Skip to comments.The Lemba (The Black Jews Of Southern Africa)
Posted on 03/14/2005 6:53:09 PM PST by blam
T h e
L e m b a
The Black Jews of Southern Africa
Over 2,700 years ago, the Assyrians exiled the ten tribes of the Kingdom of Israel. "In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria captured Samaria and he carried them away to Assyria and placed them in Halah, and on the Habor, the river of Gozan, and in the cities of Medes." In the years 722-721 BC (over 2700 years ago), the Ten Tribes who comprised the northern Kingdom of Israel disappeared. Conquered by the Assyrian King Shalmaneser V, they were exiled to upper Mesopotamia and Medes, today modern Syria and Iraq. The Ten Tribes of Israel have never been seen since. Or have they?
Tudor Parfitt, the protagonist of the NOVA documentary "Lost Tribes of Israel," made a journey through southern Africa to study the unusual traditions of a black African tribe called the Lemba. This Bantu-speaking group claimed Jewish ancestry and observed many Semitic traditions such as kosher-like dietary restrictions and slaughter practices, male circumcision rites, strict rules against intermarriage, and Semitic-sounding clan names.
Once described as "a sort of British Indiana Jones," Parfitt spent many months with the Lemba, meeting their tribal and religious leaders and observing some of their most sacred rituals. He came to the conclusion that the origin of many of the Lemba traditions was indeed Semitic, not African. But whether these traditions came from Islamic or Jewish sources was impossible to discern from the historical and anthropological evidence available. It would take Y-chromosome studies to delve deeper into this question of origin.
A few years after his travels, Parfitt teamed up with a group from The Center for Genetic Anthropology at University College London to look for a genetic counterpart to the Lemba's oral tradition of Jewish descent. Using a relatively new technique in genetic studies, the team identified a particular series of genetic markers on the Y chromosome of Lemba males. They then compared these markers to other groups with whom the Lemba might have shared a common ancestor long ago.
The team collected DNA samples from Bantu (African), Yemeni (Arab), and Sephardic Jews and Azhkenazi Jews (including Cohanim from both communities) to compare the amount of similarity that existed between each of these groups. As we've seen, the more similar the Y chromosome, the more closely related are some individuals in the different groups to a common paternal ancestor. As a consequence, one can establish links between populations.
In an interview with NOVA, team member Dr. David Goldstein commented on the team's findings: "The first striking thing about the Y chromosomes of the Lemba is that you find this particular chromosomal type (Cohen modal haplotype) that is characteristic of the Jewish priesthood in a frequency that is similar to what you see in major Jewish populations. Something just under one out of every 10 Lemba that we looked at had this particular Y chromosomal type that appears to be a signature of Jewish ancestry. Perhaps even more striking is the fact that this Cohen genetic signature is strongly associated with a particular clan in the Lemba. Most of the Cohen modal haplotypes that we observe are carried by individuals of the Buba clan which, in Lemba oral tradition, had a leadership role in bringing the Lemba out of Israel."
What this study shows is that the Lemba, and more specifically some members of the Buba sub-clan, seem to have an ancestral connection to Judaic populations. Like an oral history, but written in the letters of their DNA, the Lemba Y chromosome hands from father to son a living record of the past.
The Journeys of Tudor Parfitt in discovering the Lemba's origin
Lembas believe their ancestors built the ancient city, Great Zimbabwe
B L A C K B L O O D I N I S R A E L?
* Genesis 12:16 Not only Hagar, but many of Abrahams servants were gifts from Pharaoh and in this period it is fairly likely that many were Nubians. (approx. 1921 BC) * Genesis 13: 6-8 Abraham had a large number of herdsmen and 318 male servants who were born into his house. * Genesis 25 Isaac, Abrahams son and then Jacob inherited everything. * Genesis41:50 Joseph fathered two tribes, Ephraim and Manasseh, by an Egyptian wife, automatically making Israel nearly 10 percent Egyptian. Joshua was from one of these half-African tribes, Ephraim; in later years this tribe became so dominant that the northern tribes of Israel were sometimes simply called Ephraim. When the Israelites were subjected to slavery under the Egyptians, they and their former servants were now all defined as Israel together; this means that much intermarriage must have taken place.
* Exodus 12:38 After 400 years, a mixed multitude left Egypt during the Exodus.
Makes sense to me. This is fascinating.
Do you think theres' been intermarriage?
Well... somewhere back there a few thousand years someone did the dance under the chuppah.
I watched this program tonight. Good food for thought
ANCIENT ZIMBABWE AND THE LEMBA TRIBE
By David L. McNaughton (DLMcN@yahoo.com)
(Based on a letter sent to Scientific American commenting on their article "Great Zimbabwe" in November 1997. )
Many writers have been influenced by emotion when proposing theories for the origin of the ancient Zimbabwean civilization, but this is probably true of both the two opposing factions.
If that civilisation was created by the Shona (who live there today), then they must have been completely different in character and aptitude from other Bantu tribes in Africa. But did they retain any of that heritage after the collapse of Great Zimbabwe?
In a few respects the answer is yes - but connections with that ancient culture seem much closer for another tribe - the Lemba of the northern Transvaal. Until quite recently, the Lemba had a propensity for building in stone - in Zimbabwean style, without cement. In addition, their metalwork was far superior to that of surrounding tribes (although gold was no longer available to them; instead, the Lemba mined and used copper).
Of course, even as early as the 18th century, the standard of Lemba workmanship was not at the level manifested by the buildings and gold ornaments found at Great Zimbabwe.
The Lemba bury their dead in an extended position, just like the ancient Zimbabweans did: this contrasts with the "crouched" posture adopted by other Bantu people. Also, according to H.A. Junod, other tribes regard the Lemba as the originators and masters of the art of circumcision - which is interesting because the stone phallic symbols found at ancient Zimbabwean ruins, definitely represented circumcised organs.
Apart from their Zimbabwean links, the Lemba are very different from all other Bantu tribes. Many Lemba possess aquiline noses and narrow, non-negroid lips. Some of their words and clan-names indicate a Semitic connection, e.g. Sadiki, Hasane, Hamisi, Haji, Bakeri, Sharifo and Saidi (which is their word for "master"). They refuse to eat pork, rabbit, hare, carrion and scaleless fish, exactly as laid down in Leviticus chapter 11. When preparing meat for consumption, they always kill in the "kosher" manner by bleeding; (the Islamic custom is of course comparable).
The Lemba also have a distinctive New Moon ceremony. Indeed, they have a tradition that their male ancestry originally comprised "fair-skinned people who came by sea" to obtain gold from southeast Africa. Thus, it was quite possible that the original Lemba people fled southwards as refugees when Great Zimbabwe was overrun. At the same time, other inhabitants of that city were probably captured and absorbed by the invaders. According to descriptions by early Portuguese explorers, the ancient Zimbabwean civilization had already collapsed by the 16th century AD.
Also relevant to the dating question are references to the ancient gold mines (which were quite sophisticated, incorporating horizontal tunnels as well as vertical shafts). In the 10th century AD, Masudi and Ibn Al Wardy wrote of gold being exported through the Arab trading post at Sofala which lies on the coast just east of Great Zimbabwe. Earlier, the Alexandrian merchant Cosmas Indicopleustes (in his Topographia Christiana, 6th century AD) mentioned regular expeditions from Ethiopia to obtain gold from a country where winter occurred during Northern Hemisphere summer. Thus, even though the stone temple had probably not yet been constructed, it is quite possible that Zimbabwe was the ultimate source of the Sabaean gold wealth cited by Pliny the Elder (c. 70 AD) and by I Kings chapter 10. The East African coast was certainly part of the Sabaean empire, and expeditions even further south were well within the ability of the ship-builders and mariners of that era.
It is worth adding that the Sabaeans used to follow a Judaistic religion (which included circumcision). They were also skilled water engineers who had developed an extensive terraced agricultural system - just like the inhabitants of prehistoric Zimbabwe. Furthermore, elliptical unroofed dry-stone temples constructed at Sirwah and Marib in the Yemen, are in some ways comparable with those found in Zimbabwe. Furthermore, Dr T. Parfitt of London University has established a DNA match between the Lemba and people in the Hadramaut region of the Yemen (which was once part of the Sabaean empire). Most surprising of all was the discovery that members of the most senior Lemba clan carried the Cohen Modal Haplotype, which is a distinctive feature of the Jewish priesthood. It is probably significant, too, that this genetic pattern is carried by the Y-chromosome, and is therefore passed through the male line. There is still insufficient evidence to be dogmatic about the origin of ancient Zimbabwe, but a Semitic connection does at least seem plausible.
heh... I wonder if I was dreaming when I read Mugabe is rethinking the land grab concept.
Very interesting...Thanks for the post. Guess the Muslims will target them soon. Or am I just too darn cynical....
Yup. You weren't dreaming. I read the same thing...didn't he say it was a mistake?
yep I wasn't dreaming...looks like Chavez is picking up where he left off.
some of these links (an old post I saved) may not work, didn't test 'em:
Where are the Ten Lost Tribes?
Here's an article about an earlier, similar show from Discovery, A&E, or History Channel (I forget which):
'Indiana' Jacobovici and the lost tribe of Israel
Here's one about the YAP haplotype discovered in kohanin:
Y Chromosomes Traveling South
"What's a Nubian?"
Sorry, I couldn't resist that one!
Quest For The Lost Tribes
directed by Simcha Jacobovici
a topic converted from the old system (originally a3bf9a6c0211a.htm):
Genetic evidence links Jews to their ancient tribe
JP | 11/20/2001 | By Judy Siegel
Posted on 11/19/2001 3:41:35 PM PST by Sabramerican
another related topic:
Eclipse Brings Claim Of Medieval African Observatory
New Scientist | 12-4-2002 | Stuart Clark
Posted on 12/04/2002 5:22:25 AM PST by blam
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The Elephantine papyri are caches of legal documents and letters written in Aramaic, which document the community of Jewish soldiers stationed here during the Persian occupation of Egypt. They maintained their own temple to their Lord, functioning alongside that of Khnum. The Jewish community at Elephantine was probably founded as a military installation in about 650 BCE during Manasseh's reign, to assist Pharaoh Psammetichus I in his Nubian campaign. The documents cover the period 495-399 BCE.
The actor Yaphet Kotto is the son of a Cameroon Jew on his mother's side. He was even bar mitzvahed!
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