5.

Exodus of Manas and Moses Previous name and character comparisons provide a fascinating analysis of two narratives, Manas’ epic and the Torah. By cross-examining not only characters, but also the composition we can better determine if the two great stories originate from a common composer. In this section I will make a comparative analysis of Kyrgyz and Israeli migrations or exoduses. The exoduses represent scenes from each larger narrative. These samples or fragments will be laid side by side and examined, just as a geneticist would examine data from two samples of DNA to determine their relationship. Amazingly the following cross examination reveals a striking affiliation between Kyrgyzstan’s great epic and earth’s most popular book.

Unfortunately acknowledging this relationship is controversial in Kyrgyzstan, where the epic is often considered sacred and the Bible a national eyesore. I present this material not to be controversial, but to build bridges of respect between the adherents of each narrative. Introduction to the Exodus The Manas Epic and the book that made our world1 both have major sections devoted to exoduses from the land of oppression back to the fatherland.

The Kyrgyz hero, Manas, brought his people from Altai in Siberia to Talas in modern day Kyrgyzstan. This is recorded fairly early in the epic.

A title for the holy books, borrowed from Vishal Mangalwadi’s “The Book that Made Your World: How the Bible Created the Soul of Western Civilization”
1

The biblical leader, Moses, brought his people from Egypt to Canaan. His story is found in the early chapters of Exodus and the book of Numbers.

As we compare these two great exodus stories we will find that there are differences, some huge. Two significant differences are:

1. The people of the two nations start from separate affluent geographic areas and migrated to different locations. 2. Moses delivered his people from captivity using the famous 10 plagues, parting the Red Sea and other miracles, while Manas and the Kyrgyz leaders knew great masses of their enemy were coming after them, so they decided to return to Talas where they would make their stand.

Kyrgyz scholars generally agree there are many layers to the Manas Epic. Therefore we can investigate the epic, not only like geneticists, but also like archeologists unearthing various layers in an excavation site. The migration on the top layer is a historical migration from Altai to Talas that some believe took place between 500 and a 1000 years ago.2 As we sift-through this upper level, we eventually find elements of an early migration that took place over 3000 years ago.

2

The date of this migration is still debated among Kyrgyz scholars. Some believe the migration took place much earlier. Both sides of the debates recognize that Kyrgyz have a history in modern Kyrgyzstan that predates the migration from Altai. More will be discussed later.

Exodus of Manas & Moses Both exoduses have a pre-story. The Kyrgyz leader, Jakyb, was a spoiled son, separated from his brothers when he was seventeen years old, and deported as a captive to Altai where he eventually became the richest man in the region. The Torah’s account, on the other hand, says Joseph, the spoiled son, was torn from his family when he was seventeen years old, sold as a slave, and deported to Egypt where he eventually became governor and one of the richest men in the region. Let’s start from the beginning:

“Now Israel (Jacob) loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age...” 3 And another verse from the Torah:

Joseph, being seventeen years old, was feeding the flock with his brothers...” 4 Soon after this, Joseph’s older brothers became very angry with him for being over bold about his dreams. The brothers decided to sell him to slave traders.

Likewise, the Kyrgyz brothers, Jakyb and Bai, were also torn from each other when Jakyb was seventeen years old. Later, when the brothers were reunited, Bai exclaims:
3

Genesis 37:2-3 (New King James Version) All Bible quotations are from the New King James Version unless otherwise noted.
4

Genesis 37:2 (New King James Version). Author’s emphasis added.

“You were only seventeen – spoiled by father and mother had been. Careless you were, and over bold.… Scarce seventeen you were that day. Parted from you I knew no rest” 5 Both the biblical and the Kyrgyz narratives mention a “brother,” a central character who was seventeen when separated from family. Why is this minute and seemingly unimportant detail retained in both narratives? The biblical account does not tell us how old Isaac was when Abraham offered him as a sacrifice or how old David was when he killed the giant, or Daniel’s age when thrown to the lions, or Jeremiah’s age when he started proclaiming God’s message, but here we have an obscure age mentioned in both narratives – when brothers were separated. This is a detail we should not ignore.

As mentioned earlier, Carl Jung tries to explain literary similarities, which he calls archetypes.6 However, we see resemblances between the Manas Epic and Bible that no longer fit within his definition of an archetype. The numbers and names listed in each narrative reveal striking resemblance which demand a new position.

5

Orozbakov, Sagymbai, Manas; translated by Walter May. Rarity Bishkek, 2004) Vol I, 6260-6266, 6292-6293, Author’s emphasis added.
6

Jung, C. G., The Archetypes and The Collective Unconscious. (Princeton, N.J.: Bollingen. 1981), Collected Works Vol.9 Part 1

There are other interesting semblances building up to the two exoduses. The Torah recounts:

All the persons of the house of Jacob who went to Egypt were seventy.7 The Kyrgyz account indicates seventeen year old Jakyp was torn from his brothers and moved with seventy families to Altai in Siberia.

Those who were hungry, had no home, Those, whom father and mother left, Those who came of homes bereft, All together he gathered them in, Seventy families made his kin.8

Both the former Kyrgyz and biblical tribes were nomadic, and both refer to twelve tribes in reference to their national compilation. Bai makes this statement when reunited with Jakyb:

“My Kirghiz, of a dozen tribes, were not near, I grieved besides, And I yearned and burned for them, And I thought of my brother then.

7 8

Genesis 46:27 (New King James Version). Author’s emphasis added.

Orozbakov Sagymbai; Manas: Translation by Walter May (Rarity, Bishkek, 2004) Book I, 1276-1282. Author’s emphasis added. Note that some version say Jakyb was deported with forty families, not seventy.

Three times a day, Jakyb, I wept,9 Barely my hold on life I kept.” 10 The biblical text continues to align with the Kyrgyz epic.

All these are the twelve tribes of Israel, and this is what their father spoke to them…11 Jesus’ disciple, James, also known as Jacob,12 writing in the first century CE continues to refer to Jacob’s descendants as the “twelve tribes.”

“From Jacob, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes in the Dispersion...” 13 The Qur’an also affirms the nomenclature “twelve tribes”:

“And of Moses' folk there is a community who lead with truth and establish justice therewith. We divided them into twelve tribes, nations; and We inspired Moses, when his people asked him for water, saying: Smite with your staff the rock! And there gushed forth there twelve springs, so that
9

The biblical book Daniel (6:10) says Daniel (or Danyar) also wept three times a day for Jerusalem, the land he had been torn from. Modern Jews pray three times a day for the return of Israel’s scattered tribes.
10

Orozbakov, Sagymbai; Manas; Translation by Walter May( Rarity, Bishkek, 2004) Book I, 6381-6386 Author’s emphasis added.
11 12 13

Genesis 49:28 (New King James Version) “Jacob” is often translated into “James” in Western Christian literature and sacred texts. Jacob 1:1 (or James 1:1). Author’s emphasis added.

each tribe knew their drinking place...” 14 The Qur’an also acknowledges Jacob and the tribes in what may have been an important creed recited by early Muslims:

“Say: we believe in Allah and that which was revealed to us and was revealed to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, and the tribes, and that which Moses and Jesus received, and that which the prophets received from their Lord.” 15

Nation Building During their years of captivity both Jacob’s seventy people and Jakyp’s seventy families grew into formidable nations. They eventually decided to commence their exoduses and return to their fatherlands. The Kyrgyz fatherland was sometimes

14

Qur’an 7:159, 160 (Marmaduke Pickthall’s translation, Istanbul, 1998). Author’s emphasis added.
15

Qur’an 2:136, (translated by Marmaduke Pickthall). Author’s emphasis added. This creed is repeated in Qur’an 3:84. Professor of Islamic History at Princeton, Dr. Patricia Crone states that the Qur’an’s message was for an audience who knew the biblical prophets and their stories. Her conclusion is based on Mohammed’s 7th century historical and geographical context (“What Do We Actually Know About Mohammed?” August 31, 2006). Several Qur’anic verses like this one seem to confirm Crone’s conclusion, that the Qur’an was for an audience familiar with the Torah, Psalms, and Gospel. My Kyrgyz friends also affirm that the Qur’an’s message is much more clear after they have read “Allah’s earlier revelations.” Perhaps there was once a generation of Kyrgyz scholars who realized the importance of presenting the Qur’an in the context of the other holy books.

called “Naaman”, the biblical fatherland often called “Canaan.” 16

Now Jacob dwelt in the land where his father was a stranger, in the land of Canaan.17 Manas summoned the people to the exodus with this eloquent speech: Land which my forefathers left to me, Shall I let those Kitais grab it all? …Honor’s path I shall boldly storm! If I don’t get our old lands back… If Naaman, which from father came, In half a year I don’t restore, If our land I don’t gain once more…” 18 The biblical God gave the prophet this proclamation about Canaan: I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, to give you the land of Canaan and to be your God.” 19 I hope to do a proper etymological study of Kyrgyz and Aramaic, but since their etymology may be complicated by other local languages like Persian, I will leave that research for another time. For now, let us take stock of the etymological data. There are two men that may have related names, Jacob and Jakyp, from Canaan
16

Kyrgyz Republic’s National Academy of Sciences; Manas Encyclopedia, (Bishkek, 1995) Vol. II, p. 120
17 18

Genesis 37:1 (New King James Version). Author’s emphasis added.

Orozbakov, Sagymbai; Manas; Translation by Walter May (Rarity, Bishkek, 2004). book II, 405-417, 424-426 Author’s emphasis added.
19

Leviticus 25:38 (New King James Version). Author’s emphasis added.

and Naaman respectively, who dwelt at a place called Mamre and Mamir with sons named Manasseh and Manas, and beauties Rebekah and Rabiyga who married in from the outside.20 If there is no historic connection between these two documents this would certainly rate as a first class coincidence. The more likely answer is that we have a strange mystery on our hands. With one account woven into strata of the other. How did this happen? The Silk Road had traveling Jewish and Islamic merchants, Nestorian Christians, nomadic Khazar Jews, sedentary Karaites, Jewish communities from Bukhara to Keifeng, missionaries of every religion including Manichaeism and Zoroastrianism,21 and tales of Israel’s Lost Ten Tribes existing in places like Afghanistan and Japan22 - all which may have brought stories about Jacob, Joseph, Moses and the biblical exodus. But would they and the Kyrgyz transmitters have preserved such minute details, like 17 years old and 70 families in a Kyrgyz epic? Why were such precise details perpetuated?

There is more, the two men who led these two exoduses also have similar births. The pharaoh of Egypt was afraid Jacob’s people were becoming too powerful.23 Likewise, Esenkhan, the enemy king ruling over Kyrgyz had similar fears and started taking Kyrgyz boys:

20

Genesis 49:1-6. Kyrgyz still have the custom of taking their grandson as their own son. The grandson becomes the grandfather’s youngest son and takes his name.
21 22

Foltz ,Richard C.; Religions of the Silk Road, (St. Martin’s Griffin, New York, 1999) p. 15, 16

For more information about Afghanistan read: Parfitt, Tudor “The Lost Tribes of Israel, the History of a Myth” (Phoenix, 2003) p. 141. For information about Japan read: Kubo, Arimasa, a Japanese author who has researched this subject.
23

Exodus 1:8-11

From each family they took a boy And gathered all of them, not leaving one. Their mothers cried out And stirred up the people, Their fathers, frenzied, Even broke the irrigation ditches. All the people created chaos.24 In Egypt Pharaoh started killing the boys:

“When you help the Hebrew women in childbirth and observe them on the delivery stool, if it is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl let her live.” 25 In the midst of such terrible oppression a special male child was born and hidden:

“Now a man from the house of Levi went and took as his wife a Levite woman. The woman conceived and bore a son, and when she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him...26 Manas’ parents also had to hide their special son to keep him alive:

“When your son came out from the womb,

24

Karalaev, Saiakbai, Manas; Translated by Elmira Kochumkulkizi, Ph.D. Candidate in Near and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Washington (Seattle) lines 2777-2784.
25 26

Exodus 1:15, 16 Exodus 2:1 (English Standard Version). Emphasis added by author.

His ear tips were pierced,27 He was already circumcised.28 Those who saw him were scared, Oh, my Jakyp, think about it, Your son who came out from the womb Showed such great signs.” 29 Kyrgyz elders sent Manas to the mountains to hide him from their enemies.

We should keep him out of sight, Not letting the Kara Kalmyks, and Manchus know, Not letting any of them know, And any of them find out, We should hide and rear Manas in the mountains.” 30 Manas was hidden in the mountains where he shepherded his father’s flocks.

27

From a personal interview with Dr. Khuplam, from the Kuki Tribe in Manipur, India in April 2006: Khuplam also had pierced ears. Could Manas’ circumcision and pierced ears have a connection to Psalm 40:6 “...my ears You have pierced…” (NIV translation)? Kuki boys born circumcised are called “one born with an ancient penis”. Israel accepted the Kuki as descendants of Jacob, from the tribe of Manasseh in March, 2005. Also Almambet’s mother, Ainagul pierced his ear to verify his Kyrgyz identity in “Manas, Kirgizski narodni epos” (Manas, the Kirgiz Popular Epic) by Semen Lipkin. And, according to Archeologist Kubatbek Tabaldiev the balbal stones found in Kyrgyzstan reveal carvings of male Kyrgyz with pierced ears (K. Tabaldiev, The Stone Carvings at Burana Tower).
28 29

Similar to Jewish tradition about Moses’ birth.

Karalaev, Saiakbai, Manas; Translated by Elmira Kochumkulkizi, Ph.D. Candidate in Near and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Washington (Seattle) lines 3994-4000.
30

Karalaev, Saiakbai, Manas; Translated by Elmira Kochumkulkizi, Ph.D. Candidate in Near and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Washington (Seattle) lines 5249-5257.

Later in life, Moses hid in the wilderness, also shepherding sheep.31 These particular “shepherd-becomes-leader” similarities are more typical of archetypes and would not support our case if they stood alone. However, against the backdrop of countless associations we are forced to face the inevitable. Detective Work Kyrgyz historians say the epic Manas contains biographies of many heroes in their long history. Perhaps Jewish merchants, or Islamic or Christian missionaries brought biblical stories hundreds of years ago when the Silk Road was alive with trade and religion. The epic mentions that Jews (жөөт) and Tarsa (тарса) came to Kokotoi's feast and probably had a common goal with Kyrgyz. The Manas Encyclopedia also suggests that some Kyrgyz may have joined the Tarsa.32 Тарса were some sort of Bible-believing Central Asian tribe.

Or maybe Moses is an ancient Kyrgyz hero whose biography was retained by Manasseh’s Tribe in Manas’ Epic. At some point we must conclude whether or not the data supports our hypothesis; whether the supportive data dries up or continues piling up. Father-in-law Both Manas and Moses had fathers-in-law who gave aid during their stressful exoduses. Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro, came to visit Moses, who was struggling to lead the people. The elder offered the younger leader counsel that changed
31

The Qur’an says Allah hid Jesus on a mountain with springs and flocks. David also grew up in obscurity, shepherding.
32

Kyrgyz Academy of Sciences; Manas Encyclopedia; Vol. II, p. 270.

Moses’ leadership style and helped the community.33 Manas, on the other hand, was struggling to build an army that could travel back to Naaman. Manas’ fatherin-law, Kaiyip, came with troops to help Kyrgyz reclaim their ancient territory.34

The numbers of fighting men that migrated in the exodus with Manas and Moses also matches. Manas moved with 600,000 soldiers:

Six-hundred thousand war-fit men Took the road towards Naaman.35 And “No small squad for that one there waits – Six hundred thousand added to them, With their chieftains too they came, Leaving behind the weak.” 36 Moses’ exodus to Canaan has this amazing similarity: “And the people of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides women and children.” 37
33 34

Numbers 10:29 and Exodus 18

Orozbakov, Sagymbai, Manas; Translated by Walter May (Rarity, Bishkek, 2004) Vol. II, 661-664
35

Orozbakov, Sagymbai; Manas; Translation by Walter May (Rarity, Bishkek, 2004) Vol. II, 709-710. Emphasis added by author.
36

Orozbakov, Sagymbai; Manas; Translation by Walter May(Rarity, Bishkek, 2004). Book II, 952-955 Author’s emphasis added.
37

Exodus 12:37 (English Standard Version). Author’s emphasis added.

And more specifically: So all who were numbered of the children of Israel, by their fathers’ houses, from twenty years old and above, all who were able to go to war in Israel—all who were numbered were six hundred and three thousand five hundred and fifty.” 38 Comparing these migrations gives enormous validation to each narrative. Kyrgyz descendants of Manas claim they migrated with 600,000 warriors, while the Torah claims Manasseh and the twelve tribes migrated with 600,000 fighting men. We have two witnesses testifying about migrations in their individual national histories. What would an archaeologist or geneticist do with such overlapping information? Complainers Moses and Manas also faced complainers who preferred the land of oppression to the risks and hardships along freedom’s road. “Aidarkan and Numar looked back: “What if these heathens we don’t attack, But return to our homes again?” Thus they spoke, those counselors twain. And at once that provoked a reply – Lion Manas was angry, that’s why! Having heard their senseless speech, Some kind of reason he had to teach…”39
38 39

Numbers 1:45, 46 (New King James Version)

Orozbakov, Sagymbai; Manas; Translation by Walter May (Rarity, Bishkek, 2004) Vol. II, 1009-1016

Even Manas’ father, Jakyb, wanted to return: Back to Altai to go, I’m inclined So said Jakib, to return resigned.40 Angry Manas got his people back on track. So did Moses. From the Israeli complainers comes the following: “… on the fifteenth day of the second month after they departed from the land of Egypt. Then the whole congregation of the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. And the children of Israel said to them, “Oh, that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat and when we ate bread to the full! For you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” 41

A further similarity, and not a small one, is that Manas and Moses both encountered hostile kings on their exoduses: Og in the Torah and Orgo in Manas’ Epic. The biblical account follows: And they turned and went up by the way to Bashan. So Og king of Bashan went out against them, he and all his people, to battle at Edrei.... So they (Israel) defeated him, his sons, and all his people, until there was no survivor left... 42

40 41 42

Orozbakov, Sagymbai; Manas; Translated by Walter May Vol. II, 6439, 6440 Exodus 16:1-3 (New King James Version). Author’s emphasis added. Numbers 21:33-35 (New King James Version). Author’s emphasis added.

The Manas Epic also reveals Orgo’s annihilation: Coming to grips with lion Manas, Khan Orgo was slaughtered thus.43 I have not studied the etymology of Og and Orgo, but I did note some interesting affinities: both battles against Og and Orgo are the second major battle listed in each exodus. Note also that Og ruled over Bashan and Orgo ruled over Eki Bash.44 Both grassy mountainous regions are excellent for grazing livestock. Both Og and Orgo tried to impede Moses and Manas from passing to their original fatherlands, Canaan and Naaman. Both Kyrgyz and Israelis moved on from their victories against Og and Orgo to displace pagan foreigners, “giants,” living in the land beyond, but both Manas in the epic and Manasseh’s tribe in the Torah took time to dwell in Og’s or Orgo’s land before finishing their conquests.45

Finally, both exodus leaders, Manas and Moses, died. Their bones were hidden in a place no one could find. To date, no serious discovery has ever been made regarding their tombs. The following is a summary from the Manas Epic: Manas’ wife led a small night expedition to bury Manas at the base of a cliff. The team covered the hole so no one could find his grave. Manas’ wife and his closet
43

Orozbakov, Sagymbai; Manas; Translated by Walter May (Rarity, Bishkek, 2004) Vol. II, 2873, 2874. Author’s emphasis added.
44 45

Manas Encyclopedia, (Bishkek, 1995) Vol. II, p. 361 Deuteronomy 3:1-13 & Orozbakov Vol II, 3072-3083

companions then made a false mausoleum in a separate location to fool the people. 46 To this day Kyrgyz don’t know where Manas was buried. They do know his mausoleum is not his real gave. Moses’ story is similar: … Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord. And He buried him in a valley in the land of Moab, opposite Beth Peor; but no one knows his grave to this day.47 Mausoleums of great leaders dot Kyrgyzstan’s landscape, but not Manas’. The fake mausoleum does not have his bones. Mausoleum locations of biblical heroes are well recorded, but Moses’ is noticeably missing. Conclusion about the Exodus The two exoduses are different at many points, but our findings reveal many “artifacts” from Moses’ ancient exodus coming through in Manas’ more recent version. The parallels mentioned reveal a clear relationship between these two narratives, as if they shared matching DNA or a common ancestor. Reasons for the relationship are debatable. The thing we have discovered is that the two narratives, pitted against each other in an epic battle are now looking more like siblings.

This work is not the first to compare the mysteries between the Manas Epic and the Bible: Chingis Aitmatov, in his introduction to Ashim Jakypbekov’s book, “Tengiri
46

Jakypbek, Ashim “Tengiri Manas” p. 525-526, and Jakiev, Beksultan “Manas Kyrgyzdardyn Baatirdyk Epocu” p. 220
47

Deuteronomy 34:5-12

Manas,” mentions similar mysteries and riddles in the Bible. Film producer, Bolot Shamshiev has written articles about biblical connections to Kyrgyz culture. And one controversial journalist, Janybek Janyzak, would not attend the 1000 year anniversary of Manas’ epic in 1995, because, he claimed, Manas was Hebrew.48 While working on this treatise the August 28, 2008 edition of Kutbilim Newspaper had an article about this Manas-Manasseh topic. Historian, Tabyldy Akerov also tried explaining why the epic and holy books have striking similarities.49 It is my hope the mysterious links mentioned here will harmonize divisive world-views.

48

Stoloitsa Newspaper, “Why Are You Celebrating the 1000 Anniversary of the Hebrew, Manas?” by Janybek Janyzak, 1995
49 Akerov,

Tabyldy; Kutbilim Gazeta, August 28, 2008; p. 13

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