The Ten Tribes: East Africa (Ethiopia)

In the 9th century CE, there was a man named Eldad ha-Dani who was a Jewish merchant and traveler and came and went to the Jewish communities of Babylonia, North Africa, and Spain. He left a record of his travels which constitute more legend than fact, but this stirred many people's interest. Eldad claimed that he was a merchant and scholar from an independent Jewish state that was situated in East Africa. He declared categorically that his country was the home of the Lost Tribes of Asher, Gad, Naphtali, and Dan, and that he himself was from the Tribe of Dan. His name ha-Dani means the Tribe of Dan in Hebrew.

Eldad mentions that in "Kush" of East Africa which is today's Ethiopia live a lot of descendants of the tribe of Dan and other tribes of Israel.

It is interesting to note that still in the 20th century CE there live a Jewish group called Falashas of Ethiopia. Their skin is black and they call themselves "Beta Israel" which means the House of Israel in Hebrew. They have been following the precepts of the Bible since ancient times in a loose fashion. The Falashas in Ethiopia speak Hebrew and keep the Sabbath. Tragically enough many of them were killed by a recent insurgence in Ethiopia, but the remnants emigrated to Israel. They were transported to Israel by the airplanes chartered by the government of Israel in 1983 and 1991. Over 90% of Beta Israel now live in Israel, accepted as Jews.

Eldad ha-Dani mentions also about Khazar kingdom which was located between Black Sea and Caspian Sea. He declares that several tribes from the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel live in Khazar. In around 740 CE, the king and the people of Khazar all converted to Judaism. It was a national conversion and this is a well known history among the Jews.

According to Eldad, in Khazar lived three tribes from the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel. They were Reuben, Gad, and Half Manasseh. About 300 thousand of the people of Khazar were they. In the 9th century CE Joseph, the king of Khazar, wrote, "(the capital of Khazar consists of three towns and) in the second town live the Israelites (probably the Ten Lost Tribes), the descendants of Ishmael, Christians and the people who speak other languages." Thus, some of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel lived there.

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