Are the American Indians of Israelite Descent?

Are the American Indians of Israelite descent? What is their background? Find out in this interesting post with excerpts from Gerald Sigal's work. This is Judaism 101!

Background Information

Close to the end of the first Temple period. In the year 3187 (Jewish Calendar), the Assyrian kings captured the Jewish tribes of Reuven, Gad, and half of Menashe. Incidentally, these tribe lived on the east side of the Jordon River. Shalmanessar, king of Assyria, completed the expulsion of the ten tribes of Israel from their ancestral land in the year 3205.

The Ten Tribes Over time:

The story of the Ten Trices has ignited the imagination across the generations. According to Jewish tradition, at the time of the expulsion, some the ten tribes settled in Judah even before the split, while others, retained their connection to the Jewish community and would travel to Jerusalem to worship at the Bais Hamikdash. The prophet Jeremiah journeyed to the lands east of Eretz Israel and brought back some of the Ten Tribes.

In the times of the Talmud, nearly 1,000 years after the exile, individuals were still able to trace their ancestry back to the Ten Tribes.

Native Americans and the Lost Tribes

An all-too forgotten historical debate BY DAVID KOFFMAN

"One of the first books to suggest the Native American Lost Tribe theory was written by a Jew, the Dutch rabbi, scholar, and diplomat Manasseh ben Israel. In The Hope of Israel (1650), Ben Israel suggested that the discovery of the Native Americans, a surviving remnant of the Assyrian exile, was a sign heralding the messianic era. Just one year later, Thomas Thorowgood published his best seller Jewes in America, Or, Probabilities that those Indians are Judaical, made more probable by some Additionals to the former Conjectures. The Lost Tribe idea found favor among early American notables, including Cotton Mather (the influential English minister), Elias Boudinot (the New Jersey lawyer who was one of the leaders of the American Revolution), and the Quaker leader William Penn."

In his article Titled, "Does Bible Prophesy Book of Mormon?", Gerald Sigal explores the Moran assertation that the Native Americans decent from the Lost Tribes.

"A main contention of Latter-day Saint theology is that the American Indians are the descendants of the Lamanites, that is, descendants of Lehi’s son Laman. According to the Book of Mormon, “Aminadi was a descendant of Nephi, who was the son of Lehi, who came out of the land of Jerusalem, who was a descendant of Manasseh, who was the son of Joseph, who was sold into Egypt by the hands of his brothers” (Alma 10:3). Since the Book of Mormon claims that this individual, Lehi, was an Israelite the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints claims that the American Indians are of Israelite origin. Specifically, Latter-day Saint doctrine teaches that they are descendants of the tribe of Manasseh, son of Joseph. This claim is extensive in Latter-day Saint literature. If the American Indians are not possibly of Israelite extraction, the entire story of Lehi and his family’s journey to America in the time of Zedekiah is shown to be spurious."

Sigal Also notes that the end of his article that "There is no genetic, linguistic, or cultural evidence to substantiate this claim that the Mongoloid native American Indians are descended from Semitic Israelites."

The Bottom Line

Jewish tradition tells us that at the end of times, the Messianic Era, all the tribes will be reunited in Israel. And say to them, So says the Lord God: Behold I will take the children of Israel from among the nations where they have gone, and I will gather them from every side, and I will bring them to their land.

- Ezekiel Chapter 37. 21

And it will be on that day a great shofar will be blown, and those that are lost in Assyria and cast away in the land of Egypt will come and bow to G‑d at the Holy Mount in Jerusalem.” (Isaiah 27:13)

So there you have it, Judaism 101.