T H E E V I D E N C E S
THE AMERICAN INDIANS
BEING THE DESCENDANTS
LOST TRIBES OF ISRAEL
DELIVERED BEFORE THE
MERCANTILE LIBRARY ASSOCIATION,
B Y M. M. N O A H,
JAMES VAN NORDEN
No. 27 Pine-street.
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Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1837, by James Van Norden, in the Clerk’s Office of the District Court of the United States, for the Northern District of New-York.
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D I S C O U R S E.
THOSE who study the Scriptures, either as a matter of duty or pleasure — who seek in them divine revelation, or search for the records of history, cannot be ignorant of the fact that the Jewish nation, at an early period, was divided into twelve tribes, and occupied their ancient heritage under geographical Israel.
Their early history — the rise, progress and downfall of the nation — the proud distinction of being the chosen people — their laws, government and wars — their sovereigns, judges and temples — their sufferings, dispersions, and the various prophecies concerning this ancient and extraordinary people, cannot be unknown to you all. For their history is the foundation of religion, their vicissitudes the result of prophecy, their restoration the fulfilment of that great promise made to the Patriarch Abraham, almost I may say in the infancy of nature.
It is also known to you that the Jewish nation was finally overpowered, and nine and a half of the tribes were carried captives to Samaria; two and a half, to wit: Judah, Benjamin and half Menassah, remained in Judea or in the transjordani cities.
The question before us for consideration is, what has become of the missing or dispersed tribes — to what quarter of the world
– 4 –did they direct their footsteps, and what are the evidences of their existence at this day?
An earthquake may shake and overturn the foundations of a city — the avalanche may overturn the hamlet — and the crater of a volcano may pour its lava over fertile plains and populous villages, but a whole nation cannot vanish from the sight of the world, without leaving some traces of its existence, some marks of habits and customs.
It is a singular fact that history is exceedingly confused, or rather I may say dark, respecting the ultimate dispersion of the tribes among the cities of the Medes. The last notice we have of them id from the second Book of Esdras, which runs thus.
“Whereas thou sawest another peaceable multitude: these are the ten tribes which were carried away prisoners out of their own land in the time of Osea, whom Salmanzar King of Assyria led away captive, and he carried them over the waters, so they came unto another land.”
“They took this counsel among themselves that they would leave the multitude of the heathen, and go into a further country wherein never mankind dwelt, that they might there keep their statutes, which they never kept in their own land, (Assyria,) and there was a great way to go, namely a year and a half.”
Esdras, however, has been deemed apocryphal. Much has been said concerning the doubtful character of that writer. He wrote in the first century of the Christian church, and Tertulian, St. Ireneus, Clemens Alexandrius, Pico de Mirandola, and many learned and pious men, had great confidence in his writings. Part of them have been adopted by Protestants, and all considered orthodox by Catholics. With all his old Jewish attachments to the prophecies and traditions, Esdras was nevertheless a convert to Christianity. He was not an inspired writer or a prophet, although he assumed to be one, and
– 5 –followed the course as well as the manner of Daniel. The Book of Esdras, however, is of great antiquity, and as an historical record is doubtless entitled to great respect.
The precise number which left Babylon and other cities, and took to the desert, cannot be accurately known; but they were exceedingly numerous, for the edict of Ahasherus, which decreed their destruction, embraced 127 provinces, and reached from Ethiopia to the Indies. Benjamin Tudela, who travelled in the eleventh century through Persia, mentions that in some of the provinces at the time of that decree, the Jews occupied 40 cities, 200 boroughs, 400 castles, which contained 300,000 people. I incline to the opinion that 300,000 of the tribes left Persia.
There is no doubt that in the march from the Euphrates to the north-east coast of Asia, many of the tribes hesitated in pursuing the journey: some remained in Tartary, many went into China. Alvarez states in his History of China, that the Jews had been living in that kingdom for more than 600 years. He might with greater probability have said 1600 years. He speaks of their being very numerous in some of the provinces, and having synagogues in many of the great cities, especially in that of Hinan and its metropolis Kai-tong-fu, where he represents them to have a magnificent place of worship, and a repository for the Holy Volume, adorned with richly embroidered curtains, in which they preserve an ancient Hebrew manuscript roll.
They know but little of the Mosaic law, and only repeat the names of David, Abraham, Isaiah, and Jacob. In a Hebrew letter written by the Jews of Cochin China to their brethren at Amsterdam, they give as the date of their retiring into India, the period when the Romans conquered the Holy Land.
It is clearly evident, therefore, that the tribes, in their progress to a new and undiscovered country, left many of their numbers
– 6 –in China and Tartary, and finally reached the straits of Behring, where no difficulty prevented their crossing to the north-west coast of America, a distance less than thirty miles, interspersed with the Copper Islands, probably frozen over; and reaching our continent, spread themselves in the course of two thousand years to Cape Horn; the more hardy keeping to the north, to Labrador, Hudson’s Bay and Greenland, the more cultivated fixing their residence in the beautiful climate and rich possessions of Central America, Mexico and Peru.
But it may here be asked, could the scattered remnants of Israel have had the courage to penetrate through unknown regions, and encounter the hardships and privations of that inhospitable country? Could they have had the fortitude, the decision, the power, to venture on a dreary pilgrimage of eighteen months, the time mentioned by Esdras as the period of their journey? Could they not? What obstacles had hitherto impeded their progress, that had broken down their energies, or impaired their constancy and fidelity?
They knew that their brethren had severed the chains of Egyptian bondage; had crossed in safety the arm of the Red Sea; had sojourned for years in the wilderness; had encamped near Mount Sinai, and had possessed themselves of the Holy Land.
They remembered the kingdoms of Judah and Israel in all their glory; they had witnessed the erection and destruction of their Temple; they had fought and conquered with the Medes, the Assyrians, the Persians, the Greeks and the Romans. They had encountered sufferings upon sufferings unmoved; had bowed their necks submissively to the yoke.
Kings, conquerors, nations, Christians, Mahometans, and Heathens, all had united in the design of destroying the nation; but they never despaired; they knew they were the elect.
– 7 –and chosen of the Lord. The oath that he never would abandon his people had been fulfilled for 3500 years, and therefore, with the cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night, they abandoned the Heathens aud the Persian territory, passed the confines of Tarlary and China, and, no doubt through great sufferings, reached the north-eastern coast of Asia, and came in sight of that continent, wherein, as they had reason to believe, “mankind never before hath dwelt.”
On the discovery of America by Columbus, and the discoveries subsequent to his time, various tribes of Indians or savages were found to inhabit this our continent, whose origin was unknown.
It is, perhaps, difficult for the human mind to decide on the character and condition of an extreme savage state. We can readily believe that children abandoned in infancy in a savage country, and surviving this abandonment, to grow up in a state of nature, living on herbs and fruits, and sustaining existence as other wild animals, would be stupid, without language, without intellect, and with no greater instinct than that which governs the brute creation. We can conceive nothing reduced to a more savage condition; with cannibal propensities, an ungovernable ferocity, or a timid apprehension, there can be but a link that separates them from other classes of animal crention. So with herds of men in a savage state, like herds of buffalo or wild horses on our prairies, they are kept together by sounds common amongst themselves, and are utterly unacrquainted with the landmarks of civilization.
This, however, was not the condition of the American Indians when first discovered. They were a singular race of men, with enlarged views of life, religion, courage, constancy, humanity, policy, eloquence, love of their families; with a proud and gallant bearing, fierce in war, and, like the ancients, relentless
– 8 –in victory. Their hospitality might be quoted as examples among the most liberal of the present day. These were not wild men — these were a different class from those found on the Sandwich and Feegee Islands: The red men of America, bearing as they do the strongest marks of Asiatic origin, have for more than 2000 years and divided as they are in upwards of 1300 different nations, been remarkable for their intellectual superiority; their bravery in war, their good faith in peace, and all the simplicity and virtues of their patriarchal fathers, until civilization, as it is called, had rendered them familiar with all the vices which distinguish the present era, without being able to enforce any of the virtues which are the boast of our present enlightened times.
It is, however, in the religious belief and ceremonies of the Indians that I propose showing some of the evidences of their being, as it is believed, the descendants of the dispersed tribes. This opinion is founded —
1st. In their belief in one God.
2d. In the computation of time by their ceremonies of the new moon.
3d; In their divisions of the year in four seasons, answering to the Jewish festivals of the feast of flowers, the day of atonement, the feast of the tabernacle, and other religious holydays.
4th In the erection of a temple after the manner of our temple, and having an ark of the covenant, and also the erection of altars.
5th. By the division of the nation into tribes with a chief or grand sachem at their head
6th. By their laws of sacrifice, ablutions, marriages ceremonies in war and peace, the prohibitions of eating certain things, fully carrying out the Mosaic institutions; — by their
– 9 –traditions, history, character, appearance, affinity of their language to the Hebrew, and finally, by that everlasting covenant of heirship exhibited in a perpetual transmission of its seal in their flesh.
If I shall be able to satisfy your doubts and curiosity on these points, you will certainly rejoice with me in discovering that the dispersed of the chosen people are not the lost ones — that the promises held out to them have been thus far realised, and that all the prophecies relative to their future destination will in due time be strictly fulfilled.
It has been the general impression, as before mentioned, that great resemblance existed between some of the religious rites of the Jews, and the peculiar ceremonies of the Indians; and the belief in one great spirit has tended to strengthen the impression; yet this mere resemblance only extended so far as to admit of the belief, that they possibly may have descended from the dispersed tribes, or may have been of Tartar or Malay origin.
It was, however, argued and unsatisfactory suspicion, which, having no tangible evidence, has been rejected, or thrown aside as a mere supposition. All the missionaries and travellers among the Indian tribes since the discovery of America — Adair, Heckewelder, Charliveux, M’Kenzie, Bartram, Beltrami, Smith, Penn, Mrs. Simon, who has written a very interesting work on this subject, &c., have expressed opinions in favour of their being of Jewish origin — the difficulty, however, under which they all laboured was simply this; they were familiar with the religious rites, ceremonies, traditions and belief of the Indians, but they were not sufficiently conversant with the Jewish rites and ceremonies, to show the analogy. It is precisely this link in the chain of evidence that I propose to supply.
It has been said that the Indians believing in one great Spirit and Fountain of Life, like the Jews, does not prove their descent
– 10 –from the missing tribes, because in a savage state their very ignorance and superstition lead them to confide in the works of some divine superior being. But savages are apt to be idolaters, and personate the deity by some carved figure or image to whom they pay their adoration and not like the Indians, having a clear and definite idea of one great Ruler of the universe, one great Spirit, whose attributes are as well known to them as to us. But if the continued unerring worship of one God like the Jews prove nothing, where did they acquire the same Hebrew name and appellation of that deity? If tradition had not handed down to them the ineffable name as also preserved by the Jews, how did they acquire it in a wilderness where the word of the Lord was never known?
Adair, in whom I repose great confidence, and who resided forty years among them, in his work published in 1775, says, “The ancient heathens worshipped a plurality of gods, but these Indians say their devoir to Lo-ak (Light) Ish-ta-hoola-aba, distinctly Hebrew, which means the great supreme beneficent holy Spirit of Fire who resides above.
They are, says Adair, utter strangers to all the gestures practised by the pagans in their religious rites — they kiss no idols, nor would they kiss their hands in tokens of reverence or willing obedience.
These tribes, says Adair, so far from being Atheists, use the great and dreadful name of God which describes his divine essence, and by which he manifested himself to Moses! and are firmly persuaded that they now live under the immediate government of the Almighty Ruler. Their appellative for God is Isto-hoolo, the Hebrew of Esh-Eshys, from Ishto, Great, but they have another appellative, which with them as with us, is the mysterious essential name of God, which they never mention in common speech, and only when performing their most
– 11 –sacred religious rites, and then they most solemnly divide it in syllables, with intermediate words, so as not to pronounce the ineffable name at once.
Thus, in their sacred dances at their feast of the first fruits, they sing Aleluyah and Mesheha, from the Hebrew of Masheach, Messiah, the anointed one. Yo mesheha.” He meshesha,” “Wah meshehah,” this making the Aleluyah the Mesheha, the Yehovah.”
Can we, for a moment, believe that these sacred well known Hebrew words found their way by accident to the wilderness? Or can it be doubled that like the fire of the burning bush which never is extinguished, those words of religious adoration are the sacred relics of tradition, handed down to them from generation to generation? In the same manner, says Adair, they sing on certain other religious celebrations, ailyo ailyo, which is the Hebrew el for God by his attribute of omnipotence. They likewise sing hewah, hewah, He chyra, the “immortal soul.” Those words sung at their religious rejoicings are never uttered at any other time, which must have occasioned the loss of their divine hymns. They on some occasions sing Shilu yo — Shilu he –Shilu wah. The three terminations make up in their other the four lettered divine name in Hebrew. Shilu is evidently Shaleach, Shiloth, the messenger; “the peace maker.”
The number of Hebrew words used in their religious services is incredible; thus, in chiding any one for levity during a solemn worship they say, Che hakeet Kana, “you resemble those reproved in Canaan,” and to convey the idea of criminality, they say Hackset Canaha, “the sinners of Canaan.” They call lightning eloah, and the rumbling of thunder rowah, from the Hebrew ruach, “spirit.”
Like the Israelites they divide the year into four seasons, with the same festivals; they calculate by moons and celebrate
– 12 –as the Jews do the berachah halebana, the blessing for the new moon.
The Indians have their prophets and high priests, the same as the Jews had; not hastily selected; but chosen with caution from the most wise and discreet, and they ordain their high priests by anointing, and have a most holy place in their sanctuaries, like the Holy of Holies in the Temple. The Archimagus or High Priest, wears, in resemblance to the ancient breastplate, a white conch-shell ornamented so as to resemble the precious stones on the Urim, and instead of the golden plate worn by the Levite on his forehead, bearing the inscription Kodish Ladonaye, the Indian binds his brows with a wreath of swan’s feathers, and wears a tuft of white feathers which he calls Yatira.
The Indians have their ark which they invariably carry with them to battle well guarded. In speaking of the Indian places of refuge, Adair says, “I observed that if a captive taken by the reputed power of the holy things of their ark, should be able to make his escape into one of these towns, or even into the winter house of the Archimagus, he is delivered from the fiery torture, otherwise inevitable. This, when taken in connection with the many other faint images of Mosaic customs, seems to point at the mercy-seat of the sanctuary. It is also worthy of notice, that they never place the ark on the ground. On hilly ground where large stones are plenty, they rest it thereon, but on level prairies, upon short logs, where they also seat themselves. And when we consider, continues Adair, in what a surprising manner the Indians copy after the ceremonial law of the Hebrews, and their strict purity in the war camps; that opae, “the leader” obliges till during the first campaign which they have made with the beloved ark, to stand every day they are not engaged in warfare, from sunrise to sunset, and after a fatiguing day’s
– 13 –march and scanty allowance, to drink warm water embittered with rattle-snakeroot very plentifully, in order to purification; that they have also as strong a faith in the power of their ark as ever the Israelites had in theirs, ascribing the success of one party to their stricter adherence to the law, than the other, we have strong reason to conclude them of Hebrew origin. The Indians have an old tradition, that when they left their own native land, they brought with them a sanctified rod by order of an oracle, which they fixed every evening in the ground, and were to remove from place to place on the continent towards the sun rising till it budded in one night’s time. I have seen other Indians, says the same writer, who related the same thing. Instead of the miraculous direction to which they limit it, in their western banishment, it appears more likely that they refer to the ancient circumstance of the rod of Aaron, which in order to check the murmur of those who conspired against him, was in his favour made to bud blossoms and yield almonds at one and the same time. It is a well attested fact, and is here corroborated by Adair, that in taking female captives the Indians have often protected them, but never despoiled them of honour.
The statement of Adair, in relation to the ark, is corroborated by several travellers. Major Long, a more recent traveller, in his expedition to the Rocky Mountains, says, in relation to the ark, “It is placed upon a stand, and is never suffered to touch the earth. No person dare open all the coverings. Tradition informs them that curiosity induced three different persons to examine the mysterious shell, who were immediately punished for their profanation by instant blindness.” This is the Jewish punishment pronounced for looking on the holy of holies — even now for looking on the descendants of the high priest who alone have the privilege of blessing the people.
– 14 –The most sacred feast day uniformly kept by the Jews is the day of Atonement, usually falling in the month of September or early in October. This is deemed in every part of the world a most solemn fast, and great preparations are made for its celebration It is in the nature of expiation of sin, of full confession, penitence and prayer; and is preceded by ablution and preparation of morning prayer for some time.
It is a very sacred fast, which lasts from sunset on one day until the new moon is seen on the succeeding evening. It is not in the nature of a gloomily desponding penance, but rather a day of solemn rejoicing, of hope and confidence, and is respected by those most indifferent to all other festivals throughout the year.
Precisely such a fast, with similar motives, and nearly at the same period of the year, is kept by the Indian natives generally
Adair, after stating the strict manner in which the Indians observe the revolutions of the moon, and describing the feast of the harvest, and the first offerings of the fruits, gives a long account of the preparations in putting their temple in proper order for the great day of atonement, which he fixes at the time when the corn is full eared and ripe, generally in the latter end of September. He then proceeds:
“Now one of the waiters proclaims with a loud voice, for all the warriors and beloved men whom the purity of their law admits, to come and enter the beloved square, and observe the fast. He also exhorts the women and children, with those who have not been initiated in war, to keep apart, according to the law.
“Four centinels are now placed one at each corner of the holy square, to keep out every living creature as impure, except the religious order, and the warriors who are not known to have violated the law of the first fruit-offering, and that of marriage,
– 15 –since the last year’s expiation. They observe the fast till the rising of the second sun; and be they ever so hungry in the sacred interval, the healthy warriors deem the duty so awful, and disobedience to inexpressibly vicious, that no temptation would induce them to violate it. They at the same time drink plentifully of a decoction of the button snake root, in order to vomit and cleanse their sinful bodies.
“In the general fast, the children and men of weak constitution, are allowed to eat, as soon as they are certain that the sun has begun to decline from his meridian altitude.
“Now every thing is hushed. Nothing but silence all around, The great beloved man, and his beloved waiter, rising up with a reverend carriage, steady countenance and composed behaviour, go into the beloved place, or holiest, to bring them out the beloved fire. The former takes a piece of dry popular, willow, or white oak, and having cut a hole, but no so deep as to reach through it, he then sharpens another piece, and placing that in the hole, and both between his knees, he drills it briskly for several minutes, till it begins to smoke — or by rubbing to pieces together for a quarter of an hour, he collects by friction the hidden fire, which they all consider as proceeding from the holy spirit of fire.
“The great beloved man, or high priest, addresses the warriors and women; giving all the particular’ positive injunctions and negative precepts they yet retain of the ancient law. He uses very sharp language to the women. He then addresses the whole multitude. He enumerates the crimes they have committed, great and small, and bids them look at the Holy fire which has forgiven them. He presses on his audience, by the great motives of temporal good and the fear of temporal evil, the necessity of a careful observance of the ancient law, assuring them that the holy fire will enable their prophets, the rain
– 16 –makers, to procure them plentiful harvests, and give their war leaders victory over their enemies. He then orders some of the fire to be laid down outside of the holy ground, for all the houses of the various associated towns, which sometimes lay several miles apart.”
Mr. Bartram, who visited the southern Indians in 1778, gives an account of the same feast, but in another nation. He says, that the feast of first fruits is the principal festival. This seems to end the old and begin the new ecclesiastical year. It commences when their new crops are arrived to maturity. This is their most solemn celebration.”
With respect to the sacrifices, we have had none since the destruction of the temple, but it was customary among the Jews, in the olden times, to sacrifice daily a part of a lamb. This ceremony is strictly observed by the Indians. The hunter when leaving his wigwam for the chase, puts up a prayer, that the great Spirit will aid his endeavours to procure food for his wife and children, and, when he returns with the red deer, whatever may be the cravings of hunger, he allows none to taste until he has cut part of the flesh, which he throws in the fire as a sacrifice, accompanied with prayer. All travellers speak of this practice among the Indians, so clearly Hebrew in its origin.
The bathings, anointings, ablutions, in the coldest weather, are never neglected by the Indians, and, like the Jews of old, they anoint themselves with bear’s oil.
The Mosaic prohibition of eating unclean animals, and their enumeration, are known to you all. It would be supposed that, admidst the uncertainty of an Indian life, all kinds of food would be equally acceptable. Not so: for in strict conformity with the Mosaic law, they abstain from eating the blood of any animal, they abominate swine flesh, they do not eat fish without
– 17 –scales, the eel, the turtle or sea cow; and they deem many animals and birds impure. These facts are noticed by all writers, and particularly by Edwards in his History of the West Indies. The latter able historian, in noticing the close analogy between the religious rites of the Jews and Indians, says, “that the striking conformity of the prejudices and customs of the Caribbee Indians, to the practices of the Jews, has not escaped the notice of such historians as Gamella, Du Terte, and others;” and Edwards also states, that the Indians on the Oroonoke, punished their women caught in adultery, by stoning them to death before the assembly of the people.
Among the Mosaical laws is the obligation of one brother to marry his brother’s widow, if he dies without issue. Major Long says, “if the deceased has left a brother, he takes the widow to his lodge after a proper interval and considers her as his wife.” This is also confirmed by Charleviux.
It would occupy a greater space of time than I can afford, to trace a similitude between all the Indian rites and religious ceremonies, and those of the Jewish nation. In their births, in their separation after the births of their children, in their daily prayers and sacrifices, in their festivals, in their burials, in the employment of mourners, and in their general belief, I see a close analogy and intimate connection, with all the ceremonies and laws which are observed by the Jewish people; making a due allowance for what has been lost, and misunderstood, in the course of upwards of 2000 years.
A general belief exists among most travellers, that the Indians are the descendants of the missing tribes.
Menassah Ben Israel wrote his celebrated treatise, to prove this fact, on the discovery of America.
William Penn, who always acted righteously towards the Indians, and had never suspected that they had descended from
– 18 –the missing tribes, says, in a letter to his friends in England, “I found them with like countenances to the, Hebrew race. I consider these people under a dark night, yet they believe in God and immortality, without the aid of metaphysics. They reckon by moons, they offer their first ripe fruits, they have a kind of feast of tabernacles, they are said to lay their altars with twelve stones, they mourn a year, and observe the Mosaic law with regard to separation.”
Emanuel de Moraez, in his history of Brazil, declares that America has been peopled by the Carthagenians and Israelites, and as to the Israelites, he says, nothing is wanting but circumcision, to constitute a perfect resemblance between them and the Brazilians.
The Rev. Mr. Beatty, a very worthy missionary, says, “I have often before hinted, that I have taken great pains to search into the usages and customs of the Indians, in order to see what ground there was for supposing them to be part of the ten tribes, and I must own, to my no small surprise, that a number of their customs appear so much to resemble those of the Jews, that it is a great question with me, whether we can expect to find among the ten tribes wherever they are at this day, all things considered, more of the footsteps of their ancestors than among the different Indian tribes.”
Monsieur de Guignes, an old French historian, in speaking of the discoveries made in America, before the time of Columbus, says, “These researches, which of themselves, give us great insight into the origin of the Americans, lead to the determination of the route of the colonies sent to the continent;” and he proceeds to give reasons for his belief, that the greater part of them passed thither “by the most eastern extremities of Asia, where the two continents are only separated by a narrow strait, easy to cross”
– 19 –Beltram, in his discovery of the sources of the Mississippi, after a full and interesting account of the Indian, says, “Different authors have brought them hither from all parts of the world. I was at first induced to join with those who derived them from the Hebrews. It seemed impossible for me to doubt, that by so doing, I should be building on an impregnable foundation.” He then proceeds to prove their Asiatic origin by many interesting facts.
The 4th Earl of Crawford and Lindsay, published his travels in America, in 1801″ It is curious and pleasing,” says he, “in reading the travels of those who have been among these people, to find how their customs comport with the laws of Moses;” and after describing at length their religious rites and ceremonies, his lordship emphatically observes, “It is a sound truth, that the Indians are descended from the ten tribes; and time and investigation will more and more enforce its acknowledgment.”
It is, however, in Mexico and Peru, that we must look for the most enlightened and the most wealthy of the Indian race On the representations of Montesini, who travelled in South America, the learned Rabbi Menassah Ben Israel, as I have said before, wrote his famous work La Esperanza de Israel, which he published in Amsterdam, in 1650, endeavouring with great zeal to prove, that the Indians in North and South America were the descendants of the missing tribes; and Cromwell, to whom the work was dedicated, was greatly interested in the evidences produced on that occasion. Montesini, travelling through the province of Quif, found that his Indian guide was a Jew, and pursuing his inquiries, discovered that immense numbers lived behind the Cordilleras. Francis, the name of his guide, admitted to Montesini, that his God was called Adonai, and that he acknowledged Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as his
– 20 –ancestors, and they claimed to have descended from the tribe of Reuben.
Acosta contends, that they have a tradition relative to the deluge; that they preserve the rite of circumcision; they offer the first fruits, and in Peru they eat the Paschal Lamb; they believe in the resurrection, and clothe the dead with the richest equipage. Lopez de Gomara says, that some of them, and not all, are circumcised. Acosta continues, “the Mexicans point out, the various stations as their ancestors advanced into their country, and it is precisely the route which they must have held, had they been emigrants from Asia.”
Menassah Ben Israel declares, that the Indians of Mexico had a tradition, that their magnificent place of worship had been built by a people who wore their beards, and were more ancient than their Incas. In the universal history of 1748, it is affirmed that the Mexicans and other American Indians rend their garments, in order the more effectually to express grief — the Hebrew custom at this day.
Lopez de Gomara states, that the Mexicans offer sacrifices of the first fruits, and when Cortez approached Mexico, Montezuma shut himself up for the space of eight days in fasting and prayer. Emanuel de Moreas and Acosta say, that the Brazilians marry in their own tribes and families; and Escorbatus affirms, that he frequently heard the southern tribes repeat the sacred notes Ha-le-lu-yah. Malvenda states, that several tombstones were found in St. Michaels, with ancient Hebrew characters.
When the Spaniards invaded Mexico, the Cholula was considered a holy city by the natives, with magnificent temples, in which the High-Priest Quetzacotl preached peace to man, and would permit no other offerings to the Master of Life, than the first-fruits of the harvest. “We know by our traditions,” said
– 21 –the venerable Prince Montezuma, to the Spanish General Cortez. “that we who inhabit this country are not the natives but strangers who come from a great distance.”
Don Alonzo Erecella, in his history of Chili, says, the Araucanians acknowledge one Supreme Being, and believe in the immortality of the soul; and the Abbe Clavigero declares, that they have a tradition of the great deluge. The laws and ceremonies of the Peruvians and Mexicans have, no doubt, been corrupted in the course of many ages, both in their sacrifices and worship.
Their great and magnificent temple, evidently in imitation of that erected by Solomon, was founded by Mango Capac, or rather by the Inca Yupabque, who endowed it with great wealth. Clavagero and DeVega in their very interesting account of this temple, say, “what we called the altar was on the east side of the temple. There were many doors to the temple, all of which were plated with gold, and four walls the whole way around, were crowned with a rich golden garland, more than an ell in width. Round the temple were five square pavilions, whose tops were in the form of pyramids. The fifth was lined entirely with gold, and was for the use of the Royal High-Priest of sacrifices, and in which all the deliberations concerning the temple were held. Some of the doors led to the schools where the Incas listen to the debates of the philosophers, sometimes themselves explaining the laws and ordinances.”
Mexico and Central America abound in curiosities, exemplifying the fact of the Asiatic origin of the inhabitants, and it is not many years ago, that the ruins of a whole city, with a wall nearly seven miles in circumference, with castles, palaces, and temples, evidently of Hebrew or Phoenician architecture, was found on the river Palenque. The 35th number of the
– 22 –Foreign Quarterly Review contains an interesting account of those antiquities.
The ruins of this city near Guatemala, in Central America, are described by Del Rio in 1782, when taken in conjunction with the extraordinary, I may say, wonderful antiquities spread over the entire surface of that country, awaken recollections in the specimens of architecture, which carry us back to the early pages of history, and prove beyond the shadow of doubt, that we who imagined ourselves to be the natives of a new world, but recently discovered, inhabit a continent which rivaled the splendor of Egypt and Syria, and was peopled by a powerful and highly cultivated nation from the old world. When we speak of what is called Mexican antiquities, we must not confound the rude labours of modern times, with the splendid perfections which distinguished the efforts of those who reared the Egyptian pyramids, and built the temples of Thebes and Memphis. It is not Mexican antiquities, but the antiquities of Tultecan; and in addition to the ruins of Palenque, on this our continent, there are pyramids larger than those of Sachara in Egypt at Cholula, Otamba, Paxaca, Mitlan, Tlascola, and on the mountains of Tescoca, together with hieroglyphics, planispheres and zodiacs, a symbolic and Phonetic alphabet; papyrus, metopes, triglyphs, and temples and buildings of immense grandeur; military roads, aqueducts, viaducts, posting stations and distances; bridges of great grandeur and massive character, all presenting the most positive evidences of the existence of a powerful enterprising nation, which must have flourished two thousand years before the Spanish Conquest. Take, for example, the description of the temple at Palenque, which Lord Kingsborough, in his travels, not only declares was built by Jews, and is a copy of Solomon’s temple, but which, no doubt, is precisely the model of the temple described
– 23 –by Ezekiel. Travellers speak of it in the following terms:
“It may be appropriately called an ecclesiastical city, rather than a temple. Within its vast precincts, there appear to be contained, (as indeed was, in some measure, the case with the area that embraced the various buildings of Solomon’s temple,) a pyramidal tower, various sanctuaries, sepulchres; a small and a large quadrangular court, one surrounded as we have said, by cloisters; subterranean; initiatory galleries beneath; oracles, courts of justice, high places, and cells or dwellings for the various orders of priests. The whole combination of the buildings is encircled by a quadrilateral pilastered portico, embracing a quadrangular area, and resting on a terraced platform. This platform exhibits the same architectural model, which we have described as characterizing the single temples. It is composed of three graduated stuccoed terraces, sloping inwards, at an angle of about seventy degrees, in the form of a truncated pyramid. Four central staircases, (one facing each of the cardinal points,) ascend these terraces in the middle of each lateral facade of the quadrangle; and four gates fronting the same cardinal points, conduct from the top of each staircase into the body of the building, or into the great court. The great entrance, through a pilastered gateway, fronts the east, and descends by a second flight of steps into the cloistered court. On the various pilasters of the upper terrace are the metopes, with singular sculptures. On descending the second staircase into the cloistered court, on one side, appears the triple pyramidal tower, which may be inferred, from the curious distribution of little cells which surround the central room of each story, to have been employed as place of royal or private sepulture. It would be pronounced a striking and tasteful structure, according to any architectural rule. On
– 24 –another side of the same cloistered court, is the detached temple of the chief god, to whom the whole religious building appears to have been devoted, who appears to have been the great and only God of the nations who worshipped in this temple. Beneath the cloisters, entered by staircases from above, are what we believe to be the initiatory galleries. These opened into rooms, one of which has a stone couch in it, and others are distinguished by unintelligible apparatus carved in stone. The only symbol described as found within these sacred haunts is, however, perfectly Asiatic and perfectly intelligible; we mean two contending serpents. The remnant of an altar, or high place, occupies the centre of the cloistered quadrangle. The rest of the edifice is taken up with courts, palaces, detached temples, open divans, baths, and streets of priestly cells, or houses, in a greater or less degree of dilapidation.” * * * “It is perfectly clear from the few records of their religious rites, which have come down to us, and which are principally derived from the extraordinary rolls of American papyrus, * on which their beautiful hieroglyphical system is preserved, (there is one of considerable extent in the Dresden museum,) that they were as simple, perhaps we may add with propriety, as innocent. Not only does it appear that they had no human sacrifices, but no animal sacrifices whatever. Flowers and fruits were the only offerings made to the presiding divinity of their temple
But, who were the Tultequans and Azeteques, the founders of this empire in America; who built the pyramids of Cholula and city of Palenque? Not the Jews.
Here we have a most singular diversion, from the path on which we originally set out — another extraordinary discovery
* Formed of the prepared fibres of the Maguery.
– 25 –marked too, by events no less extraordinary than amazing.
They were the Canaanites, the scriptural Titans, who, according to the sacred historian; built cities with walls and towers reaching to the heavens. The builders of the tower of Babel, the family of the shepherd kings who conquered Egypt, and built the pyramids, and were driven from Syria by Joshua. The men, who finally founded Tyre and Carthage, navigated round the continent of Africa, and sailed in their small craft across the Atlantic, and landed in the Gulf of Mexico.
The Phoenicians were the founders of Palenque, Mitlan, Papantla, Quemada, Cholula, Chila and Antiquerra.
When I studied the history of these people, on the ruins of Carthage, it was said by antiquarians present, that the Carthaginians had a colony at a considerable distance, which they secretly maintained; and when I was at Tangiers, the Mauritania Tangitania of the ancients, I was shown the spot where the pillar was erected, and was standing in the time of Ibnu, the Moorish historian, on which was inscribed, in the Phoenician language — “We are the Canaanites who fled from Joshua, the son of Nun, that notorious robber.” From that spot, then… the pillars of Hercules, now known as the straits of Gibraltar, they crossed to our continent, and founded a great empire of the Ophite worship, with Syrian and Egyptian symbols. Now, mark the issue. Fifteen hundred years after the expulsion of the Canaanites by Joshua, the ten tribes pass over the straits of Behring to the continent of America, and poured down upon these people like the Goths and Vandals. The descendants of Joshua a second time fell on the Canaanites on another continent, knowing them well as such, and burn their temples; and destroy their gigantic towers and cities.
When Columbus discovered America, he found an innocent
– 26 –people in a demi-savage state, with Jewish traditions, and the only reference to early times was a vague impression, that the ruins they saw were built by giants, and a people called wandering masons.
I have the most settled conviction of this theory. The magnificent ruins which are to be seen at this day in Mexico and Central America, were the works of the Phoenicians, and the irruption of the wandering tribes from the north-west coast of America, swept that nation away, and have ever since maintained possession of this county, until white men have thinned their ranks, and gradually encroached upon, and usurped a great part of their territory.
The only opposition made to the general declaration of travellers, that the Indians are of Jewish descent, is, that they are red men, and are beardless. Now, take the olive complexion of the Jews in Syria, pass the nation over the Euphrates into a warmer climate, let them mingle with Tartars and Chinese, and after several generations reach this continent, their complexion would undergo some shades of hue and colour; and as to beards they cannot grow while they are continually plucked, as is the Indian custom. The colour proves nothing against their origin. Take our fellow-citizens on our eastern borders, and compare their florid colour with the sickly hue and sallow complexions of those living on the southern shores, in the palmettoes and everglades, and we shall see a marked distinction, and yet they are members of the same family.
Du Pratz, speaking of the traditions of the Natches tribe, relates, that in answer to the question, “whence come you?” their reply was, “All that we know is that our fathers, to come hither, followed the sun, and came from the place where he rises. They were long in their journey, they were nearly, perishing, and were brought to this wilderness of the sun setting
– 27 –without seeking it.” Souard says of the Indians of Surinam, on the authority of Nasci, a learned Jew residing there, that the dialect of those Indians common in Guiuana is soft, agreeable and regular, and their substantives are Hebrew. Their language, in the roots, idioms, and particular construction, has the genius of the Hebrew language, as their orations have the bold, laconic and figurative style of the Hebrew prophets.”
The Rev. Mr. Chapman says of the Osages, “it is their universal practice to salute the dawn of every morning with their devotion.” A custom always prevailing among pious Jews.
Malvenda and Acosta both affirm, that the natives had a tradition of a jubilee, according to the jubilee of Israel.
Dr. Beatty, in speaking of the festival of the first-fruits by the nations west of the Ohio, says, “at this ceremony twelve of their old men divide a deer into twelve parts, and these men hold up the venison and fruits with their faces to the east, acknowledging the bounty of God to them. A singular and close imitation of the ceremonies and sacrifices of the temple.” The doctor further says, “they have another feast which looks like the Passover.”
Sir Alexander MacKenzie, in his tour to the north-west coast, says, that “the Chepewyan Indians have a tradition among them, that they originally came from another country, inhabited by very wicked people, and had traversed a great lake which was in one place narrow and shallow, and full of islands, where they had suffered great misery; and a further tradition has it that nine parts of their nation out of ten, passed over the river. The Mexicans affirm, that seven tribes or houses passed from the east to the wilderness.”
Beltrami says, that the skeletons of the mammoths found in Kentucky and Missouri, and other parts of America, have been ascertained to resemble precisely those which have been
– 28 –found in Siberia and the eastern part of Asia, showing the facility of communication between the two coasts. And here it may be well to state a fact, which is strongly corroborative of the view we have taken, not only of the possibility of passing from one continent to the other, but of the actual and probably constant communication between them. Charlevoix, says he knew a Catholic priest, called Father Grillon, in Canada, who was recalled to Paris after his mission had been ended, and who was subsequently appointed to a similar mission in China. One day in Tartary, he suddenly encountered a Huron woman with whom he had been well acquainted in Canada, and who informed him that she had been captured, and passed from nation to nation, until she reached the north-west coast, when she crossed into Tartary.
Since delivering the present lecture, I have received a letter from Mr. Catlin, the celebrated painter, who for the last five years has been residing among the Indians. Mr. Catlin says,
“The first thing that strikes the traveller in an Indian country as evidence of their being of Jewish origin, (and it is certainly a very forcible one,) is the striking resemblance which they generally bear in contour, and expression of head, to those people. In their modes and customs, there are many striking resemblances, and perhaps as proof, they go much further than mere personal resemblance. Amongst those customs, I shall mention several that have attracted my attention, though probably they have never before been used for the same purpose; and others I may name, which are familiar to you, and which it may not be amiss to mention, as I have seen them practised while in their country.
“The universal custom among them of burying their dead with feet to the east, I could conceive to have no other meaning,
– 29 – or object than a journey to the east after death — like the Jews, who expected to travel under ground after death to the land of Canaan. On inquiry, I found that though they were all going towards the ‘setting sun,’ during their lifetimes, they expected to travel to the east after death.
“Amongst the tribes, the women are not allowed to enter the medicine lodge. As they were not allowed in Judea to enter the court of Israel. Like the Jewish custom also, they are not allowed to mingle in worship with the men, and at meals, are always separated.
“In their modes, fastings, feastings, or sacrifices, they have also a most striking resemblance. Amongst all the western tribes, who have not been persuaded from those forms by white men, they are still found scrupulously and religiously adhering to, and practising them to the letter. The very many times and modes of sacrificing, remind us forcibly of the customs of the Israelites; and the one in particular, which has been seen amongst several of the tribes, though I did not witness it myself, wherein, like the manner of the ‘peace-offering,’ the firstling and that of the male is offered, and ‘no bone is to be broken.’ Such circumstances afford the strongest kind of proofs. All the tribes have a great feast at the dawn of spring, and at those feasts their various sacrifices are made. At the approach of the season of green corn, a feast of the first ears are sacrificed, with great solemnity, followed by feasting and dancing: so at the ripening of different kinds of fruit. The first and best piece that is cut from a buffalo is always Deo Dante.
“Over the medicine lodge, and also over the lodges of the most distinguished chiefs, are hung on high poles large quantities of fine cloth, white buffalo robes, or other most costly articles which can be procured, there to decay, in offering to the Great Spirit.
– 30 – “The bunch of willow boughs with which each dancer is supplied, in the Mandan religious ceremonies, the sacrificing and other forms therein observed, certainly render it somewhat analogous to the Israelitish feast of tabernacles.
“The universal practice of “solus cum sola’ of the women, ablution and anointing with bear’s grease, is strikingly similar to the Jewish custom. Every family has a small lodge expressly for this purpose, and when any one of the family are ready for it, it is erected within a few rods, and meat is carried to her, where she dwells, and cooks and eats by herself; an object of superstitious dread to every person in the village.
“The absence of every species of idolatry amongst the North American Indians, affords also a striking proof of the ceremonial law, and stamps them at once, in one respect, at all events, differing from all other savage tribes of which we have any knowledge.”
What are, I may ask, the characters of these people? On the discovery of America by Columbus, nearly 2000 years after the dispersion of the Hebrew tribes, the whole continent is found peopled; not with a race of wild men, of cannibals, of savages, but with a race of intellectual, moral, innocent persons, divided into many hundred nations, and spread over 8000 miles of territory. “I swear to your majesties,” said Columbus, writing to Ferdinand and Isabella, “that there is not a better people in the world than these; more affectionate or mild. They love their neighbours as themselves; their language is the sweetest, the softest and the most cheerful, for they always speak smilingly.” Major Long says, “they are the genuine sons of nature; they have all the virtues nature can give, without the vices of civilization. They are artless, fearless, and live in constant exercise of moral and christian virtues, though they know it not.”
Charlevoix gives his testimony in their behalf. “They
– 31 –manifest,” says he, “much stability in their engagements, patience in affliction, and submissive acquiescence in what they apprehend the will of Providence. In all this, they display a nobleness of soul and constancy of mind, at which we rarely arrive, with all our philosophy and religion.”
Du Pratz contends, that they have a greater degree of prudence, faithfulness and generosity, than those who would be offended with a comparison with them. “No people,” says he, “are more hospitable and free.”
Bartram, who lived many years in the Creek nation, says, “Joy, contentment, love and friendship without guile or affectation, seem inherent in them, or predominant in their vital principle, for it leaves them but with their breath. They are,” says he, “just, honest, liberal and hospitable to strangers; considerate and affectionate to their wives, children and relations; frugal and persevering, charitable and forbearing.”
Who are they? Men do not grow up like stones or trees or rocks; they are not found in herds like wild animals. God that made man in his own image, gave to the Indians an origin and parentage, like unto the rest of the great family of mankind, the work of his own almighty hand. From whom then did our red brethren, the rightful owners of this continent, descend?
There seems to be no difference of opinion that they are of Asiatic origin, and not indigenous to our soil. Nearly all writers and historians concur on this point — they are Asiatic — they crossed to the continent of America from Asia; but who are they, arid from whom have they descended?
Eldad, who wrote learnedly of the twelve tribes, in 1300, contends, that the tribe of Dan went into Ethiopia, and pretends that the tribes of Naphtali, Gad and Asher followed. That they had a king of their own, and could muster 120,000 horse and 100,000 foot. In relation to part of these three tribes,
– 32 –there might have been some truth in it, for Tigleth Pelieser did compel them to go into Ethiopia. Issachar, he contends, remained with the Medes and Persians. Zebulon extended from the mountains of Pharan to the Euphrates. Reuben dwelt behind Pharan, and-spoke Arabic. Ephraim and half Manasseh were thrown on the southern coast. Benjamin of Tudela places Dan, Asher, Naphtali and Zebulon on the banks of the river Gozan. In the midst of all these contradictory and vague statements, two opinions prevail among Jews and Christians, in early and in late periods. One is, that the ten tribes went into Tartary, where they remained; the other, that from Tartary they penetrated into America.
Manasseh Ben Israel, the most learned of the nation, declares that they passed into America. Lescarbot believes, that the Indians are the posterity of Ham, expelled by Joshua, and who passed out of the Mediterranean, and were driven by storms to the American coast; Grotius contends, that the inhabitants of the new world were originally from Greenland; and while Basnage frankly admits, that manifest tracts of Judaism are to be found in America, he contends, that the tribes could not have overcome the warlike Scythians and penetrated to this continent, and that they remained in Halak and Heber, and in the cities of the Medes
Truth, no doubt, lies between these opinions. Many of the tribes passed into Egypt and Ethiopia, many remained in Persia and Tartary, all did not make for the north-west coast, nor was it necessary that all should do so. There were degrees of piety and condition then as now. Restore Jerusalem to-morrow, and all the Jews will not return there. Rabbi Akiba contends, that all the noble families remained in Persia. A number, a considerable number, no doubt, impressed with the solemn belief, that if they remained in Persia, they would in time become idolaters, and lose all the landmarks of their ancient faith, resolved,
– 33 –like those who went out of Egypt, to remain no longer in bondage, and, as Esdras says; they departed for a country “wherein mankind never before had dwelt” — and the resolution was perfectly feasible. It was a thickly populated country, and by keeping on the borders of China, they would, within the time prescribed, namely eighteen months, have reached our continent. At this day, there is a constant intercourse between the continents, and a trip to the Rocky mountains, once so terrifying, is now a mere summer’s journey.
If the Indians of America are not the descendants of the missing tribes, again I ask, from whom are they descended? From the Egyptians? Wherein in their belief, is there the least resemblance to the worship of Isis and Osiris, or the hieroglyphics or historical reminiscences of that very ancient people? Are they part of the fierce Scythians? Their warlike propensities would prove them to be so; but where among those barbarians do we discover the belief in one Great Spirit, together with the softer virtues, the purity and talents of the Indians? Are they of the Tartar race? Their complexion, “the shadowed livery of the burning sun,” might be offered in evidence; but, they have not the flat head, the angular and twinkling eye, nor the diminutive figure of the Chinese or Tartars.
The Indians have distinct Jewish features, and neither in mind, manners, nor religion, bear any affinity to the Tartar race. I have endeavoured to show this by their traditions, by their religion, by their ceremonies, which retain so much of the ancient worship. But there is one proof more, which, in my mind, removes all doubt. Sir Alexander MacKenzie, in his journal of a tour to the north-west continent of America, declares from his own observation, that the Chippewa Indians practise circumcision, which fact is corroborated by several other travellers amongst the various tribes.
– 34 –It will scarcely be necessary for me to refer you to the many prophetic warnings relative to the sins, the denunciations; the promises, the dispersion and redemption, of the Jewish people, which we find throughout the Bible. With that good book you all are or should be familiar — it is a delightful book, view it in any manner you please. Let the unbeliever sneer and the philosopher doubt, it is certain that the most important events predicted by the prophets hare come to pass, giving an assurance which is stripped of all doubt, that what remains to be fulfilled, will be fulfilled. In what direction are we to look for the missing tribes according to the prophets? From Jeremiah we learn that they are to come from a country north and west from Judea. From Isaiah, “it is a country far from Judea,” and answering also “from the ends of the earth.”
In Zechariah we are told, it must be in the western regions, or the country of the going down of the sun; and according to the historian Esdras, it must be a land wherein mankind never before had dwelt, and of course, free from the residence of the heathen.
Our prophet Isaiah has a noble reference to the dispersed tribes and their redemption, which may be here appropriately quoted. I use his language, the Hebrew, which from its peculiar associations should be always interesting to you.
– 35 –“And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea.
“And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah, from the four corners of the earth.
“And there shall be a highway, for the remnant of his people, which shall be left from Assyria, like as it was to Israel, in the day that he came up out of the land of Egypt.”
May I not with propriety refer, among other evidences, to the cruel persecutions which have uniformly been practised towards the Indians of this continent, not unlike those which the chosen people have suffered for the last eighteen centuries? “What makes you so melancholy?” said General Knox to the chief of an Indian deputation, that he was entertaining in this city, at the close of the revolutionary war. “I’ll tell you, brother, said the aged chief; “I have been looking at your beautiful city — the great water full of ships — the fine country, and see how prosperous you all are. But then, I could not help thinking, that this fine country was ours. Our ancestors lived here. They enjoyed it as their own in peace. It was the gift of the Great Spirit to them, and their children. At last, white men came in a great canoe. They only asked to let them tie it to a tree, lest the water should carry it away. We consented. They then said some of their people were sick, and they asked permission to land them, and put them under the shade of the trees. The ice then came and they could not go away. They then begged a piece of land to build wigwams for the winter. We granted it to them. They then asked corn to keep them from starving. We furnished it out of our own scanty supply
– 36 –They promised to go away when the ice melted. When this happened, they, instead of going pointed to the big guns round the wigwams and said, ‘we shall stay here.’ Afterwards came more: they brought intoxicating drinks, of which the Indians became fond. They persuaded them to sell their land, and, finally, have driven us back, from time to time, to the wilderness, far from the water, the fish, and the oysters. They have scared away our game — my people are wasting away. We live in the want of all things, while you are enjoying abundance in our fine and beautiful country. This makes me sorry, brother, and I cannot help it.”
These persecutions and repeated acts of cruelty and injustice appear to have no termination — the work of destruction, commenced with the Narragansetts, will extend to the Seminoles, and gradually to the blue waters of the Pacific. Look even now at the contest maintained by a handful of Indians in the everglades of Florida. Do they war against unequal numbers for a crown — for a part of that immense surplus which overflows from the coffers of a country, which was once their own? No — they fight for the privilege of dying where the bones of their ancestors lie buried, and yet we, Christians as we call ourselves, deny them that boon, and drive the lords of the soil into the den of the otter.
In referring to the splendid specimens of Indian oratory, where, I would ask, can you find such wisdom, such lofty and pure eloquence, among the Chinese and Tartars, even at this day?
The Indians, like the Hebrews, speak in parables. Of their dialects, there is no doubt, that the Algonquin and Huron are the parents of five hundred Indian tongues — they are copious, rich, regular, forcible and comprehensive; and although here and there strong Hebrew analogies may be found, yet it is reasonable
– 37 –to suppose, that the Indian languages are a compound of all those tongues belonging to the various Asiatic nations, through which they passed during their pilgrimage.
Firmly as I believe the American Indian to have been descended from the tribes of Israel, and that our continent is full of the most extraordinary vestiges of antiquity, there is one point, a religious as well as a historical point, in which you may possibly continue to doubt, amidst almost convincing evidences.
If these are the remnants of the nine and a half tribes which were carried into Assyria, and if we are to believe in all the promises of the restoration, and the fulfillment of the prophecies, respecting the final advent of the Jewish nation, what is to become of these our red brethren, whom we are driving before us so rapidly, that a century more will find them lingering on the borders of the Pacific ocean?
Possibly, the restoration may be near enough to include even a portion of these interesting people. Our learned Rabbis have always deemed it sinful to compute the period of the restoration; they believe that when the sins of the nation were atoned for, the miracle of their redemption would be manifested. My faith does not rest wholly in miracles — Providence disposes of events, human agency must carry them out. That benign and supreme power which the children of Israel had never forsaken, has protected the chosen people amidst the most appalling dangers, has saved them from the uplifted sword of the Egyptians, the Assyrians, the Medes, the Persians, the Greeks and the Romans, and while the most powerful nations of antiquity have crumbled to pieces, we have been preserved, united and unbroken, the same now as we were in the days of the patriarchs — brought from darkness to light, from the early and rude periods of learning to the bright reality of civilization, of arts, of education and of science.
– 38 –The Jewish people must now do something for themselves; they must move onward to the accomplishment of that great event long foretold — long promised — long expected; and when they DO that mighty power which has for thousands of years rebuked the proscription and intolerance shown to the Jews, by a benign protection of the whole nation, will still cover them with his invincible standard.
My belief is, that Syria will revert to the Jewish nation by purchase, and that the facility exhibited in the accumulation of wealth, has been a providential and peculiar gift to enable them, at a proper time, to re-occupy their ancient possessions by the purse-string instead of the sword.
We live in a remarkable age, and political events are producing extraordinary changes among the nations of the earth.
Russia with its gigantic power continues to press hard on Turkey. The Pacha of Egypt, taking advantage of the improvements and inventions of men of genius, is extending his territory and influence to the straits of Babelmandel on the Red sea, and to the borders of the Russian empire; and the combined force of Russia, Turkey, Persia and Egypt, seriously threaten the safety of British possessions in the East Indies. An intermediate and balancing power is required to check this thirst of conquest and territorial possession, and to keep in check the advances of Russia in Turkey and Persia, and the ambition and love of conquest of Egypt. This can be done by restoring Syria to its rightful owners, not by revolution or blood, but as I have said, by the purchase of that territory from the Pacha of Egypt, for a sum of money too tempting in its amount for him to refuse, in the present reduced state of his coffers. Twelve or thirteen millions of dollars have been spoken of in reference to the cession of that interesting territory, a sum of no consideration to the Jews, for the good will and peaceable possession
– 39 –of a land, which to them is above all price. Under the cooperation and protection of England and France, this re-occupation of Syria within its old territorial limits, is at once reasonable and practicable.
By opening the ports of Damascus, Tripoli, Joppa, Acre, &c., the whole of the commerce of Turkey, Egypt, and the Mediterranean will be in the hands of those, who even now in part, control the commerce of Europe. From the Danube, the Dneister, the Ukraine, Wallachia and Moldavia, the best of agriculturalists would revive the former fertility of Palestine. Manufacturers from Germany and Holland; an army of experience and bravery from France and Italy; ingenuity, intelligence, activity, energy and enterprise from all parts of the world, would, under a just, a tolerant and a liberal government, present a formidable barrier to the encroachments of surrounding powers, and be a bulwark to the interests of England and France, as well as the rising liberties of Greece.
Once again unfurl the standard of Judah on Mount Zion, the four corners of the earth will give up the chosen people as the sea will give up its dead, at the sound of the last trumpet. Let the cry be Jerusalem, as it was in the days of the Saracen and the lion-hearted Richard of England, and the rags and wretchedness which have for eighteen centuries enveloped the persons of the Jews, crushed as they were by persecution and injustice, will fall to the earth; and they will stand forth, the richest, the most. powerful, the most intelligent nation on the face of the globe, with incalculable wealth, and holding in pledge the crowns and sceptres of kings. Placed in possession of their ancient heritage by and with the consent and co-operation of their Christian brethren establishing a government of peace and good will on earth, it may then be said, behold the fulfillment of prediction and prophecy: behold the chosen and
– 40 –favoured people of Almighty God, who, in defence of his unity and omnipotence, have been the outcast and proscribed of all nations, and who for thousands of years have patiently endured the severest of human sufferings, in the hope of that great advent of which they never have despaired: — and then when taking their rank once more among the nations of the earth, with the good wishes and affectionate regards of the great family of mankind, they may by their tolerance, their good faith, their charity and enlarged liberal views, merit what has been said in their behalf by inspired writers, Blessed are they who bless Israel.”
JAMES VAN NORDEN, PRINTER
27 PINE ST.