Are the Mizo Jews the descendants of the lost tribe of Manasseh? Jewish scholars are divided over the claims of the Bnei Menashe. A report by an anthropologist claiming that there are similarities between the rituals of the Jewish people prescribed in Leviticus and the cultic practices of the Mizo Jews has provided a ray of hope for those who claim that the Mizo Jews are one of the Lost Ten Tribes of Israel.
Read that post, “Found: A Lost Tribe of Israel,” by clicking here.
This week, several of the Bnei Manashe have returned to Israel. In an article published today in the Arutz Sheva, many more Mizo Jews will be making their “Aliyah” (Jewish immigration to Israel) in the next few months.
The following is an excerpt from the news report:
Seventy-eight members of India's Bnei Menashe community entered Israel by bus from Jordan on Thursday and 40 more were scheduled to arrive at Ben-Gurion Airport early Friday morning on an El Al flight from Mumbai (Bombay), according to Shavei Israel Chairman Michael Freund, whose organization organized the operation.The prophets often mentioned that the scattered people would be regathered and return to their land. For instance, Deutero Isaiah said: “Do not fear, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east, and from the west I will gather you; I will say to the north, ‘Give them up,’ and to the south, ‘Do not withhold; bring my sons from far away and my daughters from the end of the earth’” ( Isaiah 43:5-6). The prophet Ezekiel said: “I will take you from the nations, and gather you from all the countries, and bring you into your own land” (Ezekiel 36:24).
The Bnei Menashe claim descent from the tribe of Menashe, one of the ten tribes exiled from the Land of Israel by the Assyrian empire over 2,700 years ago. They reside primarily in the two Indian states of Mizoram and Manipur, along the border with Burma and Bangladesh. In recent years alone, over 800 members of the community have made Aliyah, thanks largely to the efforts of Shavei Israel, a Jerusalem-based group that reaches out and assists “lost Jews” seeking to return to the Jewish people. They reside mainly in Kiryat Arba, south of Jerusalem, and Beit El and Ofrah, north of Jerusalem.
The existence of the Bnei Menashe, known in India as the Manmassi tribe, was publicized in the Jewish world about 30 years ago by Rabbi Eliyahu Avichayil. When it was observed that the tribe's members maintained certain ancient traditions unlike any observed in the Indian subcontinent, investigation revealed that the rituals were of Jewish origin
During the past century, millions of Jews have returned to Israel. They came from the east and from the west. They came from the north and now they are coming from the south. It seems that the prophetic dream is being fulfilled: Jews are coming back “from the ends of the earth.”
My only question is: are the Mizo Jews members of the lost tribe of Manasseh?
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary
Tags: Aliyah, Lost Tribes, Mizo Jews