View of the Hebrews
Thesis of View of the Hebrews
The first edition of Ethan Smith's View of the Hebrews was published in 1823, and a second expanded edition appeared in 1825. Ethan Smith's theory, relatively common among both theologians and laymen of his day, was that Native Americans were descendants of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel, who had disappeared after being taken captive by the Assyrians in the 8th century BCE. Terryl Givens calls the work "an inelegant blend of history, excerpts, exhortation, and theorizing."
Smith's speculation took flight from a verse in the Apocrypha, 2 Esdras 13:41, which says that the Ten Tribes traveled to a far country, "where never mankind dwelt"—which Smith interpreted to mean America. During Smith's day speculation about the Ten Lost Tribes was heightened both by a renewed interest in biblical prophecy and by the belief that the aboriginal peoples who had been swept aside by Europeans settlers could not have created the sophisticated burial mounds found in North America.
Is "View of the Hebrews" a source for the Book of Mormon?
Their language appears clearly to be Hebrew. In this, Doctor Edwards, Mr. Adair, and others were agreed. Doctor Edwards, after having a good acquaintance with their language, gave his reasons for believing it to have been originally Hebrew. Both, he remarks, are found without prepositions, and are formed with prefixes and suffixes; a thing probably known to no other language. And he shows that not only the words, but the construction of phrases, in both, have been the same. (page 89)
The native Americans have acknowledged one and only one God; and they have generally views concerning the one Great Spirit, of which no account can be given, but that they derived them from ancient revelation in Israel." (page 98)
1. These natives all appear to have one origin, 85
2. Their language appears to have been Hebrew, 89
Table of words, 90
3. The Indians have had their ark of the covenant, 95
4. They have had circumcision, 97
5. They generally have acknowledged one and only one God, 98
6. Testimony of William Penn, 107
7. Their superior tribe, 108
8. Several prophetic traits of character, 109
9. Their being in tribes with heads of tribes, 111
10. Their having an imitation of the cities of refuge, 112