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WHO IS A JEW?

THE CASE FOR BETA ISRAEL I think Israel has an obligation to prove that it is not a racist state If everyone was blond-haired and had blue eyes, they would bring them. MazorBahaina1 This statement is in response to a recent decision by the Israeli government to delay the immigration of a large number of Ethiopian Jews.2 The obvious allusion to Nazi Aryanism may seem extreme, but the position of the Israeli chief Rabbinate in regards to Beta Israel has been intolerant at best. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has stated that a recent bill, proposed by MK David Rotem, threatens to "tear apart the Jewish people." The bill would restrict which diaspora communities qualify as Jews under the Law of Return. The Law entitles those of Jewish decent to citizenship and protection from persecution. However, Israeli law is moving to establish the Ultra-Orthodox Chief Rabbinate as the sole Jewish conversion authority. Conversion will be recognized only if the convert accepts the Torah and agrees to live by the Ultra-Orthodox interpretation of the Talmud. This unprecedented stipulation would effectively exclude the Conservative and Reform communities of the diaspora. TheRotembill raises the ageold question of Who is a Jew?3 In 1984, the Jews of Ethiopiawere faced with a similar threat to their Jewish identity.The Ashkenazi Rabbinate placed a Halakhicsafek (doubt) over the Jewishness of Beta Israel.The Rabbinate justified its skepticism by appealing to Beta Israels lack of Talmudic knowledge, and doubt as to their ancient Jewish origin.Christian elements in their religious practice have lead certainscholars to conclude that Beta Israel are the decedents of 15th century Christian converts to Judaism(Quirin 1988, 89-104; Shelemay 1986, 372-404; Kaplan 1987, 107-24). Due to extreme international pressure, the chief Rabbinate ruled that Beta Israel were Jews, descended from the tribe of Dann. Though this classification could be considered discriminatory in itself, it was considered as preferable to leaving Beta Israel to the hands of an ant-Semitic Ethiopian political regime. 4 On arrival in HaeretzYisrael, members of the Beta Israel community were forced to undergo a conversion process before being considered Jewish by the state. Beta Israel coupleswere made to remarry under Ashkenazi guidelines to prevent Mamzera(bastardization) and other genealogical threats to Israel(Kaplan 1988, vol. 27, 357-70).The recent Rotem bill is evidence that the Ultra-Orthodox Rabbinate considerthemselvesto have the onlylegitimate claim to Judaism. Beta Israel claim to be the direct descendants of an ancient Israelite group. This paper
1MazorMahoyBahaina is
2

an Israeli Ethiopian Rabbi and former politician. I will henceforth use the term Beta Israel to refer to both the ancient and modern Ethiopian Jewish community. 3 The legislation passed through the Knessets Constitutional Law and Justice Committee in July 2010 by a 5-4 and is is to be voted on again in June 2011 to decide whether to make it a part of the official constitution. 4 Dann was a son of Jacob and Bilhah (Genesis30:4). Dann is one of the two children of Bilhah, who was Rachel's handmaid and one of Jacob's wives. Scholars see this as indicating that the authors saw Dann as being not of entirely Israelite origin.

will attempt to substantiate theirclaim, by examining the evidence of social and technological diffusion across the ancient Near East and Africa. Establishing the legitimacy of at least one non-Rabbinical community would determine that religious pluralism does exist within Judaism, and should be represented in the Israeli religious council. Tounderstand how the development of Beta Israel has been influenced by its wider social context, I will begin with a summery of Ethiopian history. ETHIOPIAN HISTORY In the Ethiopian highland town of Yeha, proto-Ethiopian inscriptions have been found dating to at least 800 B.C.E. Fragments of thisproto-Ethiopian scripthave also been discovered on the eastern shore of the Red Sea(Ehret 2002, 209; Mokhtar 1985, 355).The areas of modern Ethiopia and Yemen were connected by the mutual benefit of marine trading (Ullendorf 1973, 47). Yemen was known to have a sizable ancient Jewish community, possibly stretching back to the reign of Solomon (Ullendorf 1973, 49). Over the years, Yemenite traders mixed with indigenous Africans to form the town of Yeha, which was eventually absorbed into theAksumite kingdom(Adejumobi 2006, 11; Hull 2009, 185; Connah 1987, 80-86; Ullendorf 1973, 46-54). After destroying Kush around 350 B.C.E, Axum extended its control further into the Ethiopian highlands (Ullendorf 1973, 52).Archeological evidence from around 300B.C.E has uncovered a large number of metal objects at a cultic center on the hill of Haoulti, near Yeha (McNutt 1990, 202). This not only suggests an increase in iron production around the time, but also links the making of metal with religious cultic centers. Glass beads were found in Yeha around this period also (Mokhtar 1981, 375).Due to its early development, Axum has often been regarded as a source of cultural innovation, influencing the African interior(Ehret 2002, 212 ; Mokhtar 1981, 359; Budge 1928, 130).Yet their many innovations were integrated into older African cultures (Ullendorf 1973, 50). Around 330 C.E, king Ezana officially converted to Christianity, creating one of the oldest Christian nations (Ullendorf 1973, 52). By the middle of the 4th century C.E, the Aksumites and Romans had developed close economic ties, giving them the monopoly on the Red and Mediterranean Sea trades(Mokhta r 1990, 226). This was facilitated by the Roman adoption of Christianity during the reign of Theodosius, 379195B.C.E.(Jolly 1997, 161-162; Mehl 2005, 201). Aksumite prosperity continued up until the end of the 6th century C.E. At this point the spread of Islam caused a shift in trade control across the Red Sea (Ehret 2002, 293; Ullendorff 1973, 54). There had been a large increase in population in the surrounding area due to the economic success of the Aksumite kingdom; this proved unsustainable and the natural resources were irreparably depleted.Many abandoned the land around the Aksumite capitol, moving instead to the Lasta region(Munro-Hay 1991, 9, 258; Bard et. al 2000 vol. 17, 65).The spread of Islam brought about both external and internal conflict; resulting in an extended Ethiopian dark-age (Ullendorf 1973, 60). The dark age came to an end with the rise of the Christian Zagwe dynasty(1137-1270 C.E) (Ullendorf 1973, 61).They claimed Hebraic decent, appealing to the Midianite wife of Moses (Hooge 2003, 277). In the 13th century, internal disputes lead to the

downfall of the Zagwe dynasty, at the hands of a small Christian kingdom in northern Shewa (Ullendorf 1973, 62). YekunnoAmlak killed the Zagwe king and made himself the first Shewanian emperor. Under YekunnoAmlaks rule, nationalism developed and a degree of internal unity was established (Pankhurst 1998, 45-46, 72). Amlak is thought by most scholars to be the founder of the Solomonic dynasty, and to have been at least instrumental in the creation of the KebraNegast; some argue that he created it to legitimize his reign (Hull 2009, 192).5The central narrative contains an expansion of 1Kings. The Queen of Sheba is seduced by Solomon, and bears a son, Menelik. Menelik creates a duplicate Jewish empire in Ethiopia, stealing the Ark of the Covenant when he departs, with an entourage of Jewish noblemen. The theft is to avenge his mothers dishonor at the hands of Solomon. As G-d approves, the heist is successful, and Menelik is crowned ruler of the Solomonic dynasty (Levine 1974, 105). The KebraNegast legitimates the emperors of the Solomonic dynasty as they are G-ds chosen rulers, and the Ethiopian people are descendants of Israelite nobility (Kaplan 1993, 652). In the epilogue of the KebraNegast, Ethiopia adopts Christianity as the true word of G-d. This makes Ethiopia not only the genealogical descendants of the great Hebrew kings, but also spiritually righteous. The Solomonic dynasty had varying degrees of political control from the rule of YekunnoAmlak in 1270 until the fall of Haile Selassie in 1974.6 Traditionally, the Amhara have been the dominant ethnic group. Amhara dominance resulted in various separatist movements, particularly in Eritrea and amongst the Oromo.7 ORIGIN OF BETA ISRAEL
Beta Israel have been referred to as Ahayudi (Jews), Falasha (Outcasts), Buda (evil eye), the Attenkun (Don't touch us), Kayla which refers to the Agaw language they used and Tebiban (possessor of secret knowledge); all of which are considered derogatory terms.8

They observed theOrit (Torah), but had no knowledge of the Talmud. Their religiouspractices were a modified form of Mosaic Judaism, completely absent of post-biblicaldevelopments. Their canon notably included certain apocryphal books, such as Enoch and Jubilees.Animal sacrifice was practiced, along with scriptural and
5

This national epic is considered a religious work by the Ethiopic church and Beta Israel. Solomonic decent is such a crucial aspect of nationalistic tradition that Haile Selassie included it in the first Ethiopian constitution (Ullendorf 1973, 61). The constitution, written in 1931, exempts the emperor from state law by appealing to their divine ancestry. 7 Conquered ethnicities in Ethiopia were expected to adopt the culture of the dominant Amharic group. It was illegal to publish, teach, or broadcast in any Oromo dialect until the end of Haile Selassie's reign. An issue raised by those skeptical of the ancient origins of Beta Israel is the paucity of scriptural material originating from the community. A gagging order such as the one placed on the Oromo language could help to account for this. Also, during the Ottoman wars in the 15th century, Emperor Dengal (1563-97) accused Beta Israel of treason, eliminating most of the remaining Jewish kingdoms and destroying thousands of Judaic holy texts (Pankhurst 2001, 100; Levine 1974, 77).
8

I will be referring to the traditional practices of Beta Israel in the past tense, as the majority of the community now live in Israel, and have made efforts to adopt the normative Juda ism prescribed by the Israeli state.

non-scriptural festivals. The Sabbath regulations were observed stringently, as were biblical dietary laws. Marriage outside the religious community was strictly forbidden.The center of religious life was the Masjid (Synagogue). The religious practitioner in each village was the Kes (priest), though their monastical order lived in isolation from the rest of the community.Beta Israel lived either in separate villages or in separate quarters in Christian or Muslim towns, in theregion north of Lake Tana. Historically, they were known for their skill in masonry, pottery, ironworking, and weaving.Scholars have a variety of opinions with regards to Beta Israelite origin (Leslau 1951 vol. 4, 212-230; Kessler 1985; Quirin 1992; Shelemay 1989; Kaplan 1995).

James Quiringroups the various theories into three main categories:


Lost tribe theories argue that the Ethiopian Jewish community descends directly from an ancient Israelite source. This is usually thought to be around the time of the exodus from Egypt at about 1300B.C.E, or at the time of the temple destructions, 586B.C.E and 70C.E respectively (Semi 2007; Waldman 1989; Messing 1982; Cornaldi 1998; Elon 1994). Convert theories suggest that Beta Israel descend from early Agaw converts to Judaism, who refused to convert to Christianity when king Ezana made it the official state religion in the 4th century (Kessler 1982, 63-73; Ullendorff 1968, 117). Rebel theories claim that Beta Israel were rebel factions, opposed to Christian orthodoxy at various times between the 4th 15th centuries(Quirin 1992, 65-72; Quirin 1988, 89-104; Shelemay 1986, 372-404; Leslau 1953; Getatchew 1986, 193-203; Kaplan 1987, 107-24).

Kay Shelemayhas conducted extensive research into the liturgical practices of Beta
Israel; sheconcluded that 15th century Judaized Christian monks were the source of the Hebraic traditions (Shelemay 1986, 215). Shemelay argues that there is little evidence ofan archaic Jewish connection,and that a lack of scriptural evidence leaves the culture of proto-Beta Israel indiscernible. Many of their traditions, as well as the Geez versions of the Bible and Apocrypha, are inherited from the Ethiopian Church. She argues that this is evidence of a late division between the two groups (Shelemay 1986,15; Kaplan 1987, 17).

The overwhelmingly Judeo-Semitic flavour of the Ethiopian culture cannot be explained purely as the product of ImitatioVeterisTestamenti (Ullendorff 1968, 15-30; Rendsburg 1980, 249-57). Particularly significant are the Jewish-Aramaic loanwords in the Ge'ez version of the Bible. 9 It has been argued that Beta Israel are not necessarily the descendants of the early Jewish group. Judaic elements are also found in Ethiopic Christianity. It is poignant to consider however, whether cross-pollination to the degree found in Ethiopia would be possible without a significant amount of cross breeding(Shaw1995, 348; Ullendorff 1973, 49). If we consider the initial Southern Arabian traders to have contained a Jewish element, why would this have

Words such as meswat (alms), tabot (ark), ta'ot (idol), and 'arb (Sabbath eve) are distinctively Jewish (Polotsky 1964 vol. 9, 1-10).

been subsumed by Ethiopian tradition, when so much else of the Southern Arabian culture became dominant? Shelemay argues that if elements of the Beta Israel religion date from the 15th century, any attempt to link their tradition directly to ancient Judaism is untenable. Many major features of the Beta Israel religion can be attributed to Abba Sabra, a former Christian monk, who is credited with establishing Beta Israel monasticism. Shelemay effectively demonstrates that the contemporary structure of Beta Israels religious leadership, the final form of their sacred literature, several key holidays and their liturgy are all relatively late in origin. She argues that this precludes any continuity in religious practice from an ancient Jewish source (Shelemay 1986, 15).

Steven Kaplan does not deny thepossibility of some ancient Jewish elements within
Beta Israel tradition. He believes that the almost total obscurity surrounding Beta Israels early historyrules out anyblanket statements. However, he argues that the Hebraisms of Beta Israel most likely began asan affectation to distance themselves from Christian imperial rule around C.E 1314 (Kaplan 1992; Quirin 1992). He supports this claim with reference to the use of the term ahyud. This is first used in literature by Emperor Yeshaq (14141429 C.E) to refer to Christian groups who opposed his reign. He ruled that dissenters should be considered ahyud, and will have their land owning rights revoked. Kaplan argues that Beta Israel developed out of a group of Christian political dissidents (Kaplan 1992, 63). If Kaplan is correct, what model of the Israelite religion was imitated, and from whence did it originate? Kaplans theory would necessitate a Christian group making the decision to further Judaize their religious customs, purely as a form of political protest.He admits the difficulty of answering the questions of this nature (1986, 6263).Beta Israel can only be understood when analyzed in the context of Ethiopian history in general"(Kaplan 1986, 7). Kaplan does not go far enough in broadening the scope of the necessary historical consideration. For the origin of Beta Israel to be discovered, we have to consider them in their African context, not just in relation to their national history; a history that owes its surviving textual documentation to Christian dominantgroups. I argue that a combination of all three of the possible points of origin would be most representative of Beta Israels history. Whilst the group began with Israelite migrs from Yemen, the population, as seen amongst the communities of Ashkenazi groups in Europe, was greatly increased by local indigenous converts (Hull 2009, 187-9; Newman 1995, 90). This would not affect their status as authentic Jews,provided that the existence of an original ancient Jewish community can be established. I believe that I can establish the existence of an ancient Jewish community in Ethiopia, and will present evidence that strongly suggests that Beta Israel aredescendants of this group. Beta Israel have a history of artisanship, especially that of metallurgy(Beckingham, Huntingford 2010, 54-55; Gamst 1969, 81, 53; Leslau 1957, 53). Kaplan, Shelemay and Qurin postulate that this tradition was adopted by Beta Israel as a reaction to their land disenfranchisement around the 15th century. My research into ancient African metallurgical traditions suggests that such a sequence of events is highly unlikely. Moreover, tribes throughout Africa exhibit a traditional conception of the smith that is highly suggestive of a common cultural origin. I will present evidence to suggest that

this common origin may have been a Judaic one. Establishing an ancient metallurgical tradition amongst Beta Israel would refute the chronology postulated by the aforementioned scholars, and support aclaim of ancient Israelite origin. THE BOOK OF 1ENOCH Important for my argument is the prevalence of the Book of Enoch in the EthiopicJewish and Christian canon. Scholars have argued that early Christian communities considered Enoch to be authoritative until the council of Laodicea in 363C.E; it was widely read amongst Jewish communities untilat least the 2nd century C.E (Leiman 1976, 121-122; Noll 1997, 36; Jonge 2003, 314; Ackroyd and Evans 1970, 308; Bruce 1963,109). It is commonly presumed that the canonicity of Enoch is another example of Beta Israels Christiandependency.10 I arguethat this presumption is incorrect.The Christian community believe that the Son of Man mentioned in the Book of Enoch refers to Christ(Stone and Bergren 1998, 114). However, these references were not enough to ensure a canonical position for Enoch in any other Christian Church. There must be another reason, specific to Ethiopia, that lead to the canonical status of the Book of Enoch. The Book of the Watchers (BW) is one of the oldest sections of the Enochic corpus, its transcription dates to around 300 B.C.E(Bromiley and Fahlbusch 2005, 411). The Watchers are angels commanded by G-d to watch over humanity. They begin to desire human women. Shemihazaconvinces his comrades to rebel against G-d, and illicitly procreate with human women. The offspring of these unions are the. Nephilim, or giants. The Watchers teach their human consorts arts and technologies such as metallurgy, cosmetics, mirrors, sorcery and divination. Azazel is named as being the most blameworthy, as he teaches the art of metallurgy,resulting in an increase in warfare. When the Nephilim begin to destroy humanity, G-d creates the Deluge, but first sends Uriel to warn Noah, so as not to eradicate the human race completely. The earliest of the Qumran texts date to the beginning of the 2nd century B .C.E. 4QEna and 4QEnb seem to contain only BW, suggesting that the text may have circulated independently(Smith 2005, 24). Although the text dates to around the 2nd century, the oral tradition is likely to be far older.11The themes found in BW are, the
10

The final form of the Book of Enoch, translated from Greek into Geez by the Ethiopic church, dates to around 600C.E (Knibb 2009, 43). As Beta Israel rely upon the Christian translation of the text, scholars have attributed the retention of Enoch to a novel quirk of Ethiopic Christianity. 11 Many biblical texts parallel older narratives from Assyria and Babylonia. The oldest are from Shumer. Shumer is Land of the Watchers in Akkadian, the root Semitic language used by the Assyrians and Babylonians (Dalley 1989, 178). The similarities suggest a dependency on the earlier Mesopotamian myths. These originate at around 1900B.C.E. (Hooke 1963, 23). A conceptual and philological investigation into the figure of Azazel, suggests a South Anatolian-North Syrian origin (Wright 1987, 31-74; Janowski and Wilheim 1993 134, 134158). It could be that the transmission of metallurgical technology, which had been similarly transmitted form the Anatolia region, had been connected to a figure such as Azazel long before it became a part of the ancient Israelite tradition. With this in mind, it seems likely that there would be a BW type tradition transmitted along with the metallurgical technology as it diffused throughout the African continent.

dangers of sexual impurity, the corrupting potential of knowledge and the antediluvian proliferation of violence. For the purpose of this essay, I will be concentrating predominantly on the traditions found in chapters 6-11 of BW (Reed, 2005, 42). 12 Annette Yoshiko Reed summarizes the teachings of 6-11 into three groups: Cultural arts connected to metalworking and ornamentation (1En 8:1-2), Magical skills such as sorcery (1En 7:1, 8:3), Divination from cosmological phenomena (1En 8:3) (Reed 2005, 37). As will become apparent later in the paper, these three types of knowledge are combined in the traditional conception of the African smith. Reed states that, these teachings invoke the widespread distrust of the marginal yet powerful figure of the diviner, found both in Hebrew and in Greco-Roman literature (Reed 2005, 41). The African smiths are customarily of a marginalized socio-political sub-group. In the Book of Enoch, the Angels should correctly inhabit the heavenly sphere, whilst the humans belongin the earthly realm, but the nature of Nephilim are mixed. This transgression of categories brings terrible results that plague human kind(Reed 2005, 46). Some of the African tribes believe the smith to have a mixed nature; this is one of the reasons for his diminished status within the social group. The overall objective of this dissertation is to consider the possibility of religious pluralism within Judaism. Religious pluralism is dependent on the existence of polyvalence in regards to narrative interpretation. Reader-response criticism emphasizes the plurality of interpretation in any communication event (Powell 2001, 25). Whilst the traditions found in Enoch may have been interpreted in a certain way by the ancient Israelites, temporal and spatial separation would have lead to a multiplicity of varied understandings trans-culturally. 1Enoch Chapter 7: 3 And the women became pregnant, and they bare large giants, whose height was three thousand cubits (ells). 4 The giants consumed all the work and toil of men. And when men could no longer sustain them, the giants turned against them and devoured mankind. 5 And they began to sin against birds, and beasts, and reptiles, and fish, and to devour one anothers flesh, and drank the blood. 6 Then the earth laid accusation against the lawless ones. This could beinterpreted as an allusion to warfare. War destroys houses, towns, cities and entire peoples. It thrives off the blood of men. A tactical maneuver in warfare is often to destroy the food source of the enemy, ravaging the land in the process. In this

12

Scholars, such as George Nickelsburg (2005) and DevorahDimant (1994), argue that chapters 6-11 we a separate literary work, originally found in the Book of Noah.

sensethe earth laid accusationagainst the lawless ones, would be a statement condemning warfare.13 Many of the African tribes consider the act of forging to have sexual connotations (Herbet 1993, 81). The furnace is the womb, and the bloom of metal is the offspring. The smith uses his secret knowledge and, in the same way as the Watchers, combines it with the physical. His metal product is of mixed nature, and can be as destructive to mankind as the Nephilim.Now the giants, who have been born of the spirit and the flesh, shall be called upon the earth evil spirits, and on the earth shall be their habitation(Enoch 15:8). A common believe is that iron and glass amulets exercise protective and destructive forces that counter spirits and demons(Frazer 2010, 471).Reed asserts that the transmission of the Enoch narrative should not be considered as limited to groups with the same worldview (Reed 2005, 82-82). Traditionsresembling the Enochic conception of metallurgy can be found in the religious practices of traditional African tribes. Interestingly, these traditions are exaggerated in tribes that profess a common Hebraic ancestry, such as Beta Israel and a tribe called the Lemba.It is possible that an ancientJudaic presence transmitted a tradition ofmetallurgy that derived fromafamiliarity withBW; this tradition was absorbed into the Ethiopian culture, and became a part of the metallurgical practice that diffused across the African continent. To contextualize my argument, it is necessary to consider the history of African metallurgy. THE IRON AGE IN AFRICA The Iron Age in the Ancient Near East is believed to have originatedin Anatolia around 1100 B.C.E. The replacement of bronze with iron weaponsspread rapidly throughout the Near East by the beginning of the 1st millennium B.C.E (Gates 2003, 167). The art of extracting and working iron is thought to havegreatly facilitated the success of the Philistines (Kune and Verlag 2004 vol. 4, 236). The Iron Age reached Africa around the 6th century B.C.E (Ehret 2001, 245). Africa is unique in that it progressed directly from the stone to the Iron Age. The Bantu migrations have been traditionally accepted as the means by which iron technology spread to sub Saharan Africa(Ehret, 2001, 268; Roberts, Fage and Oliver 1986, 583; Falola 2002, 19). Bantu is a family of closely related languagesthat represent the largest linguistic family found in Africa (Roberts, Fage and Oliver 1986, 580). The Bantu peoplestransmittedmetallurgic technology down theeast coast and beyond the Zambeziriver by the 5th century C.E. (Ehret 200, 192, 218, 233). Though Bantu-speaking societies were remarkably diverse, their institutions, values, and aesthetic styles reflected a common pattern. Elders of extended lineages claimed direct descent from a distinguished ancestor. Concern for the integrity and well being of the community as a unit was paramount,thus speculative innovation was treated suspiciously. Although kings based their legitimacy on divine right, they exercised power within the limits of customary law.Divine ancestors existed in a
13

The chapter directly succeeding En 7:6 discusses the metal weaponry that Azazels art helped to produce. This could suggest a correspondence between the subjects of the two chapters.

half-mythical realm of the distant past. They were deified when they had brought a message from the gods, led their blood brothers to great military victories, or found land to settle.Usually, states were ruled by kings, but matrilineal descent was fairly common. This resulted in complex relationships, in order to reconcile male royalauthority with the traditional matrilineal succession. To resolve this, the heir apparent was sometimes a nephew of the queen and a sonof her oldest brother. I will now consider the traditional metallurgic traditions of a selection of African tribes, as I believe that the similarities found in their attitudes towards metal smithing have a definite Semitic, if not Judaic influence. This suggests some type of common origin, either of the people or the technology. The tribes I will consider do not form an exhaustive list. There a hundreds of examples of tribes with varying degrees of Semitic characteristics (Williams 2003; Mcnutt 1999).The historical territory of Beta Israel is where the some of the earliest African evidence of metallurgy is found. The diffusionary pattern of metallurgy, and of Judaized tribes,is highly suggestive of a common origin in ancient Ethiopia (Williams 1930, 350).14 If this can be established, it would refute the theories of Shelemay, Kaplan and Quirin, who believe that Beta Israel turned to metallurgy due to their land disenfranchisement around the 15th century. The evidence I am about to present will show that if this were the case, then Beta Israel are possibly the only example of metal-smiths in Africa who adopted metallurgy due to their marginal status, rather than vice versa. THE LEMBA The Lemba are a Bantu-speaking people of South Africa(Parfitt and Semi 2002, 42; Shimoni 2003, 178). They claim to be descendedfrom the Ancient Israelites(Parfitt 2000, 12). Until recently their claims have been dismissed as, similarly to the Ethiopic church, many Judaized Christian groups in Africa also claim Israelite heritage (Shimoni 2003, 177). The Lemba speak dialects of the Bantu language, similar to that of their terrestrial neighbors, the BaVeda; however they have highly Judaized customs that make them distinct from the surrounding African culture (Parfitt and Semi 2002, 41). Traditionally, they dressed in the Khanzu of the northeast, rather than the native indigenous dress, and spoke a distinct language (Hammond-Tooke 1974, 81).15The name Lemba may originate from the Swahili chilemba referring to the turbans worn by east Africans. Lembi in Bantu means non-African or respected foreigner (Wahram 2002, 150; Parfitt and Semi 2002, 41; Shimoni 2003, 178). James Mullanposits that it could be a corruption of the Bantu for Arabs; Alaba with the Ba as a plural prefix would be BaAlaba, eventually becoming BaLemba(Mullan 1969, 15). There are many similarities between ancient Jewish tradition and that of the Lemba, and their oral tradition strongly maintains an Israelite origin(Le Roux 2003, 103; Du Preez 2004, 161). They believe in one creator god, Nwali, and observe one holy day per week. Nwali is considered to have chosen the Lemba specifically, and presides over their well-being. They are not permitted to eat the meat of dogs, apes, birds of prey, carrion, crocodiles, snakes, or to mix meat with milk (Le Roux 2003, 82). Strict
14

In my discussion of African tribal practice, I will be referring to their traditions pre colonialism, as the advent of European rule has altered many of the indigenous customs. 15 Note that the northern Tuareg tribe also traditionally wore the Khanzu.

laws pertaining to the slaughtering of animals show a concern with the avoidance of consuming blood (Shimoni 2003, 178). They will not eat meat slaughtered by a non Lemba, or eat any food prepared by them (Le Roux 2003, 88; Parfitt and Semi 2002, 41). If a Lemba does consume food prepared by an outsider, they are considered unclean and must purify themselves by ritual washing (Le Roux 2003, 81). They practice male circumcision, andare believed by the surrounding tribes to have introduced the tradition to the local area (Hammond-Tooke 1974, 81;Du Preez 2004, 165-8). They are discouraged from marrying non-Lembas, though occasionally nonLemba women marry a Lemba male, if they agree to undergo a purification ritual and abide by Lemba tradition (Hammond-Tooke 1974, 81; Du Preez, 2004, 165). They may not bring with them any cooking utensils for fear of contamination, and they are required to shave their hair. Lemba men who marry non-Lemba women are expelled from the community, unless the women agree to live according to Lemba traditions. 16 The Lemba practice patrilineal descent.Rabbinical Judaism only recognizes matrilineal descent, though patrilineal descent was the Jewish norm up to as late as the 2nd century B.C.E (Cohen 1985 vol.10, 19-53; Du Preez 2004, 164; Ehret 2001, 253). Many Lemba clan-names may have Semitic origins;Sadiki, Hamisi, Bakeri, Sharifo (Le Roux, 2003, 82). The lack of a definitive Jewish identity may be the result of many years of cultural diffusion (Williams 1930, 350). Their oral tradition claims that male Jewish ancestors left Israelover 2,500 years ago and established a community atSenna, later migrating to East Africa.17 The Lemba have a saying well meet one day in Senna (Du Preez 2004, 159). 18 This is similar to the tradition of Pesach, when it is customary to say next year, in Jerusalem. Lemba tradition tells of a sacred object, the NgomaLungundu (drum that thunders),that was brought with them from Senna. Tudor Parfitt has theorized that it was the Ark of the Covenant. An interesting oral tradition regarding the NgomaLungundu is very suggestive of an ancient Israelite connection: Their king was called Mivali and was seen as a king god who was able to perform miracles with the massive drum of the gods, Ngoma-Lungundu. The king lived in a large village on the top of a mountain. The walls were built with enormous stones and could not be broken into. No one was allowed to see the king. Only his voice could be heard, when on occasions he spoke to the High Priest in an extremely loud voice. Any individual who accidently glimpsed the king was executed immediately(Magubane 1998, 82). After entering Africa, the tribe is said to have split off into two groups, one being lost and the other traveling farther south, along the east coast.19The second group settled in Tanzania and Kenya, and built "Senna II". Others are thought to have settled in
16

Conversion was often far easier in the ancient times, medieval sources claim that even circumcision was not always required (Wexler 1996, 22). 17 The location of Senna was likely the village of San w, Yemen, within the easternmost portion of the WadiHadhramaut. This city had a very ancient Jewish community ( arfitt P 2008, 243; Du Preez 2004, 164). 18The Fulani Tuareg from western Nigeria have a similar oral tradition. They believe they will return to their homeland in the east (Williams 2003, 300, 249). 19 This is thought to have been between 2600-3100 years ago, according to the genetic testing of David Goldstein (Du Preez 2004, 162).

Malawi. Some settled in Mozambique and eventually migrated to Zimbabwe, where they claim to have constructed, or helped to construct,the Great Enclosure of Zimbabwe (Du Preez 2004, 157). There is some evidence of an ancient connection between the Lemba and ancient Zimbabwe. Sculptures of circumcised male organs were found at Great Zimbabwe.The Lemba bury their dead in an extended position, which is found in certain Zimbabwean graves; gold jewelry in these graves confirmed an association with the Lemba. The old Lemba language was a dialect of Karanga, which is spoken today in the Masvingo area of Zimbabwe.There is a tradition of glass bead making amongst the Lemba. The glass beads of the Lemba are treasured throughout Africa as amulets, and were also used as a primitive monetary system. Glass beadswere amongst one of trade goods of ancient Zimbabwe. There aresignificant historical references that suggest an ancient metallurgical tradition amongst the Lemba (Hammond-Tooke 1974, 114; Herbert 1984, 27; Le Roux 1999, 40, 106; Ehret 2001, 203; Mwakikagile 2008, 179). 20 The neighboringBaVendatribe claims that when they first crossed the Limpopo River, about two hundred years ago, the Lemba were already mining copper and had a monopoly on gold smithing in the region. They say that the Lemba taught them the art of metallurgy. Although they were a very secretive people, the Lemba eventually agreed to part with their secret knowledge (Mullan 1969, 68).21The Lemba have a rich musical tradition, and associate metal smithing with musical production (Parfitt, 2000, 201). 22 In the mid-1990s, Spurdle and Jenkins conducted DNA testing to determine whether the Lemba had genetic markers that were of non-African origin. Such markers were found, and indicated a Semitic contribution. Mark Thomas conducted a test analyzing 399 Y-chromosomes for 6 microsatellites and 6 biallelic markers in 6 populations including the Lemba, Bantu, Ashkenazi and Sephardi Jews. The study discovered that the Lemba Y chromosomes were divided into Semitic and Bantu clades; the Buba clan, who act as the priests in the community, carried the Cohen Modal Haplotype at a frequency higher than any other Jewish group tested, including the Ashkenazi (Thomas 2000 vol. 66, 674-686). The Lemba oral tradition is supported by the scientific findings of these two tests. It seems that Bantu and Jewish communities formed the founding group for some of the Lemba clans (Thomas 2000 vol. 66, 685).Among Jews, the marker isthe most prevalent in the Cohenim(preists)(Frankental, Sichone 2005, 275).As recounted in Lemba oral tradition, the Bubaclan werethe priests of the community, and lead the Lemba out of Israel into southern Africa (Wahram 2002, 150).Studies have also suggested that there is no Semitic female contribution to the Lemba gene pool (Thomas 2000 vol. 66, 674-686). The Zimbabwean Shona are a Bantu people, and the
20

They also grew and wove cotton. This is interesting, as some of the earliest finds in Ethiopia contain Yemenite strains of cotton for weaving (Ehret 2001, 203). 21 Recall that one of the names previously used for Beta Israel is Tebiban(possessor of secret knowledge). 22 The connection between music and the metal smith can be found in many of the African tribes (1Enoch 8:1-2).

genetic connection between the Lemba and Bantu females supports an argument that an ancient Jewish element became absorbed into the Zimbabwean-Bantu community. DNA evidence has shown no differentiation between Beta Israel and that of other indigenous Ethiopians. If Beta Israel have ancient Jewish origins, should we expect to find genetic differences?The Cohenim haplotype that is often, though not always, found in ethnically Jewish communities is located on the Y-chromosome. A relatively small, isolated Jewish community such as the Lemba, who practice patrilineal decent, are able to ensure the transmission of this haplotype . A small matrilineal community that experiences an influx of converts is likely to present DNA indistinguishable from the surrounding peoples; in the history of Beta Israel they are recorded to have absorbed a large number of indigenous Agaw converts. Similar issues arise with any small groups of people practicing matrilineal descent. Interestingly, the majority of Ashkenazi European Jews are genetically indistinguishable from the indigenous peoples; the same is true for the Sephardim.23Genetic evidence does support that a small segment of Beta IsraelDNA is comprised by a Southern Arabian element(Ehret 2001, 210). The oral tradition of the Lemba has been found to be consistent with archaeological, philological and scientific research. This would put them in direct proximity with Beta Israel, a group with which they claim a common ancestry. I believe that the evidence supports a historical connection between the two groups(Parfitt 2000;Parfitt 2008; Van Warmelo 1940, 8, 63-64; Bloomhill 1963, 34). SURVEY OF AFRICAN METAL SMITHING TRADITION I will employ ethnographic observations of African metallurgical tradition to show a significant diachronic and trans-cultural continuity. The attitude toward metallurgy displayed in BW could suggest that the ancient Jewish conception of metallurgy was of the same type as is found in some of the African tribes.24 I will be considering these traditions in relation to Beta Israel and the Lemba specifically, as they have a strong claim to Jewish ancestry. WEST AFRICA

23

G. Cochran used 251 autosomal loci to calculate genetic distances and found that "from the perspective of a large collection of largely neutral genetic variation Ashkenazim are essentially European, not Middle Eastern." AvshalomZoossmann-Diskin .aim[ed] to establish the likely origin of EEJ (Eastern European Jews, Askenazim) by genetic distance analysis of autosomal markers and haplogroups on the X and Y chromosomes and mtDNA. He concluded that, EEJ are Europeans probably of Roman descent who converted to Judaism at a time when Judaism was the first monotheistic religion that spread in the ancient world. Any other theory about their origin is not supported by the geneti data.(Cochran c 2006 vol. 38, 659-93; Zoossmann-Diskin 2010 vol. 57, 1-12)
24

Most traditional African religions have, for most of their existence, been orally rather than scripturally transmitted, this gives rise to variation diachronically and transculturally.

Cultures in West Africa are typically agrarian. There is often a centralized kingship, strong secret societies and artisan guilds.25 Benin and the Ile-Ife cultures of Nigeria originated from this area.26 This region is also the territory of the Proto-Bantu (Fyle 1999, 10).Ironsmiths in West African agrarian societies are often regarded as priests and are revered, though separated from the community.27 Consequently, they tend to have endogamous familial structures and cultivateinherited trade secrets (Todd 1985, 88-101; Coy 1982; David 1991; McNutt 1999, 47).They surround themselves with secrecy and usually have some belief that sexual practices will compromise the work of the furnace, as the smith will be drained of the sexual energy needed for successful smelting.In some parts of Africa, smiths are religious leaders and authorities(Herbert 1993, 35; McNutt 1999, 47). Smithing is a sacred process that is embedded in core cosmological mythology. Archeologists estimate iron working to have reached the west at around 500B.C.E. 28 It is plausible that the cosmological traditions of the diffusing culture influenced certain aspects of West Africanreligious practice.In a number of the West African examples, it is an agent of the creator god, a trickster or the first culture bringer who teaches humanity the art of metallurgy(Mukhta r, Muhammad 1992, 389). THE DOGON The smith is revered in the Dogon society. They believe the first smith to have been created from the umbilical chord of the great Nommo. The Nummo, or Nommo plural, are twin deities that helped to create the first eight ancestors of humanity.29Typically the first human smith is regarded as either one of the first eight ancestors from Nummo, or one who descended from the sky with Nummo in an ark. The smith in Dogon society is considered a master of knowledge, as he knows how to take minerals from the soil and transform them into metal. Because of this special knowledge he carried out the rights of circumcision on the first ancestors,to ready them for marriage and teaching (McNutt 1999, 51).In practice, the Dogon understand
25

26

A paradigmatic example of this is the city of Jenne, 300B.C.E (Ehret 2001, 228). Archeologists have reported that the artistic similarities between the art works of Benin and the Ile-Ife are due to them both having a cultural dependence of the ancient city of Nok (alDi n; Jama l 1992, 334). Among Benin's greatest rulers was Ewuare, took the throne in 1440 (Asante 2007, 168). He was remembered as a powerful magician (Iron-Smith?) and healer. 27 The Lemba claim to be descended from Israelite priests from Senna. 28 There is much scholarly debate regarding diffusionistvs indigenous invention of iron technology; most scholars posit a date no later than 500B.C.E. Although it is beyond the scope of this essay to consider the arguments in detail, the following scholars present a comprehensive survey of the issue: Shillington 1989, 45-47; Newman 1995, 108; Fageand Tordoff 2002, 18-19. The following scholars support a diffusionist approach: Shaw 1995, 325; Ehret 2001, 225; Mcnutt 1999. 29 Without counting Adam and Noah, the ante-deluvian patriarchs are eight. The Enoch tradition surrounding the patriarchal genealogy relies on Genesis 5:21-24, where Enoch is the seventh patriarch. The Sumerian King List is thought to be a possible source of Genesis 5, it too does not count the first man or the flood hero in its genealogy, and so records eight figures. The kings on the list live extraordinarily long lives, and in some versions, the seventh on the list is a figure similar to Enoch, Enmeduranki, who ruled Sippar, the city of the son god. Enochs age being 365 years can be interpreted as an illusion to this. Both Enoch and Enmeduranki are brought up to the heavens and receive secret wisdom. (McGinn, Collins and Stien 2003, 14).

the smiths special powers to be due to his twin like status with the spirits; this also results in him being diminished in certain respects. The Dogon are agrarian, and the smiths are excluded from agriculture work and owning land, but play a vital role in production of the farming equipment (McNaughton 1988, 3, 15). They are mostly endogamous and live apart from the villages, or in a separate part of the community (Cooper 1987, 217). THE BAMBARA The Bambara are a Mande people in upper Nigeria. They share a common history with the Dogon people and have many similar cultural elements regarding metallurgy (Conrad 1995, 48; McNaughton 1979 vol. 12, 65-71, 92). According to Bambara tradition the smiths have occupied their specific role from at least as early as the 12th century (McNutt 1999, 54). The Bambara smiths consider themselves to be a separate nation. 30 Smiths often hold important leadership positions, though they are banned from direct political leadership, instead holding only advisory roles (McNutt 1999, 56). As well as iron smithing they are considered as sculptors, doctors and diviners. 31They are considered to possessDaliluw (secret knowledge) about the use and nature of Nyama (divine spirit). The Mande people believe that the difficult job of the smith is alleviated through musically rhythmic patterns. Their secret knowledge also extends to knowledge of the sky and they are thought to be able to summon rain.32The most important religious society of the Bambara is the Komo. The Komo society in each villiage is made up of circumcised males, both living and dead. Traditionally it is theironsmith who is the head of the society (Wilson 1984, 59). THE YORUBU Before Britishcolonization, the Yoruba were famed for their artisans, especially their ironwork (McNutt 1999, 60).Nigerian scholar, ModupeOduyoye, presents an interesting synthesis of West African tradition and the Genesis story of Cain and Able. Using a form-critical approach, he classifies the narrative of Genesis 1-11 as a foundation myth of civilization (Oduyoye 1984, 20). Employing an extensive use of linguistics, especially cognates to the Hebrew language, found within the Hamitic African languages, he establishes a link between African cultural tradition and the Biblical stories(West 2000, 252). The Cain and Abel narrative symbolizes the conflict between settled civilization and pastoral nomadism. In Yoruba culture, Ogun is the patron saint of both agriculture

30

This is also true of the Tuareg and the smiths of the Igbo of southeastern Nigeria. They believe themselves to be descended from Eri, a man sent by the grea god from the sky t (McNutt 1999, 65). 31 This role is also held by Lemba smiths, who have historically been revered for their medical knowledge; the Gurage smiths, and Beta Israel are similarly well known for their medicines and amulets (McNutt, 1999, 78). 32 Ethiopian tradition regards Beta Israel priests as having control over the rain, and it is commonly held that it only the prayers of the Jews can induce rainfall (Salamon 1999, 60-62).

and iron working. 33 Oduyoye believes the character of Ogun to be related to the Hebrew for Qayin. Cains descendent, Tubal-Cain (Genesis 4:22), is the Bibles first ironsmith. Nigerian mythology attributes the discovery of metallurgy to Kuno. Genesis 4:17 tells of Cain founding the first city, which he named after his son, Hanok.34Odyuyoye concludes that the correct interpretation of the Cain narrative is that through the use of iron technology, the building of cities is made possible, thus showing the victory of the agrarian community over pastoral nomadism (Oduyoye1984, 78). Regardless of whether oneaccepts all ofOduyoyes interpretations, the similarities between the Yorubas belief surrounding ironwork, and the narratives in the biblical tradition are evident. EAST AFRICA AND THE AFRICAN HORN Whilst West African tradition reveres the smith largely due to the role they play in creation mythology, the traditions in eastern Africa focuses more on the socioeconomic status of the smith (McNutt1999, 70). This may be due to the long history of Judeo-Christian religions in the area. As these religions already have a rigid cosmological narrative, there is no room for a developed mythology regarding the smith outside of traditional scripture. 35 Similarly to the west, smiths are always perceived in a way that sets them apart from the community and makes them a marginal group (Bisson et al 2000, 179, 187).In West Africa the smith is feared yet respected, whilst East Africa is unanimous is an attitude of loathing towards the metal smith (McNutt 1999, 70).Iron working reached east Africa significantly earlier than in the west (McNutt 1999, 71). There is linguistic evidence suggesting that early Bantu people acquired iron smithing from Central Sudanic (Chifumbaze) speakers(Schmidt 1997, 15). Central Sudanic peoples are known to have inhabited the western Great Lakes region in the first millennium B.C.E(Ehret 2001, 70). Archeo-metallurgical evidence dating from around the 10th century B.C.E has been found in Yemen, near the ancient capital of Saba(Levine 2000, 28, 31-32; alDi n1992, 389).The oldest datable iron artifacts in Ethiopia were found at Yeha, where Semitic-speaking colonists from Saba settled between the 8th and 5th century B.C.E.(Phillipson 1998, 42-45). Words used for iron on the Ethiopian Plateau derive from the Semitic roots bir or bar, even in Cushitic languages(Shaw 1995,

33

The patron saints in West African culture are akin to a revered ancestor (Oduyoye 1984, 19). 34 The earliest civilization in West Africa was Nok, which means to start; in Igbo neke means creator and in Hebrew nkh is to be in front. Di nMukhta r suggests that Nok developed due to an immigrant group of fully iron working peoples moving into the Diama territory (Ehret, 2001, 234). This could be evidence of east African migration. The migratory pattern of the pastoral Tuareg is of a similar route. 35 Ehret postulates that when the Bantu spread their farming technologies, those who absorbed their agrarian practices, often took on more of the cultural traditions of the Bantu. Those who were mainly pastoral did not absorb the immigrant culture to as great an extent. This may account for the disparity in the conception of metallurgy (Ehret 2001, 281).

353). 36 Historically, vast empires with a high degree of industrial specialization dominated East Africa. 37 Herbert S. Lewis commented that almost every Ethiopian Cushitic- or Semitic-speaking society of which cultural practices are documented, contains evidence of at least one group of endogamous occupational specialists (Todd 1997, 76; Haaland 1985, 402). THE OROMO The Oromo, who are indigenous Ethiopians, have a culture very similar to that of Beta Israel. The artisan caste is not allowed to own land, intermarry, share food, or play a part in clan law. ShagerdiBukko, an expert in Oromo ritual, claims that the reason for the exclusion of the artisans is due to the observance of the cosmic order. The Gada-ritual renews the covenant with the spirits; artisans are not allowed to participate. Metal smiths beat iron, if they were to beat the law, everybody would beat each other; the weavers are always moving their hands, if they were to participate, every one would become confused; the tanners scrape skins, their participation would cause the entire clan to get skin disease (ShagerdiBukko cited in Bartels 1893, 188). If we compare this to Enoch, the Watchers disrupted the cosmic order by rebelling against G-d and producing the Nephilim. Similarly, if the artisans were to disrupt the cosmic order by participating in clan ritual, the whole clan would suffer the disastrous consequences. The Oromo oral tradition as to where the Tumtu (blacksmiths) originated, maybe representative of how the early Jewish metal smiths were perceived by indigenous Africans: It [the knowledge of metallurgy] happened already before we crossed the river Ghibie. Our people were very dependent on the blacksmiths.They looked down on us and.They even refused to marry us: they only married their likesthe leaders of our people convoked a great meeting. Those blacksmiths ought to be made dependent on us.we must prevent them to unite themselves against us. So let us make a law that on the land of every clan there must be only a few Tumtu. We also made many other laws to prevent the blacksmith from dominating us (QajelaMagarsa cited in Bartels 1983, 193) THE MASAI The Masai are a pastoral people of southern Kenya and northern Tanzania. They are a paradigmatic example of a society who despises the smithing cast (Herbert 1993, 27; Cline 1937, 114). The Il-Kunoare the smiths of the Masai and are an example of an extremely marginalized social group. Although they speak Masai, they have also developed their own language and are thought to be a different race.38 Contact with a
This suggests that the introducer of the technology was of Semitic origin. The Hebrew for iron is Barzel, this is thought to have come from the Akkadian, Parzel. Recall that the similarities between Enoch and theMesopotamian narratives. 37 The exception to this is the Somali and Galla, who originated on a smaller scale (McNutt 1999, 76). 38 Similar to the Tuareg, Lemba, Bambara and Dogon smiths.
36

smith is consideredas contaminating and the term Il-Kunois used as an insult amongst the Masai.39 Smiths are not allowed to carry weapons into combat, or acquire cattle wealth.40The reason given by the Masai for this low status is that the smiths produce weapons of war that lead to blood shed, and their god abhors the shedding of blood (McNutt 1999, 74; Bisson, Vogel 2000, 179). Iron is almost irrelevant to pastoral communities, except as a material for weaponry(Roberts, Fage and Oliver 1986, 360). This is similar to Enochic tradition regarding the art of metallurgy resulting in bloodshed. 41 THE KALEJIN Michael Coynotes that, whilst the smiths of the Kalejin suffer the same discrimination as in other northeastern areas, there is evidence that they encourage theirmarginal status (Coy 1982, 110-113).The smiths engage in efforts to increase the level of mysticism and supernatural aura surrounding their work, in order to guard trade secrets and ensure a monopoly (McNutt 1999, 81; McNaughton 1979, 3,15).42 Some African groups, including the Lemba, have a strong identification with a definitively Jewish origin. The Jews of Rusape, Zimbabwe, claim ancient Hebrew tribal connections; they claim that many black Africans, especially the Bantu peoples, are actually of ancient Israelite origin (Parfitt and Semi 2002, 51). The following groups are tribes who self identify as being of a common ancient Jewish origin. THE TUAREG The TuaregBerber tribes are fully nomadic, and dominated trade routes across the Sahara and down the West African coast. In the 13th century IbnKhaldun, a respected historian of the Berber tribes, refers to a Jewish affiliation by the Tuaregs, used to facilitate trade beyond the Sahara (Lichtblau cited in Primack 1998, 8-13).Some JudaizedTuareg groups continued to practice their traditions until the 18th century, despite heavy Islamic and Christian pressures(Lichtblau cited in Primack 1998, 11; Williams 1930, 167). Interestingly, the Tuareg claim to have originated in Senaa, and Judaized communities around them also claimed to originate from the Arabian Peninsula(VanSertima 1993, 40; Williams 2003, 218). There are many cultural similarities between the Tuaregs and the CushticBedjapeople, this has lead to scholars suggesting a common ancestry with East
39

In the history of Ethiopia, the world ayhud was used with pejorative connotations. If we consider the Masai as a model, it seems plausible that dissenting Christians were called by the name of ayhud because it was used to refer to an already established marginalized group, rather than it originating to uniquely refer to these specific dissidents. 40 Again, using the model of the Masai on Beta Israel, the land disenfranchisement might well have been applied to political dissidents, but may have been applied to Beta Israel for similar reasons as in the Masai and Oromo culture. The fear of the power of the metal smith prompts communities in eastern Africa to subjugate and limit them, by making them dependent on the wider community. 41 (1Enoch 7:5, 9:1, 9:9) 42 This may be similar to the oral tradition of Beta Israel, in which their leaders made a decided shift to encourage stricter purity ritual. The Lemba are also known for their secrecy, as well as for forming strong trading monopolies(Ehret 2001, 229).

Africans. The traditional style of hair for Tuareg women is the same as is found in the Cushitic speaking people of Ethiopia, and also amongst many traditional Yemini women(VanSertima1993, 120).the Berbers are said to have been at one time Jews, or at least a Semitic tribe that invaded Africa from the East fully a thousand years before the Christian era (Casserly 230). The FulanisTuareg of Takur were called the Beni of Jeddala (sons of Judah) in the annals of the MaurentanianAdrar(VanSertima 1993, 120). JEdmond D. Morel noted that their own legend; their complexion and structure.all point emphatically to the east, Josephus, who lived contemporaneously to the writing of the annals said that they were the same as the Evalioi of Cush, or the ancient peoples of Hevila, located in present day Somali. Somalia is proximal to the Beta Israelterritory, and the possible taxonomic link would suggest a common Semitic ancestor. When the Fulani were first encountered by Europeans, they spoke a language in addition to that of their terrestrial neighbors. This second language was different enough for the explorers to speculate it was more related to a foreign language than to African(VanSertima 1993, 121).

SENEGAL There are records of a small Senegalese Judaic kingdoms and tribal groups known as the Beni Israel.43 They were part of the Wolof and Mandige communities of Senegal until forced to convert to Islam in the 18th century(Williams 2003, 255). The sophisticated jewelry produced by Beni Israel artisans bear a strikingresemblance to Yemenite artifacts.It is likely thatmetallurgywas transmitted, along with the knowledge of Judaism, to the south and west by artisan-traders from Ethiopia(Lichtblau cited in Primack 1998, 10-11; Williams 2003, 248). The Judaic influence here is thought to have a possible relationship with the Jews of In Salah, According to tradition, In Salah was founded by a Jewish colony that had migrated after the destruction of the temple at Jerusalem, (Le More 1913, 34). NIGERIA Mr. Lichtblau came upon references to glassmakers in Niger who claimedto have originated in Hebron. 44 Manfred Korfman, observed that the workers of a traditional Hebron glass factory, "produce their bracelets in the same fashion as the people of Bida" (Gardi 1970, 93). M. P Standinger notes a conformity between ancient manufactured glass in Palestine with certain glass objects still made in Nupe.where this industry has been carried on, as tradition declares by Jewish colonies, (Standinger cited in Williams 1930, 107). Bida is the capital of the old kingdom of Nupe. Until recently, the glassmakers lived together in a strict guild of about twelve
43

Lichtblau, a former U. S. State Department representative in Africa states that: "[Jews] are said to have formed the roots of a powerful craft tradition among the still-renowned Senegalese goldsmiths, jewelers and other metal artisans. The name of an old Senegalese province called "Judddala," is said to attest to the notable impact Jews made in this part of the world (Lichtblau cited in Primack 1998, 8-13). 44 Such craftsmen were found by Rene Gardi.

families. The chief was named Daniyalu.45 They claimed to come from the east and to not be Nupe. They migrated via the Bornuland in Chad and Kano, before settling down with the Nupe in Bida. The glassmakers are regarded as strangers among the people of Nupe.They trace their origin to Tsoede who fled the court of Idah and established a group of villages along the River Niger in the 15th century. A particularly interesting oral tradition is that of their origins: At the time of Tsoede's birth, Nupe had not been unified under a central government. Tsoede's homeland Bini was a confederacy of towns. The leading Bini town was Nku, at the confluence of the Kaduna and Niger rivers. The Binis as well as some other Nupe were subordinate to the Attah (King) of Igala. This subordination was expressed through an annual payment of one male from every Nupetribes. These males, who became slaves, were always the sons of the sister of the chief. 46 The son of the Attah came to Nupe on a hunting expedition and while there he had relations with the daughter of the chief of Nku and left her pregnant. When he returned and became king of Idah, he left her a ring and a charm to give to his son. When the Nku chief was succeeded by his son, he sent the son of his sister, Tsoede, to Idah in accordance with the tribute arrangements. At Idah, Tsoede was recognized and treated the Attahsuccessfully by securing medicine for him, which none of the other sons manage. When his father was about to die, Tsoede fled, fearing the animosity of the Attah's other sons. Hetook with him material goods both magical and symbolic, as well as new manufacturing techniques. Eluding his pursuing rivals, Tsoede returned to Nupe. He appointed his canoe men to the chief ships of a number of Bini villages and proceeded to conquer the neighboring peoples (Hodgkin 1960, 81-83; Davidson, Francis 1978, 133; Crowder 1962, 52). This bears a striking resemblance to the Solomon-Sheba cycle in the KebraNegast, especially if we consider that with the Jewish culture brought by Menalik, knowledge of metal smithing would have been transmitted. The glass smithing of the Bida has been noted to resemble that of the Lemba, Yoruba and Beta Israel. "Most of these communities disappeared," notes G.E Lichtblau. "Having existed largely in isolation there was a good deal of intermarriage which for a while reinforced their influence.... As a result they were increasingly viewed as a threat by Muslim rulers... [they] were either forced to convert to Islam or were massacred, with those remaining fleeing to North Africa, Egypt or the Sudan and a few also to Cameroon and even southern Africa (Lichtblau cited in Primack 1998, 8-13).47

45

Note that the name maybe a combination of Daniel and Yahu, transcribed into Yalu. Earlier in the paper I mentioned that this method of heredity was one of the generalities of the Bantu culture. 47 Ehert highlights the unusual decrease in the observation of age-set and circumcision rituals in the Sudanese and Cushitic areas around the turn of the last millennium B.C.E. This may be due to rulers of emerging proto-states reacting to the lack of cooperation of the religious authorities that legitimate these rights. It is the metal smithing clan that traditionally presides over circumcision. It is possible that, similar to the reaction of the Muslim rulers, Ethiopian kings Zara Yakob (1434-1468), turned on Beta Israel, as they were metal smiths.
46

It is clear that Judaic influences had a far-reaching effect on the African continent (Hull 2009, 189; Williams 1930, 350). I will now examine the traditional ancient Jewish conceptionof metallurgy, as expressed in the writings of the Old Testament era. I believe that similarities between the ancient Israelite, African and European metallurgical traditions suggest a common cultural origin. JEWISH SMITHS IN ANCIENT PALESTINE, ITALY AND ARABIA The ancient Israelites had a rich metallurgical tradition (Kurinsky 1994, 207-220).In the Book of Nehemiah we have a reference to Harhaiah, goldsmiths, and thereafter to Malchijah, "one of the goldsmiths" (Nehemiah 2:8, 2:31. I Chronicles 22:2,3. I Chronicles 22:14-16). The importance of the metallurgical arts is reflected in the action of Nebuchadnezzer after defeating Judah in 597 B.C.E. The Babylonian king deported to Babylon "all the craftsmen and smiths"(II Kings 24 12-14). The smiths involved in the Bar Khochba uprising were sent to Spain, Sardinia, and Sicily.48 Jewish smiths largely occupied the Trastevere. Pope Benedictus VIII referred to the area as fundumintegrum, qui vocaturJudaeorum (Philipson 1943, 122). Jewish artisans who settled in Alexandria under the Ptolemaic Greeks in 323-31 B.C.E, continued to practice metallurgy under the Roman rule(Barclay 1996, 21-15). They were organized into guilds with separate sections in the synagogue of Alexandria.49Vitric work, for melting quartzite materials into glass, requires the use of a pneumatically drafted,reverberatory furnace(Singh1989, 174). There is evidence of such technology existing in ancientPalestine, possibly predating its inception by the Egyptians. 50 The European Diaspora Jewish glass making tradition is reflected in some long lasting surnames: Glass, Glasser, Glassman.51 SOUTHERN ARABIA Jewish artisans were virtually the exclusive workers of precious metals throughout the

48

"Nearly all the artisans in the realm are Jews. In case all of them are expelled at once, we shall lack craftsmen capable of supplying mechanical utensils, especially those made of iron, as horseshoes, agricultural implements, and equipment for ships, galleys, and other conveyances "(Abrahams 1911, 228). 49 Rabbi Juda, reported of Alexandria as follows: "Whoever has not seen the Double Stoa of Alexandria, has not seen the glory of Israel...And they were seated there not in mixed order, but goldsmiths apart, silversmiths apart, blacksmiths apart, coppersmiths apart, and weavers apart. So that when a poor [artisan] entered there, he recognized the members of his own craft and turned to them to find means for the maintenance of himself and his family." Babylonian Talmud, Sukkah 51b. 50 The Amarna Tablets date between 1350 1330 B.C.E. They are a diplomatic correspondence concerning the request of tributes from vassal princes in Syro-Palestine to the Egyptian King, the most asked for item is glass. Glass making furnaces have been uncovered in Israel at Bet Eliezer and Apolonia (Gorin-Rosen 2000 vol. 33, 49-63). 51 It was customary to adopt a trade-reflecting surname. Names such as Gold, Goldsmith, Goldberg, Goldstein, Goldman,Silver, Silverstein and Silversmith, are a testament to the role Jewish smiths played in these trades for centuries.

history of their habitation of Yemen. 52 In 1679, the Jews of San'a and of central Yemen in general were expelled from the country. They were soon recalled because they were indispensable as artisans and craftsmen (Goitein 1974, 74).The artisans here were referred to as peddlers, or traders, but they produced goods during most of the year, peddling their wares around the country during the off-season. Archeological finds support this type of partial nomadism in ancient Israel. Deir Alla in Transjordan, is an 11th century B.C.E industrial area containing many furnaces, slag and evidence of metallurgical activity (Dorneman 1983, 39; McNutt 1990, 207). Though a shrine was discovered at the site, there was an absence of ordinary housing, or boarder defense mechanisms. H.J Franken suggests that the site was utilized for generations by semi-nomadic smiths on a seasonal basis (Franken 1969, 6, 26, 45). Metallurgical work has also been discovered at Timna, Tel Miqne and Taanach, all of which had strong religious connotations. The archeological sites resemble the traditional habitsof the African smiths.This evidence supports an argument suggesting a connection between ancient Israeliteconceptions of metallurgy, and the practices found on the African continent (Anderson 1987, 22). SUMMARY Archeology and oral tradition support a migration of the Lemba before the first century C.E. (Shaw 1995, 389; Ehret 2001, 289). They are occupational smithing specialists who exhibit similar characteristics of separation as found in North African smithing clans (Feierman and Janzen 1992, 206; Hammond-Tooke 1974, 81; Magubane 1998, 82).53 Their oral tradition claims that their ancestors were Israelite traders in search of gold and that they travelled through North Africa (Le Roux 2001, 105). They claim that the city from which they originate was called Senna(Yemen).54Throughout their documented history, they have been respected for their excellent metallurgical, medical and ritualistic knowledge(Parfitt 2000, 69).Their language and migratory history connects them to the spread of the Bantu speaking people, who are attributed with the diffusion of smithing technology insub-Saharan Africa (Magubane 1998, 82). Historians assert that the Bantu assimilated with agriculturalists in eastern Africa, placing them in close territorial proximity withEthiopia (Gann and Duignan 1972, 177; Fage et al. 1975, 374). 55 Most importantly, their claim of direct Jewish Israelite descent is firmly corroborated by genetic evidence (Shimoni 2003, 179; Thomas 2000 vol. 66, 685). The evidence presented in this dissertation suggests thatthe early Hebraic presence in Ethiopia had knowledge of metallurgy, at a point predating the Christian conversion. If the traditional African models of inherited endogamous artisan clans are
52

" They [Jews] also engaged in commerce, and as jewelers and goldsmiths they were in great demand. They formed compact communities, enlarged by accessions from among the natives, who were attracted to Judaism" (Margolis and Marx 1927, 24). 53 It is important to note that their historical experiences are in line with the western Nigerian tradition of reverence and fear, rather than being despised. This is to be expected, as they were absorbed by the West African Bantu (Herbert 1993, 255). 54 Beta Israel have an oral tradition claiming to have come from Israel through Sennar, to Ethiopia (Parfitt 2009, 197). 55 Ehret mentions the assimilation of southern Cushitic groups into the Kaskazi (in South Africa) Bantu-group (Shaw 1995,390; Ehret, 2005, 248-9).

representative of the earlyEthiopian group, it is probable that the knowledge of metallurgy documented around the 15th century was passed down through generations. Considering the influence that the Semitic language has had on the vocabulary of the surrounding region, it seems likely that the metallurgical traditions were also greatly influenced by an early Semiticgroup (Hull 2009, 186). This would refute Kaplan, Shelemay and Quirin, who posit a metallurgical tradition no earlier than the 15thcentury for Beta Israel, as by this time the traditions of the Lemba and the surrounding people were already established (Ehret 2005, 276). Whilst one could argue that these traditions already existed in Africa before their inception by Beta Israel, the migratory time line of the Lemba, archeological and linguistic evidence supports a conclusion that an early Judeo-Semitic group with metallurgical knowledge was presence in Ethiopia in the later part of the first millennium B.C.E. In certain African modelssmiths holdpositions of religious authority. The early history of Ethiopia is fraught with wars waged by the Christian kings to quell politicaldissidents(McKenna 2010, 124). This could be partially due to the religious authority of a Jewishpriestly-smithing clan in ancient Ethiopia.Though the ayhudwere not always a military threat, they were a significant ideological one. The vast majority of documented Ethiopian history is of Christian origin. For this reason, textually based researched will present highly Christianized results. The evidence I have presented supports the possibility of Judaicmetal smithing clans having significant religious authority (Williams 1930), 165. It is plausible that the religious authority of these revered smiths exerted a significant influence on the expression of early church practice. I presented examples of African smiths who encourage the levels of mysticism and marginality surrounding their trades. Such a group would find the BW traditionsparticularly relevant, and would endeavor to propagate its theological significance. In the surviving literature, all that is preserved is a one-way dependency. I propose that a more symbiotic conception of the relationship between the Jewish and Christian groups should be considered.Similarly to Kaplan, Shemelay and Quirin, I agree thatin the 15th century a huge upheaval in the religious traditions of Beta Israel began, largely due to the conversion of Abba Sabra. It may have been at this point that the first modern contact with the textual forms of their oral tradition came about, the final form of which were largely influenced by the Ethiopic Christian church. Whilst I appreciate that parts of my argument are speculative, the conclusions inferred are built on substantial evidence. My argument accounts for the retention of Enoch, and consequently Jubilees, 56 the Semitic influence on Ethiopia and parts of the African culture, the size and genetic make up of Beta Israel and theirhistory metal smithing. The faults with Kaplan, Shelemay and Quirins theories of origin, lies in theirisolated fields of approach. The ancient history of Ethiopia was heavily influenced by significant trade routes, both trans and internationally (Jolly 1997, 161162). Just as ancient Israel was the gateway of Mesopotamia into Egypt and North Africa, Ethiopia was the gateway for Near Eastern trade into the Sub-Saharan territories.
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As Jubilees contains much of the same material as Enoch.

Further research aimed at clarificationof the mode of Judeo-Semitic diffusion and the Wirkungsgeschichteof the Enochic tradition across the African continent would be illuminating. Whilst this study has highlighted a high probability of cross-cultural transmission, it is beyond the scope of this essay to clarify the events and migratory pattern of each tribe and its specific relationship in regards to Judaic culture. The prevalence of Judaized tribes in Africa establishes a definite dispersal across the continent (Hull 2009, 11; Williams 1930, 350). It would be interesting to consider to what extant the African culture may have influenced ancient israelite tradition. The ancient African kingdoms were powerful and influential in the biblical period. It is highly probable that the African Kingdoms, not only Egyptian and Nubian, would have contributed to certain aspects of Judaic tradition. CONCLUSION This dissertation has presented evidence that is highly suggestive of Beta Israel being the descendants of an ancient community of Jews with a continued presence in Ethiopia; to claim that the Ultra-Orthodox Rabbinical tradition is more Jewishthan Beta Israel, or other forms of Judaism, cannot be justified biblically or historically. Zionism is a commitment to the Jewish people qua people. At its core lies the Law of Return, which determines that the State of Israel belongs to all Jews. It is therefor imperative that the chief Rabbinate does not serve as the arbiter of Jewishness, as they represent only one possible interpretation of the Jewish Identity.