AFGHANISTAN - Taliban Descendants of Israel?

Arno Froese

With the fall of Kabul into the hands of the Taliban just shy of the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, the world’s attention has once again turned to Afghanistan.

Amid its turbulent past, in which it has served as a flashpoint for the British Empire, the Soviet Union and now the United States, Afghanistan has long been home to one of the more intriguing unsolved mysteries of Jewish history: the fate of some of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel.

Prior to the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in the region, many of the Pashtuns declared themselves to be what they referred to as Bani Israel (Sons of Israel), an oral tradition that their ancestors passed down through the generations.

In the 19th century, a number of Westerners who visited the region became convinced that the Pashtuns were in fact descendants of the Israelites.

In his 1858 work, History of the Afghans, Joseph-Pierre Ferrier wrote that the chief of one of the main Pashtun tribes, the Yusefzai (Sons of Joseph), presented the Persian shah Nader Shah Afshar “with a Bible written in Hebrew and several other articles that had been used in their ancient worship and which they had preserved.”

More recently, the late president of Israel, Yitzchak Ben-Zvi, in his 1957 study about far-flung Jewish communities The Exiled and the Redeemed, devoted an entire chapter to “Afghan tribes and the traditions of their origin.”

Basing himself on scholarly research, as well as on interviews he conducted with numerous Afghani Jews who made aliyah in the 1950s, Ben-Zvi wrote, “The Afghan tribes, among whom the Jews have lived for generations, are Moslems who retain to this day their amazing tradition about their descent from the Ten Tribes.”, 9 September 2021

Arno's Commentary

Seemingly unending reports—often sensational—of the rediscovery of the so-called ten lost tribes of Israel have multiplied over the years.

What we know from the Bible, and confirmed by history, is that in about 722 BC, Assyria conquered ten-tribe Israel and deported some to the southern parts of Syria, Iraq, and Iran. From there, they literally were dispersed all over the world. 

What does the Bible say about ten-tribe Israel? Hosea delivers this message: “The word of the Lord that came unto Hosea, the son of Beeri, in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel” (Hosea 1:4). The second part of verse 6 reads: “I will no more have mercy upon the house of Israel; but I will utterly take them away.” This speaks of the rebellious ten-tribe Israel, who separated themselves from the house of Judah. In plain words, Israel ceased to be a nation in their own right, never to exist again. We must note, however, this is the ten-tribe Israel, not Judah-Israel.

Second Chronicles 11 speaks of the Levites coming to Jerusalem; verse 16 documents: “And after them out of all the tribes of Israel such as set their hearts to seek the Lord God of Israel came to Jerusalem, to sacrifice unto the Lord God of their fathers.” There we have it: “all the tribes of Israel.” Chapter 15, verse 9 confirms: “And he gathered all Judah and Benjamin, and the strangers with them out of Ephraim and Manasseh, and out of Simeon: for they fell to him out of Israel in abundance, when they saw that the Lord his God was with him.” Later, in chapter 34, verse 9, it documents that “all the remnant of Israel” came to Jerusalem and were later conquered by Babylon and deported to that land. 

From that point on, they were considered Jews—all twelve tribes, which fulfills the prophecy of Jacob written in Genesis 49:8: “Judah, thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise: thy hand shall be in the neck of thine enemies; thy father’s children shall bow down before thee.” Verse 10 adds: “The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.” While Shiloh is a prophecy of the Messiah, Jesus Christ the Lord, it also shows that Judah was the tribe unto which all Israel was gathered.

When this article from the Jerusalem Post came to my desk, I was reminded of a private conversation with our founder, Dr. Wim Malgo, many decades ago. He was of the opinion that much of the Afghan people are descendants of some of those tribes of Israel. He made a somewhat strange remark: “They will defeat the British Empire; they will put the Soviet Union to shame, and all the others.” Finally, the United States’ military might was forced out of their country. While it may be true that they are the descendants of some of the ten tribes of Israel, they separated themselves from the tribe of Judah; hence, cannot claim to be Jews.

Arno Froese is the executive director of Midnight Call Ministries and editor-in-chief of the acclaimed prophetic magazines Midnight Call and News From Israel. He has authored a number of well-received books, and has sponsored many prophecy conferences in the U.S., Canada, and Israel. His extensive travels have contributed to his keen insight into Bible prophecy, as he sees it from an international perspective.

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