Skip to content

The Hebraic Origins of the Igbo

August 28, 2011

This article addresses the outside origin hypothesis that suggests the Igbo have a Jewish origin.

 After carefully studying this paper I found that there are indeed elements of indigenous Igbo philosphy that resonate very strongly with elements found in the Hebrew Bible and Judaic thought, however the author never makes this association.  The Igbo author even quotes Martin Buber. Still however, there was nothing mentioning Igbos in connection to Jews. The author mentions and compares the different Outside Origin hypotheses of some Igbo clans. There was nothing in the paper that mentioned origins as Jews, Israel or Hebrew as being one of them.



From → Uncategorized

  1. This is the only Outside Origin Hypothesis of Igbo Jew identity that I have found that has some basis in historical fact: “The Igbo Jews of Nigeria are one of the components of the Igbo ethnic group. They are said to have migrated from Syrian, Portuguese and Libyan Israelites into West Africa. Historical records shows that this migration started around 740 C.E. According to amateur Historian and Forensic Science investigator Chinedu Nwabunwanne of Aguleri, who resides in Los Angeles and has researched this subject for more than 15 years at the UCLA libraries in Los Angeles, “Ibo Jewish migration started when the forces of Caliph Mohammed leader of Qaysi-Arab Umayyads of Syria defeated the Yamani-Arab Umayyads of Syria in 744 C.E. and sacked the Yamanis and their Jewish supporters from Syria.This initial migrants were the tribes of Gad, Asher, Dan, and Naphtali. Later, they were joined by Judean migrants from Portugal and Zebulonian migrants from Libya in 1484 and 1667 respectively. These six Israelite tribes constitute the House of Judah or The House Of Jacob. Moses mentioned their names twice when he blessed the children of Israel. The remaining six tribes not mentioned in this write up constitute the House of Ephraim or The House Of Israel.”

    • jude permalink

      Just go and sleep and rest head because you have nothing to offer. Believe it or not igbo (ibru) is a nation and not just one tribe (the tribes of isreal mixed), and you have nothing to gain in claiming to be descendants of the original hebrews or deceiving the people of ibri (igbo) into believing that they are not isrealites. The time you speak of was the time of Babylonian Exil (isrealites fred). Read Lamentation 1:5-9, Ezekiel 36:2-4.

  2. “Igbos: A Lost Tribe of Israel?” by Adeyinka Makinde

    Article “Igbos are Africans Not Jews” by Ozodi Thomas Osuji, PhD

    Ozodi Thomas Osuji’s paper is a critcal analysis and response to the paper written by Adeyinka Makinde.

    • Nwa afo Igbo permalink

      Ozodi osuji is a mental case.Makinde is an Igbo hater.The Igbo origin is historical.Before now centuries ago in 17th century in the days of Oluadah Equiano a free Igbo slave he wrote that Igbos are Jews and that Igbo names are Hebrew names. That was before now,so those c´laiming Igbos are not Jews should think twice.Our Jewishness did not start today

      • Mr. Nwa afo Igbo, surely you realize that Oluadah Equiano was kidnapped from his Igbo homeland when still a child. Under his colonial masters he became a devout Christian. He was a product of a Christian education and worldview. This is the mind he had when he wrote his celebrated Narrative. In his Narrative he writes, “Such is the imperfect sketch my memory has furnished me with of the manners and customs of a people among whom I first drew my breath. And here I cannot forbear suggesting what has long struck me very forcibly, namely, the strong ANALOGY which even by this sketch, imperfect as it is, appears to prevail in the manners and customs of my countrymen and those of the Jews, before they reached the Land of Promise, and particularly the patriarchs while they were yet in that pastoral state which is described in Genesis–AN ANALOGY,which alone would induce me to think that the one people had sprung from the other.” The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, Or Gustavus Vassa, The African by Olaudah Equiano, p.21.

        You will note Mr. Nwa that nowhere in his Narrative does Oluadah Equiano state any conviction that Igbo were or are Jews. The ANALOGY that can be made of common cultural and ritual practices of Igbo and Jews does not necessarily or logically follow or conclude that the Igbo come from Jews and thus are Jews, for Equiano also allows in his analogy the possibility that the Jews might have sprung from the Igbo.

        So to be fair Mr. Nwa, we must allow for both possibilities and allow for the persual of facts bearing on these matters being ever aware that our minds have been moulded with the same Christian educational upbringing and cultural influences as Oluadah Equiano. For all that he knew and wrote, he never called himself a Jew or professed Judaism. It was the colonial missionaries who from the basis of their “Hamatic Thesis” who first proposed that the Igbo (and other Africans) could be among those lost tribes of Israel. It is easy for an Igbo whether professing Judaism or Christianity to read himself into the Bible because as Oluadah Equiano stated about his former master, “…this man soon became very much attached to me, and took very great pains to instruct me in many things. He taught me to shave and dress hair a little, and also to read in the Bible, explaining many passages to me, which I did not comprehend. I was wonderfully surprised to see the laws and rules of my country written almost exactly here; a circumstance which I believe tended to impress our manners and customs more deeply on my memory. I used to tell him of this resemblance; and many a time we have sat up the whole night together at this employment.” Ibid. p.56

        The commonality of Bible (Jewish) ritual laws, traditions, customs was not lost on Equiano or his slave master any more than it was under the Igbo and his Nigerian colonial master. However we must allow that when Equaino says “that the one people had sprung from the other” we too must allow it that Jews may have sprung from Igbo.

        Let me conclude with the observation that Oluadah Equiano in his Narrative never mentions the Hebrew language or Igbo names coming from Hebrew. In spite of this my studies clearly show there is a definite and undeniable relationship between Igbo and Hebrew, but that relationship is based on a fact admitted to by all linguists and cultural anthropologists that the Igbo language is older than the Hebrew language.

  3. Origin or Geneology of the Igbo people of Nigeria

    This article is discusses three main theories of Igbo origins:

    1. Autochtony Hypothesis – states that the Igbo have never been ruled and have always been there as the aboriginal people of Igboland from at least 6,000 years ago. It the words of an Igbo Elder interviewed in the article: “We do not come from anywhere. And anyone who says we come from anytwhere is a liar, write it down.”

    2. Internal Migration Hypothesis – states that the Igbo migrated from Benin/Niger/Enugu areas or the Niger-Benue confluence based on archeological findings dating between 100,000 and 5,000 BCE

    3. External Migration Hypothesis – states Igbo origins from Ancient Israel in Palestine. This along with similar cultural practises and affinities whith Hebrew/Jewish (Biblical) culture has resulted in the claim of “Igbo Jews.”

    I would ask readers to give their opinion and findings from the artcle:

    Click to access Origin_or_Genealogy_of_the_Igbo_people_of_Nigeria.pdf

  4. The research of Dr. Catherine Acholonu agrees with my Africa Israel Hypothesis which I had advanced before I ever heard of her or her books. Note the readers’ comments.

    • jude permalink

      Acholonu was just as confused as you are. She has very little or no knowledge concerning Igbo history. She coined ‘nonsense’ which fetched her an award, simply because the people that gave her the award Hate to Hear the Truth.

  5. Conversation About Igbo Origins – by Alice C. Linsley – Are the Igbo related to the Israelites?

  6. Godfrey C permalink

    I think we’ve got enough hypotheses to substantiate the jewishness of the Igbo nation.With particluar reference to G T Basden,a missionary to the Igbo who according to him stepped his foot on the Igbo soil in 1900, after much study of the Igbo culture,worldview,custom and essence, drawing allusions from the Bible infered that the Igbos have a Hebraic descent.Olaudah’s Interesting Narrative made same deduction, and that on the ground of fairness.The authorities that favour this view are more that the punny voices that are at discordant.I suppose the balance of probability tilts in favour of this hypotheses.

  7. Thank you Mr. Godfrey C for your comments. In reply I recommend to you the findings posted here

  8. life ifeanyi permalink

    I desire that God will influence the jews to come and take us home if am from there

  9. Atsub permalink

    Society will never admit or even want to entertain the idea that blacks of the western hemisphere are Hebrew Israelites. The fact is they are. There’re records of slaves having Hebrew customs. And scripture backs up many notions to this idea. Think w/ logic and use a little common sense here. You think it’s by coincidence that many so called Afro-Americans, Afro-Cubans, Afro-West Indies, etc, have that spiritual connection when they sign and/or worship? Think about it! You got to a “black church” and all you see and hear is a form of worship that comes from within.

    • Mr. Atsub, you say, “The fact is they are. There’re records of slaves having Hebrew customs.” Can you supply such facts? And what did our ancestors believe themselves to be before they were enslaved, colonized and indoctrinated by the Bible? You say “a form of worship that comes from within” ? Such is not a Biblical religion, for the religion taught to us by the slave master and colonizer teaches you to worship a deity that is without, not within. Please Mr. Atsub, supply us with what you say are “facts” or the “records” please. Do such “facts” or “records of slaves having Hebrew customs” really exist?

      • jude permalink

        No wonder you speak this way (you are your fathers and your fathers are you). They transgressed the laws of the MOST HIGH and shed the bloods of the Justs. Vengeance shall be taken; the Right Hand of the MOST HIGH is POWER!!!

      • jude permalink

        He came from nowhere simply means he has no origin (maybe he fell from the sky), or he does not know where he came from (and that is the knowledge he lacks).

  10. Atsub permalink

    Some of you out here never cease to amaze me!! You don’t need a PhD to have a little common sense. These Gentile nations comspired to have Israel wiped out as a nation. Read scripture. And especially Gentile in reference to those who say they are Jews, but do lie! Read scripture. Nowhere is the bible talking about Europeans (Gentiles). And yes there are black Gentile nations also Egypt, Ethiopia, etc. Read scripture. And the facts that we do have is not even a good percent to what was wiped out and/or destroyed. Wake up people! Stop listening to the manyGentiles who flood these sites trying to in vain to keep you lost. Simply a last plot of Satan out of fear that Yah is turning back towards His people. Meaning? The Gentile nations and/or white supremacy rule is on the verge of being uprooted and tossed to the fiery furnace. Again read scripture!

    • It is true Mr. Atsub that one does not need a PhD to have a little common sense. It is also true one does not need a Phd to provide salient facts, none of which you have supplied to support your “Hebrew Israelite” thesis.. The spouting of religious propaganda do not make for facts.

  11. Atsub permalink

    This is one reason why you will not see those false Jews in Israel prevail over Iran. Nor ever has peace until the REAL Hebrews are returned to THEIR land !! Yah is moving back towards His chosen people. DO NOT TOSS IT OFF AS WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES IT MAKE AND/OR WE ALL THE SAME IN YAHS EYES STUFF. Fact is, Yahushua came for the LOST SHEEP OF ISRAEL!! But through His mercy He’s giving Gentiles a chance to repent. As well as the continued prostituting sheep of Israel. But salvation is of the Jews. Prove me wrong. TALK TO ME!! The Gentiles has many of our people messed up w/ what is what. And many ignore what the bible really says for the “feel good gospel.” There is a wrath coming!! Take a good look at the economy!

    • Mr. Atsub, you say “Prove me wrong. TALK TO ME!!” There are many articles and documents within these Africa Israel Hypothesis blog pages for you to consider that challenges the “Hebrew Israelitie” thesis. Please consider my paper on AFRICAN ORIGINS OF JUDAISM and lets talk about it.

  12. Atsub permalink

    Lastly, anytime Yah said he would take Israel to Egypt again by ships should end all confusion on who He was talking bout. Common sense folks! I mean why would He take Israel to Egypt (the nation) again after He took them out through the Red Sea?!! And destroyed Pharaoh and his host w/ the Red Sea?! Let us not forget why He chose to cross the Red Sea to begin w/. Y? So that Israel would not walk back when they became discouraged. So it had to be the Trans Atlantic Slave (ships) and Egypt (house of bondage and/or America, Caribbean’s, South America, Europe (slaves taken there), etc.

    • Mr. Atsub, parallels between the Hebrew narrative and their experience of slavery in the Bible and the experience of slavery by captive Africans in the Americas have been made ever since our colonial and slave masters introduced our ancestors to their religion and their Bible. Ever since the slave master introduced our ancestors to the Bible, captive Africans who came to believe in the slave religion have tried to insert themselves into the Biblical narrative until today. What did our African ancestors understand of themselves, their history, culture and spirituality BEFORE the Europeans put our ancestors on the slave ships and gave them the Bible?

    • Mr. Atsub, Africans were put on ships and sold into the Orient and Far East by Muslims 1000 years before Europeans and the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Have you considered this fact of history in your interpretations of Deuteronomy 28:68?

  13. Atsub permalink

    People always coming up w/ some history that nobody recalls but them to try to prove some pointless point. Next you will hear where the smurfs were sold into slavery 1000 years before the Trans Atlantic era. If Africans were sold 1000 years before, what happened at the 400 year mark? Remember Yah’s covenant w/ Abraham. Those Hebrews sold into slavery in American have not met that mark yet. But the 1000 year before era that some mention, what became of them? Who are they now? The scripture speaks directly to an era and people of that era whose ancestors where slaves as identified by scripture. Prove scripture wrong! Africans are of Ham. Though Israel are still among black Gentiles who still oppress them. Smh

    • Atsub permalink

      Igbo’s aren’t African!! They are Hebrew. They reside in Nigeria, but are Not through Ham. In the states, Igbo’s made up 70% of Va/Md. Va was even called Igboland. Nate Turner was Igbo. They are not Hamites!! They were Hebrew via Shem.

    • Mr. Atsub, you would do well to do more reading and research on the subject. What you are trying to do is to impose a Westocentric-Eurocentric epistemological Biblical tradition onto an African cosmological world view. The impostion of the Abrahamic religions upon African spirituality is nothing but foreign religious imperialism upon Africans of which your Hebrew Israelite thesis is victim to. The view that “Igbo’s aren’t African!! They are Hebrew.” is all part of the “Hamatic Hypothesis” that drives this whole African Jewish Identity phenomenon. The Igbo are black African Negro Bantu.

  14. All Hebrews (Ha-biru) are descendants of both Ham and Shem as their lines intermarried. This is what Genesis reveals.

    Abraham is a descendant of both Ham and Shem.

    • Atsub permalink

      Sure. Some fact could be to that. However, the lineage of Shem outweighs the Ham. How can I say this? Nowhere in scripture did Yah say Ham descendants would go into slavery to Abraham. Mixed some may have, but it was Shem descendants through Abraham who fulfilled this prophecy.

  15. Atsub permalink

    Alice it comes a time in all of our walks and research of the faith that we gotta really see things for what they are. Nothing happens just to happen. So when you look at the flight of a people and wonder why(?), all we have is prayer and scripture to answer those questions? Think about it. Even the bible to some degree has been tampered w/. And no publisher company is any better than the next. For even they have a script that they folllow. So it is w/ prayer that we seek answers w/ what we have to seek them w/. Igbo? My honest opinion is that they are a direct descendent of the original Jews of Israel. Why would any group stake a claim just to stake a claim w/ zero to gain from it? Now the “so called Jewish” people are staking a claim and are benefiting from that false claim. No other group including original Jews are benefiting from it. So you have to ask yourself the question(?) why? Well maybe there is truth to it as opposed to trying to benefit from the claim.

  16. John C Solomon permalink

    Its a very simple issue here , I don’t know why any body would even think a second time if the Igloos are israelites, The Hebrew. People who came into west africa as every one knows that the people in the now Nigeria are all from one place before they got where they are now, and for sure the igbo as they are called today did not drop from the sky but also came from a place its only that theirs is very easy to trace because of some things that would never change in them.

    The name igbo language migrated like the igbo people and this is the migration steps, first they speak Hebrew which took after their name Hebrews – Heboes – Ibos – Igbos. There is nothing confusing in it, igbo is just a corrupt language of Hebrew becos of the pronunciation by other tribes that gave the the recent name and you know they are only trying to spell these names with english spelling since they were colonised by the inglish me who ppronouced and wrote the name as they understand it. And you know the owner of His name may never call the name for months but the friends are the once who will pronounce your name and what they pronounce will replace your original name,
    Its just like when the HAUSA peole want to call an ibo man he callcall him yamiri but what is he trying to call , yem miri which means give me water, yoruba man wants to say nwa nna they will say omo inaa , that’s how it changes, so if I am staying in youruba land and the want to describe me they will say na that omo inaa, that how the Benin today changed from Binu , the benin bepeople are said to be part of youruba who ran away in search of peace because the were angri and that’s how they began to call them binu people , people who were angry, same thing happened to lekki which was originally called leke but the white men who could not pronouce it properly called the name lekki, so there is no way hebrew will remain the same as you know that one thing that is constant in life is change and it will continue to change, youruba language hausa language are changing only you do not notice when the chages occurs
    After I was interested on who the ibos are , I got a revelations on how they migrated looking naked with their wooden chariot that was made with wooden wheel.

    There was only Adam and his wife Eve and one language but today people fill all over the world with different language , it is God who commissioned language to evolve as mush as it can.

    John C Solomon,
    Facebook : john Ekpendu A .

    • Mr. John Ekpendu, We are not interested in stories, myths and legends. Our faith is facts and our truth is evidence. You may be free to have your own truth but you are not free to have your own facts. This blog is about evidence, EMPIRICAL evidence based on EMPIRICAL facts. What you must engage are the facts and the evidence. Not notions.

    • Mr. John C. Solomon,

      The 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia
      In the Middle Ages it was a prevailing opinion that Hebrew was the primitive speech of mankind. This view was based on “etymologies and other data in the early chapters of Genesis [comp. Berliner, “Beiträge zur Hebräischen Grammatik,” p. 9; König, “Hebräisch und Semitisch,” pp. 113 et seq.], which, however, were as plausibly turned by Syriac writers in favor of their own tongue” (“Encyc. Bibl.” ii. 1987; comp. Audo, “Syriac Dict.” Preface). A similar opinion was expressed by Rab (Sanh. 38b). Medieval Jewish scholars considered Arabic and Aramaic, the only cognate languages known to them, as corruptions of Hebrew. In more recent times, however, two opposing theories have been held. One, whose chief exponent is S. D. Luzzatto, is that Hebrew is derived from Aramaic; the other, whose chief exponent is Olshausen, is that it is derived from Arabic. D. S. Margoliouth (“Lines of Defense of Biblical Tradition,” and “Language of the Old Testament,” in Hastings, “Dict. Bible,” iii. 25 et seq.) claims that Hebrew is nothing but a vulgar dialect of Arabic. Not only, however, can the question concerning the relative age of a language whose origin lies in prehistoric times not be answered positively, but the necessity of the question itself is problematical: cognate languages may be parallel developments of one mother tongue instead of being derived from one another. All that can be said is, that by the testimony of the El-Amarna tablets (15th cent. B.C.), which contain Canaanitish or Hebrew glosses, and by the evidence of Egyptian, which contains Canaanitish loan-words borrowed some centuries before those tablets were written, Canaanitish or Hebrew was spoken in Palestine as early as the beginning of the second millennium B.C.

      Hebrew is not older than 2,000 BCE. The Igbo are much older than the Hebrew language. According to linguists Igbo belongs to the NIGER-CONGO language group KWA that originated at least 12,000 years ago. The NIGER-CONGO language group KWA is much older than Hebrew.

      • Hebrew is not as old as Arabic and modern Arabic first developed from the old Dedanite scripts found in Southern Arabia. These are closely related to the ancient languages spoken along the Nile Valley and the Horn of Africa.

        Dedan was home to an industrious Afro-Arabian people who had close association with the Joktanite tribes of Arabia and the people of Ramah and Sheba.

        Isaiah 21:13 speaks of the “caravans of Dedanites” and Ezekiel 27:20 speaks of Dedan as supplying Tyre with precious things. They traded in spice, ivory, incense, and textiles with lands as distant as India, Cambodia and China. They probably also traded in horses which were bred in Sheba. They traded in copper from the 4000 B.C. mines in the Air region of Niger where there are rock drawings of chariots, evidence of early copper smelting, and copper weapons.

        The highest concentration of Old Arabic texts has been found in the region of Dedan. Genesis 10:7 tell us that Dedan the Elder was a grandson of Kush by his son Ramah. Ramah was Nimrod’s brother. Ramah settled in the region to the southeast of Dedan while Nimrod built a kingdom in the Tigris-Euphrates River Valley. Genesis reveals a kinship connection between the Afro-Arabian Dedanites and the Afro-Asiatic Arameans. The separation of the two groups in the time of Peleg and Joktan was territorial only, as the ruling lines continued to intermarry.

  17. jude permalink

    it is either you are lying or that you are ignorant. Just try and conduct your research very well and you will get some truth out. To start with, research on Alexander’s (the great) reasons for attacking isreal. Read about Herodotus, Vespasian, Titus, and Antiochus reasons for attacking Isrea; finally, consult your bible. The real isrealites (original hebrews) were never white; they were dark-skin (somewhat brown) people like Africans. The people occupying the present-day isreal and claiming to be isrealites are (imposters) never decendants of the original hebrews. Conduct your research on Exile of isrealites (they scattered, but the majority of them moved west of Africa). The place where Igbos were sold into was called ‘Ouidah’ meaning ‘Juda’. It is a thing of shame that even the Elderly people in Igboland do not know their origin, they make no attempt to know them; yet they condemn the little facts they get (no wonder The MOST HIGH said, ‘my people perish for lack of knowledge). You don’t just post to showcase your level of intelligency; but post because you know the truth and need to share it. Don’t distort facts!

    • Dear Mr. Jude, please quote, select, copy and paste the distorted facts from the articles that appear in the blog you refer to. That way we can give an intelligent response. We cannot respond to ignorance, ad hominems or the personal vitriole you may have toward myself and Professor Acholonu. When citing statements you be believe to be true, it is customary to give the sources of what you believe to be the facts the same as we do.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: