Jacob Milgrom, The Jewish Eddah and The Nigerian Igbo

Jacob Milgrom made commentries on Leviticus 1-16 and 16-22 where he made citations on the word Edda. He described Edda as the following

1, the people itself,

2, the community of elders

3, the male population

4, the settlement including children and women

5, the Jewish congregation both in and out of the community

From all probability, Edda may have represented a community of Israel priest that has helped to hold the Israel together in times of trouble. Israelites has witnessed over 49 expulsions from different parts of the world and as such found in every civilization, from Yugoslavia  to Nigeria. 

They are usually called ‘Children of Abraham’, in Igbo Ababana, Ababani or Ani Bani. They also refer to Yako as a primordial ancestor which in Igbo would come off as Yako. Hence ‘Oji/oggi Yako…would mean “the tree of Jakob” respectively in Igbo. Yako is Yakob and is Jacob. The root word within the word is ‘ako’…like Jakob; the trickster.  

From my personal research, all Eddas have 72 villages, which are supposed to represent a selection from the original 72 house of Levi…appointed shepherds of the household of Israel or Yisaa. They are descended from the time of Exodus when God told Moses to appoint 70 elders to help shoulder his burden of religious responsibility.

In KJV Numbers 11;16-30 where Moses nominated seventy people in addition to Aaron and Himself, drawing the conclusion to 72. These were the Septuagint…the translators of Hebrew New Testament into Greek. In that version Eldad and Medad stayed behind during the consecration but the spirit of the lord fell upon them.

Edda is a village in Nigeria of made up of 72 subvillages believed to have descended from 72 priests who arrived in Ebonim/Ebonyim in some distant past. Unlike other Igbo villages in Nigeria, Edda is one the few villages with the names of thier ancestors in intact.

It is in Edda that you find names like Libo, Libolo, Owutu, Ama mini, Nguzi or Nguzu, Ama Ngwu, Iweta, and so on were supposed to be part of the names of these settlers. The meaning of these names are not found in Igbo but can be traced to Hebrew language.

For instance the name Libo gives away the fact that a Russian by name Libo -weitze is probably a mixture of two names. The spiritual decline of the people is not without refference to the influence of human wisdom in interpreting religious lores, especially matters on Tora, but that aspect of Idol worship that is still extant in that village is seriously disaffected to Judaism. They can give away such practice

There is however a great presence of Jewish practice in Eddas of Igbo society. For instance, every male child is circumcised after 8 days and there is a compulsory separation of women at a time of birth and during certain other periods, and certain creatures like pigs are not allowed or eaten by the priests and by many Igbo villages. There is also the issue of bitter leaves.

While the Jewish Eddas are believed to have come to an end during the Spanish expulsion of 1492, there is nothing that speak on thier probable destination and homestead. The past European years of European Jewry is characterised by extreme prejudice, which may or may not have generally forced them into a lifestyle completely devoid of ordinary life.

The number of priest 72 who officiated thier daily ceremony provided the number of days for Jewish life. The 72 priests are divided into several groups called courses like Zedekiah in New testament was from the course of Abia when his turn for officiating arrived.

There are at least 18 priests in a one major course line, usually 4 in all. These four courses had leaders…who were known by thier duties. For instance, the Oriejis in Hebrew refer to those “with the guardians” of Jewish people or thier visionary, and the Moyes in Hebrew are called the “Teachers”. The word Moye can be tracked down in Igbo as Woye given the incongruity of M for W in Hebrew English dialectic. This word Woye simply refer to the Nwoyes of Nigerian Igbo.

This group may be related to Orieji because of the presence of the word orie or ore in both words. In Igbo Oriejis are never head of the village but are king makers and can actually hold powers on behalf of the people. To be born Nwoye or Nworie is to be born on that Orie day; the second of the four day recircle. The iconclasts is okay becuase the idea of translating a people in terms of thier priesthood can be quite trying.    

The first Igbo day is Eke and in Igbo Ekeji or Ekeoha refers to holders of the community. The reps of the state in matters of power. Eke families are usually the head of Igbo villages. That is to say that the ceremonial heads of the Igbo societies are Eke priesthood. They are called the Ezes, the kings but perhaps the king of  peace or high priest after solution concerning other priest.

The word Eze is Hebrew ‘crown’ while Igwe is used as a hononary title. The Ekeji in Hebrew refers to the ‘rulers’ or ‘with administrators’, chiefly concerned with Sunago/Synagogue administration. Eke is the first day of Igbo society.

The word Nomojis  is equally an instrument of help in this dialectic. It is important because of the light it can throw to our discourse. There is no Igbo day called Nomoji but it is an Igbo name. This name Nomoji in Hebrew will refer to the priests who functions include the laws. That is, those “with Law makers or Judges”. They may be related to Eke group on the condition of the law and the temple.

Perhaps they are the keepers of the Torah…in terms of property. In Igbo, there are families with this Nomoji as name but among the Eddas this name is now popularly displaced to Omoji. It is possible that two words Omoji and Nomoji are not the same. The word Nomo is found in Spanish as Nomes, which in English is Norm. Among these group is a name called Alake, a name that cannot be any different from Halakhic, a school eminiently dedicated to interpreting the Torah.

In Igbo however, Omoji is supposed to be the opposite of Osuji, which is sometimes confused with Osusuji. I, for one, have come Jewish names as Osuji but never used in meaning. The only disembarkation of the name Osuji that I ventured in refference to foreigners, not the ‘Ette’ as the Jewish Ladino will call gentiles, but something in the neighbourhood of the word Sojourner. In Igbo, and according to Chinua Achebe, Osu refers to the outsider who was probably chased away for one thing or another and it was a forbidden to marry such persons.

 In fact some Igbos believe that Osuji means that the husband came from elsewhere. We can now say that this is not entirely the case. There is some sensibility in Osu as an outsider but it does not follow the interpretation of Chinua Achebe. The Igbos of Ngor Okpala, Mbano and Mbaise have this names even among thier head of the society.

Osuji, in my opinion refers perhaps to sojourners from a different Igbo society who decided to adopt the name in memory of their families journey or migration. In essence Osuji simply put is “the sojourner/ with the sojourners” and may not necessary refer to immigration like certain Mbaise people who arrived thier current homeland from among the Igbos of Benin Isha, but can refer to all our journey through life as in Psalms 39 where journey’s end.     

Susuji on the other hand is Hebrew for spoken Tora, which makes no bolds about Nomoji as written Tora. My conclusion is therefore simple that Omoji refers to natives in Igbo and Osuji possibly refer to immigration of Igbos within Igbo society. Osusu which is Igbo root word for Osusuji refers to conscience of the God’s law while Nomoji is the Hebrew dialectic opposite as Tora, the Norms. ‘Susu’ sounds  funny in Igbo as Asusu as in language.

 There other groups but there is no mistake in the fact that the 4 days of Igbo society is seriously relevant to 4 priestly course of Israel. Far more important is that a division of the 72 by 4 will yield 18. It will apppear that Igbo days of 4 instead of 7 simply recircled around their priestly function of four major household who had the right to select which family to officiate an occassion within thier day.

This will be an eager interpretation of the reason why Igbos had no kings, and will play to suggest that thier heads of society were priests who normalised their role in the society. It will also highlight the probable fact that the market days found in the bible during the passover when the prebends where sold. 

For instance, during the time of Christ, money changers were forced out of  the Synagogue. Those special days in Jewish societies were holy days and were market days whose needed exceded the daily routine.

A redaction to this explanation is that Igbos who were found with 4 days holy days and markets were perhaps a finishing torch of the older religion. Perhaps thier ‘spiritual decline’ began with the deaths of the slave trade era and much perhaps with the forgetfulness that accompany an attempt to normalise a once spiritual day.  For here in these days, goods are exchanged and goods are bought like the Jews in Newyork, all without money.

On Eke day;the chief market day in Igbo, the horns are sounded before the goods for such an occasion goes into auctioning. I can hear now the gongs which modernity used as a replacement for the horns, but they all refer to the Shovas of today…all before the annuniation for the day to begin.

The word Market is English for the more Hebrew word Marke which is Latin for  Markus. The word Market is described as a ‘trading square’ which cannot be mistaken as Hebrew’s Marke’ and Igbo Amaeke. The idea of the prebend is not explanation of the stockmarket, a root interpretation of the lifestyle that is lesser in common to Moors than it is of Jews of Spain.

The meaning of this name Amaeke in Igbo society and the connecting tread with Judaism will be the theme of our next lecture.

Iroabuchi Onwuka


3 Responses to “Jacob Milgrom, The Jewish Eddah and The Nigerian Igbo”

  1. Paparazzi Says:

    Hi dear,

    i am impressed of what good job you re blogging here. i just want to let you know that u r doing a thing. keep it up and keep it coming. more comments of me soon. ciao.

  2. Esther Sackheim Says:

    I found this very interesting. Just had a visiting nurse from Nigeria
    Dear Jocob, I have been in touch with a person with the last name of MIlgrom
    This person came from Tulchin in Vinnitza province in the Ukraine.
    I also met a Ruth Milgrom, but could not understand her language and she could nto understand mine. She spoke only Russian.
    Thanks for any information you might offer
    Esther Feinstein Sackheim

  3. zygi mark onyia inya Says:

    it quite intresting on what i onyia inya nnaemeka emegharibe saw and read personally atleast am now very sure of myself and claim of my people the eddas ,unwanna’s and other part ‘s of igbo land thanks for this wounderful information of yours am delighted.

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