Sixteen years ago, right after my second child, Nava, was born, I went looking for the lost tribes of Israel. The project seemed pretty simple. The Bible says that there were 12 tribes of Israel. The Bible and history tell us that in the 8th century BCE the Assyrians – the Nazis of the ancient world, based in what is modern Iraq – conquered ten of those twelve tribes and forced them into exile. According to historians, they then fell off the face of the earth or, more correctly, they totally assimilated never to be heard of again. Really, I thought. How is it that the two tribes that were later taken into exile in Babylon did not assimilate i.e., the tribe of Judah and Benjamin, but ten of the twelve tribes totally lost their historical memory. Modern day Jews are descendants of ancient Judah, with a little bit of the other tribes thrown in. But what happened to the others? Since I’m a very simple person, I looked in the Bible to see if there is any mention of their whereabouts. And what do you know? There are exact locations given e.g., a place called “Havor” by a river called “Gozan”. (I Chronicles 5:26)
To this day, one of the largest cities in Pakistan is called “Peshawar”, the name is made up of “Pesh” and “Havor” i.e., in English, the area of the “Khyber Pass”. “Khyber” is an anglicization of “Havor”. And what do you know? There is a river called “Ghazni” nearby. So I went to my nearest travel agent and I bought a plane ticket to the lost tribes of Israel. Meaning, I bought a ticket for a place called “Havor” by a river named “Gozan”, modern Peshawar. And what did I find? I came face to face with Pathans i.e, Afghanis, who call themselves “Bani Israel” i.e, the children of Israel. I learned that the name “Afghanistan” is itself Israelite. The Bani Israel claim that one of the sons of the biblical king Saul fled king David and ended up in that area of the world. His name was “Afghan”, hence the name of the country. The capital city is Kabul. There were two “Kabuls” in Biblical Israel. One is mentioned in the book of Joshua and was in the South, the other was in the North in the area inhabited by the lost tribes – before they were lost. (Joshua 19:27, I Kings 9:13). Next to Kabul, there is a mountain range called “Sulliman”, after king Solomon. In other words, the entire area is dominated by Israelite names. As for the tribes, the Bani Israel are divided into various tribal configurations e.g., “Rabani”, corresponding to the lost tribe of “Ruben” and “Gadun”, corresponding to the lost tribe of “Gad”.
Since the making of my film, the West had to become militarily involved in Afghanistan as a result of 9/11. I believe that if we understood the Israelite psyche of the Afghanis, we would be able to make better alliances with the good guys and defeat the bad guys of that region.
Watch “Quest for the Lost Tribes” and experience the journey for yourself.