They had hosted non-African guests before, so they knew we’re not used to eating their food which is very spicy. So they tried to give us more rice and spaghetti.” Nevertheless, Kohl insisted on trying what her hosts were eating. “They use a lot of nuts, corn and yams. Plus delicious tropical fruit.”
The food sharing went both ways: Kohl taught the local women how to bake challah for Shabbat. It was a new experience for them, Kohl says. “They hardly eat any bread. And they don’t have ovens. So we had to make the challah inside these big pots that they put directly on top of an open fire.”

Shabbat in Nigeria is as unique as the challah. The Igbo Jews have 26 synagogues across the country, including three in Abuja. “The Shabbat morning service can take up to five hours,” Kohl says. “First of all, they call every man up to the Torah for an aliyah. And the chazzan [the Cantor] chants out every word in Hebrew.” Most of the Igbo Jews don’t understand Hebrew, but they still listen intently to every word. “They are all very into it,” Kohl adds.

The community also likes to sing on Shabbat. “The service is a mix and match of different tunes, some they heard from people who came to visit, others from the Internet, and a lot they developed and created on their own,” Kohl says. “Many of them have beautiful voices. You can really hear the harmonies. They have so much happiness – you see it in how they sing and how they move.”

The Igbo Jews are strict vegetarians. “They used to eat meat,” Kohl explains, “but once they learned the laws for making meat kosher and they realized they didn’t have a shochet (a ritual slaughterer), they stopped.” One project Shavei Israel is considering involves bringing a few people from the Igbo Jewish community to Israel for training in how to properly prepare kosher meat.

Kohl and her friends didn’t have much time to tour the country (their hosts didn’t want to them to venture outside alone – “too dangerous,” Kohl says), but they did manage to do a brief trek up a nearby mountain and they visited an indoor market. “It was very hard to see for someone coming from the west. Plus I’m a vegetarian and I keep kosher. It was very hot and there were so many flies and smells,” Kohl says.

Kohl grew up in a non-religious home in the Jerusalem suburb of Givat Ze’ev. She began her own journey towards observance while working as a counselor at Mechinat Nachshon (a pre-army preparatory program) in the Israeli city of Sderot, “We would talk a lot about identity and what it means to be Jewish,” she says.

One of the managers of the mechina was Dani Limor, who had been visiting the Igbo Jews for several years already. (It was Limor who connected Shavei Israel with the community.) After Shavei Israel’s first emissary to the Igbo Jews returned to Israel, Limor asked Kohl if she’d be interested in following up. “We weren’t clear at first what we were going to do in Nigeria,” Kohl says. “So we decided to go, to meet the people and only then decide what is the best way to proceed.”

The Igbo Jews have “a thirst for knowledge,” Limor tells Shavei Israel. “They are well educated and many are studying in university. Most important for them is learning and acting on the rabbinic traditions they never had.” As a possible “lost” tribe that left the Land of Israel long before the Talmud was codified, their Jewish practice has been until recently entirely biblical, based solely on the 613 commandments enumerated in the Torah.

“To Igbo Jews, the Jewish practices they have begun embracing in the past few decades are not those of a foreign religion or culture, but rather their own,” explains Shai Afsai who visited Nigeria in 2013 and reported on his trip in The Times of Israel. “They see themselves as ba’ale teshuvah: Jews returning to Judaism and to the traditional observances of their ancestors, which were lost due to the Igbos’ long exile from the Land of Israel and due to the introduction of Christianity to Igboland.”

The Igbo Jews are not thinking about aliyah – immigration to Israel – at least not yet. But Kohl says her identity as an Israeli in Nigeria was crucial. “My grandparents came to Israel from Russia and Poland and from Libya and Tunisia,” she says. “Having our own country is something that’s unique in Jewish history. I feel it’s our duty to keep in touch with people like the Igbo Jews. When people like them meet us, as Israelis, it becomes something very important for them – and for us.”

Monotheistic Jewish Religion: Omenana

We know what happens to people who violate certain norms. For example when we were governed by the rules of Omenana, if an Igboman inadvertently slew a kinsman he had to flee from the clan, because he had transgressed the rules of the land/clan, and not because he had offended the earth/ground. It's not beyond clever charlatans to misinterpret and exploit this fear of offending the land/clan, and create a god called the earth goddess out of this mistaken understanding of our culture. Another tool that we can, and should rely on is Jewish Studies.

Decades ago G.T .Basden advised his fellow missionaries that came to work among the Igbos to familiarize themselves with Judaism. We can’t say that many Igbos have tried to use this tool, because factors ranging from lack of awareness, afro-centrism, anti-semitism, racism, have combined to make most Igbos to be unaware that Jewish Studies remain the only reliable primer for Igbo Studies.

However as there is growing unanimity in the positions of the two groups which hold divergent opinions on the origins of the Igbos with Professor Catherine Acholonu’s unequivocal declaration in this Igboville that she believes that the Jews are blood relatives of the Igbos, we can be optimistic that we can begin to plumb into the very rich trove of Jewish Studies to know more about the Igbos. What do the Jews think of the notion that other gods, besides YHWH (mistranslated in English as Jehovah) and acknowledged by Jews, Christians and Moslems as the Supreme Being, exist?

Israel saw it as extreme foolishness for one to believe that things created by the Creator or things formed by the hands of men can be viewed as gods. But Israel was aware even in very ancient times that among the other nations that there was the belief that gods other than the God of Israel; the God that much of humanity has come to accept as the One True God.

The Igbos of Nigeria and their Osu problem

Among the Igbos one is an Osu if one is a descendant of an Osu man or woman. In other-words one is an Osu if one is a member of an Osu family. Osu families exist in almost all the clans that constitute the Igbo people. Accordingly the Igbos know who is an Osu, because Igbos' proper identification is by their clans and families. The writer; Remy Chukwukaodinaka Ilona can be very easily traced in Igboland if the person interested in tracing him finds out that he is from Ozubulu. The next step is to ask about the Ilona family, and in minutes the author will be accounted for. The same way the author could be traced is the same way that Igbos know who is an Osu and who is not one.
Since most Igbos would remember, the Osu is among the Igbos an inferior Igbo. He or she could be very well educated, and be super-rich; but to the rich, educated, very religious, poorest, not educated, and irreligious Igbo, he or she is still an inferior person. He could even be a Christian priest, thus falling into the category of Igbos that command respect among the Igbos today, yet to the Igbos he is still inferior. He is less than a ‘normal’, ‘freeborn’ Igbo. An Osu man would not be inducted into the prestigious ozo society of the Igbos, nor would he be made a traditional ruler in any Igbo clan, even if he is the most qualified member of the clan. An Osu can hardly get a spouse of his choice from a non Osu Igbo family.

Today only very very few Igbos know why the Igbos treat fellow Igbos in such an ungodly way. Physically the Igbo who is an Osu, and the one who is not, are the same. They shared the same Igbo culture (Omenana), which it must be mentioned that the Igbos have generally abandoned, as they are abandoning the Igbo language. Since the Igbos are almost all Christians today both would invariably be Christians. Yet in spite of all these shared commonalities the non Osu Igbo still looks down on the Osu Igbo, and would not intermarry with him or her. A few Igbos, a few that can be counted off one’s fingers have tried to cross the lines. Their families have generally disowned and ostracized them so that the entire family would avoid the taint, and the disadvantages that follow being an Osu. Today there are millions of Igbos consigned to perpetual spinster-hood and bachelor-hood because of this problem. Well meaning Igbos; of Osu, and non Osu stock have tried to fight the problem, but have failed woefully, because rather than getting weaker, the discrimination is getting stronger. In my opinion Igbos have failed to tackle the problem successfully because the matter has not been studied at all. Any problem that is not studied cannot be solved.

I am from a noble Igbo family that was chosen to become a royal family when the Igbos began to have kings in imitation of their neighbors; the Igala, and the Bini. The Ilona/Udoji family of Uruokwe, Egbema, Ozubulu in Anambra State produces the obi of Egbema in Ozubulu. The obi is the traditional ruler (king) of Egbema, Ozubulu. Accordingly in this my present sojourn or existence in life there is no chance that I would suffer what the Osu Igbos suffer. Yet for as long as I can remember I have been disturbed about this form of apartheid that the Igbos practice. To be candid; even though I was disturbed I never thought or imagined that I would rise up one day, and fight for the eradication of the blight. Perhaps I did not give the problem much thought because I accepted as accurate what the Igbo people ‘know’ about the Osu Igbos, and the Osu issue, even though I doubted the genuineness of such knowledge: That the Osu Igbos are people whose ancestors were sacrificed to idols, gods, and deities (agbara or arusi). And people whose ancestors ran to idols, gods, and deities (agbara or arusi) for protection. Like many Igbos I have wondered about, and doubted that the explanation is accurate.

This is because if the Osus became Osus because their ancestors were associated with idols, gods, and deities, and today the Igbos generally do not worship those idols, gods, and deities anymore, why do Igbos still treat the Osus descendants as if the idols, gods, and deities are still relevant? More than seventy percent of the Igbos are Christians today. Since the colonial era all the political leaders that the Igbos have produced are Christians. Presently the 5+1 Igbo governors are Christians. Also the business leaders of the Igbos are Christians. With the foregoing we can say that all the people that make and influence policies in the Igbo society are Christians. With the statistics that I have reeled out, even Europe, the continent that Christianized the Igbos can’t boast of a stronger attachment to the religion than the Igbos. Yet it appears that the Igbos still respect the ‘idols’, ‘gods’ and ‘deities’, that they are thought to have worshipped in their pre-Christian milieu as if their very lives depended on respecting them. Otherwise why do openly fervent Igbo Christians who are not of Osu stock participants in the drama of shunning the Igbos of Osu stock, who together with them are Christians? One would expect old things to have passed away, now that the ‘idols’, ‘gods’, deities’, have been abandoned, and a great majority of Igbos worship Jesus.

I felt bad, and confused but suppressed my bitterness, and doubts, and continued to pursue my career in legal practice. At a stage in my life I developed an unusual interest in the Igbo people. I began to have an urge to know the Igbos. I began to study the Igbo culture. And Igbo studies led me to Jewish and biblical studies. And working intensively in the three fields I found the origins, and meaning of the Osu institution, and how misinformation and ignorance have created a problem that never existed before, and that is today an albatross on the neck of the Igbos.

Every adult Nigerian is familiar with the notion that the Igbos are Jews. The most cursory examination reveals that Igbo culture and Jewish culture are similar. Since 2002 I have been comparing the Igbo and Israelite cultures in a systematic and scholarly way. I am well positioned to begin this. I have help and motivation from very important Jewish organizations like the Kulanu Inc, Tikvat Israel, Derusha LLC, Forest Foundation, Brandeis University, etc. I am also connected to great Jewish scholars; anthropologists, historians, archeologists, linguists, language experts, ethnologists, and theologians who have interest in finding out if Omenana Igbo (Igbo culture) is truly like Jewish culture. With collaboration from the groups and individuals mentioned above, and with the biggest Jewish and Igbo private library south of the Mediterranean at my disposal, dissecting, analyzing and studying the Igbos was not as onerous to me as it should have been. A small portion of my findings have been published as “The Igbos: Jews In Africa Vol 1”, with contributions from Ehav Eliyahu-New York, U.S.A, Israel, “The Igbos: Jews In Africa-With Reflections on the Civil War and Solutions to the most critical Igbo problems”, “Introduction to the Chronicles of Igbo-Israel and with the connections between the Afro-Americans and the Jews”, with contributions from Anthony Edwards-San Francisco, U.S.A, ‘A Short Story from Igbo Israel”, “Igbo-Israel Union Handbook”. I contributed to “The Encyclopedia of Diaspora Jewry” edited by Professor Errhlich, “The Black Jews Of Africa”, by Edith Bruder. Also much of my thoughts are reflected in ‘Biography of Remy Ilona-The man who worked for Igbo-Israel” by Uche Onwumelu Umeokolo, and www.igboisrael.com, by American Friends of Igbo-Israel, and Derusha Publishing LLC.

Any proper study of the Igbos must engage the Osu matter, because of its centrality and importance to the Igbo people. Accordingly in my study of the Igbos I gave the Osu matter much attention. As I looked at the Osu I was led deeper and deeper into the Igbo religious culture which we believed that it gave us the Osu, and the problems associated with it, such as the discrimination which I mentioned earlier. As I probed I began to see and understand things that could only be understood if properly studied. I discovered that the Osu person was not what the Igbos think that he is today, but a different person who played a very important and holy role in Igbo life in ancient times. I also confirmed what an European scholar suspected: that the Osu institution must have become corrupt and perverted because of Igbo contact with Europeans during the European sponsored Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade.
To find out if the Osus were actually sacrificed to idols/deities/gods I investigated the Igbo religion. I did not find idols as objects of worship or veneration. Traditionally the Igbos do not prostrate or kneel in prayer. Also traditionally the Igbos do not kneel, prostrate or bow to any object that has physical form. The Igbo person is onye ogo Mmuo (worshipper of the Spirit).

His God has no form. Also I did not find deities or gods. Interestingly the Igbos do not have a word or phrase that could be used for gods or deities, as they have a phrase-Chi- ukwu that is used for the Supreme Being (God). In English language ‘God’ stands for the Supreme Being alone, and ‘gods’ stand for ‘false’, ‘smaller’ and ‘other’ gods. This suggests strongly that the English people knew many, or at least more than one god. In other words that culturally that they are polytheistic. In Igbo language Chi-ukwu means ‘big God’, but the Igbos have no equivalent phrases like chi- nta or chi-obere (small gods) or chi-ozo (other gods) or chi ugha/asi (false god). So even at this stage we can rule out the falsity that any Igbo person was sacrificed to any idols, deities or gods. As I advanced further I found out that there was actually an Igbo religious practice that called for persons to be dedicated to the Supreme Being (Chi-ukwu). I saw an equivalent practice in ancient Israel. The Gibeonites were dedicated by Joshua, the successor of Moses. Samuel was dedicated by Hannah his mother. As I did not find idols/gods/deities worshipped by the Igbos in Omenana I ruled out the option that any person was dedicated to any phantom idol, god or deity among the Igbos, but to the Supreme Being. At this stage it was easy for me to confirm what I suspected; that it was only after the British defeated the Igbos, and the European missionaries that took charge of Igbo education and instruction taught the Igbos that the Igbos were idols, and ‘gods’ worshippers that the Igbos began to think that the Osu was dedicated to idols, deities, and gods.

Igbos also think that an Osu is someone who ran to an idol, a deity or a god for protection. Truly there was an ancient Igbo practice that guaranteed immunity to anyone who fled to Chi-ukwu for protection. As there were no idols or deities or gods among the Igbos it is simple to understand that it was the same process that led the Igbos to forget as in the former case that also made them to forget in the case in question. In ancient Israelite culture there was automatic immunity for an Israelite that ran to the God of Israel for protection.

Contemporary Igbos; cut-off from their culture, and history, would identify mmuo, arusi or agbara with idols, gods or deities. Mmuo means spirit. Arusi is an abbreviation of the following phrase: ‘ife nkea wu si aru’ (this is abominable). Ancient Igbos regarded idolatry and image worshipping as abominable. They opined that worshipping of idols was abominable. Abomination is aru in Igbo language. Anything that hints of idol or image worshipping was/is aru to the Igbos in pure Omenana.
Agbara is used to refer to illustrious personalities; living or departed. Igbos have much regard for their ancestors. In some Igbo localities these ancestors are known as ndi ichie.

In some they are known as agbara. In some Igbo communities great Igbo women like Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Dora Akunyili, Chimamanda Adichie, Irene Malizu-Ilona, Ndi Onyiuke-Okereke, Onyeka Onwenu, Uche Onwumelu-Umeokolo, Nchedo Ilona-Onwuamegbu, my mother ‘Amaka Ilona, etc, are addressed as agbara nwanyi (strong women) I am going to great lengths to prove that in Igbo culture that there are no gods, because it would not be easy for many persons at this stage to agree that there were/are no Igbo gods, but only one: Chi-ukwu, and that the notion that there were more than the One was imported and imposed by non Igbos. With common-sense one would easily realize this; because if there were gods there would have been phrases similar to Chi-ukwu identifying them in the Igbo language.

So if we see that in Igbo culture that there is only one God-Chi-ukwu-the Supreme Being, we would easily see that the Igbo Osu was dedicated to serve that God, and that the Igbo that ran for protection to Chi-ukwu ran to the God that most Igbos believe that they are worshipping today.

And on why the Osu receives the ignoble treatment that he receives today? As in ancient Israel, the person, among the Igbos, who was dedicated to God was not to be killed, or molested. Also as in ancient Israel, among the Igbos a person that fled to God had automatic immunity from all pursuers. He could not be killed, or even molested. In fact among the Igbos it is an abomination to draw blood from an Osu; i.e, to wound him or her. With all the foregoing it is easy to see that it is the fear of violating the custom that has resulted in what we have today. A reconstruction of how the present apartheid-like situation evolved could present the following picture: ‘I shouldn’t hurt this priest-like personality. To avoid ever doing so let me give him/her a wide berth’. With time the reasons for giving the Osu a wide berth was forgotten, but the giving of a ‘wide berth’ remained, and took on the present form that is shameful.

One could ask why all these have not occurred to most Igbos. Igbos do not know all these because Igbo Studies is still very very undeveloped, and most Igbos have not yet realized that there is anything worth studying in their own history and culture. This is because the little that the Igbos have been taught about their history and culture, though filled with lies, inaccuracies, and forgeries, are not edifying, but are what the Igbos know to be Igbo history and culture.

For something that hints at support for my last statement I would like to continue this article with a quote from the ‘Ropes of Sands’ by A .E. Afigbo. “Nevertheless, every now and again, one has a sense of an older culture lying behind what one sees, long forgotten by the people themselves, grown so faint that it is only in certain lights that one catches a glimpse of it, but the glimpse is of something so rich, so vital that the present sinks into insignificance beside it. I heard it twice in a woman’s song, saw it once in a woman’s dance, once in a ritual gesture of embrace, once in the shape and decoration of a water-pot, once in the mural decoration of a mbari house” (Mrs. Sylvia Leight-Ross on Igbo culture in African Women, 1939, p55).

I have my most substantive findings on the Osu in my forthcoming book: ‘From Ibri to Igbo: Forty Million More Jews In West Africa’, which will very likely be published in the U.S.A, by Derusha Publishing LLC this year.

The Igbos would seem to have collectively agreed to forget their problems; and concentrate on programmes and objectives that are not very important to the Igbos as a people. If the Igbos had not taken the suggested decision the Igbos would have been fighting tooth and nail to find redress for the Osu problem. This is because the problem has poisoned and divided the Igbo nation, and would not let the nation move up, or forward. I will be contributing pieces on how the problem, and other topical problems have been hindering the Igbos. I will also be suggesting solutions.


.IGBO JEWS: THE OTHER LOST TRIBE OF ISRAEL IN AFRICA


This week, the Israeli government approved the immigration of some 9,000 Ethiopians of Jewish ancestry in line with its “law of return” which gives Jewish descendants the right to immigrate to Israel and grants them citizenship if they convert to Judaism. The Ethiopian Jews known as the Falaash Mura were members of the Beta Israel community who had lived in Ethiopia and Eritrea for over a millennia. They were termed the ‘Faalash Mura’ because they converted to Christianity or stopped practicing their Jewish faith in the late 19th and early 20th century due to pressure from missionaries which was at times overtly aggressive. After the Israeli government completed the airlifting of the Beta Israel community in the 1991, the Faalash Mura began their campaign for immigration. Though it initially resisted, the Israeli government began taking in the Faalash Mura in the late 1990s and the current batch of 9000 is seen as the last set of Africans of Jewish heritage who still live in the continent. However, many Igbos of Nigeria would strongly reject this point of view.

It is a widely held belief among the Igbos, albeit to varying degrees of certainty, that they are descendants of the Jews. The argument for Jewish ancestry first gained international attention in the 18 century following the arrival of Christian missionaries in Igbo land who discovered many cultural similarities between the Igbo and the Jewish traditions. One of the missionaries, George Thomas Basden, went on to write a book on these cultural comparisons and in it proposed that the word ‘Igbo‘ evolved as a corruption of the word ‘hebrew’. Cultural resemblances apart, historians say it is not improbable that some of the tribes of Israel migrated to parts of Africa after the Assyrians invaded Israel’s northern kingdom in the eighth century B.C. and forced 10 tribes into exile. However, the highest international awareness that the story of Igbo-Jewish lineage has gotten in recent times was in the form of a CNN article in 2013. In the article, Eze A.E. Chukwuemeka Eri, the King of the Aguleri, the oldest and one of the most prominent Igbo communities, told the news network that his community was founded by Eri, the son of Gad, the seventh son of Jacob.

There is general consensus among Igbo historians and scholars that Eri, through his offspring, founded Aguleri, Nri (another historic Igbo kingdom) and several other Igbo communities—which are collectively known as the Umueri. The differences arise in discussions concerning where Eri came from. The traditional Igbo religion holds that Eri is a sky being sent to earth by God (Chukwu in Igbo language). Another school of thought holds that he migrated from southern Egypt, while others, like the Eze Eri, claim that he along with his two brothers—Arodi and Areli (as mentioned in the book of Genesis) emigrated from Israel to establish present day Igbo land. Some Igbos have taken their convictions of a Jewish heritage to new heights by converting to Judaism or becoming members of what is commonly referred to as Sabbath Churches. One of such persons is Kadmiel Izungu Abor who was featured in the CNN article and referred to himself as Jewish Igbo. “The son of Yaakov, Jacob, [was] Gad and I learned that he was among those people who went out of Israel to exile,” Abor told CNN. “So from there he had a son called Eri and a son gave birth to a son called Aguleri and that’s how the Igbo race began.”

Despite this strengthening Igbo-Jewish identity, there is also a vocal derision of the idea that Igbos are the descendants of Jews. Perhaps the most vocal is the book They Lived before Adam by Famous Igbo scholar, Professor Catherine Acholonu. In the award-winning book, Professor Acholonu argued that Igbo land was in fact the original home of Homo Erectus and that ‘out of Africa’ migrations were more or less an ‘out of Igbo land’ migration. She has also described the linking of Igbo ancestry to the Jews whom she believes are themselves of Igbo heritage. In 2013 she told the CNN that “Everybody is excited to say they belong to the people of the Bible because the Bible is reigning.” Still, the belief in a Jewish heritage holds water in Igbo land solidified in part by Christianity to which most Igbos belong and their strong attachment to the Bible which glorifies the Jews as specially chosen by God.

Regardless of how strongly some Igbos hold their claim to a Jewish ancestry and while some top Israeli personalities—such as Noam Katz the former Ambassador of Israel to Nigeria—have publicly recognized the cultural similarities between the Igbos and the Jews, there is almost no chance that the “Igbo-Jews” will ever gain recognition similar to the of the Faalash Mura. They cannot meet the criteria required to qualify for the “right of return” because the Israeli government does not recognize ethnic communities that claim to be descendants of the lost tribes and also because they cannot prove that they have a Jewish grandfather or grandmother. All the Igbo-Jews have is “an interesting story,” according to Arik Puder, the media spokesperson of Shavei Israel, a non-profit organization in Israel that focuses on finding descendants of the legendary lost tribes.

However, migrating to the Promised Land does not guarantee the easy flow of milk and honey, as the Ethiopian Jews who now live in Israel have found out. They have severally protested against discrimination, institutional racism and police brutality. The biggest of such protests was in May after a video emerged showing two Israeli police officers beating an Ethiopian Jew drew several thousands to the streets of Tel Aviv, the capital of Israel. Although they constitute 1.7 percent of Israel’s population, Ethiopian Jews lag behind other Israelis in all sectors of the society according to official figures cited by Reuters. “Ethiopian households earn 35 percent less than the national average and only half of their youth receive high school diplomas, compared with 63 percent for the rest of the population,” the news Agency said.

Unlike with the Ethiopian Jews, there is no significant organized campaign among the Igbos to migrate to Israel on the claim of Jewish ancestry. Instead, the most significant campaign is the clamor for a secession from Nigeria to form the Republic of Biafra. But even this current campaign does not enjoy a local support as popular or fervent as that of I967 which led to the Nigerian Civil War. For most Igbos, the claim of Jewish ancestry, like identifying as Biafrans, is more of a sentimental attachment than an active pursuit of a cause.

ISRAEL TO STOP KIDNAPPING IN THE SOUTH EAST

Recently the newspapers were awash with news that the MOSSAD; Israel’s intelligence agency has been contracted by the Nigerian government to help rid the South East, and South South sections of Nigeria, of the menace of kidnappings, which is sending the Igbos into exile.

The MOSSAD is a successful secret service. Its role in enabling beleaguered Israel to survive, and even thrive cannot be over-emphasized. Surely it has a lot to offer Nigeria in terms of security. If Israel with little natural resources, location in deserts and semi deserts, religious and cultural diversities could be secure, Nigeria, with its endowments should.

MOSSAD would help to douse the fire raging currently by helping the Nigeria Police, and our other security agencies to keep abreast of the latest innovations in intelligence and information gathering. Surely this would stem the tide, improve security now, and allow concerned parties to settle down and give the problem a long-term solution. The kidnapping is a symptom of something which needs to be treated. The societies in which kidnapping for ransom has almost become legitimized are largely dysfunctional; with all forms of legitimate authority broken down. And all the institutions that could genuinely help to foster social harmony rendered sterile, and irrelevant.

For long-term solutions; among the Igbos who share a similar culture with the MOSSAD operatives, the Israelis could help by enabling the Igbos to see that their traditional social organization, which has been largely displaced without good reason, and which is presented in the essay A Brief Survey Of Ancient Israel: From The Igbo Perspective and Experience, has the potential of stabilizing the society, reducing crime to the lowest level and also make it easier for the police, and other security agencies to succeed in combating crime, if and when they occur. Criminals thrive in societies that ‘thrive’ on injustice. The Igbo society in its pure form has inbuilt mechanisms that ensure that injustice does not take root. The afore-mentioned study which compared the Igbo and Israelite societies shows that the Republic of Israel which owns the MOSSAD operates a society akin to the traditional Igbo society, and enjoys the consequent social harmony and equilibrium.

If the MOSSAD instructs the Igbos to reduce poverty, and empower more of their people by starting to practice those aspects of their culture which mandate the rich to share their wealth and opportunities with the poorer members of their community, they will have a listening ear, because many Igbos have started to realize that Igbo abandonment of Igbo culture has only led to problems. A look at the mission statements of Igbo groups such as the Igbo Israel Union, the Igbo Origin and Culture Research Platform, and Igbozurume will confirm what I just mentioned.

The Igbos Come from Hebrews & Hebrews Come from Adam, Father of All Mankind

Remy Ilona- The ndi Igbo and Jews are ‘blood brothers’. This helps to solve a problem. In the submission that sparked off the debate I saw where the author stated or quoted sources that expressed and implied that Igbo culture and Judaism are not similar. But blood brothers have similar, if not identical cultures. And many of us have found, and proved beyond reasonable doubt that the Igbos and the branch of the Ibri called the Jews are genetically related. So we can consign the submission to where it deserves to belong; the rubbish heap. The malevolent attempt to degrade the magnificent film, and the theory that the Igbos are related to Israel got the reward it deserves; ignominy. Ignominy big time! And presently the film and books talking about Igbo Israelism are climbing the charts, because people want to know...

Any one that reads my latest book; “The Igbos And Israel-An Inter-cultural Study of the Oldest And Largest Jewish Diaspora” will get enough information about the ofo and its place in Jewish culture therein.


                                                                       Igbo Israelite symbol

Secondly, no Jew runs around Igboland, spending money, to convince Igbos that they are related to each other. If , and as we are related, as can be inferred from Acholonu’s admission that we are related genetically, the need for that does not arise. The Jews that come to Nigeria, and see some Igbos, see those Igbos that have realized the importance of renewing their links with their brethren, and have reached out to their brethren. The Jews that visited the places that Acholonu mentioned in Anambra came at the invitation of some Igbos who wanted them to confirm if Eri the ancestor of a group of Igbos actually inhabited there. Judaism, as Omenana, is a non proselytizing culture/religion. Jews actually block non Jews from joining them, and I can’t imagine ndi Igbo permitting non Igbos to attend and participate in nzuko umu nna of any Igbo community.

Acholonu holds that the Igbos were the first human beings to inhabit the earth, as we can infer from the title of her book, ‘They Lived Before Adam’. Likely she holds that view because some findings indicate that (some) of the oldest fossils of the homo sapiens have been found in Africa-at a point (East Africa to be exact) thousands of miles away from Igboland. She has not proved that what she insists that she discovered is the absolute fact. Objective analysis and assessment of available data yields rather that everybody in the world descended from man.

Acholonu holds that the Jews descended from the Igbos. I think that she holds this view because she has not really extended her research to Jewish history and culture. When you say the ‘Jews’ you are just talking about the branches of Israel that lived in Western and the Middle Eastern lands. An Ethiopian Jew was not known as the Ethiopian Jew until recent times. He was known as the Falasha and as the Beta Israel. The Jews of Somalia are known as the Yibir (mis) pronunciation of Ibri or Hebrew), just as the Jews of Nigeria have been, and are known as the Ebo/Ibo/Igbo-(mis) pronunciations of Ibri or Hebrew).

If we must be frank, Hebrew culture, which both the Jews and the Igbos share, as can be inferred from Acholonu’s admission that ‘both groups are blood brothers’ did not begin to evolve in Igboland. The epicenter of Hebrew, if you like to call it Igbo, if you like call it Jewish, if you like call it Yibir, culture, is eretz Yisrael (the land of Israel). We have enough evidence that the Igbos trekked from there to Igboland thousands of years ago. Igbo language proves it. The Igbo spoken 700 years ago is unmistakably Hebraic, and, and, and once again, it's in Israel, not, not, not Igboland where archaeology has shown that Hebrew was in use more than 3000 years ago. Interested persons can confirm this themselves. Some very old and obscure dialects of Igbo still yield a lot of Hebrew.
Ndi Igbo certainly did not spawn the human race. Ndi Igbo are part of the human race, from the family of Israel. It might salve our vanity to think that we lived before Adam, but actually we didn’t. Adam which means earth or and in some ways ‘man’ in Hebrew spawned the human race, including the Igbos.

Comparing the Igbo and Other Nigerian Cultures on Toilet Practices

I would like us to talk about another custom today. How do the Igbo and other Nigerians deal with defecation and human faeces?

When I grew up in Igboland, every Igbo home in Ozubulu had a pit latrine situated some distance away from the main dwellings. I cannot recall any dwelling that did not have toilets or latrines, and when a miscreant child mischievously defecated on the farms or on the roads, what I observed was that the first person that saw the excrement would exclaim, 'anya afuo m aru' (my eyes have beheld an abominable thing), quickly look for an egg, break it, and smear the contents on the eye (our belief is that this is purification), and a search is conducted for the offender who's parents will be fined.
Yesterday in synagogue, as we discussed Omenana Joseph N Igbo recounted what was the older practice in his Orogwe, near Owerri. He said that in the distant past when many Igbos could not afford toilets, that what people did was to head into the wilds with "mbazu"-a spear-like farming implement, and on getting to the wilds-very far from human dwellings, the person in need would dig holes with the implement, relieve himself/herself over the holes, cover the excrement carefully with sand, and return home, fully relieved.

And what does the Igbo (Hebrew) Book of life say?....Deuteronomy 23:13 says.....And you shall have a trowel with your tools, and when you sit down outside, you shall dig a hole with it and turn back and cover up your excrement......

I mentioned in my last post that I have lived in many non Igbo parts of Nigeria. In one part, that is deemed to be the most sophisticated presently, and its people the most civilized, the people defecate in their bedrooms, living rooms, and in all parts of their homes. Fully grown adults retire into their homes with the plastic bowl called 'poo', defecate inside it, and pour the excrement on the streets.
In some other parts people simply defecated on streets, leave the excrement uncovered and walk away.

And in some areas people have the tradition of defecating inside bodies of water.

These are part of my observations...

Unlike · 1 אבן כהן :Defecation is simply defined as act of discharge of feces from the body. Even though is a act purely natural, most people according to their culture does not discharge feces properly. The Igbo for instance responds to this natural call positively by not deficating in their farms, market places, and other designated public or private areas. The reason for doing that in Igbo culture is because feces though regarded as a waste, is not only loathsome but very foul smelling. In other tribes' culture, I have not seen feces properly handled or disposed. Take for instance; I went to a kiosk in a motor park in Lagos to buy some biscuits. On getting there I saw a woman who covered herself, sitting just beside the open door of the kiosk and I asked her if the seller is around to sell some items to me. A man who wanted me to board his vehile came to me and said; "nwa nne! okwa I bu onye Igbo?" And I answered 'yes', then he said; "hapu nwanyi ahu obu nsi ka onanyi." I was shocked and horridly left the scene because I can not imagine a full fledged person defecating openly in the public right there in the business shop! Ever since then, I stopped buying biscuits and other sealed edible things for travel in the park and similar places. Today, it needed the power of task force to stop defecation on the main roads and other public areas, a typical sign how their culture view feces. 

Great differences exist between the Igbo and other Nigerians. Knowing and understanding these differences will help the Igbo to cope. Yorubas do not dig at all. In Lagos what they normally do is connect their toilet pipe to the gotta. That's all. And the same to the Hawusa Fulani.


Igbo Origins- The Pathway


The Igbos have began to take charge in this area. Careful studies have been settling the question. Our origins was deemed difficult to situate because while our neighbours contented themselves with creating myths, and stating that the myths were the accounts of their origins, we were contented to say that Gad's son Eri fathered the Igbos, and leave things like that. Myths are sexier, more attractive and complex than facts, so what we said did not attract many 'scholars' approval; Igbos and non Igbos alike.

Should this be surprising? It shouldn't be, because of obvious reasons. The scholars were scholars but they were not trained to understand Igbo culture and history. Also because of afro-centricism many were loth to look at the evidence lying around everywhere, because in their thinking; the Igbos-a 'black' people, couldn't be related to the Israelis-'a white' people-not minding that not only are there no people that are black or white, but that there are Ethiopian Jews, Lemba Jews of Zimbabwe who are also dark-skinned, and that in Nigeria the Igbos are noted as ndi nwekariri ndi na acha ocha. Evidence that proves the origin of the Igbos is readily available. In the culture-Omenana, a concept that is even locatable in the Hebrew Bible. In the language. In the lore. In the history. And in many other accessible things.

Why "Igbo Israel"? Re-Branding the Igbo People


My friend Malachi Okwudiri Iheanacho, an MSc student at UI, and Igbo- Israel Union liaison for the South-West, and UI, advocated that the Igbos be re-branded.

Essentially by excavating the Igbos history and re-presenting Omenana as it is, I've been re-branding the Igbos. So I took what Iheanacho said as a call to do more. I began my latest work; 'An Introduction to the Chronicles of Igbo -Israel'. This work details how the Igbos began as ha Ibri, became Ibo, then became the Igbos, and today are on the verge of just being known by their Nigerian designated states such as Anambra, Abia, etc. In other words many Igbos would in the near future forget that they were Igbos; and would forget that they were Hebrews, and Israelites. Most still remember that they are Hebrews, because the word 'Igbo' is close to 'Ibri' (Hebrew). To make sure that the identity is not lost I resolved to re-brand the Igbos with the Igbos proper name; and to me this name is 'Igbo-Israel'.

More in the days ahead.

The Igbo 'town unions' which really are clan unions are slowly coming out of doldrums. This associations which are equivalent to Jewish synagogues and community centres were the Igbos' engines of growth in the later decades of the 20th century. They sent bright young people who hadn't wealthy parents to school. they trained orphans. They contribute development to their communities. Many markets, boreholes, etc, in Igboland were financed by 'town unions'.

Then the town unions began to decline. We at the Igbo Israel Union have decided to help the 'town unions', to reinvent them. Join us, and contribute your quota to rebuilding Igbo Israel.


Life Cycle

BIRTH
Circumcision and Naming Ceremony
Gen.17:7-4, 21:4, Exd. 4:24-26, 12:43-44, Lev. 12:1-3, Josh. 5:2-3, Luke 2:21-24

Just as Israel circumcised and named their children on the 8th day, so too did the Igbo, long before any contact with white men or missionaries. As in Israel, so in Igboland.

F.C. Ogbalu an authority on Igbo culture and traditions agrees that the Igbos have always practiced circumcision of their male children on the 8th day after birth. “There are many things that make certain persons to say that Igbos are descendants of the Jews. One of those things is offering of Kolanuts, i.e. hospitality carries a religious weight; the second is circumcision on the eighth day.”

Remy Ilona in his book “The Igbos: Jews in Africa” points out stories he has heard as well as all that personal experience, how there is an urgent and unexplainable compulsion of Igbos  in the diaspora far removed from their culture to have their male children circumcised. Mr. Ilona attributes this to raw instinctual ancestral memory with in the soul of Igbos.

After the circumcision as in Judaism, the Igbos have a naming ceremony (Iba afa na ana Igbo) which for the Jew takes place 8 days after the birth of the child and for the Igbo can take place at immediately after birth, 8 days, 28 days or any time after the birth of the child the family agrees upon to meet and have the ceremony and feast. The point is not when they do it, but that they do it with a ceremony and feast as Israel does, that it is a communal family affair.  As with Israel, Igbo’s like to have their children’s name to reflect God (Chukwu) somehow. The Naming of the child is found in Scriptures; II Sam. 12:24, Luke 1:56-66, Matt. 1:18-25 and it parallels the naming of Igbo children almost exactly. In Judaism a child may be named Elijah, meaning: Eli = God- Jah (Yah) one of the proper Names of God. An Igbo child may be called Chukwudim meaning, “Chukwu (God) exists.”

Sometimes, as with Israel, and Igbo child may be named after a departed relative. They may be named after an event. For example, Isaac’s birth was a miracle, given to two people beyond child siring or bearing years. Isaac means laughter and it is implied people will laugh because it was such an unusual thing. Similarly, G.T. Basden, Anglican Missionary to the Igbo noted that a couple who had a hard time conceiving or were almost too old to conceive may name their child “Ogwalu Onyekwe” which means whoever is told will not believe the child has come after all these years.

The child could also be a symbolic name for the parent, for example, Moses named his child Gershom, meaning a stranger in a strange land. Similarly in the late Chinua Achebe’s book “Things Fall Apart” the main character Okonkwo who was exiled and had a child in exile, names his son Nwofia, which also means a stranger in a strange land.

We find the presentation of a Hebrew Child in I Sam. 1:24, Luke 1:56-66, Matt. 1:18-25, Luke 2:21-40

“Igbos have a similar tradition… to bring the child to the obi; obi in Igboland is like a synagogue.
On such occasion presents are given or presented on behalf of the new child. It may be chicken or goat (an animal) which is reared for the child; and over a period reproduces offspring for the child; palm trees as well as land can be presented to the child.” – pg. 27 Our Roots: Igbo Israel Heritage – Caliben I.O. Michael

Next the Igbo women will, like the Jews, take a mikvah, a ritual bath and like Jewish women, are in a state of separation for more than a month as the Torah prescribes (Lev. 12:1-8, Luke 2:22).

Post Natal Seclusion Scripturally for a male child, a woman remains in seclusion for 33 days, 66 days for a female child. In Igboland regardless of the sex of the child an Igbo woman will remain in seclusion for 28 days the approximate time of a lunar month, after which a ceremonial purification of the women takes place.

From the time a woman gives birth to the time of her purification, in Igboland, the woman’s mother, aunt or close (post-menopausal, if possible) female relative comes to cook, clean and do the other household responsibilities the new mother if forbidden to do in her sacred state of separation; this stand in, also helps care for the new mother and the newborn child.

And the damsel ran, and told them of her mother's house these things. – Gen. 24:28

In the Hertz commentary called, “The Pentateuch and Haftorahs 2nd ed.” Pg. 84 it comments on this verse and saying that “her mother’s house” means the tents of Bethule’s compound that are reserved for the women. You see in ancient times of Semitic peoples as well as in pre-colonial Igboland, husbands and wives had their own separate houses in the compound.

Finally after the time of seclusion and the ritual immersion in a running stream (mikvah) there is a presentation of the Igbo child to the community by the mother. Flora Nwapa in her work “Nwapa” p. 33 hinted about this practice, “Soon it was seven market days since Efuru’s safe delivery. But before she went out she had to go to the lake and put her feet in the water.” This is accompanied with feasting, music and dancing and the child is dedicated to God. This too is done in Jewish synagogues today. As in Israel, so in Igboland.

After the child is weaned the child is taken to a shrine to Chukwu Abiama ( The God of Abraham) with an offering of yams and roosters and the child is formally dedicated to Him and the mother promises to raise the child to follow and serve Him faithfully according to the Igbo way. G.T. Basden, Anglican Missionary to the Igbo observed that it was like how the Israelites did, “…he (the male child)was brought and presented before (Chukwu)… the father followed with a ram (sheep or goat) and the beast was substituted and thus redemption was wrought for the son.” – G.T. Basden “Nigers Igbos” p.417

This is like how the Israelites redeemed their children according to Exd. 13:13, 15, and Num. 18:15, 18-19.

This weaning and dedication is also followed by feasting, and we also see this occurred when Isaac was weaned (Gen. 21:8).

Like in Judaism, children are treasured in Igbo culture and are important in regards to carrying on the family line and name.

As in Israel, so in Igboland.

Menstrual Purification
Seeing as we have discussed the purification and separation of a woman after child birth, it would be a good time to mention here the laws of purification found in Lev. 15:19-24, 28-30.

In Igboland a woman lives apart from their husbands nor cooks for them or enters their husband’s quarters when she is menstruating just as in our Scripture passages above.

“In Igbo land, a woman who is menstruating holds a special stick to indicate that she is mens-truating and therefore unclean, this is a sign to people that she is unclean, and hence could defile anyone who comes close to her.” – pg. 28 Our Roots: Igbo Israel Heritage – Caliben I.O. Michael

As in Israel, So in Igboland.

Cleanliness and Personal Hygiene

In the progression of thought seeing as we are dealing with the subjects of uncleanness, this would be a good time to discuss personal hygiene. In Judaism the Torah tells us to wash after contact with things that render us contaminated and or unclean, Men are to wash after a seminal emission (Lev. 15:16) and as mentioned above women are to wash after her menstrual cycle. Women also live separate from the rest of the household and are not permitted to touch or sit on communal household items, nor are they permitted to cook for the family just as it is in Judaism and ancient Israel. If a menstruating woman does sit on a communal seat during this time and it is discovered, the seat is burned followed by a purification ritual. As recorded in the Torah, Igbo also do not have sexual intercourse while the wife is menstruating (Lev. 15:19-33), it is considered an aru (abomination) that must be followed by a purification ritual if offended.

With cleanliness and washing being a big part of Igbo culture, sickness and disease is very low in Igbo communities.

Olaudah Equiano, former Igbo slave who lived in London in the 1780’s said in his book that the Igbos are “extremely cleanly…”  and that they sacrificed and washed as the Jew did in Old testament times.

The Torah commands the nomadic Israelite who camped in the wilderness to defecate outside the camp and to cover up their excrement.

As part of your equipment have something to dig with, and when you relieve yourself, dig a hole and cover up your excrement. – Deut. 23:13 (NIV)

This very thing is done among the Igbo before westernization and modern plumbing. The Igbo went outside of the village into the bush, downwind, defecate, cover it and return to camp. If it is discovered an Igbo has defecated near the camp, a purification ritual is performed.

Food is always carefully prepared and washed their hands with a pitcher and basin and offers this to their guest as was done in ancient Israel and in Jewish homes today during Sabbath.

As in Israel, so in Igboland.

Sadly, leprosy is a disease that has plagued Nigeria and the Igbo (just as it is recorded in Leviticus 13) made lepers live in separate dwellings until they were healed.  They also made lepers wing a bell when out in public to warn others. And like the Jewish tradition, leprosy is thought to be a physical manifestation due to a spiritual malady. Rabbis have said Miriam, Moses’ sister contracted leprosy due to her slanderous speech against her brother (Num. 12).

Exodus 30:17-21 speaks of ritualistic washing of the hands and feet of the priest which eventually Israel adopted upon themselves, despite being common men. Their reasoning was, that they were a royal nation of priests and thus imitated the Levitical priests when possible. Igbos as well was as the modern day Jew does, in the mornings prior to prayer.

As in Israel, so in Igboland.

Sanitation

Deut. 23:12-14

Igboland has always had places specifically used for relieving oneself and children are taught that if at play in the forest and must relieve themselves, they are instructed to dig a hole and cover their waste.

As in Israel, so in Igboland.

Pregnant Women

Exd. 21:22-25

Unlike what many have been taught, there were no literal “eye of an eye and tooth for a tooth” but in Judaism and in Igboland this is understood to mean proper monetary compensation for a loss.

If a woman loses her child and dies also, mother and child are buried separately. This testifies to the sanctity of life and personhood Igbos and Jews give to unborn children. To them they are not just a “fetus” or a blob of “tissue.”

As in Israel, so in Igboland.

Wet Nurse

Gen. 24:59, 35:8

Igbos of tradition today and those in the recent and ancient past would give a nursemaid to their married daughters who had just given birth so as to help the new parents adjust to and care for the new born infant.

As in Israel, so in Igboland.

Surrogate Mothers

In Igboland if a woman cannot produce a child for her husband is permitted to marry a woman who will have intimate relations with husband in order to produce a child for them, sort of like Sarah and Hagar and Rachel and Leah’s handmaids Bilhah and Zilpah.

Gen. 19:32

If an Igbo family only has a daughter a man will be chosen to sire a child through the daughter on the father’s behalf as incest is an abomination to Israelite and Igbo alike. The son of the daughter will be considered the son of the father to ensure the family line will be carried on.

Redemption of the First Born

Exd. 13:2, 11-12; 22:29, Num. 18:15-17, Luke 2:22-27

The above passages tell how this is done in Igboland as well, this unique practice among the Igbo and virtually no other Nigerian tribe should testify to the fact that the Igbos are indeed Children of Israel.

As in Israel, so in Igboland.

Family Social Structure
Recall in the Torah when Jacob fled from Esau’s wrath. Where did he go? To his mother’s relatives house, his uncle Laban. In Igboland a child has a right if he fells ill-treated by his father’s family, to go and live with his mother’s kin, where he is welcomed and enjoys a type of sanctuary where he/she is immune from ill-treatment of molestation.

Igbo’s can adopt non-blood relatives into their family such as from the Nri and Aros clan who are the priests among the Igbo and are thought to be descendants of Levi the priests of Israel.

Levites had no allotment in the Promised Land and likewise these Nri priests are permitted to settle anywhere due to their priestly position. For priests are needed in all corners of Igboland to oversee purification rituals and supervise other priestly duties. This reminds me of the man in the book of judges that “adopted” if you will, a Levite into his family to be his personal family priest (Judges 17:17-13).

As far as living conditions are concerned a man and his wives, each have their own obi (house) within the family compound or camp, and the child lives with the mother until they are of age to build their own obi. We see this family dynamic in Gen. 25, 27 regarding Isaac, Rebecca and their son Jacob and Esau.

 And the boys grew: and Esau was a cunning hunter, a man of the field; and Jacob was a plain man, dwelling in tents. – Gen. 25:27

Notice “tents” plural, implying many tents in one compound; a tent for the man and his wife.

And Jacob sod pottage: and Esau came from the field, and he was faint: And Esau said to Jacob, Feed me, I pray thee, with that same red pottage; for I am faint: therefore was his name called Edom. And Jacob said, Sell me this day thy birthright. And Esau said, Behold, I am at the point to die: and what profit shall this birthright do to me? And Jacob said, Swear to me this day; and he sware unto him: and he sold his birthright unto Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau bread and pottage of lentiles; and he did eat and drink, and rose up, and went his way: thus Esau despised his birthright. – Gen. 25:29-34

This tells the reader that at this time Jacob and Esau still lived with their mother Rebecca in her tent.

And it came to pass, that when Isaac was old, and his eyes were dim, so that he could not see, he called Esau his eldest son, and said unto him, My son: and he said unto him, Behold, here am I. – Gen. 27:1

Here Isaac calls Esau to his personal tent where he live separate from his wife and children.

And Rebekah heard when Isaac spake to Esau his son. And Esau went to the field to hunt for venison, and to bring it. – Gen. 27:5

The implication here is that Rebecca was outside Isaac’s tent, eavesdropping.

And Rebekah took goodly raiment of her eldest son Esau, which were with her in the house, and put them upon Jacob her younger son – Gen. 27:15

By this time Esau was married (26:34-35) and on his own and Rebbeca still had clothes from Esau when he still lived with her.

Deut. 1:9-13, Lev. 19:32

The elder is given a revered pace of leadership and recognition in the Igbo family and society. The young, especially those who are young and in a public leadership role often consult the elder for guidance and advice.

I have personally witnessed myself this respect for elders and so have other Westerners.

Anglican Missionary to the Igbos G.T. Basden said in his book “Niger Ibos” that, “Among the Ibos reverence for old age was a very marked feature. Education and contact with civilization have weakened this ancient and honorable custom, which is much to be regretted.”

The elder is give almost a priestly type of role which is how it was in Israel prior to the establishment of the Levitical Priesthood and how it was in the time of the Judges, which is the precise time many believe a new wave of Gadites and Israelites came to Nigeria. The elder’s obi (house) is considered almost as a shrine, and a meeting place for the family. It should also be mentioned that the obi (tent or home) is seen as a sacred place and in Judaism the home is seen as more important than even the synagogue. That faith is practiced first at home and then at the synagogue and we find this same sentiment among the Igbo.

In Exodus 20:12, 21:15, 17 and Deut. 5:16 we read that it is forbidden upon pains of death to hit or strike a parent. As in Israel, so in Igboland, parents are seen as an extension of God’s rule and influence and to physically hit a parent is an abominable thing. It is like unto the sin of cursing or blaspheming God.

As in Israel, so in Igboland.

Patriarchal Structure

Igbos, like Semitic Hebrews, Jews, and Israelites has a Patriarchal social structure.

And they assembled all the congregation together on the first day of the second month, and they declared their pedigrees after their families, by the house of their fathers, according to the number of the names, from twenty years old and upward, by their polls. – Exd. 1:18

In Igboland this is called “umunna.”

In Numbers 1:5-18 we see how a person is called by their father’s name, “son of” which is in Hebrew is “ben” and in Igbo is “nwa.”

For example my English name is “Kris Shoemaker” in Hebrew it is “Yehudah ben Shomeyr” and in Igbo is “Tochukwu nwa Ezbon”

Jew and Igbos still have this method of addressing names.

Traditional Igbo Education

The old Igbo educational system was very Hebraic. Very young children were educated in their mothers house until a certain age when the male children are further educated in the house of their father and grandfather or communal elder, where they learn the Igbo ways as well as a trade, farming, palm winery, hunting, warfare, etc.

The brightest of the students accompany their father or elders to meetings where they hear more Igbo tradition and ways as well as learn Igbo government and leadership. This is almost identical to the ancient Jewish structure of education of children in ancient times.  

When men and elders went to meetings their sons would carry their leather bag and or sitting stool and thus young men would be present at the meetings and so learn  about Igbo politics and religion and culture much like sons accompanying their fathers to synagogue for meetings as they carry their tallit and tefillin bag.

Teaching under the Iroko tree is much like how Yeshua taught his students (Matt. 5:1) I imagine a natural place to sit and teach on a mountain would be under the shade of a tree. Many Rabbis such as Rabbi Nachman of Breslov was known to teach his students out in nature under trees. So this teaching under a tree too is very Hebraic in nature.

Hospitality

And the Lord appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day; And he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him: and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground, And said, My Lord, if now I have found favour in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant: Let a little water, I pray you, be fetched, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree: And I will fetch a morsel of bread, and comfort ye your hearts; after that ye shall pass on: for therefore are ye come to your servant. And they said, So do, as thou hast said. And Abraham hastened into the tent unto Sarah, and said, Make ready quickly three measures of fine meal, knead it, and make cakes upon the hearth. And Abraham ran unto the herd, and fetcht a calf tender and good, and gave it unto a young man; and he hasted to dress it. And he took butter, and milk, and the calf which he had dressed, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree, and they did eat. – Gen. 18:1-8

Exd. 23:9, Lev.19:33-34

The above Scriptures show how an Igbo receives guests into his home, with amenities to refresh oneself and food.

Hospitality; out of all the Igbo traditions, this one has remained intact and is still universally practiced among Igbo’s everywhere, even in the diaspora. It serves as a gesture of thanksgiving to Chukwu (God) and ones ancestors as well as a show of hospitality to visitors. The Kolanut in Igboland is THE symbol of hospitality and is broken as Jew break challah bread. It opens many social events from receiving guests, to religious and tribal meetings. If a Kolanuts, which are used in the ceremony of hospitality, are unavailable chalk is used. Chalk powder is rubbed on the hand of the visitor to express honor and goodwill and patterns, thought to be Paleo-Hebrew of Hebraic symbols are drawn on the floor. Nzu (white chalk) is used to decorate the body of leaders and dancers.

If the Kolanut is broken in homes the host or oldest male member of the household breaks the Kolanut and in a public or communal type of setting, the eldest male person officiates the Kolanut ceremony.
Once the Kolanut is broken it is pasted to next of kin oldest to youngest and then to guests in midst.

There is meaning and symbolism read into it. When a Kolanut is broken by how many lobes of the nut comes from the initial breaking of the kola. If it naturally breaks into three lobes the Kolanut is not eaten. Could this perhaps be linked to the mystical number three in Judaism, referring to the three pillars of the three main emanations of YHWH, Messiah and the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit)?

After the Kola or Chalk hands are washed and usually a drink or meal is served.

I, having been to Igboland twice thus far and can testify first hand to the gracious hospitality shown to me. I was welcomed in such a way that I felt as if I was a famous celebrity or king!

“This is very natural to Igbos and well ingrained in their culture and tradition. Both friends and foes have commended Igbos for their exceptional hospitality and accommodating spirit… Abraham had the habit of welcoming strangers. Among the Igbos, the use of Nzu (white chalk) and oji (kola nut) to welcome visitors is common practice. Oji is oriko (igba ndu – covenant) sort of, while Nzu is total acceptance and peace.” – pg. 68 Our Roots: Igbo Israel Heritage – Caliben I.O. Michael

As in Israel, so in Igboland.

Coming of Age or Rite of Passage
Boys


In Judaism a young man’s induction into manhood is called a Bar Mitzvah, where after studying Torah for 13 years conducts a service in the synagogue, praying in Hebrew, reading a specific Torah passage corresponding to his birth on the Hebrew calendar and then teaching on it. Igbos have and induction into manhood as well (ima mmonwu or Iwa akwa), where an adolescent is told the secrets of the tribe and interestingly enough, during the “Bar Mitzvah” of Yeshua (Jesus) (Luke 2:46-48) our Messiah, Yeshua revealed secrets that marveled the elder.

Seeing as the Igbos predominantly comes from Gad and Gad was a warrior tribe, Igbo initiates are to endure caning and flogging without fear or crying. Fear and crying are met with ridicule, while sobriety and bravery is met with praise.

Girls


The Igbo equivalent to a Bat Mitzvah (initiation into adulthood for girls) in Igboland is called Iru Mgbe and it is for girls 15-18 of marriageable and childbearing age. Girls train to be women by their mothers as soon as they are old enough to help in the kitchen and around the compound. The day of the initiation is filled with feasting and speeches by the elders.

As in Israel, so in Igboland.

Tribal Markings and or Scarification

The Torah forbids this in Lev. 19:28 and it was traditionally forbidden in Igboland and was never practiced except by those who fell under the influence of the surrounding pagan tribes.

As in Israel, so in Igboland.

Rights of the First Born

Deut. 21:15-17

Igbo first born sons receive a double portion inheritance also, as in Israel, so in Igboland. The first born also have rights to take a second portion on top of that along with the other sons.

As in Israel, so in Igboland.

Rights of Daughters

Num. 27:4-9, 36:6-10, Josh. 17:3-4

In Igboland in the recent and ancient past if a man died having only daughters, she would marry within the tribal clan so her father’s name and inheritance would not go to another clan and be lost to his clan.

As in Israel, so in Igboland.

Rights of Last Born

Gen 35:19-20

“Jewish tradition holds that the burial place of Rachel falls in Benjamin’s portion, Benjamin being Rachel’s last son. In Igbo land Mkpuke nne (mother’s place or portion) goes to the last born son by … right.” – Caliban O. Michael

As in Israel, so in Igboland.

Mother’s People

Gen. 28:5, 29:13-14

It is traditional for an Igbo in a dangerous, critical or troublesome situation to flee to his mother’s home. It is called “Nwadi Ani” in Igboland and we see this tradition played out in Chinua Achebe’s novel, “Things Fall Apart” in regards to the main character Okonkwo.

As in Israel, so in Igboland.

Ancestral Heritage

Num. 26: 53-56, I Kings 21:1-3

An Igbo man’s ancestral heritage, called “Ana Obi” is not sellable, elders will not permit this. If this is somehow done due to the influence of the West the person is considered a fool and is ostracized by the community.

As in Israel, so in Igboland.

Attachment to the Land

Gen. 12:1, Deut. 9:5

Igboland is as important and dear the Igbo as the Land of Israel is to the Jew and Hebrew. Jewish tradition says that in the resurrection that whatever person of Israel is buried on foreign soil that he will roll underground until he is under Israel and be resurrected. Igbos feel such an attachment to the land that if an Igbo dies on foreign soil the Igbo community will raise funds to have the body shipped home and buried in Igboland. Also during the slave revolt at Ebo Landing in St. Simon Georgia, the Igbos drowned themselves rather than be slaves and they believed their souls would return to Igboland upon death.

As in Israel, so in Igboland.

Blessing of Children

Gen. 9:26-27, 28:1, 48:20, 49:1-2

It is said that Igbo liturgy cannot end without the parent blessing the child, and in Judaism, Jews liturgically bless their children as well, every Sabbath.

As in Israel, so in Igboland.

Cursing of Children

Gen. 9:25

This applies to a rebellious and disobedient child in which the father has no choice but to strike the ground with his ofo staff (staff of authority) and place a curse upon his child. This, according to the Igbo is extremely rarely done.

Igbo’s highly respect and honor parents and elders and disrespect towards either is considered and abomination that threatens to bring down the wrath of Chukwu Abiama upon the offender. Such abominations require a purification ritual. If the offense is considered grave, the elder or parent may pronounce a curse upon the child and if this is done the child is expected to run, begging forgiveness and do whatever is required to appease the parent and or elder as well as Chukwu Abiama. If one disrespects a parent or elder it is seen as if one has disrespected all ones ancestors.

As in Israel, so in Igboland.

Rebellious Son

Deut. 21:18-21

In the past prior to westernization in Igboland a rebellious son was handed over to his peers to be disciplined or in a rare and most severe case, sold into slavery.

Marriage

And Jacob loved Rachel; and said, I will serve thee seven years for Rachel thy younger daughter. And Laban said, It is better that I give her to thee, than that I should give her to another man: abide with me. And Jacob served seven years for Rachel; and they seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had to her. – Gen. 29:18-20

Marriage in Igboland as in Israel has many different facets and stages that are very detailed. I will stick with the basic principles shared by Israeli and Igbo alike.



G.T. Basden, who spent 20 years among the Igbo said of the Igbo and marriage, “The degrees of affinity in the matter of marriage are even strictly adhered to, or rather, they are more meticulous than those set forth in the Levitical code.” He also said, “Marriage is a most important event in the Ibo’s life. From the time that boys and girls are capable of thinking for themselves, marriage is set before them as the object to be attained… Celibacy is an impossible prospect. Unmarried persons of either sex, except in special cases, are objects of derision, and to be childless is the greatest calamity that can befall a woman. Hence a very high value is set upon marriage.” - “Among the Ibos of Nigeria” pg.68

Igbos who are not married are not taken seriously in Igbo society.

The prerequisites for marriage for the Igbo and the Hebrew, is financial stability and to build one’s own house.

As in Israel, so in Igboland.

Levirate Marriage

Gen. 38:6-8, Deut. 25:5-10, Book of Ruth

Igbos have practiced the taking a late brothers wife into marriage after she had been widowed until the white men came with their version of religion based on the Bible and condemned the practice. Now it is rarely done but except in very rural villages of the bush. Similar holds true of the practice of polygamy.

“In Igbo culture after the burial ceremonies, before the mourners disperse to their various homes, the widow’s family meets with the dead husband’s family to decide on the fate of the widow. Final decision is taken one year after the death of the husband and after the widow has removed her mourning dress. Usually another male member of the dead husband’s family is made to marry his dead brother’s wife.” -- pg. 9-10 Our Roots: Igbo Israel Heritage – Caliben I.O. Michael

As in Israel, So in Igboland.

Betrothed

Deut. 20:7, 22:234-29, 28:30, Matt. 1:18-25, Luke 1:26-38, 2:1-7

As in Israel, so in Igboland; a betrothed woman is considered more or less married and are unavailable to others partners. Not like an “engagement” in the West, where many are unfaithful to the betrothed. If an unfaithful betrothed woman is discovered, though they are not married, divorce proceedings take place as Joseph contemplated in regards to Mary but changed his mind when it was divinely revealed that Mary had not been unfaithful.

As in Israel, so in Igboland.

Fact Finding Prior to Marriage


Ruth 2:5-7

Personal and family reputation and honor is very important in Judaism as much as it is to the Igbo and we see both cultures practice this fact finding prior to marriage. Why? Because they are one and the same. Everything that can be uncovered; if the woman is a virgin, or has been previously married, whether she is slave or free, and such things as what is the family medical and genetic history of the woman and her family.

As in Israel, so in Igboland.

Virginity


Deut. 22:20-21, Matt. 1:18-25

Modern Western influence has worked its way as a slow poison into Igbo society, for virginity is not highly prized as it once was in the recent and ancient past. If an Igbo woman was betrothed and the Igbo man discovers she was not a virgin, though betrothed and not officially married, the man would have to engage in legal proceedings in order to break off the engagement, just as Joseph considered with Mary.

There is a long standing custom in Judaism not spelled out in Scripture but hinted at in Deuteronomy 22:13-19, that is also practiced in Igboland, and that is when the marriage is consummated by the sexual act on a white sheet so as to catch the blood from the woman’s torn hymen which proves her state of virginity prior to marriage.

As in Israel, so in Igboland.

The Middle Man and the Bride Price

Gen. 24:53, 34:12, I Cor. 6:20, 7:23

Just as Eliezer negotiated a bride price for Rebecca on behalf of Isaac, so to this is done in Igboland with great pomp and circumstance.

Gen. 24:10, 15

A non-relative, yet a close friend of the family(s) in Judaism and in Igboland usually takes on this role in contracting the marriage for purpose of neutrality and such was Eliezer, who though a servant of Abraham and somewhat like a son was not a blood relative. Interestingly enough we read in Genesis 24 that Eliezer prayed that HaShem make him successful in finding a wife for Isaac, and Igbo’s before seeking a wife for another pray for Chukwu to give them success in the endeavor.

As in Israel, so in Igboland.

Maidens Decision 

And they said, We will call the damsel, and enquire at her mouth. – Gen. 24:57

During marital contract and negotiations between the two families, Igbo tradition dictates as does Hebrew tradition, that the woman to be wed is called forth in front of both parties and asked her opinion on the matter, seeing as she is the one whom the negotiations is about.

This is truly unique, for in many cultures the woman has no say in issues of arranged marriages or contracted marriages.

As in Israel, so in Igboland.

Elder before the Younger

And Laban said, It must not be so done in our country, to give the younger before the firstborn. – Gen. 29:26

Times are changing due to the influence of the West, but traditionally in Igboland the older sister is married off before the younger, if not, it is looked down upon by the community.

As in Israel, so in Igboland.

Wedding

Gen. 24:59, Jud. 14:10

The traditional wedding is held at the wife’s place just as in the story of Samson and his wife.

Gen. 29:22-23

The traditional Igbo wedding takes place in the evening just like the tradition was for Abraham’s family and kin (Laban). This also testifies to the Igbos Hebraic origins.

In Judaism the vows are exchanged under a chuppah, a prayer shawl turned into a canopy and in Igboland, Igbos exchange vows under a canopy as well.

As in Israel, so in Igboland.

Newly Wed

When a man hath taken a new wife, he shall not go out to war, neither shall he be charged with any business: but he shall be free at home one year, and shall cheer up his wife which he hath taken. – Deut. 24:5

As in Israel, so in Igboland, a newly wedded man is exempt from any public and communally dangerous services such as scouting, raiding or war.

As in Israel, so in Igboland.

Marrying a Close Relative

Lev. 18:6-9

One reason a thorough fact finding investigation of the family is to be made is to also find out if perhaps the couple are related in any sort of way. In Igboland this was considered such a taboo, such an abomination that sacrifices were required to take away the Alu (abomination) and guilt that fell upon Igboland as a result of having sexual relations with a close relative. This too is very Hebraic, all abominations in Torah required some sort of sacrifice.

Gen. 9:18-28, 35:22, 49:3-4, Lev. 18:8

Close to this issue of marrying a close relative is conjugal relations with ones fathers wife. This is such an offense in Israel and in Igboland that it demands sacrifices for purification of the Land.

As in Israel, so in Igboland.

Intermarriages 

Gen. 28:1, Deut. 7:3-4, II Cor. 6:14

Until recently in Igboland, Igbos did not marry outside their Tribe and faith. Again, simple commentary on how string western influence has been upon Nigeria to erode the traditional and Biblical foundations of Ndi Igbo.

As in Israel, so in Igboland.

Bill of Divorcement

Deut. 24:1-4, Isa. 50:1, Jer. 3:8, Mark 10:4

As in Israel, so in Igboland, Igbos pay a bride price in contracting marriages and if the bride price is returned after a separation the man cannot remarry the woman.  

When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house. And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man's wife. And if the latter husband hate her, and write her a bill of divorcement, and giveth it in her hand, and sendeth her out of his house; or if the latter husband die, which took her to be his wife; Her former husband, which sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after that she is defiled; for that is abomination before the Lord: and thou shalt not cause the land to sin, which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance. – Deut. 24:1-4

As in Israel, so in Igboland, once a bill of divorcement is given she cannot go back her former husband when she has married a second man, even if this second husband divorces her or dies. 

As in Israel, so in Igboland.

A Wayward Wife

Numbers 5

I am told, though I do not have the specifics, that Igbos have a similar ritual or way to determine the faithfulness of a wife suspected of infidelity. 

As in Israel, so in Igboland.

Celibacy

Gen. 1:27-28, I Cor. 7:7

Igbo men are not considered fully men unless they marry and have children. If the couple goes childless it is seen as some sort of curse, just as it was in the time of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. So celibacy is unheard of among the Igbo, that is until white Catholics came along and began proselytizing the Igbo.

Paul was only celibate after he had been married, because he couldn’t have been a student of Gamaliel and next in line for the Sanhedrin unless he was married. The (Brit Chadasha) New Testament does not expound on such details of Paul’s life, but because of Jewish tradition and custom we know this to be true. 

As in Israel, so in Igboland.

Sex and Sexuality

Homosexuality (Lev. 18:22) and Bestiality (Lev. 18:28) and as we have already discussed preciously under other heading; Incest (sexual relations with a close relative) as found in Leviticus 18 is forbidden in Igboland just as it is among the Hebrews and Jews of Israel. In both places in ancient times, such was punishable by death.

As in Israel, so in Igboland. 

Diet

Lev. 11, Deut. 14:7-8, 21

As in Israel, so in Igboland. Igbos and Jews keep the very same dietary laws. 

Traditionally, Igbo’s eat Biblically clean animals; cows, goats, fish with fins and scales, etc., and never eat or even farm pigs. Of course modern or Christian Igbos who have been influenced by the West does. Again, Igbos have always eaten Biblically kosher as opposed to the surrounding tribes around them who eat animals deemed unclean such as pigs, ells, snakes, rodents, etc.

Igbo’s have also always slaughtered their animals in a kosher way as Jews do by slitting the throat from ear to ear and draining out all of the blood before butchering and consuming. The surrounding peoples kill their animals by bludgeoning, suffocation and or strangulation. Other tribes are not opposed to eating road kill or something that died of itself; this simply will not do for the Igbo or the Jew (Duet. 14:21). 

As in Israel, so in Igboland. 

Dress


It has greatly disturbed me to see Igbos who acknowledge their Hebraic linage succumb to the childish pressure to imitate their older brother Judah. It baffles me why some Igbo see the need to try and dress like the Orthodox Jews in the west when their own cultural dress is more Hebraically authentic than that of the Orthodox Jews in the West who adopted their dress from 17th and 18th century Europe. Perhaps for some it is an issue of acceptance in some official recognized capacity by the Orthodox Jews that cause some Igbo to dress in that fashion. It is foolish to think that they will be accepted on such outward and materialistic merit. They have as much chance being accepted by the Orthodox Jews as what some would call a “nerd,” would be accepted by the school “jocks” simply because they dress like them. In both cases of the Igbo and the nerd, in the eyes of the Orthodox Jew and the jock, they are seen as pathetic want-to-be’s. 

I firmly believe and have encouraged the Igbo to reclaim their cultural dress as it is more authentic than that of the modern Jew today. The robes are like those that Israelites use to wear in ancient times, the red chieftain cap and the red and black stripped stocking cap serves as ones kippah (yarmulke) or head covering and the ojo, the fringed shawl of the Igbo carries the same weight and meaning as the Jewish Tallit (prayer shawl Num. 15:37-41).  

Deut. 22:5

This law, like many others is not so much enforced today as in the time before the colonial westernization of Igboland. But 1930’s Anglican missionary G.T. Basden, who spent 20 years among the Igbo noted the distinct difference in dress between men and women.

Remy Ilona in his book, “The Igbos: Jews in Africa” pg.73 tells us that the Igbos have always worn a tallit like garment and have always worn caps and that Igbo women, unlike those of other tribes have always been very modest and covered themselves, specifically their chests with a wrap. 

Occupations

If one carefully reads the Tanak (Old Testament) and the History of the Children of Israel, one will quickly see that the Igbo people, like Israel, is an agriculturally based society. The Levitical calendar (Lev. 23) though definitely a religious calendar is agriculturally based, much like the Igbo calendar.

Israel has very stringent rules regarding farming of the land which Igbos also observe. Like Israel, Igbos only plant one thing in a field at a time and do not mix crops with another (Lev.19:19, Deut. 22:9) while the peoples around them mixed seeds and crops.

Virtually every Igbo family has a family business. Igbo’s are very entrepreneurially and financially minded, just as the European Jews have been. You will find Igbo Business men worldwide. An Igbo would rather go into business for themselves than to have to work for someone else. Many Igbos in the diaspora are self-employed small business owners. 

Beside farmers and business men, other popular occupations are metal artisans and technology. We see those who worked with precious metals participate in the formation of the Tabernacle furnishings (Exd. 31:1-11).

As in Israel, so in Igboland.

Wrestling

The Igbos being descendants of an Israeli warrior tribe, Gad; wrestling is a traditional Igbo sport taught from an early age to male children. But the European influence over the past 100 years, soccer (football) and other European sports have become more popular. 

Igbo wrestlers are seen as local heroes and celebrities. In Professor Achebe’s novel, “Things Fall Apart” one of the main characters (Okwonko) is an Igbo wrestler.

Dancing

Dancing is very common among tribal communities of the world. The Igbo are no exception. Dancing is used to express joy and even mourning. Dancing is used in rituals as well as to tell stories. But unique among the Igbo is that men and women dance separately and their dances are not of a sensual or sexual nature as it is among the neighboring tribes. 

We should also recall that Miriam, Moses’ sister led the women in dance after the crossing of the Red Sea and the demise of the Egyptians that pursued them. Also, David, the best known King of Israel was a dancer as well.

As in Israel, so In Igboland.

Music, Signing and Song

Like the Hebrews/Jews of the Tanak (Old Testament), Igbos had work songs (Isa. 22:13), songs of war (Josh. 5), wedding songs (Psa. 45), songs of mockery (Num. 21:27-30), Songs of Lamentation (Lamentations), Songs of Praise (Psalm 100-119), hymns and songs of spirituality (Eph. 5:19). 

As in Israel, so in Igboland.

Death

In Igboland mourning is seen as a sacred duty and a last act of kindness one can give to a person, just as it is seen in Judaism. 

Sometimes, unfortunately a child is still born and or the mother dies during child birth. If both die they are prepared and buried separately.

It is a sad fact of life that sometimes infants pass from this life to the next. When a child two years and younger dies, mourning and extreme expression of grief are not permitted. The infant is prepared and dressed in every bit of clothes that it had and buried quickly in the bush (jungle) in a coffin made from raffia. 

If a young unmarried woman is taken in an unexpected way or by disease, she is heavily mourned, just as we see in Scripture regarding the man who lost his young daughter (Matt. 9:23); and she is buried in the bush in a part of the forest that is designated as evil, a place where it is said bad spirits reside. Wine is given to the mourners by the family. The Igbo parents as with Jewish parents “sit Sheva,” mourn for seven days and on the eighth day they may get back to some similitude of normalcy by working, shopping, etc. If a young or unmarried man passes away his peers carry his body which is buried in the bush after which they announce their mourning period of 7-8 days, and the family of the deceased present wine to his peers. They mourn by celebrating his life with rowdy behavior and dancing.

When a grown Igbo man passes away the expression of mourning and grief is most great within the family and community. Family and friends (as in Judaism) are notified and come if at all possible within 24 hours. 

His peers launch a type of investigation on where and how he died and there if they were any witnesses to the man’s death. Part of the reason is to make sure there was no foul play, but mostly to see if he died alone. If he died alone it is considered a bad thing in which a purification ritual must be performed.

His sisters and other female relatives act as if they are preparing the body for burial by pretending to cut his hair and wash his body. This is acted out three times. After this, his peers take yams from his storage barn and prepare a meal and place some of it on his mouth. These acts of washing and feeding are a symbolic gesture to prepare the Igboman for his journey to the Creator. In Judaism, family and friends keep watch over and care for the body in a similar way.

A goat is sacrificed to Chukwu and the blood is applied to the deceased’s eyebrows.

Remy Ilona in his book “The Igbos: Jews in Africa” p. 51 points out, in regards to those who dig the grave, “…While the Igbo dig the grave; those who participate in the digging don’t hand over the implements to others who would take their place. When they are tired they drop the implements on the ground and their replacements pick them up. I noted that Jews have this tradition in the code of Jewish Law and Custom (Shulchan Aruch).”

Numbers 19:14-15, 31:23 speak of one who has dwelt with a corpse; the Igbo, like the Israelite see death as a corruption and contamination of sanctity and holiness and must therefore be cleansed.

In Igboland anything used to cover the dead body is burned and after seven days the room is cleansed by fire and washed. Interestingly enough the Torah states that if water cannot cleanse a contamination, then fire must be used.

Women are not permitted to be at the graveside. The dead is buried facing East (this is also a Jewish tradition) on his own property. Money is placed at the grave site as the dead is lowered into the grave.

In Judaism one does not wear jewelry or fine clothes during the time of mourning. The wife of an Igboman removes all her jewelry and wears black for a year or more.

When a married woman dies as with a man, family and friends are informed and come within 24 hours. Her sisters and peers stay with her body all night. When morning comes her death is announced to the community. Wine is given to the family of the deceased woman’s family. Her married siblings and married women of her family washed her corpse and prepare the body for burial. Her children come and see the body and place their forehead on that of their dead mother. In the evening the body is taken through the back door of the home with a gunshot salute and is taken to her clan’s village. The dead woman returns to the house of her parents for burial.

The woman’s husband and in-laws praise the life of the dead woman and how they have been blessed by her while she was alive. After this they return home and the woman is buried on her father’s property, unless she passed due to a disease and if such, she is buried in the bush.

If a titled woman dies, the procedure is the same except her peers of like title sing and dance in honor of her with knives in hand.

If the woman was abused, her peers will make demands in which the abuser must comply with or the women threaten to leave the corpse and return home which would be a great disgrace upon the one accused.

When a man who has a title dies, family, friends and colleagues are alerted; expressions of mourning are held in check.  It is a quiet and somber event. His titled colleagues prepare his body and it is ritually washed and fed. His Ikenga is retired and his colleagues also dance a dance called abia while retelling the deceased’s deeds and exploits. His children are to re-enact the ceremonies he performed when he took on his title. His wife or wives are to go through a purification ritual after 28 days. He is buried with a gunshot salute on his own property. These guns and or mini-canons when fired gives notice to the spirit world that someone is coming as well as gives the deceased permission to leave this realm and enter the next.

It is interesting to note that the Igbo’s use to practice mummification could this have come from when their ancestors lived in Egypt for Jacob, Joseph and Gad and the rest of the patriarchs of Israel were mummified and carried out of Egypt during the Exodus. 

Burial ceremonies in Scripture can be found in Gen. 23:2, 19, 25:8-9, 49:33, 50:7-9, Deut. 21:23. A corpse is buried within 24 hours unless extenuating circumstances call for an extended period of time to allow family to come in from abroad. As In Israel, so in Igboland. 

In Igboland it is traditional for the sibling with the means (wealth) to do so should put forth the expenses to bury a parent. Joseph was not the first born, but being a viceroy of Egypt he had the financial means to bury his father Jacob/Israel (Gen. 50:7-9, 14). 

One ritual of mourning practiced by Israel also practiced by the Igbos besides sitting sheva is shaving ones head as a sign of mourning during death or tragedy. Job practiced this, but after the Exodus and the giving of the Torah at Sinai, this practice was forbidden (Deut. 14:1-3). This may give greater credence to the theory and oral tradition that a portion of Gad left Egypt prior to the Exodus.

Before western influence took hold in Igboland, Igbos, like Jews sat Sheva (7 day sever mourning period see Gen. 50:4, Num. 20:29, Deut. 34:8), the dead were then mourned strongly but to a lesser degree totaling 28 days, approximately a lunar month where the mourner remains within their compound. After which they continue to mourn for a whole year but resume their daily activities but only wear mourning clothes. After the year is up the mourners' garments are burned. 

For Jews in Israel, one is considered “unclean” if one touches a corpse (Num. 19:11-13, 16, 31:19-20) and must be purified. The same holds true for the Igbos in Nigeria.

“In Igboland , anybody who touches a dead body normally washes himself in the stream on the seventh day with Hyssop (Akoro) and Okpete plus local soap (Ncha nkota), at the end, the person immerses himself in the stream four times. These materials used are thrown backward into the stream to be carried away by the current of the water.” – Caliben O.I. Micheal “Our Roots: Igbo Israel Heritage” p.62

As in Israel, so in Igboland.

In the Torah we read about the concept called the Levirate Marriage; that if a man dies with no sons to carry on the family, the dead man’s brother must have a son by the deceased’s wife, so that the dead man’s line will not die out (Gen. 38:6-8, Deut. 25:5-10, Book of Ruth). In Igboland this is practiced and is called Inye Okuko. 

In Judaism if one converts to another religion or becomes an apostate, they are considered dead to the Jewish community and a funeral and mourning takes place for such a person. The same tradition is found among the Igbo’s for those who apostatize from Omenana or commit an abomination against Chukwu.

Lastly, it should be mentioned that Igbo’s livening in the diaspora has his/her body sent home to be buried in Igboland. The Igbo community in the diaspora in which he lives contributes financially in order to ship his body home. This is reminiscent of Jacob and Joseph requesting not to be buried in a pagan land and making their children take an oath to insure that they are buried in the Promised Land (Gen. 47:29-30, 50:4-6, 12-12, 25-26, Exd. 13:19, Jasher 80:62-63).

Ogulisi trees used as “headstones” make the grave and show the position of the head. I saw this with my own eyes at Obu-Gad in Aguleri where the second Igbo king was buried; three trees sprang up at the head and connected above ground by the roots to mark the grave in a beautiful natural monument. As Jewish custom dictates, I left a stone atop the root of the tree to indicate a fellow Jew visited the grave.

In Gen. 15:15, 25:8, 35:29, 49:33, Num. 27:13 and many other places in Scripture it speaks that upon death one joins his ancestors. As in Israel so in Igboland. Igbo’s when they die, like Israelites, believe that when they die they are gathered together with their ancestors in the afterlife.

Reincarnation

A little known and shocking fact to some to learn in regards to Judaism and early Christianity is the belief in reincarnation, also known as the transmigration of souls. It is not the purpose of this book to make and argument for or against such a belief, but only to point out that just as Jews believe in reincarnation, so do the Igbo.
Mourning the Living

In Judaism, if one of the faith converts to another religion or is unrepentant after committing a grave offense, such a person is considered dead to the family and community and an actually funeral service is held for the “living dead” and the family mourns the proper allotted time as if the person really died. The exact same thing is done in Igboland.

Last Will and Testament

Gen. 48:21-22, Josh. 14:1-5

When an elderly Igboman feels he is close to death, he will call in his children and divide the inheritance among them and have kinsmen witness this. 

As in Israel, so in Igboland.

The Tribe of Gad and the Igbo

Predominantly the Igbo come from Jacob (Israel’s) Gad’s sons Eri, Areli and Arodi as we shall soon see.

Let us start off with the established facts of what we know.

The Tribe of Gad. Though often forgotten and usually least to be named when one recalls the names of the 12 tribes and though not as prominent as Judah or Levi who never have been lost; nonetheless Gad is direly important to prophetic history and events. They must be found!

To do a thorough and solid investigation we must start at the beginning.

A brief and basic genealogical break down from Adam to Gad is as follows:


Adam-Noah-Shem-Eber-Abram (Abraham)-Jacob (Israel)-Gad (Gen.11:10-26, I Chron. 1:24-27, Mt. 1:1-2).

A more detailed breakdown based on Ronald Lutz’s “Master Timeline from Creation” ( * indicates traditionally used dates) is:


Adam (Gen. 1:26-27, 5:4-5 = 3968-3066 *4004-? BCE), Seth (Gen. 5:3-7 = 3842-2958 *3874-2962 BCE), Enos (Gen. 5:6-11 = 3741-2864 *3769-2864 BCE), Kenan (Gen. 5:9-14 = 3653-2771 83679-2794 BCE), Mahalalel (Gen. 5:12-17 = 3585-2718 *3609-2714 BCE), Jared (Gen. 5:15-21 = 3522-2590 *3544-2582 BCE), Enoch (Gen. 5:16-23 = 3365-3011 *3382-3017 BCE), Methuselah (Gen. 5:21 = 3302-2362 *3317-2348 BCE), Lamech (Gen. 5:25-31 = 3121-2368 *3000-? BCE), Noah (Gen. 5:28, 9:29 = 2942-2024 *2948-1998 BCE), Shem (Gen. 5:32, 11:10-11 = 2458-1877 *2240-? BCE), The Flood (Gen. 7:11 = 2363 BCE), Arphaxad (Gen. 11:10 = 2361-1938 *2348-1904 BCE), Shelar (Gen. 11:12-15 = 2327-1907 *2333-1900 BCE), Eber (Gen. 11:14-17 = 2298-1848 *2255-1791 BCE), Peleg (Gen. 11:16-19 = 2265-2033 *2222-1983 BCE), Reu (Gen. 11:18-21 = 2236-2009 *2200-1961 BCE), Serug (Gen. 11:20-23 = 2205-1982 *2180-1950 BCE), Nahor (Gen. 11:22-25 = 2176-2036 *2140-1992 BCE), Terah (Gen. 11:24-32 = 2148-1949 *2000-1795 BCE), Abram/Abraham (Gen. 11:26-25:7 = 2080-1911 *1996-1821 BCE), Isaac (Gen. 21:3- 35:28 = 1984-1809 *1896-1716 BCE), Jacob/Israel (Gen. 25:26-47:28 1925-1783 *1770-1623 BCE), Gad, according to the Testament of Gad 1:1 and Jasher 62:5 Gad lived 125 years (Gen. 30:11 = 1938-1813 *1749-1624 BCE).

From Adam to Noah 10 Generations.

From Shem to Abraham 9 Generations.

From Abraham to Gad 5 Generations.

Totaling 24 Generations.




Gad was the 7th son of Jacob, the 1st son of Jacob and Zilpah the handmaid of Leah (Gen. 30:9-11, Gen. 35:26, Ex. 1:4) and was considered Leah’s 5th son .

Let us also consult the Book of Jasher as a confirming witness to the well-known established facts:

Jasher 59:4 And the sons of Zilpah, the handmaid of Leah, were Gad and Asher.

Wow, pretty significant and meaningful biblical numbers; 1, 5, 7. One = Unity/YHWH, Five = Torah and Grace, and Seven = Completion and Perfection.

Gad means, an army or a troop and also implies good fortune, for in a sister language to Hebrew there is a pagan deity named Gad, pronounced, “Gawd.”

Gen. 30:11 And Leah said, A troop cometh: and she called his name Gad.

Gen. 35:26 And the sons of Zilpah, Leah's handmaid; Gad, and Asher: these [are] the sons of Jacob, which were born to him in Padanarama.

So from this verse we ascertain the birthplace of Gad; Padanaram.Padan-Aram means, “The plain of Aram” and it is an area in Upper Mesopotamia around Haran the home of Abraham after he moved from Ur of the Chaldeans (Gen. 25:20). This is also the place Abraham sent Eleazar to find Isaac a bride (Rebecca). This is where Jacob fled to avoid his angry and wrathful brother Esau to dwell with Laban (Gen. 28:2, 5-7). Sometimes it is just called Padan (Gen. 48:7).

Now let’s track the life of the Tribe of Gad from the Biblical accounts, perhaps it may give us clues to where he and his sons ended up. To understand where Gad had ultimately ended up, we must first see where they came from, the way they went until we lost track of them in historical black hole of Assyria.

Gad was approximately 40 years of age when he, his father Jacob (Israel) and the rest of his brothers moved to Egypt to be with Joseph who then ruled as second next to the Pharaoh to escape great famine (Gen. 42:15, 45:10, 46:6-7, 47:27, Ex. 12:40).

The Patriarch Gad is said to have died in Egypt prior to Moses coming with the power of YHWH to liberate the Children of Israel from Egyptian bondage.

Jasher 62:5 And in the eighty-third year died Gad, he was a hundred and twenty-five years old at his death, and he was put into a coffin in Egypt, and given into the hands of his children.

The Testament of Gad 1:1 The copy of the testament of Gad, what things he spake unto his sons, in the hundred and twenty-fifth year of his life, saying unto them:
Jasher 90:38-40 And it was in those days, when the children of Israel were dwelling securely in their cities, that they buried the coffins of the tribes of their ancestors, which they had brought up from Egypt, each man in the inheritance of his children, the twelve sons of Jacob did the children of Israel bury, each man in the possession of his children And these are the names of the cities wherein they buried the twelve sons of Jacob, whom the children of Israel had brought up from Egypt. And they buried Reuben and Gad on this side Jordan, in Romia, which Moses had given to their children.

If you have or know of a big family, after a family excursion to a holiday weekend, the parents of the brood will rally the troop and do a quick head count. We find in the first chapter of Numbers the tribes are counted twice after a whirlwind of events in the Sinai Desert.

Num. 1:1-4, 14, 18, 24-25 And the LORD spake unto Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, in the tabernacle of the congregation, on the first day of the second month, in the second year after they were come out of the land of Egypt, saying, Take ye the sum of all the congregation of the children of Israel, after their families, by the house of their fathers, with the number of their names, every male by their polls; From twenty years old and upward, all that are able to go forth to war in Israel: thou and Aaron shall number them by their armies. And with you there shall be a man of every tribe; every one head of the house of his fathers… Of Gad; Eliasaph the son of Deuel… and they assembled all the congregation together on the first day of the second month, and they declared their pedigrees after their families, by the house of their fathers, according to the number of the names, from twenty years old and upward, by their polls… Of the children of Gad, by their generations, after their families, by the house of their fathers, according to the number of the names, from twenty years old and upward, all that were able to go forth to war; Those that were numbered of them, even of the tribe of Gad, were forty and five thousand six hundred and fifty.

Num. 26:1-4, 15-18 And it came to pass after the plague, that the LORD spake unto Moses and unto Eleazar the son of Aaron the priest, saying, Take the sum of all the congregation of the children of Israel, from twenty years old and upward, throughout their fathers' house, all that are able to go to war in Israel. And Moses and Eleazar the priest spake with them in the plains of Moab by Jordan near Jericho, saying, Take the sum of the people, from twenty years old and upward; as the LORD commanded Moses and the children of Israel, which went forth out of the land of Egypt… The children of Gad after their families: of Zephon, the family of the Zephonites: of Haggi, the family of the Haggites: of Shuni, the family of the Shunites: Of Ozni (Ezbon), the family of the Oznites (Ezbonites): of Eri, the family of the Erites: Of Arod, the family of the Arodites: of Areli, the family of the Arelites. These are the families of the children of Gad according to those that were numbered of them, forty thousand and five hundred.

This tells us that at least a portion of all of Gad’s sons left with Moses and the rest of the children of Israel during the Exodus, despite the legend of a pre-exodus-exodus from Egypt by Gad’s son Eri, Areli and Arodi.

By the time of King Jotham and Jeroboam we read the names of Gad’s descendants, but are unsure of what sons and clans are being spoken of.

I Chron. 5:11-17 And the children of Gad dwelt over against them, in the land of Bashan unto Salcah: Joel the chief, and Shapham the next, and Jaanai, and Shaphat in Bashan. And their brethren of the house of their fathers were, Michael, and Meshullam, and Sheba, and Jorai, and Jachan, and Zia, and Heber, seven. These are the children of Abihail the son of Huri, the son of Jaroah, the son of Gilead, the son of Michael, the son of Jeshishai, the son of Jahdo, the son of Buz; Ahi the son of Abdiel, the son of Guni, chief of the house of their fathers.

We are given details regarding their marching and camp assignment among the other tribes during the 40 years in the wilderness under the banner of Reuben.

Num. 2:10-16 On the south side shall be the standard of the camp of Reuben according to their armies: and the captain of the children of Reuben shall be Elizur the son of Shedeur. And his host, and those that were numbered thereof, were forty and six thousand and five hundred. And those which pitch by him shall be the tribe of Simeon: and the captain of the children of Simeon shall be Shelumiel the son of Zurishaddai. And his host, and those that were numbered of them, were fifty and nine thousand and three hundred. Then the tribe of Gad: and the captain of the sons of Gad shall be Eliasaph the son of Reuel. And his host, and those that were numbered of them, were forty and five thousand and six hundred and fifty. All that were numbered in the camp of Reuben were an hundred thousand and fifty and one thousand and four hundred and fifty, throughout their armies. And they shall set forth in the second rank.

Gad was considered a successful and wealthy tribe in the wilderness and when they settled on the East side of the Jordan River.

Num. 32:1 Now the children of Reuben and the children of Gad had a very great multitude of cattle: and when they saw the land of Jazer, and the land of Gilead, that, behold, the place was a place for cattle;

Josh. 22:8 And he spake unto them, saying, Return with much riches unto your tents, and with very much cattle, with silver, and with gold, and with brass, and with iron, and with very much raiment: divide the spoil of your enemies with your brethren.

We also read about the petition to settle on the East side of the Jordan.

Num. 32:1-5 Now the children of Reuben and the children of Gad had a very great multitude of cattle: and when they saw the land of Jazer, and the land of Gilead, that, behold, the place was a place for cattle; The children of Gad and the children of Reuben came and spake unto Moses, and to Eleazar the priest, and unto the princes of the congregation, saying, Ataroth, and Dibon, and Jazer, and Nimrah, and Heshbon, and Elealeh, and Shebam, and Nebo, and Beon, Even the country which the LORD smote before the congregation of Israel, is a land for cattle, and thy servants have cattle: Wherefore, said they, if we have found grace in thy sight, let this land be given unto thy servants for a possession, and bring us not over Jordan.

Deut. 3:12, 16-17 And this land, which we possessed at that time, from Aroer, which is by the river Arnon, and half mount Gilead, and the cities thereof, gave I unto the Reubenites and to the Gadites… er Arnon half the valley, and the border even unto the river Jabbok, which is the border of the children of Ammon; The plain also, and Jordan, and the coast thereof, from Chinnereth even unto the sea of the plain, even the salt sea, under Ashdothpisgah eastward.

Deut. 29:8 And we took their land, and gave it for an inheritance unto the Reubenites, and to the Gadites, and to the half tribe of Manasseh.

In the following Passage we are given territorial boundaries of Gad.

Josh. 13:24-28 And Moses gave inheritance unto the tribe of Gad, even unto the children of Gad according to their families. And their coast was Jazer, and all the cities of Gilead, and half the land of the children of Ammon, unto Aroer that is before Rabbah; And from Heshbon unto Ramathmizpeh, and Betonim; and from Mahanaim unto the border of Debir; And in the valley, Betharam, and Bethnimrah, and Succoth, and Zaphon, the rest of the kingdom of Sihon king of Heshbon, Jordan and his border, even unto the edge of the sea of Chinnereth on the other side Jordan eastward. This is the inheritance of the children of Gad after their families, the cities, and their villages.

I Chron. 5:11-17 And the children of Gad dwelt over against them, in the land of Bashan unto Salcah: Joel the chief, and Shapham the next, and Jaanai, and Shaphat in Bashan. And their brethren of the house of their fathers were, Michael, and Meshullam, and Sheba, and Jorai, and Jachan, and Zia, and Heber, seven. These are the children of Abihail the son of Huri, the son of Jaroah, the son of Gilead, the son of Michael, the son of Jeshishai, the son of Jahdo, the son of Buz; Ahi the son of Abdiel, the son of Guni, chief of the house of their fathers.

Gad, being a mighty “troop” voluntarily and covenantally agreed to fight west of the Jordan on behalf of the other tribes who have not yet secured their allotment of inherited land.

Num. 32:16-32 And they came near unto him, and said, We will build sheepfolds here for our cattle, and cities for our little ones: But we ourselves will go ready armed before the children of Israel, until we have brought them unto their place: and our little ones shall dwell in the fenced cities because of the inhabitants of the land. We will not return unto our houses, until the children of Israel have inherited every man his inheritance. For we will not inherit with them on yonder side Jordan, or forward; because our inheritance is fallen to us on this side Jordan eastward. And Moses said unto them, If ye will do this thing, if ye will go armed before the LORD to war, And will go all of you armed over Jordan before the LORD, until he hath driven out his enemies from before him, And the land be subdued before the LORD: then afterward ye shall return, and be guiltless before the LORD, and before Israel; and this land shall be your possession before the LORD. But if ye will not do so, behold, ye have sinned against the LORD: and be sure your sin will find you out. Build you cities for your little ones, and folds for your sheep; and do that which hath proceeded out of your mouth. And the children of Gad and the children of Reuben spake unto Moses, saying, Thy servants will do as my lord commandeth. Our little ones, our wives, our flocks, and all our cattle, shall be there in the cities of Gilead: But thy servants will pass over, every man armed for war, before the Lord to battle, as my lord saith. So concerning them Moses commanded Eleazar the priest, and Joshua the son of Nun, and the chief fathers of the tribes of the children of Israel: And Moses said unto them, If the children of Gad and the children of Reuben will pass with you over Jordan, every man armed to battle, before the LORD, and the land shall be subdued before you; then ye shall give them the land of Gilead for a possession: But if they will not pass over with you armed, they shall have possessions among you in the land of Canaan. And the children of Gad and the children of Reuben answered, saying, As the LORD hath said unto thy servants, so will we do. We will pass over armed before the LORD into the land of Canaan, that the possession of our inheritance on this side Jordan may be our's.

Josh. 4:12-13 And the children of Reuben, and the children of Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh, passed over armed before the children of Israel, as Moses spake unto them: About forty thousand prepared for war passed over before the LORD unto battle, to the plains of Jericho.

Josh. 22:1-8 Then Joshua called the Reubenites, and the Gadites, and the half tribe of Manasseh, And said unto them, Ye have kept all that Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, and have obeyed my voice in all that I commanded you: Ye have not left your brethren these many days unto this day, but have kept the charge of the commandment of the LORD your God. And now the LORD your God hath given rest unto your brethren, as he promised them: therefore now return ye, and get you unto your tents, and unto the land of your possession, which Moses the servant of the LORD gave you on the other side Jordan. But take diligent heed to do the commandment and the law, which Moses the servant of the LORD charged you, to love the LORD your God, and to walk in all his ways, and to keep his commandments, and to cleave unto him, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul. So Joshua blessed them, and sent them away: and they went unto their tents. Now to the one half of the tribe of Manasseh Moses had given possession in Bashan: but unto the other half thereof gave Joshua among their brethren on this side Jordan westward. And when Joshua sent them away also unto their tents, then he blessed them, And he spake unto them, saying, Return with much riches unto your tents, and with very much cattle, with silver, and with gold, and with brass, and with iron, and with very much raiment: divide the spoil of your enemies with your brethren.

Nelsons Illustrated Bible Dictionary says of Gad, “…The territory this tribe inhabited, often referred to as Gilead (Num. 1:14). The territory of Gad lay east of the Jordan River between the half-tribe of Manasseh to the north and the tribe of Reuben to the south. It’s western boundary was the Jordan River; on the east it faced the territory of Ammonites.”

John Bright said in his book, A History of Israel 2nd Ed., “…The population of the highlands of Gilead – a mixture of Gadite and Josephite elements (Num. 23:39f; Josh. 13:24-31; etc.) – was designated as the clan Gilead (Judg. 5:17; 11:1.f; etc.).”

During the reign of King Saul, Gad defected and swore their allegiance to David in Hebron.
I Chron. 12:8-15, 37-38 And of the Gadites there separated themselves unto David into the hold to the wilderness men of might, and men of war fit for the battle, that could handle shield and buckler, whose faces were like the faces of lions, and were as swift as the roes upon the mountains; Ezer the first, Obadiah the second, Eliab the third, Mishmannah the fourth, Jeremiah the fifth, Attai the sixth, Eliel the seventh, Johanan the eighth, Elzabad the ninth, Jeremiah the tenth, Machbanai the eleventh. These were of the sons of Gad, captains of the host: one of the least was over an hundred, and the greatest over a thousand. These are they that went over Jordan in the first month, when it had overflown all his banks; and they put to flight all them of the valleys, both toward the east, and toward the west… And on the other side of Jordan, of the Reubenites, and the Gadites, and of the half tribe of Manasseh, with all manner of instruments of war for the battle, an hundred and twenty thousand. All these men of war, that could keep rank, came with a perfect heart to Hebron, to make David king over all Israel: and all the rest also of Israel were of one heart to make David king.

We find they joined their camp and East Jordan Brothers, the Reubenites in their war against the Hagarites.

I Chron. 5:10, 18-22And in the days of Saul they made war with the Hagarites, who fell by their hand: and they dwelt in their tents throughout all the east land of Gilead… The sons of Reuben, and the Gadites, and half the tribe of Manasseh, of valiant men, men able to bear buckler and sword, and to shoot with bow, and skilful in war, were four and forty thousand seven hundred and threescore, that went out to the war. And they made war with the Hagarites, with Jetur, and Nephish, and Nodab. And they were helped against them, and the Hagarites were delivered into their hand, and all that were with them: for they cried to God in the battle, and he was intreated of them; because they put their trust in him. And they took away their cattle; of their camels fifty thousand, and of sheep two hundred and fifty thousand, and of asses two thousand, and of men an hundred thousand. For there fell down many slain, because the war was of God. And they dwelt in their steads until the captivity.

We see they were defeated by the Syrian King.

2 Kings 10:32-33 In those days the LORD began to cut Israel short: and Hazael smote them in all the coasts of Israel; From Jordan eastward, all the land of Gilead, the Gadites, and the Reubenites, and the Manassites, from Aroer, which is by the river Arnon, even Gilead and Bashan.

Here is where we begin to lose our grasp on the whereabouts of Gad; when they were taken off into Assyrian captivity. This would technically make Gad Hebrew and not Jewish. For you see, after King Solomon the Nation of Israel was divided into Two Kingdoms or Houses. The House or Kingdom of Judah to the South, comprised of Judah and Levi and a smattering of Benjamin who went off into Babylonian captivity, returned and are who we recognize as Jews today. Then there was the Northern Kingdom, also called the House of Israel or the House of Ephraim which was made up of the rest of the 10 tribes and they were known as Hebrews or Israelites. But now when you say Jew, it is taken to mean anyone who is a descendant of any one of the 12 tribes.

This begs the question, who can be called a Jew or Hebrew?

This is the million dollar question in Judaism and everyone seems to have an opinion and weighs in on the answer. I will not dilly dally or give out a long drawn out explanation, I will try to be short and sweet and to the point; because in reality the answer to this question is actually not that complicated.

When you say someone is a Jew/Hebrew, or ask if someone is a Jew/Hebrew you can mean one of two different things.

1. One is a Jew/Hebrew ethnically because one or both of their parents were ethnically Jewish.

2. One is a Jew/Hebrew because they have converted to and practice the Jewish religion.

In the times of the Tanak a Jew/Hebrew was considered someone whose father was a Jew/Hebrew; note that Patriarchs were Jewish/Hebrew and not the Matriarchs. The linage of a Cohen (Levitical Priest), and also what scientists refer to as the Cohen gene is passed down through the father. However, because of the persecution of the Jews through the various worldwide pogroms, the Inquisition, the Holocaust, and we can even say the Biafran War, etc., many Jewish/Hebrew women were raped and impregnated by Goyim (Gentiles) and so a myriad of children who were born to Jewish/Hebrew mothers but had Goyish fathers and unless you were adopted, you know who your mother is, but you don’t always know who your father is. As a result a paradigm shift was made in Judaism and declared that you are Jewish/Hebrew via your mother’s side for reasons I just stated above.

I accept both methods. I say if either of your parents are Jewish/Hebrew, then you are Jewish/Hebrew.

There are, I believe, many more people, the Igbo just being one of them, who are walking the earth who are Jewish/Hebrews and don’t even know it on account of the Diaspora of the lost ten tribes who were scattered and never returned to Israel through the Assyrian Captivity. For the people we recognize as Jews today are the ones from Judah and Levi who returned to the Land from the Babylonian Captivity.

I Chron. 5:26 And the God of Israel stirred up the spirit of Pul king of Assyria, and the spirit of Tilgathpilneser king of Assyria, and he carried them away, even the Reubenites, and the Gadites, and the half tribe of Manasseh, and brought them unto Halah, and Habor, and Hara, and to the river Gozan, unto this day.

We know that after they were taken away into Assyria, the Amorites took over the territory of Gad.

Jer. 49:1 Concerning the Ammonites, thus saith the LORD; Hath Israel no sons? hath he no heir? why then doth their king inherit Gad, and his people dwell in his cities?

The John speaks of the survival of Gad who was lost in captivity and the Prophet Ezekiel speaks of Gad’s re-allotment of territory in the future.

Rev. 7:5c …Of the tribe of Gad were sealed twelve thousand.

Ezk. 48:27-29 And by the border of Zebulun, from the east side unto the west side, Gad a portion. And by the border of Gad, at the south side southward, the border shall be even from Tamar unto the waters of strife in Kadesh, and to the river toward the great sea. This is the land which ye shall divide by lot unto the tribes of Israel for inheritance, and these are their portions, saith the Lord GOD.

We have already clearly established that Gad was taken off to and seemingly disappeared into Assyrian captivity (2 Kings 17:5-6), but why?

DISOBEDIENCE TO TORAH! Which is SIN (I John 3:4).

Deut. 28:64-68 And the LORD shall scatter thee among all people, from the one end of the earth even unto the other; and there thou shalt serve other gods, which neither thou nor thy fathers have known, even wood and stone. And among these nations shalt thou find no ease, neither shall the sole of thy foot have rest: but the LORD shall give thee there a trembling heart, and failing of eyes, and sorrow of mind: And thy life shall hang in doubt before thee; and thou shalt fear day and night, and shalt have none assurance of thy life: In the morning thou shalt say, Would God it were even! and at even thou shalt say, Would God it were morning! for the fear of thine heart wherewith thou shalt fear, and for the sight of thine eyes which thou shalt see. And the LORD shall bring thee into Egypt again with ships, by the way whereof I spake unto thee, Thou shalt see it no more again: and there ye shall be sold unto your enemies for bondmen and bondwomen, and no man shall buy you.

Ezk. 22:15 And I will scatter thee among the heathen, and disperse thee in the countries, and will consume thy filthiness out of thee.

Zech. 7:14 But I scattered them with a whirlwind among all the nations whom they knew not. Thus the land was desolate after them, that no man passed through nor returned: for they laid the pleasant land desolate.

History has at least given us the tantalizing hint that Hebrews of the ten tribes that were carted off into Assyrian captivity; that their whereabouts were somewhat known to the 1st century believers in Yeshua. Some were located under Roman rule as far as Alexandria and Ethiopia (Africa).

James (Ya’akov) Yeshua’s (Jesus’) half-brother, leader of the Sanhedrin of the 1st Century Torah obedient believers in Messiah Yeshua implied that during his day the location of all 12 tribes were somewhat known.

James 1:1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting.

But since the 1st century we have slowly lost track of the wanderings of the 10 tribes that were taken off into Assyrian captivity, and as a result these 10 tribes are lost to man, but not G-d. Regardless of the this uncertainty the Prophets tell us that the location of the 10 Tribes will again be known and that they will eventually return to the Land of Promise and be united with their brother Judah. These verses tell us that some of the tribes can be found all over Africa as far as Ethiopia. Africa is often mentioned in the Tanak (Old Testament) as a place where some of the tribes have ended up and have lost their identity as Hebrews but will eventually wake up to who they really are and return home to Israel.

Isa. 11:11-12 And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea. And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.

Zeph. 3:10 From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia my suppliants, even the daughter of my dispersed, shall bring mine offering.

Psa. 68:31 Princes shall come out of Egypt; Ethiopia shall soon stretch out her hands unto God.

So it is not a stretch by any means if some of these lost tribes, including Gad can be found in the continent of Africa today.

We must also take into consideration that in YHWH’s Omniscience He knew that Israel would become a world recognized state in 1948 CE, but would not occupy the boarders and dimensions promised by G-d to Abraham and the Patriarchs as recorded in the Torah. As of the writing of this book, the secular state of Israel only occupies a strip of land approximately the size of the U.S. state of New Jersey. G-d knew that Israel’s descendants, being as numerous as the sand and stars (Gen. 22, Heb. 11:12) would say:

Isa. 49:19-20 For thy waste and thy desolate places, and the land of thy destruction, shall even now be too narrow by reason of the inhabitants, and they that swallowed thee up shall be far away. The children which thou shalt have, after thou hast lost the other, shall say again in thine ears, The place is too strait for me: give place to me that I may dwell.

And thus YHWH’s solution until Messiah’s return and the re-gathering of the scattered tribes would be:

Psa. 2:8 Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.

That after their punishment for disobedience to Torah (Deut. 28) by the Babylonian and Assyrian captivities that their heart would turn once again to YHWH and HE would bring them back from the uttermost parts of the world, even Africa, beyond Ethiopia (Isa. 11:11-12, Zeph. 3:10).

Igbos occupy and are found in the following states in Nigeria, out of 37: Enugu, Imo, Abia, Delta, Ebonyi, and River State. At least 120 towns in Igboland claim direct or indirect descent from Eri. Nigeria is the most Populated country in all of Africa. Nigeria sometimes goes by the nickname, “the India of Africa.” 40% of all of Nigerians are Igbo. Out of approximately 120 million people in Nigeria approximately 40 million are said to be Igbo. Prof. Boniface Egboka of the National Environmental Watch Service said, “…the Igbo nation is the most populated ethnic group in Nigeria.”

D.J. Wiseman said that Hebrew/Igbo means, “Wanderer, people with no secure place in society.” Because YHWH commanded that people be fruitful and multiply (Gen. 1:22, 28) and that Israel’s descendants would be as numerous as sand and stars (Gen. 22); just as you can go to virtually any corner of the globe and find a Jew because of the captivities, holocausts and persecution, so to you can find an Igbo. HRM Eze A.E. Chukwuemeka-Eri Ezeora the 34th has cabinet members worldwide, some all over North America and Europe.

“Anywhere I went and discovered that Igbos are not there, I will make haste to depart. Such absence of Igbo might suggest that the place is not habitable for a human being.” – Mr. Urakpo of the Urhobo tribe, an Assemblies of God minister.

Over 60% of Igbos have immigrated to various parts of the globe and due to the slave trade approximately 25% of all African Americans are Igbo as well as a good number of Haitians and Jamaicans.

Sons of Gad: Eri, Areli and Arodi

A good detective relies on facts, but realize circumstantial evidence can also hold nuggets of truth that must be explored if History is to confess what she knows. Most legends and oral history of a people, though likely embellished through time, is nonetheless built on a grain of truth, like the pearls we find in oysters. We must do all we can to extract the factual truth from such grains, no matter how small.

Gen. 30:11 And Leah said, A troop cometh: and she called his name Gad.

Gad was said to have been born the 10th of Cheshvan and died 125 years later on his birthday.

In Genesis Rabbah 71:9 says “Leah said (when Gad was born): ‘Fortune has come! The good luck of the house has come, the good luck of the world has come, for Elijah has come.’”

Some Jewish scholars believe Elijah was from the Tribe of Gad. In the Sefer Yetzirah Gad corresponds to the month of Elul. In Elul the raven left Noah’s Ark and it was also ravens that feed Elijah.

The following are verses which mention Gad and the sons and descendants of Gad.

Gen. 46:16 And the sons of Gad; Ziphion, and Haggi, Shuni, and Ezbon, Eri, and Arodi, and Areli.

Jasher 59:14 And the sons of Gad were Ziphion, Chaggi, Shuni, Ezbon, Eri, Arodi and Areli.

And Gad and Naphtali went to Haran and took from thence the daughters of Amuram the son of Uz, the son of Nahor, for wives. And these are the names of the daughters of Amuram; the name of the elder was Merimah, and the name of the younger Uzith; and Naphtali took Merimah, and Gad took Uzith; and brought them to the land of Canaan, to their father's house. And Merimah bare unto Naphtali Yachzeel, Guni, Jazer and Shalem, four sons; and Uzith bare unto Gad Zephion, Chagi, Shuni, Ezbon, Eri, Arodi and Arali, seven sons. – Jasher 45:9-11

Here are the meanings of the names of the seven sons of Gad in order of their birth:

1 (G-d/Unity). Ziphion: Watchtower

2 (House/Couple). Haggi: Holiday, Celebration, Feast Day

3 (Family/Tri-unity of G-d). Shuni: Seashore or Harbor

4 (Four Directions). Ezbon/Ozni: Hasten (Working) to Understand/An ear, My Hearing

5 (Law and Grace). Eri: My Guardian

6 (Man power). Arodi: Bronze

7 (Perfection/Completion). Areli: Messenger and or Lion of God

Gen. 49:19 Gad, a troop shall overcome him: but he shall overcome at the last.

Num. 2:14 Then the tribe of Gad: and the captain of the sons of Gad shall be Eliasaph the son of Reuel. (Also rendered Eliasaph the son of Deuel in Numbers 1:14, 7:42, 10:20; a possible scribal error as a Resh and Dalet in Hebrew could easily be mistaken if not written correctly)

Num. 13:15 Of the tribe of Gad, Geuel the son of Machi.

Num. 26:15-18 The children of Gad after their families: of Zephon, the family of the Zephonites: of Haggi, the family of the Haggites: of Shuni, the family of the Shunites: Of Ozni (Ezbon), the family of the Oznites: of Eri, the family of the Erites: Of Arod (Arodi), the family of the Arodites: of Areli, the family of the Arelites. These are the families of the children of Gad according to those that were numbered of them, forty thousand and five hundred.

Num. 32:34-36 And the children of Gad built Dibon, and Ataroth, and Aroer, And Atroth, Shophan, and Jaazer, and Jogbehah, And Bethnimrah, and Bethharan, fenced cities: and folds for sheep.

Rev. 7:5 … Of the tribe of Gad were sealed twelve thousand.

Ya’akov (Jacob) prophetically blessed the children of Gad:

Jasher 56: 6-16 And Jacob said, Call all your children unto me, and all the children of Jacob's sons came and sat before him, and Jacob blessed them, and he said unto them, The Lord God of your fathers shall grant you a thousand times as much and bless you, and may he give you the blessing of your father Abraham; and all the children of Jacob's sons went forth on that day after he had blessed them. And on the next day Jacob again called for his sons, and they all assembled and came to him and sat before him, and Jacob on that day blessed his sons before his death, each man did he bless according to his blessing; behold it is written in the book of the law of the Lord appertaining to Israel. And Jacob said unto Judah, I know my son that thou art a mighty man for thy brethren; reign over them, and thy sons shall reign over their sons forever. Only teach thy sons the bow and all the weapons of war, in order that they may fight the battles of their brother who will rule over his enemies. And Jacob again commanded his sons on that day, saying, Behold I shall be this day gathered unto my people; carry me up from Egypt, and bury me in the cave of Machpelah as I have commanded you. Howbeit take heed I pray you that none of your sons carry me, only yourselves, and this is the manner you shall do unto me, when you carry my body to go with it to the land of Canaan to bury me, Judah, Issachar and Zebulun shall carry my bier at the eastern side; Reuben, Simeon and Gad at the south, Ephraim, Manasseh and Benjamin at the west, Dan, Asher and Naphtali at the north. Let not Levi carry with you, for he and his sons will carry the ark of the covenant of the Lord with the Israelites in the camp, neither let Joseph my son carry, for as a king so let his glory be; howbeit, Ephraim and Manasseh shall be in their stead. Thus shall you do unto me when you carry me away; do not neglect any thing of all that I command you; and it shall come to pass when you do this unto me, that the Lord will remember you favorably and your children after you forever. And you my sons, honor each his brother and his relative, and command your children and your children's children after you to serve the Lord God of your ancestors all the days. In order that you may prolong your days in the land, you and your children and your children's children for ever, when you do what is good and upright in the sight of the Lord your God, to go in all his ways.

Gen. 49:19 Gad, a troop shall overcome him: but he shall overcome at the last.

Moshe (Moses) prophetically blessed the children of Gad:

Jasher 87:5-8 And Moses called to all the children of Israel and said to them, You have seen all the good which the Lord your God has done for you in the wilderness. Now therefore observe all the words of this law, and walk in the way of the Lord your God, turn not from the way which the Lord has commanded you, either to the right or to the left. And Moses taught the children of Israel statutes and judgments and laws to do in the land as the Lord had commanded him. And he taught them the way of the Lord and his laws; behold they are written upon the book of the law of God which he gave to the children of Israel by the hand of Moses.

Deut. 33:20 And of Gad he said, Blessed be he that enlargeth Gad: he dwelleth as a lion, and teareth the arm with the crown of the head.

Jacob tells us that Gad would be a troop that is at first overcome and defeated but in the end will have the last laugh and be the conqueror of the conqueror.

The blessing of Moses upon Gad implies that Gad is a ruling military force that destroys the military arm and rule of the head of any opposing nation. It is interesting to note that like Judah, Gad is likened unto an intimidating, fierce and roaring, ruling Lion. The only other tribe likened unto a lion was Dan (Deut. 33:22). The phrase, “dwelleth as a lion” means that Gad’s character and nature as a people and a tribe are like fierce roaring lions that will vehemently defend territory and pride. “teareth” refers to the lions mighty clawed paws and its way of hunting by chase and tackle, by hooking the legs with its claws and ends in a bite upon the neck below the head, breaking it causing swift instantaneous death, or by a throat bite which ends in a slow death suffocation. Whereas Judah is the alpha male lion king of Israel, Gad is like the lioness hunters and young male enforcers and warriors. When lionesses hunt, they will drag the prey away and eat just enough to give it strength to drag it back to the pride where the lion king and males eat, then the females and finally the cubs. Gad as a tribe knows their rank, place and purpose in the nation of Israel.

One rabbinical commentary regarding the Jacobic prophecy of Gad says that Jacob, “…paused between the blessing of Dan and the blessing of Gad and recites: ‘I wait for Your deliverance, Eternal!’… One traditional explanation for the phrase that Jacob, while prophesying, sees a disturbing moment in the future and prays to avoid it.

Could this be in reference to Jacob seeing the murders of the Sudanese (Danites) trying to cross the Sinai Peninsula into Israel by Bedouins and the Nigeria-Biafra war where millions were slaughtered and the current ongoing persecution of Igbo Gadites by the surrounding Nigerian tribes ?

The Pseudopigraphal book, “The Testament of Gad,” has a theme of guarding ones heart against hate and murder, which would what a warrior tribe would need to balance and keep in check their war-like tendencies prophesied in the Torah.

In the book of Revelation 7:5, it says 1,200 of Gad were sealed, meaning that the tribe of Gad, lost to the Assyrian captivity and Diaspora will once again be found, and indeed a portion of them has been found in the Nigeria people of the Igbo’s. I have met the Igbo King and he wears a necklace that has a Star of David with a lion in the middle of it.

Moses tells us that when Gad’s time comes, he will utterly over take his enemies like a lion. This and Jacob’s prophecy has come to pass when Gad (Igbos) was temporarily overcome and ended up overcoming in the Nigerian Biafran War. The History of the Igbo’s and of the Jews today parallel and are practically in sync with one another. The sleeping Lion of Gad is now rousing and can only become more powerful, woe unto those who attempt to taunt this waking Lion. Moses also tells us that those who help the cause of Gad, fight on behalf of Gad will be blessed. You, just by reading this book are partaking in the unfolding of prophetic history and helping to “enlarge” Gad and therefore you will be blessed! Did you ever think that you would ever partake in any way the recovery of the “lost tribes” or be a part of prophetic history in any way!?

In Genesis 46:16 we read that three of the sons of Gad are named Eri, Areli and Arodi.

As stated earlier…

Num. 26:1-4, 15-18 And it came to pass after the plague, that the LORD spake unto Moses and unto Eleazar the son of Aaron the priest, saying, Take the sum of all the congregation of the children of Israel, from twenty years old and upward, throughout their fathers' house, all that are able to go to war in Israel. And Moses and Eleazar the priest spake with them in the plains of Moab by Jordan near Jericho, saying, Take the sum of the people, from twenty years old and upward; as the LORD commanded Moses and the children of Israel, which went forth out of the land of Egypt… The children of Gad after their families: of Zephon, the family of the Zephonites: of Haggi, the family of the Haggites: of Shuni, the family of the Shunites: Of Ozni (Ezbon), the family of the Oznites (Ezbonites): of Eri, the family of the Erites: Of Arod, the family of the Arodites: of Areli, the family of the Arelites. These are the families of the children of Gad according to those that were numbered of them, forty thousand and five hundred.

These verses tell us that at least a portion of all of Gad’s sons left with Moses and the rest of the children of Israel during the Exodus, despite the legend of a pre-exodus-exodus from Egypt by Gad’s son Eri, Areli and Arodi.

The legend and oral tradition goes that while in Egypt living among many other nations who also resided there to escape the famine that a portion of Gad’s son Eri, his younger brothers Areli and Arodi, along with Eri’s wife, Ishamal and other relatives Ijaw (believed possibly to be an offspring of Zebulun), Edo, Igala, Idoma (Possibly and likely descendants of Esau/Edom) saw the coming persecution of the future Egyptian bondage prophesied by God to Abraham in his dream during the covenant between the parts (Gen. 15) and left with an Arab man named Oduduwa (a Babylonian and said father of the Yoruba tribe of Nigeria) and his relatives and journeyed further down into Africa crossing the Nile River into Sudan (Old Ethiopia) to Chad and eventually Lokojia which is now the present day Nigeria by way of River Benue and then through the River Niger where they eventually landed in Aguleri in what is known today as Nigeria around 1305 BCE (Igbo History by Victor M.C. Eyisi pg. 2-3, 49)

This man, Oduduwa who is the Father of the Yoruba people, it should be noted here that one of his clans, the Ijebu (sounds like Igbo) indeed have Igbo traits in regards to their business saavy. It is believed that this clan is related to the Igbo in some way. Also, in Yorubaland is a town called Oke-eri, notice; “Eri” is in the name. So could have one of Eri’s descendants settled there and married into the Yoruba people?
The Igbo (also rendered: Ibo, Ibu, Ebo, Ebu, Obu etc.) tribe of Nigeria has staked claim to be the descendants of the Israeli tribal patriarch Gad. But some Swedes, Spaniards and Arabs among other peoples claim to be of Gad as well. So who is right? Who is of Gad? Can all, if any of them be of Gad? Remember Gad had sons who became the head of the clans of Gad and these clan heads could have scattered all over the world after the Assyrian captivity instead of sticking together.

GADITE APOSTLES

Bartholomew-Nathanael

If one were to list the 12 Disciples off the top of their head, it is likely that Bartholomew would either be left out and forgotten or named last, with an, “Oh yeah! I almost forgot about him!” 

Scripturally, little is known about Nathanael, better known as Bartholomew. 

Bartholomew’s real name was Nathanael bar Talmai (Nathanael son of Talmai) and from Bar Talmia we get Bartholomew. 

Nathanael means, “God has given,” and Bar Talmai or Bartholomew means, “Son of the Plowman.” 

So what do we know about this Nathanael bar Talmai (Bartholomew)? We first find his name in the book of John.

“Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see.  Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile! Nathanael saith unto him, Whence knowest thou me? Jesus answered and said unto him, Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee. Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel. Jesus answered and said unto him, Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, believest thou? thou shalt see greater things than these. And he saith unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.” – John 1:45-51

Some believe from this narrative that Phillip and Nathanael (Bartholomew) were brothers, just as Andrew and Simeon Peter were brothers and as James and John were brothers (Matt. 10:2). If they were not brothers they were extremely close friends, like unto brothers. 

“There were together Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two other of his disciples.” – John 21:2

This passage has caused some to conclude that this Nathanael (Bartholomew) of Cana in Galilee, though John 1:44 tells us that Philip was from Bethsaida (not to be confused with Bethesda) may have been brothers because if one were to investigate, Cana was likely their home town and Bethsaida (which means “House of Fishing”) was where Phillip moved to and was where he and Nathanael-Bartholomew were employed. The reason Bethsaida is connected with Philip is because this is where Philip introduces Nathanael-Bartholomew to Yeshua. The likely reason Cana is connected with Nathanael-Bartholomew is because many believe that He was the one who got married in John 2:1-11, where Yeshua preformed his first recorded miracle, at the wedding was in Cana.

In John 1:47 calling him an Israelite hints that he was from a tribe other than Levi or Judah, likely Gad, or of another tribe of the handmaids. 

In Acts 1:13 Nathanael-Bartholomew was there in the upper room with the rest of the disciples after Yeshua’s ascension. In John 21:2 he was at the sea side when Yeshua appeared unto the disciples.

So from the passages thus far what can we gather about this Nathanael-Bartholomew? 

Well, first off, Yeshua deemed him a guileless Israelite (John 1:47), meaning he shot straight from the hip, pulled no punches and told it like it was. What you see is what you get; Nathanael-Bartholomew put up no fronts. Guile in the Greek means, “subtlety, craft or deceit.” These passages also indicate that Nathanael-Bartholomew was a devoted follower of Rabbi Yeshua the Messiah and was there at crucial Gospel events involving the Master.

Even in the Catholic prayer to Bartholomew, he is praised for his guilelessness and how this is seen as a prophetic, discerning, indicative trait.

“O Glorious St. Bartholomew, Jesus called you a person without guile and you saw in this word a sign that he was the Son of God and King of Israel. Obtain for us the grace to be ever guileless and innocent as doves. At the same time, help us to have your gift of faith to see the Divine hand in the events of daily life. May we discern the signs of the times that lead to Jesus on earth and will eventually unite us to him forever in heaven.”

This combined with the scriptures we covered above, some believe (since his occupation was not spelled out in the Gospels that) he was a Torah scholar who may have specialized in the writings of the prophets and the prophecies concerning the coming of the Messiah. 

As we have already discussed, Nathanael means, “God has given,” and Bar Talmai or Bartholomew means, “Son of the Plowman.” So all together his name means, “God has given to us the son of the plowman;” meaning (if all the above is remotely true) that Nathanael was a gift to the people from God. That likely coming from a warrior tribe (Gad) he had a disciplined warrior attitude in which he channelled by turning his warriors sword into a plowshare (Isa. 2:4, Mic. 4:3) and became gifted in plowing  and turning up the rich prophetic Word of God for the people, a soil in which they could grow and flourish! His mind was a plowshare and his tongue was a prophetic, apologetical, double edged sword in which he used while on his missionary journeys to win the Lost Sheep of the House of Israel back to God. 

If Nathanael-Bartholomew was indeed a Gadite this prophetic-ness may have ran in his blood for it is believed that the Great Prophet Elijah the Tishbite of Gilead was a Gadite, for Gilead was the territory of Gad. There is also an apocryphal book called, “Gad the Seer.” 

So what does post Gospel literature say about this Nathanael-Bartholomew?  

Well, there is no mention of Nathanael-Bartholomew in such literature before Eusebius, who mentions that Pantaenus, the master of Origen, while evangelizing India, was told that the Apostle had preached there before him and had given to his converts the Gospel of Matthew written in Hebrew, which was still treasured by the Congregation. "India" was a name covering a very wide area, including even Arabia Felix. Other traditions represent Nathanael-Bartholomew as preaching in Mesopotamia, Ethiopia, Persia, Egypt, Armenia, Lycaonia, Phrygia, and on the shores of the Black Sea; one legend, it is interesting to note, identifies him with Nathaniel. His martyrdom is said to have occurred at Albanopolis in Armenia. Others say he was beheaded, still others maintain that he was flayed alive and crucified, head downward, by order of Astyages, for having converted his brother, Polymius, King of Armenia in 71 A.D. Because of this he is usually portrayed with a knife in one hand and skin of the other arm draping down to where you can see the muscle underneath. There also exists a pseudopigraphal gospel which bears his name. 

According to the Synaxarium of the Coptic Orthodox Church, his martyrdom is commemorated on the 1st day of the Coptic Calendar (1st day of the month of "Thout"), which currently falls on September 11 (corresponding to August 29 in the Gregorian Calendar). His feast is June 11 in Eastern Christianity, and August 24 in both forms of the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church.

In the Catholic Church he is thus the patron saint of shoemakers, leather workers, bookbinders and butchers. He is the patron saint against, nervous and neurological diseases. He is also the patron saint of the places he supposedly ministered and such places as Gad ended up or settled for a short time, such as Armenia, Plezn Czech Republic, Frankfurt Germany, Maastricht Netherlands to name a few. 

Recall, Yeshua did not call or send out the Disciples/Apostles to Gentile nations or peoples. He made clear that His and His Disciples/Apostles focus was to be to the Lost Ten Tribes of Israel. 

“I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” – Matt. 15:24

“…Go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” – Matt. 10:6



Rav Sha’ul (Apostle Paul) was considered the Apostle to the Gentiles (70 Nations) and confirmed that Israel should be attempted to be reached first and then the Gentile (Rom. 1:16, 2:9-10).


Why go to Lost Israel first? Because there were two Kingdoms and two Captivities. Judah, the Southern Kingdom was taken off in to Babylon and returned. Yeshua and His Disciples were apart of and constantly among them (Judah) and thus the reason Yeshua has only targeted the “Lost Sheep of the House of Israel.” The Northern Kingdom consisting of 10 Tribes of Israel was taken into Assyrian Captivity and has never returned, they never came back into the Land and thus the reason the Apostle were sent out to the Lost Tribes.  


If one will care to notice the 12 Tribes represent being gathered together. The 12 Apostles represents being sent out. Thus the Apostles are SENT to REGATHER the 12 Tribes.


Israel ENTERED the Land of Promise and is honored in the New Jerusalem by the 12 Gates according to their encampment around the Tabernacle in the wilderness. The word Apostle, means, “One who is sent,” and is honored by the Foundation Stones of the New Jerusalem. In order to see the layered foundation one must “go out” of the city in order to view them. 

Thus being said, it seems logical Yeshua would pick 12 Apostles and assign one to each Lost Tribe!

Recall what Yeshua said regarding His Talmidim (Disciples):

And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. – Matt. 19:28

That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. – Luke 22:30

12 Apostles to Rule 12 Tribes.

In James 1:1, the letter is addressed, “to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad…” which would seem to indicate that the whereabouts of the 10 Tribes of Israel were known to the Apostles of the time. But can we possibly determine if a particular Apostle was sent to a particular Tribe? 

Yeshua’s command to His Apostles before He ascended into heaven said, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen. (Matt. 28:19-20).” Coupled with the other verses above would hint that the Apostles were to go to the nations where the Lost Tribes have settled. 

If any of the Tribes whereabouts became unknown, it was prophesied that God would send out (Apostle) those to fish and hunt for them among the nations of the world.

“Behold, I will send for many fishers, saith the Lord, and they shall fish them; and after will I send for many hunters, and they shall hunt them from every mountain, and from every hill, and out of the holes of the rocks.” Jer. 16:16

In my book, “The 12/70 Principle" I go into great detail regarding what tribe each Disciple/Apostle was sent to and I believe the evidence points to Gad and or Naphtali. For all the places where it is said Nathanael-Bartholomew went to minister after Messiah’s ascension, was to places it is believed Gad and Naphtali ended up, for the Disciple/Apostle fit the character and make up of those Tribes. 

Judah Thaddeus also known as Lebbaeus son of Alpheus

Another Apostle that likely ministered to Gadites was Judas Thaddeus also known as Lebbaeus son of Alpheus. His name as a whole means:

Judas(h)/Thaddeus/Lebbaeus son of Alpheus = Praise God/Breast/Man of Heart son of a Chief 

By the names, Judah was likely an extrovert, very outspoken, brave, passionate and compassionate and it too a passionate man to reach passionate tribe of Gad. It is also believed he also ministered to Dan as well. A portion of both Gad and Dan ended in up in African countries, especially in the West and if he did travel with Simon the Zealot of Canaan, it is highly probable that this Apostle did minister to Danites and Gadites. 

It is also believed, at least by the catholic church that he was a relative of Yeshua and the one who wrote the book of Jude. The Armenian Apostolic Church honors Thaddeus along with Saint Bartholomew as its patron saints. The apostles Jude Thaddeus and Bartholomew were the first to bring the Faith to the present day nation of Armenia.

According to tradition Jude preached the Gospel in Judea, Samaria, Idumaea, Syria, Mesopotamia, Libya, Beirut and Edessa. Judah was said to have traveled and ministered often with Simon the Zealot and was crucified in 72 AD in the ancient Mesopotamian city of Edessa, others say it was 65 AD in Beirut along with Simon the Zealot.


Various Miscellaneous Witnesses

A good detective has to have witnesses and informants to be able to get to the truth and must explore every lead and interview every witness. The Internet is full of sites which speak of the Igbos being of Gad as well as many books.

“Ibo Tribe of Nigeria”

The wild landscapes of Africa, its exotic rhythms and mask dances provide the picturesque background for this tribe, who believes itself to be the descendants of the Israelite tribe of Gad.

“Outreach to Nigerian Jews by the wider Jewish world community gained official status in 1995 – 1997, when Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin sent a team to Nigeria in search of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel. Western rabbis and educators such as Rabbi Gorin have visited the community at times and Jewish communities in the West support those in Nigeria by sending books, computers, and religious articles. However, the State of Israel has, to date, not officially recognized the Igbo as one of the Lost Tribes.

Chief Anthony Enahor, Nigeria’s Commissioner of Information and Labor said at the Addis Ababa Peace Talks in August 1968 in the New York Times,  “…said that, the Biafrans were trying to convince the outside world that they are another race of Jews who want to form a state of their own because of oppression by fellow countrymen in Nigeria. Biafra’s case, the Biafrans say, has rarely been put so succinctly.” 

Israel Today originally reported in 2006 how Chief Rabbinate recognized the Ebos as sons of Israel descended from Gad. And indeed, there is an Ebo-Gad community in Tel Aviv Israel who have their own synagogue. There has been a great debate in the Israeli courts, secular and religious regarding the identity of the Igbo’s; many immigration and deportation legal battles. The argument is not necessarily are they truly of Gad, but should they be considered returnees or new converts and it was eventually decided to allow them to make Aliyah as a returning Tribe. 

Haaretz Magazine in Oct, 12, 2005 article declared the Igbos to be sons of Israel through Gad. Dr. G.T. Basden, an Anglican missionary and anthropologist, along with Prof. Elisabeth Isichei an Australian historian and Melville Merrskovits, an American writer all strongly believe there is enough evidences to link the Igbos of Nigeria to the Israeli tribe of Gad. Among Igbo authorities, Prof. O. Alezi and ex-slave Olaudah (Ikwuano) Equiano also believed without a doubt that the Igbos were descendants of Gad.

In several editions of the Encyclopedia Britannica in 1929 connects the Igbo people to Gad. A Torah commentary on Sh’mot (Exodus) in 1922 makes the Igbo-Gad connection also.

Godfrey Chukwuneke and M. Okoye said in an edition of African Readers Digest, Igbos are Not Nigerians” Vol. 1 No. 4, 1993, “That the Igbos are part of the lost tribes of Israel or at least mixed with some Jewish tribes in remote antiquity.” 

Israel Nigerian Ambassador Noah Katz said of the Igbo, “I am sure Igbo are descendants of Jews.” This quote was posted in the Nigeria Daily Sun March 28, 2004

“The History of the Igbos as Revealed to Innocent Okorie, A Stigmatist” who, while in a trance like state during the Holy Week reported that Rabbi Yeshua (Jesus) came to him and told him that the Igbos and the Efiks first arrived in Nigeria in 638 BCE after the exile of the Israelites in 718 BCE. And that the original town of the Igbos was Schechenigbo in Judea. 

G.T. Basden 

Anglican Missionary G.T. Basden was so sure of the Igbos being of Israel he told coming missionaries to familiarize themselves with the Old Testament Law so as to better witness to the Igbo, because the Igbo lived like ancient Israelites. His superiors believed G.T. Basden’s reports that they instructed him and other missionaries not to tell this truth to the Igbo for fear of losing them to Judaism. In fact, the Anglican missionaries tried to teach them to stop observing many of their Jewish like practices and so the argument some have that the missionaries taught them how to live like Jews is absurd. Igbos clearly lived this way long before the white man or missionaries ever came to their shores.

Olaudah (Ikwuano) Equiano

Olaudah (Ikwuano) Equiano in his fascinating autobiography called, “The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano” who was a slave that eventually gained his freedom goes in to great detail in the first couple chapters of his book and compares the Igbo way of life to that of the Children of Israel. Mind you that his recollections are as a child before the Igbo ever met a white man or a missionary. 

He talks of his father being a chief in his tribe and the way he describes the council of chief’s sounds much like Moses and the 70 elders of Israel. It sounds like a Jewish Sanhedrin.  He speaks of kidnapping considered a serious crime and although the Torah (5 books of Moses) calls for the death penalty (Exd. 21:16, Deut. 24:7) The Igbos instead keep the spirit of the Law and had to pay a life for a life. For kidnapping the Igbo require a slave given to the victim of kidnapping for recompense. Equiano says that Adultery among the Igbo was met with the death penalty and this is just as the Torah demands (Deut. 5:18, 22:22, Lev, 20:10-12). He speaks of the Igbo having polygamist marriages and we know the Biblical Patriarchs had more than one wife also. Olaudah also told his reader that the Igbo had arranged marriages and this too is found in Hebrew culture Abraham had Isaacs marriage arranged as well as Judah did with his sons and we could go on regarding the examples of arranged marriages in the Bible in regards to the Children of Israel.

Olaudah Equiano also spoke of public celebration of song and dance on victories and special occasions and this to me is reminiscent of Miriam and the women singing, dancing and playing musical instruments after crossing the Red Sea and Pharaoh and his men drown. Also David singing and dancing before all Israel after the Ark came into the city, to the chagrin of his wife Michal which was Saul’s daughter. Also we must recall how the Kenaniah of the Levites would sing and dance before a battle (like the Amerindian war & rain dances). 

He also spoke of the musical instruments they have and use and it resembles the instruments of Psalm 150.

Olaudah also spoke of the way the Igbo dress and how blue was the favorite color of the Igbo and blue is a very important color to the Hebrew, for it is traditionally thought of as the color of the throne room of God as well the thread worn in fringes the Jewish prayer shawl. 

He went on to speak of the social structure and how men worked the fields separate from women, as we see with Cain, Jacob, Esau and Boaz and women  would make and dye garments and this is described for us as proper or Hebrew women in Proverbs 31 and with Dorcus in Acts 9:38,39. Women would also make clay pots too.

It is common knowledge that Jews only eat certain animals which they deem clean and Equiano lists these same animals. The Igbo ate kosher just like the Jews! He also mentions that they were not cannibals. Obviously neither are Jews.  

Then Olaudah goes on to say how the head of the family usually ate alone apart from his wives as we see done in Genesis 27 with Isaac. He also takes great pains to mention that before they eat they wash their hands as has been the custom of Jews to this day.  In Gen. 27:15 we read of Rebecca having her own tent separate from her husband. 

The Igbos were also makers of wholesome perfumes reminiscent of that which is in the Scriptures regarding such Exodus 30:25, 35, 37:29

“In the middle stands the principal building, appropriated to the sole use of the master, and consisting of two apartments; in one of which he sits in the day with his family, the other is left apart for reception of his friends. He has besides these a distinct apartment, in which he sleeps. Together with his male children.” -  “The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano” pg. 9-10

This is precisely like Abram when he entertained visitors. Sarah had a parlor and Abram entertained quests in another parlor of the tent.

“And the Lord appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day… And they said unto him, Where is Sarah thy wife? And he said, Behold, in the tent. And he said, I will certainly return unto thee according to the time of life; and, lo, Sarah thy wife shall have a son. And Sarah heard it in the tent door, which was behind him.” – Gen. 18:1, 9-10

Together with his male children.” -  “The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano” pg. 10

This is like what we read in Luke 11:7

“And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee.”

Olaudah Equiano then proceeds to describe the more semi-permanent Igbo dwellings and how they are plastered, etc. and how he described them was much like the way the Torah describes the Israelite dwelling places in the Promised Land, because the Torah speaks too of plastered dwellings and how to properly maintain them (Lev. 14). He goes on to describe the sleeping mats and they are similar if not the same as we read in Mark 2:11-12 and John 5:9-12. He also speaks of stationary style beds such as is found in Mark 7:30, Heb. 13:4, Gen. 48:2, 49:4, 33, I Sam. 28:23.

Ironically seeing Olaudah was a slave, the Igbos also had slaves, especially acquired from war just as the Israelites did as described to us in the Scriptures (Deut. 20:10-17, Josh. 9:21).

He goes on to say that the Igbo had no beggars and this is because their agricultural practices mirrored that of the Torah and the book of Ruth. 

Equiano also speaks of how highly prized a woman’s virginity was just as we find it among the ancient Hebrews. He spoke of the modesty of the Igbo women and it reminded me how it is recorded how modest Sarah and Rebecca were (Gen. 18:1. 9-10, 24:64-65).

After a battle Olaudah told of how the leader of the opposing side would be taken prisoner and publically executed just as we read Moses, Joshua and Samuel had done to the leaders of the enemies of Israel. He then goes on and speaks of how the spoils of war was divided up and how the prisoners of war were kept as slaves and we find that it is in line with what we read in Deut. 20: 10-17 (and in the Book of Mormon).

“As to religion, the natives believe that there is one Creator of all things…” - “The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano” pg. 15

This too lines up with Hebraic Scripture.

 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord. – Deut. 6:4

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. – Gen. 1:1

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. – John 1:1

“…and that he lives in the sun…” (similar to the LDS believe) - “The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano” pg. 15

God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. – I John 1:5

And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem. And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. – Acts 9:1-5

And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it… And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever. – Rev. 21:23-24, 22:5

“…and is girded round with a belt…” -“The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano” pg. 15

In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. – Isa. 6:1

“…that he may never eat or drink…” -“The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano” pg. 15
God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. – John 4:24

Further along he tells how the Igbo believe in the transmigration of souls, a type of reincarnation which the early Jews and Christians both believed and many Jews still believe today and they actually call it the transmigration of souls.

Olaudah then speaks of how the Igbo recons a day by sundown and the calendar by the moon, and how they celebrate with a festival, the new moon just as Jews do. He tells of agricultural festivals that sound very much like Sukkot and Shavuot (the Feast of Tabernacles and the Feast of Weeks/Pentecost). He mentions a feast that involves the consumption bitter herbs like Jews do during Passover. He confirms that the Igbo practices circumcision and a naming ceremony as is done in Israel among the Jews. This causes him to mention his own name, Olaudah (which by the way is a corruption of Yehudah or Judah) but means fortunate, and the Igbo are from the Tribe of Gad and what does Gad mean? FORTUNE! He goes on to say how names were always spoken with reverence. This reminds me of how Jews do not disrespect a Hebrew name, especially the Name of God. He said is a curse was pronounced over someone their name was not used, but something was said directly to the person, “May you rot, or may you swell, or may a beast take you.” This sounds very much the way David and others cursed their enemies in the Scriptures.

Next Equiano goes on to describe washing ceremonies which in Hebrew are called a Mikvah and in Christianity a Baptism after one has come in contact with a dead person or a woman after her menstrual cycle.

“I have before remarked, that the natives of this part of Africa are extremely cleanly. This necessary habit of decency was with us apart of religion, and therefore we had many purifications and washings; indeed almost as many, and used on the same occasions, if my recollection doeas not fail me, as the Jews. Those that touched the dead…women too, at certain times, was forbidden to to come into a dwelling-house, or touch any person, or anything we eat…” -“The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano” pg. 17

The Igbo priests were described by Equiano as like the Levitcal Priests in the Bible. He said they wore beards and that their sons succeeded them when they died. We find this to be true of Numbers 20:23-29.  He said these priests were like doctors too and Leviticus 13-14 tells of the Levitical Priests functioning in this capacity too. He also mentions a curious ceremony regarding jealously and we find a curious ceremony in the Scriptures that deals with this also, in Num. 5:11-31.

Olaudah Equiano is quoted to say things like:

“…the manner and custom of my countrymen, and those of the Jews, before they reached the Promised Land… Like the Israelites in their primitive state…” -“The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano” pg. 19-20

Not only confirm his feelings of the Israelite origin of the Igbo, but that the Igbo from Gad likely came before or during their wandering in the Wilderness prior to reaching the Promised Land!

He is quoted to say regarding the Igbo governmental structure:

“Like the Israelites in their primitive state…” -“The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano” pg. 20

 He says the Igbo religion and their religious calendar is like that of Israel:

“…even their religion… we had also our sacrifices and burnt offerings, our washings and purifications, on the same occasions as they had” -“The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano” pg. 20

There is no denying that the way of life, the culture and customs of the Igbo were just like that of Israel which can only mean, just a detailed and ordered way of life can only mean one thing, that the Igbo are Israelites! 

Prof. Chinua Achebe

This man, the great Igbo story teller wrote fictitious stories based on the facts of Igbo life and custom. I will parallel such customs to that of the Israelites from his three monumental works, often called the Great African Trilogy; Things Fall Apart, No Longer at Ease and Arrow of God. 

Things Fall Apart

Things Fall Apart, though fictions full of insightful things regarding Igbo culture. Unoka, Okonkwo’s father said, “That whenever he saw a dead man’s mouth he saw the folly of not eating what one had in one’s lifetime.” Judaism teaches it is a sin not to enjoy what God has given for us to enjoy.

Unoka loves the song the children sang to welcome birds back to the area. This is like the chant, like the blessing Jews pronounce in Judaism over various natural events such as birds returning in the Spring.

Breaking the Kola Nut is like breaking bread in Judaism. Okoye a friend of Unoka said, “He who brings Kola brings life.” And bread in Judaism is regarded in like manner.

“Among the Ibo the art of conversation is regarded very highly and proverbs are palm oil with which words are eaten.” Jewish Rabbi’s and Sages feel the same way and the Proverbs of Solomon and much of the Talmud, especially the Perkei Avot is virtually all proverbial sayings that teaches us great and essential things.

“Fortunately among the people a man was judged according to his worth and not according to the worth of his father.” This is like Deut. 24:16

The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin.

Achebe said that the Igbo elders wore beards as do Elders in Judaism.

The “Oracle of the Hills and the Caves” is similar to the consultation of the Urim and Thumim of the Levitical Priests.

The seven year locust came and the village of Umuofia was excited because they knew they could eat them and in the Torah it deems such insects as okay to eat and we see Yeshua (Jesus) the Messiah’s cousin John the Baptist who was of the Priestly house of Levi eat locust too. (Lev. 11:22, Matt 3:4).

There is a fine spoken of man whose cow got loose and trampled a neighbor’s crop. This is likewise found in the Torah.

"If anyone grazes their livestock in a field or vineyard and lets them stray and they graze in someone else's field, the offender must make restitution from the best of their own field or vineyard.” – Exd. 22:5
“A man’s life from birth to death was a series of transition rites which brought him nearer and nearer to his ancestors.” This sentiment is an equally shared belief in Judaism. 

Drinking horns are mentioned quite often in the book and it is no coincidence that horns in Judaism were used to drink from and hold oil and at times used to pour out a libation to the LORD (like the Viking Israelites). 

When Okonkwo came to his mother’s land in exile, he was welcomed. Seven years later he departed and the elders blessed him when they broke Kola. We read from Genesis on to today, that in Judaism, children and relatives are blessed when they leave a community and strike out on their own. Likewise if someone is exiled they go to their mother’s people as Jacob went to Laban, his mother’s brother when running from his brother Esau.

There is also a film adaptation to Things Fall Apart and we see young men and women and children bow in respect to their elders when greeting them especially when Okonkwo brought his family before his uncle. We see in Scripture that Moses bowed before Jethro his father-in-law (Exodus 18:7) Jacob and his children bowed before his elder brother Esau (Gen.33:7) and Joseph bowed before Jacob his father (Gen. 48:12). This is most definitely an ancient Hebraic custom we see demonstrated in the Igbo culture.  

Okonkwo, for accidental homicide was exiled for seven years in his mother’s homeland which is similar to, as we have previously mentioned, Jacob running to Laban, his mother’s people and we see this as similar in concept the cities of refuge (Num. 35). 

During a marital ceremony Unchendu’s eldest daughter Njide asked the bride-to-be to answer her truthfully or she would suffer or even die in child birth. This time of questioning was to see if she was till a virgin; hence, if she saved herself for her future husband. The Bride-to-be had to swear upon the patriarchal ancestral staff truthfully to answer and then a hen was sacrificed. This is in some ways like unto the bitter water ceremony when a husband suspects his betrothed or wife of unfaithfulness (Numbers 5).

Uchendu mentions a child belonging to his father’s family which is Hebraic.

In many of the blessings said in Things Fall Apart, during the blessing of the Kola, one is to ask for health and children and not monetary wealth. If one has children, wealth will come naturally. This is a very Hebraic concept as more importance is placed on family and not riches. We see the Biblical Patriarchs naturally prosper when one obeyed God and put family first. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were rich but greater emphasis was placed on family and the continuance of the family line. 

No Longer at Ease

Unity and community is so strong in the Igbo culture that one rushes to the aid of a fellow Igbo in trouble regardless if they disagree with him or have questions about him as with Obi Okonkwo and the Umofia Progressive Union.  “A kinsman in trouble had to be saved, not blamed; anger against a brother was felt in the flesh, not in the bone.” Just as Israel and the Benjamites in the book of Judges Chapter 20. 

Just as the Israelites, Igbo men desire sons to carry on the family name and the Igbo culture. In No Longer at Ease, of Obi’s father before he was born said, “Obi Okwonko was indeed an only palm fruit. His full name was Obiajulu – ‘the mind at last is at rest’; the mind being his fathers of course, who, his wife having borne him four daughters before Obi… called his fourth daughter Nwanyidinma – ‘a girl is also good.’ But his voice did not carry conviction.”

Like Israelites one was expected to marry in Israel and not seek gentile wives, as it is said in No Longer at Ease by Mr. Ikedi, “… ‘I have heard of young men from other towns who went to the white man’s country, but instead of facing their studies, they went after the sweet things of the flesh. Some of them even married white women.’ The crowd murmured its strong disapproval at such behavior, a man who does that is lost to his people…”

Achebe said in No Longer at Ease regarding an Igbo song “Oyiemu” for a man to seize and kill his in-law, “To the Ibo mind it was the height of treachery. Did not the elders say that a man’s in-law was his chi, his personal god?” This reminds me of the respect and affection Moses had for his father-in-law Jethro 

And Moses went out to meet his father in law, and did obeisance, and kissed him; and they asked each other of [their] welfare; and they came into the tent.  - Exd. 18:7

The character Ogbuefi Odogwo said, “When a titled man dies his anklets of his title are cut so that he will return as he came…” This is very similar to the Jewish custom of cutting the fringes off of the prayer shawl that a Jewish man is buried in.

The splitting of the Ikenga in two occurs after the death of an Igbo. One half is buried, the other half thrown away, symbolizing somewhat of the goats of Yom Kippur. One is to atone for sin and one is to carry off sin into the wilderness. The Ikenga buried with the man is a witness to his good deeds in life and the half thrown away takes his misdeeds into the desolate place of the evil forest to be remembered no more. 

Arrow of God

In the opening line of Achebe’s book, “Arrow of God” it says, “This was the third nightfall since he began to look for signs of the new moon.”  Igbos keep a Lunar calendar just as Jews do. The paragraph that follows speaks of the sighting the new moon being announced by drums, flutes and messengers that were sent to all the Igbo communities. In ancient Israel this was done in much the same way, they celebrated with instruments, set bonfires on high hills and sent messengers to other Jewish communities to officially announce the sighting of the new moon.

Ezeulu said, “Moon may your face meeting mine bring good fortune…” This is the way the Igbo man in Achebe’s story blessed the sighting of the new moon and in Judaism there is a blessing for the new moon as well. After the blessing Ezeulu prayed a prayer at his shrine that is very similar to the blessing of the new moon found in all Jewish prayer books.

Ezeulu who was a chief priest ansd who spotted the moon said, that, “he did not choose the day (of the festival). He was merely a watchmen.” – italics mine. This is the attitude of Israel regarding the calendar and the Holy Days contained in it. Ezeulu also dreams of children welcoming the new moon. As mentioned before this is what is done in Judaism, the welcoming and blessing of the new moon.


In Chapter one of Arrow of God, the character Ezeulu laments a curse on his son Obika who beat up Ibe his brother-n-law for beating his sister Akueke. This is likened to Jacob’s curse of Levi and Simeon for killing Shekem and his people for the rape of their sister Dinah (Gen. 34; 49:5-7) and also likened unto David's curse upon his son for killing his brother who raped his sister (II Sam. 13).

Regarding the Younger son of Ezeulu named Nuafo, “Although he was only a little boy he had the mind of an adult, he could tell when someone looked at him with a good eye or with a bad.” In Judaism the concept of a good and bad or evil eye is very prevalent and many traditions and rituals surround escaping the bad or evil eye (the poor Falasha Jews were regarded in Ethiopia as the ones of the evil eye & consequently they were persecuted. Gypsies are considered Israelites & have developed an erroneous tradition related to the evil eye).

Edogo when he became of marriage age and was financially secure, he took a wife and built a small two hut compound up against the wall of Ezeulu’s compound. Achebe mentions that this was only temporary because he would inherit the large compound of his father when he passed.  This too is in accordance with Hebaric tradition, a Hebrew man would not marry until he was able to care for a wife and he built his home on his father’s land and the son would also inherit the land when his father died.

We read the evidence of a woman’s virginity as found in the Torah (Deut. 22:13-21) mainly from the blood of the torn hymen (similar tradition to that of the Gypsies) after intercourse was also important to the Igbo as found in chapter 12 of Arrow of God.

We find in Arrow of God that the Igbo women called their husbands lord just as Sarah called Abraham lord, “Like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her lord. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.” – I Peter 3:6

Obika’s wife becomes pregnant and Obika “no longer went into her.” This concept is Jewish and is seen in the instance of Joseph and Mary.

And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS. – Matt. 1:25

Ezeulu’s youngest son was called by his sister and others “anthill nose” in derision, but this is reminiscent of the legend of Eri, son of Gad, the progenitor of the Igbo people having a pointed nose like an anthill which in Eri’s day was seen as a mark of beauty. 

Igbo Messianic Rabbi; Rabbi Gavriel Ogugua

A Messianic Igbo Rabbi, Rabbi Gavriel Ogugua from Nigeria and founder of Key of David Ministries and Redeem Israel Tabernacle, who now resides in Florida wrote:

“I was doing my morning devotion; the Lord led me to read from the book of Genesis: “The sons of Gad were Ziphion, Haggi, Shuni, Ezbon, Eri, Arodi, and Areli” (Genesis 46:16). As I read this verse, the name Eri literally jumped out of the book and hit me in the face! 

I thought, what if this whole dream, and the accompanied Torah verse of Genesis 46:16, which confirmed it, were all a figment of my imagination? Who will believe my report since there is no so called “empirical evidence?” Could any other human being still alive ever corroborate this finding? These questions, and many others, ran through my mind even as I felt a tingling of excitement in my heart. When I arrived at my office that morning, I telephoned two Nigerian friends of mine. First, I called Attorney Innocent Chinweze (from Aguleri) and inquired of him if the name Eri meant anything to him and his town folks. He informed me that Eri was the first Hebrew man to settle in Nigeria. Eri was the father of Aguleri and other sons who together became great ancestors of the Ibos. The compound where Eri settled in Aguleri is called Obu Gad and has become a historic site in Aguleri. Obu Gad when translated from Ibo language means, “The Compound of Gad.” Attorney Innocent Chinweze shared a great multitude of facts with me concerning His Royal Majesty, Eze A.E Chukwuemeka-Eri, Ezeora 34th & Aka Ji Ofor Igbo the Traditional Ruler of Enugwu Aguleri who was ordained king at 21 years of age. To my amazement, he informed me that in 1995, a number of Jewish Rabbis came to Nigeria in search of their lost brother, Eri. Their search took them to Aguleri where there was a very emotional ceremony and reunion of kindred.

Secondly, I contacted my other friend born in Umueri, a neighboring town of Aguleri in Nigeria. Felix Eziagulu confirmed much of what Attorney Innocent Chinweze narrated to me. “Out of the mouth of two or three witnesses, the Counsel of the Lord is established.” I wondered why no one ever told me about Eri while I lived in Nigeria. In fact, I wondered why throughout my entire educational career in Nigeria, achieving to the master’s level, I never came across any literature or individual who knew about this and why the information was never shared with me from the time of my birth to the writing of my testimony. Also, I pondered whether my father (Late) Gabriel Udeorah Ogugua (O-goo-gwa) knew about this, and why he never shared the information with his son. Astonished by the account of Eri and the Ancestral Hebrew Heritage of the Ibos, I decided to visit my Dad and the people of Aguleri in December of 2003. Sadly, on October 2, 2003, just a few days after I received the revelation and made plans, I was devastated when I received a call from Nigeria. My father had moved on to be with God on October 1, 2003!! Grieved by the loss of my father because of who he was in my life, and the lost opportunity to explore the one question that meant everything – Eri. I asked the Lord why he chose to take my father home at the time He did. To my greatest astonishment, the Lord impressed upon my heart that the business concerning Eri and the Heritage of the Ibos is between Him and me and not between me and my earthly father. I “sucked it up” and went home on November 23, 2003 to bury my father. On the night of November 24, 2003, my first night in Nigeria, the Lord spoke to me in the following words, 

“Reveal My name to My people according to the Tabernacle of David and you shall declare the Year of Jubilee in the land.”

The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob wanted to reveal Himself to the Ibos afresh as ‘Chukwu Abiama’ (God of Abraham) through a renewed revelation of Yeshua ben David (Jesus, son of David).” – Rabbi Gavriel Ogugua 

The State of Israel

A good detective will take notice of who else takes notice of the suspect or victim one is researching or tracking. Depending upon the caliber of people seeking out the same person you are could attest to the person of interest’s worth and credibility of rumored claims regarding them.
We know since at least 1789 CE that Jews have been interested in the possible Igbo-Israel connection when a former Igbo slave named Olauda Equiano, living in London first proposed the Igbo-Israel relationship in his autobiography. Some Igbos, including a Dr. Ikedife recalls Israelis visiting Igboland and investigating such claims during the Biafran War.

Prophecy states:

Jer. 16:14-16 Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that it shall no more be said, The LORD liveth, that brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; But, The LORD liveth, that brought up the children of Israel from the land of the north, and from all the lands whither he had driven them: and I will bring them again into their land that I gave unto their fathers. Behold, I will send for many fishers, saith the LORD, and they shall fish them; and after will I send for many hunters, and they shall hunt them from every mountain, and from every hill, and out of the holes of the rocks. 

It basically says that a hunt would be on one day for the lost tribes scattered abroad. This prophecy has been and is still being fulfilled.

Under direction of Israeli Prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, in October of 1995 and in May 1997 under Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli government sent delegates, looking for a long lost brother Eri. They went to Nigeria, state to state, town to town, tribe to tribe, quietly observed to see if any recognizable Hebraic traits or customs will pop out. When they made it to Obu-Gad their search ended as they saw the Igbo there display Hebraic-ness in their culture. They even saw the ancient stone throne of Gad and immediately recognized the script at the foot of the throne as Paleo-Hebrew. They also visited many sites that have been connected to Eri and the Igbo people. This was documented on film and later shown on Israeli Television. I have been given a DVD copy of this documentary by Eze A.E. Chukuwuemeka-Eri.


On March 28th 1996 Israeli Ambassador to Nigeria visited Nri and cried acknowledging that the Igbo’s were among the Lost Tribes of Israel. Before he left he gave Eze Nri a gift of olives and oil stating that such gifts were only given to Kings of Israel.

In October 23rd 1997 Yitzhaq David an American Jew and Program Director of King Solomon Sephardic Federation was televised visiting the King in Nwewi (Also a King I have personally visited myself, pictured below), Igwe Kenneth Orizu III. It was said during that visit by Zagi David, another delegate which came with the K.S.S.F. “After much research work on the origin of the Igbos, the archaeological findings indicate that Israel is the true home and they should make a quick come back for historical reunion.”

Today in Israel there is an Igbo synagogue in Tel Aviv. The problem is not necessarily are Igbo’s Hebrews, the issue is how the Israeli government recognize will recognize those Igbo who make Aliyah to Israel. For now they return as converts, but the Igbos want to return being officially recognized as Hebrews. Converts would imply they were never really of Gad, they want to officially be recognized as a Lost Tribe who has been found and is coming home.

As you can plainly see, it is not just a select few that are proclaiming the Igbos as a Hebrews, nor is it just Igbo’s, but Igbos, Nigerians, Israelis, Whitemen, Christians and Jews all stating their believe and evidences which led them to believe that the Igbos are indeed Hebrews; and we know what the Scriptures state:

“…At the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established.” – Deut. 19:15

Kingdom of Nri

The Kingdom of Nri (Igbo: 'Ọ̀ràézè Ǹrì') (948–1911) was the West African medieval state of the Nri-Igbo, a subgroup of the Igbo people. The Kingdom of Nri was unusual in the history of world government in that its leader exercised no military power over his subjects. The kingdom existed as a sphere of religious (the Nris are the priests of the Ibos after all) and political influence over a third of Igboland, and was administered by a priest-king called the eze Nri. The eze Nri managed trade and diplomacy on behalf of the Igbo people, and possessed divine authority in religious matters.

The kingdom was a safe haven for all those who had been rejected in their communities and also a place where slaves were set free from their bondage. Nri expanded through converts (the absorption of the surrounding black peoples made Igbos darker) gaining neighboring communities' allegiance, not by force. Nri's royal founder, Eri, is said to be a 'sky being' (just the opposite of going to Israel is ascending or aliyah) that came down to earth and then established civilization. One of the better-known remnants of the Nri civilization is its art, as manifested in the Igbo Ukwu bronze items.

Nri's culture had permanently influenced the Northern and Western Igbo, especially through religion and taboos. British colonialism, the Atlantic slave trade and the rise of Bini and Igala kingdoms, contributed to the decline of the Nri Kingdom. The Nri Kingdom is going through a cultural revival.

Nri's area of influence (green) with West Africa's modern borders

The Nri kingdom is considered to be a center of Igbo culture. Nri and Aguleri, where the Umueri-Igbo creation myth originates, are in the territory of the Umeuri clan, who trace their lineages back to the patriarchal king-figure, Eri. Eri's origins are unclear, though he has been described as a "sky being" sent (him or a descendent was sent by God, but he was a regular human being) by Chukwu (God). He is credited with first giving societal order to the people of Anambra. Nri history may be divided into six main periods: the pre-Eri period (before 948 CE), the Eri period (948—1041 CE), migration and unification (1042—1252 CE), the heyday of Nri hegemony (1253—1679 CE), hegemony decline and collapse (1677—1936 CE) and the Socio-culture Revival (1974—Present).

Archaeological evidence suggests that Nri hegemony in Igboland may go back as far as the 9th century, and royal burials have been unearthed dating to at least the 10th century. Eri, the god-like founder of Nri, is believed to have settled the region around 948, with other related Igbo cultures following after in the 13th century. The first eze Nri (King of Nri), Ìfikuánim, follows directly after him. According to Igbo oral tradition, his reign started in 1043. At least one historian puts Ìfikuánim's reign much later, around 1225 AD.

In 1911, the names of 19 eze Nri were recorded, but the list is not easily converted into chronological terms because of long interregnums between installations. Tradition held that at least seven years would pass upon the death of the eze Nri before a successor could be determined; the interregnum served as a period of divination of signs from the deceased eze Nri, who would communicate his choice of successor from beyond the grave in the seven or more years ensuing upon his death. Regardless of the actual date, this period marks the beginning of Nri kingship as a centralized institution.

Colonization and expansion of the kingdom of Nri was achieved by sending mbùríchi, or converts, to other settlements. Allegiance to the eze Nri was obtained not by military force but through ritual oath (it resembles biblical oaths). Religious authority was vested in the local king, and ties were maintained by traveling mbùríchi. By the 14th century, Nri influence extended well beyond the nuclear northern Igbo region to Igbo settlements on the west bank of the Niger and communities affected by the Benin Empire. There is strong evidence to indicate Nri influence well beyond the Igbo region to Benin and Southern Igala areas like Idah. At its height, the kingdom of Nri had influence over roughly a third of Igboland and beyond. It reached its furthest extent between 1100 and 1400.

Eastern Hemisphere at the end of the 9th century AD showing Nri and other civilizations.

Nri's hegemony over much of Igboland lasted from the reigns of the fourth eze Nri to that of the ninth. After that, patterns of conflict emerged that existed from the tenth to the fourteenth reigns, which probably reflected the monetary importance of the slave trade. Outside-world influence was not going to be halted by native religious doctrine in the face of the slave trade's economic opportunities. Nri hegemony declined after the start of the 18th century. Still, it survived in a much-reduced, and weakened form until 1911. In 1911, British troops forced the reigning eze Nri to renounce the ritual power of the religion known as the ìkénga, ending the kingdom of Nri as a political power.

Nearly all communities in Igboland were organized according to a title system. Igbo west of the Niger River and on its east bank developed kingship, governing states such as Aboh, Onitsha and Oguta, their title Obi. The Igbo of Nri, on the other hand, developed a state system sustained by ritual power.

The Kingdom of Nri was a religio-polity, a sort of theocratic state, that developed in the central heartland of the Igbo region. The Nri had a taboo symbolic code with six types. These included human (such as twins), animal, object, temporal, behavioral, speech and place taboos. The rules regarding these taboos were used to educate and govern Nri's subjects. This meant that, while certain Igbo may have lived under different formal administration, all followers of the Igbo religion had to abide by the rules of the faith and obey its representative on earth, the eze Nri.

A tender palm frond was a symbol of Nri

An important symbol among the Nri religion was the omu, a tender palm frond, used to sacralize and restrain. It was used as protection for traveling delegations or safeguarding certain objects; a person or object carrying an omu twig was considered protected. The influence of these symbols and institutions extended well beyond Nri, and this unique Igbo socio-political system proved capable of controlling areas wider than villages or towns.

For many centuries, the people within the Nri hegemony were committed to peace. This religious pacifism was rooted in a belief that violence was an abomination which polluted the earth. Instead, the eze Nri could declare a form of excommunication from the odinani Nri against those who violated specific taboos. Members of the Ikénga could isolate entire communities via this form of ritual siege.

The eze Nri was the title of the ruler of Nri with ritual and mystic (but not military) power. He was a ritual figure rather than a king in the traditional sense. The eze Nri was chosen after an interregnum period while the electors waited for supernatural powers to manifest in the new eze Nri. He was installed after a symbolic journey to Aguleri on the Anambra River. There, he would supposedly use magical powers to collect stones from under the water, undergo a symbolic burial and exhumation, then finally be anointed with white clay, a symbol of purity. Upon his death, he was buried seated in a wood-lined chamber. The eze Nri was in all aspects a divine ruler.

While the eze Nri lived relatively secluded from his followers, he employed a group of Jesuit-like officials called ndi Nri. These were ritual specialists, easily identifiable by facial scarifications or ichi, who traveled with ritual staffs of peace in order to purify the earth from human crimes. The ndi Nri exercised authority over wide areas of Igboland and had the power to install the next eze Nri.

Areas under Nri influence, called Odinani Nri, were open to Ndi Nri traveling within them to perform rituals and ensure bountiful harvest or restore harmony in local affairs. Local men within the odinani Nri could represent the eze Nri and share his moral authority by purchasing a series of ranked titles called Ozo and Nze. Men with these titles were known as mbùríchi and became an extension of the Nri's religio-political system. They controlled the means for agriculture and determined guilt or innocence in disputes.

Both the Ndi Nri priests and mbùríchi nobility belonged to the Ikénga, the right hand. The Ìkénga god was one dedicated to achievement and power, both of which were associated with the right hand (the red right hand is a symbol related to Judah's son Zara).

Nri maintained its vast authority well into the 16th century. The peace mandated by the Nri religion and enforced by the presence of the mbùríchi allowed trade to flourish. Items such as horses, which did not survive in tsetse fly-infested Nri, and seashells, which would have to be transported a long ways due to Nri's distance from the coast, have been found depicted in Nri's bronze. A Nri dignitary was unearthed with ivory, also indicating a wealth in trade existed among the Nri. Another source of income would have been the income brought back by traveling mbùríchi.

Unlike in many African economies of the period, Nri did not practice slave ownership or trade. Certain parts of the Nri domain, like Agukwu, did not recognize slavery and served as a sanctuary. After the selection of the tenth eze Nri, any slave who stepped foot on Nri soil was considered free.

Nri had a network of internal and external trade, which its economy was partly based on. Other aspects of Nri's economy were hunting and agriculture. Eri, the sky being, was the first to 'count' the days by their names, eke, oye, afor and nkwo, which were the names of their four governing spirits. Eri revealed the opportunity of time to the Igbo, who would use the days for exchanging goods and knowledge.

Igbo-Ukwu, a part of the kingdom about nine miles from Nri itself, practiced bronze casting techniques using elephant-head motifs. The bronzes of Igbo-Ukwu are often compared to those of Ife and Benin, but they come from a different tradition and are associated with the eze Nri. In fact, the earliest body of Nigerian bronzes has been unearthed in Igbo territory to the east of the Niger River at a site dated to the 9th century, making it (and, by extension, Nri) older than Ife.

It appears that Nri had an artistic as well as religious influence on the lower Niger. Sculptures found there are bronze like those at Igbo-Ukwu. The great sculptures of the Benin Empire, by contrast, were almost always brass with, over time, increasingly greater percentages of zinc added.

                      9th century bronze vessel in form of a snail shell excavated in Igbo-Ukwu

Religious beliefs were central to the Kingdom of Nri. Nri oral tradition states that a bounty of yams and cocoyams could be given to the eze Nri, while blessings were given in return. It was believed that Nri's influence and bountiful amount of food was a reward for the ruler's blessings. Above all, Nri was a holy land for those Igbo who followed its edicts. It served as a place where sins and taboos could be absolved just by entering it. Even Igbo living far from the center of power would send abnormal children to Nri for ritual cleansing rather than having them killed, as was sometimes the case for dwarfs or children who cut their top teeth before their lower teeth.

Nri people believed that the sun was the dwelling place of Anyanwu (Light) and Agbala (Fertility). Agbala was the collective spirit of all holy beings (human and nonhuman). Agbala was the perfect agent of Chukwu or Chineke (the Creator God) and chose its human and nonhuman agents only by their merit; it knew no politics. It transcended religion, culture and gender, and worked with the humble and the truthful. They believed Anyanwu, The Light, to be the symbol of human perfection that all must seek and Agbala was entrusted to lead man there.

Nri tradition was based on the concept of peace, truth and harmony. It spread this ideology through the ritualistic Ozo traders who maintained Nri influence by traveling and spreading Nri practices such as the "Ikenga" to other communities. Nri believed in cleansing and purifying the earth (a supernatural force to Nri called Ana and Ajana) of human abominations and crimes.

The Igu Aro festival (counting of the year) was a royal festival the eze Nri used to maintain his influence over the communities under his authority. Each of these communities sent representatives to pay tribute during the ceremony to show their loyalty. At the end the Eze Nri would give the representatives a yam medicine and a blessing of fertility for their communities. The festival was seen as a day of peace and certain activities were prohibited such as the planting of crops before the day of the ceremony, the splitting of wood and unnecessary noise. Igu Aro was a regular event that gave an opportunity for the eze to speak directly to all the communities under him.

Ritual scarification in Nri was known as Ichi of which there are two styles; the Nri style, and the Agbaja style. In the Nri style, the carved line ran from the center of the forehead down to the chin. A second line ran across the face, from the right cheek to the left. This was repeated to obtain a pattern meant to imitate the rays of the sun. In the Agbaja style, circles and semicircular patterns are added to the initial incisions to represent the moon. These scarifications were given to the representatives of the eze Nri; the mbùríchi. The scarification's were Nri's way of honoring the sun that they worshiped and was a form of ritual purification.

An Igbo man with facial marks of nobility known as Ichi

Scarification (scarification & tattooing were clearly forbidden in the Torah to the House of Israel, but the Israelites couldn't care less) had its origins in Nri mythology. Nri, the son of Eri who established the town of Nri, was said to have pleaded to Chukwu (the Great God) because of hunger. Chukwu then ordered him to cut off his first son's and daughter's heads (the apostate Israelites were taken by God thru the invading armies because of the following of pagan religions that required sexual & murdering rituals) and plant them, creating a 'blood bond' between the Igbo and the earth deity, Ana.

Before doing so, Nri was ordered to mark ichi onto their two foreheads. Coco yam, a crop managed by females, sprang from his daughter's head, and yam, the Igbo peoples' staple crop, sprung from his son's head; Chukwu had taught Nri plant domestication. From this, the eze Nri's first son and daughter were required to undergo scarification's seven days after birth, with the eze Nri's daughter being the only female to receive ichi. Nri, the son of Eri, also gained knowledge of the yam medicine (ogwu ji). People from other Igbo communities made pilgrimages to Nri in order to receive this knowledge received in exchange for annual tributes.

What Prophecy Says Concerning Gad

Ya’akov (Jacob) prophetically blessed the children of Gad:

Jasher 56: 6-16 And Jacob said, Call all your children unto me, and all the children of Jacob's sons came and sat before him, and Jacob blessed them, and he said unto them, The Lord God of your fathers shall grant you a thousand times as much and bless you, and may he give you the blessing of your father Abraham; and all the children of Jacob's sons went forth on that day after he had blessed them. And on the next day Jacob again called for his sons, and they all assembled and came to him and sat before him, and Jacob on that day blessed his sons before his death, each man did he bless according to his blessing; behold it is written in the book of the law of the Lord appertaining to Israel. And Jacob said unto Judah, I know my son that thou art a mighty man for thy brethren; reign over them, and thy sons shall reign over their sons forever. Only teach thy sons the bow and all the weapons of war, in order that they may fight the battles of their brother who will rule over his enemies. And Jacob again commanded his sons on that day, saying, Behold I shall be this day gathered unto my people; carry me up from Egypt, and bury me in the cave of Machpelah as I have commanded you. Howbeit take heed I pray you that none of your sons carry me, only yourselves, and this is the manner you shall do unto me, when you carry my body to go with it to the land of Canaan to bury me,  Judah, Issachar and Zebulun shall carry my bier at the eastern side; Reuben, Simeon and Gad at the south, Ephraim, Manasseh and Benjamin at the west, Dan, Asher and Naphtali at the north.  Let not Levi carry with you, for he and his sons will carry the ark of the covenant of the Lord with the Israelites in the camp, neither let Joseph my son carry, for as a king so let his glory be; howbeit, Ephraim and Manasseh shall be in their stead.  Thus shall you do unto me when you carry me away; do not neglect any thing of all that I command you; and it shall come to pass when you do this unto me, that the Lord will remember you favorably and your children after you forever.  And you my sons, honor each his brother and his relative, and command your children and your children's children after you to serve the Lord God of your ancestors all the days.  In order that you may prolong your days in the land, you and your children and your children's children for ever, when you do what is good and upright in the sight of the Lord your God, to go in all his ways.

Gen. 49:19 Gad, a troop shall overcome him: but he shall overcome at the last.

Moshe (Moses) prophetically blessed the children of Gad:

Jasher 87:5-8 And Moses called to all the children of Israel and said to them, You have seen all the good which the Lord your God has done for you in the wilderness.  Now therefore observe all the words of this law, and walk in the way of the Lord your God, turn not from the way which the Lord has commanded you, either to the right or to the left.  And Moses taught the children of Israel statutes and judgments and laws to do in the land as the Lord had commanded him.  And he taught them the way of the Lord and his laws; behold they are written upon the book of the law of God which he gave to the children of Israel by the hand of Moses.

Deut. 33:20 And of Gad he said, Blessed [be] he that enlargeth Gad: he dwelleth as a lion, and teareth the arm with the crown of the head.

Jacob tells us that Gad would be a troop that is at first overcome and defeated but in the end will have the last laugh and be the conqueror of the conqueror.

The blessing of Moses upon Gad implies that Gad is a ruling military force that destroys the military arm and rule of the head of any opposing nation. It is interesting to note that like Judah, Gad is likened unto an intimidating, fierce and roaring, ruling Lion. The only other tribe likened unto a lion was Dan (Deut. 33:22). The phrase, “dwelleth as a lion” means that Gad’s character and nature as a people and a tribe are like fierce roaring lions that will vehemently defend territory and pride. “teareth” refers to the lions mighty clawed paws and its way of hunting by chase and tackle, by hooking the legs with its claws and ends in a bite upon the neck below the head, breaking it causing swift instantaneous death, or by a throat bite which ends in a slow death suffocation. Whereas Judah is the alpha male lion king of Israel, Gad is like the lioness hunters and young male enforcers and warriors. When lionesses hunt, they will drag the prey away and eat just enough to give it strength to drag it back to the pride where the lion king and males eat, then the females and finally the cubs. Gad as a tribe knows their rank, place and purpose in the nation of Israel.

The Pseudopigraphal book, “The Testament of Gad,” has a theme of guarding ones heart against hate and murder, which would what a warrior tribe would need to balance and keep in check their war-like tendencies prophesied in the Torah.

In the book of Revelation 7:5, it says 1,200 of Gad were sealed, meaning that the tribe of Gad, lost to the Assyrian captivity and Diaspora will once again be found, and indeed a portion of them has been found in the Nigeria people of the Igbo’s. I have met the Igbo King and he wears a necklace that has a Star of David with a lion in the middle of it.

Moses tells us that when Gad’s time comes, he will utterly over take his enemies like a lion. This and Jacob’s prophecy has come to pass when Gad (Igbos) was temporarily overcome and ended up overcoming in the Nigerian Biafran War. The History of the Igbo’s and of the Jews today parallel and are practically in sync with one another. The sleeping Lion of Gad is now rousing and can only become more powerful, woe unto those who attempt to taunt this waking Lion. Moses also tells us that those who help the cause of Gad, fight on behalf of Gad will be blessed. You, just by reading this book are partaking in the unfolding of prophetic history and helping to “enlarge” Gad and therefore you will be blessed! Did you ever think that you would ever partake in any way the recovery of the “lost tribes” or be a part of prophetic history in any way!?

Other Miscellaneous Laws and Customs of the Igbos

Witness

Deut. 19:15, 17:6, Num. 15:33

As in Israel, so in Igboland. Any legal matters in Igboland requires at least two or three witnesses to establish or resolve a matter.

Making a Covenant

Gen. 31

Like Jacob and Laban calling upon God and promising not to harm each other and making a covenant of peace, this very thing is practiced among the Igbos as well.

As in Israel, so in Igboland.

Custodian of Neighbors Property

Exd. 22:9-12

As in Israel, so in Igboland, this law also has been practiced among the Igbo, long before missionaries came.

Widow and the Orphan

Exd. 22:22-24

I have also witnessed firsthand, publically, Igbos coming to the defense of a widow or orphan being ill-treated or harassed by others. I have even witnessed a lame Igbo rise to the defense of a poor woman whose antagonist was a large healthy young male. 

Life’s Blood

Lev. 4:20, 17:14, Deut. 12:23, Matt. 26:28, Heb. 9:22

Jews and Igbos believe in the sanctity of life and that life is in the blood and without a sacrificial shedding of a sacrificial substitute one for another, there is no remission.

Covering Blood with Earth

Lev. 17:13

Whether hunting or sacrificing, blood spilt on the ground is covered up with dirt. As in Israel, so in Igboland.

Servants

Exd. 21:1-2, Lev. 25:39-43, Deut. 15:12-14

This has always been a practice in Igboland and in recent history too! Right after the Biafra War and it help many Igbo to survive and get back on their feet.

As in Israel, so in Igboland.

Escaped Slave

Deut. 23:15-16, Philemon

A well-known practice among Igbos that a guest or someone seeking a sort of protection or asylum under an Igbo will be safe; an enemy could only obtain such as one under protection literally over the Igbo’s dead body.

As have traveled abroad in Igboland, I have personally witnessed the seriousness and dedication in which an Igbo will care for and protect his guest.

Sanctuary or Asylum for Accidental Homicide

Exd. 21:13, Num. 35:9, Deut. 4:41-42

Just as there were cities of refuge in the Land of Israel where priests dwell, so too there are towns such as; Aguleri, Agukwo, Nri and Arochukwu are considered cities of refuge one who takes refuge there must reside in for seven years.

Again, Prof. Achebe in his book, “Things Fall Apart” draws this to the reader attention when the main character Okonkwo sought refuge in his mother’s hometown and returned after seven years.

There is even a saying in Igboland regarding the city of refuge of Arochukwu, “Adi ejie rao na anya oma.” Which translated means, “Those who go to Arochukwu, do so under emergency.”

As in Israel, so in Igboland.

Suicide

Deut. 21:23, Matt. 27:3-10

Chinua Achebe in his world remount novel, “Things Fall Apart” built his story on true Igbo customs, he made none of it up and his book tells of a suicide of a character whose body was not to be touched by kin and by committing suicide forfeit honorable funeral rites because suicide is seen as an abomination that must be atoned for through sacrifices so that the Land does not become contaminated. A victim of suicide in Igboland is buried by strangers in the forest. This is uncannily similar to our Scripture passages. 

As in Israel, so in Igboland.

Murder

Exd. 21:12, Num. 35:16-21

There is no refuge for one who intentionally commits murder, he is fair game to be hunted down and killed by the victim’s relatives. Prior to colonial rule in Igboland this practice was adhered to. 

As in Israel, so in Igboland.

Stoning

Lev. 20:2, 24:16

As in Israel, so in Igboland. This was a dominate form of capital punishment in Igboland until the colonialization by the West.

Kidnapping

Deut. 24:7

Kidnapping people for ransom, especially white westerners is a real danger in Nigeria and is rarely heard of among the Igbo, as far as them participating in it.

G.T. Basden, Anglican Missionary to the Igbos noted in his book “Niger Igbos:”

“From Deuteronomy 24:7 we learn that it was forbidden for an Israelite to steal or sell one of his brethren. It is so with the Ibos.”

As in Israel, so in Igboland.

Spies

Josh. 2:1

Scouting expeditions sent ahead of the tribe and or clan was a common practice prior to the Igbos settling down in the land and establishing cities.

As in Israel, so in Igboland.

Gleaning

Lev. 19:9-10, Deut. 24:19-25, Book of Ruth

God commanded this as a sort of welfare system for the poor to be able to glean edges of leftovers from a field so as to provide for their family without having to beg and loose ones dignity. In Igboland this practice is called “Mkpa ji na Mkpa ede” where one is permitted to glean leftovers from a neighbor’s farm.  Another similar custom is called, “Ije kpo ube, mango, udala na oloma” where one is allowed to pick fallen fruit from an orchard not their own. This is similar to when Yeshua (Jesus) and his disciples plucked handfuls of grain on sabbath in order to satisfy their hunger. They were permitted to do so under Levitical Law but the Pharisees who enacted laws on top of Torah forbad this practice and called it work (Luke 6:1-5). What Yeshua and His disciples who were Jews and followed Jewish Law did and this too is what the Igbo’s do.

“Igbo custom allows someone to pluck small quantities of Anara leaves, Anara fruit, orange (oloma), pears (ube), maize for his or her consumption from someone elses farm, but does not allow him or her large quantity for sale.

Igbos say “kpara Akwu, kpara Akwu, ewelu nkata je obulu ori” meaning; you can take for your consumption but if you go with a basket it is stealing.” – Caliben O.I. Micheal “Our Roots: Igbo Israel Heritage” P. 51

As in Israel, so in Igboland.

Mixing Crops

Lev.19:19, Deut. 22:9

Israel has very stringent rules regarding farming of the land which Igbos also observes. Like Israel, Igbos only plant one thing in a field at a time and do not mix crops with another while the peoples around them mixed seeds and crops.

As in Israel, so in Igboland.

Property Markers

Deut. 19:14, 27:17

This is taken so seriously in Igboland that an offender could be fined or even excommunicated. 

As in Israel, so in Igboland.

Designated Areas

Josh. 2:18, 21

It appears that the spies who came to Rahab and cut a deal with her used the sign of the scarlet cord to mark her place as off limits. In Igboland a scarlet cord is used to partition off restricted areas.

As in Israel, so in Igboland.

Leprosy

Lev. 13:43-46, 14:1-8, Deut. 24:8

Igbos too, for health, safety and sanctity of the community would quarantine their skin afflicted sick outside the village, this was until the white men came.

As in Israel, so in Igboland. 

Straying Animals

Deut. 22:1-4

Igboland one who loses an animal that strayed will go to a hill or other elevated place and announce in the evening regarding the missing animal. Those who hear and has the animal in question in their care will reply and the owner will leave with the caretaker to retrieve his animal.

As in Israel, so in Igboland.

Damage Caused by Livestock

Exd. 22:5

This law in Igboland only differs in that retribution is monetary in nature and not in produce of the Land. 

Thieves

Exd. 22:2

In the past thieves in Igboland if caught were burned or stoned to death.

As in Israel, so in Igboland.

Restitution

Exd. 22:10-12

This law is followed in Igboland, but in more recent times, likely due to the westernization of Nigeria, verbal apologies suffices in some situations.

As in Israel, so in Igboland.

Census

I Chron. 21:1-8, II Sam. 24:1-10

Igbos too do not like or participate voluntary in census’.

As in Israel, so in Igboland.

Kings

I Samuel 8

There is a saying among the Igbo, “Igbo enwe eze.” Which means, “The Igbo have no king.” Some take this to mean Igbo’s never had kings and that the concept of Kings were either adopted by influence of surrounding tribes or it was introduced by the coming of the white men. But I believe this to mean that they have no greater King than Chukwu Abiama (The God of Abraham), for it is clear that Igbo kingly dynasties are recorded to go back all the way to Eri’s sons and this is long before the white men came to Nigeria as I have listed earlier in this book. As in Israel, so in Igboland. 

Witchcraft

Lev. 20:27

Witches in Igboland were excommunicated or stoned to death in Igboland.  As in Israel, so in Igboland.
                       Steve was stoned by a crowd as was used in Israel, just like the Igbos did.

Retaliation

Deut. 19:18-21

In both Israel and Igboland it is understood that an “eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” is an idiomatic term referring to monetary compensation. 

Case in point, let us say that a man hit another man in the eye producing 80% vision loss in his right eye. How then can it be guaranteed that the injured man if allowed to hit the other man in the right eye will be able to do so at the very same trajectory and velocity which caused the 80% blindness in his own eye!? You can’t, this is why the above passage and its concept in Judaism and in Igboland is understood regarding monetary compensation of medical bills, wages lost, etc.  

As in Israel, so in Igboland.

Gossip

Lev. 19:16 Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people: neither shalt thou stand against the blood of thy neighbour; I am the Lord.

Gossip is called “LaShone Hara” in Hebrew which is translated the “Evil Tongue.” Gossip in Hebraic and Igbo culture is greatly looked down upon and gossip such as that is called or deemed as “character assassination” is looked upon as gravely as that of physical murder. 

Unfortunately the influence Western culture upon the Igbo seems to have watered the gravity of gossip down from a serious offense to that of a minor one.

Calling Heaven and Earth as Witnesses

Deut. 4:26, 30:19

In Igboland this is a very common saying “Enu na Ana gba aka ebe or osi ali.” Which says, “Heaven and earth should bear witness.”

As in Israel, so in Igboland.

They (ones enemies) Shall be our Food

Num. 14:9 “… for they are bread for us…”

Amazingly the Igbo also say this regarding their enemies:

“Ha bu nni anyi.”
“Ofe niacha.”
“Ofe nkupu.”

Limited Knowledge - Limited List

I am sure to some this seems like a fairly comprehensive list, but in actuality, because I am not an indigenous Igboman and because I was not raised in Igboland among and Igbo family or in Igbo culture my observations as an outsider is limited to what is obvious to me in light of my own Hebraic culture and the not so obvious is dependent upon the research I read of Igbo scholars and others. I am sure an Igbo person would be able to come up with a more exhaustive list and keener observations regarding the Igbo Omenana as compared to the Jewish/Hebraic custom and tradition. But suffice it to say, I believe what we have here is nonetheless a most compelling case based on culture alone that bears the facts that the Igbo people are Jews, Hebrews and Israelites, portions of the Lost tribes of Israel and thus deserve to be officially recognized as such. Even if this is not achieved in the here and now, we KNOW it will be recognized when Messiah returns and sets up His Kingdom.


On the Igbo, Teshuvah, and the Resiliency of the Jewish Spirit

This past summer, I received a profound lesson in the resilience of the Jewish spirit — and how it invariably manages to take root even in the most unexpected of places.

After participating in a congregational delegation to Africa this past spring, I had a profound desire to spend a longer period of time there on my summer sabbatical. As I searched for the best possible way to serve as a volunteer rabbi, I found my way to Kulanu, who informed that they had long been interested in sending a volunteer rabbi to Nigeria. Upon further conversation, I received an extensive education on the Igbo tribe — a large Nigerian tribe of 40 million whose clans trace their lineage to the lost tribes of Israel. For many years both Igbo and Western scholars have noted the striking similarities between native Igbo customs and Israelite tradition. Today, the Igbo are almost entirely Christian, having been thoroughly missionized, by the British — but they nonetheless retain a strong sense of kinship with the Jewish People.

Over the last decade or so, an astonishing phenomenon has developed: a Jewish “rebirth” of sorts occurring throughout the Igbo community. Synagogues have been forming spontaneously throughout Nigeria, along with the tentative growth of Hebrew and Torah study. Kulanu explained to me that they had developed a relationship with the Igbo Judaic communities, who were especially eager for a visit from a rabbi for an extended period of time.

After I said I would consider a visit to Nigeria, Kulanu put me in touch with their field representative there, an Igbo lawyer and scholar named Remy Ilona who would quickly become my dear friend and my new Igbo brother. Remy has done extensive research on the Israelite heritage of the Igbo and over the past few years he has become an important resource person for their new Judaic communities. As I corresponded with Remy, I was immediately taken by his intense passion and commitment to his heritage, to his people and to what he called the Igbo teshuvah — their “return” to reclaim their original birthright.

It is not an exaggeration to say that after just a few initial e-mail conversations, his passion and excitement won me over. And so, with Remy as my host, I spent an amazing month of July in Nigeria with the Igbo. I spent two weeks in the capital city of Abuja, and traveled for ten days throughout the Igbo state of Anambra, one of the many states in the south of Nigeria known as Igboland. During my stay, I met and dialogued with Igbo leaders, taught Torah study classes in Judaic Igbo communities, led Shabbat services in Igbo synagogues, joined in their communal meetings and celebrations, and was made an honorary member of various Igbo clans.

My first undeniable impression of the Igbo’s Judaic communities was their deep and palpable thirst for Jewish study and Jewish life. In truth, I cannot recall ever teaching students with such a profound yearning for Jewish learning and knowledge. Over the course of my visit, I came to realize that their thirst was a manifestation of a deeply felt desire to reconnect. To reclaim a heritage that has been denied them for so long.

We do not yet know enough about how many of these new Judaic Igbo communities exist in Nigeria. While much more research needs to be done, I think it is safe to say that the number of Igbo seeking to create a Jewish life in Nigeria is significant and growing. As I traveled throughout this country so far removed from my own home, I was repeatedly received as a brother, as a member of the tribe, as it were. Even among the larger population of Igbo that does not practice Judaism, I sensed an almost universal feeling of affinity to the Jewish people.

During the period I spent in Igboland, I had the opportunity to meet and address large gatherings of various Igbo clans. Invariably, I would receive the strongest, loudest and most emotional reaction whenever I mentioned that meeting them was like discovering long lost family members that I didn’t know I had. I was truly unprepared for the depth of their reaction to me, and I realized in large part they were reacting to what I represented to them: an authentic relationship to the outside Jewish world. I have no doubt that their feelings of connection to the Jewish people are real and heartfelt — and that it has been kept alive and nurtured by the Igbo people for centuries.

Are the Igbo, in fact, descended from the Lost Tribes of Israel? I don’t know that there will ever be any way to prove this conclusively one way or the other. My good friend Remy has been researching this issue extensively, and I do believe there is a compelling case to be made in this regard. But as I see it, whether or not they are actually lost Israelites is relatively moot in the face of the fact that the Igbo absolutely believe it to be true. And at the end of the day, can any Jew directly trace his/her lineage back to Biblical Israel? It seems to me that the true power of Jewish identity and survival lies not in the veracity of our historical claims, but in the survival of our spirit — in the unique staying power of our collective neshamah.

In the end, I returned from my sojourn in Nigeria with a renewed Jewish optimism. I use the word “renewed,” because it is impossible in the Western Jewish community these days to avoid the profound angst about the future of our people. The official Jewish community commissions study after study invariably informing us that our numbers are shrinking, that assimilation is on the rise, that Jewish affiliation is on the decline. Doom and gloom prognosticating has become such a hallmark of our communal life that it is a major Jewish industry in its own right. But my experiences with the Igbo of Nigeria have helped me to understand that perhaps the rumors of our demise have been greatly exaggerated. Perhaps the resilience of the Jewish spirit is greater than we generally give it credit. Maybe we’re just looking in the wrong places.

In the end, I believe our attitudes about our Jewish future are intimately tied up with our vision of who we are. As I am coming to realize, much of the traditional Jewish self-image has been marked by a decidedly white, Euro-centric bias. In truth, however, from the very beginning of our existence, we Jews have always been an ethnically diverse people. In the book of Exodus, we are told that an erev rav — a mixed multitude of Israelites — went up out of Egypt. Since that time, Jews have lived amidst widely ranging cultures and nationalities, and our communities have always reflected this diversity.

The reality of these dispersed Jewish communities, however, sheds a profound new light on our status as a global people. As important organizations such as Kulanu help to demonstrate, it may well be that our global diversity transcends boundaries to a greater extent than we have ever imagined.

What should we make of this? Perhaps it means we should spend less time and money prognosticating our decline and refocus our energies and resources creatively toward new areas of Jewish potential. This might well include globally dispersed communities such as the Igbo: passionate, committed neshamas who seek greater connection with Jewish life and the Jewish world.

I have every expectation that embracing our diversity will present its own set of challenges. Among other things, diversity challenges our very notion of who is a Jew, of our communal boundaries, of what kinds of Jewish behaviors and beliefs are considered “acceptable” and what are “beyond the pale.” I realize, for instance, that the Igbo would not be considered Jewish according to traditional halachic standards, but on the other hand, I can personally attest to their Jewish passion, their sense of Jewish belonging, their innate Jewish spirit.

While I realize these categories are not exactly quantifiable, I do believe we dismiss them at our peril. A community that chronically bemoans its shrinking numbers should, at the very least, take note of a tribe of 40 million individuals that feels such a powerful sense of affinity with the Jewish People and Jewish life. It would also behoove us to forge greater connections with the numerous other lost Jewish communities around the world who crave a greater connection with their Jewish brothers and sisters. We have only to challenge our biases and rethink our assumptions to see that there may well be potential for Jewish rebirth in the most unexpected of places.

This is not only a global issue — it has ramifications for us right here in America as well. Currently, the number of Jews of color in our country is growing considerably, due to increasing intermarriage, conversion and adoption in the Jewish community. This is certainly the case in our own congregation as well. I am proud indeed that my congregation, JRC, increasingly includes members who are African-American, Hispanic, Asian, and mixed race.

But I would also suggest we could and should be doing more to encourage diversity in our community. According to the Institute for Jewish and Community Research, at least 20 percent of the American Jewish population is racially and ethnically diverse. Their research also shows, however, while Jews of color often feel a strong affinity for Judaism and the Jewish people, they generally feel alienated from Jewish institutions.

Given the conventional Jewish community wisdom that Jewish = White, I have little difficulty understanding why this is so. But if to be American ultimately means to embrace diversity as a source of strength, and if we truly believe that Jewish life has always been enriched by the cultures in which Jews happen to live, then encouraging the diversity of our Jewish community may well be the key to our Jewish future.

Being Jewish has always defied easy definitions. The experience of being Jewish transcends ethnicity, race, nationality, behavior and belief. As complicated as all that sounds, the reality is rather straightforward: we are, quite simply, a people. As I often like to put it, to be Jewish means to be part of an extended family — a diverse, often cantankerous family, but family nonetheless. To be a family does not mean that we look alike, behave the same way, or believe the same things — but it does mean that we are bound together by the common experience of belonging to the group.

My experiences in Africa gave me a new faith in the power of belonging. In a rural Ugandan village, so far away from home, we discovered a home after all. During my sojourn in Nigeria, I rediscovered long lost family members I didn’t even know I had. It is, perhaps, the most quintessential of Jewish experiences. To quote from one of my favorite movies: “No matter where you go, there you are.”


And so I return to my original lesson: the profound resilience of the neshama — and how it invariably manages to take root even in the most unexpected of places. This is, in the end, a profoundly Jewish lesson. Though we Jews tend to have chronic angst about the prospects of our survival, we would do well to remind ourselves that our spirit is often much deeper and stronger than we realize. We would do well to remind ourselves that despite the myriad of challenges we have faced from time immemorial, we continue to affirm Am Yisrael Chai — the People Israel yet live.


THE IGBO AND THE CURSES OF DEUTERONOMY 28



15 But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee:

16 Cursed shalt thou be in the city, and cursed shalt thou be in the field.

17 Cursed shall be thy basket and thy store.

18 Cursed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy land, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep.

19 Cursed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and cursed shalt thou be when thou goest out.

20 The Lord shall send upon thee cursing, vexation, and rebuke, in all that thou settest thine hand unto for to do, until thou be destroyed, and until thou perish quickly; because of the wickedness of thy doings, whereby thou hast forsaken me.

21 The Lord shall make the pestilence cleave unto thee, until he have consumed thee from off the land, whither thou goest to possess it.

22 The Lord shall smite thee with a consumption, and with a fever, and with an inflammation, and with an extreme burning, and with the sword, and with blasting, and with mildew; and they shall pursue thee until thou perish.

23 And thy heaven that is over thy head shall be brass, and the earth that is under thee shall be iron.

24 The Lord shall make the rain of thy land powder and dust: from heaven shall it come down upon thee, until thou be destroyed.

25 The Lord shall cause thee to be smitten before thine enemies: thou shalt go out one way against them, and flee seven ways before them: and shalt be removed into all the kingdoms of the earth.

26 And thy carcase shall be meat unto all fowls of the air, and unto the beasts of the earth, and no man shall fray them away.

27 The Lord will smite thee with the botch of Egypt, and with the emerods, and with the scab, and with the itch, whereof thou canst not be healed.

28 The Lord shall smite thee with madness, and blindness, and astonishment of heart:

29 And thou shalt grope at noonday, as the blind gropeth in darkness, and thou shalt not prosper in thy ways: and thou shalt be only oppressed and spoiled evermore, and no man shall save thee.

30 Thou shalt betroth a wife, and another man shall lie with her: thou shalt build an house, and thou shalt not dwell therein: thou shalt plant a vineyard, and shalt not gather the grapes thereof.

31 Thine ox shall be slain before thine eyes, and thou shalt not eat thereof: thine ass shall be violently taken away from before thy face, and shall not be restored to thee: thy sheep shall be given unto thine enemies, and thou shalt have none to rescue them.

32 Thy sons and thy daughters shall be given unto another people, and thine eyes shall look, and fail with longing for them all the day long; and there shall be no might in thine hand.

33 The fruit of thy land, and all thy labours, shall a nation which thou knowest not eat up; and thou shalt be only oppressed and crushed alway:

34 So that thou shalt be mad for the sight of thine eyes which thou shalt see.

35 The Lord shall smite thee in the knees, and in the legs, with a sore botch that cannot be healed, from the sole of thy foot unto the top of thy head.

36 The Lord shall bring thee, and thy king which thou shalt set over thee, unto a nation which neither thou nor thy fathers have known; and there shalt thou serve other gods, wood and stone.

37 And thou shalt become an astonishment, a proverb, and a byword, among all nations whither the Lord shall lead thee.

38 Thou shalt carry much seed out into the field, and shalt gather but little in; for the locust shall consume it.

39 Thou shalt plant vineyards, and dress them, but shalt neither drink of the wine, nor gather the grapes; for the worms shall eat them.

40 Thou shalt have olive trees throughout all thy coasts, but thou shalt not anoint thyself with the oil; for thine olive shall cast his fruit.

41 Thou shalt beget sons and daughters, but thou shalt not enjoy them; for they shall go into captivity.

42 All thy trees and fruit of thy land shall the locust consume.

43 The stranger that is within thee shall get up above thee very high; and thou shalt come down very low.

44 He shall lend to thee, and thou shalt not lend to him: he shall be the head, and thou shalt be the tail.

45 Moreover all these curses shall come upon thee, and shall pursue thee, and overtake thee, till thou be destroyed; because thou hearkenedst not unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which he commanded thee:


46 And they shall be upon thee for a sign and for a wonder, and upon thy seed for ever.

47 Because thou servedst not the Lord thy God with joyfulness, and with gladness of heart, for the abundance of all things;

48 Therefore shalt thou serve thine enemies which the Lord shall send against thee, in hunger, and in thirst, and in nakedness, and in want of all things: and he shall put a yoke of iron upon thy neck, until he have destroyed thee.

49 The Lord shall bring a nation against thee from far, from the end of the earth, as swift as the eagle flieth; a nation whose tongue thou shalt not understand;

50 A nation of fierce countenance, which shall not regard the person of the old, nor shew favour to the young:

51 And he shall eat the fruit of thy cattle, and the fruit of thy land, until thou be destroyed: which also shall not leave thee either corn, wine, or oil, or the increase of thy kine, or flocks of thy sheep, until he have destroyed thee.

52 And he shall besiege thee in all thy gates, until thy high and fenced walls come down, wherein thou trustedst, throughout all thy land: and he shall besiege thee in all thy gates throughout all thy land, which the Lord thy God hath given thee.

53 And thou shalt eat the fruit of thine own body, the flesh of thy sons and of thy daughters, which the Lord thy God hath given thee, in the siege, and in the straitness, wherewith thine enemies shall distress thee:

54 So that the man that is tender among you, and very delicate, his eye shall be evil toward his brother, and toward the wife of his bosom, and toward the remnant of his children which he shall leave:

55 So that he will not give to any of them of the flesh of his children whom he shall eat: because he hath nothing left him in the siege, and in the straitness, wherewith thine enemies shall distress thee in all thy gates.

56 The tender and delicate woman among you, which would not adventure to set the sole of her foot upon the ground for delicateness and tenderness, her eye shall be evil toward the husband of her bosom, and toward her son, and toward her daughter,

57 And toward her young one that cometh out from between her feet, and toward her children which she shall bear: for she shall eat them for want of all things secretly in the siege and straitness, wherewith thine enemy shall distress thee in thy gates.

58 If thou wilt not observe to do all the words of this law that are written in this book, that thou mayest fear this glorious and fearful name, The Lord Thy God;

59 Then the Lord will make thy plagues wonderful, and the plagues of thy seed, even great plagues, and of long continuance, and sore sicknesses, and of long continuance.

60 Moreover he will bring upon thee all the diseases of Egypt, which thou wast afraid of; and they shall cleave unto thee.

61 Also every sickness, and every plague, which is not written in the book of this law, them will the Lord bring upon thee, until thou be destroyed.

62 And ye shall be left few in number, whereas ye were as the stars of heaven for multitude; because thou wouldest not obey the voice of the Lord thy God.

63 And it shall come to pass, that as the Lord rejoiced over you to do you good, and to multiply you; so the Lord will rejoice over you to destroy you, and to bring you to nought; and ye shall be plucked from off the land whither thou goest to possess it.

64 And the Lord shall scatter thee among all people, from the one end of the earth even unto the other; and there thou shalt serve other gods, which neither thou nor thy fathers have known, even wood and stone.

65 And among these nations shalt thou find no ease, neither shall the sole of thy foot have rest: but the Lord shall give thee there a trembling heart, and failing of eyes, and sorrow of mind:

66 And thy life shall hang in doubt before thee; and thou shalt fear day and night, and shalt have none assurance of thy life:

67 In the morning thou shalt say, Would God it were even! and at even thou shalt say, Would God it were morning! for the fear of thine heart wherewith thou shalt fear, and for the sight of thine eyes which thou shalt see.

68 And the Lord shall bring thee into Egypt again with ships, by the way whereof I spake unto thee, Thou shalt see it no more again: and there ye shall be sold unto your enemies for bondmen and bondwomen, and no man shall buy you.–Deut. 28:15-68

This Biblical passage hashes out gruesome detail on what would happen if Israel was disobedient to God’s Torah (Law). This passage is like reading a personal journal of many of the black African people, especially the Igbo. Deuteronomy 28 has been fulfilled more than once. First with the Assyrian and Babylonian captivities and again with the slave trade in Africa that befell the African Hebrews.

Let us first notice that Deuteronomy 28 which lays out the blessings that will accompany Israel for obeying Torah, the Laws of God given to Israel through Moses, as well as the curses which will fall upon them for disobeying Torah; that the blessings and curses are all conditional with that huge-little word “if.”

“And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God… But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee…Moreover all these curses shall come upon thee, and shall pursue thee, and overtake thee, till thou be destroyed; because thou hearkenedst not unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which he commanded thee.”–Deut. 28:2, 15, 45)

Verses 16-20 tell the Israelites that the curse will begin at home in the promised Land with agriculture and domestic failure among their flock and herds which indeed happened prior to them being carted off into Assyrian and Babylonian captivity.

When the Israelites found themselves settling in various parts of Africa, like in the Promised Land, they ended up being heavily influenced by the paganism of those peoples around them who they were not able to drive out.  As a result, the Israelites began to practice pagan and idolatrous ways and were thus, ripe to reap the curses the LORD said would overtake them.

These curses came back around again when Black Hebrews found themselves as slaves in the Americas as they had to farm and care for land and animals that were not their own.

In Deuteronomy 28:21-24, 27-29 speaks of the curse of unsanitary conditions when Israel being captive to their respective captors. While being marched off and put in carts or ship cargo holds and being treated as animals, sickness, disease and affliction quickly spread due to poor quality of food and water as well as unsanitary conditions which arise when one does not have the proper place in which to defecate and expel waste.                                                

This happened with those who found themselves in Assyrian captivity, but these Igbo and other Hebraic Africans who found themselves in the dark and dank bellies of the cargo holds of the ships of the slave trade which brought slaves to the Caribbean Islands, Latin America and the U.S.

Verses 25-26 tell of the defeat of the black Hebrew against the white slave traders and their superior weapons.

Deuteronomy 28:30-37 speaks in uncanny detail of what Black Israelites faced when the white man came in and carted off many as slaves. Wives were snatched away from their husbands, wives and daughters were raped before the eyes of the menfolk. Sons and daughters were taken violently from their parents. Their animals and crops were slain and burned. Even the rulers of these African Hebrews were not exempt. All were taken away and forced to convert to the white man’s religion and serve gods that seemed foreign to them.

Verses 38-40 tell of famine and lack of food due to weather patterns God sent upon His disobedient people as well as when they had their crops burned by the enemy and they were taken prisoner and practically starved to death while chains, cages and cargo holds of the slave traders.

We are told how the Black Hebrews of Africa who were taken off as slaves became breeders for the inhumane black and white slave traders (one must remember that the slave trade began with Africans selling other Africans to the whites). Their children born to them in strange lands of their captivity were taken from them and sold as soon as they were old enough to work. They were treated and sold like cattle.

“Thou shalt beget sons and daughters, but thou shalt not enjoy them; for they shall go into captivity.” – Deut. 28:41

Verses 43-51 speak of the white man taking over and colonizing parts of Africa and making the Black Israelite their servants while exploiting their land and natural resources.

In verses 52-57 it tells of the horrid holocaust type conditions that would reduce the Black Hebrew slaves to cold hearted souls that would reduce themselves to cannibalizing their own young in order to survive. Essentially these verses speak of a loss of identity and it’s true, the majority of Black People do not realize that they are Jews, Hebrews and Israelites.

Again, the fearsome warning of the conditional covenant of Deuteronomy 28 is repeated in verses 58-68.

It should be fairly and duly noted that though the white man carried off many African Hebrews into slavery, they are not souly to be blamed because these slaves were either slaves before, owned by other African tribes which surrounded them, or they were betrayed by them and the white man was led to them. Some African Hebrews were slave owners themselves and due to their mistreatment of their fellow man they incurred the curses of Deuteronomy 28 upon themselves and were treated in kind by the white man.

Deut. 28:64-68

As we have made abundantly clear that Idolatry and pagan worship was prophesied to plague those scattered due to disobedience to Torah (Deut. 28). But how did this idolatry and paganism infiltrate the Hebrew-Gadite, monotheistic Igbo culture? In two ways:

1.     Influence due to living among the indigenous, polytheistic pagan African tribes.

2.     Gadites who came to Igboland sometime after the reign and influence of rebellious King Jeroboam (I Kings 11-15, II Kings 17:22-33)

Deuteronomy 28 and the Prophets tell of the punishment and exile and the scattering of those who disobey God and Torah. But there is equally the prophecy of restoration and prosperity by Moses and the Prophets of those who even in exile repent and return to God and Torah (Amos 9:14-15, Ezk. 34:13, Psalm 2:8).

Nigeria happens to be one of the most oil and mineral rich African countries and the Igbo control much of these resources as well as are successful leaders in the technological, construction, business and financial markets. As a result there are many “blessed” and wealthy Igbos in Nigeria as well as worldwide.

Biafra/Ephraim & Njemanze/Benjamin

The Ibos / Hebrews of Nigeria are from Gad/ Ogadimma tribe of Israel. They are not alone in the journey, the rest of them the Ica Ibos and Qua Ibos/ Akwa Ibom are all from different tribes of Israel, even the Ijaws are of Benjamin/ Njemanze. All these groups make up the Biafra/Ephraim people. We also have the Ijebu Ibos. The Biafrans never came to west Africa as a person but as people. They were many Hebrews trying to escape from the Romans who sought to destroy them. That is how and what brought them to west Africa: to hide from the oppressors.

From the biblical standpoint, two sons of Jacob formed the nation of Igbos, Gad,the father of Ehi. Ehi is the father of the Ijebu- Igbo to the Oduduwa, down to the Ika Igbos, who celebrate the Ehi festival each year and than,the son of Benjamin. Eri, the father of the Abia, Imo, Akwa-Igbo, Calabas, Ijwas, Ondos Anambra, and so on.

I am Igbo; Israelite for sure, but not Ephraimite.

The Igbo of today like the Edo (Iduu), and Yoruba are cultural more groups than one people, except that there are more Hebrews and Israelites in the Eastern Igbo land than in the Western Igbo land called Yoruba today.

 The Jews say that Adonai means Lord but this is the meaning because “Ado” is Lord and “nai” is “Nnayi” is our father, meaning “Lord our Father”. In the same way, “Adonenu” is “Lord in Heaven”.

Igbos are typically Hebrews in nature. Their practices and behaviours reflect so much of Hebrew culture than that of the present Jews.

Swiss-Israeli Anthropologist Journeys to Nigeria

As I came out of Abuja’s airport, two men with kippot and a lady were waiting for me. They greeted me with a cordial “Shalom”. This was just the start of two amazing weeks in Nigeria, which I will not easily forget.

I am a Swiss-Israeli Social Anthropologist, and I came to Nigeria in order to check out possibilities for a PhD project and to see if there was really any sense in doing research about a Jewish (re)naissance movement in Nigeria.

Many Igbo are waiting for the aid of Western Jewry and are looking for rabbis to come or synagogues to be built.

Everything had started in Basel, Switzerland, not far away from Herzl’s famous balcony, in a nightclub where they were playing some R&B music and where I had chatted with a young Igbo fellow over a beer. We exchanged telephone number and he put down his name, which I had not managed to spell correctly: “Levi”.

“But that’s a Jewish name,” I said.

“Yes it is and I am a Jew.”

I got even more curious when this fellow told me that the Igbo came originally from Israel and that his grandparents had told him so.

Shortly thereafter I started to read reports from Nigeria in the Kulanu Newsletter and I tracked down every sort of hint on the Internet and went to the libraries in order to read about Igbo history, religion and culture. I got in touch with Remy Ilona, a lawyer in Abuja who had written a book with the title The Igbos: Jews in Africa? I ordered a copy and started to read it (several times). The topic was fascinating since the Igbo represent a people of about 40-50 million. Were they all saying that they came from Israel? Did they really circumcise on the eighth day? What was the state of the Judaizing communities among the Igbo? I had to see with my own eyes since books and Internet will never tell the same story.

I was very lucky that Remy Ilona devoted two weeks to my visit and made sure that I met as many people as possible and visited as many communities as possible. He had also secured accommodation for me with the help of Tom Timberg, an American Jew working in Abuja, and Teddy Luttwak, a long-time resident in Nigeria and a cosmopolitan, self-made Jew.

Friday evening started surprisingly in a rather Israeli setting. Serving as the tenth man, I was taken (by car) to an Israeli minyan at a hotel. According to the Israeli ambassador in Abuja, Noam Katz, there are about 2000 Israelis living in Nigeria doing business. The Israeli presence in Nigeria is important in the dynamic development of the country’s economy, and Nigeria was one of the first African countries to renew its diplomatic relations with Israel in 1994. Prominent Igbo had played a vital role in the renewal of diplomatic relations. The ambassador went so far as to describe the Igbo as Israel’s main constituency in the country. One reason may lie in the economic co-operation that existed between the Igbo and Israel before the Biafra crisis (1967-1970), but another reason is clearly related to the widespread and deep sentiment of the Igbo that they come from Israel.

One shouldn’t expect to encounter the majority of Igbo practicing rabbinical Judaism. Most belong to a variety of Christian churches and know relatively little or nothing about the difference between Judaism and Christianity. Nevertheless, there is a deep resentment against the Christian missions to the Igbos, and the Igbo hunger for information on Judaism and Israel is what every Jewish community in the Diaspora dreams of.

But Judaism has started to emerge, and I was able to witness that the next Shabbat morning touring three congregations. Like everywhere else, one finds two Jews stating three opinions. Every congregation represented a different way of connecting to Judaism, partly due to interactions with Western Jewry.

At the Gihon community in Abuja, one could describe the orientation as somewhat Orthodox. Their services seemed well organized, and with the newly thatched roof one could describe this place as the Grand Synagogue of Abuja (even though it was a single room with the walls made of mud). As they started to sing beautiful songs (in Hebrew) after the service, a cold shiver ran down my back. But time was short and we had to leave for another congregation. Sar Habakkuk’s congregation could be described as Conservative, and Sar Habakkuk has built up a beautiful compound. Remy Ilona also brought me to his own congregation, which puts its emphasis on incorporating prayers in Igbo language and Torah studies. Their prayers were said to Chukwu (the Almighty). Due to ongoing destruction of places of worship this particular service took place under the open sky between mud huts and under curious eyes of the neighbors.

Poverty and lack of access to information and learning materials are just two of the problems the Judaizing communities are facing in Abuja. My impression was that it’s not conversion that most Igbo will seek, but access to information and a reconnection to their own traditions.

From Abuja we left for three Igbo states (Enugu, Anambra and Abia) in the Southeast of the country. We went to Awka, Nnewi, and Okigwi and visited the priests of NRI as a first stop. Being the only white for a week was a special experience at first, but I never had an unfriendly encounter and I almost forgot about it in time. I felt especially welcome as a Jew and Israeli. I particularly remember a driver of the famous okada bikes in the city of Enugu asking me which tribe I was from. Replying that I came from Israel, he responded that he was Jewish too and that we are all one.

I can’t recall meeting a single Igbo in the Southeast who did not state that he or she came from Israel. A highlight of my visit was my meeting with NRI elders, said to parallel the priestly clan of the Levites, near the town of Awka. The NRI are often described as the most important keepers of Igbo traditions, responsible for performing rituals of purification in other Igbo clans. The meeting was accompanied by the traditional breaking of the cola nut, the palm wine offering, and prayers to Chukwu. I also had the opportunity to speak with really old people, which is rather a rare sight in Nigeria (the average life expectancy is about 50 years and most people seem to be in their 20s).

A meeting was held with other members of the clan with discussions on how to ensure that Igbo traditions won’t be lost and how a reconnection of the children of Israel could be consolidated. As was mentioned before, the issue at hand is not necessarily to convert to rabbinical Judaism (although I am sure that thousands of Igbo would like to do that), but rather how to reconnect to other children of Israel and their own traditions. These traditions are under threat of being lost to the new generation under the pressure of Christian churches and also because of lack of written sources.

Many participants in the discussions complained about the current state of Igbo affairs in Nigeria. Throughout many discussions I noticed that Igbo felt threatened by Islamic developments in the northern states of Nigeria. A popular saying in Nigeria is that a place is not fit for human habitation if no Igbo man can be found there. In most of Nigeria’s cities a considerable proportion of the population is Igbo. Thus many Igbo people up north may have witnessed the recent introduction of Islamic Sharia law and fear the repetition of ethnic persecution under the pretext of religion. The memories of Biafra are still an open wound, and every family has a story to tell.

Speaking also to non-Igbo resembles talk about the Jews in Europe. Their economic power is feared and they are said to control positions of power. Does this sound familiar to you? Many Igbo are traders and “overrepresented” in Nigeria’s growing “Nollywood” film industry.

Many Igbo are waiting for the aid of Western Jewry and are looking for rabbis to come or synagogues to be built.

Next to similarities of Igbo customs to Jewish customs (like observing the laws of nidda) parallels in experience can also be found and are expressed repeatedly. In Nnewi we met an Igbo businessman from Williamsburg, New York City. This was a spontaneous meeting and this man confirmed having noticed similarities of custom between the Jews in Williamsburg and the Igbo. He was eager to buy Remy Ilona’s book, which by then had been sold on many occasions.

From Nnewi we went on to visit Remy’s clan, Ozubulu. At Okigwi we also met his niece, Uchenna. Remy also showed me the burial place of his parents in the family compound. It was so touching to see the still fresh earth on his mother’s grave. This is also the location where he intends to open an Institute for Jewish and Igbo studies in the future.

One purpose of my trip was to get in touch with the academic world in Nigeria. We visited Abia State University and Nsukka University, and I also had a meeting with a lecturer at Ibadan University later on in Abuja. In those discussions, as in others, I encountered skepticism that the Igbo came from Israel. Nevertheless, towards the end of such discussions people shifted to ascertain the importance and urgency of such a discussion and that more research has to be done about it since every Igbo child will learn at an early age that he or she is from Israel. Even with people who are skeptical about the Igbo-Jewish link, news about events in Israel is eagerly followed and sympathies are expressed in a way one may not encounter in other parts of the world.

The lack of access to information may well be symbolized by one encounter Remy Ilona and I had in a bookshop in Enugu. After a spontaneous discussion with the shop owner and another Igbo author in which both ascertained that they were Jews, I noticed a book about Adolph Hitler on a bookshelf. This was a pure piece of Nazi propaganda with a foreword by Joseph Goebbels. I asked the shop owner about it and he explained to me that he of course knows about the Shoah but that this book was the only one on Hitler he had been able to find.

After an exciting week in the Southeast (traveling to prayer over rutted roads, tasting Igbo foods, and enjoying the cordial hospitality of all the people we met) we went back to Abuja for the remaining days. There I had some last interviews with leaders of the congregations I had visited the week before plus another visit to an “ultra-Orthodox” community.

Many Igbo are waiting for the aid of Western Jewry and are looking for rabbis to come or synagogues to be built. As an anthropologist I had to take a scholarly approach, but in the eyes of many I was also perceived as a delegate from Western Jewry and Israel, which in some ways I also was. My argument then that Western Jewry is probably not too eager to proselytize seemed to be out of place when encountering so many people waiting for more information on Judaism and emphasizing that they are already Jews and wouldn’t need to convert. Considering the economic power of the Christian churches in Nigeria (it is a whole industry where big money can be made) and the reluctance that parts of Western Jewry may show towards accepting the Igbo as brothers and sisters, the struggle of Judaizing Igbo will be a long one. But those people I encountered were very dedicated to a Jewish (re)naissance, and we know of other people who have dedicated their lives to dreams that became reality.

As I was made to understand by Remy, Kulanu has helped a lot, and this could mean that Western Jewry may enter in a big way. These and other thoughts accompanied me as I was brought to the airport by Remy Ilona and his friends — the same people who had picked me up on the first day and who had become so dear to me. In the plane I also made a personal wish to return to Nigeria soon.

Igbo (Ibo) Jews

The Igbo (Ibo) Jews of Nigeria, who some consider a community of "YehudimMaghrebim" (North and West African Jews, note: Maghreb also means northern Africa, and is not exclusive to Ibos) are the Jewish component of the Igbo (Ibo) ethnic group whom are said to be descended from the southern and westward migrations of both ancient Semitic and later Jewish peoples from the Middle East into West Africa. This migration, said to have started more than 1500 years ago, is believed to have taken deeper roots in the region during the reign of the Dja (Dia) rulers of several Songhai Empire regions.

According to the record Tarikh es Soudan recorded by Abderrahman ben Abdallah es-Sadi (trad. O. Houdas) one such community was formed by a group of Egyptian Jews, who traveled by way of the Sahel corridor through Chad into Mali. Another such community was that of the Dji (Dia) ruler of Koukiya (located near the Niger river), whose name is only known as Dialliaman (or Dia min al Yaman) also called Za-al-Ayaman (meaning He comes from Yemen). According to local legends Dialliaman (Za-al-Ayaman) was a member of one of the Jewish colonies transported from Yemen by the Abbysinians in the sixth century C.E. Dialliaman is said to have traveled into West Africa along with his brother, and eventually established a local

Jewish community in Northern Nigeria.

Other sources say that other Jewish communities in the region from Morocco, Egypt, Portugal, and possibly even Gojjam Ethiopia made their way into West Africa by way of the Niger. Some communities are said to be connected to the Jewish Berber population like a group of Kal Tamasheq known as Iddao Ishaak of Niger that traveled from North Africa into West Africa for trade, as well as those escaping the Islamic invasions into North Africa and Mali.

According to Igbo lore of the Eri, Nri, and Ozubulu families the Jewish Igbo ethnic groups are comprised of the following 3 lineage types:

Benei Gath: Igbos said to have descended from tribe of Gath ben-Ya`aqov, who was the 8th son of the Israelite patriarch Ya`aqov (Jacob). This lineage is traced though Gath's son Eri ben-Gath. The clans said to come from this lineage comprise of the Aguleri, Umuleri, Oreri, Enugwu Ikwu, Ogbunike, Awkuzu, Nteje, and Igbariam.

Benei Zevulun: Igbos said to have descended from the tribe of Zevulun ben-Ya`aqov, who was the 5th son of Ya`aqov (Jacob). This lineage comprises of the Ubulu Okiti, Ubulu Ukwu, in Delta State, who settled in Ubulu Ihejiofor. According to tradition, it is said that a descendant of the tribe of Zevulun named Zevulunu, on the advice of certain Levite, married a woman from Oji, whom descended from the tribe of Judah, and from this union was born Ozubulu ben-Zebulunu. It is said that Ozubulu then went on to have 4 sons of his own who settled into other parts of the region. These sons being: Amakwa, from whom a clan in Neni, Anambra State descended, and Egbema, from whom the Egbema Ugwuta clan in Imo State and the Ohaji Egbema clan in Rivers State descended.

Benei Menash: Igbos whom it is theorized may be descendants of the tribe of Meneshsheh ben-Yoseph, who was one of the grandsons of Ya`aqov (Jacob) through his 11th son Yoseph (Joseph). According to the Torah Jacob claimed both Menashsheh and his brother Ephrayim as his own sons. It is theorized by some that this is the possible lineage of the Amichi, Ichi, Nnewi-Ichi clans.

It is also more than possible that certain Nigerian Jews in the Nri families may be descendants of Levitical (Levite Priests) migrants from Djerba, Tunisia whom were said to have left Judea and settled in North Africa before and after the destruction of the 1st and 2nd Temples in Jerusalem. The most likely scenario is that the ancestors of the Igbos were made up of familiar clans of Israelites and Judaens whom, for various reasons, left Israel before and during the Assyrian and Babylonian sieges. This would explain how their oral tradition contains the specific tribes these clans originated from.

Groups called Godians and Ibrim maintained much of the Jewish traditions of the Igbo Jews. These groups maintained the Jewish traditions that the majority of the communities lost over time due to their isolation from the rest of Nigerian society. Certain Nigerian Jewish communities have been making connections with Jews around the world with the help of Israelis who work in Nigeria, out-reach organizations like Kulanu, and members of the Igbo Jewish community outside Nigeria who underwent Giyyur Khelqi (Orthodox Returnconversion to Judaism). Two synagogues in Nigeria were formed by Jews outside Nigeria, and are maintained by Jews in Nigeria.

Because no formal census has been taken in the region, it is unknown how many native Jews reside in Nigeria. There are currently 26 synagogues of various sizes and estimates of possibly as many as 30,000 Igbos practicing Judaism.


Bnai Ephraim

The Bnai Ephraim are different from other Nigerian Jewish groups in that they live among the Yoruba instead of the Igbo people
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