The (Scattered) Hebrews: Tribe of Naphtali

Naphtali is a deer let loose;
He uses beautiful words.

-Genesis 49:21

Note: It is recommended to read the House of Israel before reading this article

Naphtali was the 6th son of Jacob, his mother Bilhah was the maidservant of Rachel and he is the full blood brother of Dan. Naphtali means “my wrestling.” Rachel named him this because of her competition with Leah in having children. Naphtali also was one of the 10 tribes that migrated over into the Americas from Assyria. The tribe eventually settled all throughout the Pacific Islands (Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Samoa, Hawaii..etc). This is why they are likened to a deer let loose, because they sailed from South America and colonized great civilizations all throughout these Pacific Islands and because of their carefree personalities. I brought up genetic correlations before in the tribe of Reuben article between South American indigenous and indigenous Polynesian/Australians sharing gene sequences. In Deuteronomy, Jacob prophecies of Naphtali:

23 And of Naphtali he said, O Naphtali, satisfied with favour, and full with the blessing of the Lord: possess thou the west and the south.

-Deuteronomy 33:23

Now here in this passage, it says “thou the west..” which in Hebrew is the word “yam” (strong’s H3220). This means a large body of water westward and he adds that it would be South (South Seas). We know that Jacob was talking about where they would end up in the end times because they were literally part of the Northern Kingdom in Israel (which obviously isn’t South) and they didn’t even border the sea. Pacific Islanders are also known for their beautiful words such as aloha/hello of the Hawaiians, kia kaha/stand strong of the Aotearoa and Fa’Amalosi/be strong by the Samoans.

Statue of King Kamehameha I, founder and first ruler of the Kingdom of Hawaii

Hawaiian Customs Correlate To Hebrew Writings

Hawaiian indigenous customs corresponding to Hebrew writings included man being made from the dust of the Earth, stories strikingly resembling the Hebrews, Joseph the dreamer being sold into slavery before rising to prominence as well as a story of a man being swallowed by a large fish and later was cast out on dry land (Manley Hopkins, Hawaii: The Past, Present, and Future of Its Island-kingdom. An Historical Account of the Sandwich Islands, Polynesia. Published 1862).

King Kalakaua
King Kalakaua, reigned from 1874–1891

Polynesians With Jewish Features

Many European explorers who came across these peoples also came to the same conclusion of them being exiled Hebrews from the House of Israel. Ivan Champion journaled this telling experience from a New Guinea exploration:

Out of the crowd stepped a short stocky man with Jewish features, huge chest and shoulders, wearing the customary cassowary plumes and Job's tears. He embraced me, saying, 'Num seno, seno, sene'. He then banged his chest with his open palm, and made a sweeping flourish with his arm, which included the people, the village, and the surrounding country; then stooped, and with his closed fist struck the ground, at the same time exclaiming loudly, and in a high-pitched voice, 'Bolivip! Bolivip! Bolivip!' He rose and patting my chest, pointed to my carriers, and then patting his chest pointed to his people talking the while, meaning that as I was the chief of my people he was chief of Bolivip. I looked at my subjects and then at his, and I must admit that I envied him.

-Explorers & Co In Interior New Guinea 1872–1928

What was immediately notable to me about this journal entry was that he simply stated “Jewish features.” What this means exactly remains a mystery, however it was clear whatever this term means is widely understood in Ivan’s present day at the time apparently. Here is a drawing journaled of the interaction added into the book:

Pacific Islander

Here is an actual picture of Ivan and chief Tamsimal:

Jacqueline Ryle notes similarities of Fijian culture to Judaism as well:

-Creating Religious Childhoods in Anglo-World and British Colonial Contexts, 1800–1950

Here the term “vanua” is used, the term itself means “the land area one is identified with.” In detail, it also means:

-Asesela Ravuvu (Director of Pacific Studies at the University of the South Pacific, Professor Ravuvu was appointed to the Fijian Senate by the Great Council of Chiefs in 2001)
Fijian troops, circa WW I

Case for Polynesians As Hebrews Made

Being “African American” myself, I have to say that this statement resonated with my soul.. These character traits and associations to lost tribes of Israel were thoroughly studied among Polynesian Islanders as well:

There can be no doubt that the Tonganese religion bore in several particulars a striking resemblance to the ritual and economy of the Jewish ceremonial law. Indeed, this similarity prevails more or less in the various groups of Polynesia. Nor can it be denied that many of the inhabitants have strongly marked Jewish features. But it requires further research, and more proof, before we can adopt the conclusion some have come to that any portion of the people are of Israelitish extraction. A few of these points of resemblance may here be specified as a matter of interest:
"1. There obtained among the Tonganese a regular division of time into months and years, these divisions being worked by the recurrence of sacred seasons and public feasts, which were observed with religious ceremony and were under the sanction of the most rigorous laws. It is also remarkable that the Tonganese have some knowledge of an intercalary month, the use and disuse of which have led to many discussions among themselves.
"2. The entire system of Tapu, by which times, persons, and places, or things were made sacred, and the many religious restrictions and prohibitions connected therewith, may be easily interpreted as a relic much which changed and corrupted from the ceremonial observances of the Jews.
"3. The great fest of the Inaji, or offering of firstfruits to the gods every year, seems a custom of religious ceremony of purely Jewish origin.
"4. The same may be said of the right of circumcision which was regularly practiced by them. An uncircumcised person was considered mean and despicable, and the custom has only disappeared in recent years.
"5. Every person and thing that touched a dead body was considered unclean, and remained so until after the elapse of a certain number of days. During that allotted time those whose duties compelled them to do the rites of burial were not allowed to feed themselves or to touch the food prepared by others. They were, therefore, carefully fed by attendants.
"6. Females after childbirth, and after other periods of infirmity, were enjoined strict separation and were subjected to ceremonial purifications.
"7. Tonganese had cities of refuge corresponding to those instituted among the Jews; the uses and functions resembled, in some of their features, those of the Mosaic law. The Taula, or priest, was supposed to become inspired by the god as his shrine, or representative, while receiving and answering the prayers and sacrifices of the worshippers. These were offered through the Feao, or attendant upon the Taula, and it was also his duty to maintain the god house, or temple, in due repair and order."

-Thomas West (Ten years in south-central Polynesia: being reminiscences of a personal mission to the Friendly Islands and their dependencies, 1865)

King George Tupou II of Tonga. Courtesy of Brigham Young University- Hawaii

Polynesians And the Ancient Israelites

Here in this journal, we again have another explorer mentioning “Jewish features” indicating these were well known traits among those people in this area which is very interesting to note. Some of these explorers even came to the conclusion themselves that the Pacific Islander Hebrews were associated to the Native American Hebrews also. Andrew Jenson ponders this theology after reading early journals/writings on the Polynesians as he was traveling through the Pacific Islands himself:

In perusing literature on the Polynesian race, I find that several authors refer to the apparent similarity between some of the characteristics, religious ceremonies, etc., of the Polynesians and the ancient Jews, or Israelites. They also generally favor the theory of a common origin and close relationship between all the brown-colored inhabitants of Polynesia, including those of the Hawaiian Islands, Samoa, Tonga, New Zealand, the Society Islands, the Tuamotu Archipelago, and other groups lying between New Zealand and America. Though most whites try to advance the cries for an eastward emigration from Asia and the East Indies, they all have to acknowledge that the proofs are lacking to sustain the same.
-Andrew Jenson (Jenson's Travels, Sunday, August 25, 1895)

Marshall Islands

The Pacific Slave Trade

Just as many of their Judahite brethren, some Pacific Islander Hebrews eventually succumbed to the Pacific slave trade and were taken away to cotton or sugar plantations and towns in Queensland (Australia), Fiji, Samoan Islands..etc Although it hadn’t occurred to me before, after learning more about the Pacific slave trade that was happening during the 19th and early 20th centuries (blackbirding was prevalent from 1847–1904). It made more sense why the ocean is identified when talking about slave trades since both the Atlantic and Pacific were both used to move slaves. Kidnapping Islanders by enticing them on to ships and then imprisoning them to take them to be sold elsewhere was called blackbirding. By the end of the 1870s, Queensland had earned the nickname “the second Louisiana.” The Confederate States of America had lost the American civil war to the Union in 1865 and some ex-Confederates had left to South America and other places to try recreating their empire built off of Hebrew Negro slaves. Gerald Horne described Southern Americans even establishing a branch of the Ku Klux Klan in Fiji in his book “the White Pacific.”

Group of South Sea Islanders, Cairns, 1890 Group of male and female South Sea Islander farm workers on a sugar plantation at Cairns in 1890. Many of the workers are carrying hoes and other farming equipment.

The White Pacific

As we can see from these descriptions and pictures, we again have consistency in dark skinned Hebrews among the Pacific Islands just as we saw among the Native American civilizations and clearly within portions of Africa where the Judahite Hebrews were hiding. Just like with the United States and the 13th amendment; Scott Hamilton wrote about the 1872 reforms institutionalizing slavery rather than abolishing it, he then states:

"I was beginning to look at Auckland differently. How many of the city's grand 19th-century buildings - the places that are now art galleries, museums or five-star sanatoriums - had been the prisons of imported labourers? How many wharves and boatyards had been laid out with profits from blackbirding? And where were the plaques, museum exhibits and accounts of this history?"

-Scott Hamilton, The Stolen Island: Searching for 'Ata, 1863

He also wrote about the outrage of these slaves being brought into town at the time by the New Zealand Herald saying:

"no one can pretend these ni**ers are here of their free will"

-Scott Hamilton, The Stolen Island: Searching for 'Ata, 1863

Effects of Blackbirding

Unfortunately it seems they were more upset with their culture than them being enslaved and brought to another land against their will as they stated the “manners and habits of these woolly barbarians” being the ultimate offense (statement quotations taken from Scott Hamilton’s book: The Stolen Island: Searching for ‘Ata). Some may question whether blackbirding should be defined as slavery since some were paid and some signed contracts to work. Although this is true, this does not disqualify their slave-like conditions they lived in and they were all well underpaid compared to European workers. The 6 pounds per annum for first year workers was a fixed rate for 40 years despite wage inflation elsewhere in Queensland. We also see that it is clearly racially driven hatred and contempt going on with the captives/indentured servants here that echoes a sound familiarity on the other side of the world in the United States. Although much of the tension between Hebrews and Gentiles seems associated to skin complexion, I don’t believe this is the heart of the issue but I will go into this more in the conclusion article of this series.