Forgotten History of the Eastern People

The Chinese people are thought to be the descendants of Joktan, the brother of Peleg, and are sometimes known as the Oriental Hebrews. They were monotheistic for about 2000 years, before the arrival of Taoism and Buddhism, and they worshipped Shang-Ti, the Heavenly Emperor.

This article is an update of a previous version which has been preserved as an archive.

In my article entitled Cuthites in Arabia, I gave an interpretation of the rebellion at the Tower of Babel according to Jacob Bryant's six-volume work, A New System; or, an Analysis of Ancient Mythology. Bryant believes that the rebellion was just a local event, involving only a proportion of the inhabitants of the world. The participants of the rebellion were known as the Cuthites, primarily descended from Cush the son of Ham, but there were other people who joined them. The leader of the rebellion was Nimrod the son of Cush, and although I have expressed doubts about Bryant's suggestion that the Tower of Babel was just a local event, this does not affect his interpretation of the Cuthites as the main instigators of the rebellion.

Bryant describes the Arabic people as Cuthites, as if they were primarily descended from Ham, although he does not deny altogether that at least some of them might be Semitic. Indeed it would be difficult to do so because it is widely acknowledged that their language is Semitic. The Arabic people are most probably a mixture of Semitic and Hamitic people. The so-called "pure Arabs" claim to be descended from Joktan, the son of Eber who is of the line of Shem, and they refer to other Arabs as Musta 'rabs, or pretended Arabs. The notion that the Arabs are descended from Ishmael, the son of Abraham, can be denounced altogether as a myth, intended to rob the Jews of their inheritance. The Arabic people are in any case not united on this matter, and the "pure Arabs", who claim their descent from Joktan, consider the supposedly Ishmaelite Arabs to be another type of mixed or pretended Arab.

Although the Arabs are at least partly Semitic, and they may have descended from various Biblical tribes, it is not possible to trace their origin with certainty. In particular, their descent from Joktan has to be questioned because there is no Biblical evidence that Joktan went to Arabia. Instead we are told that he went to the east.

And unto Eber were born two sons: the name of one was Peleg; for in his days was the earth divided; and his brother's name was Joktan. And Joktan begat Almodad, and Sheleph, and Hazarmaveth, and Jerah, And Hadoram, and Uzal, and Diklah, And Obal, and Abimael, and Sheba, And Ophir, and Havilah, and Jobab: all these were the sons of Joktan. And their dwelling was from Mesha, as thou goest unto Sephar a mount of the east. (Gen. 10:25-30).

As I have already described, in my article on Cuthites in Arabia, the division during the days of Peleg was not necessarily the general dispersion of the nations from Babylon. There are a number of ways of interpreting this, and Bryant says that it was the division between Peleg and his brother Joktan, as they went their separate ways. Paul Phelps, in his Oriental Origins in the Bible, develops the theme further and says that when the family of Noah came out of the Ark, and their numbers began to multiply, they travelled east into Persia, but some of them turned back and went to Babylon. Peleg joined the company that turned back, while Joktan continued his journey to the east. The point of their departure was Mesha, which is probably Mashad in north-east Iran. Joktan and his family continued toward Sephar, a mountain in the east, which must be in the mountains of China and Tibet. The descendants of Joktan are sometimes referred to as the Oriental Hebrews.

If this is the origin of the Chinese people, it means they must have established an independent presence in China, from the very earliest times, and their knowledge of the ancient world must be of great value. Indeed it is, because they remember the very same events that were known to the rest of the world, about the creation, the fall and the flood. This is especially evident in their pictographic writing which symbolises these events, and there are a number of books about it, for example The Discovery of Genesis by Kang & Nelson. This book does not discuss the descent of the Chinese people from Joktan, or their journey to the east, but it does suggest (p.110) that they might never have taken part in the rebellion at Babel, and they joined the dispersion simply because they wanted to separate themselves from unbelievers.

According to Kang & Nelson, the origin of the Chinese people can be traced back to 2,500 BC. They were originally monotheistic and worshipped a God called Shang-Ti, the Heavenly Emperor, sometimes pronounced Shang-Dai in some dialects which bears a remarkable resemblance to the Hebrew Shaddai. They used to have border sacrifices, at the border of the country, and they would say a prayer that resembles the first chapter of Genesis, acknowledging Shang-Ti as the creator of heaven and earth. The border is obviously a representation of the boundary of the Garden of Eden, from which Adam and Eve had been expelled.

Polytheistic religions did not come to China until much later. Confucius was born in 551 BC, and his contemprary Lao-tze founded the Taoist religion. Gautama founded Buddhism in India at about the same time, but it did not come to China until about 67 BC. The Chinese built no towers or pagodas until the arrival of Buddhism, presumably because they had no need for edifices like the Tower of Babel.

However, they knew about the Tower of Babel and the confusion of tongues because these events are represented in their pictographs, and this raises two possibilities:

  • Joktan and his family were in Babylon, but they never took part in the rebellion, and never had any interest in the Tower of Babel, but they saw the events that happened there.
  • Joktan and his family were never in Babylon, but they were joined by other people arriving from Babylon, speaking their strange new languages and struggling to communicate the awful tale of the rebellion and its consequences. This must have been quite an experience for the Chinese, if they had always lived in a world where everybody spoke the same language and suddenly they were confronted by people speaking different languages. It would have been an event worth noting, and they would have included the story of the Tower of Babel in their pictographs.

If the Chinese were not involved in the rebellion, and they never went to Babylon, it means their language must be the original Edenic, a point that is discussed by Paul Phelps in his Oriental Origins in the Bible. Of course this is in opposition to the view, held by some, that Hebrew is the Edenic language, but who can claim to have the last word on the matter? If the Chinese are the Oriental Hebrews, they must have an equally valid claim to the language of Eden.

Copyright 2004 Updated March 2005

Mike Gascoigne
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