Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Kurds and the Lost Tribes of Israel

While in Turkey here I have met several Kurds - I spent one day in one of their businesses helping them remove a virus from a computer. The Kurds, as many now know, dwell in northern Iraq, but they are also spread out in north-west Iran and south-east Turkey. In fact, many Turks are actually Kurds, but the state does not allow them to declare themselves as Kurdish or speak the Kurdish language. Here is a map showing where the Kurds dwell:


The Kurdish language is an Indo-Iranian language. They were actually forcefully converted to Islam by the Ottoman Empire in the 16th century, but before that they had their own religion - the Yazidi religion. This is one I have only recently heard of, it is very private among their people. Here is a description of it from Wikipedia:
In the Yazidi belief system, the world was created by a god, and the world is now in the care of a Heptad of seven Holy Beings, often known as Angels or heft sirr (the Seven Mysteries). Preeminent among these is Melek Taus (Tawûsê Melek in Kurdish), the Peacock Angel. According to the Encyclopedia of the Orient, "The reason for the Yazidis reputation of being devil worshipers, is connected to the other name of Melek Taus, Shaytan, the same name the Koran has for Satan". Furthermore, the Yazidi story regarding Malek Taus' rise to favor with God is almost identical to the story of the Islamic angel Iblis, except that Yazidis revere Malek Taus for refusing to submit to Adam, while Muslims believe that Iblis' refusal to submit caused him to fall out of Grace with God, and to later become Satan himself. However, according to the Kurdish linguist Jamal Nebez, the word Taus is most probably derived from the Greek and is related to the words Zeus and Theos, alluding to the meaning of God. Accordingly, Malek Taus is God's Angel, and this is how Yazidis themselves see Melek Taus or Taus-e-Malak 

...Yazidi accounts of creation differ from that of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. They believe that God first created Melek Taus from his own illumination (Ronahî in Kurdish) and the other six archangels were created later. God ordered Melek Taus not to bow to other beings. Then God created the other archangels and ordered them to bring him dust (Ax) from the Earth (Erd) and build the body of Adam. Then God gave life to Adam from his own breath and instructed all archangels to bow to Adam. The archangels obeyed except for Melek Taus. In answer to God, Malek Taus replied, "How can I submit to another being! I am from your illumination while Adam is made of dust." Then God praised him and made him the leader of all angels and his deputy on the Earth. (This likely furthers what some see as a connection to the Islamic Shaytan, as according to legend he too refused to bow to Adam at God's command, though in this case it is seen as being a sign of Shaytan's sinful pride.) Hence the Yazidis believe that Melek Taus is the representative of God on the face of the Earth, and comes down to the Earth on the first Wednesday of Nisan (March/April). Yazidis hold that God created Malek Taus on this day, and celebrate it as New Year's day. Yazidis argue that the order to bow to Adam was only a test for Melek Taus, since if God commands anything then it must happen. (Bibe, dibe). In other words, God could have made him submit to Adam, but gave Taus the choice as a test. They believe that their respect and praise for Melek Taus is a way to acknowledge his majestic and sublime nature. This idea is called "Knowledge of the Sublime" (Zanista Ciwaniyê).

This solved one mystery: I always wondered where Muhammed got his story about Satan in the Koran, because it certainly did not come from the Bible. Yet again, as he could not read, he confused the story.

The Yazidi religion has a belief in purity laws and reincarnation:
Two key and interrelated features of Yazidism are: a) a preoccupation with religious purity and b) a belief in metempsychosis. The first of these is expressed in the system of caste, the food laws, the traditional preferences for living in Yazidi communities, and the variety of taboos governing many aspects of life. The second is crucial; Yazidis traditionally believe that the Seven Holy Beings are periodically reincarnated in human form, called a koasasa .A belief in the reincarnation of lesser Yazidi souls also exists. Like the Ahl-e Haqq, the Yazidis use the metaphor of a change of garment to describe the process, which they call kiras guhorîn in Kurdish (changing the garment). Alongside this, Yazidi mythology also includes descriptions of heaven and hell, with hell extinguished, and other traditions incorporating these ideas into a belief system that includes reincarnation.
The Yazidi religion includes a yearly pilgrimage in September/October (the month of Tishri), and they have a sacred rite of sacrificing an ox:
The most important ritual is the annual seven-day pilgrimage to the tomb of Sheikh Adi in Lalish, north of Mosul, Iraq. A sacred microcosm of the world, as it were, it contains not only many shrines dedicated to the koasasa, but a number of other landmarks corresponding to other sites or symbols of significance in other faiths, including Pirra selat (Serat Bridge) and a mountain called Mt. Arafat. The two sacred springs are called Zamzam and Kaniya sipî (The White Spring). If possible, Yazidis make at least one pilgrimage to Lalish during their lifetime, and those living in the region try to attend at least once a year for the autumn Feast of the Assembly which is celebrated from 23rd of Elul (September) to 1st of Tishrei (October). During the celebration, Yazidi bathe in the river, wash figures of Malek Ta'us and light hundreds of lamps in the tombs of Sheikh Adî and other saints. They also sacrifice an ox, which is one reason they have been connected to Mithraism, in addition to the presence of the dog and serpent in their iconography. The sacrifice of the ox is meant to declare the arrival of Fall and to ask for precipitation during winter in order to bring back life to the Earth in the next Spring. Moreover, in astrology, the ox is the symbol of Tishrei.
One thing I was told, that the Kurds have this unusual custom: if a wife's husband should die and she did not bear him any children, it was customary for one of the husband's brother to marry her to bear children. This custom is actually an ancient Jewish law, given to them by Moses.

So where do these Kurds come from? One theory is that they may actually be the 10 lost tribes of Israel. The Jews of today are descended from the two southern tribes (Judah and Benjamin), but the ten northern tribes were conquered by Assyria in the 8th century B.C., and settled in the exact same area where the Kurds dwell. The Yazidi religion traces their descent from Adam, moreover they have a yearly pilgrimage in the month of September/October, which is the same time as one of the Jewish festivals required Jews to attend the temple in Jerusalem. Ancient Israel did not follow Jewish laws: instead they reverted to paganim, and worshipped an ox instead - which would be another explanation for their sacrifice of an ox.

13 comments:

  1. I am seeing a lot of interest in this article. One thing should be noted, the Yazidis trace their descent from Adam, and have traditions of the flood. Also, the Kurds happen to be close genetic relatives of the Jews, which is even stronger evidence that they may be the lost tribes of Israel. See The Genetic Bonds Between Kurds and Jews, which I will quote:

    "In 2001, a team of Israeli, German, and Indian scientists discovered that the majority of Jews around the world are closely related to the Kurdish people – more closely than they are to the Semitic-speaking Arabs or any other population that was tested. The researchers sampled a total of 526 Y-chromosomes from 6 populations (Kurdish Jews, Kurdish Muslims, Palestinian Arabs, Sephardic Jews, Ashkenazic Jews, and Bedouin from southern Israel) and added extra data on 1321 persons from 12 populations (including Russians, Belarusians, Poles, Berbers, Portuguese, Spaniards, Arabs, Armenians, and Anatolian Turks). Most of the 95 Kurdish Muslim test subjects came from northern Iraq.
    Ashkenazic Jews have ancestors who lived in central and eastern Europe, while Sephardic Jews have ancestors from southwestern Europe, northern Africa, and the Middle East. The Kurdish Jews and Sephardic Jews were found to be very close to each other. Both of these Jewish populations differed somewhat from Ashkenazic Jews, who mixed with European peoples during their diaspora.
    The researchers suggested that the approximately 12.7 percent of Ashkenazic Jews who have the Eu 19 chromosomes – which are found among between 54 and 60 percent of Eastern European Christians – descend paternally from eastern Europeans (such as Slavs) or Khazars. But the majority of Ashkenazic Jews, who possess Eu 9 and other chromosomes, descend paternally from Judeans who lived in Israel two thousand years ago.
    In the article in the November 2001 issue of The American Journal of Human Genetics, Ariella Oppenheim of the Hebrew University of Israel wrote that this new study revealed that Jews have a closer genetic relationship to populations in the northern Mediterranean (Kurds, Anatolian Turks, and Armenians) than to populations in the southern Mediterranean (Arabs and Bedouins)."

    Considering recent events, the following passage may be relevant (Ephraim was one of the 10 lost tribes taken to Assyria), which occurs soon after the prophecy of the virgin birth of Jesus:

    "The LORD shall bring upon thee, and upon thy people, and upon thy father's house, days that have not come, from the day that Ephraim departed from Judah; even the king of Assyria. And it shall come to pass in that day, that the LORD shall hiss for the fly that is in the uttermost part of the rivers of Egypt, and for the bee that is in the land of Assyria. And they shall come, and shall rest all of them in the desolate valleys, and in the holes of the rocks, and upon all thorns, and upon all bushes." (Isa. 7:17-19)

    Such also has a spiritual signification, speaking of the New Church that will be formed in the latter days.

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  2. I'd just like to point out the Quran says Iblis was a Jinn not Angel. Jinn are made from smokeless fire whereas angels are low density light beings. Malek tause was an Angel made to only bow to God. Jinns have free will and can commit sin. Just something to think about. Very interesting article.

    :)

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    1. I take the story in the Quran as an allegory, but it is unfortunate, some have abused their religious power and had the Yazhidis persecuted perhaps because of the two similar stories. As for the true nature of angels, I depend more on direct revelation and visions. In the visions of Emanuel Swedenborg, he distinguishes the evil spirits between "devils" and "satans" - the devils are those who are evil and enjoy it, the satans are those who enjoy accusing of falsehood. As for where they originate, all angels and demons come from the human race (see The True Origin of the Angels and the Fall of Satan.

      Among the devils, Emanuel Swedenborg saw in his visions there were some that were very evil, which he called "Genii" in Latin which is the same word as "Jinn". Interactions with Jinn are at this time rare, although in the time of Jesus their power had ascended where they could take possession of a human body. Here are some quotes about them:

      "But when a man is tempted as to things of the will, his thoughts and doings are not so much called up, but there are evil genii — as evil spirits of this kind may be called — who inflame him with their lusts and the filthy loves with which he is imbued, and thus fight through the man's own lusts — which they do so maliciously and secretly that it could not be believed to be from them. For in a moment they pour themselves into the life of his lusts, and almost instantly invert and change an affection for good and truth into an affection for evil and falsity, so that the man cannot know but it is done of his own self and comes forth of his own will. This temptation is most severe, and is perceived as an inward grief and tormenting fire." (Swedenborg, Heavenly Arcana, n. 751.3)

      "Every spirit — still more every society of spirits — has his own sphere from his accepted principles and persuasions, which is the sphere of the principles and persuasions. Evil genii have a sphere of lusts. The sphere of the principles and the persuasions is such that when acting upon another, it makes truths to be as falsities and calls forth all the things that are confirmatory, so as to induce one to believe that falsities are truths and that evil things are good." (Swedenborg, Heavenly Arcana, n. 1510)

      There are more, but you get the idea. Your comment is interesting, where the Jinn are created from fire, and angels from light. Swedenborg saw that in the spiritual world, fire pertains to the will, and light pertains to the thought. Thus for Jinns to be created from "smokeless fire" is true in the sense that they act from an evil will, whereas the Satans, or dark angels, operate from darkness or smoke which is how falsehoods are represented in the spiritual world. Fire is a symbolic representation of either love, or in the opposite sense, burning hate, in the spiritual world. Interesting connection here.



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    2. In the last month God has revealed to me a quite a bit of things ,but just today he did revealed to me that in fact I am one of 12 tribes from Judah

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    3. Even so, in the spiritual sense, when the tribes of Judah and Israel are mentioned they refer not to the Jews and their descendants, but rather to the spiritual Church. Thus the Jews as a tribal nation, in the history described in scripture, describes the Church of the Lord. This Swedenborg describes in detail in his work "Heavenly Arcana" or "Arcana Coelestia" which means "Heavenly Secrets."

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  3. we kurds didint be came muslim forcefully muslim by ottoman we were muslim long before ottoman and devil in islam was not an angel he was a jinn some points of this article is propaganda against islam

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    1. The way I look at Islam is that Muhammed did receive a revelation to abolish idolatry, and the visions of Emanuel Swedenborg confirm this. However the Quran states he was illiterate and it is known by scholars that he borrowed from other later sources when composing some portions of the Quran (e.g., the Infancy gospel, stories of Alexander the Great, and Yazidi traditions). If I were a Muslim I would treat these stories as parables. For example, Genesis 1 is a parable on not literally true. Another example: one should never bow down and worship a man, and yet in the first Sura Allah commanded the angels to bow down to Adam. If treated as a parable, if one knows that Jesus Christ is the second Adam, the meaning of the story becomes clear. See The Hidden Christian Truth of Islam and Muhammed

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  4. Language, culture, traditions and common history override biological imperative. Human beings are result of millions of years of evolution, presumably starting as simple apes, not as Jews, Muslims, Kurds, Arabs, etc.

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    1. I would say what we are spiritually on the inside overrides everything that is external about our human form and heritage. In fact, "Israel" and "Judah" are spiritual concepts of the church that were represented historically by the Jews, and this representation ended when they rejected Jesus - thus they were scattered among the nations for centuries after that.

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  5. Part one: Thank you for a very interesting article. Given the fact Christians know very little about Judaism, I'd like to add a few things that might surprise you. For one, Jews don't see Satan as the Devil but as an angel of G-d who's purpose it is to test us and to persecute us when we sin. In Judaism as opposed to Islam and Christianity, Satan is not a fallen angel, but a faithful servant of God, doing exactly what he is supposed to do. To be the accuser, the state attorney so to speak, that is what his name means. Read the book of Job and you'll see. In fact, the only creature that has free will is man. Angels don't have free will, thus cannot fall.

    God created everything, both good and evil, because without evil, how could we even have free choice? He says: "This day, I call upon the heaven and the earth as witnesses [that I have warned] you: I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. You shall choose life, so that you and your offspring will live;" https://www.chabad.org/library/bible_cdo/aid/9994#v19 God did not create us to be His slaves, He already has the angels for that, they are far better at that than we could ever be, they are highly intelligent, yet without desire to do anything else other than what God commands them, they have no free will. And yes, Angels, many of them are there to serve us, bow to us. Even Satan is our servant as he purifies and tests us, thus helps strengthen those who reject his temptations. Thus the Kurdish religion, their view that angels bow to men, all of them but Satan, has significant similarities to Judaism, not the worshiping of Satan of course, I guess they learned that in Babylon from where they till this day never returned. Yet that too will happen as I will show you a little later.

    Mankind on the other hand, he created us to be His spouse, in His image He created us. What image? His physical appearance? Not so, He says so Himself, I am not a man, make no graven image of me. Because, the Image of Him He created us in is His emotional image. We have the same emotion as He does. How else could we relate to Him? He loves us and we love Him. Now among all the nations on earth, He chose Israel, the daughter of Zion for His bride as mentioned so many times in our Tanakh, the Hebrew Bible. Or rather the choice was mutual, of all the nations on earth, only Israel chose God which is synonymous with choosing to keep His Torah, unanimously as a people by referendum at mount Sinai, after Moses brought the ten commandments down from the mountain the second time. He speaks about adultery when we bow down to other gods. Why? Because Zion (Spiritual Israel), is the bride of HaShem (God). A notion that by the way isn't unfamiliar to Christians either, who believe they are betrothed to Jesus, the bride of their christ.

    Let’s face it, our Almighty, All knowing and All present Creator and G-d, does not make mistakes.

    Jewish scripture also supports the notion of reincarnation, not the Hindu kind, but indeed pretty much the same kind as you attribute to the Kurd's. As opposed to them of course, Jews do not worship angels including Satan. That would be a violation of the first commandment, though shalt not have any other gods before me. Aside that, the similarity between the Kurdish religion and the Jewish one is astonishing, and I agree, they may very likely be of the lost tribes of Israel. Also, there is a deep and lasting kinship between Jews and Kurd's. Just the other day Benjamin Netanyahu blasts Turkey's invasion of northern Syria, warns Turkey not to ethnically cleanse Kurds. http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/269989 And Former Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked called on the Israeli government to "calls on Israeli government, Western world to support establishment of an independent Kurdistan" http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/269950

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    1. Hello David,
      You mention several topics. First, on Satan actually being God's servant, in the work on "Heaven and Hell" Swedenborg was shown that God is God of both heaven and hell, and there is no such thing as a singular being known as the Devil or Satan. The word "devil" is used in contexts to refer to the genii or jinn, those who attack the love of one's will, and belong to the lowest hell of evil. The word "satan" is used to refer to the evil spirits that belong to hell of falsehoods, thus they make false accusations against the truth. In addition to Job there is another passage in the OT where God sends a deceiving spirit to make a king make a bad decision to meet his punishment.

      "Free will" is something unique to humans, who possess rationality and an eternal soul unlike animals. Swedenborg saw that free will originates from the equilibrium between heaven and hell, thus it is the source of our choice between good and evil. At birth every man is assigned two guardian angels, and two evil spirits, and the one he or she follows will be according to their free will on which we will be judged. Every thought we experience has a spiritual origin, it will originate from the spiritual world either from heaven or hell. When there is a conflict between the two this is when man experiences the state known as temptation.

      Now as for reincarnation, Swedenborg saw that we all live once, but we can "share memories" with similar personalities of those before us. In ancient times the experience of "deju vu" was more common, from which came the belief in reincarnation. As angelic spirits are closely associated with every thought and feeling of our mind one could say that is a kind of "reincarnation." Thus we can have memories of past lives, especially under hypnosis. See the previous post Christianity, Reincarnation and Emanuel Swedenborg

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  6. part two: The same by the way goes for the Kurd's, many of them too support Israel and the Jewish people. I have Kurdish friends, we love each other as brothers even though they are Muslim, we have no quarrel with them at all.

    Another interesting fact to mention, you mentioned Assyria, let have a look at what our prophets Isaiah say in that regard about the messianic age: "Which the Lord of Hosts blessed them, saying, "Blessed is My people Egypt, and the work of My hands Assyria, and My heritage Israel." (So, Assyria likely is Kurdistan and Egypt of course Ishmael, Avraham’s son with Hagar returning to Him from Egypt. Ishmael of course is the father of the Arabs, of the Muslim Arabs of today that will return to Him and worship Him alone at the dawn of the messianic age.) (https://www.chabad.org/library/bible_cdo/aid/15950#v25 yet read the whole chapter, to get the context, never only read one verse or so, doing so will lead you astray as absent of its true context, God’s word cannot be understood and you'll be easy pray for Satan, who's job as we previously mentioned, is to test you, to lead you astray.

    Also, even though Trump was immensely popular among right-wing and religious Jews, what he did to the Kurd’s, throwing them under the bus like that, has diminished support for him significantly and many former strong Trump supporters have turned their backs to him in disgust for what he just did to the Kurd's.

    Finally, I should mention, that sacrificing an animal to G-d is worship of G-d, not worship of that animal.

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    1. Israeli support for an independent Kurdistan dates back to the 1980s, where it was formulated in the "Yinon" plan. Turkey will have none of it, distrust against the Kurds runs deep. Thus their sad invasion of northern Syria to attack the Kurds. It almost looked like relations were normalizing between the Turks and the Kurds but that changed under Erdogan.

      As for the prophecy of Isaiah 19:25, funny you should mention that as I am in the process of correcting mistranslations of the book of Isaiah as found in English Bibles, so far I have done chapters 1-49. We interpret the Bible in a symbolic manner, rarely do the prophecies actually apply to current events. In this prophecy, the nation of Israel correspond to those who live spiritually by the commandments, Assyria are those who follow reason, and Egypt are those who gather knowledge. The prophecy speaks of a future spirituality in which spirituality will be one with reason as well as knowledge. But to prove that is the case would involve a lot of quotations from scripture, and one would have to abandon looking at the Bible literally. As an example, all the animal sacrifices are symbolic: the separation of the blood from the flesh of the animal is symbolic of separating one's lower desires (one's animal nature) from one's higher spirituality (the blood). Burning the flesh of the animal is a symbolic representation of repentance.

      Sad to see what has been done to our allies the Kurds, we should pray for them.

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