What Israel’s Says about the Igbo
Rabbi Yehudah ben Shomeyr
A good detective will take notice of who else takes notice of the suspect or victim one is researching or tracking. Depending upon the caliber of people seeking out the same person you are could attest to the person of interest’s worth and credibility of rumored claims regarding them.
We know since at least 1789 CE that Jews have been interested in the possible Igbo-Israel connection when a former Igbo slave named Olauda Equiano, living in London first proposed the Igbo-Israel relationship in his autobiography. Some Igbos, including a Dr. Ikedife recalls Israelis visiting Igboland and investigating such claims during the Biafran War.
Jer. 16:14-16 Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that it shall no more be said, The LORD liveth, that brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; But, The LORD liveth, that brought up the children of Israel from the land of the north, and from all the lands whither he had driven them: and I will bring them again into their land that I gave unto their fathers. Behold, I will send for many fishers, saith the LORD, and they shall fish them; and after will I send for many hunters, and they shall hunt them from every mountain, and from every hill, and out of the holes of the rocks.
It basically says that a hunt would be on one day for the lost tribes scattered abroad. This prophecy has been and is still being fulfilled.
Under direction of Israeli Prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, in October of 1995 and in May 1997 under Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli government sent delegates, looking for a long lost brother Eri. They went to Nigeria, state to state, town to town, tribe to tribe, quietly observed to see if any recognizable Hebraic traits or customs will pop out. When they made it to Obu-Gad their search ended as they seen the Igbo there display Hebraic-ness in their culture. They even seen the ancient stone throne of Gad and immediately recognized the script at the foot of the throne as Paleo-Hebrew. They also visited many sites that have been connected to Eri and the Igbo people. This was documented on film and later shown on Israeli Television. I have been given a DVD copy of this documentary by Eze A.E. Chukuwuemeka-Eri.
On March 28th 1996 Israeli Ambassador to Nigeria visited Nri and cried acknowledging that the Igbo’s were among the Lost Tribes of Israel. Before he left he gave Eze Nri a gift of olives and oil stating that such gifts were only given to Kings of Israel.
In October 23rd 1997 Yitzhaq David an American Jew and Program Director of King Solomon Sephardic Federation was televised visiting the King in Nwewi (Also a King I have personally visited myself, pictured below), Igwe Kenneth Orizu III. It was said during that visit by Zagi David, another delegate which came with the K.S.S.F. “After much research work on the origin of the Igbos, the archaeological findings indicate that Israel is the true home and they should make a quick come back for historical reunion.”
Today in Israel there is an Igbo synagogue in Tel Aviv. The problem is not necessarily are Igbo’s Hebrews, the issue is how the Israeli government recognize will recognize those Igbo who make Aliyah to Israel. For now they return as converts, but the Igbos want to return being officially recognized as Hebrews. Converts would imply they were never really of Gad, they want to officially be recognized as a Lost Tribe who has been found and is coming home.
What Others Have to Say about the Igbo Being of Israel
A good detective has to have witnesses and informants to be able to get to the truth and must explore every lead.
The Internet is full of sites which speak of the Igbos being of Gad as well as many books, some of which can be found in the “Further Reading” Section of this book.
“Ibo Tribe of Nigeria”
The wild landscapes of Africa, its exotic rhythms and mask dances provide the picturesque background for this tribe, who believes itself to be the descendants of the Israelite tribe of Gad.
They have numerous legends which explain their origins, many of which don’t exactly fit in with the others. But this doesn’t seem to bother the Ibo, whose powerful faith allows them the flexibility of accepting what is considered by Western man as a logical contradiction. They interpret their name “Ibo” as a mispronounced “Hebrew” and till today, the members pray to “Chuku Abiama” - Abraham’s God. The Ibos, well known for their struggle for independence in the Biafra war, are now considered the “Jews of Nigeria” and have contributed greatly to the intellectual and economic development in that country.” -- http://www.aranpa.com/Tribes.htm
“Outreach to Nigerian Jews by the wider Jewish world community gained official status in 1995 – 1997, when Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin sent a team to Nigeria in search of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel. Western rabbis and educators such as Rabbi Gorin have visited the community at times and Jewish communities in the West support those in Nigeria by sending books, computers, and religious articles. However, the State of Israel has, to date, not officially recognized the Igbo as one of the Lost Tribes.
In 2004-2008, Rabbi Yaacov Behrman made numerous trips to Nigeria to help the Israeli community with Jewish community development. During those visits Rabbi Behrman met with Igbo leaders and visited their community centers. Rabbi Behrman concluded that they lack evidence and refused to recognize them as Jews.” -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Igbo_Jews
Israel Today originally reported in 2006 how Chief Rabbinate recognized the Ebos as sons of Israel descended from Gad. And indeed, there is an Ebo-Gad community in Tel Aviv Israel who have their own synagogue. There has been great debates in the Israeli courts, secular and religious regarding the identity of the Igbo’s; many immigration and deportation legal battles. The argument is not necessarily are they truly of Gad, but should they be considered returnees or new converts and it was eventually decided to allow them to make Aliyah as a returning tribe.
Har Ararets magazine in Oct, 12, 2005 article declared the Igbos to be sons of Israel through Gad. Dr. G.T. Basden, an Anglican missionary and anthropologist, along with Prof. Elisabeth Isichei an Australian historian and Melville Merrskovits, an American writer all strongly believe there is enough evidences to link the Igbo’s of Nigeria to the Israeli tribe of Gad. Among Igbo authorities, Prof. O. Alezi and ex-slave Olaudah (Ikwuano) Equiano also believed without a doubt that the Igbos were descendants of Gad.
In several editions of the Encyclopedia Britannica in 1929 connects the Igbo people to Gad. A Torah commentary on Sh’mot in 1922 makes the Igbo-Gad connection also.