LOCATION OF THE TRIBES OF ISRAEL
by Herman L Hoeh (ca. 1950s)
We are often asked this question: "If the British Commonwealth is Ephraim and the U.S.A. is Manasseh, where are the other tribes of Israel"?
There has never given a satisfactory answer. In fact, they have contended at times that the half-tribe of Manasseh, which lived east of the Jordan, is Japan, and that Dan is Germany. All their attempted historical research neglects the Bible as the only guide to INTERPRETATION of historical evidence.
We already understand the undeniable identity of Ephraim and Manasseh. By a process of elimination, the other tribes appear quickly – knowing first of all that the Scandinavian peoples and those of Western Europe are Israel. In these nations we have all the required characteristics which we find in no other group. To prove which tribe each is today, we need to prove which country has the identifying signs of each tribe AND prove that no other country has such signs.
Here is the Biblical and historical evidence placing the tribal boundaries today:
In Genesis 49 we have a prophecy concerning the state of each of the tribes in the "Latter days" and also in Deuteronomy 33, a chapter dealing with the blessings. With these two main chapters as guides, we can rightly INTERPRET obscure historical evidence that no history book yet clarifies.
1 and 2: Ephraim and Manasseh are already designated.
3. Judah constituted mainly the House of Judah, to be scattered among all nations, becoming a taunt and a byword. We are not to expect them as a separate nation among Israel today, defying all who would come against them. A small part of Judah was carried captive with Israel (II Kings 18:13), as found in the records of the Assyrian kings. Thus, among Israel we should find a small remnant of Judah. We locate the name as Jutes, and living in Jutland, Denmark. Some migrated to England.
4. Levi, the priestly tribe, was to be scattered in Israel (Gen. 49:5-7). God never gave them land to inherit as the other tribes. Therefore, we should not expect them to be given territory today. Nothing is said in Deut. 33 about inheriting land. Among the Jews today we find many bearing the names: Levi, Levy, Levine. Others bear the name "Cohen" and its variations. The Hebrew word "Kohen" means priest and is so translated 725 times in the King James version. Here then, we have the great bulk of Levi – scattered among Judah because they left their priestly functions in Israel almost totally (I Kings 12:31).
5. Simeon received no blessing from Moses. In fact, he does not even mention the tribe! Jacob said God would scatter them throughout Israel. How? Take a map of Palestine for the time of the division of the land. Notice that Simeon did have an inheritance SOUTH of Judah. When Judah separated from Israel, Judah occupied that territory, yet Simeon went with Israel! The only explanation is that Simeon migrated into Israel generally, but no new territory was assigned to Simeon. This tribe became scattered. It is possible that the small scattered tribes in Western Europe, variously called the Senones or Semaones or Sennones, represented the fragments of the tribe of Simeon.
6. Reuben, unstable as water and having the excellency of greatness, we have recognized as France. Southern France, settled by the descendants of Javan (the Greeks), is gentile. The only democratic country, that is unstable, yet sets the styles for the world, has the form of real excellency, and has the same sex weakness as Reuben, is France. When rightly translated, Moses says: "Let Reuben live, and not die in that his men become few" (Deut. 33:6). Of all the western nations, France has the lowest birthrate, although at one time France was the most populous country in all Europe, outnumbering England nearly 6 to 1. No other country in all the world fits all these qualifications. And is it not significant that the very country at war with England around 1800 should be France (Reuben), who would lose the birthright in the Napoleonic war? (Napoleon was Italian.)
7. Dan was originally divided into two parts, one about Joppa, a seaport, and the other in the north of Palestine. Dan refused to fight along side the other tribes against the Gentiles (Judges 5:17). Dan would judge, or stand up to rule, his own people as one of the separate tribes of Israel – indicating he would gain self-government in the following manner: "Dan shall be a serpent in the way, a horned snake in the part, that biteth the horse's heels, so that his rider falleth, backward." Ireland has done just that to England. In fact, the symbol of the illegal Irish Republican Army was the coiled snake!
Dan would also be like a young lion leaping forth, an apt description of Denmark, which acquired the Virgin Islands, Greenland, Iceland and other islands in her heyday. Especially unique is the fact that of all the tribes Northern Dan still preserves their father's name – the Danes!
8. Benjamin constitutes Norway and Iceland. The Icelandic people in reality a colony of Norwegians. Benjamin was given to David because Jerusalem, David's capital, was in the tribe of Benjamin, not Judah. God said He would give David light in Jerusalem (I Kings 11:36). This verse could not refer to Judah which did not have to be given to the Jewish House of David. Benjamin was told to flee the destruction of Jerusalem (Jer. 6:1) which many of them did.
Benjamin is compared to "a wolf that raveneth; in the morning he devoureth the prey, and at even he divideth the spoil" (Gen. 49:27). This is certainly an apt description of the Vikings who pillaged Northern Europe, and even Mediterranean regions. Almost all Viking raids came from Norway. It is also significant that Benjamin, the smallest tribe, still is the smallest today. There are fewer Norwegians (plus 148 thousand from Iceland) than any other Israelite nation. (Moses' blessing in Deut. 33 has particular reference to this fact that Jerusalem was in the tribe of Benjamin.)
9. Issachar is compared to a "large-boned ass," Jacob continues: "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 "ASSWORK." (Gen. 49:14-15.) An ass is not the most intelligent of animals, but it is a willing worker. Such is Finland. Finland is the ONLY nation that has voluntarily taken the full responsibility of her debts. She is today paying off a huge indemnity to Russia. Her land is pleasant and good, not extraordinarily rich. According to Deuteronomy 33:19 she derives wealth from fishing and from hidden treasures of the sand – gigantic peat bogs and the finest sand for glass-making. Issachar is not a colonizing people – they dwell pastorally "in tents," said Moses.
10. Nepthali represents Sweden – "satisfied with favor, full with the blessings of the Lord." She is compared to a prancing hind or deer and "giveth goodly words" (Gen. 49:21). From Sweden, with a well-balanced economy, come the Nobel prizes in token to great world accomplishments. Sweden, during two world wars and the recent trouble in Palestine, sent her emissaries to speak words of conciliation and peace. The promise by Moses to possess "the sea and the south" is applicable both to ancient Nepthali and modern Sweden: notice the position of the Sea of Galilee and Baltic relative to the position of this tribe.
11. Zebulun settled in Holland (The Netherlands). Zebulun dwell at the "shore of the sea, and he shall be a shore for ships, and his flank shall be upon Zidon" – a Gentile country. Moses said: "rejoice, Zebulun, in thy going out." She takes also treasures from the sea and the sand, Zebulun, then, is a colonizing people. She is not a pillaging people as Benjamin.
12. Gad, which means "the troop" certainly designates Switzerland – the only Israelite nation in which every man is mobilized for defense. Against Gad would come the foreign troops, said Jacob, but he will "trod upon their heel." Moses declared that Gad does NOT "leap," a characteristic of the colonizing or pillaging tribes. Gad "teareth the arm, yea, the crown of the head" – of the Holy Roman Empire, in whose territory "he chose a first part for himself, and there a portion of a ruler was reserved." To Gad come "the heads of the people" – as they do today to Geneva. No other nation on earth so perfectly fits this description of a nation of troops.
13. Asher – "his bread shall be fat and he shall yield royal danties" (Gen. 49:20). This peculiar expression could have reference alone to Belgium and the kindred state Luxembourg. From Belgium have come the finest Flemish paintings, the royal tapestries which graced the halls of kings, fine cut diamonds, porcelain and Belgian lace. Belgium and Luxembourg are blessed above many another son of Jacob – "Blessed be Asher above sons; let him be the favoured of his brethren, and let him dip his foot in oil" – prosperity. Iron and brass shall by thy bars; and as thy days, so shall they riches increase. Because of uranium, Belgium's prosperity will continue to grow. (The above rendering of Deut. 33:25 is the correct – it is highly obscure.)
SUMMARY: Here we have a recapitulation of Jacob's prophecy for the latter days, and of Moses' blessings (some of which apply to the millennium). IN ALL THE WORLD THERE IS NO GROUP OF NATIONS SO PERFECTLY CORRESPONDING TO THE PROPHECIES. And within this extraordinary group of nations each nation has its own characteristics. To alter the placement of these tribes would obscure the marvelous proof that each of these nations does represent a tribe of Israel. True, Gentiles are found in almost every one (the Negro, the Indian, the Lapp, the descendants of Javan and Phoenicians), but so was it in ancient Israel. True, in some of these tribes there are to be found descendants of the other tribes – but there are less variations in these continental nations than in Ephraim (Great Britain). Notice, too, that GERMANY does not belong among Israel, although there may be some Israelites still dwelling within her borders.
In choosing Manasseh as the tribe through whom He does His work, God is using the same pattern as He used for the Levites. God originally gave the priests 13 cities to dwell in, and He added 35 more for the Levites. Totaling 48. So Manasseh began with 13 primary states which were added 35 others, making 48. Is it any wonder God's work developed in Manasseh – the only tribe that can finance it?