4 out of 4 stars
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Joseph Eidelberg is a name to be remembered and praised. He was not only an excellent army officer and industrial manager but also an accomplished scholar. Due to his deep interest in the Bible and other ancient sources, he developed new theories about famous historical events. These are clearly explained and fully supported by arguments in his book, Bambara: Uncovering the Hidden Footsteps from the Pillar of Fire to the Rising Sun. The author definitely made me reconsider my previous ideas about the Hebrew Exodus from Egypt and the fate of the Ten Tribes expulsed by the Assyrians from the Holy Land.
The book is written in the first person and includes vivid images and descriptions. It has only 12 chapters that are easy to read and understand. Joseph Eidelberg skillfully combines stories of his personal experiences throughout his voyages with historical, cultural, and linguistic references and discoveries. His father’s confessions about the Jewish persecutions gave birth to his life-long search for the truth about his nation’s past. Driven by his “hobby of collecting religions” and his passion for studying languages, the author was able to make some incredible connections between people and languages previously thought to be very different.
During his trips across the world, Eidelberg had the habit of learning the language spoken by the locals in the country he visited. When he went to the Ivory Coast, he accidentally started learning Bambara, the language spoken by an African tribe living in the Republic of Mali. Dumbfounded, he slowly began to realize he was learning the ancient Hebrew language. How did the Hebrew language reach West Africa? Where did Moses and his people leave in the first place? To answer all these questions, the author plunges into an extraordinary analysis of different customs and rituals and compares the linguistic similarities between words in the Bambara and Hebrew languages.
The second half of the book focuses on the life of the Israelites in their homeland, Canaan. After a minute description of their social and religious organization for many years, the author recounts the exile of the Ten Tribes and their potential journey from Samaria, Israel, to Sumera, Japan. Joseph Eidelberg behaves like a genuine detective. He uncovers various connections between customs accompanying Jewish holidays and ancient Japanese traditions. For example, on Shavuot, the Hebrews used to bring the first fruits of their land to the high priest. In the same way, the ancient Japanese brought the first fruits of the rice harvest to their emperor, who was also their high priest. Similar connections exist between the Hebrews’ Yom Kippur and the Japanese feast of Bon, dedicated to the souls of the dead and celebrated with youth dances.
I particularly liked the rich tapestry of cultural, religious, and linguistic references in the book. The detailed explanations embedded in each chapter are doubled by some mini-dictionaries coming after the last chapter. Eidelberg's ideas are original and thought-provoking. Moreover, his linguistic associations portray a version of historical truth that sounds reasonable and believable. Since I found less than ten minor mistakes, I can say that the editing is of a high standard. I am rating Joseph Eidelberg’s book 4 out of 4 stars. There is nothing I disliked about it. I recommend it to all those interested in Hebrew, African, and Japanese history and the innovative study of the Bible. Be ready for an unconventional approach to the story of the Hebrew Exodus from Egypt to Canaan and the journey of the Ten Lost Tribes. Despite the boldness of the author’s ideas, the book is by no means offensive to members of a specific religion. On the contrary, Joseph Eidelberg shows much knowledge and respect for the beliefs and customs of different religions, from the Christian faith to the Muslim or Buddhist ones.
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