The Identity of Finland
Rainer Salomaa & Allan Reipas
We have seen a momentous amount of proof that England and the U.S.A. are descendents of the tribe of Joseph and bear the name of Israel, but what about the other Israelitish tribes, and more specifically, what about the modern identity of the tribe of Issachar? Seeing that I was born in Finland and that Allan is of direct Finnish descent, we have a particular interest in the identity of the Finnish people.
The material presented is a composite of both of our research. Allan has contributed a great deal more than I have so most of the credit for the material presented actually belongs to him. (He is a university graduate of chemistry who is living in Montreal right now.)
In Gen. 49:14-15, God says that “Issachar is a strong ass couching down between two burdens; and he saw that rest was good, and the land that it was pleasant; and bowed his shoulder to bear, and became a servant unto tribute.”
“Issachar” comes from the Hebrew word “Yissaskar,” meaning “He will bring a reward.” It comes from the word “sakar” which means “payment of contract, concerning salary, fare, maintenance.” Now the country of Finland is internationally known for paying off her contracts. She is the ONLY nation paying off her World War I debts to the U.S.A.! Also, at the end of World War II she lost some of her most valuable territory in the Karelia region to the Russians. This was about 11% of the country’s total area, including 10% of its arable land, 11% of its forests, and 10% of its industries. On top of this, she was burdened with paying off the staggering amount of $300,000,000 in reparations to the Russian bear. The nation tightened its belt, paid off the entire amount by 1952, and hosted the summer Olympics that same year.
When God says, “Issachar is a strong ass ...” He means it. Their national stubbornness can be graphically illustrated in their annuls of World War II. The nation fought the Russian bear almost single-handed even when they were vastly out-numbered. They had 9 divisions of 15,400 men per division compared with between 26 and 29 divisions of 18,700 men per Russian division. The Finns only had 56 tanks compared with 2000 Russian tanks. Yet in spite of being so vastly out-numbered, they held the Russian bear at bay for about three years!
The Finnish army used cross-country skies and wore white in the Winter
In a little booklet entitled “Finland” published by the information section of the embassy of Finland, there is a sub-heading entitled “History: Buffer between East and West.” God says that Issachar is “couching down between two burdens.” Finland never has been a colonizing nation — the Finns have been content to stay in their national boundary and have not bothered to extend their sphere of influence. The Finns have constantly been caught between the struggle between the east and the west. When they were dominated by Sweden, the nation was a battle ground between the Swedes and the Russians. World War II is an excellent example of the East-West struggle. For the first three years of the war Finland fought with the Germans against the Russians, but during the last two years of the conflict they fought with the Russians against the Germans. It’s interesting to not that during this war General Mannerheim, commander-in-chief of the Finnish forces between 1939 and 1944, led a Finnish attack against the Russians under the banner of the tribe of Issachar! After the war, in 1947, Finland applied for membership into the U.N. but the question became a bone of contention between the EAST and the WEST. Because of this contention, the application was not granted until Dec. 1955. Since then, Dr. Kekkonen, the Finnish president has paid numerous state visits to both EAST and WEST to show that Finland’s neutrality and the character of their neutrality is recognized everywhere.
Issachar saw that the land was pleasant. It’s interest to read the national anthem — “Our Land” which reads:
Our land, our land, our fatherland, sound loud, O name of worth!
No mount that meets the heaven’s band, No hidden vale, no wave-washed strand,
Is loved as in our native North, Our own forefather’s earth.
Thy blossom, in the bud laid low, Yet ripened shall upspring.
See! From our love once more shall grow Thy light, thy joy, thy hope, thy glow!
And clearer yet one day shall ring The song our land shall sing.
This anthem is in adoration of the land. Finns certainly are enamoured by their land. “When the Creator made Finland, he relaxed,” writes Hudson Strode. “He took water and earth and trees and spread them about casually ... in wooded hills and rocky fells, rivers, marshes, archipelagoes, and still blue lakes dotted with verdant islands ...” (Finland Forever).
Deut. 33:18-19 says that Issachar shall suck of the abundance of the seas and of the treasures hid in the sand. It was really interesting to note that the Finnish exhibit at the Pamonicia County Fair displayed glass piggy banks. Riihimäen Lasi (trademark: Finncristall) is one of the largest glass works in Scandinavia. It exports its manufactured glass to as many as eighteen countries. I got a post-card from my sister who attended the Finnish exhibit at the Montreal’s World Fair and the post-card displayed ceramics and glass. Finnish glass design is world famous. A booklet entitled “Finland” said, “It is, paradoxically, in the development of glass and ceramics that the influence of the ancient [Finnish] crafts of wood and weaving has been most felt.” And “. . . the best of hand-made ceramics and glass ranks with anything made anywhere else in the world.”
I Chron. 12:32 mentions the fact that the men of Issachar had understanding of the times — that is, of mathematical and astronomical information. According to the Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary, Jewish writers say that the people of this tribe were eminent for their acquirements in astronomical and physical science. It’s very interesting to remember that my father told me that the most important subject to learn is MATHEMATICS! Before I came to Ambassador College, I was majoring in the physical sciences at the University of Alberta. From the booklet “Finland and its Students” (Helsinki — 1962), I learned that the elementary school children (grades 1 to 8) who do not enter secondary school are given basic instruction in MATHEMATICS and NATURAL SCIENCE as well as Finnish, history and citizenship. In Junior secondary school (grades 5 to 9), they learn two foreign languages. They also learn elementary ALGEBRA and GEOMETRY. In the senior secondary school (grades 10 to 12), they have a choice between two courses — concentrating on either languages or MATHEMATICS. In the math division, pupils are taught physics, chemistry, and an extensive course in math and three languages. In general, the girls choose the language courses and the boys choose the math courses. All of the higher institutes of learning have math and the physical sciences near the top or at the top of the list in subjects taught. For instance, The University of OULU has at present three faculties: Philosophy (which so far consists of the mathematical and natural science departments), Technology (which confers degrees in engineering and architecture) and Medicine. The University of Turku has five faculties, three of which are Mathematics and Natural Science, Chemistry, and Technology. Helsinki University has six faculties among which are Agronomy and Forestry and Philosophy, which includes mathematics and natural science.
Finnish architects are world-known. Look at Job’s great pyramid. He was of the tribe of Issachar! The architectural Saarinen family — Eliel (1865-1967) and Eero (1910-1961) were pioneers of the skyscraper design. Eero is famous for his TWA terminal at Kennedy International Airport in New York as well as Dulles Airport Terminal in Washington, D. C. Alvar Aalta (1898-), a recipient of the American Association of Architects’ Gold Medal Award, is internationally renowned in architectural and design circles. His Baker House Dormitory, Cambridge, Mass., the house for Louis Carré, France, and his Cultural Center, Wolfsburg, West Germany, are a few of his achievements outside of Scandinavia. Alvar Aalto ranks right up there with Frank Lloyd Wright and Corbusier to form the trio of pioneers of contemporary architecture.
“It is not only the excellence and relative abundance of modern architecture that impresses in Finland; it is the fact that so SMALL and remote a country should have contributed so much to international development. The Finns have a NATURAL SENSE OF FORM which is easily expressed in BUILDING and in applied art.” (from the booklet “Finland”).
When I was reading a book entitled A History of Finland, I came across an interesting passage. An obscure young scholar at the university of Turku published a study of Finland in1700. His name was Daniel Juslenius. He drew upon earlier writers, folk tales, mythology, and chance similarities in words or names to construct and “imaginary tale” of the Finn’s national greatness of the past. The Finns were set down as one of the Jewish Tribes who had founded a mighty state under one of Noah’s descendents.
It is also interesting to note that the “Christian” burial customs of having the graves in an east-west direction appeared in Finland at least a century before the first crusade of 1157 came from England!
Pages 50-51 of Volume II of the Compendium say, “Through intermarriage of the lien of Odin” — the founder of the kingdom of Denmark in the days of David — “has permeated throughout Western Europe. Small wonder that the lion of Judah is the symbol on the coat of arms and shields of the royalty of Northwestern Europe.” The lion is even on the coat of arms of Finland and on their military flag as is shown below.
If a closer look is taken at the coat of arms of Finland, it is noticed that there are nine blossoms or flowerettes around the lion. These represent the nine provinces of Finland, at the time she gained her independence from Russia in 1917. Although there are now twelve provinces in Finland, the nine flowerettes still remain on the coat of arms, just like there remain thirteen stripes on the flag of the United States of America, representing the thirteenth tribe of Israel (see the book The United States and British Commonwealth in Prophesy, p. 126). Can there be any justification in the Bible for saying that Issachar is the ninth tribe of Israel? There certainly can! From Gen. 29:31 to Gen. 30:24, the Bible relates the order of birth of Jacob’s sons. Beginning with the firstborn they are Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Dan, Naphthali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulon, and Joseph (Benjamin was born later). Thus Issachar was the ninth son of Israel. And the fact that Finland fought using nine division against the Russians in World War II seems to be just too much for mere coincidence.
In a book about Finland, Hugh Shearman describes another outstanding characteristic of the Finns. In giving his impressions of Finnish life as portrayed in the great Finnish fold epic, the Kalevala, he remarks, Women have a high importance, and mothers are deeply venerated, a not insignificant feature when one finds it in even the primitive life of a land which was to lead Europe in the emancipation of women and in coeducation.” Yes, in 1905 Finland was the first country in Europe to give women the right to vote. Now does the Bible indicate that special privileges were extended to women of the tribe of ISSACHAR? As you should know by now, Job was one of the sons of Issachar (Gen. 46:13). And in the last chapter of the book of Job, it describes Job’s second set of children, whose descendants survive to this day. Remember his first set had been destroyed because of their wickedness (Job 1:4, 18-19). In Job Chapter 42, beginning in verse 13, “He had also seven sons and three daughters. And he called the name of the first Jemima; and the name of the second, Kezia; and the name of the third, Kerenhappuch. And in all the land were no women found so fair as the daughters of Job: and their father gave them inheritance among their brethren” (Job 42:13-15). The Bible speaks for itself: the names of Job’s seven sons are not even mentioned.
Up to this point you have seen the basic proofs, or clues as to the identity of the Finns. I say clues, because any one of these taken by itself would not constitute a totally satisfactory proof. But, when all these clues are added up and taken into account, it is clearly seen that they establish conclusively that the tribe of Issachar and the nation of Finland are one and the same. All the characteristics of Issachar can be attributed to no other nation or tribe on the face of the earth! Neither can Finland be described as perfectly by the description of any other peoples mentioned in the entirety of the Bible! Yet there is one more astounding proof of Finland’s identity in the Bible.
First let’s consider Finland in more detail, as to what kinds of differences we find among the Finns themselves. The following passage is a translation from a textbook of the Finnish language, entitled Finnish for Foreigners by Maija-Hellikki Aaltio:
“When the Finns moved into Finland about two thousand years ago, they hadn’t yet formed one nation, but lived on the peninsula of Finland as different tribes. A great deal is spoken about these tribes even today and we are of the opinion, that even yet it is possible to some extent anyway to notice the difference in the people’s character in the different parts of Finland.
“In the east, closest to the border of the Soviet Union, live the Karelians, who are darker and more vivacious than the rest of the Finns. They are generally very musical and love singing and playing music. One recognizes a Karelian when they say ‘mie’ for ‘minä’ (meaning ‘I’ in English), and ‘sie’ for ‘sinä’ (meaning ‘you’ in English). They are encountered nowadays in all areas of Finland, because the Soviet Union received in the war of 1941-44 the larger part of Karelia and the inhabitants of the area then left their homes and moved to other parts of Finland. Karelia’s cultural centre was the internationally recognized old merry city of Viipuri (Vyborg), where there was also situated an old castle constructed several centuries ago.
“On the northern and western side of the Karelians dwell the talkative Savo people, who always have an answer ready and who are talked about more in stories than all the rest of the Finns put together. It is said that Savo people would rather be work bosses than work doers and hold themselves to be somewhat better than the rest of the people. For example Savo’s many inland-water-boat captains are great humorists. Savo is the most beautiful of the lake districts, where water is often more plentiful than land. Savo people are easily recognized by the way they speak. They say for example ‘mua’ for ‘maa’ (meaning ‘land’ in English), ‘piä’ for ‘pää’ (head), ‘männöö’ for ‘menee’ (goes) and ‘tulloo’ for ‘tulee’ (comes).
“The opposite of the Savo people are the Tavastians who live on the west side of Lake Päijänne. They speak little and are very serious. The Tavastian is very fair and blue-eyed. He is tranquil and perhaps a bit slow-moving, but very enduring on the job, once he has begun. Don’t ever provoke a Tavastian! He forgets slowly, if at all.
“The Ostrobothnians, who live on the east side of the Gulf of Bothnia, are a tall, proud people, who are known for their love of freedom. If the nation of Finland has risen for one reason or another in historic times, the leaders have generally come from Ostrobothnia. From this area there have emigrated to other countries, more than from anywhere else in Finland, so that nowadays one can encounter Ostrobothnians in America as well as in Australia, not to mention Sweden.”
In addition, here is a paragraph written by Matti Kurjensaari on the same topic:
“The people of Karelia are lively, talkative, impressionable: they adjust themselves with amazing ease to new surroundings and are always ready to accept new innovations. Add to the Karelians and the ‘static’ people of Häme (the Tavastlanders), . . . the people of Savo with their ready wit and the obstinate and freedom-loving East Bothnians, and you have all the original tribes of Finland. The resettlement of the Karelian population and the rapid process of urbanization have, of course, destroyed certain historical tribal peculiarities; but fundamental traits are still clearly recognizable in the character of the inhabitants of the various parts of the country.”
So we find that the Finns are made up of four sub-tribes which all played a part in the establishment of Finland. Can there be found anything about this in the Bible? Of course! In Gen. 46:13 it says, “And the sons of Issachar; Tola, and Phuvah, and Job, and Shimron.” There are four sons of Issachar, then. But did each son found a sub-tribe of his own? Read Numbers 26:23-24, “Of the sons of Issachar after their families: of Tola, the family of the Tolaites: of Pua (a later spelling of Phuvah), the family of the Punites: of Jashub (a later spelling of Job), the family of the Jashubites: of Shimron, the family of the Shimronites.”
At this time it is a fair question to ask how we can be sure that these Biblical sub-tribes correspond in reality to the sub-tribes of Finland. Would it not be more reasonable to suppose that as the Issacharites lost their identity, distinctions between the sub-tribes ceased to be noticed as the tribe became more homogeneous in composition through intermarriage? And then new sub-tribes developed purely because of the Finns settling into four different isolated areas? Well I admit that this probably did happen with most of the other Israelite tribes because their sub-tribes mentioned in Numbers 26 seem to have disappeared long ago. But of the Finns, Shearman says, “The social life is patriarchal, families living together in all their branches and generations.” With this tendency strong in Finnish society, it then becomes less difficult to see how sub-tribal distinctions remain. But was this tendency always so strong?
Amazingly enough the Bible answers this question, but in an implicit manner. Examine carefully the prophecy about Issachar in Genesis 49:14, 15. Verse 14 gives a general description of the whole tribe: “Issachar is a strong ass couching down between two burdens.” Then notice that verse 15, describing what Issachar was prophesied to do, can neatly be divided into four parts. Would each of these parts not give a specific identification of each sub-tribe? The first part says, “And he saw that rest was good.” Most obviously this refers to the “static” and tranquil Tavastians. Since this is mentioned first, it means that the descendants of Tola, Issachar’s first son, are the Tavastians. The first-born son usually inherits the leadership of the tribe, and it is significant that both Turky, Finland’s ancient capital, and Helsinki, Finland’s modern capital are located in the Tavastland area.
The second part of verse 15 says, “and the land that it was pleasant.” Now it was mentioned that the people of Savo inhabit the most beautiful land in Finland — the lake district. For this shows that the people of Savo are descendants of Phuvah, Issachar’s second son.
Let’s jump now to the fourth part of this verse, “and became a servant unto tribute.” It was the Karelians who were mostly affected by the war against Russia. While the other sub-tribes gave only of their time and effort to pay off the reparations which Russia demanded, it was the Karelians who truly became servants to tribute by giving up their land as well.
Finally this leaves us with the Ostrobothnians, who can only be the descendants of Job. Of all the sons of Issachar, we know most about his third son Job who certainly had to “bow his shoulder to bear” all the calamities that Satan inflicted upon him. Likewise his descendants are obstinate and freedom-loving, and live in the northern part of Finland where the climate and the topography are the harshest. And even as Job was accustomed to living in the land of Uz (Syria), far from the rest of this brothers in Egypt, his descendants today, the Ostrobothnians, are the most likely to emigrate from Finland than the others.
The amazing way in which Issachar’s four sub-tribes are dealt with in the Bible now completes the proof that modern Finland is the ancient Israelite tribe of Issachar. The story of how the Finns traveled from Palestine, where their ancestors lived over 2500 years ago, to Scandinavia is no less a dramatic description, for it ties in closely with the history of another people whose origin has been shrouded in mystery, the Japanese.