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It is easy to account for a tradition, which corresponds with Scripture, being in the hands of Mohammedans: but it is not quite so easy to account for the circumstance of those Mohammedans claiming a Hebrew descent, unless we allow the validity of that claim. There are some points respecting them, in which Mr. Vansittart and Sit William Jones do not perfectly agree. The former observes, that “they are great boasters of the an
tiquity of their origin, and reputation of their
tribe; but that other Asussulmans entirely reject “their claim, and consider them of modern and
even base extraction.” The latter, on the contrary, who is not wont to throw out assertions at random, adds the following note to the tradition; whence it appears, that he was not disinclined to admit their claim. “ This account of the Afghans
may lead to a very interesting discovery. We “ learn from Esdras, that the ten tribes, after a “ wandering journey, came to a country called “Arsareth; where, we may suppose, they settled *. “ Now the Afghans are said, by the best Persian
historians, to be descended from the Jews; they “ have traditions among theinselves of such a “ descent; and it is even asserted, that their fa“ inilies are distinguished by the names of Jewish “ tribes, although, since their conversion to the “ Islam, they studiously conceal their origin. The
# 2 Esdras, xiii. 40---47.
“ Pushto language, of which I have seen a dic
tionary, has a manifest resemblance to the “ Chaldaic; and a considerable district under their “ dominion is called Hazareh or Hazaret; which
might easily have been changed into the word “ used by Esdras. I strongly recommend an in
quiry into the literature and history of the Afghans.”
From this interesting note of that great linguist we learn four very curious particulars, relative to the Afghans : 1. that they have a tradition among themselves, that they are of Jewish origin, although not very forward to acknowledge their descent; 2. that this is pot a mere vague tradition, known only to themselves and ridiculed by their neighbours, but that the best Persian historians, with whose empire they have always been connected *, assert the very same; 3. that a considerable district under their dominion is to this day called Hazaret, a word nearly resembling Arsareth, which (according to the apocryphal Esdras, whoever he might be, and at whatever period he might live p) was the name of the country into which the ten tribes retired; 4. and that their language lias a manifest resemblance to the Chaldaic.
*" the Afghans; a tribe, at different times subject to “ and always connected with the kingdoms of Persia and “ Hindustan.” Mr. Vansittart's letter to Sir William Joues.
+ The reader will find the different opinions respecting the author of the second book of Esdras detailed in Dr. Gray's Key to the Old Testament.
Though I would not implicitly depend upon popular tradition, yet neither would I entirely reject it. In the present case however it is so remarkably supported, that we can scarcely refrain from giving it some degree of credit. The best Persian historians sanction the popular belief of the Afghans : and, what has always been allowed to be one of the strongest proofs of national descent and relationship, their language manifestly resembles the Chaldaic. In mentioning Arsareth as the country to which the ten tribes retired, the apocryphal Esdras probably alluded to a tradition respecting the fate of their brethren at that time familiar to the Jews : and we find, that a large part of the country of the Afghans, who believe themselves to be of Hebrew origin, and whose belief is at once corroborated by the best historians of Persia and by the circumstance of their language being a branch of the Chaldaic, is even to this day called Hazaret. The reader has now the evidence before him, and must judge for himself, whether the claim of the Afghans is to be allowed or rejected. But, whatever be its fate, the prophecies respecting the distinct restoration of Israel remain unaffected, and will surely be accomplished.
Before I entirely quit this part of my subject, I shall notice a coincidence, which is at least curious, if it deserve no better epithet. St. John tells us,
that the sixth vial of God's wrath will be poured upon the river Euphrates, the waters of which will in consequence of it be dried up, in order that a way may be prepared for the kings who are from the rising of the sun.
Mr. Mede supposes, and (arguing from the analogy of language used in the Apocalypse) I think, incontrovertibly, that the erhaustion of the Euphrates means the subver. » sion of the Ottoman empire: and he farther conjectures, that the kings, for whom this event is to prepare a way, are the Jeu's. Had he said the Israelites", he would perhaps have expressed him. self with greater accuracy: for, if the passage do at all allude to the restoration of the house of Jacob, it relates more probably to that of the ten tribes, than to that of Judah. But why should either the Israelites or the Jews be styled kings? Such a title accords very ill with the present condition of the Jews, and still worse with that of the Israelites, if they be so entirely lost and swallowed up, as some have imagined. Mr. Mede does not attempt to solve this difficulty. If however, it
* Mr. Mede does at first indeed say Israelites, but he ever after speaks only of Jews (See Comment. Apoc. in loc.) i expressed myself with equal inaccuracy, when treating of the same subject in the first edition of my Dissert. un the 1260 years. The fact was, I had at that time indolently acquiesced in the commonly received opinion, as stated by Bp. Newton, that the ten tribes would only be restored conjointly with and included in the tribe of Judah.
should eventually prove that the Afghans are really the remains of the ten tribes, and if St. John speak of the restoration of those ten tribes under the name of kings from the east, we shall immediately perceive the singularly exact propriety with which he styles them kings. The whole race of the Afghans, as we have seen from the preceding account of them, denominate themselves even to the present day, in their Chaldaic dialect, Melic, or with the plural termination Melchim, in English, kings. They consider themselves as a royal nation; and, according to their own tradition, claim their title of Melic from a grant of Mohammed whose religion they profess. If then they be of Hebrew extraction, the drying up of the mystic Euphrates, or the subversion of the Ottoman empire, would undoubtedly prepare a way for them both naturally and morally. A power would be removed, whose dominions now stretch between Persia and Palestine; and one great branch of that false religion, by which the Afghans are at present deluded, would be broken off. According to Mr. Vansittart, the sects of the Afghans are very numerous; and they appear to be a nation formidable at once for its population, and for its bravery. “ Their character may be collected from history. They have distinguished themselves by their
courage, both singly and unitedly, as principals " and auxiliaries. They have conquered for their “ own princes and for foreigners, and have always
, VOL. I.