South African Lemba have similar lineage to Jews

Posted on 22 August 2019 by admin

You have heard of the Black Ethiopian Jews, many now living in Israel, but do you know of the Lemba people of Zimbabwe, South Africa, Malawi and Mozambique?
The Lemba are estimated to number 50,000, resembling their neighbors, the Bantus, but have religious beliefs similar to Judaism and Islam.
After the destruction of the Temple, a group of Jews left Judea, settling in Yemen. When the economy failed in Yemen, Jews left for Africa, settling in both Tanzania and Ethiopia. Many in Ethiopia moved south into Zimbabwe.
They have certain dietary rules which closely resemble those of Judaism and Islam. Those Lemba who most resemble Jews also have close Christian beliefs.
Among the Lemba’s Jewish-like practices are:
• Observance of Shabbat
• Praise of a God who considers them the chosen people
• Teaching their children to honor their parents
• Avoiding pig and other certain foods
• Having ritual animal slaughter and preparation
• Practicing male circumcision
• Putting the Star of David on tombstones
• Marrying only other members of their group
Their oral tradition explains that the Lemba are descended from seven Jewish men who left Israel 2,500 years ago, marrying Lemba women.
Their language at prayer is a mixture of Hebrew and Arabic. They have a religious artifact which is a replica of the Biblical Ark of the Covenant. This ark was built almost 700 years ago from the remains of the original ark which had stored the Ten Commandments.
Members of the Lemba priesthood, known as the Buba, have a priestly line, known as Kohanim.
According to Professor Tudor Parfitt, of the University of London, “the Jewish priesthood continued in the West by people called Cohen the same way it was continued by the priestly clan of the Lemba.”
While the Lemba have not yet proven that they are one of the lost tribes of Israel, DNA evidence shows that the Lemba of South Africa share a common ancestor with the Jewish people.
Modern genetic science has shown similar genetic characteristics of Jews with the Lemba people.
Israeli’s right of return law, which guarantees citizenship for any Jew, may be difficult to apply to the Lembas. They establish identity paternally, while under Israeli law, identity is established maternally.
But the Lemba consider themselves part of our Jewish tradition. We should welcome them.

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