Hebrews in the Americas 1,000 B.C.?
In 1973 I visited with Dr. Joseph Mahan in Atlanta, Georgia, an expert in ancient Indian ethnology of the southeastern Indians of the United States. He showed me samples of pottery uncovered from the waters around the Bahamas, and told me of Indian legends, including that of the Yuchis, stating they had migrated to the area of Florida and Georgia from the region of the Bahamas. According to their legends, the island sank beneath the sea and they fled for their lives.
These same Yuchis later migrated to the Oklahoma territory, where they eventually settled down. Amazingly enough, they show strong evidence that they had contact with the Old World in historic times. They have a custom which is unique among the American Indians. They are racially and linguistically different from their neighbors. Every year on the fifteenth day of the sacred month of harvest, in the fall, they make a pilgrimmage. For eight days they live in “booths” with roofs open to the sky, covered with branches and leaves and foliage. During this festival, they dance around the sacred fire, and called upon the name of God.
The ancient Israelites had the virtually identical custom, in many respects. In the harvest season in the fall, on the 15th day of the sacred month of harvest (the seventh month), they celebrate the “festival of booths” for eight days. During this time they lived in temporary booths, covered with branches, leaves, fronds. This festival goes back to the time of Moses and the Exodus from ancient Egypt (Leviticus 23).
How is it that two totally separated peoples observed the identical custom?
Dr. Cyrus Gordon, of Brandeis University in Boston, was privileged to sit in on one of the fall harvest festivals of the Yuchi Indians, and listened to their chants, songs, and sacred ceremonies. An expert in Hebrew, Minoan, and many Middle Eastern languages, he was incredulous. As he listened, he exclaimed to his companion, “They are speaking the Hebrew names for God!”
Dr. Joe Mahan is a strong believer in cultural contacts between the Indians and the East, long before Columbus. He showed me a small tablet containing ancient cuneiform writing of the Babylonians. “This,” he said, “was found not long ago by a woman digging in her flower bed, here in Georgia. The inscription appears to be genuine. There is no reason not to believe it is authentic.”