Pashtunwali, the unwritten code of conduct for the Pashtun people, and the Jewish Torah surprisingly contain many striking similarities.
The code of honor of the Pashtun people, known as the “Pashtunwali,” is a set of rules and laws to live which includes many similarities to the holy Jewish Torah, the book of the lost tribes (Bnei Israel). Since my native language is Hebrew, I’d like to take the opportunity to prove this argument from the book by comparing it to the Pashtunwali:
- Melmastia (hospitality) one of the most important rules of the Pashtunwali, is to be hospitable to every person who comes to your home. At the beginning of the Torah there is a story about 3 foreigners coming to Abraham’s house. Within a few minutes, he is letting them in, serving them with cakes, butter, milk and meat [Genesis (“Bereshit”), 10: 1-8].
- Badal (revenge) principle of honor, to revenge. In the Torah, there is a privilege to revenge the death of a person by his family [Deuteronomy (“Dvarim”), chapter 19: 2], under the rule of “eye under eye” – if a person killed your animal, you’re allowed to kill his animal, and so on [Leviticus (“Vayikra”), 24: 17-20]. In other Bibles and traditions we find similar stories [For example, book “Shmuel”].
- Nanawatei (asylum) a person may seek a refuge and shelter against his enemy. The Torah lists 6 refuge cities in case a person killed someone and needs protection [Numbers (BaMidbar), 35+ Deuteronomy 19].
- Turah (bravery) the protection over the land and family. We see in the Torah that a man must defend his tribe, and not only that but to make sure that his kids are married with partners from the same tribe. A special position is mentioned for widows, in which the man has to protect her [Deuteronomy 25:. 5-10].
- Sabat (loyalty) to your tribe and family. In the Torah we find the loyalty mostly for God in the Ten Commandments which refers to being loyal to God by keeping the Sabbath [Exodus (Shmot), 20:8].
- Lmandari (righteousness) – behaving in a respectful and decent way. The Torah’s Commandments describe it as “not commit adultery/false witness against neighbor/not covet/not steal/not murder/and etc [Ibid, 20: 2-14].
- Isteqamat (Believe/trust in God) in Torah – “I am God.. no other gods before me”[Ibid, 20: 2].
- Ghayrat (courage) demonstration of respect. Yaakov’s daughter, Dina, is being raped in the Torah by a foreigner. Her brothers, Shimon (Shinwari) and Levi, in response, murder not only the rapist but his father and all of his town’s residents [Genesis, 34].
- Naamus (woman’s respect) the Torah refers to the woman as a mom “Honor your mother” (Commandments) and obligates a man to provide his wife food, cloth and intercourse [Numbers, 35: 10] in the case of a man raping a girl, he must marry her in order to protect her honor and pay her father compensation [Deuteronomy, 22: 28-29].
- Nang – “defend the weak” – this is a key rule in the Torah: the widow and orphan are most vulnerable and the protection over them must be taken under consideration [Exodus, 22: 20-23, as well Deuteronomy 14: 28-29, 17: 9-14 and 14: 17- 22].
Yasmin Eliaz is a Master’s student in Political Science at Bar Ilan University. She specializes in Afghanistan and works as a research assistant at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Read other articles by Yasmin.