In The Foot­steps of the Lost Ten Tribes

Avig­dor Shachan
  • Review
By – March 2, 2012

His­tor­i­cal works today usu­al­ly take one of two forms. The first is the care­ful­ly foot­not­ed exam­i­na­tion of a nar­row top­ic, writ­ten by a spe­cial­ist for spe­cial­ists and attempt­ing to advance the state of sci­ence a few yards down the road. The sec­ond is the his­to­ry of great themes, striv­ing to edu­cate the pub­lic on a neglect­ed or mis­un­der­stood peri­od or per­son­age. In the Foot­steps of the Lost Ten Tribes does not fit into either cat­e­go­ry. Rather it falls into the world of obscu­ran­tist, high­ly indi­vid­u­al­ized schol­ar­ship that rarely finds a broad audience. 

The argu­ment of the book is that the ten tribes of Israel, fol­low­ing the Assyr­i­an con­quest (130 years pri­or to the destruc­tion of Jerusalem and the state of Judea by the Baby­lo­ni­ans) were exiled, but not dis­persed. Rather, they first set­tled Afghanistan, then parts of India, Chi­na, and final­ly Japan. Along the way, they became the Pash­tuns (the war­like tribe amongst whom Osama bin Laden finds his refuge), an Indi­an caste, and the Japan­ese. Fas­ci­nat­ing as is this tale, noth­ing in it con­vinces. Sim­i­lar­i­ties between Hebrew names and Shin­to ter­mi­nol­o­gy do not a con­clu­sive proof make, nor does the heavy reliance on trav­el­ogues and ten­den­tious works of the 19th and ear­ly 20th centuries.

Jeff Bogursky reads a lot, writes a lit­tle and talks quite a bit. He is a media exec­u­tive and expert in dig­i­tal media.

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