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By Any Other Name
Israel - Middle East
Tuesday, April 08, 2014
Wendy Wippel

Seen ''Lone Survivor''? Then you know the only reason Survivor survives is because a certain Afghan family hides him and helps him escape. You may not remember that the family was identified as a specific tribe of Afghanis called the Pashtuns. And I'm thinking you probably don't know why that made all the difference.

The eight million Pashtuns that inhabit Afghanistan (and northern Pakistan) speak Pushto. The movie (in the endnotes), goes on to say that the Pashtuns have a different tribal code than their Afghani neighbors.  And so they do.

It's called the Torah.

Ok, it's actually it's called Pashtunwali. But Pashtunwali would appear to stem directly from the Torah, because the Pashtuns (or Pathans) traditionally call themselves the Bnei Israel (sons of Israel), claiming to be descended from Jewish tribes (their tribal names: Levani, Daftali, Yusuf, Ashuri, etc, hinting at Hebrew origins) that were marched through the Khyber Pass as part of the Assyrian conquest. And although now they make up the bulk of the Taliban, according to their oral history they were carried away from Israel in the Assyrian conquest and forced to convert to Islam by Muslims expanding their territories in 622.

The Pashtuns, in fact, claim that the city of Kabul stands for "Cain and Abel" and that the name of their current home, Afghanistan, is derived from "Afghana," the grandson of King Saul of the tribe of Benjamin.

Evidence of an ancient presence of Jews in Afghanistan is abundant. An ancient Jewish settlement has been identified in Herat (near the Iranian border); a graveyard there is littered with tombs which house long-dead Israelites with their names inscribed in Hebrew. Stone tablets with Hebrew inscriptions dating from 1115 to 1215 confirm the existence of a Jewish community in Firoz Koh, located between Herat and Kabul.

Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, is also host to a long-abandoned, centuries old synagogue. Most of what might have confirmed a wide Jewish presence in Afghanistan, however, was obliterated by the Mongol Invasion of 1222, led by Genghis Khan.

But the Pashtun are raised on stories of their origins as Children of Israel. Specifically, children of Ephraim. (Ephraim being known as Afridi in Pashto.) And preliminary DNA testing has shown that the Pashtun tribe known specifically as Afridi do, in fact, share genetic markers with their Jewish neighbors, with nearly half of Afridis tested sharing markers found widely in the Jewish population.

Additional testing showed that the genetic homology between the Pashtun and European Jews was nearly identical to the homology observed between  European Jewish DNA and that of Iraqi and Iranian Jews.

Intriguingly, the rare genetic disease  inclusion body myopathy 2, a muscle-wasting syndrome, was known to occur only in Jews--specifically Iranian Jews. That is, until doctors identified the same unusual disorder in the Pashtuns in Afghanistan--an observation though to result from a "founder mutation effect", i.e., an original mutation in an ancestor common to all current cases. 

''Verrrrry interesting'', as Artie Johnson used to say.

The really interesting thing, however, is that God has revealed Israel's history in prophecy, and apparently the Pashtuns are no exception.

Afghan history, written in a book entitled "Mahsan-I-Afghani" (published in 1635) records that Afghana was the son of Jeremiah, the son of King Saul (of the tribe of Benjamin).

(A little-known fact that fueled claims by the monarchy in Afghanistan to the throne of Israel as well.)

Saul, the king provided to Israel by Jehovah because of their incessant demands to be like the other nations. (I Samuel 8:7)

So isn't it interesting that God also prophesied that, “The LORD will bring you and the king whom you set over you to a nation which neither you nor your fathers have known, and there you shall serve other gods—wood and stone."

The Israelites insisted on a king and they got one-- Saul—the very king that the Pathans claim descent from.  And despite descent from an Israeli king, they were nonetheless forced to serve the Islamic god, Allah.

Allah, who intriguingly demands that, as one of the five pillars of Islam, all Muslims make pilgrimage to Mecca. And the point of the pilgrimage to Mecca is to kiss al-ajar al-Aswad.

A black stone.  

By the way, the most famous member of the Pashtun tribe-- a young girl with startlingly green eyes-- adorned the cover of two National Geographic covers nearly 20 years apart.  Here she is at age 13 and at 30:

Afghan Girl: Then And Now

The Pashtuns are known as the most warlike tribe in Afghanistan, and it is said of them that they are only at peace when they are at war.

But at least one Pashtun family went out of their way to protect a stranger. Pray for these lost sheep of Jerusalem.

About Wendy Wippel

Last week: Slip-Sliding Away

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