Friday, March 15, 2013

The Igbos and the Tribe of Manasseh and Ephraim

The Igbos and the Tribe of Manasseh and Ephraim
Rabbi Yehudah (Tochukwu)ben Shomeyr

And she called his name Joseph; and said, The LORD shall add to me another son. – Gen. 30:24

And Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh: For God, said he, hath made me forget all my toil, and all my father's house. – Gen. 41:51

And unto Joseph in the land of Egypt were born Manasseh and Ephraim, which Asenath the daughter of Potipherah priest of On bare unto him. –Gen 46:20

And now thy two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, which were born unto thee in the land of Egypt before I came unto thee into Egypt, are mine; as Reuben and Simeon, they shall be mine. – Gen. 48:5

And he blessed them that day, saying, In thee shall Israel bless, saying, God make thee as Ephraim and as Manasseh: and he set Ephraim before Manasseh. – Gen. 48:20

Joseph (Ephraim and Manasseh) is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well; whose branches run over the wall: The archers have sorely grieved him, and shot at him, and hated him: But his bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob; (from thence is the shepherd, the stone of Israel:)  Even by the God of thy father, who shall help thee; and by the Almighty, who shall bless thee with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lieth under, blessings of the breasts, and of the womb: The blessings of thy father have prevailed above the blessings of my progenitors unto the utmost bound of the everlasting hills: they shall be on the head of Joseph, and on the crown of the head of him that was separate from his brethren. - Gen. 49:22-26 – italics mine 

And of Joseph (Ephraim and Manasseh) he said, Blessed of the LORD [be] his land, for the precious things of heaven, for the dew, and for the deep that coucheth beneath, And for the precious fruits [brought forth] by the sun, and for the precious things put forth by the moon, And for the chief things of the ancient mountains, and for the precious things of the lasting hills, And for the precious things of the earth and fulness thereof, and for the good will of him that dwelt in the bush: let the blessing come upon the head of Joseph, and upon the top of the head of him that was separated from his brethren. His glory is like the firstling of his bullock, and his horns are like the horns of unicorns: with them he shall push the people together to the ends of the earth: and they are the ten thousands of Ephraim, and they are the thousands of Manasseh. -Deut. 33:13-17 – italics mine 

Of the tribe of Manasses were sealed twelve thousand…. tribe of Joseph (Ephraim) were sealed twelve thousand. – Rev. 7:6, 8 – italics mine

Manasseh is the son of Joseph, and he and his brother Ephraim were adopted as sons of Jacob/Israel in order to make the tribes 12, because, Levi, although a son of Jacob/Israel, had no inheritance in the Land of Promise, but the service of the priesthood unto GOD was to be their inheritance.

Joseph married an Egyptian woman and archeological evidence around that time support that the Egyptians were black, thus making Joseph’s sons black. Jacob blessed Josephs sons breaking somewhat with tradition and putting the younger above the elder, but clearly indicating both sons would become two massive tribes that would prosper and be scattered abroad.

Ephraim, being made greater, was sometimes used to indicate all of 10 tribes of Israel’s Northern Kingdom. So, could Manasseh, being Ephraim’s brother also be used to indicate the 10 tribes or is the name Manasseh strictly used to only refer to the tribe. This has been a cause for much speculation and debate. Even the Book of Revelation seems to indicate Joseph is Ephraim and Manasseh is a separate tribe. Although I have heard that some argue that Manasseh in this passage was really Dan as they are mysteriously missing from the list of sealed tribes (  

The Igbo’s of the West African country of Nigeria have claimed to be remnants of the lost tribes of dominantly of Gad, Zebulon, and Manasseh:

It has also been suggested that the Jewish Ibo people originated from a migration of Israelites who fled to West Africa. They claim to be descended from three tribes; Zebulon, Gad and Manasseh (Hebrew Qaraim Community). -

The Igbo Jews traditionally claim descent from three particular Israelite tribes: Gad, Zevulun, and Menashe. The Jews of Manipur and Mizoram, the Bnei Menashe, also claim descent from the tribe of Menashe. It is thought that these Jews fled to Africa after the destruction of the biblical Temples in Jerusalem and established communities all across the African continent. -

Yet evidence, either hard or circumstantial to firmly establish this belief is hard to come by. I have no problem believing Manasseh to be among the Igbo, but if so, they have likely been swallowed up by Gad, the dominate Hebraic tribe among the Igbo. I can understand the possibility that Manasseh may be used as the name Ephraim sometimes has been, in a generic term to denote Israelites from all 10 tribes that have migrated to be with their brethren in Nigeria. Or it could literally mean the tribe of Manasseh, because Manasseh, being black, or at least darker than some of his Semitic Hebrew brethren, finding himself in Assyrian exile and captivity and escaping, would find themselves migrating to countries that more closely resemble their visual ethnos so as to blend in to the peoples around them, skirting certain types of persecution, while at the same being able to practice their faith without trouble.

Manasseh in India?

The Israeli authorities have officially recognized and gave allowance of aliyah (immigration) status (with the understanding that they have to officially convert) to the Kuki-Chin-Mizo people of Northeast India, also known as Bnei Menashe, in 2005 by the Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel. --

The Indian connection to Manasseh has also been confirmed by the Jewish Canadian Archeologist Simcha Jacaobovici in his A&E documentary “Quest for the Lost Tribes” This documentary also reveals that a portion of all 12 tribes the Afghan Pathan’s who are now Muslim, carry the names and some of the traditional traits and practices of the 12 tribes of Israel.  This documentary also tells of the Jews of Kaifeng China who believe they are from Manasseh.

Manasseh and Ephraim who were prophesied to become very large, and like Simeon and Levi were to be scattered among all the tribes. So I think it is a likely possibility that Manasseh and even Ephraim could be among the Igbos. But just the same, I am sure we can find them among many other people groups of the world.

Manasseh in Europe?

British Israelite Scholars such as Steven M. Collins and Yair Davidiy have written extensive volumes on the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh alone that is too complex to get into here, but suffice it to say the main gist of their research and belief point to Britain having absorbed much of the Ephraimites and the United States absorbing much of Manasseh.  I am here not neither support nor debunk such claims, but leave it to the reader to research and decide this for themselves. I have even ran across those who believe that Cubans are Manasseh and Puerto Ricans are Ephraim, but have never seen any convincing evidence, circumstantial or otherwise to verify this, though it is never out of the realm of possibility.