Are the white north-west Europeans Israelites, as some say?
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Anglo-Israelist writers have claimed that the ten “lost” tribes of Israel moved into north-western Europe – except for Germany which some of those writers have said to be “Assyria”. Often, they have combined those things with a story regarding “the throne of David”, claiming that the kingly line of David of Israel reigns in Europe today. Some have even pointed out certain European nations as specific tribes of Israel. This study takes a closer look at those claims, from both biblical as well as historical viewpoints.
This article is a part of a series on what biblical prophecy says about the fate of the tribes of Israel.
The Bible does not record what happened to the ten northern tribes of Israel, after they had been taken into captivity in Assyria and the area around it. But on the other hand, there is biblical prophecy, concerning how they were to be doing, during that exile and dispersion. There are several prophecies to take into consideration, as well as historical facts and certain other things. The other parts in this series have more on this. The basics in regard to that matter are clarified in the first part, the article nya010.htm.
The nature and worth or validity of many Anglo-Israelist claims can also be weighed and assessed through simple logical analysis. This present article contains a bit of that.
Anglo-Israelist writers have claimed that the Anglo-Saxon part of the people of Great Britain are “Israelites”. Also, some of them have claimed that the Germans are “Assyrians”. How is it with that?
In Old English, “England” was Engle land or Angle land, “the land of the Angles”. The Angles and the Saxons were Germanic peoples who colonised the island which is today called Great Britain, apparently from Angeln (Anglia) and Sachsen (Saxony) in northern Germany.
Please note that the Angles and Saxons who came to Britain, were of Germanic stock. Historians are in agreement in regard to this.
Also many Vikings and Norsemen moved into England, from Scandinavia and Normandy. Even they were of Germanic stock. Together with the Angles and Saxons, they formed a large part of the people who moved into Britain between the 300s and the 1100s.
Those were Germanic people, speaking Germanic languages. Even the Normans who invaded Great Britain in the 1100s, were a Germanic people, but it is not fully clear what language they spoke. It appears that the warlords who used Normans for an invasion of England, spoke French of some kind.
Many Anglo-Israelist writers have claimed that the modern-day British royalty are descendants of king David of Israel. How is it with that?
One of the parts in this series, the article nya100.htm, takes a closer look at the “throne of David” matter, and shows that it is Jesus who has the right to that “throne” today, and not anyone else. But, here are some notes on the British “royal house”.
Those who have studied the history of the British “royalty”, know that queen Elisabeth II comes from a long line of German kings who have ruled over England. The name of her line is really “Hanoverian”, but for domestic reasons it was changed to “Windsor”. (Hanover, properly Hannover, is a German city and district.)
George I who in 1714 was made the king of England, was born in 1660 in Hanover, Germany. His German name was Georg Ludwig. He was chosen as the king, because the English had made a law which demanded that the king had to be a Protestant. Apparently, they found no Protestant candidate for a king in Britain, and so, they got one from Germany. George I was the king of England between 1714 and 1727, and at the same time (1698–1727) the ruler of the Duchy of Brunswick-Lüneburg in Germany.
George I was not a very “English” king. He did not even speak English. After all, he was a German. It is said that he did not care too much for England, except that it gave him a chance to fill his pockets with English gold, as well as the pockets of his German friends. And also, it might be that the addition of England to what his family already ruled in Europe, enhanced that family’s fame.
Some of the later descendants of George I were at times quite embarrassing for the English, because they were so pro-German, also in times of war, even in the 20th century.
The German lineage of the kings of England:
There we have England: In regard to genetics a largely Germanic nation, speaking a Germanic language, with German kings and queens. What and where is the connection with Israel?
The article nya100.htm considers the “line of David” matter; see even the articles nya110.htm and nya120.htm. The article nya010.htm has some notes on what biblical prophecy says in regard to how the tribes of Israel were to be doing in our day.
Some Anglo-Israelist writers have used Genesis 49:1–27 for “identifying” a number of nations in western Europe as specific “tribes of Israel”. They have cited the words “in the last days” which some bible-versions have in Genesis 49:1, and claimed that that chapter refers to our day and age. Is that correct?
That chapter records how the patriarch Jacob (whose second name was Israel) was prophetically speaking to his sons about what would happen to their descendants “in days to come” or “at the end of days”.
Genesis 49:1 Then Jacob called his sons and said, “Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you what shall happen to you in days to come. 2 “Assemble and listen, O sons of Jacob, listen to Israel your father. (ESV01)
Verse 1, “in days to come” – it appears that the wording in the Hebrew text actually translates as “at the end of days”. That chapter records how Jacob spoke to his sons, in regard to what was going happen to their descendants after they had entered the Promised Land and settled there. (At that time, Jacob with his sons lived in Egypt.)
From Jacob’s time-perspective, those things were in the future, but from our viewpoint they are events of the ancient past. The things that Jacob spoke about, and which then happened to his sons’ descendants in the Promised Land, took place around 3000 years ago.
Point 4 in the article nga020.htm has some notes on Genesis 49:1. Some verses in Genesis 49 will be considered below; read on.
Again, some Anglo-Israelist writers have used Genesis 49 for “identifying” certain nations in western Europe as specific “tribes of Israel”. Some of those writers have claimed the people of Sweden to be “Naphtalites”, “of the tribe of Naphtali”. Apparently, they have based that dogma solely on this passage:
Genesis 49:21 Naphtali is a hind let loose: he gives goodly words. (AKJV)
A note: The meaning of the ancient Hebrew text of that verse is not clear. And so, there are many different translations of it, such as “a roe let loose, giving fair young ones” or “a doe set free that has beautiful fawns”.
Some Anglo-Israelist writers have claimed that that verse “shows that Sweden is Naphtali”. They have said such things as, “You know, the Swedes have so noble views on the world. Goodly words.” – That manner of “identifying nations” really needs no commenting. But, let us consider the origin of the Swedish people.
The Swedes are not a “race”. Many of them are of Germanic descent, but the people of Sweden are a great racial mix. A significant part of them have Finnish blood. Many of them are of Norwegian, Danish, German, Dutch, Walloon, Polish, Estonian or Romani descent. And, let us not forget the Same people (the Lapps) and all others who already lived in the country when the Germanic “Swedes” moved in. – Seeing that the people of Sweden are of greatly mixed racial background, it would be absurd to claim them to be “a tribe of Israel”. And, it would be even more absurd to claim that Genesis 49:21 identifies the Swedes as “the tribe of Naphtali”.
A note: One Anglo-Israelist writer claimed that “Danites” live in Sweden. In a booklet, he had a map where he insinuated that the name “Sweden” supposedly means “Svea-Dan” (as if some Swedes were of the tribe of Dan of Israel). There is a slight problem with that: The name of that country is actually Sverige, and not “Sweden”. Sverige, from Svea-rige, means “the kingdom of the Sveas”. That has nothing to do with Dan of Israel. See also the next point.
Some Anglo-Israelist writers have claimed the country-name Danmark (as it is spelled in the native language) to be connected with the tribe of Dan of Israel and also the people who in some Irish myths are called “Tuatha Dé Danann”. Some have claimed that a part of such a group of people travelled through what today is Denmark, to Ireland.
How is it with that matter? Is the country-name Danmark, or the in Irish myths mentioned “Tuatha Dé Danann” (“the peoples of [the goddess] Danu”), in some way connected with the tribe of Dan of Israel?
Not in the books of history. But, some Anglo-Israelist writers have claimed so. – One of the “sources” that those writers have had for their claims, is the Freemason fiction book ‘The Irish Prince and the Hebrew Prophet, A Masonic Tale of the Captive Jews and the Ark of the Covenant’ which was published in 1896. That book consists of a number of fictitious and fabulous stories, including various kinds of Freemason mysticism. The original printing had occult signs and a scull and bones on the cover as well as on the first text page. (Freemasonry is a religion, but not a biblical one. The article nwa040.htm has more on this.)
The article nya130.htm has some notes on the Anglo-Israelist “Tuatha Dé Danann” story.
Some Anglo-Israelist writers have claimed that the people of Norway and Switzerland are Israelites, “the tribe of Benjamin” respectively “the tribe of Gad”. But, there is nothing to those claims. They are simply taken out of the thin air.
By the way, even the people of the four-language nation Switzerland are a great racial mix, consisting of peoples of many kinds.
Some Anglo-Israelist writers have tried to make their readers believe that the people of Germany are “Assyrians”, while their relatives who have moved to the USA (and earlier to Britain) are claimed to be “Israelites”. What should one think of those claims?
It is well known that tens of millions of people in the USA are of German descent. Their blood relatives remain in Europe. There are perhaps more people of German blood in the USA, than there are in Germany. Not to mention the other Germanic people in the USA, such as people from the Scandinavian countries and from the Netherlands and the Dutch half of Belgium, parts of France, and the British Anglo-Saxons. In short: A large part of the white population in the USA is of Germanic descent.
But again, some Anglo-Israelist writers have caused their readers to believe that those Germans who have moved to America are Israelites, and that their blood relatives who remain in Germany are descendants of ancient Assyrians. Logical? Not in the least.
As was noted earlier, it appears that the claim that Germans are “Assyrians” was invented by the earlier mentioned Edward Hine.
A note: The Germans are a great racial mix, a blend of many kinds of peoples. They come from many different roots: Celtic, Slavic, Frankish-Teutonic-Germanic, Romani, and many more. It would be absurd to point out the people of Germany as coming from some specific “tribe” or “race”.
Some Anglo-Israelist writers have claimed that the Belgians come from Asher. (Asher was a son of the patriarch Jacob and a tribe of Israel.) They have used this verse as a “proof” for their claim:
Genesis 49:20 Asher’s bread is fat; he gives delicate food for kings. (BBE)
Does that passage say that the Belgians are “Asher”? No, of course not. It does not say anything of that kind.
Now, Belgium is a tri-lingual nation whose people are a great racial mix. About a half of Belgium is Flemish, consisting of Dutch speaking Germanic people. Then there is the French speaking Walloon area in the south, and a small German-speaking section in the east. The area which today is called Belgium (België, Belgique, Belgien), has been a part of many nations and powers, and it has been ruled by many kinds of kings. In the last few centuries, the area of modern-day Belgium has been controlled by the Dutch, the Germans, the French, and even by Spanish rulers. This has added to the racial mix which was great already before those things. And then, in our day Belgium has a lot of people from its former colonies.
In short: The Belgians are, just as most peoples of Europe, an incredible racial mix. But, some Anglo-Israelist writers have nevertheless claimed that the people of Belgium are “the tribe of Asher”. And again, they have based that claim on Genesis 49:20 which the above-quoted translation renders as “Asher’s bread is fat, he gives delicate food for kings”. That is ludicrous.
Some Anglo-Israelist writers have claimed that the people of the Netherlands (the Dutch) are “Israelites”, “the tribe of Zebulon”. They have based that claim on this passage:
Genesis 49:13 The resting-place of Zebulun will be by the sea, and he will be a harbour for ships; the edge of his land will be by Zidon. (BBE)
The Dutch (the people of the Netherlands) have had many ships. Some Anglo-Israelist writers have claimed that that proves that the Dutch are “the tribe of Zebulon.” That is really not worth commenting on, but let us nevertheless consider Genesis 49:13. Does it talk about Europe? No, not in any way. The last part of that verse states that the tribe of Zebulon would have a border against Zidon. That is a place in the Middle East, by the Mediterranean sea. That is where Zebulon’s in Genesis 49:13 mentioned haven for ships was.
(Eventually, that verse could even refer to the Lake of Gennesaret, but according to the ancient Jewish-Roman writer Josephus, the tribe of Zebulon obtained “the land from Carmel, and the sea to the lake of Gennesaret”. Mount Carmel is by the Mediterranean Sea.)
Some writers have claimed that the French people, or a part of them, are Israelites, “the tribe of Reuben”. What is the basis for their claim? The answer is that there is no basis for it at all. Some of those writers have tried to defend their claims by saying that “the French national character” (whatever that could be) “identifies” Frenchmen as “the tribe of Reuben”.
Many of the strange arguments that those writers have come up with, are simply below commenting. Anyone who is able to consider those claims in an objective manner, can see that they are absurd. – And then, there are all the real facts, such as what biblical prophecy actually says about the fate of the tribes of Israel, after their exile, during their dispersion. The article nya010.htm has some notes on that subject.
Some Anglo-Israelist writers have claimed that the Finnish people are Israelites, “the tribe of Issachar”. At the same time, they have claimed that the Finns’ racial relatives in Estonia are “non-Israelitish”, “of Keturah”. (Abraham had children with Keturah, but the Bible says absolutely nothing about where her eventually surviving descendants might live in our day.)
The Anglo-Israelist claim that the people of Finland are “the tribe of Issachar”, is based on this passage:
Genesis 49:14 Issachar is a large-boned ass, couching down between the sheep-folds. 15 For he saw a resting-place that it was good, and the land that it was pleasant; and he bowed his shoulder to bear, and became a servant under task-work (BBE)
(Please keep in mind that that chapter records how the patriarch Jacob was talking to his sons about what was to happen to their descendants, when they entered the Promised Land, Canaan. That was around 3000 years ago.)
In verse 14, some translations have “burdens” instead of “sheepfolds”. Some Anglo-Israelist writers have then built stories around that word “burdens”. They have claimed that “since the Finnish nation is such a strong ass” (!), Genesis 49:14 “must refer to the Finns”, “as an ass crouching between the burdens of Russia and Sweden”. – Even that is below commenting.
A number of Anglo-Israelist writers have spoken about what they call “Caucasian people”. – What is the origin and meaning of the term ‘Caucasian’?” Linguistically, it refers to the geographical area called Caucasus, but strictly speaking, that term has no real meaning at all. It is not a “scientific” word; it is not based on anything tangible or real. This will be explained below.
Originally, the manner of sorting people into groups based on colour and similar things, may have been launched by a Swede, Carl Linnaeus (von Linné) (1707–1778), the botanist who classified plants and animals into groups of species. He “categorised” even human beings. He called the white Europeans by the name “Homo sapiens europaeus”. Later, the German “scientist” or “anthropologist” Johann Friedrich Blumenbach (1752–1840) called the light-skinned Europeans “Caucasians” (“Varietas Caucasia”), and apparently felt them to be “the ideal man”. There was no scientific or historical basis for Blumenbach’s “anthropology”, or for his use of the word “Caucasian”. That word is a racist concept, similar to the word “Aryan” which the Nazis used.
(A side-note: The article nga010.htm explains the origin and actual meaning of the words “heathen”, “gentiles” and “pagans”.)
Since the 1800s, many people have moved from Europe and other places, to the land of Israel. What is their origin? That matter is considered in the article nya010.htm.
It would be absurd to try to point out some European nation as a specific “race” or “tribe”. For the first: The borders between the European states are not drawn on the basis of race. Those borders have been drawn by warlords, and they have been moved here and there, and even totally re-arranged, several times. Further: Many peoples have wandered into Europe and through it, mixing with the Celtic, Germanic, Slavic and other ethnic groups of Europe. There is also the great mixing effect of the Roman empire whose armies at one time controlled a large part of western Europe. Those Roman armies consisted of people of all kinds of races, and those armies certainly left behind lots of their genes, wherever they happened to be. And, there have been countless other wars and things and events that have moved people and mixed the genes.
Again: Europe is an incredible mix of people and peoples. That mixing has continued to our day. For anyone who knows a bit about the history of the European continent, the claims which some Anglo-Israelist writers have come up with, are quite ludicrous.
And then: There is no mention in the Scriptures or in the records of history, that the ten “lost” tribes of Israel would have moved away from the areas where they were taken into captivity circa 2700 years ago.
Links to the other 14 parts in this series on the tribes of Israel are found in the “recommended reading” section, below.
Please send or mention the address to this site to others. You can also link to these pages. The address to the table of contents page is biblepages.net/articles.htm
Recommended reading here at the Bible Pages, on related as well as other matters
An explanation of the short names for the bible-translations that are quoted or mentioned at this site. → nsa090.htm
On the words “gentiles”, “pagans” and “heathen” and what they actually mean and refer to. → nga010.htm
Easy keys to deeper understanding of the Scriptures. → nga020.htm
Freemasonry and Freemason halls – things believers should know about them. → nwa040.htm
The other parts in the ‘tribes’ series:
The lost ten tribes of Israel in prophecy. → nya010.htm
Leviticus 26:19, “and I will break the pride of your power”. How and when was the Israelites’ pride broken? → nya020.htm
On the meaning of Genesis 22:17, the words “and your seed shall possess the gate of his enemies”. → nya030.htm
Jacob’s birthright, and that of his son Joseph. On what the concept “birthright” meant and referred to, in regard to inheritance, in ancient times. → nya040.htm
On the meaning of the words “seven times” in Leviticus 26:18, 21, 24 and 28. Does the wording in the Hebrew text mean “seven times more” or “sevenfold” as many translations have it, or “2520 years” as some writers have claimed? → nya050.htm
Jeremiah 30:7, “the time of Jacob’s trouble”. What does chapter 30 in the book of Jeremiah really mean and refer to? → nya060.htm
On the prophet Ezekiel and his mission, and the “Ezekiel message” dogma. → nya070.htm
The lost sheep of the house of Israel of Matthew 10:6 – who were they, and where? Also: Where did the apostles go? → nya080.htm
Is the line of David the king of Israel still ruling somewhere on Earth? → nya100.htm
The meaning of the words “branch” and “twig” in Ezekiel 17:22. Some notes on Anglo-Israelist dogmas regarding king Zedekiah’s daughters. → nya110.htm
The prophet Jeremiah – where did he die? Did he go to Ireland, as some have claimed? Also, what about the “stone of destiny” which some writers talk about? → nya120.htm
Did people of the ten “lost” tribes of Israel travel to Greece, Denmark and Ireland? Some notes on certain Anglo-Israelist dogmas. → nya130.htm
Regarding Anglo-Israelism: What if it is Russia and her Slavic sisters who are the lost ten tribes of Israel? → nya140.htm
Ethnic groups which could eventually belong to the “lost” tribes of Israel. → nya150.htm
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