Many of the traditional ceremonies in Japan and their DNA indicate that the Lost Tribes of Israel came to ancient Japan
Ark of the covenant of Israel (left) and "Omikoshi" ark of Japan (right)
Dear friends in the world,
I am a Japanese Christian writer living in Japan. As I study the Bible, I began to realize that many traditional customs and ceremonies in Japan are very similar to the ones of ancient Israel. I considered that perhaps these rituals came from the religion and customs of the Jews and the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel who might have come to ancient Japan.
The following sections are concerned with those Japanese traditions which possibly originated from the ancient Israelites.
The reason why I exhibit these on the internet is to enable anyone interested in this subject, especially Jewish friends to become more interested, research it for yourself, and share your findings.
The ancient kingdom of Israel, which consisted of 12 tribes, was in 933 B.C.E. divided into the southern kingdom of Judah and the northern kingdom of Israel. The 10 tribes out of 12 belonged to the northern kingdom and the rest to the southern kingdom. The descendants from the southern kingdom are called Jews. The people of the northern kingdom were exiled to Assyria in 722 B.C.E. and did not come back to Israel. They are called "the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel." They were scattered to the four corners of the earth. We find the descendants of the Israelites not only in the western world, but also in the eastern world especially along theSilk Road. The following peoples are thought by Jewish scholars to be the descendants of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel.
They live in Afghanistan. Yusufzai means children of Joseph. They have customs of ancient Israelites.
They live in Afghanistan and Pakistan. They have the customs of circumcision on the 8th day, fringes of robe, Sabbath, Kashrut, Tefilin, etc.
In Kashmir they have the same land names as were in the ancient northern kingdom of Israel. They have the feast of Passover and the legend that they came from Israel.
In India there are people called Knanites, which means people of Canaan. They speak Aramaic and use the Aramaic Bible.
Shinlung tribe (Bnei Menashe)
In Myanmar (Burma) and India live Shinlung tribe, also called Menashe tribe. Menashe is Manasseh, and the Menashe tribe is said to be the descendants from the tribe of Manasseh, one of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel. They have ancient Israelite customs.
Chiang (Qiang or Chiang-Min) tribe
They live in China and have ancient Israelite customs. They believe in one God and have oral tradition that they came from far west. They say that their ancestor had 12 sons. They have customs of Passover, purification, levirate marriage, etc. as ancient Israelites.
It is known that there had been a large Jewish community since the time of B.C.E..
I am going to discuss this on this website.
LOST TRIBES - Japan ISRAELITES CAME TO JAPAN
Many of the traditional ceremonies in Japan seem to be the traces that the Jews and the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel came to ancient Japan.
A Japanese festival illustrates the story of Isaac.
In Nagano prefecture, Japan, there is a large Shinto shrine named "Suwa-Taisha" (Shinto is the traditional religion peculiar to Japan.) At Suwa-Taisha, the traditional festival called "Ontohsai" is held on April 15 every year. This festival illustrates the story of Isaac in chapter 22 of Genesis in the Bible, that is, the story that Abraham was about to sacrifice his own son Isaac. The festival "Ontohsai" has been held since ancient days and has been thought of as the most important festival of "Suwa-Taisha."
Next to the shrine "Suwa-Taisha," there is a mountain called Mt. Moriya ("Moriya-san" in Japanese). And the people from the Suwa area call the god of Mt. Moriya "Moriya no kami" which means "the god of Moriya." At the festival, a boy is tied up by a rope to a wooden pillar, and placed on a bamboo carpet. A Shinto priest comes to him preparing a knife, but then a messenger (another priest) comes there, and the boy is released. It reminds us of the story that Isaac was released after an angel comes to Abraham.
The knife and sword used in the "Ontohsai" festival
At this festival, animal sacrifices are also offered. 75 deer are sacrificed, but among them it is believed that there is a deer with its ears split. Since the ram was caught in the thicket by the horns, the ear might have been split. The deer is believed to be the one God prepared. It may have some connection with the ram that God prepared and was sacrificed after Isaac was released.
A deer with its ears split
Even in historic times, people thought that this custom of deer sacrifice was strange, because animal sacrifice is not a Shinto tradition.
People call this festival "the festival for Misakuchi-god". "Misakuchi" might be "mi-isaku-chi." "Mi" means "great," "isaku" is probably Isaac (the Hebrew word "Yitzhak"), and "chi" is something for the end of the word. It seems that the people of Suwa made Isaac a god, probably by the influence of idol worshipers. Idols' origin is often in worshiping ancestors or noteworthy people become worshiped.
Today, this custom of the boy about to be sacrificed and then released, is no longer practiced, but we can still see the custom of the wooden pillar called "oniye-basira" which means "sacrifice-pillar."
The "oniye-bashira" on which the boy is supposed to be tied up
Today, people use stuffed animals instead of performing a real animal sacrifice. Tying a boy along with animal sacrifice was regarded as savage by people of the Meiji-era (about 100 years ago), and those customs were discontinued. But the festival itself still remains today.
The custom of the boy had been maintained until the beginning of Meiji era. Masumi Sugae, who was a Japanese scholar and a travel writer in the Edo era (about 200 years ago), wrote a record of his travels and noted what he saw at Suwa. The record shows the details of "Ontohsai." It tells that the custom of the boy about to be sacrificed and his ultimate release, as well as animal sacrifices, existed in those days. His records are kept at the museum near Suwa-Taisha.
The festival of "Ontohsai" has been maintained by the Moriya family ever since ancient times. The Moriya family think of "Moriya-no-kami" (god of Moriya) as their ancestor's god. And they think of "Mt. Moriya" as their holy place.
The Moriya family have been hosting the festival for 78 generations. The festival of Ontohsai must have existed since ancient times. And the curator of the museum said to me that the faith in the god of Moriya had existed among the people since the time of B.C.E..
Apparently, no other country but Japan has a festival illustrating the biblical story of Abraham and Isaac. This tradition appears to provide strong evidence that the ancient Israelites came to ancient Japan.
The Crest of the Imperial House of Japan is the same as that found on one of the gates of Jerusalem.
Today's shape looks like a chrysanthemum (mum), but scholars say that in ancient times, it rather looked like a sunflower.
This is indeed the same shape as the mark at Herod's gate in Jerusalem. The crest at Herod's gate also has 16 petals.
This crest of the Imperial House of Japan has existed since very ancient times, as well as Herod's gate. The same mark as the one at Herod's gate is found on the relics of Jerusalem from the times of the Second Temple, and also on Assyrian relics from the times of B.C.E...
The Star of David is a symbol also used at Ise-jingu, the Shinto shrine for the Imperial House of Japan.
Ise-jingu in Mie-pref., Japan, is the Shinto shrine built for the Imperial House of Japan. On both sides of the approaches to the shrine, there are street lamps made of stone. You can see the Jewish Star of David carved on each of the lamps near the top.
The crest used on the inside of the shrine (Izawa-no-miya) at Ise-jingu is also the Star of David. This has existed since ancient times.
I heard that the Star of David had been discovered at a Jewish synagogue of the third century in Europe, too.
"Yamabushi"s are religious men in training and are unique to Japan. Today, they are thought to belong to Japanese Buddhism. But the Buddhism in China, Korea, or India have no such custom. The custom of "yamabushi" has existed in Japan before Buddhism was imported into Japan in the seventh century.
The clothes worn by the "yamabushi" are basically white. On his forehead, he puts a black small box called a "tokin", which is tied to his head with a black cord. He really resembles a Jew putting on a phylactery (black box) on his forehead with a black cord. The size of this black box "tokin" is almost the same as the Jewish phylactery. But the shape of the "tokin" is round and looks like a flower.
Originally the Jewish phylactery placed on the forehead seems to have come from the forehead "plate" put on the high priest Aaron with a cord (Exodus 28:36-38). It was about 4 centimeters (1.6 inches) in size according to the folklore, and some scholars say that this was in the shape of a flower. If so, it was very similar to the shape of the Japanese "tokin" worn by the "yamabushi".
A "yamabushi" with a "tokin" blowing a horn
Israel and Japan are the only two countries that in the world I know of, that use the forehead box.
Furthermore, the "Yamabushi" use a big seashell as a horn. This is very similar to a Jew blowing a shofar, or ram's horn. The way it is blown & sounds of the yamabushi's horn are very much like a shofar. And there are no sheep in Japan, the "Yamabushi" had to use seashell horns instead of rams' horns. And it might be the reason why they used deer (deer is Kosher).
"Yamabushi"s are people who regard mountains as their holy places for religious training. The people of Israel also regarded mountains as their holy places. The Ten Commandments of the Torah were given on Mt. Sinai. Jerusalem is a city on a mountain. Jesus (Yeshua) used to climb up the mountain to pray there. His transfiguration also occurred on a mountain.
In Japan, there is the legend of "tengu" who lives on a mountain and has the figure of a "yamabushi". He has a pronounced nose and supernatural capabilities. A "Ninja", who was an agent or spy in the old days while working for his lord, goes to "tengu" at the mountain to get from him supernatural abilities. "Tengu" gives him a "tora-no-maki" (a scroll of the "tora") after giving him additional powers. This "scroll of the tora" is regarded as a very important book which is helpful for any crisis. Japanese use this word sometimes in their current lives.
There is no knowledge that a real scroll of a Jewish Torah was ever found in a Japanese historical site. But I can't help but think that this "scroll of the tora" is a usage of the holy book called "Torah", used by Jews to this day.
In the Bible, in First Chronicles chapter 15, it is written that David brought up the ark of the covenant of the Lord into Jerusalem.
"David and the elders of Israel and the commanders of units of a thousand went to bring up the ark of the covenant of the LORD from the house of Obed-Edom, with rejoicing. ...Now David was clothed in a robe of fine linen, as were all the Levites who were carrying the ark, and as were the singers, and Kenaniah, who was in charge of the singing of the choirs. David also wore a linen ephod. So all Israel brought up the ark of the covenant of the LORD with shouts, with the sounding of rams' horns and trumpets, and of cymbals, and the playing of lyres and harps." (15:25-28)
Illustration of Israeli people carrying the Ark of the Covenant
When I read these passages, I think; "How well does this look like the scene of Japanese people carrying our 'omikoshi' during festivals? The shape of the Japanese 'Omikoshi' really looks like the ark of the covenant. Japanese people sing and dance in front of it with shouts, and with the sounding of musical instruments. These are very similar to the customs of ancient Israel."
Japanese people carry the "omikoshi" on their shoulders with poles - usually two poles. So did the ancient Israelites:
"The Levites carried the ark of God with poles on their shoulders, as Moses had commanded in accordance with the word of the LORD." (1 Chronicles 15:15)
The Israelite ark of the covenant had two poles (Exodus 25:10-15). Some restored models of the ark, as it was imagined to be, have been using two poles on the upper parts of the ark. But the Bible says those poles were to be fastened to the ark by the four rings "on its four feet" (Exodus 25:12). So the poles must have been attached on the bottom of the ark. This is similar to the Japanese "omikoshi."
The Israelite ark had two statues of gold cherubim on its top. Cherubim are a kind of angel, a mysterious heavenly being. They have wings like birds. Japanese "omikoshi" also have on its top the gold bird called "Ho-oh" which is an imaginary bird and a mysterious heavenly being. The entire Israelite ark was overlaid with gold. Japanese "omikoshi" are also overlaid mostly with gold. The size of "omikoshi" is almost the same as the Israelite ark. Japanese "omikoshi" may be a remnant of the ark of ancient Israel.
Many things concerning the ark resemble Japanese customs.
King David and people of Israel sang and danced with the sounding of musical instruments in front of the ark. We Japanese sing and dance with the sounding of musical instruments in front of "omikoshi," as well.
Several years ago, I saw an American-made movie titled "King David" which was a faithful story of the life of King David. In the movie, David was dancing in front of the ark when bringing up the ark into Jerusalem. I thought: "If the scenery of Jerusalem were replaced by Japanese scenery, this scene would be just the same as what I see here at festivals in Japan."
The atmosphere of the music also resembled Japanese. David's dancing really looked like Japanese traditional dancing.
At the Shinto shrine festival of "Gion-jinja" in Kyoto, men carry "omikoshi," then go into the water, and cross a river. I can't help but think this originates from the memory of the ancient Israelites carrying the ark as they crossed the Jordan river after their exodus from Egypt.
Young Levite Israelite looking at Pyramids while leaving Egypt
In an island of Inland Sea of Seto, Japan, the men who were selected as the carriers of the "omikoshi", stay together at a house for one week before they would carry the "omikoshi." This is to prevent profaning themselves. Furthermore, on the day before they carry "omikoshi," they bathe in seawater to sanctify themselves. This is the same custom as the ancient Israelites':
The Bible says that after the ark entered Jerusalem and the march was finished; "David distributed to everyone of Israel, both man and woman, to everyone a loaf of bread, a piece of meat, and a cake of raisins" (1 Chronicles 16:3). This is the same custom as the Japanese. Sweets are distributed to everyone after a festival in Japan as well. It was a delight during my childhood.
The robe of Japanese priests resembles the robe of Israelite priests.
The Bible says that when David brought up the ark into Jerusalem; "David was clothed in a robe of fine linen" (1 Chronicles 15:27). So were priests and choirs. In the Japanese Bible, this verse is translated into "robe of white linen."
In ancient Israel, although the high priest wore a colorful robe, other ordinary priests wore simple white linens. Priests wore white clothes at holy events. So do Japanese priests wear white robes at holy events. In Ise-jingu, one of the oldest shrines of Japan, all the priests wear white robes. And in many Shinto shrines of Japan, people wear white robes when they carry the "omikoshi" just like the Israelites did. Buddhist priests wear luxurious colorful robes. But in the Japanese Shinto religion, white is regarded as the holiest color.
The Emperor of Japan, just after he finished the ceremony of his accession to the throne, comes alone in front of the Shinto god. When he comes there, he wears pure white robe on his whole body. Furthermore, with his feet naked. This is the same as when Moses and Joshua removed their sandals in front of God in bare feet (Exodus 3:5, Joshua 5:15).
Marvin Tokayer, a rabbi who lived in Japan for 10 years, wrote in his book: "The linen robes which Japanese Shinto priests wear have the same figure as the white linen robes of the ancient priests of Israel. "
Japanese Shinto priest in white robe with fringes
The Japanese Shinto priest robe has cords of 20-30 centimeters long (about 10 inches) hung from the corners of the robe. These fringes are the custom of the Israelites. Deuteronomy 22:12 says: "make them fringes in the corners of their garments throughout their generations."
Fringes (tassels) were a token that a person was an Israelite. In the gospels of the New Testament, it is also written that the Pharisees "make their tassels on their garments long" (Matthew 23:5). A woman who had been suffering from a hemorrhage came to Jesus (Yeshua) and touched the "tassel on His coat". Imagined pictures of ancient Israelite clothing sometimes do not have fringes. But their robes actually had fringes. The Jewish Tallit (prayer shawl), which the Jews put on when they pray, has fringes in the corners according to tradition.
Japanese Shinto priests wear on their robe a rectangle of cloth from their shoulders to thighs. This is the same as the ephod worn by David: "David also wore a linen ephod." (1 Chronicles 15:27)
Although the ephod of the high priest was colorful with jewels, the ordinary priests under him wore the ephods of simple white linen cloth (1 Samuel 22:18). Rabbi Tokayer says that the rectangle of cloth on the robe of Japanese Shinto priest looks very similar to the ephod of the Kohen, the Jewish priest.
The Japanese Shinto priest puts a cap on his head just like Israeli priest did (Exodus 29:40). The Japanese priest also puts a sash on his waist. So did the Israeli priest. The clothing of Japanese Shinto priests appears to be similar to the clothing used by ancient Israelites.
Waving the sheaf of harvest is also the custom of Japan.
The Jews wave a sheaf of their harvest stacks of grain seven weeks before Shavuot (Pentecost, Leviticus 23:10-11), They do this also at the Feast of Booths (Sukkot, Leviticus 23:40). This has been a tradition since the time of Moses. Ancient Israelite priests also waved a plant branch when he sanctifies someone. David said, "Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean" [Psalm 51:7(9)]. This is also a traditional Japanese custom.
Shinto priest waving for sanctification
When a Japanese priest sanctifies someone or something, he waves a plant branch. Or, he waves a "harainusa" which is like a plant branch. Today's "harainusa" is simplified and made of white paper that is folded in a zig-zag pattern like small lightning bolts, but in old days it was a plant branch or cereals.
A Japanese Christian woman, acquaintance of mine, used to think of this "harainusa" as just a pagan custom. But she later went to the USA, and had an opportunity to attend a Sukkot meeting. When she saw the Jewish waving of the sheaf of the harvest, she shouted in her heart, "Oh, this is the same as a Japanese priest does! Here lies the home for the Japanese."
The structure of the Japanese Shinto shrine is the same as God's Tabernacle of ancient Israel.
The inside of God's tabernacle in ancient Israel was divided into two parts. One is the Holy Place, and another the Holy of Holies. The Japanese Shinto shrine is also divided into two parts.
The functions prepared in the Japanese shrine are similar to the ones of the Israelite tabernacle. Japanese people pray in front of its Holy Place. They cannot enter inside. Only Shinto priests can enter. Shinto priest enters the Holy of Holies only at special times. This is similar to the Israelite tabernacle.
The Japanese Holy of Holies is located usually in far west or far north of the shrine as in the Israelite tabernacle. Shinto's Holy of Holies is also located on a higher level than the Holy Place, and between them there are steps. Scholars say that, in the Israelite temple built by Solomon, the Holy of Holies was on an elevated level as well, and between them there were steps of about 2.7 meters (9 feet) wide.
In front of a Japanese shrine, there are two statues of lions called "komainu" that sit on both sides of the approach. They are not idols, but guards for the shrine.
"Komainu" guards for shrine
In the early history of Japan, there were absolutely no lions. But the statues of lions have been placed in Japanese shrines since ancient times. It has been proven by scholars that statues of lions located in front of Japanese shrines originated from the Middle East.
Located near the entrance of a Japanese shrine, there is "temizuya" which is a place for worshipers to wash their hands and mouth. This is the same custom as found in Jewish synagogues. The ancient tabernacle and temple of Israel also had a laver for washing and sanctification near the entrances well.
In front of a Japanese shrine, there is a gate called the "torii." China or in Korea, it is peculiar to Japan. The "torii" gate consists of two vertical pillars and a bar connecting the upper parts. But the oldest form consists of only two vertical pillars and a rope connecting the upper parts. When a Shinto priest bows to the gate, he bows to the two pillars separately. It is assumed that the "torii" gate was originally constructed of only two pillars.
In the Israelite temple, there were two pillars used as a gate (1 Kings 7:21). And in Aramaic language, which ancient Israelites used, the word for gate was "tar'a."
This word might have changed slightly and become the Japanese "torii" (in fact in Semitic languages vowels didn't really exist, it wouldn't mind seeing one vowel or another as long as the consonant was in the right place). Some "torii"s, especially of old shrines, are painted red. I can't help but think this is a picture of the two door posts and the lintel on which the blood of the lamb was put the night before the exodus from Egypt.
Japanese gate: Torii
In the Japanese Shinto religion, there is a custom to surround a holy place with a rope called the "shimenawa" which has slips of white papers inserted along the bottom edge of the rope. The "simenawa" rope is set as the boundary. The Bible says that when Moses was given God's Ten Commandments on Mt. Sinai, he "set bounds" (Exodus 19:12) around it for the Israelites not to approach. Although I don't know what kind of things these "bounds" were, ropes must have been set as the boundary. The Japanese "shimenawa" rope might then be a custom that originates from the time of Moses. The zigzag pattern of white papers inserted along the rope reminds me of the thunders at Mt.Sinai.
"You shall set bounds for the people all around, saying, 'Beware that you do not go up on the mountain or touch the border of it; whoever touches the mountain shall surely be put to death.
The major difference between a Japanese shrine and the ancient Israelite temple is that a Shinto shrine does not have the burning altar for animal sacrifices. I used to wonder why Shinto religion does not have the custom of animal sacrifices if Shinto originates from the religion of ancient Israel.
But then I found the answer in Deuteronomy chapter 12. Moses commanded people not to offer any animal sacrifices at any other locations except at specific places in Canaan (12:10-14). So, if the Israelites came to ancient Japan, they would not be permitted to offer animal sacrifices.
Shinto shrine is usually built on a mountain or a hill. Almost every mountain in Japan has a shrine, even you find a shrine on top of Mt. Fuji. In ancient Israel, on mountains were usually located worship places called "the high places". The temple of Jerusalem was built on a mountain (Mt. Moriah). Moses was given the Ten Commandments from God on Mt. Sinai. It was thought in Israel that mountain is a place close to God.
Many Shinto shrines are built with the gates in the east and the Holy of Holies in the west as we see in Matsuo grand shrine (Matsuo-taisya) in Kyoto and others. While, others are built with the gates in the south and the Holy of Holies in the north. The reason of building with the gates in the east (and the Holy of Holies in the west) is that the sun comes from the east. The ancient Israelite tabernacle or temple was built with the gate in the east and the Holy of Holies in the west, based on the belief that the glory of God comes from the east.
All Shinto shrines are made of wood. Many parts of the ancient Israelite temple were also made of wood. The Israelites used stones in some places, but walls, floors, ceilings and all of the insides were overlaid with wood (1 Kings 6:9, 15-18), which was cedars from Lebanon (1 Kings 5:6).
In Japan they do not have cedars from Lebanon, so in Shinto shrines they use Hinoki cypress which is hardly eaten by bugs like cedars from Lebanon. The wood of the ancient Israelite temple was all overlaid with gold (1 Kings 6:20-30). In Japan the important parts of the main shrine of Ise-jingu, for instance, are overlaid with gold.
Many Japanese customs resemble the customs of ancient Israel.
When Japanese people pray in front of the Holy Place of a Shinto shrine, they firstly ring the golden bell which is hung at the center of the entrance. This is the custom of the ancient Israel. The high priest Aaron put "bells of gold" on the hem of his robe. This was so that its sound might be heard and he might not die when he ministered there (Exodus 28:33-35).
Golden bell at the entrance of Shinto shrine
Japanese people clap their hands two times when they pray there. This was, in ancient Israel, the custom to mean "I keep promises." In the Scriptures, you can find the word which is translated as "pledge." The original meaning of this word in Hebrew is "clap his hand" (Ezekiel 17:18, Proverbs 6:1). It seems that ancient people of Israel clapped their hands when they pledged or when they did an important thing.
Japanese people bow in front of the shrine before and after clapping their hands and praying. They also perform a bow as a polite greeting when they meet each other. To bow was also the custom of ancient Israel. Jacob bowed when he was approaching Esau (Genesis 33:3). I have noticed that modern Jews do not bow. However, they bow when reciting prayers. Modern Ethiopian people have the custom of bowing, probably because of the ancient Jews who emigrated to Ethiopia in ancient days. The Ethiopian bow is similar to the Japanese.
We Japanese have the custom to use salt for sanctification. People sometimes sow salt after an offensive person leaves. When I was watching a TV drama from the times of the Samurai, a woman threw salt on the place where a man she hated left. This custom is the same as that of the ancient Israelites. After Abimelech captured an enemy city, "he sowed it with salt" (Judges 9:45). We Japanese quickly understand this to mean to cleanse and sanctify the city.
I heard that when Jews move to a new house they sow it with salt to sanctify and cleanse it. Again this is the same in Japan. In Japanese-style restaurants, they usually put salt near the entrance. Jews also use salt for Kosher meat. All Kosher meat is purified with salt and all meals start with bread and salt.
Japanese people place salt at the entrance of a funeral home. After coming back from a funeral, one has to sprinkle salt on oneself before entering his/her home, for it is thought in Shinto that anyone who went to a funeral or touched a dead body has become unclean. Again, this is the same concept as was observed by the ancient Israelites.
Japanese "sumo" wrestler sowing with salt
Japanese "sumo" wrestlers sow the sumo ring with salt before they fight. European or American people wonder why they sow salt. But Rabbi Tokayer wrote that Jews quickly understand its meaning. Japanese people offer salt every time they perform a religious offering, This is the same custom used by the Israelites, for the Bible says: "With all your offerings you shall offer salt." (Leviticus 2:13)
Japanese people in ancient times had the custom to put some salt into baby's first bath. The ancient people of Israel washed a new born baby with water after rubbing the baby softly with salt (Ezekiel 16:4). Sanctification and cleansing with salt and/or water is a common custom among both the Japanese and Israelites.
In the Hebrew Scriptures, the words "clean" or "unclean" often appears. Europeans and Americans are not familiar with this concept. But the Japanese people easily understand it, for it is Shinto's central concept to value cleanness and to avoid uncleanness. This concept probably came from ancient Israel.
In Japanese Shinto religion, there are no idols likewise Israelite religion.
Buddhist temples have idols which are carved in the shape of Buddha and other gods. But in Japanese Shinto shrines, there are no idols. In the center of the Holy of Holies of a Shinto shrine, there is a mirror, sword, or pendant. But Shinto believers do not regard these items as their gods. In Shinto, gods are thought to be invisible. The mirror, sword, and pendant are not idols, but merely objects to show that it is the holy place where invisible gods come down.
In the ark of the covenant of ancient Israel, there were the tablets of stone of God's Ten Commandments, a jar of manna, and the rod of Aaron. These were not idols, but objects to show that it was the holy place where the invisible God comes down. The same thing can be said concerning the objects in Japanese shrines.
Ancient Japanese people had the belief in Yahweh!?
There is a difference that Shinto religion believes in many gods, while the Israelite (Jewish) religion believes in only one true God.
However, different from the modern Judaism, ancient religion of Israel, especially of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel, inclined to idol worship and polytheistic belief (belief in many gods). They believed in not only the true God Yahweh, but also Baal, Astaroth, Molech, and other pagan gods. Practically the religion of ancient Israel was not monotheistic. Shinto's polytheistic belief seems to have come from the polytheistic inclination of ancient Israel. Shinto scholars say that a Shinto god "Susanoh" resembles Baal in several aspects, and a Shinto goddess "Amaterasu" resembles Astaroth.
Sousanna is the Greek form of the Hebrew name Shoshannah which was derived from the Hebrew word shoshan meaning "lily", perhaps ultimately from Egyptian sšn "lotus". In the Old Testament Apocrypha this is the name of a woman falsely accused of adultery. The prophet Daniel clears her name by tricking her accusers, who end up being condemned themselves. It also occurs in the New Testament belonging to a woman who ministered to Christ.
Until 40 decades ago, at Mt. Inomure in Ooita pref., Japan, people had held a ceremony to beg rainfall. They put woods together in the shape of the Star of David for making the foundation, on it constructed a tower made of tree branches, and on its top put a bamboo pole tangled with a slough of snake. They burned the tower and prayed for rainfall. It reminds us of the story that ancient Israelites had burned incense to the bronze serpent (made by Moses) on the pole until the reign of the King Hezekiah (2 Kings 18:4).
Although Shinto is a polytheistic religion, I think there is a possibility that ancient Shinto had once believed in Yahweh also.
The first born among the Shinto gods is called "Amenominakanushi-no-kami." This god is said to have appeared first, live in the midst of the universe, have no shape, no dying, be the invisible master of the universe, and be the absolute god, who resembles the Biblical God as the Master of the universe.
Archaeologists say that the religions of Babylon and of Egypt had originally believed in one god called "the god of sky," which seemed to have a connection to the Biblical "God of heaven." Later, their religions degraded to the polytheism. I think that we can safely say the same thing happened to the Shinto religion. I suppose that the ancient Shinto religion had the belief in God Yahweh, but later degenerated into polytheism. I believe that the Japanese people should come back to believe in one true God whom the Bible teaches.
A Christian friend of mine, Mr. Tsujii, once told me a story. One day, Mr. Tsujii's friend who is a passionate Shinto believer came to him. The Shinto believer brought the Bible and said excitingly to Mr. Tsujii:
"I read the Torah. I was very surprised to know the religious ceremonies of ancient Israel. The ways of them are the same as Shinto's! The way of their festivals, the way of the Temple, the way to value cleanness, all of them are the same as Shinto's!" Then, Mr. Tsujii said to him:
"Yes, that is what I have also noticed. If you have noticed it, why don't you believe in God whom the Bible teaches? I believe that is the way to establish and recover the true Shinto religion in which you believe." Hearing it, the Shinto believer was too surprised to say any more words for a while.
The words of Mr. Tsujii are the same feeling as that I have for all the Shinto believers in Japan. I pray that all Japanese people may come back to believe in God of the Bible. Because He is also the Father of the Japanese nation.
Festivals of Japan Resemble the Festivals of Ancient Israel.
Today we Japanese celebrate the new year on January 1st, but historically we used the lunar calendar, when January 15th was the official date for the new year celebration. It is a Japanese custom during the celebration to eat "mochi" (rice cakes) throughout the seven days. This is a similar custom to the Jewish's, for the Bible states:
The recipe for "unleavened bread" is the same for Japanese "mochi," because if you use rice as the ingredient instead of wheat flour, it would become Japanese "mochi." The Hebrew word for unleavened bread" is "matsah." I can't believe that it is an accident that these two words sound alike. Indeed the consonantical sounds are basically the same & the vowels didn't really exist in Hebrew, so they're virtually the same sounds.
Furthermore, the Japanese people eat porridge with seven kinds of bitter herbs during celebration. In historical times people ate the herbs on January 15. The ancient Israelites also ate "with bitter herbs" on the 15th of the first month (Exodus 12:8).
In Japan, we have the "Gion" festivals at many locations during summer. The most important is the one held at the "Yasaka-jinja" Shinto shrine in Kyoto. The festival in Kyoto continues throughout July each year. But, the most important part of the festival is held from the 17th to the 25th of July (We Japanese call it "the seventh month"). The 1st and 10th of July are also important. This has been a tradition since ancient times. But the 17th of the seventh month is the day that Noah's ark drifted to Ararat: "Then the ark rested in the seventh month, the seventeenth day of the month, on the mountains of Ararat." (Genesis 8:4)
We can imagine that the ancient Israelites had a thanksgiving feast on this day. But after Moses, it was replaced by the Feast of Booths (harvest festival) which is held on the 1st, 10th day of the seventh month, and during 8 days from the 15th of the seventh month (Numbers 29:1, 7, 12, 35).
The "Gion" festival in Kyoto started with the wish that no pestilence would occur among people. This is similar to what King Solomon started, in the wish that no pestilence would occur in the country, the feast which continued for 8 days (including the last meeting day) from the 15th of the seventh month (2 Chronicles 7:8-10). Over 120 years ago, a business man from Scotland, N. Mcleod, came to Japan and investigated the customs of Japan. He wrote a book titled "Epitome of Japanese Ancient History." In the book, he wrote that the "Gion" festival in Kyoto resembled Jewish festivals very much. Rabbi Tokayer made a similar comment. He said that the name "Gion" reminds him of "Zion" which is another name used for Jerusalem. In fact, Kyoto used to be called "Heian-kyo" which means "peace". Jerusalem in Hebrew also means "peace". "Heian-kyo" might be Japanese for "Jerusalem."
At the "Gion" festival in Kyoto, people start the festival with a shout of "en-yara-yah." We Japanese do not understand the meaning of this Japanese word. But, Eiji Kawamorita, a Japanese scholar and a Christian pastor who mastered Hebrew, wrote in his book that this word came from the Hebrew expression "eni ahalel yah" which means "I praise Yahweh (the Lord)."
Old Japanese words have Hebrew origin.
Joseph Eidelberg, a Jew who once came to Japan and stayed for years at a Japanese Shinto shrine, wrote a book entitled "The Japanese and the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel." He wrote that many Japanese words originated from ancient Hebrew.
For instance, we Japanese say "hazukashime" to mean disgrace or humiliation. In Hebrew, it is "hadak hashem" (tread down the name. See Job 40:12). The pronunciation and the meaning of them are both almost the same.
We say "anta" to mean "you," which is the same in Hebrew. Kings in ancient Japan were called with the word "mikoto," which might come from a Hebrew word "malhuto" which means "his kingdom." We call the Emperor of Japan "mikado." This resembles the Hebrew word "migadol" which means the noble. The ancient Japanese word for an area leader is "agata-nushi;" "agata" is area, and "nushi" is a leader. In Hebrew, they are called "aguda" and "nasi."
When we Japanese count "One, two, three... ten," we sometimes say: "Hi, fu, mi, yo, itsu, mu, nana, ya, kokono, towo."
This is a traditional expression, but its meaning is unknown if we think of it as Japanese.
It is said that this expression originates from an ancient Japanese myth. In the Shinto myth, the goddess "Amaterasu", who manages the sunlight of the world, once hid herself in a heavenly cave, and the world became dark. Then, according to the oldest book of Japanese history, the priest called "Koyane" prayed with words before the cave and in front of the other gods to have "Amaterasu" come out. Although the words that were said in the prayer are not written in the book, a legend says that these words were "Hi, fu, mi...."
"Amaterasu" is hiding in a heavenly cave; "Koyane" is praying and "Uzume" is dancing.
Joseph Eidelberg writes that this is a beautiful Hebrew expression, if we suppose that there have been some changes in the pronunciation throughout history. These words are to be spelled: These words are spelled: "Hifa mi yotsia ma na'ne ykakhena tavo."
This means: "The beautiful (Goddess). Who will bring her out? What should we call out (in chorus) to entice her to come?" This surprisingly fits the situation of the myth.
Moreover, we Japanese not only say "Hi, hu, mi...," but also say with the same meaning: "Hitotsu, futatsu, mittsu, yotsu, itsutsu, mutsu, nanatsu, yatsu, kokonotsu, towo."
Here, "totsu" or "tsu" is put to each of "Hi, hu, mi..." as the last part of the words. But the last "towo" (which means ten) remains the same. "Totsu" may be the Hebrew word "tetse" which means "She comes out. " And "tsu" may be the Hebrew word "tse" which means "Come out." Eidelberg supposes that these words were said by the gods who surrounded the priest "Koyane." That is, when "Koyane" first says "Hi," the surrounding gods add "totsu" (She comes out) in reply, and secondly when "Koyane" says "Fu," the gods add "totsu" (tatsu), and so on. In this way, it became "Hitotsu, futatsu, mittsu...." But the last word "towo" the priest "Koyane" and the surrounding gods said together. If this is the Hebrew word "tavo," it means "(She) shall come." When they said this, the goddess "Amaterasu" came out. "Hi, fu, mi..." and "Hitotsu, futatsu, mitsu..." later were used as the words to count numbers.
In addition, the name of the priest "Koyane" sounds close to a Hebrew word "kohen" which means a priest. Eidelberg showed many other examples of Japanese words (several thousand) which appeared to have a Hebrew origin. This does not appear to be accidental.
In ancient Japanese folk songs, there appear many words which we cannot understand as Japanese. Dr. Eiji Kawamorita says that many of them are Hebrew. A Japanese folk song in Kumamoto pref. is sung "Hallelujah, haliya, haliya, tohse, Yahweh, Yahweh, yoitonnah...." This also sounds like Hebrew.
Lost Tribes of Israel came to ancient Japan.
Ancient Israel was divided into two countries; one is the southern kingdom of Judah, and the other is the northern kingdom of Israel. In 70 A.D., the people of the southern kingdom of Judah scattered all over the world. There is some evidence that Jews traveled the silk road and went as far away as Japan. But, how about the people of the northern kingdom of Israel? The ancient book of history 'the fourth book of Ezra' says that the Ten Tribes of the northern kingdom of Israel went east and walked for one and a half years to a far away land.
The word "dispersed" is used for the people of Judah, but "outcasts" is used for the people of Israel. The ten northern tribes were driven away to a land rather than "dispersed". The main body must have gone to a country far away from Israel.
There is strong evidence of an ancient Israelite presence in Afghanistan, Kashmir, India, and China. According to a Chinese historical book, there were Israelites who had the custom of circumcision in the time of the second century B.C.E. in China. The ten tribes of Israel must have moved east passing these countries. We cannot say there is no possibility that the main body of the Ten Tribes of Israel came far away to Japan.
In ancient times, some people moved to Japan from China, some people also came from Russia, and some people from South-East Asia. Most of them were of Mongoloid stock. Among them, there is a possibility that the main body of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel also came to Japan.
I don't believe that the Japanese religion called Shinto and all of its customs came from the southern kingdom, the Jews. But, if the Lost Tribes came to Japan in early history, it is understandable that their religion and customs would have a strong influence on Japan. According to the research of Dr. Kawamorita, there appears God's holy name "Yahweh" many times in ancient Japanese folk songs. The Jews of Judah do not use His name, because they quit pronouncing His name from the third century B.C.E.. But the people of Israel continued to pronounce His name.
The formal name for the Emperor "Jinmu," the first Emperor of Japan, is "Kamu-yamato-iware-biko-sumera-mikoto." Joseph Eidelberg says that it can be interpreted in Hebrew as "The king of Samaria, the noble founder of the Hebrew nation of Yahweh." This is not to mean that "Jinmu" himself is really the founder of the Hebrew nation, but the memory of the Hebrew nation might have come into the legend of the Japanese first Emperor "Jinmu."
But, how about the custom of circumcision? Rev. Takatoshi Kobayashi, who is one of the grandsons of Meiji-tennoh, and a member of the Imperial family of Japan, but is a Christian pastor now, says that the emperor and the prince of Japan are circumcised. However, this testimony is the only evidence I know that the custom of circumcision exists in Japan.
From the study of blood types.
Prof. Tanemoto Furuhata, who is the authority of forensic medicine at Tokyo University, writes in his book that the blood types of the Japanese and the Jews are very similar, and he was surprised to get to know of it. I also heard that a professor of Paris University had discovered that the chromosome "Y" of the Japanese is the same in size as that of the Jews.
But I expect that further research will be done by a lot of people. The decisive evidence that may prove to all people that the Ten Lost Tribes came to Japan has not been discovered yet. Finally, I introduce the rumor that God's name is written in Hebrew on the holy mirror which is kept at the Japanese Shinto shrine "Ise-jingu" since ancient times.
Concerning the rumor that God's name is written in Hebrew on the Holy Mirror of Ise.
In the Imperial House of Japan, there are three valuable treasures which were derived from ancient Japanese myths. These three are a sword, a jewel pendant and a mirror.
Among them, the mirror called "Yata-no-kagami" (mirror of Yata) is placed in "Ise-jingu" which is the Shinto shrine for the Imperial House. In fact, there is a rumor that God's name is written in Hebrew on the back of this holy mirror. This mirror is regarded to be very holy and no one is permitted to see it usually. But there are some people who insist that they have seen it.
About a hundred years ago, Arinori Mori, the Minister of Education, Culture, and Science of Japan at that time, insisted that he saw the back of the holy mirror. He said that on it written in Hebrew was the God's name "I AM THAT I AM", that is, the name which God spoke to Moses (Exodus 3:14).
After World War Two, Dr. Sakon, a professor from Aoyama-gakuin University, stated that he had seen a replica of the mirror which was placed in the Imperial Palace. He said that on it written in Hebrew was God's name "I AM THAT I AM".
Later, it is said that Yutaro Yano, a passionate Shinto believer, saw the mirror and transcribed the patterns of the back of the holy mirror. Yano asked a priest at Ise-jingu again and again if he could look at the mirror. The priest moved by Yano's passion, secretly permitted him to look at the mirror, and Yano carefully copied the pattern off the back of the mirror.
This copy has been maintained for years in a Shinto group named "Shinsei-Ryujinkai" which is run by Yano's daughter. It had been held in secret by the group. But later they say that there was "god's revelation" to show the copy to His Highness Mikasanomiya, a younger brother of the Emperor Hirohito (Showa Tennoh). Mr. Wadoh Kohsaka, who is a Shinto researcher, had a role in handing it to Mikasanomiya. After that, Kohsaka decided to show the copy to the public in his book, for he thought it was important for the Japanese to know the truth. The book was published several years ago.
There are two theories on how to interpret the letters on the mirror. One is to interpret the letters as "Hifu-moji" which is believed to be one of "Jindai-moji"s, the supposed Japanese letters existed in ancient Japan before Kanji-writing had been imported from China to Japan. Another theory is to interpret them as ancient Hebrew. The theory of "Hifu-moji" is from Yano himself, but I don't believe it. Because I find some contradictions in his interpretation. And no one knows what Hifu-moji really looks like, so how can we accept them as Hifu-moji? Furthermore, all the known Japanese ancient "Jindai-moji"s are written vertically. I have never seen it written horizontally.
Some people suggest that the 7 letters inside the central circle of the mirror might be read as "I AM THAT I AM" - in Hebrew "eheyeh asher eheyeh," reading "eheyeh" two times. Other suggest that they could be read as "Yahweh's light," - in Hebrew "or Yahweh" ("Or" means light). If they could be read "Yahweh's light," it might be the reason why the god of the Imperial House is called "Amaterasu" which means the god of light or god of the sun. The god of the Imperial House of Japan may have originally the God of the Bible, but later the faith in Him got mixed with the belief in "Amaterasu." People started to call the god of the Imperial House "Amaterasu," because on the mirror was written "Yahweh's light" (Psalm 36:9, 84:11.)
As for the letters outside the central circle, a person suggests that they are ancient Greek. But some letters among them are the same as the ones inside the circle. So I think both the letters inside and outside belong to the same language.
I think that these letters also look like Aramaic language which the ancient Israelites used. If anyone reading this has a different understanding, please let me know. Anyway, we do not have any evidence that the copy of Yano is really the pattern of the back of the holy mirror. This still remains as a mystery. I wish that the day to show the mirror to the public would come.
Similarity Between the Biblical Genealogy and Japanese Mythology
There is a remarkable similarity between the Biblical article and Japanese mythology. A Japanese scholar points out that the stories around Ninigi in the Japanese mythology greatly resemble the stories around Jacob in the Bible.
In the Japanese mythology, the Imperial family of Japan and the nation of Yamato (the Japanese) are descendants from Ninigi, who came from heaven. Ninigi is the ancestor of the tribe of Yamato, or Japanese nation. While Jacob is the ancestor of the Israelites.
In the Japanese mythology, it was not Ninigi who was to come down from heaven, but the other. But when the other was preparing, Ninigi was born and in a result, instead of him, Ninigicame down from heaven and became the ancestor of the Japanese nation. In the same way, according to the Bible, it was Esau, Jacob's elder brother, who was to become God's nation but in a result, instead of Esau, God's blessing for the nation was given to Jacob, and Jacob became the ancestor of the Israelites.
And in the Japanese mythology, after Ninigi came from heaven, he fell in love with a beautiful woman named Konohana-sakuya-hime and tried to marry her. But her father asked him to marry not only her but also her elder sister. However the elder sister was ugly and Ninigi gave her back to her father. In the same way, according to the Bible, Jacob fell in love with beautiful Rachel and tried to marry her (Genesis chapter 29). But her father says to Jacob that he cannot give the younger sister before the elder, so he asked Jacob to marry the elder sister (Leah) also. However the elder sister was not so beautiful, Jacob disliked her. Thus, there is a parallelism between Ninigi and Jacob.
And in the Japanese mythology, Ninigi and his wife Konohana-sakuya-hime bear a child namedYamasachi-hiko. But Yamasachi-hiko is bullied by his elder brother and has to go to the country of a sea god. There Yamasachi-hiko gets a mystic power and troubles the elder brother by giving him famine, but later forgives his sin. In the same way, according to the Bible, Jacob and his wife Rachel bear a child named Joseph. But Joseph is bullied by his elder brothers and had to go to Egypt. There Joseph became the prime minister of Egypt and gets power, and when the elder brothers came to Egypt because of famine, Joseph helped them and forgives their sin. Thus, there is a parallelism between Yamasachi-hiko and Joseph.
While, what is it in the Bible? Joseph married a daughter of a priest in Egypt, and bore Manasseh and Ephraim. Ephraim resembles Ugaya-fukiaezu in the sense that Ephraim had 4 sons, but his second and third sons were killed and died early (1 Chronicles 7:20-27), and a descendant from the forth son was Joshua who conquered the land of Canaan (the land ofIsrael). On the line of Ephraim is the Royal House of the Ten Tribes of Israel.
Thus we find a remarkable similarity between the biblical genealogy and Japanese mythology - between Ninigi and Jacob, Yamasachi-hiko and Joseph, and the Imperial family of Japan and the tribe of Ephraim.
Furthermore, in the Japanese mythology, the heaven is called Hara of Takama (Takama-ga-haraor Takama-no-hara). Ninigi came from there and founded the Japanese nation. Concerning this Hara of Takama, Zen'ichirou Oyabe, a Japanese researcher, thought that this is the city Haraninthe region of Togarmah where Jacob and his ancestors once lived; Jacob lived in Haran ofTogarmah for a while, then came to Canaan and founded the Israelite nation.
Jacob once saw in a dream the angels of God ascending and descending between the heaven and the earth (Genesis 28:12), when Jacob was given a promise of God that his descendants would inherit the land of Canaan. This was different from Ninigi's descending from heaven, but resembles it in image.
Thus, except for details, the outline of the Japanese mythology greatly resembles the records of the Bible. It is possible to think that the myths of Kojiki and Nihon-shoki, the Japanese chronicles written in the 8th century, were originally based on Biblical stories but later added with various pagan elements. Even it might be possible to think that the Japanese mythology was originally a kind of genealogy which showed that the Japanese are descendants from Jacob, Joseph, and Ephraim.
Impurity during Menstruation and Bearing Child
The concept of uncleanness during menstruation and bearing child has existed in Japan since ancient times. It has been a custom in Japan since old days that woman during menstruation should not attend holy events at shrine. She could not have sex with her husband and had to shut herself up in a hut (called Gekkei-goya in Japanese), which is built for collaboration use in village, during her menstruation and several days or about 7 days after the menstruation. This custom had been widely seen in Japan until Meiji era (about 100 years ago). After the period of shutting herself up ends, she had to clean herself by natural water as river, spring, or sea. It there is no natural water, it can be done in bathtub.
This resembles ancient Israelite custom very much. In ancient Israel, woman during menstruation could not attend holy events at the temple, had to be apart from her husband, and it was custom to shut herself up in a hut during her menstruation and 7 days after the menstruation (Leviticus 15:19, 28). This shutting herself up was said "to continue in the blood of her purification", and this was for purification and to make impurity apart from the house or the village.
Menstruation hut used by Falasha, Ethiopian Jews
This remains true even today. There are no sexual relations, for the days of menstruation and an additional 7 days. Then the woman goes to the Mikveh, ritual bath. The water of the Mikvehmust be natural water. There are cases of gathering rainwater and putting it to the Mikvehbathtub. In case of not having enough natural water, water from faucet is added.
Modern people may feel irrational about this concept but women during menstruation or bearing child need rest physically and mentally. Woman herself says that she feels impure in her blood in the period. "To continue in the blood of her purification" refers to this need of rest of her blood.
Not only concerning menstruation, but also the concept concerning bearing child in Japanese Shinto resembles the one of ancient Israel.
A mother who bore a child is regarded unclean in a certain period. This concept is weak among the Japanese today, but was very common in old days. The old Shinto book, Engishiki (the 10th century C.E.), set 7 days as a period that she cannot participate in holy events after she bore a child. This resembles an ancient custom of Israel, for the Bible says that when a woman has conceived, and borne a male child, then she shall be "unclean 7 days". She shall then "continue in the blood of her purification 33 days". In the case that she bears a female child, then she shall be "unclean two weeks", and she shall "continue in the blood of her purification 66 days'" (Leviticus 12:2-5).
In Japan it had been widely seen until Meiji era that woman during pregnancy and after bearing child shut herself up in a hut (called Ubu-goya in Japanese) and lived there. The period was usually during the pregnancy and 30 days or so after she bore a child (The longest case was nearly 100 days). This resembles the custom of ancient Israel.
In ancient Israel, after this period of purification the mother could come to the temple with her child for the first time. Also in the custom of Japanese Shinto, after this period of purification the mother can come to the shrine with her baby. In modern Japan it is generally 32 days (or 31 days) after she bore the baby in case of a male, and 33 days in case of a female.
But when they come to the shrine, it is not the mother who carries the baby. It is a traditional custom that the baby should be carried not by the mother, but usually by the husband's mother (mother-in-law). This is a remarkable similarity of purity and impurity of the mother, after childbirth, with ancient Israelite custom.
Japanese "Mizura" and Jewish Peyot
The photo below (left) is a statue of an ancient Japanese Samurai found in relics of the late 5th century C.E. in Nara, Japan. This statue shows realistically the ancient Japanese men's hair style called "mizura," which hair comes down under his cap and hangs in front of both ears with some curling. This hair style was widely seen among Japanese Samurais, and it was unique to Japan, not the one which came from the cultures of China or Korea.
Is it a mere coincidence that this resembles Jewish "peyot" (payot) very much, which is also a hair style of hanging the hair in front of the ears long with some curling (photo right)? "Peyot" is a unique hair style for Jews and the origin is very old. Leviticus 19:27 of the Bible mentions:
"'Do not cut the hair at the sides of your head."
So, this custom originated from the ancient Israelites. The "peyot" custom of today's Hasidic Jews is a recovery of this ancient custom. Yemenite Jews have had this custom since ancient times. There is a statue from Syria, which is from the 8th or 9th century B.C.E.. It shows a Hebrew man with peyot and a fringed shawl.
DNA Research on the Japanese and Jews
DNA shows the common ancestry of the Japanese and Jews
Recent DNA researches on Y-chromosome showed that about 40 % of the Japanese have DNA of haplogroup D. Y-chromosome DNA is passed from father to son, and is classified according to genetic features into genetic groups called “haplogroups” from A to T. Only Japanese and Tibetan peoples in the world have haplogroup D at a high frequency. D is rarely found even among the Chinese and Koreans.
According to geneticists, haplogroup D is the compatriot of haplogroup E, which is found in all Jewish groups of the world. Haplogroups D and E were once one and have the common origin, as Wikipedia encyclopedia states: “Along with haplogroup E, D contains the distinctive YAP polymorphism, which indicates their common ancestry.” [Haplogroup D (Y-DNA)]
According to Family Tree DNA, a DNA test provider, especially E1b1b1 type of haplogroup E is “found in all Jewish populations, from Ashkenazi, Sephardic, Kurdish, Yemen, Samaritan and even among Djerba Jewish groups.” They use this genetic marker to find Jewish descendants.
The Pathans in Afghanistan and Pakistan, who are said to be descendants of the Lost Tribes of Israel, have haplogroup E remarkably. The Uzbekistan Jews, who are also said to be from the Lost Tribes, have haplogroup E at the frequency of 28 %. The Falasha, Ethiopian Jews, have haplogroup E at 50 %. Haplogroup E is found even among those said to be from the Lost Tribes of Israel.
Haplogroups D and E were once one, but became separate in the Near East. Those who remained in the Near East or went west became Jews, while those who moved east became the Lost Tribes of Israel in the East, including”Israelite Tibetans” and the Japanese.
What I call “Israelite Tibetans” are the Chiang (Qiang) people (southwest China), the Shinlung (Bnei Menashe, northeast India) and the Karen (Myanmar). They all live near Tibet and speak language of Tibet-Burma language group. Rabbi Eliyahu Avichail of Amishav thinks that these tribes are descendants of the Lost Tribes, because they have many ancient Israelite customs. It is noteworthy that especially 23% of the Chiang people have haplogroup D, which came from the common ancestor with E. The Japanese, having haplogroup D also, are closely related to them.
Rabbi Avichail thinks that these Chiang, Shinlung and Karen were once one and the same tribe, because they all once wandered in China, were persecuted by the Chinese and lost the Torah there, having the same legends and customs. It seems that the origins of the Japanese and these Israelite Tibetans were once the same.
Current Jews, both Ashkenazi and Sephardic, mainly have haplogroups J, E and R. It is thought that ancient Jews mainly had haplogroups J and E.
Some people think that especially J was peculiar to original Jews, because about 80% of paternally inherited Cohen families, who are descendants of the High Priest Aaron, belong to J. However, Aaron was a Levite, and J is found among paternal Levites only at a relatively low frequency. The Levites have haplogroup E as other Jews do, and Samaritan Levite priests belong to haplogroup E. For haplogroup E is found in all Jewish groups of the world, E had been a distinctive Jewish haplogroup since before the diaspora of 70 C.E..
Israelites had experienced blood mixing since very early times. The Bible mentions about the exodus from Egypt, "Many other people who were not Israelites went with them" (Exodus 12:38, New Century Version). Moses many times mentioned about foreigners living among his people. They could become Israelites if circumcised and living as Israelites (Exodus 12:48, etc). There were thussome haplogroups found among ancient Israelites.
However, most of the peoples who are said to be from the Lost Tribes of Israel do not have haplogroup J, including the following peoples: *Chiang (Qiang, southwest China) *Bnei Menashe (Shinlung, northeast India) *Karen (Myanmar) *Bene Ephraim (South India)
*Beta Israel (Falasha, Ethiopia)
*Bukharan Jews (Persian Jews)
*Igbo Jews (Nigeria)
The Japanese also do not have haplogroup J. It seems that the basic haplogroup of ancient Israelites was haplogroup E or haplogroup DE (ancestor of haplogroups D and E). Today, the Pathans and Uzbekistan Jews, who are the Lost Tribes of Israel living in West Asia or Central Asia, have haplogroup E. While in the East, the Chiang and the Japanese have haplogroup D.
D and E were once one. The Japanese are genetically from the Lost Tribes of Israel.
Israelites Came To Ancient Japan. Chapter 2 The Ten Lost Tribes of Israel In Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kashmir, Myanmar, and China
What Are Israelites?
Around the time of 1900 B.C.E., there was a man named Jacob who was the ancestor of the people of Israel. Later Jacob's name was changed to Israel.
Israel had 12 sons, who were Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Zevulun, Issachar, Dan, Gad, Asher, Naphtali, Joseph, and Benjamin. The descendants of these sons formed 12 tribes of Israel. These 12 tribes are called "Israelites".
When they had territories in Canaan (Israel, Holy Land), the tribe of Levi did not have a territory for they were the tribe of priests. Instead, the tribe of Joseph was divided into the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh and has their own territories. Thus the landof Canaan was divided into 12 territories.
Later, the 12 tribes of Israel experienced the height of prosperity in the time of King Solomon in the 10th century B.C.E.. But after Solomon died, the united kingdom ofIsrael was divided into two countries: One is the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the other the Southern Kingdom of Judah. The Northern Kingdom is also called Samaria,the Southern Kingdom is also called Judea.
The word "Jews" is used basically for the people and descendants of Judea, the Southern Kingdom, but sometimes used for the same meaning as Israelites.
The Ten tribes of Israel belonged to Samaria, the Northern Kingdom of Israel. They were Reuben, Gad, Ephraim, Issachar, Zevulun, Naphtali, Asher, Dan, Simeon, and Manasseh. While the other tribes belonged to the Southern Kingdom of Judah.
In the 8th century B.C.E., the Northern Kingdom of Israel was conquered by the army of Assyrian empire, and the Ten Tribes of Israel was led captive and compelled to march to the land of Assyria. They did not come back to the land of Israel. They are so called "the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel."
Josephus Wrote About the Lost Tribes of Israel
Where was the exact place of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel to be carried captive in Assyrian Empire? The Bible records: "the king of Assyria carried Israel away captive to Assyria, and put them in Halah and by the Habor, the River of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes." (2 Kings 18:11)
These places are located in today's northern Iraq or Northwest Iran called Kurdistan. The Ten Tribes of Israel were firstly compelled to emigrate there, and this is also a starting point of our research.
There is a Jew named Josephus Flavius, a very reliable historian who lived in the first century C.E.. In his book of history, there is a description about whereabouts of the Ten Tribes: "...the Ten Tribes who are beyond the Euphrates till now, and are an immense multitude, whose numbers cannot be estimated." (Antiquities 11:2)
Josephus wrote that in the first century C.E., the Ten Tribes of Israel lived as an immense multitude beyond Euphrates River. This may mean that some of them lived in the close area east of Euphrates River and others moved to a place far beyond east of the Euphrates.
The Lost Tribes of Israel in Afghanistan
The Bible mentions the cities of Medes, today's Iraq and Iran, as the locations of the Assyrian exile of the Ten Tribes of Israel. It is an accepted tradition that the people of this area are from the Assyrian exile.
It seems that later, many of the Ten Tribes of Israel moved to the east along the Silk Road. We find the descendants of them in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kashmir, Myanmar(Burma), China and other countries, which are along the Silk Road. I will have a brief explanation about them in this chapter. The information is mostly from the books which were written by Rabbi Marvin Tokayer and published in Japan, and "Beyond the Sambatyon, The Myth of The Lost Tribes" written by Simcha Shtull.
East of Iran is Afghanistan. There are so many tribes in Afghanistan with names that have Yusuf in the name as Yusufzai, Yusufuzi, Yusufzad, etc.. Yusuf means Joseph and Yusufzai means children of Joseph.
They claim their origin to be from the Lost Tribes of Israel, that is, from the tribes of Joseph, which are the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh and are a part of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel. They also call themselves Bani-Israel meaning children of Israel. Their tradition is that they were carried away from their ancient homeland.
Formerly they were shepherds in search of pasture but they gave up their nomadic life and settled into village communities. The people of Yusufzai live separated from the rest of the world by mountains and difficult rivers and it is hard to find them. They marry among themselves.
Today they are devout Muslims but have Hebrew names, wear the fringes which only Jews and Japanese Shinto priests wear, light candles for the Sabbath on Friday night which only Jews do (The Sabbath is from the sunset of Friday until the night of Saturday). They also have the custom called peyot (side-curls) which is to have curled hair of about 10 centimeters long in front of both ears. This is a custom which only Jews have and which may very well be of the Lost Tribes of Israel.
Pathans As the Descendants of the Lost Tribes of Israel
In Afghanistan and Pakistan, there also live people called Pathans numbering about 15 million. They live mainly in Pakistan and Afghanistan as well as in Persia and India. Most of them are Muslims but they have a tradition of being of the Lost Tribes and have Israelite customs.
According to a book written by Rabbi Marvin Tokayer, the Pathans have custom of circumcision on the 8th day. This is a known Jewish custom, and is the oldest Jewish tradition. Rabbi Tokayer once told me that he had witnessed and been present at a very joyous circumcision ceremony on the 8th day after birth among the Pathans. Muslims have custom of circumcision but it is not on the 8th day, usually at the age of 12.
The Pathans have a sort of small Tallit called Kafan. This is a 4 cornered garment which they tie strings similar to the fringes (Jews call them Tzitzit) and is one of the oldest Jewish traditions going back to the Torah and it is a sign of their Israelite origin.
The Pathans have custom of the Sabbath, Israelite tradition of the day of rest. On the Sabbath they do not labor, cook or bake. The Pathans prepare 12 Hallot (traditional Jewish bread, Leviticus 24:5) in honor of the Sabbath as was done in the ancient Israelite temple. One of the significant indicators proving the Israelite origins of the Pathans is the lighting of the candle to honor the Sabbath. After lighting, the candle is covered usually by a large basket. The candle is lit by a woman past her menopause. This is the same as Israelite custom.
Pyramid with Camel in Egypt
Pathans have custom of Kosher, dietary laws same as Jews. Pathans do not eat horse or camel meat, which is most common in their area but forbidden to Jews. There is some evidence to their not eating meat and milk together which is also an ancient Israelite tradition. And they have a tradition regarding differentiating between pure and impure birds which means permitted and not permitted birds similar to the Torah.
Some still wear a small box which Jews call Tefilin (phylactery) containing a verse of the Bible. This box resemble Japanese Tokin of Yamabushi's forehead, too, which I will mention later. This is an ancient custom of Israel. In the Jewish box there is the verse of Shema Israel, that is, "Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one!" (Deuteronomy 6:4) This custom of Tefilin came from a verse of the Scriptures, "You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes" (Deuteronomy 6:8).
It is interesting to note that the Pathans retain family names of the Lost Tribes such as Asher, Gad, Naphtali, Reuben and Manasseh and Ephraim. Among them there are people who are called by these names, which are of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel. There are also people who are called Israel, Samuel, and so on, which are never found among the Muslims.
The Pathans were mostly called "Bani-Israel" meaning children of Israel even though they live today as devout Muslims.
The legal system which is known as Pashtunwali, the law of the Pashtu, is very similar to the Torah, which is the holiest Jewish book and the book of ancient Jewish way of life. There are pages and even complete books among the Pathans and they honor greatly what is called Tavrad El Sharif (the Torah of Moses), and they rise at the mention of the name of Moses even though it is not important in Islam.
Besides the oral tradition related by the elders of the tribe, there are also interesting testimonies of keeping of scrolls of genealogy among the tribes, reaching back to the Fathers of the Jewish nation. These scrolls are well preserved and some are written in gold on the skins of a doe.
No less interesting and significant are the names of the tribes which bear close resemblance to the Tribes of Israel. The Rabbani Tribe is really Reuben, the ShinwareTribe is Simeon, the Lewani Tribe is Levi, The Daftani Tribe is Naphtali, and the JajiTribe is Gad, and the Ashuri Tribe is Asher, The Yusefsai Tribe is children of Joseph, and the Afridi Tribe is really Ephraim. These are the names of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel.
The Pathans themselves point out the differences between the original names of the tribes and their present names are because of the different dialects of the languages so that, for instance, Jaji was actually called Gaji for the tribe of Gad.
Women of the Pathans keep laws similar to the Jewish laws regarding menstruation. During this time and for 7 days after, no contact is allowed with the husband. After this period, the woman immerses in a river or spring or in a bathhouse if a natural spring is not available. This is exactly the same as the Israelite tradition going back to the days of the Bible.
The Lost Tribes of Israel Who Came to Kashmir
Leaving Afghanistan and Pakistan where the Pathans live, when one goes east, it is the State of Kashmir in northern part of India which is west of Nepal.
There are 5 to 7 million people there. Generally speaking, they have clearer complexions and are different from the other citizens of India. An Interesting tradition is passed down among the Kashmiri people regarding their ancestry from the Lost Tribes of Israel.
The people in Kashmir perform a feast called Pasca in Spring, when they adjust the difference of days between the lunar calendar and solar calendar and the way of this adjustment is the same as Jewish. Several books are published on this. The Udu language which is used in Kashmir includes many words of Hebrew.
In Kashmir, various places are called with Israelite names, like Har Nevo, Beit Peor,Pisga, Heshubon. These are all the names in the land of the Ten Tribes of Israel.
The same thing is true in the names of people, male names, female names, and names of village. For example, one of the tribes of Kashmir is called Asheriya which is Asher, the tribe of Dand is Dan, Gadha is Gad, Lavi is Levi. The Tribe of Shaul is the Hebrew name of King Saul. Musa is Moses, Suliamanish is Solomon. And you also have the tribe of Israel, the tribe of Abri which is the tribe of Hebrew, and the tribe ofKahana which is the word for Jewish priest.
There are also 50-75 names of places in Kashmir which are in fact the Hebrew names that ancient Israelites were very familiar with. There is a place called Samaryah which is Samaria. Mamre is Mamre, Pishgah is Pisgah, Nabudaal is Mt. Nevo, Bushan is Bashan, Gilgit is Gilgal, Heshba is Heshbon, Amunah is Amon, Gochan is Goshen, Median-pura is Midian, and Guzana is Gozan which is a place name in Assyria and the very place where the Ten Tribes of Israel were deported.
The name Israel is very common among them as it is among the Pathans, and this name is never used among the Muslims.
The history of Kashmir is shrouded in mystery as is the history of other people in that region. Most Kashmir researchers are of the opinion that many inhabitants of Kashmir are descendants of the Lost Tribes who were exiled in 722 B.C.E.. They wandered along the Silk Road into the countries of the East, Persia and Afghanistan until they reached the Kashmir valley and settled there.
The priest Kitro in his book, the General History of the Mughal Empire, said that theKashmir people are the descendants of the Israelites. The priest Monstrat said that in the time of Vasco da Gama in the 15th century, "all the inhabitants of this area who have been living here since ancient times can trace their ancestry, according to their race and customs, to the ancient Israelites. Their features, their general physical appearance, their clothing, their ways of conducting business, all show that they are similar to the ancient Israelites."
Among Kashmiri people there are customs to light a candle for the Sabbath, havesidelocks, beards, and emblem or design of the Shield of David (Star of David) just like Jews do.
In an area which is on the border of Pakistan, called Yusmarg (Handwara), there lives a group which to this very day calls itself B'nei Israel meaning children of Israel. Many of the inhabitants of Kashmir say that this is the ancient name of all the people ofKashmir. The two primary historians of Kashmir, Mulla Nadiri, who wrote The History of Kashmir and Mulla Ahmad who wrote Events of Kashmir have established without a trace of doubt that the origins of the Kashmiri people are to be found in the people of Israel.
In Kashmir there is a strange legend which says that Jesus did not die on the cross but in his search for the Ten Tribes reached the Kashmir valley and lived there until his death. They even point to his grave in Kashmir.
This is very much like a legend which exists in Japan (Herai village, present Shingou village in Aomori prefecture), where they also have the legend that Jesus came to Japan and died there. They even point to his grave. It seems that sometimes the legend of coming of Jesus and his tomb is born where the Ten Tribes are said to come.
In Kashmir, there is another strange tradition of a small community next to the WallarLink who point out the grave of Moses. There is yet another tradition in connection with King Solomon according to which even King Solomon reached the Kashmir Valley and through his wisdom aided the people of Kashmir by successfully regulating the Jalum river. This tradition is also connected to a place called Solomon's throne which is situated above the capital of Kashmir, Srinagar. Isn't it strange and fascinating that there are historical and even folkloristic tales of ancient Israelite heroes in these strange and exotic places?
These also strangely resemble the legends of Japan. There is so called the grave of Moses on Mt. Houdatsu in Ishikawa prefecture, Japan, and also a legend says that many secret treasures of Solomon are kept in Mt. Tsurugi in Shikoku, Japan. What is this phenomenon?
The Lost Tribes of Israel Who Came to India and Myanmar.
In the mountainous region which lies on both sides of the border between India and Myanmar (former Burma), lives the Menashe (Shinlung) tribe which numbers between 1-2 million people. They intermarried with the Chinese and look Chinese-Burmas, but the entire tribe is conscious of their Israelite ancestry.
Recently, Rabbi Eliyahu Avichail, who is the president of Amishav, an organization inJerusalem for the search of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel, went to Myanmar and investigated the Menashe tribe.
Menashe people with Rabbi Avichail (right)
The word Menashe appears often in their poetry and prayer. It is the name of their ancestor and they call themselves children of Menashe (Beni Menashe). When they pray, they say, "Oh, God of Menashe," which is from the name Manasseh, a tribe of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel.
According to the history which Menashe people say, they were exiled to Assyria in 722 B.C.E. with other Tribes of Israel. Assyria was later conquered by Babylon (607 B.C.E.), which was later conquered by Persia (457 B.C.E.), which was later conquered by Greece of Alexander the Great (331 B.C.E.), when the people of Menashe were deported from Persia to Afghanistan and other places.
There Menashe tribe became shepherds and Idol worshipers. They were later conquered by Islam and forced to convert to Islam. Because of their speaking Hebrew they were called the Semitic speakers. Throughout this entire period they possessed a Hebrew Torah scroll which they guarded with their elders and their priest.
Among them there were those who left Afghanistan and migrated eastward until they reached the area of the Tibetan-Chinese border. From there they continued intoChina following the Wei River until they reach the central China, near Kaifeng. They settled there at about 231 B.C.E...
But the Chinese were cruel to them and made them as slaves. Some of them escaped and lived in caves in the mountainous areas called Shinlung, which became another name for the tribe of Menashe. They are also called the cave people or the mountain people.
Menashe people lived in caves in poverty for about two generations but they still kept the Torah scroll with them. But they started to assimilate and have Chinese influences. Later they were banished from their cave area and went west through Thailand and eventually reached the area in Myanmar.
There they wandered along the river until they reached Mandaley. From there they reached the Chin Mountains. In the 18th century a part of them migrated to Manipur and Mizoram which are in northeastern India. Generally, they maintained the tradition about their wandering and they realized that they were not Chinese even though they spoke the local language.
They call them themselves Lusi which means the Ten Tribe ("Lu" means tribes, and "si" means ten).
According to the history which Menashe people state, when they were banished from their cave area they lost their Torah scroll when or perhaps it was stolen or burnt by the Chinese. But the priests of the tribe of Menashe continued to hand down their tradition orally including their ritual observances until the 19th century.
They had kept the custom of circumcision, which when it became difficult was no longer practiced but they blessed the child in a special ceremony on the 8th day. They also had holy days which were very similar to the Jewish days.
The following poem accompanied them throughout their migrations. It is a traditional song about the crossing of the Red Sea which was written by their ancestors. This is the English translation:
We must keep the Passover feast. Because we crossed the Red Sea by dry land. At night we crossed with a fire. And By day with a cloud. Enemies pursued us with chariots. And the sea swallowed them up. And used them as food for the fish. And when we were thirsty. We received water from the rock.
This content is similar to the experience of Israelites written in Exodus. The people of Menashe call their God Y'wa, which is the same as Biblical God's name Yah, or Yahweh.
In every village they had a priest whose name was always Aaron, the brother of Moses and the first Jewish priest. One of his duties was to watch over the village.
The priest wore a tunic and a breastplate and an embroidered coat fastened with a belt and a crown on his head. And they always sang about Menashe at the beginning of each gathering.
Rabbi Tokayer says that he met this group in the jungles of Burma in 1963 or 1964 and he can describe their offerings and sacrifices as exactly the same as was offered in the Bible.
Recently a return to Judaism began. Several thousand people of Menashe decided to observe the laws of the Torah and returned to Judaism. They have synagogues in Manipur, Assam, and Mizoram. There are also those who immigrated to Israel. Thousands long for returning to Israel.
The Lost Tribes of Israel Who Came to China
In the mountainous area of northwest China, west of the Min River, near the border of Tibet, in Szechuan lives the ancient people called by the Chinese, Chiang or Chiang-Min, who numbers about 250 thousand people.
In 1937, a book was published entitled, China's First Missionaries, subtitled, Ancient Israelites, by Rev. Thomas Torrance, who was a missionary in this area of China and was the first to write about this tribe and what he believed to be their ancient roots of the Lost Tribes of Israel.
According to the reports by Torrance, he believed that the customs, rituals, modes of thought, domestic and religious practices of the Israelites who were the contemporaries of Amos, Hosea and Elijah, were found within the Chiang people of northwestern China. Torrance was basically very impressed with the simple monotheism of this people in China in an area where the term God was not even known.
The language of the Chiang tribe had been forgotten and they had also lost their ancient script. Today they speak Chinese.
They themselves see themselves as immigrants from the west who reached this area after a journey of three years three months. The Chinese treated them as Barbarians, while Chiang people related to the Chinese as idol worshipers.
Chiang Min people (Photo: Thomas Torrance in 1920's)
Hate and enmity existed between the Chinese and this tribe for a long time. They lived independently until the middle of the 18th century when they became part of the general population to earn more freedom. The religious pressure from the Chinese, the spread of Christianity, and the influence of intermarriage caused the Chiang tribe to generally and greatly give up their special monotheistic way of life.
However it is still possible even today to learn about the past traditions of the Chiang tribe through their customs and their faith which they still keep. This tribe had been living a special Israelite way of life since the time of B.C.E...
According to their tradition, the Chiang tribe is the descendant of Abraham and their forefather had 12 sons. Those among them who did not take Chinese wives after their victory in war still look Semitic.
They believe in one God whom they call Abachi meaning the father of heaven, or Mabichu, the spirit of heaven, or also Tian, heaven. As a result of Chinese influences they all call Him God of the mountains as the mountains are the central place for worship of God.
Their concept of God is that of an all powerful God who watches over the entire world, judges the world fairly, rewards the righteous, and punishes the wicked. This God gives them the opportunity to do repentance and to gain atonement for their actions. In times of trouble, they call God in the name of "Yawei", the same as Yahweh.
They also believe in spirits and demons and they are forbidden to worship them, but this is probably a Chinese influence. In the past they had written scrolls of parchment and also books but today they only have oral traditions. They themselves do not understand the prayers that they recite every week.
The Chiang tribe lives a very special way of life based on the offering of animal sacrifices which seems to have been seen among the Ten Tribes of Israel. It is forbidden to worship statues or foreign gods and anyone who offers a sacrifice to another god faces the death penalty.
A priest of Chiang Min tribe (Photo: Torrance in 1920's)
The priest of the Chiang tribe wears a special head turban. The priest is ordained in a special ceremony in which sacrifices are also offered. Unmarried men may not be a priest, which was the same in ancient Israel (Leviticus 21:7, 13).
The altar itself is built of earth which is molded into stones which are then laid one on top of the other without being cut of fashioned by any tool of metal. It is important to remember that in the Torah, the ancient altar could not be made of cut stones (Exodus 20:25), since the sword or whatever tool to be used to cut the stone was also an instrument of war and harm.
The main part of the service is performed at night perhaps to conceal it from other Chinese or because of the special effect of the silence and the tranquility of night. This was also ancient Israelite tradition. It is interesting that the important rituals of Japanese Shinto religion are also performed at night.
Before the offering of sacrifices, one is required to wash one's self and one's clothing and to dress in clean garments. Sacrificial animals themselves must be washed and purified. There is a special place for purification and washing. The elders and priest place their hands on the head of the sacrifice which is to be slaughtered then offer their prayers.
Circumcision is not performed. It seems to have become obsolete. But after the 7th day or at the eve of the 40th day of the child's life, a white rooster is slaughtered in the child's honor and he is given a name.
Ancient Jewish Communities in Kaifeng, China
As I mentioned before, Menashe people once went to the region near Kaifeng, China. The Jewish community in Kaifeng is most famous as the very ancient one which had existed since the time of B.C.E...
Kaifeng was the former capital for several dynasties in China. The Jews there did not eat the sinew of the hip which is on the socket of the thigh, which is a custom of Israelites, and their religion was called by the name meaning this.
There are still a few thousand Jews in Kaifeng. They had maintained some Jewish tradition. In Kaifeng they had a synagogue. They intermarried with the Chinese and look Chinese.
We can trace the history of Israelites in China to very ancient times. According to a stone monument in Kaifeng, Israelites already came to Kaifeng in 231 B.C.E.. Many Israelites or Jews lived in parts of China even before the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 C.E...
Keikyo (Syrian Christianity) and Japan Rev. Arimasa Kubo
"Keikyo" is a Syrian Christianity and is also called "Nestorian Christianity." The Japanese name "Keikyo "(in Chinese "Jingjiao") was used to call this teaching when it came to China and meant the "luminous teaching." In 431 AD a religious conference, the "Council of Ephesus," was held. Within the Church , Mary the mother of Christ was already called "Mother of God (Theotokos)," the custom of praying to Mary and worshiping her had begun. Against this practice, Nestorius, patriarch of Constantinople, declared it not proper, because it has a danger to fall into a goddess worship. He said: "It is adequate to call Mary Mother of Christ (Christokos). But, she is not the Mother of God. God has no mother." He preferred calling Mary "Christokos." But, Western Church (the future Roman Catholic Church) did not understand his reasoning and branded Nestorius and his followers "heretics" and sent them into exile. Just because they were called "heretics" does not make them heretics. Roman Catholics once called Protestants "heretics".
Rather, it is no exaggeration to say that their understanding was truer than Roman Catholics of those days. In understanding of Christology, too, Nestorius admitted both the God and human nature of Christ. Having assessed the understanding of Nestorius regarding the relationship between the two persona, many of today's theologians assess him as non-heretic. Also, it appears that schism between Nestorians and the Western Church was not due purely to doctrinal differences. Rather, there were also political and racial reasons behind it. "Sekai Hyakka Jiten (World Encyclopedia) by Heibonsha company states as follows: "Today, the Nestorian creed is considered not to be particularly heretical when eliminating ambiguity of terms used to describe the relationship between the God nature and human nature of Christ. Their fall can be attributed to politics. Furthermore, the Nestorian is a religious order that further developed his teachings and was not the sect Netorius had set up himself."
Well, Nestrius and others who were banished by Roman Catholics were called "Nestorians" or the "followers of Nestorius." That is to say that Roman Catholics used the word Nestorians in a slanderous way. They never called themselves "Nestorians." That was because it was not a new religious sect and Nestorius was not the founder of such sect. They called themselves "Eastern Christians." They were also called "Nazrani" because their faith were from "Nazareth." In China they were called Keikyoto (in Chinese "Jingjiao"). They stated that the founder of their Christianity was Jesus Christ and they also honored Apostle Thomas as having graced the East in evangelism. Nestorius was only one of the leaders in the church that believed in this tradition. So, their Christianity did not start in 431 AD but rather it rooted to the Apostolic church. That is why I would like to call them "Eastern Christians" and "Keikyotos" rather than "Nestorians." Keikyotos were very active in Middle and Near East and made significant contributions to medicine, astronomy, and industries. It is said that Mohamed, the founder of Islam, listened to Selgius Bahira, a Keikyoto, in his youth and believed in the "Living God." They began their great mission work throughout the Silk Road early on. Looking at the 6-14th century map, one can tell there were Keikyo churches in many cities along the Silk Road from Near Middle East to East Asia. Bar Habraeus, another Keikyoto, records much of their evangelism. Keikyotos came to China early. They entered China before 600 AD, but they formerly visited the emperor (Emperor Taiso of Tang Dynasty) and explained the teaching of Keikyo. The Emperor Taiso favored the teaching and gave permission to spread the Gospel. Also, he encouraged the people to believe this faith. In this manner, Keikyo became very popular in China.
But, after about 200 years, Keikyo was persecuted and received a great damage. However, Keikyo became popular in Mongol. Mongol, in those days, was the largest empire that controlled from Near Middle East to China. Mongolian kings issued the proclamations of freedom of religion, but they favored Keikyo most among various religions. Many Keikyoto aides and concubines surrounded the kings. The kings built churches for Keikyotos, and he worshipped in them. Keikyotos also established the mailing system in Mongol, printed currency by wood print, compiled chronicles, built schools, built medical facilities, published papers, and built roads across the country that brought a very advanced civilization to Mongol. Marco Polo, who came to China from Europe and lived there for 25 years, marveled at the high level of civilization he saw there. Also, Keikyotos built facilities where they gave food and clothing to those who were in need. This, in fact, is the general practice that Keikyoto performed throughout the Silk Road. They not only built churches for missionary work but they built welfare, medical, and educational institutions along. In fact, Shotoku Taishi (Prince Shotoku) built "Shika-in (four institutions)" first in Japan. It consisted of four institutions: "Seyaku-in (free pharmacy)," "Ryobyo-in (free hospital or clinic)," "Hiden-in (nursing home for those without relatives)," "Kyoden-in (halls for religion, academics, and music)."
That is to say that these are welfare and medical facilities and research institutions. The Japanese Buddhists claim that these actions reflect mercy of Shotoku Taishi (Prince Shotoku) who was a devout Buddhist. However, the concept of welfare and charity was almost non-existent in Buddhism of those days; Buddhism was the religion for the country and the rulers in those days. Further inspection of Buddhism in Korea and China revealed no such practice of welfare or charity work. On other hand, this kind of welfare and charity work was widely practiced by Keikyotos throughout the Silk Road. They built facilities those were close analogies of "Seyaku-in," Ryobyo-in," "Hiden-in," and "Kyoden-in." According to Professor Sakae Ikeda of Kyoto University, indeed there was a Keikyoto aide to Shotoku Taishi . During the time of Shotoku Taishi, there were some Keikyotos unofficially present in Japan. Professor Ikeda says the name of this Keikyoto was "Maru Toma." In Aramaic "Maru" means lord and "Toma" means Thomas. So, "Lord Thomas" and this was how the Eastern Christians refer to their leaders and saints.
The name was same as Apostle Thomas but it was a common name among Keikyotos. That is to say Keikyotos influenced the welfare and charity work of Shotoku Taishi. Also in fact, a Keikyoto, "Rimitsui" came to Japan in 736 and visited the Emperor (Shoku Nihongi). Empress Komyo was deeply influenced by Rimitsui and also built "Seyaku-in," Ryobyo-in," and "Hiden-in." The Emress worked there as nurse.
The Hokke-ji Temple in Nara still has a bathing room where the Empress Komyo is said to have cared patients by herself like Mother Terresa and Nitingale did. The Empress Komyo, too, was advertised as a devout Buddhist in the Buddhist world, but a close inspection reveals that Keikyotos strongly influenced her. There is a researcher who claims that she was a Keikyoto. Keikyo also touched Kukai and Shinran, who are well known names in the Japanese Buddhist world. When we read their writings, one cannot help but think that "this is close to teachings of Christianity." This is the reason why we feel this way. Also, Keikyotos have influenced Japanese culture and tradition in immeasurable way. It is generally said that one who brought Christianity to Japan was Francisco Xavier in the 16th century. But Christianity reached Japan more that 1,000 years prior to that time. And it has deeply influenced Japan.
Now than ever, I pray for the revival of Keikyo in contemporary Japan. Keikyotos were the people who engaged in mission work with deep prayer and the power of the Holy Spirit. Let us have rejuvenation of that prayer today!
The Lost Tribes of Israel Went East Along the Silk Road
I have mentioned above about the people of the Yusufzai and the Pathans in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the people of Kashmir, the Menashe tribe in India andMyanmar, and the Chiang (Chiang-Min) tribe in China. These places are all along theSilk Road. Are these all where they went?
Otherwise, were there any other people who went further east along the Silk Road?
If the Ten Tribes came to China, we must say that there is a strong possibility that they came to Japan also, for next to China is Japan. But someone may think, "There is a sea between China and Japan, which makes it difficult to get to Japan."
However, it was not a big problem for the Israelites. Scholars say that Israelites already traded in the time of King Solomon (the 10th century B.C.E.) with India and other countries of the Mediterranean Sea with a fleet of ships (see 1 Kings 10:22, Some of the words are from Sanskrit). Israelites knew well about ships even in the times before the country of Japan started.
The Silk Road was actually Silk Roads because there were several roads on the land and the sea already in the time of B.C.E. The Israelites were experienced people for getting across the ocean.