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Sunday, November 11, 2012

India-Burma's Lost Menashe Tribe of Israel Enter Israel

Nadene Goldfoot
Israel recognizes Bnei Menashe Tribesmen as one of the lost 10 Tribes.  More are due to arrive in a few weeks.  There were 12 tribes of Israel, with origins being  the sons of Jacob, his two wives and two concubines.  It was Jacob's family of 70 who descended to Egypt.  The Assyrians attacked Israel  in the 8th-7th Century BCE and took away many  of 10 of the tribes.  Most people thought they had been killed, or had assimilated amongst the other nations.  Jacob's first wife, Leah, was the mother to Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah,Issachar and Zebulun.  Rachel, his 2nd wife and sister to Leah was mother to Joseph and Benjamin.  Zilpah, handmaiden to Leah was mother to Gad and Asher.  Bilhah, handmaiden to Rachel was mother to Dan and Naphtali.   

"I Chronicles 5:26 And the God of Israel stirred up the spirit of Pul king of Assyria, and the spirit of Tilgathpilneser king of Assyria, and he carried them away, even the Reubenites, and the Gadites, and the half tribe of Manasseh, and brought them unto Halah, and Habor, and Hara, and to the river Gozan, unto this day."

The United Kingdom making up all 12 tribes of Israel was in existence starting with King Saul  from 1051 to 930 BCE.  The territory of the northern Kingdom of Israel comprised the territories of the tribes of Zebulun,  Issachar, Asher, Naphtali,  Dan,  Manasseh, Ephraim,  Reuben and Gad.

Its capital was Samaria.."  In 931 King Solomon died, leaving Rehoboam hereditary king which all the tribes refused to accept as king  except for Judah and Benjamin.  Rehoboam was a heavy tax person like his father had been.  Jeroboam, living in Egypt was sent for and  became king instead.  He's responsible for the division turning United Israel into Israel and Judah and was King of Israel, the northern kingdom, for 22 years..

In 721 BCE the Assyrians attacked Israel and the capital of Samaria, taking away captives.  They did it again in 701 BCE, this time attacking the other state of Judah.

Bnei Menashe Arrival
It seems that even with assimilation, some have managed to maintain their roots through oral history passed on down through the generations of about 2,700 years or 27 centuries since 721 BCE.  The tribe of Bnei Menashe, who have been living in north-eastern India and in Burma claims descent from the lost tribe of Menashe.They  believe that the legendary Kuki-Mizo ancestor Manmasi[ was Menasseh, son of Joseph.  We know that Joseph was the father to Manasseh and Ephraim.  They found their roots and have been practicing Judaism for only the past 27 years.

By 2005 Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar ruled that the tribe had Jewish roots but must go through conversion to be eligible to immigrate under the Law of Return.  Our Jewish recognition is through the mother, not the father, so this was important as the tribal roots were of the father's line.  Though they had this connection, the mothers of today were not Jewish.

In 2006 some of the tribe entered Israel.  Five years went by and now the government of Israel has approved of continued immigration for them.  274 new immigrants will arrive in a few weeks.  Israel already has about 1,700 Bnei Menashe members living mostly in Judea-Samaria towns and in Kiryat Arba.  There are still about 7,000 to 9,000 tribesmen in India and Burma.

In 2007 the government policy changed by requiring mass immigration and conversions to be approved by cabinet decision, not just the Interior Ministry.  MK Meir Sheetrit of the Kadima Party and Interior Minister in 2007 was against renewed immigration for fear that it will endanger the Jewish identity of the state.  The thought is allowing people to come who will vote a certain way in elections.  (Isn't that a thought also in the USA?)

Another Kadima Party member, MK Otniel Schneller said that this is mainly about family reunification for people already here.  Shavei Israel, an NGO liaison between Israel and Bnei Menashe funds and manages renewed immigration.

Flights of the last remnants of the Jewish community of Falash Mura immigrants from Ethiopia has been renewed last week.  They will soon be arriving.  This is indeed a time of the Jewish people's ingathering again in Israel that has been prophesied.  They are not one of the lost 10 tribes but claim descent from King Solomon through the Queen of Sheba.


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