The New Israel Tribe System * - the Twelve Tribes
Dr. Yitzhak Hayut-Ma'N.
The need to form anew the Twelve Tribes of Israel, is apparently a tradition from my grandfather's house. My grandfather, Yitzhak (Isaac) Hayutman, of the first Aliya and a founder of Tel Aviv, went in the 1890's on his way to Mecca, in the hope of finding the lost tribes in the Arabian deserts and of bringing them here, thereby taking a part in building the emerging "Hebrew (or Jewish) State". Luckily for him - and obviously for me, or else I would not have come to the world - he met halfway, in Hijaz, an Arab friend from Safed, who implored him to return. In Mecca - he warned - people will "smell" his being an infidel and would surely kill him.
About eighty years later, after the Yom Kippur war (1973), in the distant Brazil, I understood that my grandfather - like good many before and after him - could have been wrong in traveling afar to look for the lost tribes. The tribes are here, with us, and we need only to know how to find and distinguish them. A separation for the sake of reconciliation and unification.
At the time, I wrote to the 120 Knesset members, suggesting a solution to the Israeli-Arab conflict: The whole State of Israel should be taken apart, and be rebuilt as a confederation of seven to twelve cantons, some Jewish, some Arab, where Jerusalem acts as a mixed, free zone. Namely: not two states, which thrive each on the negation of the other, but several units, which may form different coalitions for different needs. (One of those who answered me then, incidentally, was the then Minister of Defense, Shim'on Peres, who wrote that he has already proposed a similar proposals, in articles he had published in Davar (the then labor daily), but even he had met no fruitful responses.)
In the years that passed since then I became more convinced of the need to form such a confederation. The very existence of Israel as a Jewish State is problematic. A Jewish state is obligated to discriminate and estrange its citizens who are not evidently Jewish (such as the Arabs), but also its citizens who are Jews according to their belief but not the state's (such as many of the Russian immigration of the 80's and 90's) and those who would see themselves as Israelites but are not Jewish (such as Christian-Zionists).
But as time passed, while I was learning more Jewish religious studies, I came to understand that neither I, nor Shim'on Peres (Ben Gurion and Itamar ben Avi neither) were the first to conceive of the idea of a confederation. This idea is implicit in the most primary cultural corpus that accompanying us such as the Book of Genesis. One only needs to open it and read:
In the beginning there were the contending brothers: Cain and Abel, Isaac and Ismael, Jacob and Esau. From these pairs no nation could be formed. Envy did not make it possible. The conflict was too great, too separative. The first who managed to extricate himself from this catch was Ismael who begot twelve sons, about whom it is immediately written: "Twelve princes according to their nations.... and they dwelt from Havilah to Shur, that is before Mizrayim (Egypt), as thou goest toward Ashur (Assyria, Syria)". Namely, they established a whole entity in most of the vast territory promised to Abraham.
But so did Israel - Jacob - who removed the curse of the brothers' envy by begetting twelve sons, who would become twelve tribes. Joseph was again the subject of envy - just like Abel, like Isaac, like his father Jacob. But since he had several brothers - there was no agreement about killing him. Against some who would kill him would rise another intent to save him.
Not only the Israelites saw in the twelve an ideal pattern. In my searches after the ideal pattern I came across the English esoteric researcher John Michell, and his books, including "Twelve Tribe Nations". This book brings a wealth of examples from the ancient world of the organization of twelve states or regions - all the way from China in the East to America in the West. Generally, the twelve tribes congregated around a common sacred domain, which gave evidence of their unity. The universal myths saw in this pattern a recipe for felicitous existence, which only came to an end when envy broke away, and when one of the rulers of the tribes enrolled a foreign mercenary army, thereby overcoming the other tribes and unifying them into a kingdom under his rule.
The chronicles of Israel tell a similar story. In the ninth century B.C.E. the tribes led by Ephraim fought Judah, and two kingdoms were established. The Kingdom of Israel, which was subsequently destroyed two hundred years later by the Assyrians, apparently disappeared, and since then - like my grandfather - there were many good people who sought - and are searching - for the lost ten tribes. It seems that there is no nation upon earth, from Japan to South America, in which some evidence was not found for the possibility of their belonging to "the Lost Ten Tribes of Israel". (And this means that any person in the world who does want to regard him/her self as an Israelite can do so).
However, the archeologists who have been digging up Jerusalem during the last few decades know some different truth: during the time of Ezekiah king of Judah - whose reign period parallels the conquest of the kingdom of Israel, a tremendous expansion of Jerusalem took place. Thousands of residents were added. These were no doubt many of the people of the conquered kingdom of Israel, who preferred to join their brothers rather than be exiled. My friend the Kabbalist Joseph Ergas claims that they are still among us. He asserts that the majority of Israelis are secular, because deeply within themselves, they feel that they are not part of the Tribe of Judah, e.g. not really "Jewish". Thus, he identifies Judah with the Halakha (Customary Rabbinical Judaism), while there are other Israelies, who are foreign to it, yet bona fida Israelite tribesmen.
I would now like to give further extent to this concept: The Twelve Tribes of Israel are, potentially, not just those who were here, during the First Temple period, but also all those who may see themselves today as a part of Israel - spiritually and territorially: e.g. secular, religious and Haredi Jews, as well as those who try to maintain the oriental culture, Moslem "Palestinian" Arabs, Christian "Palestinian" Arabs, non-Arab Christians who identify with Israel (such as Christian-Zionists, or the Makoya sect of Japan), or the Diaspora Jews.
The trend currently spreading in the world is different from the ancient trend (as evidenced from Michell's book) - nowadays, non-territorial tribes or global tribes are being formed. So are the Chinese colonies in Western countries, the Indian colonies in Africa and Asia, the British flag which serves also for Canada, Australia and other countries. The same applies to the Jewish Diaspora: there is the New-Yorker tribe, the Parisian Tribe, and others. It is even possible that the readers of "Hayim Aherim" identify themselves as some kind of tribe, with its own self definition.
As the promotion of the New Israel tribes is to my view important, I seek various ways and means towards this goal. I associated thus with the artist Leon Saponar, and together we are creating a calendar illustrating the pictures of the tribes. The idea behind this art work is that each one in Israel will be able to have some particular impression on the qualities of the different tribes, mostly expressed graphically (such as, for example, the fierceness of Dan versus the placidity of Isachar) and choose the tribe that best fits his/her dominant characteristics. The first two pictures of this project are displayed below.
Comments on the Pictures
The picture of Judah (in the East) represents him as the leader who leads the Children of Israel since the Exodus from Egypt thousands of years ago, but who is frozen within a box (cube-Ka'aba) which is potentially capable of holding and coordinating many worlds, nevertheless constraining him. Within this cubic box, the various levels of his soul are being kept - the animal soul-Nefesh (the Ram-Aries of the month of Nissan), the generous spirit-Rua'h (the Lion of Judah) and the divine soul-Neshamah. However, their tremendous vitality is frozen, and only the daring feminine influence (Tamar and Ruth in the picture) does indeed penetrate and leads to the melting of his frozen state.
Facing from the West, he is being joinedby "The House of Joseph" or Ephraim (whom many identify as the Western Christian nations), whose figure is still being formed. First, the hands are protruding ("and the hands are the hands of Esau") with the Ten fingers corresponding to the Ten Tribes. The knights are assembling to the cubical Tabernacle of Peace and Reconciliation upon the Whole Israel, and their desire for the Shekhinah ("Rachel") are constituting forming the head of Joseph and the darling son, where the fertility symbols identifies him as Ben Porat Yoseph - ("the added son of fertility").
* This is a translation of the Hebrew article which originally appeared in Hebrew in Hayim Aherim No. 19 (Apr 98), the Israeli monthly magazine of natural medicine, mysticism and alternative thought). The Hebrew name, Ma'arkhet Shivtei Yisrael Hadasha has the acronym of MShYH, namely Messiah.
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