Europeans Are Descendants of the Ancient Hebrews: Evidence from Genesis
By Reed Benson
Prophecy is most assuredly a popular and intriguing theological topic. But a large portion of books on prophecy go far beyond Scripture and delve into titillating speculations, the great majority of which prove to be incorrect. In this essay, we shall avoid excessive speculation and deal with the words of Scripture, matching them with history, heraldry, and plain symbolism.
The earliest and perhaps the most complete set of prophecies regarding the twelve tribes were given before the tribes ever developed. In Genesis 49 Jacob offered a series of prophetic comments to his twelve sons while on his deathbed. In verse 1 Jacob specifically says to his sons that these are the things, "which shall befall you in the last days." These insightful predictions run parallel to Deuteronomy 33, which are a series of prophetic blessings that Moses gave to the twelve tribes just before his death. Mosesí comments are not identical to Jacobís, but nonetheless bear many profound similarities. A correlation of these two chapters will provide some extremely useful insights into the identification of the Israelite tribes in the modern world. Let us therefore begin, taking each tribe according to the birth order of the twelve sons as recorded in Genesis 29-30, and analyzing the comments of Jacob in Genesis 49.
Reuben: Strong and Dignified, but Unstable
Reuben is the eldest of Jacobís twelve sons. Of Reuben, Jacob said this: "Thou art my firstborn, my might, and the beginning of my strength, the excellency of dignity, and the excellency of power: Unstable as water, thou shalt not excel; because thou wentest up to thy fatherís bed; then defilest thou it: he went up to my couch" (Genesis 49:3-4). The preliminary assessment of Reuben sounds very commendable: a strong man of dignity and power. But the subsequent prediction is sobering indeed; unable to excel because of an innate unstable nature, most notoriously exhibited when he engaged in a sexual liaison with Bilhah, Rachelís handmaid, his fatherís concubine, and his half-brothersí mother. Reuben appears to have real virtue, but an inability to control passions.
Reuben is most closely associated on a national scale in recent centuries with France. France has always been a nation with many fine qualities, rich in cultural and intellectual resources. Yet, it has a tendency toward political instability. Prosperity and great potential are repeatedly undercut by tumultuous revolutions and changes in government. France has often been only one short step away from European or even global dominance, yet has never quite closed the gap. Furthermore, the French are famous for their sexually libertine habits, another connection to their forebear, Reuben.
Simeon and Levi: the Scattered Ones
Jacob prophesies about his second and third sons together, Simeon and Levi. Of them he stated, "Simeon and Levi are brethren; instruments of cruelty are in their habitations. O my soul, come not thou into their secret; unto their assembly, mine honor, be not thou united: for in their anger they slew a man, and in their selfwill they digged down a wall. Cursed be their anger, for it was fierce; and their wrath, for it was cruel: I will divide them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel" (Genesis 49:5-7). The singular event that figured large in the lives of Jacobís family involving these two brothers was the destruction of the city of Shechem. Simeon and Levi plotted and carried out a terrible revenge for the seduction of their sister Dinah (Genesis 34). Jacob was highly displeased with this revenge and these two sons. Jacob discerned a streak of cruelty in them that he predicted would be found in their descendants and would prove to be the agent of their scattering within Israel.
It is easy to identify Leviís scattering. It was providential and, oddly enough, a result of his selection as the priestly tribe. Moses saw virtues in Levi and stated, "They shall teach Jacob thy judgments and Israel thy law . . . Bless, LORD, his substance, and accept the work of his hands" (Deuteronomy 33:10-11). Levi was intentionally spread throughout the other tribes of Israel to serve in priestly roles. The scattering of Simeon is less well established, although clues exist. Simeon is the only tribe that Moses did not give any prophecy about in Deuteronomy 33. Evidently, as early as Mosesí time, Simeon was already showing signs of being absorbed into the other tribes. We know that this did occur shortly after the time of the Israelites settling the land of Canaan. Nonetheless, Simeon does have a modern nation associated with him: Spain. Spain has a reputation of notable cruelty, just as Simeon did. Consider the Spanish colonial system and the national sport of Spain, bullfighting. The Spanish people have always tended to marry into whatever local population they find themselves, thus fulfilling the prophetic tendency toward scattering.
Judah: the Great Warriors
The fourth born son of Jacob was Judah, who like his three elder brothers was of Leah. One of the most remarkable of the brood, Judah was praised by his father: "Judah, thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise: thy hand shall be in the neck of thy enemies; thy fatherís children shall bow down before thee. Judah is a lionís whelp: from the prey, my son, thou art gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up? The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be. Binding his foal unto the vine, and his assís colt unto the choice vine; he washed his garments in wine, and his clothes in the blood of grapes: His eyes shall be red with wine, and his teeth white with milk" (Genesis 49:8-12). Two themes present themselves in this passage. The more prominent is the powerful, predatory nature of Judah. Phrases like, "neck of thy enemies . . . lionís whelp . . . who shall rouse him up . . . blood of grapes . . . eyes red with wine" all profile a warlike, frightening image. Thus, to identify Judah among modern nations, we should search among those people who are prone to warfare. The second theme is sandwiched in the center of the passage: rulership. "The sceptre shall not depart from Judah" is a key indicator of royalty. What nation has spawned much royalty?
The German people of central Europe are the modern representatives of Judah. What modern nation has been as warlike, frightening, and militaristic as Germany? For two centuries, Germany has used its military prowess to conquer and forge its way in the world. In the twentieth century in took the combined weight of Britain, France, Russia, and the United States to keep Germany in its box.
With respect to rulership, the most important royal family in the world today, the British House of Windsor, is most decidedly quite German. Just a few short decades ago, the Windsors were known to the world as the Mountbattens. But they only obtained that label when World War I erupted and they did not want to be known as the very German sounding Battenbergs (Mountbatten is merely the English form of Battenberg). But going back a bit further we discover that the royal family was called the House of Hannover. Why? Because in the early 1700s the royal House of Hannover was invited to rule over the British nation. They have been ruling ever since! Indeed, many of the European royal families of last several hundred years have been remarkably German in their genetics. One final observation will emphasize this. What is the dominant heraldic symbol among European royalty? The lion. Lions of sundry designs are everywhere upon European royal crests. Indeed, the most familiar royal crest is that of the Plantagenets, who ruled England for four hundred years. What is it? Three lions. Why three? Because there are three lions mentioned in Genesis 49:9. Count them and allow yourself the luxury of being amazed at the prophetic power of Scripture!
Dan: Militant Troublemakers
Jacobís next son was Dan, born of Rachelís handmaid Bilhah. Of Dan, Jacob prophesied: "Dan shall judge his people, as one of the tribes of Israel. Dan shall be a serpent by the way, an adder in the path, that biteth the horse heels, so that his rider shall fall backward" (Genesis 49:16-17). From these comments we see two elements. First, Dan will be a leader among his tribal brethren, which is positive. A judge was a military leader in ancient Israel and this term should be taken as an indicator of military power. But secondly, and negatively, Dan will be a troublemaker. The imagery of a serpent striking at a horse and dismounting the rider can only be construed as most unhelpful! Perhaps Samsonís life can be used to illustrate how these two elements of Dan can come together. Samson, was a powerful leader in Israel from the tribe of Dan. But his personal weaknesses brought war and avenging Philistines down on the Israelites time and again. Finally, his reckless ways caught up with him and he was captured, never to be free again. He was a fearsome warrior, but one so headstrong that his potential was limited.
The symbols of the tribe of Dan are horse and a serpent. Dan is known as being a tribe of adventurers, trailblazers that were often far out ahead of the other tribes in their migratory treks. Many place names in Europe show the trail of Dan, finally culminating in the nation of Denmark. But this small country is only a fraction of Danís greater influence. Danes, or Danites, settled in the early medieval period in many other portions of Europe, not the least of which was northern England, which was for a long time simply called Danelaw. This Danite element of the English population eventually made their way to America and figured prominently in the American Revolution. This is why the most popular banner of the American War of Independence was a serpent emblazoned with the words, "Donít tread on me." Of course, from the British point of view, such American colonists were nothing more than rebels of the worst sort, which helps explain how Jacobís original prophecy of Dan could have seemingly contradictory positive and negative elements!
Naphtali: Like a Deer
Following Dan, Bilhah bore Nahphtali. Jacobís deathbed prophecies regarding Naphtali are exceedingly brief: "Naphtali is a hind let loose, he giveth goodly words" (Genesis 49:21). From this terse commentary we can only conclude the barest of facts. The prophecy is positive; his descendants will have an ability to communicate well. The symbol of the tribe is a hindóa female deer. Norway is the modern nation most closely associated with Naphtali.
Gad: Active in War and Religion
The next son of Jacob was Gad, this time born by Zilpah, Leahís handmaid. Again, Jacob said little about another of his middle sons: "Gad, a troop shall overcome him, but he shall overcome at the last" (Genesis 49:19). However, in this case, Mosesí prophetic vision adds some useful clues: "Blessed be he that enlargeth Gad: he dwelleth as a lion, and teareth the arm with the crown of the head. And he provideth the first part for himself, because there, in a portion of the lawgiver, was he seated; and he came with the heads of the people, he executed the justice of the LORD, and his judgments with Israel" Deuteronomy 33:20-21). It can be clearly seen that Gad will exercise dominion, particularly in law and justice. There is a warlike element, "dwelleth as a lion," and "teareth the arm." But there is also a religious element, "lawgiver," remembering that all law is religious in nature and the term lawgiver in the Bible is a priestly function. What nation in history has a long record encompassing both of these elements? Italy. When thinking of war and law, think of Rome: Roman law and Roman justice. When thinking of religious leadership and religious law, think of the Papacy, centered at Rome for over a thousand years. Italy is an excellent fulfillment of the prophecies regarding Gad.
Asher: Peaceful and Prosperous
Asher came next, also born of Zilpah. Jacobís prophecy of Asher is brief, but quite positive: "Out of Asher his bread shall be fat, and he shall yield royal dainties" (Genesis 49:20). Moses made comments that run similar: "Let Asher be blessed with children; let him be acceptable to his brethren, and let him dip his foot in oil" (Deuteronomy 33:24). The tenor of these words indicate prosperity, growth, and relative tranquility. Sweden is the nation most closely associated with Asher. Certainly twentieth century Sweden reflects these comments very well, for Sweden avoided both world wars and the ferocious destruction thereof. Meanwhile the Swedes steadily developed one of the highest living standards in the world and are well known for the production of high quality items.
Issachar: Caught Between Burdens
It turns out that Leah was not finished bearing children after, for she had another son, Issachar. This ninth son of Jacob did not enjoy a particularly cheerful prophecy from his fatherís lips: "Issachar is a strong ass couching down between two burdens: And he saw that the rest was good, and the land that it was pleasant; and he bowed his shoulder to bear, and became a servant unto tribute" (Genesis 49:14). It appears that Issacharís latter days were to be profiled by a plodding, stoic acceptance of either one burden or the other, neither one however to be so oppressive as to be unbearable. What nation typifies this? Actually, two do, and their situation is almost identical. First, consider Finland. Its history is characterized by domination coming from either the Russians or the Swedes. Both have exploited and beat up on the steady, patient Finns. Second, Poland fits well also. In the case of the Poles, they have suffered a long train of abuse from either the Russians or the Germans. Their affliction from the Russians and Germans dates back nearly a thousand yearts. Both Finland and Poland have long been squashed between East and West and their history and culture reflect this.
Zebulon: the Seafarers
Leah gave Jacob yet another son, Zebulon. Of him Jacob prophesied: "Zebulon shall dwell at the haven of the sea; and he shall be for an haven of ships: and his border shall be unto Zidon" (Genesis 49:13). Zidon was located on the coast of Canaan and was equipped with an excellent harbor, enabling Zebulon to partly fulfill the prophecy in ancient times. Yet latter day Zebulon also fulfills this maritime quality with excellent harbors of its own and it own sea-going traditions. Moses foresaw this and stated that Zebulon would, "suck of the abundance of the seas, and of treasures hid in the sands" (Deuteronomy 33:19). Holland best represents Zebulon among modern Israelite nations. Although small, Holland has always looked to the sea for wealth and opportunity, even draining shallow ocean beds to provide living space. For hundreds of years the Dutch East India Company successfully enriched this small nation by importing products from the Spice Islands of Southeast Asia to markets in Europe and elsewhere. Later, the Dutch developed petroleum resources from the North Sea and Indonesian islands which fueled their economy. Truly Holland fits the prophetic pattern well.
Joseph: Great in Numbers, Wealth, and Might
Jacobís eleventh son was delivered to him by his beloved Rachel, who finally bore a child of her own flesh. This was Joseph, the most remarkable of Jacobís sons, the one who received the double blessing of Reubenís forfeited birthright. Not surprisingly, Jacob had a great deal of good things to say about Joseph: "Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well; who branches run over the wall: The archers have sorely grieved him, and shot at him, and hated him: But his bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob; (from thence is the shepherd, the stone of Israel:) Even by the God of thy father, who shall help thee; and by the Almighty, who shall bless thee with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lieth under, blessings of the breasts, and of the womb: The blessings of thy father have prevailed above the blessings of my progenitors unto the utmost bounds of the everlasting hills: they shall be on the head of Joseph, and on the crown of the head of him that was separate from his brethren" (Genessis 49:22-26).
This language informs us that Joseph will be successful in war, will have a large population that expands beyond its original homelands, and although he will have enemies, he will not notably suffer from their attacks. Moses saw wealth from the earth in Josephís future: "Blessed of the Lord be his land, for the precious things off heaven, for the dew, and for the deep that coucheth beneath, And for the precious fruits brought forth by the sun, and for the precious things put forth by the moon, And for the chief things of the ancient mountains, and for the precious things of the lasting hills . . ." (Deuteronomy 33:13-15). Do you see the agricultural abundance, the success in mining operations, and the derivation of wealth from the oceans?
But that is not all. Moses also foresaw colonial expansion and empire: "His glory is like the firstling of his bullock, and his horns are like the horns of unicorns: with them he shall push the people together to the ends of the earth: and they are the ten thousands of Ephraim and the thousands of Manasseh" (Deuteronomy 33:17). What a blessing is upon Joseph! Wealth, a large population, global empire, honor! What nation could this be in modern world?
There is only one people that can fit this descriptionóthe English speaking people who have expanded from their modest island home of England to dominate the planet like no others ever have. Between the mother nation of England and her daughters America, Australia, and elsewhere, the English people produce more, have more, rule more, and in general dominate much of our planet. And this has been true now for three hundred years! Who feeds the world corn, wheat, and other foodstuffs? The English-speaking sons of Joseph. Who has mined the deepest gold mines from the hills, drilled the deepest oil wells at the bottom of the oceans, and sent their armies to police the four corners of the world? The English-speaking sons of Joseph. The sun never set on the British Empire and now America manages all the worldís problems. Just as Joseph was the problem solver when the ancient world suffered from famine, so are Josephís sons the problem solvers when the modern world experiences a crisis.
Benjamin: the Opportunists
The last of Jacobís sons was Benjamin, also of Rachel. In this lad Jacob foresaw an opportunist: "Benjamin shall ravin as a wolf: in the morning he shall devour the prey, and at night he shall divide the spoil" (Genesis 49:27). What modern nation has a history of opportunistic development? Iceland. This Norse people settled on this marginal island hundreds of years ago looking for a fresh start, a new beginning. They were renowned as raiders, explorers, a seafaring people who lived from the plunder they took from others. Little brother Benjamin was always a small tribe in ancient Israel, and is a small nation today, but they have been a fierce bunch, brawling their way along through the centuries.
There you have it: the twelve sons of Jacob, fulfilling their aged fatherís visions for the future, embodied in the modern nations of Caucasian Europe. If you are descended from one of these nations, then you are an Israelite, and your heritage is found among these prophecies. What a rich legacy you have!