Lost Jewish tribe 'found in Zimbabwe'

"The Lemba have many customs and regulations that tally with Jewish tradition. They wear skull caps, practise circumcision, which is not a tradition for most Zimbabweans, avoid eating pork and food with animal blood, and have 12 tribes. They slaughter animals in the same way as Jewish people, and they put the Jewish Star of David on their tombstones. Members of the priestly clan of the Lemba, known as the Buba, were even discovered to have a genetic element also found among the Jewish priestly line.” - BBC, 6 March 2010

Lost tribes of Israel have returned
Both the Torah and Quran preordained the return of Jews to Israel, a gathering that commences of the Resurrection and Last Judgment - the End Times!


"Descendants alive today, filmmaker says
Lila Sarick, The Globe and Mail

The search for the lost tribes of Israel, dispersed nearly 3,000 years ago, is a romantic quest that has mesmerized explorers and adventurers for hundreds of years. The stakes are tantalizing. Not only is there the thrill of finding people alive today who are the descendants of those who apparently disappeared without a trace, but according to biblical prophecy, their reappearance signals the approach of a Messianic time.

The latest bid to separate the fact from the myth comes from award winning documentary filmmaker Simcha Jacobovici in Quest for the Lost Tribes of Israel....

Quest documents his travels to Tunisia, Afghanistan, Burma and Uzbekistan. In every place, he found evidence that not only had the Jews been there thousands of years ago but that people still had Israelites names, practices and an Israel consciousness.

"I didn't approach this differently than any other story. I was quite prepared to report there ain't nothing here," Mr. Jacobovici said in an interview.”If I land in Afghanistan and the Pathans say they're Israelites, it's my job to report it honestly.”

The quest for the lost tribes was one of the three great mysteries pursued by Western adventurers through the ages, along with the search for the Holy Grail and the Ark of the Covenant.

Of the three, the story of the tribes is the most clearly detailed in the historical narratives of the Bible and other texts.

During the time of King Solomon, 10 of the 12 tribes of Israel lived in an area north of Jerusalem in the Kingdom of Israel, while the tribes of Judah and Benjamin inhabited the southern Kingdom of Judah.

With the Assyrian conquest of the Kingdom of Israel in 721 BC, the 10 tribes were captured, enslaved and deported. They vanished. The tribes of Judah and Benjamin were captured and exiled to Babylon in 586 BC. They were freed 50 years later and allowed to return to Israel.

Historians assume the 10 tribes were not truly lost but assimilated into the larger society...

His quest began inadvertently when he made a film about the Ethiopian Jews. Before they were airlifted to safety in the mid-1980s, Israeli chief rabbi declared they were descendants of the tribe of Dan.

Several years later, Mr. Jacobovici heard about an Israel rabbi claiming to have discovered Jews on the Burmese-Indian border. These people, who called themselves Menmasseh, had ancient songs about crossing the sea with the water parting before them and following a pillar of fire by night and a cloud by day, stories strikingly similar to the biblical account of the exodus from Egypt....

"If the chief rabbis are right and the Ethiopians are Dan, and if this rabbi is right and these people are Menashe, could this be happening?”Mr. Jacobovici recalled thinking.”If this prophecy were to unfold, what do you think it would look like? Would the tribes come on camel back from heaven? ... Or do they get on boats and airplanes, just regular people buying tickets going to their travel agent and suddenly prophecy can unfold on the nightly news and we don't even know it?”

His quixotic trek took him to Afghanistan, where he found hill-dwelling people who belonged to the tribes of Shinwari, Efredi, Reuveni and Gadun, corruptions, he believes, of the tribal names of Simeon, Ephraim, Reuven and Gad.

They also call themselves children of Isaac, an odd appellation for Muslims who would more likely to follow the tradition of Ishmael, the father of the Arab nation, not his Jewish half-brother Isaac....

In Central Asia, where Mr. Jacobovici found treasure troves of objects with Hebrew and Aramaic writing hidden away in museum basements, there was, he believes a deliberate effort by the former Soviet Union to suppress the history of the tribes.

In other instances, Western myopia means that dangerous and inaccessible places have simply fallen off our radar. Volumes are written about the Jewish communities of Poland, but next to nothing is documented about the Afghani communities, which are hundreds, if not thousands, of years older.

Citing his journalist's objectivity, Mr. Jacobovici declines to speculate on the biblical prophecy that the discovery of the tribes is the first step toward the end of days.

"All I know is, I went out to look for a story and I came home with the goods," he said.

But for believers, the idea"We may be living in times of ultimate reunification of families is mind-blowing in a very positive way," he said. "The idea that biblical prophecy is unfolding in the nightly news is wow for people.” "

The Globe and Mail, Friday, November 20, 1998

Lost Jewish tribe 'found in Zimbabwe'
By Steve Vickers
BBC News, Harare
6 March 2010

Lost Jewish tribe
Many Lemba are Christians and Muslims, but they embrace their Jewish roots
In many ways, the Lemba tribe of Zimbabwe and South Africa are just like their neighbours.

But in other ways their customs are remarkably similar to Jewish ones.

They do not eat pork, they practise male circumcision, they ritually slaughter their animals, some of their men wear skull caps and they put the Star of David on their gravestones.

Their oral traditions claim that their ancestors were Jews who fled the Holy Land about 2,500 years ago.

It may sound like another myth of a lost tribe of Israel, but British scientists have carried out DNA tests which confirm their Semitic origin.

These tests back up the group's belief that a group of perhaps seven men married African women and settled on the continent. The Lemba, who number perhaps 80,000, live in central Zimbabwe and the north of South Africa.

Zimbabwean Lemba women
Lemba women do not have Jewish DNA
And they also have a prized religious artefact that they say connects them to their Jewish ancestry - a replica of the Biblical Ark of the Covenant known as the ngoma lungundu, meaning"The drum that thunders.”

The object went on display recently at a Harare museum to much fanfare, and instilled pride in many of the Lemba.

"For me it's the starting point," says religious singer Fungisai Zvakavapano-Mashavave.

"Very few people knew about us and this is the time to come out. I'm very proud to realise that we have a rich culture and I'm proud to be a Lemba.

"We have been a very secretive people, because we believe we are a special people.”

Religion vs culture

The Lemba have many customs and regulations that tally with Jewish tradition.

They wear skull caps, practise circumcision, which is not a tradition for most Zimbabweans, avoid eating pork and food with animal blood, and have 12 tribes.

They slaughter animals in the same way as Jewish people, and they put the Jewish Star of David on their tombstones.

Members of the priestly clan of the Lemba, known as the Buba, were even discovered to have a genetic element also found among the Jewish priestly line.

"This was amazing," said Prof Tudor Parfitt, from the University of London.

"It looks as if the Jewish priesthood continued in the West by people called Cohen, and in same way it was continued by the priestly clan of the Lemba.

"They have a common ancestor who geneticists say lived about 3,000 years ago somewhere in north Arabia, which is the time of Moses and Aaron when the Jewish priesthood started.”

Prof Parfitt is a world-renowned expert, having spent 20 years researching the Lemba, and living with them for six months.

The Lemba have a sacred prayer language which is a mixture of Hebrew and Arabic, pointing to their roots in Israel and Yemen.

Despite their ties to Judaism, many of the Lemba in Zimbabwe are Christians, while some are Muslims.

"Christianity is my religion, and Judaism is my culture," explains Perez Hamandishe, a pastor and member of parliament from the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

Despite their centuries-old traditions, some younger Lemba are taking a more liberal view.

"In the old days you didn't marry a non-Lemba, but these days we interact with others," says Alex Makotore, son of the late Chief Mposi from the Lemba"headquarters"In Mberengwa.

"I feel special in my heart but not in front of others such that I'm separated from them. Culture is dynamic.”


The oral traditions of the Lemba say that the ngoma lungundu is the Biblical wooden Ark made by Moses, and that centuries ago a small group of men began a long journey carrying it from Yemen to southern Africa.

The object went missing during the 1970's and was eventually rediscovered in Harare in 2007 by Prof Parfitt.

"Many people say that the story is far-fetched, but the oral traditions of the Lemba have been backed up by science," he says.

Carbon dating shows the ngoma to be nearly 700 years old - pretty ancient, if not as old as Bible stories would suggest.

But Prof Parfitt says this is because the ngoma was used in battles, and would explode and be rebuilt.

The ngoma now on display was a replica, he says, possibly built from the remains of the original.

"So it's the closest descendant of the Ark that we know of," Prof Parfitt says.

Large crowds came to see the unveiling of the ngoma and to attend lectures on the identity of the Lemba.

For David Maramwidze, an elder in his village, the discovery of the ngoma has been a defining moment.

"Hearing from those professors in Harare and seeing the ngoma makes it clear that we are a great people and I'm very proud," he says.

"I heard about it all my life and it was hard for me to believe, because I had no idea of what it really is.

"I'm still seeing the picture of the ngoma in my mind and it will never come out from my brain. Now we want it to be given back to the Lemba people.”


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