Regathering The Hebrew Diaspora
“And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of His people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea. And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.”
Jewish or Hebrew
In this module we will discover that there are many Semitic people groups throughout the world. During this course we are going to take a closer look at each of these groups. During this course we will see that not all Semitic people identify as Jewish.
The term Jewish does not imply the exclusive descendants of the people of Israel, rather, it’s describing a remnant of the Judeans who returned from Babylon and codified the law of Moses by keeping the Torah. The dispersed Judeans established a lifestyle based on the oral and written tradition of the code of Moses. Centuries ago, the Romans shortened the word Judean and the dispersed Judeans became known as “Jews” and the religious practices of the Judeans became known as Judaism.
The Judean exile had brought many dispersed people as exiles into Rome and other Mediterranean cities. The descendants of these exile communities were known as Sepharadim, based on the word Sepharad which is Spain in Hebrew, which in the Tanach is mentioned by name.
“And that exiled force of Israelites [shall possess] what belongs to the Phoenicians as far as Zarephath (France), while the Jerusalemite exile community of Sepharad (Spain) shall possess the towns of the Negeb.”
The Ashkenazim are Judeans who were dispersed to Europe and formed Jewish communities in Europe. The Judeans who were dispersed throughout the Mediterranean coastal countries are known as Sephardim (as we read above). Most American Jewry are of Ashkenazi or Sephardic origin.
There are also Jews that identify as Mizrahi, Teimani, Yemenite, etc. These terms derive from the locations that had flourishing (Judean) Jewish communities.
Ashkenaz was the son of Gomer of the family line of Japheth, and a grandson of Noah. His family had an inheritance in the Germanic regions of Europe. The Judeans that settled and grew in that region are referred to as Ashkenazi, just as all Jewish communities are referred to by their Geographic location.
“The descendants of Gomer: Ashkenaz, Riphath, and Togarmah.”
When the children of Israel were dispersed across the globe, they assimilated to foreign regions and intermarried with the indigenous population taking on the racial identity of the location. The dispersed people that fled to Europe look European. The dispersed people that fled to China look Chinese. The dispersed people that fled to India look Indian. The dispersed people that fled to Africa look African.
It is interesting to note that DNA suggests the Ashkenazim came from a few hundred families of the Israelites exiled in Europe. Also, DNA suggests that the dispersed Judean settlers intermarried with Europeans. This would explain why the Ashkenazi communities are lighter complexion in skin color. However, according to scripture, skin color has nothing to do with being a member of the House of Israel.
“As for the congregation, there shall be one statute both for you, and for the stranger that sojourneth with you, a statute for ever throughout your generations; as ye are, so shall the stranger be before the Lord.”
“But the LORD said unto Samuel: ‘Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have rejected him; for it is not as man seeth: for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.”
Under the pressure of the Egyptians, Persians, Babylonians, Greeks, Romans, Spaniards and Germans, the Judeans were scattered throughout the world. Miraculously they sustained their 2,000 year old traditions and code of laws. Over the centuries many Jews were forced to convert to other religions or practice their faith secretly.
During the 1700’s the European Jewish leaders began urging mass migration back to Israel to join the Israelites who had never left the land. Letters were sent in search of the scattered camps of surviving ‘Lost Tribes’ of Israel. (See Course For Details)
Arab Speaking Hebrews
Today, let’s take a look at a few people groups of Hebrew origin:
An incredible yet strange phenomenon exists in Israel. Among the residents of certain territories like the West Bank, there are hundreds of thousands of indigenous people who are identified as “Palestinians,” yet some are believed to actually have Hebrew origin. These people live in family clans, and marry within family clans. Some of these family clans have their origins as Israelites who went through conversions to Islam in order to remain in Israel without the threat of pressure from Islamic culture on non Islamic residents of the land.
In Israel there is a famous village known to be exclusively inhabited by descendants of hidden Hebrews. Yatta is located in the “West Bank,” and has a reputation for being a cornerstone in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. The family clans of Yatta self identify as being of the children of Israel.
“But some of the poorest in the land were left by the chief of the guards, to be vinedressers and field hands.”
As the verse states in 2 Kings, not 100% of the people of Israel were sent into exile, the poorest remained in order to continue working and tilling the land. The description of the family clans from Yatta, details their family name meaning wine makers.
Hebrew Diaspora In China and India
Over history scattered Jewish communities (of the European diaspora) have popped up in far away regions, most notably in Kaifeng China, and on the West Coast of India. Having resettled in foreign regions, the Jewish people had married women of local origin. However, as we will learn later on in this course, there were many Israelite exile communities in these regions well before European Jewry settled there.
The Hebrew Presence In India
The history of the Semitic people in India reaches back to ancient times. Indian Hebrews are a religious minority of India, but, unlike many parts of the world, have historically lived in India without any instances of anti-Semitism from the local majority populace. The better-established ancient communities have assimilated a large number of local traditions through cultural diffusion. While some Indian Hebrews state their ancestors arrived in India during the time of the Kingdom of Judah, others identify themselves as descendants of Israel’s Ten Lost Tribes. It is estimated that India’s Hebrew population peaked at around 20,000 in the mid-1940s, and began to rapidly decline due to their emigration to Israel after its creation in 1948. Read this on Wikipedia
As the course continues, we will also learn about the dispersed people’s journeys into Africa and across the Silk Road.