“In this bright future, you can’t forget your past.”
– Bob Marley
With the rise of technology that allows scientists to compare the DNA of different groups of people, many people have been on a mission to find out more and more about themselves based on their genetics. With the Jewish people, this has a certain spiritual significance as they try and reunite what has been dispersed since the Babylonian diaspora, the destruction of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, or even the Holocaust of World War II. Though many have been trying to trace their Jewish roots back to Europe or the Middle East, many Americans are starting their quest right in their own backyards by investigating the Native American tribes for which they are official members and the way of life of their not-so ancient ancestors.
Not even taking DNA into consideration, archaeological evidence and traditions of these tribes has been pointing their origins back to a Hebrew religious tradition for generations. The famous historian of the 1700’s, James Adair, remarked in his book “Out of The Flame” of many similarities between the traditions of the Cherokees and the Hebrews including:
- Similar marital proceedings and laws against adultery
- The worship of one god named “Ya’ho’wah”
- Laws pertaining to ritual purity
- An East-facing temple that contained continually burning flame
- Similar holidays, such as a day for the atonement of wrong doing and a week-long festival celebrating the harvest
- A tradition of carrying a sacred ark into battle by a Cherokee holy man
Such archaeological evidence has also linked Hebrews from the time of King Solomon to the Americas. These findings have included various renderings of the 10 commandments inscribed into rocks and cave walls using an ancient paleo-Hebrew style of lettering. One of these such writings is in Los Lunas, New Mexico outside of a cave.
Outside of the physical and historical evidence comes from DNA research of certain groups of people. Israeli scientists have conducted studies of a genetic trait occurring in a group of Native Americans in Colorado. This genetic mutation once only found to have impacted those descended from the Jews expelled from Spain over 600 years ago and an incremental percentage of Iraqi Jews has been found in this group of Native Americans.
As a registered Cherokee and of Am Yisrael as well, I must admit that these findings are exciting in proving that the 12 Tribes of Israel were dispersed all over the world, just like the Hebrew Scriptures say; but other than being a piece of fascinating history, it doesn’t have immense spiritual weight for me. While it is true that I am only a documented 1/64th Cherokee, it goes beyond that.
While I was in Israel, I was had the pleasure of spending much of my time with accomplished Torah scholars and very famous rabbis. Fascinated by my story of coming to Torah after being raised as a Christian Lutheran hundreds of miles from any Jewish community, many of them urged me to research my genealogy saying “Though you are are of gentile blood, you have a very Jewish heart. Research your family lineage and I bet you’ll find a Jewish root in there somewhere.” Three years later, I still haven’t and I don’t really feel the need to. I’ll tell you why:
Being Am Yisrael can a form of nationality, but I believe it begins in the heart. Ruth was not of Jewish blood, yet was born with a Hebrew soul. It wasn’t that she became Jewish just so she could remain close with her dead husband’s mother (which I do believe is the only story of an intermarried woman getting along with her Jewish mother-in-law), but because she felt that there was something greater in store for her besides just returning to Moab. By following after her heart, she is now esteemed as the most famous Jewish convert and the great-grandmother of King David.
Feel free to research your family lineage, but don’t let that stand between you and a covenant with the God of Israel. While you might find Jewish roots in your family tree, the same could possibly be said this guy: