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Monday, November 19, 2007

140 Million Jews

One of the questions that comes up every now and then in the Israeli-Japanese discourse is whether the Japanese are descendents of the Israelite Lost Tribes.

Brief history: After the Israelite kingdom was run over by the Assyrians in the 8th century B.C.E, ten of the Israelite tribes were exiled and never heard of again. Today's Jews are descendents of the kingdom of Yehudah, specifically three tribes: Yehudah, Binyamin and Levi. Over the centuries, many theories have been put forward as to the whereabouts of the Ten Lost Tribes. In recent years, a group of Indians came forward and claimed they are descendents of the tribe of Menasheh; several of them made aliyah to Israel.

One of the theories is that the Ten Tribes (or some of them) ended up in Japan. Proponents of this theory point to Shinto, the native religion of Japan, purportedly showing that several traditions in Shinto can be traced back to biblical Jewish practices. The movie below summarises some of these finding, while this website is more comprehensive.

Personally, this all sounds a bit far-fetched, but who knows? After all, it has been almost 3,000 years so anything is possible. To me, the most frightening thought in this whole discussion is: imagine a world with 140 million Jews! The mere thought has me covered in cold sweat.


Abe Bird said...

Amazing !
Vast quantity of the lost tribes have been spread through out the ancient world and they have been mixed with the early European tribes that flooded Europe in the 3-9 AD centuries (Very prominent evidence excavated in Ireland), Indian Americans (North and South), Chinese tribes along through the "silk way" and some African tribes (the Bushmen?). It's amazing!!!!
We sure will see some day that we all have some Jewish blood in our veins!!!!

Uri said...

Heh, I found the video actually quite a bit amusing. While the facts which point to the possiblity of the Japanese having at least a passing relation to ancient Israelites are serious and worthy of at least some scholarly study and debate, the video was clearly produced to sensationalize the matter. Frankly, I can point out numerous fallacies, for instance, that ridiculous mask is clearly a 'Tengu' mask, IIRC, meant to ward of demons in certain south-east asian countries. Frankly, if a serious, thorough and scientific documentery asserting this were to be produced and released in Japan, the Nipponjin would explode. They're very nationalistic and I can't imagine them taking that sort of news well.

Sharvul said...


I don't know. Maybe some nihon-jin will find the idea of being Jewish attractive. After all, many of them think the Jews are smart and rich... In fact, some of the Japanese who with to convert to Judaism cite these "traits" as the main reason for their goal :-)