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of Israel and the overthrow of Antichrist, a more copious account of them will be strictly in place *
The late Mr. Vansittart was the first, I believe, who brought forward to public notice the traditions of the
* I have read a work entitled, The History of the American Indians, by James Adair, Esq. a trader with the Indians, and resident in the country for 40 years, which, if it be authentic, is singularly curious and interesting ; but I know not what degree of credit it bears, or how far his account is confirmed by those of other travellers and residents.
“ From the most exact observation,” says he, “that I could make in the - long time I traded among the Indian Americans, I was forced to believe them
lineally descended from the Israelites, either while they were a maritime power, or soon after the general captivity ; the latter however is the most probable-Had the nine tribes and a half of Israel, which were carried off by Shalmaneser king of Assyria and settled in Media, continued there long : it is very probable, by intermarrying with the natives and from their natural fickleness and proneness to idolatry and the force of example, that they would have adopted and bowed before the Gods of the Medes and Assyrians, and have carried them along with them : but there is not a trace of this idolatry among the Indians.” Hence he argues, that those of the ten tribes, who were the forefathers of the Americans, soon advanced eastward from Assyria, and reached their settlements in the new continent before the destruction of the first temple. ..
In proof of the Americans being thus descended, he adduces the following arguments. 1. Their division into tribes. 2. Their worship of Jehovah. 3. Their notions of a theocracy. 4. Their belief in the ministration of angels. 5. Their language and dialects. 6. Their manner of counting time. 7. Their prophets and high-priests. 8. Their festivals, fasts, and religious rites. 9. Their daily sacrifice. 10. Their ablutions, and anointings. 11. Their laws of uncleanness. 12. Their abstinence from unclean things. 13. Their marriages, divorces, and punishment of adultery. 14. Their several punishments. 15. Their cities of refuge. 16. Their purifications, and ceremonies preparatory. 17. Their ornaments. 18. Their manner of curing the sick. 19. Their burial of their dead. 20. Their mourning for their dead. 21. Their raising seed to a deceased brother. 22. Their choice of names adapted to their circumstances and the times. , 23. Their own traditions ; the accounts of our English writers ; and the testimonies, which the Spanish and other writers have given concerning the primitive inhabitants of Peru and Mexico.
A few extracts from what is said under these different heads may not be unacceptable.
1. “ As the nation hath its particular symbol ; so each tribe, the badge from which it is denominated. The Sachem of each tribe is a necessary party in conveyances and treaties, to which he affixes the mark of his tribe. If we go from nation to nation among them, we shall not find one, who doth not lineally distinguish himself by his respective family. The genealogical names, which they assume, are derived either from the names of those animals whereof the Cherubim are said in revelation to be compounded, or from such creatures as are most fimiliar to them. The Indians however bear no religious respect to the animals from whence they derive their name : on the contrary, they kill them when opportunity serves. When we consider that these savages have been above twenty centuries without the use of letters to carry down their traditions, it cannot reasonably be expected, that they should still retain the identical names of their primogenial tribes : their main customs corresponding with those of the Israelites sufficiently clears the subject. Besides, as hath been hinted, they call some of their tribes by the names of
Afghans or Rohillas. Having met with a Persian abridgment of the Asrarul Afaghinah, or the secrets of the Afghans, he was induced to translate it, and to transmit it to Sir William Jones then president of the Asiatic so
the cherubinical figures that were carried on the four principal standards of Israel.
2. “By a strict permanent divine precept, the Hebrew nation were ordered to worship, at Jerusalem, Jehovah the true and living God, who by the Indians is styled Yohewah; which the 72 interpreters, either from ignorance or superstition, have translated Adonai, the very same as the Greek Kyrius, signifying Sir, Lord, or Master, which is commonly applied to earthly potentates without the least signification or relation to, that most great and awful name which describes the divine essence.
3. “ Agreeably to the theocracy or divine government of Israel, the Indi. ans think the Diety to be the immediate head of their state-All the nations of Indians are exceedingly intoxicated with religious pride, and have an inexpressible contempt of the white people. They used to call us, in their war orations, the accursed people : but they flatter themselves with the name of the beloved people ; because their supposed ancestors, as they affirm, were under the immediate government of the Deity, who was present with them in a very peculiar manner and directed them by prophets, while the rest of the world were aliens and outlaws to the covenant--.When the old Archimagus, or any one of their Magi, is persuading the people at their religious solemnities to a strict observance of the old beloved or divine speech, he always calls them the beloved or holy people, agreeably to the Hebrew epithet Ammi (my people) during the theocracy of Israel.--It is their opinion of the theo. cracy, or that God chose them out of all the rest of mankind as his peculiar and beloved people, which, alike animates both the white Jew and the red American with that steady hatred against all the world except themselves, and renders them hated or despised by all.
5. “ The Indian language and dialects appear to have the very idiom and genius of the Hebrew. Their words and sentences are expressive, concise, emphatical, sonorous, and bold ; and often, both in letters and signification, are synonymous with the Hebrew language.” Here follows a number of examples.
6. “ They count time after the manner of the Hebrews. They divide the year into spring, summer, autumn, and winter. They number their year from any of those four periods, for they have no name for a year ; and they subdivide these, and count the year by lunar months, like the Israelites who counted by moons as their name sufficiently testifies-The number and regular periods of the Indians' religious feasts is a good historical proof, that they counted time by, and observed, a weekly sabbath long after their arrival on the American continent–They began the year at the first appearance of the first new moon of the vernal equinox, according to the ecclesiastical year of Moses-Till the 70 years captivity commenced, the Israelites had only nume. ral names for the solar and lunar months, except Abib and Ethanim : the former signifies a green ear of corn ; and the latter robust or valiant : and by the first name the Indians, as an explicative, term their passover, which the trading people call the green corn dance.” He then gives a specimen of the Hebrew manner of counting, in order to prove its similarity to that of the Indians.
7. “ In conformity to, or after the manner of the Jews, the Indian Americans have their prophets, high-priests, and others of a religious order. As the Jews had a sanctum sanctorum, so have all the Indian nations. There they deposit their consecrated vessels ;- none of the laity daring to approach that sacred place. The Indian tradition says, that their forefathers were possess.
ciety. It opens, as he justly observes, with a very wild description of the origin of that tribe, and contains a narrative which can by no means be offered upon the whole as a serious and probable history : yet the knowledge of
ed of an extraordinary divine spirit, by which they foretold things future, and controlled the common course of nature : and this they transmitted to their offspring, provided they obeyed the sacred laws annexed to it-Ishtoallo is the name of all their priestly order; and their pontifical office descends by inheritance to the eldest-There are some traces of agreement, though chiefly lost, in their pontifical dress. Before the Indian Archimagus officiates in making the supposed holy fire for the yearly atonement of sin, the Sagan clothes him with a white ephod, which is a waistcoat without sleeves.-In resemblance of the Urim and Thummim, the American Archimagus wears a breastplate made of a white conch-shell with two holes bored in the middle of it, through which he puts the ends of an otter-skin strap, and fastens a buck-horn white button to the outside of each, as if in imitation of the precious stones of the Urim." Upon this statement I may observe, that Ishtoallo may perhaps be a corruption of Ish-da-Eloah, a man of God (See 2 Kings iv. 21, 22, 25, 27, 40, et alibi); and that Sagan is the very name, by which the Hebrews called the deputy of the High-Priest, who supplied his office, and who performed the functions of it, in the absence of the High-Priest, or when any accident had disabled him from officiating in person. (See Calmet's Dict. Vox Sagan.)
8. ^ The ceremonies of the Indians in their religious worship are more after the Mosaic institution, than of pagan imitation, which could not be, if the majority of the old nation were of heathenish descent— They are utter strangers to all the gestures practised by the pagans in their religious rites -They have another appellative, which with them is the mysterious essential name of God; the tetragrammaton, or great four-lettered name, which they never name in common speech: of the time, and place, when, and where, they mention it, they are very particular, and always with a solemn air---It is well known what sacred regard the Jews had to the four-lettered divine name, so as scarcely ever to mention it, but once a year when the HighPriest went into the sanctuary at the expiation of sins. Might not the Indians copy from them this sacred invocation Yo-He-Wah? Their method of invoking God in a solemn hymn with that reverential deportment, and spending a full breath on each of the two first syllables of the awful divine name, hath a surprizing analogy to the Jewish custom, and such as no other nation or peo. ple, even with the advantage of written records have retained... It may be worthy of notice, that they never prostrate themselves, nor bow their bodies to each other, by way of salute or homage, though usual with the eastern na. tions ; except when they are making, or renewing, peace with strangers, who come in the name of rah.” After speaking of their sacred adjuration by the great and awful name of God, he says: “When we consider, that the period of the adjurations, according to their idiom, only asks a question, and that the religious waiters say Yah with a profound reverence in a bowing posture of body immediately before they invoke Yo-He-Wah; the one reflects so much light upon the other, as to convince me that the Hebrews both invoked and pronounced the divine tetragrammaton Yo-Ile-Wah, and adjured their witnesses to give true evidence on certain occasions according to the Indian usage: otherwise, how could they possibly in a savage state have a custom so nice and strong pointing a standard of religious caution ? It seems exactly to coincide with the conduct of the Hebrew witnesses even now, on the like religious occasions.” According to Mr. Adair, the American Indians have. like the Hebrews, a sacred ark, in which are kept various holy vessels. “It is highly worthy of notice that they never place the ark on the ground, nor
what a nation supposes itself to be, more especially if it trace its descent from the stock of Jacob, cannot fail to be interesting. In fact, although the Afghans are most probably mistaken in fixing the period at which they
sit on the bare earth while they are carrying it against the enemy. On hilly ground where stones are plenty, they place it on them ; but, in a level land, upon short logs, always resting themselves on the like materials. They have also as strong a faith of the power and holiness of their ark, as ever the Isralites retained of theirs. The Indian ark is deemed so sacred and dangerous to be touched, either by their own sanctified warriors, or the spoiling enemy, that they dare not touch it upon any account. It is not to be meddled with by any except the chieftain and his waiter, under penalty of incurring great evil : nor would the most inveterate enemy touch it, for the same reason. The leader virtually acts the part of a priest of war pro-tempore, in imitation of the Israelites fighting under the divine military banner-As religion is the touchstone of every nation of people ; and as these Indians cannot be supposed to have been deluded out of theirs, separated from the rest of the world for many long forgotten ages, the traces, which may be discerned among them, will help to corroborate the other arguments concerning their
origin." . Among their other religious rites, they cut out the sinewy part of - the thigh. This custom Mr. Adair supposes to be commemorative of the angel wrestling with Jacob. See Gen. xxxii. 52.
12. “ Eagles of every kind they esteem unclean food ; likewise 'ravens, crows, hats, buzzards, swallows, and every species of owl. They believe, that swallowing flies, gnats, and the like, always breeds sickness. . To this that divine sarcasm alludes, “ swallowing a camel and straining at a gnat."
Their purifications for their priests, and for having touched a dead body or ** other unclean things, are, according to Mr. Adair, quite'Levitical. He acknowledges however, that they have no traces of circumcision ; but thinks that they lost this rite in their wanderings, as it ceased during the 40 years in the wilderness.
15. “ The Israelites had cities of refuge for those who killed a person unawares. According to the same partieular divine law of mercy, each of these Indian nations have either a house or town of refuge, which is a sure asylum to protect a man-slayer or the unfortunate captive, if they can once enter into it. In almost every Indian nation there are several peaceable towns, called old beloved, ancient, holy, or white, towns. They seem to have been formerly towns of refuge : for it is not in the memory of their oldest people that ever human blood was shed in them, although they often force persons from thence and put them to death elsewhere."
16. “Before the Indians go to war, they have many preparatory ceremo. nies of purification and fasting, like what is recorded of the Israelites.
21. - The surviving brother, by the Mosaic law, was to raise seed to.a deceased brother, who left a widow childless. The Indian custom looks the very same way: yet it is iŋ this, as in their law of blood, the eldest brother can redeem.
23. “ Alihough other resemblances of the Indian rites and customs to those of the Hebrews might be pointed out, not to seem tedious, I proceed to the · last argument of the origin of the Indian Americans; which shall be from their
own traditions, from the accounts of our English writers, and from the tes'timonies which the Spanish writers have given concerning the primitive inhabitants of Peru and Mexico. ,
« The Indian tradition says, that their forefathers in very remote ages came from a far distant country, where all the people were of one colour ; and that, in process of time, they moved eastward to their present settlements. So that what some of our writers have asserted is not just, who say the Indians
believe themselves to have branched out from the parent tree, for Scripture affords not the least warrant to their opinion; yet there is certainly nothing very irrational in supposing, that they may have been, at some time or
affirm, that there were originally three different tribes in those countries.". Here Mr. Adair gives a fabulous story. “This story sprung from the innovating superstitious ignorance of the popish priests to the south-west of us. Our own Indian tradition is literal and not allegorical; and ought to be received, because persons who have been long separated from the rest of mankind must know their own traditions the best, and could not be deceived in so material and frequently repeated an event. Though they have been disjoined through different interests time immemorial, yet (the rambling tribes of northern Indians excepted) they aver that they came over the Missisippi from the westward, before they arrived at their present settlements. This we see verified by the western old towns they have left behind them, and by the si.. · tuation of their old beloved towns or places of refuge lying about a west
course from each different nation. Such places in Judea were chiefly built in the most remote parts of the country; and the Indians deem those only as beloved towns where they first settled. This tradition is corroborated by a current report of the old Chikkasah Indians to our traders, that about 40 years since" (this was written in the year 1775). “there came from Mexico some of the old Chikkasah nation in quest of their brethren as far north as the Aquakpah nation about 130 miles above the Nachee old towns on the south side of the Missisippi ; but, through French policy, they were either killed or sent back, so as to prevent their opening a brotherly intercourse as they had proposed. And it is worthy of notice, that the Muskohgeh cave, out of which one of their politicians persuaded them their ancestors formerly ascend. ed to their present terrestrial abode, lies in the Nanne Hamgeh old town, inhabited by the Missisippi Nachee Indians, which is one of the most western parts of their old inhabited country—The old waste towns of the Chikkasah lie to the west and south-west, from whence they have lived since the time we first opened a trade with them ; on which course they formerly went to war over thre Missisippi, because they knew it best, and had disputes with the natives of those parts, when they first came from thence. Wisdom directed them to connive at some injuries on account of their itinerant camp of women and children : for their tradition says it consisted of 10,000 men besides women and children, when they came from the west and passed over the Missisippi. The fine breed of running wood horses, which they brought with them, were the present Mexican or Spanish barbs. They also aver, that their ancestors cut off and despoiled the greatest part of a caravan loaded with gold and silver : but the carriage of it proved so troublesome to them, that they threw it into a river, where it could not benefit the enemy
“ Ancient history is quite silent concerning America, which indicates, that it has been time immemorial rent asunder from the African continent, according to Plato's Timeus. The north-east parts of Asia were also undiscovered till of late. Many geographers have stretched Asia and America so far as to join them together, and others have divided those two quarters of the globe at a great distance from each other. But the Russians, after several dangerous attempts, have clearly convinced the world that they are now divided, and yet have a near communication together by a narrow'straight, in which several islands are situated, through which there is an easy passage from the north-east of Asia to the north-west of America by the way of Kamschatka, which probably joined to the north-west point of America. By this passage, supposing the main continents were separated, it was very practicable for the inhabitants to go to this extensive new world, and aftervards to have proceeded in quest of suitable climates, according to the last