Who Are the Gypsies?

Who are the Gypsies? Who are the Romani people?

In the English language, the Romani people are widely known as Gypsies which is considered pejorative by many Romani people due to its connotations of illegality and irregularity as well as its historical use as a racial slur. But not so in Britain where many Romani proudly identify themselves as “Gypsies.” There the the English term Gypsy, or Gipsy, are known to have originated from the Middle English gypcian, which is short for Egipcien.

In Europe, Romani people are associated with poverty and blamed for high crime rates. Often thy make their living as wandering musicians and singers and are also accused of behaving in ways that are perceived as being antisocial or misappropriate by the rest of the population. Many saw them and continue to do so in many cases as dirty, thieving and undesirable, others as artistic, romantic and carefree, and they gained an often justified reputation as pickpockets, thieves and works of sorceries, astrologers, stargazers and soothsayers.

Wiki: Distribution of (about 10 million) Egipciens in Europe

In France, they are referred to as gitanes, in Spain they are called gitanos, and in Germany, zigeuner. Partly for this reason, discrimination against the Romani people has continued to be practiced to the present day.

Spain became the first country to issue an edict against the Gypsies in 1490, prohibiting their dress, language and customs in an effort to forcibly assimilate them, but it only made them keep a lower profile. France and England enacted expulsion orders in the 1530s, and many countries in central Europe forced the Gypsies into slavery, leaving them no choice but to continue their nomadic existence.

In the 20th century, the Gypsies faced a much more sinister foe than medieval villagers in the form of Adolf Hitler and the Nazis, who decided that all Gypsies must be exterminated. They were accused of many crimes that the Jews were also blamed for, including such things as child abduction and cannibalism. During the war, besides being occasionally rounded up, they were also often simply killed on sight. When World War II was over, a million were estimated had perished at the hands of the Nazis.

So who are these vagrant Gypsies? Could their fates have been found in the Scriptures?

Yes, they could be found in the Scriptures. They were they descendants of the Pharaoh and their princes of the royal city of Zoan. The majority traveled as free nomads with their wagons as alluded to in the spoked wheel symbol in the Romani flag, and they pride themselves having remained a tight knit community of families and as wise vagrants but were often considered as experts in wizardry and witchcrafts by their hosts.

Below are the Scriptures that are written of them:

Where are thy wise men? Where are the Egipciens? Scattered around the world now

Ezekiel 29, concerning ALL Egypt:

2 “Son of man, set thy face against Pharaoh king of Egypt, and prophesy against him and against all Egypt.

3 Speak, and say, ‘Thus saith the Lord God: “‘Behold, I am against thee, Pharaoh king of Egypt, the great dragon that lieth in the midst of his rivers, which hath said, “My river is mine own, and I have made it for myself.”

4 But I will put hooks in thy jaws, and I will cause the fish of thy rivers to stick unto thy scales; and I will bring thee up out of the midst of thy rivers, and all the fish of thy rivers shall stick unto thy scales.

5 And I will leave thee thrown into the wilderness, thee and all the fish of thy rivers; thou shalt fall upon the open fields. Thou shalt not be brought together, nor gathered. I have given thee for meat to the beasts of the field and to the fowls of the heaven.

6 And all the inhabitants of Egypt shall know that I am the Lord, because they have been a staff of reed to the house of Israel.

But it would be after after facing God’s judgement for a period of forty years!

12 And I will make the land of Egypt desolate in the midst of the countries that are desolate, and her cities among the cities that are laid waste shall be desolate forty years; and I will scatter the Egyptians among the nations and will disperse them through the countries.

13 “‘Yet thus saith the Lord God: At the end of forty years will I gather the Egyptians from the people whither they were scattered.

14 And I will bring back the captives of Egypt and will cause them to return into the land of Pathros, into the land of their habitation, and they shall be there a base kingdom.

15 It shall be the least of the kingdoms, neither shall it exalt itself any more above the nations; for I will diminish them, that they shall no more rule over the nations.

In Isaiah 19:1,11, concerning the Princes of Egypt who were wise in their own eyes:

1 The burden of Egypt: Behold, the Lord rideth upon a swift cloud, and shall come into Egypt; and the idols of Egypt shall be moved at His presence, and the heart of Egypt shall melt in the midst of it.

11 Surely the princes of Zoan are fools; the counsel of the wise counselors of Pharaoh has become brutish. How say ye unto Pharaoh, “I am the son of the wise, the son of ancient kings”?

From “Gypsy” entertainers to “Romani” musicians

— surely the princes of Zoan (or Tanis as the Targum says), a city of Lower Egypt, known as “the royal city of the Pharaohs, “it was then the royal city and at one time the capital of the country, who claimed “we are the sons of wise men” are fools, the counsel of the wise counselors of Pharaoh is become brutish, the priestly counselors of the Egyptian king had lost all their wisdom;

— how say ye unto Pharaoh, I am the son of the wise, the son of ancient kings? In spite of the fact that they boasted their descent from wise and ancient counselors, even of royalty, they were unable to offer advice in their crisis to their Pharaoh;

12 Where are they? Where are thy wise men? And let them tell thee now, and let them know what the Lord of hosts hath purposed upon Egypt.

— and God challenge them; where are they? where are their wise men? And, let them tell thee now, in a certain prophecy, and let them know what the Lord of hosts hath purposed upon Egypt, and it has deep consequences;

Isaiah 30:

4 For his princes were at Zoan, and his ambassadors came to Hanes.

— for Pharaoh’s princes were at Zoan, known as “the royal city of the Pharaohs” which is the same as Tanis, the metropolis of one of the provinces of Egypt; and so the Targum renders it, “Tanes” and the Septuagint version, “Tanis.” The Jews say there is not a more excellent place in all Egypt than Zoan, because kings were brought up in it, as it is said here, “his princes were at Zoan.”

— and more on Zoan: today, Gypsies are known as Roma, but in Hebrew, their name is derived from the Egyptian city of Zoan, or Tanis, at one time the royal and capital of the country; and this is from Wikipedia (Romani people);

Hebrew: צוענים‎, romanized: Tzoanim. Derives either from the biblical Egyptian city of Zoan, or from the linguistic root צ־ע־נ‎, meaning “wander.”

— the other called “Hanes” is the same with Tahapanes in Jeremiah 2:16 and Tahpanhes, Jeremiah 43:7 and so the Targum here calls it; it is thought to be the same with Daphnae Pelusiae; here Pharaoh had a house or palace; see Jeremiah 43:9 and this is the reason of the ambassadors (the Jeremiah’s entourage and the king’s daughters, after escaping from Ishmael, the son of Nethaniah, who smote Gedaliah the governor and who might also kill them) from the “children of God” had gone there.

Gypsy women were adored for their beauty and seductive charms:
“And they shall know that I am the Lord.”

Ezekiel 32:

18 “Son of man, wail for the multitude of Egypt and cast them down, even her and the daughters of the famous nations, unto the nether parts of the earth with them that go down into the pit.

— “wail for the multitude of Egypt and cast them down. . . unto the nether parts of the earth” — the Gypsies, an ethnic group and were considered ‘wanderers’ or vagrants, an traditionally itinerant people now living in various parts of central Europe and the Balkans (Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Slovenia, the Czech and Slovak republics, and Hungary) and Southern France, as well as Turkey;

— but the Gypsies, in one opinion, were alleged to have originated from northern India. Proofs are scanty, and are subjected to dispute; but if so, they were captured by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and perhaps some were brought to Persia and around the lower Euphrates region, where they could have migrated further eastward to the Indian subcontinent. Having arrived in the Punjab region their ancestors followed Hinduism; that they were identified as worshippers of the Hindu Goddess Kali and Lord Shiva.

— according to their proponents, the Romani people occupied the lowest rung on the Indian caste system of early medieval India, where they were classified as the untouchables and were subjected to discrimination and were also assigned society’s dirtiest jobs. Hence it could be for this reason that they continued to migrate westward first to the Balkans in Eastern Europe and then beyond, but nothing is proven, as Wiki also tells us, “There is also no known record of a migration from India to Europe from medieval times that can be connected indisputably to Roma.”

Still, if such legend is true, evidence point to the fact that perhaps at least a thousand years earlier, they had been dispersed during the conquest of Egypt by Nebuchadnezzar (reign 605–562 BC) and were scattered around various countries. That’s right, into many countries. That vast majority might not had been brought to Persia but scattered elsewhere, perhaps straight to Syria, Anatolia and into the Balkans and beyond. And back to some Scriptures from Ezekiel that say about the Egyptians being scattered, dispersed and dispossessed:

Ezekiel 29:

12 “and I will scatter the Egyptians among the nations and will disperse them through the countries.”

19 Therefore thus saith the Lord God: Behold, I will give the land of Egypt unto Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon; and he shall take her multitude, and take her spoil, and take her prey; and it shall be the wages for his army.

— today, Gypsies are also known as Roma, but in Hebrew, their name is derived from the Egyptian city of Zoan, known as “the royal city of the Pharaohs” or Tanis (as the Targum says), at one time the royal and capital of the country; and in the English literature, described as “outlandish people calling themselves Egyptians.” And this is from Wikipedia (Romani people):

The English term Gypsy (or Gipsy) originates from the Middle English gypcian, short for Egipcien; the medieval French referred the Romanies as Egyptiens.

Hebrew: צוענים‎, romanized: Tzoanim. Derives either from the biblical Egyptian city of Zoan, or from the linguistic root צ־ע־נ‎, meaning “wander”

— and from the French entry:

French: gitan/tsigane, English gypsy, gipsy / dʒɪpsiː/, Irish: giofóg, Spanish/Catalan/Italian gitano, Basque: ijito, Turkish: çingene, all from Greek: Αἰγύπτιος, romanized: Aigýptios “Egyptian” (corrupted form: Γύφτος, Gýftos), and Hungarian: fáraónépe from Greek: φαραώ, romanized: pharaó “pharaoh” – referring to their allegedly Egyptian provenance.

Of significance is that the Gypsies were known as Gypcians or Egipciens in Middle English; the medieval French referred the Romanies as Egyptiens; in Hebrew as Tzoanim and Pharaó in Greek.

And finally in Ezekiel 30:

26 “And I will scatter the Egyptians among the nations and disperse them among the countries; and they shall know that I am the Lord.” — ‘scatter and disperse’ repeated in Ezekiel 29:12 and 30:23

In Europe, Gypsies were expelled from the Meissen region of Germany in 1416, Lucerne in 1471, Milan in 1493, France in 1504, Catalonia in 1512, Sweden in 1525, England in 1530, and Denmark in 1536. From 1510 onwards, any Romani found in Switzerland were to be executed, while in England (beginning in 1554) and Denmark (beginning of 1589) any Romani which did not leave within a month were to be executed. Portugal began deportations of Romanis to its colonies in 1538.

in France, they were branded, and their heads were shaved; in Moravia and Bohemia, the women were marked by their ears being severed. As a result, large groups of the Romani moved to the East, toward Poland, which was more tolerant, and Russia, where the Romani were treated more fairly as long as they paid the annual taxes.

The Egyptians Act 1530 was an English Act passed to expel the “outlandish people calling themselves Egyptians” meaning the Gypsies. The Act accused Gypsies of using crafty and subtle devices to deceive people, palmistry, tell fortunes whilst committing felonies such as robbery; and goods which Gypsies had stolen were to be restored to their owners. The statute forbade any more Gypsies from entering the realm and those already in England sixteen days’ notice to depart from the realm.

Not able to cover Gypsies who were born in England or those who came by way of Scotland another Egyptians Act 1554 was passed during the reign of Queen Mary I to reinforce their complaint that “Egyptians” were plying their “devilish and naughty practices and devices.” The new Act allowed Gypsies to escape prosecution so long as they abandoned their nomadic lifestyle described as “naughty, idle and ungodly.” Gypsies were either forced to settle down, exit the realm or face potential death at the will of the Crown.

Queen Mary I of England, Reign: July 1553 – November 1558

The Egyptians were scattered (Ezekiel 29:12,19) by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon (reign 605–562 BC) and after forty years (Ezekiel 29:13) some were brought back to their own land but only as a base nation. Others, especially who were of the Pharaohs and their princes, remain scattered throughout the world today these vagrants are known as the Romani people.

— after being scattered and dispersed among the nation “they shall know that I am the Lord,” reaffirms their survival at the end, coming into repentance by then knowing that the God of Israel is both omniscient and omnipotent. In fact, this phase “and they shall know that I am the Lord,” is repeated four times (verses 8, 19, 25, 26) in this chapter alone, reaffirming emphatically they’ll survive through the Lord’s redemption at the end.

For some Gypsies stories experienced in Europe, see A Brief Introduction to Gypsies UNZ Review by Larry Romanoff / April 22, 2022

~ by Joel Huan on March 28, 2022.

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