A Dictionary of All Religions and Religious Denominations/Afghans
AFGHANS, a people in India, inhabiting a province of Cabul, or cabulistan, who boast of being descended from Saul, the first king of Israel. They say that their great ancestor was raised from the rank of a shepherd, not for any princely qualities which he possessed, but because his stature was exactly equal to the length of a rod given by the angel Gabriel to the prophet Samuel, as the measure of royal stature.
This story is supposed to be one of the fictions which Mahomet borrowed from the latter rabbins. Sir William Jones, however, though he gave no credit to this fable, seems to have had no doubt but that the Afghans are descendants of Israel carried off in the captivity of the ten tribes.
This great man strongly recommended an inquiry into the language, literature, and history of the Afghans. "We learn," said he, " from Esdras, that the ten tribes, after a wandering journey, came to a country, called Arsareth, where we may suppose they settled. Now the best Persian historians affirm, that the Afghans are descended from the Jews; and they have among themselves traditions of the same import. It is even asserted that their families are distinguished by the names of Jewish tribes, though since their conversion to Islamism they have studiously concealed their origin. The language they use has a manifest resemblance to the Chaldaic, and a considerable district under their dominions is called Hazareth, which might easily have been changed from Arsareth."
- Asiatic Researches, vol. ii. p. 76, and Works of Sir William Jones, vol. i. p. 336.