Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Danites Among the Igbo?

Tribe of Dan and the Igbo

Rabbi Yehudah ben Shomeyr

Danites Among the Igbo?

It is fairly clear and conclusive that the Igbos are predominately from Gad, but also from Levi (Nri Priests), Zebulun and Judah, because Judah one of the largest tribes, like Levi mingled and traveled and could be found throughout virtually all the tribes.  However, some have speculated that some Igbo may be of the tribe of Dan. From my research among Igbo scholars and Black Hebrew scholars, it is in the opinion of the minority that the Igbo are from Dan or have Danites among them. There is simply not enough evidence to substantiate a Danite presence among the Igbo, although we should not rule this idea out completely.

Students of the Scriptures know that Israel was taken into captivity and exile and therefore dispersed throughout the world to this day as a result of sin, which is disobedience to Torah (Deut. 27-28, I John 3:4). Idolatry as well as a lack of brother love was the main reason the GOD of Israel scattered His people to the four winds.

My God will cast them away, because they did not hearken unto him: and they shall be wanderers among the nations. – Hosea 9:17

This I have found to be the major premise why some feel Igbos have Danites among them. Allow me to elaborate:

And Rachel said, God hath judged me, and hath also heard my voice, and hath given me a son: therefore called she his name Dan. – Gen. 30:6

And the sons of Bilhah, Rachel's handmaid; Dan, and Naphtali: - Gen. 35:25

Dan shall judge his people, as one of the tribes of Israel. Dan shall be a serpent by the way, an adder in the path, that biteth the horse heels, so that his rider shall fall backward. – Gen. 49:16-17

And of Dan he said, Dan is a lion's whelp: he shall leap from Bashan. Deut. 33:22

According to those who accept the premise that Dan is among the Igbo, the Danites as well as other waves of Gadites, Judeans, Zebulunites and Levites made their way to be with their Gadites brothers who settled in Nigeria to escape the Assyrian exile and persecution.  In this wave of Israelites to Nigera is believed to be brought the Shalmanezer influenced Idol worship of those who replaced the Jews and Hebrews in Samaria.

For the children of Israel walked in all the sins of Jeroboam which he did; they departed not from them; Until the Lord removed Israel out of his sight, as he had said by all his servants the prophets. So was Israel carried away out of their own land to Assyria unto this day.  And the king of Assyria brought men from Babylon, and from Cuthah, and from Ava, and from Hamath, and from Sepharvaim, and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the children of Israel: and they possessed Samaria, and dwelt in the cities thereof. – II Kings 17:22-24


Evidence for those who are proponents of the Danites being among the Igbo is taken from the prophecy of Jacob (Israel) concerning the tribe of Dan.

Dan shall judge his people, as one of the tribes of Israel. Dan shall be a serpent by the way, an adder in the path, that biteth the horse heels, so that his rider shall fall backward. – Gen. 49:16-17

In reading between the lines of this Jacobic prophecy concerning the Dan, some believe that because some Igbo of Uga in Aguata in Anambra State do not kill snakes and that idolatrous python worship cults can be found among the Igbos in Nigeria who treat the python with great respect and buries them as human and must make atoning sacrifices if they kill one, that such is, “proof” Danites reside among the Igbo; a very weak premise indeed in my humble opinion.  Snake worship is prevalent among the tribes that surround the Igbo in Nigeria, could the pagan religious influence of such tribes have rubbed off on such Igbo, seeing as how Idolatry was a major problem for Israel in general, which essentially caused the scattering of the tribes?

If they base the Danite presence among the Igbo on that prophetic verse, what of Moses prophecy in Deut. 33:22, how does that fit with the Danites of Ndi Igbo? What about the principle of confirmation by two or three witnesses? One biblical witness is a very shaky foundation indeed on which to claim Dan is among the Igbo.

I doubt, but do not dismiss the possibility that the remnants of the tribe of Dan can be found among the Igbo, for who knows what tribes of Israel came in the various waves of migration into Igboland. If they did, they were likely a small remnant and were eventually absorbed into the Gadite Igbo communities that settled and spread out from Aguleri in Anambra State.

To be sure much more inquiries and research into the oral history and linguistics of Igbo communities claiming Danite origins must be made in order to better flesh out the truth, if Danites reside among the Igbo.

Ethiopia and Sudan; a Better African Candidate?

Could a better Candidate for Dan be as some have suggested in the Sudan, Liberia, The Ivory Coast and Ethiopia?

“The Dan Tribe and sub Tribes Guere and Yacouba live in Western Ivory coast (Côte d'Ivoire) and Liberia.  They are people from the rainforest.  Their traditional masks and masquerades are some of the best known in Western countries.
Dan masquerades are usually performed by male associations for rituals, education, social control and entertainment. Masks were thought to embody the most powerful of spirit forces called gle.  Each gle has its own character. These bush spirits and masquerades brought control and order to village life.” -

Notice the sub tribe, “Yacouba” a corruption of the Hebrew “Yacob” in English known as “Jacob”? 

“In the 9th century CE, there was a man named Eldad ha-Dani who was a Jewish merchant and traveler and came and went to the Jewish communities of Babylonia, North Africa, and Spain. He left a record of his travels which constitute more legend than fact, but this stirred many people's interest. Eldad claimed that he was a merchant and scholar from an independent Jewish state that was situated in East Africa. He declared categorically that his country was the home of the Lost Tribes of Asher, Gad, Naphtali, and Dan, and that he himself was from the Tribe of Dan. His name ha-Dani means the Tribe of Dan in Hebrew.
Eldad mentions that in "Kush" of East Africa which is today's Ethiopia live a lot of descendants of the tribe of Dan and other tribes of Israel.

It is interesting to note that still in the 20th century CE there live a Jewish group called Falashas of Ethiopia. Their skin is black and they call themselves "Beta Israel" which means the House of Israel in Hebrew. They have been following the precepts of the Bible since ancient times in a loose fashion. The Falashas in Ethiopia speak Hebrew and keep the Sabbath. Tragically enough many of them were killed by a recent insurgence in Ethiopia, but the remnants immigrated to Israel. They were transported to Israel by the airplanes chartered by the government of Israel in 1983 and 1991. Over 90% of Beta Israel now live in Israel, accepted as Jews.” -

“As part of the Kingdom of Israel, the territory of Dan was conquered by the Assyrians, and exiled; the manner of their exile led to their further history being lost.
Ethiopian Jews, also known as Beta Israel, claim descent from the Tribe of Dan, whose members migrated south along with members of the Tribes of Gad, Asher, and Naphtali, into the Kingdom of Kush, now Ethiopia and Sudan, during the destruction of the First Temple. This position is supported by former Sephardic Chief Rabbi Ovadia Yosef. They are said to have fought with the natives.  Religious writers have tried to attach the serpent voodoo God Danbhala to this group, as the practice they suggest was a heterodox form of Ethiopian Judaism.” --

“In the latter part of the twelfth century, a legend appeared which persisted for several centuries and reached Egypt, Palestine and Europe. According to this legend, a Christian priest named Prester John ruled as monarch over a vast and wealthy Christian Empire.
According to many traditions, Ethiopia was the land of the powerful Prester John's kingdom, as well as the home of the ten lost tribes. Persistent rumor had it that these African Israelite kingdoms were at constant war with Prester John, and that their armies were advancing on Rome.
Who are these African-Jewish tribesmen so central to the Prester John legend? These are the Ethiopian Jews known both as Falashas, the Amharic word for landless, wandering Jews, and as Beta Israel, the house of Israel. In Ethiopia, they engaged primarily in agriculture, but were known also for their exquisite crafts and jewelry.
Today, most of the Beta Israel live in the state of Israel. In the 1970's and 80's, the Israeli government airlifted thousands of Ethiopian Jews to Israel, rescuing them from political and economic distress.
According to one tradition, the Ethiopian Jews are the descendants of one of the ten tribes, as their religion is an ancient form of biblical Judaism. Their religious practices are prescribed by the Orit, the Torah translated into their Gez dialect. They possess none of the post-biblical laws. Over the centuries, the Beta Israel have been connected with the tribe of Dan. This association has eased the process of their return to the state of Israel in recent times.” -

On March 14, 1977 Israel decided that Beta Israel of Ethiopia and Sudan were a part of the Lost Tribe of Dan and were permitted to make “aliyah” meaning a lawful return to Israel as Danites. More Danites came from the Sudan back to Israel under “Operation Brother” devised by the Israeli and American government from 1979-1990, this according to Wikipedia’s post on Beta Israel. And it takes a lot of evidence to convince the government and religious community of Israel that a certain group is indeed a lost tribe of Israel. For them to accept Beta Israel and Falasha’s as Danites speaks volumes!

“Some 65,000 Ethiopian Jews from different groups have moved to Israel since 1974. Israel's chief rabbis believe they are descended from the lost tribe of Dan.” -

“The Beta Israel, meaning House of Israel, are a sect of Ethiopians who practice Judaism. They have also long been referred to as the Falasha, an Amharic word for exile, which has fallen out of favor because of its derogatory connotation. Located in the Northern region of contemporary Ethiopia since their origin, the number of Beta Israel continuing to live in Ethiopia has declined as Israel welcomed them in the 1980s and encouraged them to migrate there.
The rise of Beta Israel dates back to the reign of King Solomon in the late Tenth Century B.C. According to Beta Israel accounts, Queen Sheba of Ethiopia heard about the legendary wisdom of Solomon, the King of Israel, and decided to visit him. Her visit resulted in her being lured into sleeping with the King, which resulted in the birth of their son, Menelik I. Upon reaching his manhood Prince Menelik I embarked on a journey to Israel to see his father. When he departed, Menelik I took with him the Ark of the Covenant which he had stolen from his father.
The Ark of the Covenant, one of the holiest objects of the Bible, was, according to the Bible, built under God’s instruction through Moses. The Ark carried inside of it two stones upon which were inscribed the Ten Commandments as well as Aaron’s rod and the Golden Pot of “Hidden” Manna. Upon its arrival in Axum, according to Beta Israel accounts, the Covenant was quickly concealed and to this day remains in Axum.
With Queen Sheba’s death, Menelik I became Emperor and Judaism became the official religion of the Empire. Judaism remained the religion of Ethiopia until King Ezana of Axum was converted to Christianity in 327 A.D. As Christianity swept across Ethiopia, its own rulers adopted the faith. Despite their conversion they continued to claim descent from the Solomonic dynasty created by King Menelik. The Beta Israel became a sometimes revered but more often persecuted religious minority in Ethiopia.
The peak of the oppression of the Beta Israel came in the early 1600s. The Portuguese, who during that time became the first Europeans to reach Ethiopia, advised its rulers that Judaism represented a threat to the Ethiopian Empire. By 1624 the Beta Israel were stripped of their lands and forced to convert to Christianity. Those who disobeyed were persecuted and many were enslaved. They also became isolated from other Jewish communities around the world.
Over time the harshest measures were eased but the Beta Israel were essentially internal exiles in Ethiopia. Nonetheless they secretly maintained many of their religious traditions and continued to survive state and societal persecution.
In the early 1980s the Israeli government and religious leaders recognized the Beta Israel as Jews. Beginning on November 21, 1984, the Israel government organized military airlifts to transfer the Beta Israel from Ethiopia to Israel. From 1984 to 1991 Operations Moses, Joshua, and Solomon, as the three airlifts were called, relocated over 20,000 Ethiopian Jews. Despite this highly publicized rescue effort an estimated 25,000 Beta Israel currently live in Ethiopia.” - --

“Once they were kings. A half million strong, they matched their faith with fervor and out-matched the Moslem and Christian tribesmen around them to rule the mountain highlands around Lake Tana. They called themselves Beta Israel—the house of Israel—and used the Torah to guide their prayers and memories of the heights of Jerusalem as they lived in their thatched huts in Ethiopia.

But their neighbors called them Falashas—the alien ones, the invaders. And even three hundred years of rule, even the black features that matched those of all the people around them did not make the Jews of Ethiopia secure governors of their destiny in Africa” (“Falashas: The Forgotten Jews,” Baltimore Jewish Times, 9 November 1979).

For centuries, the world Jewish community was not even aware of the existence of the Jewish community of Ethiopia in the northern province of Gondar. The miracle of Operation Solomon is only now being fully understood; an ancient Jewish community has been brought back from the edge of government-imposed exile and starvation.

But once they were kings. . .
Christianity spread through the Axum dynasty of Ethiopia in the 4th century CE. By the 7th century, however, Islam had surpassed Christianity and had separated Ethiopia from its Christian African neighbors.
Prior to this, the Beta Israel had enjoyed relative independence through the Middle Ages. Their reign was threatened in the 13th century CE under the Solomonic Empire, and intermittent fighting continuing for the next three centuries with other tribes.
In 1624, the Beta Israel fought what would be their last battle for independent autonomy against Portuguese-backed Ethiopians. A graphic eyewitness account described the battle:
“Falasha men and women fought to the death from the steep heights of their fortress... they threw themselves over the precipice or cut each other's throats rather than be taken prisoner—it was a Falasha Masada. [The rebel leaders] burned all of the Falasha's written history and all of their religious books, it was an attempt to eradicate forever the Judaic memory of Ethiopia” (Righteous Jews Honored by Falasha Supporters, AAEJ Press Release, 1981).
Those Jews captured alive were sold into slavery, forced to be baptized, and denied the right to own land. The independence of the Beta Israel was torn from them just as it was from their Israeli brethren at Masada centuries before.” --

When Egypt is mentioned in Scripture it actually is referring to a large portion of Africa, not just the State we recognize as modern Egypt today.

“The Greek historian Herodotus reveals that some of the ancient Greeks actually came from Egypt, and that the ancestor of the Dorian princes in southern Greece was a certain "Danae, the daughter of Acrisus" (Herodotus, VI, 1, iii). The term "Dorian" apparently comes from the name of a city of Manasseh, in northern Israel, called "Dor," near the Mediterranean coast. The Dorians were apparently Danites, of the tribe of Dan, perhaps mixed with some of the descendants of Manasseh.

The Irish word "tuath" means literally "a tribe" or "people." These people were the tribe of DAN of Biblical fame! They came from the Greek "Danaans," and were the same people as the tribe of Dan. Hecateus of Abdera says that the Egyptians, troubled by calamities, in order that the divine wrath might be averted, expelled the foreigners -- all aliens gathered together in Egypt. Of these, some, under their leaders DANUS and CADMUS, migrated to Greece, others to other regions, but the greatest number to "Syria," that is, Palestine, their leader said to have been Moses.

Says Diodorus of Sicily:

"They say also that those who set forth with Danaus, likewise from Egypt, settled what is practically the oldest city of Greece, Argos, and that the nations of the Colchi in Pontus and that of the Jews, which lies between Arabia and Syria, were founded as colonies by certain emigrants from their country . . ." (Diodorus, Bk. I, xxviii, 1-5).” -

For more information I would like to recommend the following books:

·       Rudolphf R. Windsor – “From Babylon to Timbuktu”  and “The Valley of Dry Bones”

·       Joseph J. Williams – “Hebrewism in West Africa”

Danites in the Northern Hemisphere

My God will cast them away, because they did not hearken unto him: and they shall be wanderers among the nations. – Hos. 9:17

Dan shall judge his people, as one of the tribes of Israel. Dan shall be a serpent by the way, an adder in the path, that biteth the horse heels, so that his rider shall fall backward. – Gen. 49:16-17

Because of the above blessing and prophecy Dan’s tribal banner is the snake, and just as a snake can be easily tracked in sand by the path that it leaves, so to Dan left a trail behind him.  It has been the tradition of the Tribes of Israel to name dwelling places and settlements after their Patriarch and ancestors. Dan is the epitome of this trait.  From Egypt to Israel to the scattering abroad Dan has left behind its namesake, like footprints for a sleuth to trace and follow.

“Is Ephraim (Ten Tribes, which includes Dan) my dear son? Is he a pleasant child? For since I spake against him, I do earnestly remember him still: therefore my bowels are troubled for him; I will surely have mercy upon him, saith the Lord. Set thee up waymarks, make thee high heaps: set thine heart toward the highway, even the way which thou wentest: turn again, O virgin of Israel, turn again to these thy cities. How long wilt thou go about, O thou backsliding daughter? For the Lord hath created a new thing in the earth, a woman shall compass a man.” – Jer. 31:20-22 – italics mine

Yair Davidiy, Steven M. Collins as well as John D. Keyser of Hope of Israel Ministries believe Dan also traveled North through Europe and Scandinavia.

In Hebrew there are no vowels, so the name Dan is written DN, or its Hebrew equivalent. Thus words like Dan, Din, Don, Dun, Den, or Dn, correspond to the name of Dan.

Just west of the Black Sea, ancient geographers designated a region by the name of Moesia, which means the land of the "Moses-ites." These people revered a person whom they called Zal-moxis. "Zal" significes "chief," so this person, "chief Moxis" or "leader Moxis" was actually "chief MOSES," the man of YEHOVAH God who led Israel to the promised land, and whom these people remembered as their original leader. The tribe of Dan also passed through this region, and the surrounding territory, leaving its name in Mace-DON-ia, and the Dar-DAN-elles, and to the north by the river DAN-ube. In the territory of Sarmatia (or Samaria, meaning the Israelites), were located the rivers DN-iper, DN-ister, and the DON.

Denmark, the name of the modern country in Europe north of Germany, means, literally, "Dan's mark." Its people are called "Danes." In fact, because at one time Denmark ruled all the surrounding region, the whole region took its name from them -- the ScanDINavian peninsula! Clearly, here are remnants of the people of DAN, who migrated westward overland from the Caucasus to their present location in northern Europe!

However, other Danites, who dwelt or abode in ships, and who associated themselves with the sea peoples of Tyre and Sidon, fled westward through the Mediterranean when northern Israel fell. Early Danites fled Egypt at the time of the Exodus, and migrated through SarDINia, and left their trail along the sea-coasts of the Mediterranean. Thus Dan, who was a "lion's whelp" who would "leap from Bashan," leaped all the way to Ireland, where historians explain that the early settlers were known as the "Tuatha de Danaan" -- literally, the "tribe of Dan." The Greeks called them the Danoi, the Romans called them Danaus.

In Ireland, today, we find their customary evidence -- their place names -- in abundance. Such names as Dans-Lough, Dan-Sower, Dan-Monism, Dun-dalke, Dun-drum, Don-egal Bay, Don-egal City, Dun-glow and Lon-don-derry, as well as Din-gle, Dun-garven and Duns-more, which means "MORE DANS." Of course, the most famous Irish ballad of all time is the song, "Danny Boy." It should be plain that the country of Ireland is replete, filled with names which derive from the ancient patriarch of the Hebrews -- DAN, the son of Jacob! It should be plain that the ancient Danites settled in Ireland, and most of them dwell in that land, today.

There is also a river Don in Scotland, and another in England. These countries, also, show the evidence of the presence or passing of the tribe of Dan, who migrated with the other tribes of the northern kingdom of Israel, especially the tribe of Joseph (Ephraim and Manasseh). Here we find such names markers, or "guide posts" as YEHOVAH God called them in Jeremiah -- as Dun-dee, Dun-kirk, Dunbar, Dunraven, E-din-burgh, and Lon-don.” --  

The Tuatha De Danaan came to Ireland in and around 721 B.C. which corresponds to the time when many Israelites fled Assyrian captivity.  With Dan especially know as seamen, it is no surprise they sailed and settled and wandered through many places. Many Irish people today believe they are remnants of the lost tribe of Dan.

“In Biblical Times the Tribe of Dan had been divided into  three (or more) different sections. One section had been in the northern Galilee (Joshua 19; 42) and neighbored Gad. Later part of this section moved with other Israelites to Scythia. The Damnae in Serica (east of Scythia), were also called "Dingling" and were linked to the "DANGALAI" whose name means "DAN-OF-GALILEE". They had been neighbors of the Goths (from Gad) of Gadrosia in Ancient Eastern Iran. The DAMNAE of Scythian Serica were named similarly to the DAMNONII of Scotland (who lived besides the northern River DON of Scotland) and the DAMNONES of DANNONIA which was the name given to Devon and Cornwall. DANNONIA in Britain was named after the Tribe of DAN. The Tribe of Dan was recalled in the Children of DON in Welsh legend and the Tribe of DANA ("Tuatha de Danaan:) who came to the British Isles (according to Irish tradition) from the Land of Israel via Greece and Scandinavia. The area Damnonia in southern Britain as well as being alternatively called Dannonia was also known as "Defenia". The name "DEFENIA" is similar to that of DAPHNIA which was the former place of DAN in the Galilee in the Land of Northern Israel.  "Daphne" (i.e. "Defenia") is also a name associated by the Talmud with the Lost Ten Tribes.

                 In Scotland the Damnonii (of Dan) adjoined the Gadeni probably of Gad.  Somewhat to the south (in Northern England) according to Ptolemy was the city of Danum which area was later to be occupied by Danes from Denmark. In this case we see the possibility of a group of Celtic culture descended from Dan who gave their name to the city of Danum being followed by Scandinavians who were also descended from Dan and settling in the same area. We have come across similar phenomenon several times in this study.” -

Gilead abode beyond Jordan: and why did Dan remain in ships? Asher continued on the sea shore, and abode in his breaches. – Jud. 5:17

Danite territory in the Promised Land was in the North by the coast and so from this we gather that Dan were fierce seafaring warriors, lion striking serpents and leap or pounce as young lions and claiming new territory in their travels (Gen. 49:16-19, Deut. 33:22).

The Encyclopedia Britannica tells us of these Danite seafaring warriors; “in the Levant, between 1230-1190 B.C.,” This is the Eastern Mediterranean which is encompasses the Israeli seacoast where Dan settled when the tribes were allotted their inheritance. Egypt called then “Danuana… (and) Tzakari,” Greeks simply called them the “Danaans.”

We have already discussed the name Dan and how it and its variants are found where Dan has trod. But notice the “Tzak” in “Tzakari”, the Tzak comes from the Hebrew “Yitzak” or as we know the word in English, “Isaac.” Meaning the Israelites and their tribes were also known as Isaac’s sons.

In Modern Turkey and the ancient city of Troy used to be called Dardania and the straits between the Aegean and Black Seas still carried the name, the Dardanelles.

I think predominately the greatest concentration of Danites is in the Scandinavian country of Denmark. As seafaring warriors it is not a stretch to believe they became what are known today as Vikings who came from that region. Even Viking lore has traces of Hebraism in it. For example, the Hebrew word for Lord is Adonai and the god of the Vikings is Oden; same consonants, but different vowels. Recall Hebrew originally had no vowels. One legend tells how Oden sacrificed himself on the Life Tree and was pierced in his side in order to give the Viking people the alphabet of the Ruins, which can actually be traced to ancient Hebrew ("Scandinavian Secrets: The Hebrew Code of the Runes" by Orjan Svensson). This legend sounds uncannily like Yeshua (Jesus) the Messiah dying on the tree to give us Life through His Word. Note as well that the Vikings were bearded as the Israelites were. Could their side braids have sprang from the tradition of peyot, the side locks Israelites grew in keeping with the commandment not to shave off the corners or the temples of one’s head (Lev. 21:5, Deut. 14:1?


Even the symbolic icons that represent Dan is found in the nations which is suspected to be Dan:


“The Tribe of Dan was represented by a snake or by a lion (Gen. 49:16-17, Deut. 33:22). Other accepted symbols of Dan were a pair of scales (because Dan means, “to judge”), an eagle, and a dragon (Related to the snake). Many members of Dan settled in Denmark, in Ireland, in Wales, England, and the U.S.A. where 40-50 million people have Irish ancestry. The symbol of a snake was once worshipped in Ireland; a lion represents Denmark and England, Wales has a dragon on its flag, and the U.S.A. has an eagle.” - - italics mine


For more information I would like to recommend the following books:

·       Steven M. Collins – “Israel’s Tribes Today”

·       Yiar Davidiy – “The Tribes”

·       Orjan Svensson – “Scandinavian Secrets”