Are the Danes Israelites of the tribe of Dan?

by Mikkel Stjernholm Kragh

The modern Danish people is made up of the Danes on the numerous islands, and the Jutes on the Jutland peninsula, if recent immigrants are ignored. The original Danes were a Nordic tribe related to Swedes and Norwegians, while the original Jutes were a Germanic tribe which had migrated into Jutland from Germany led by a chieftain-priest called Odin, and are related to Germans and Dutch. That is what the greatest Danish historian of the 18th cen., Peter Frederik Suhm, writes. Suhm based this much on the writings of Snorri Sturlasson of Iceland who wrote in the early 13th cen. But the origin of the Danes can be traced even further back. Essentially, the Danes are of the Israelite tribe of Dan, and the Jutes are of the Israelite tribes of Judah and Dan.

The deportation of Israel to areas south of the Caucasus

As we read in the Old Testament, the 12 tribes of Israel united under King Saul, who was succeeded by King David and King Solomon. But because Solomon had sinned against the God of Israel by building temples to pagan gods, the God of Israel led the 10 northern tribes of Israel secede from Solomon's son, King Rehoboam, around 931 BC. King Rehoboam's rump state centered in Jerusalem contained the two tribes of Judah and Benjamin and was called the Kingdom of Judah. The northern kingdom of the 10 tribes of Israel was on the other hand called the Kingdom of Israel. The kings of the Kingdom of Israel continued to promote worship of pagan gods, and therefore the God of Israel punished the 10 tribes of Israel by removing them out of the Holy Land, just as God has told Israel in the book of Deuteronomy.

The three northern tribes of Israel – Dan, Asher, and Naphtali – were among the first of the Israelite tribes to be deported out of the land of Israel, because the invaders who attacked and deported the Israelite tribes – the Assyrians and Babylonians – invaded the land of Israel from the north. From 734 to 732 BC King Tiglath-Pileser III of Assyria invaded and conquered the northern, eastern, and western parts of the 10 tribed northern kingdom of Israel, as the Holy Scriptures record:

In the days of Pekah king of Israel came Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria, and took Ijon, and Abel-beth-maachah, and Janoah, and Kedesh, and Hazor, and Gilead, and Galilee, all the land of Naphtali, and carried them captive to Assyria.” (2 Kings 15:29)

In 724 BC King Salmaneser V of Assyria attacked Samaria, the capital of the northern 10 tribed kingdom of Israel In 721 BC his successor, Sargon II, took Samaria, and the rest of the 10 tribes of Israel were deported to areas south of the Caucasus mountains and south of the Caspian Sea, as the Holy Scriptures record:

In the ninth year of Hoshea the king of Assyria took Samaria, and carried Israel away into Assyria, and placed them in Halah and in Habor by the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes.” (2 Kings 17:6)

These areas are almost identical to the areas where the oldest Nordic chronicles state that the ancestors of the Nordic and Germanic tribes came from, before they migrated across Eastern Europe to Northern Europe.

The Aser and Vaner homeland south and north of the Caucasus

The Icelandic chief and historian Snorri Sturlasson (1179-1241) wrote Heimskringla (app. 1230), of which the first part is called the Ynglinge Saga. Here Snorri Sturlasson describes the homeland of the Nordic and Germanic tribes as the areas south and north of the Caucasus mountains. They were divided into two groups, Aser and Vaner. These names are very similar to the names Asher and Dan, two of the Israelite tribes which lived in northern Israel. When Israel after the Exodus wandered in the wilderness, the tribes of Dan, Asher and Naphtali were also organized into the Camp of Dan (Num 2:25-31).

Snorri Sturlasson describes the homeland of the Vaner tribe, which we identify as the lost Israelite tribe of Dan:

On the south side of the mountains which lie outside of all inhabited lands runs a river through Swithiod, which is properly called by the name of Tanais, but was formerly called Tanaquisl, or Vanaquisl, and which falls into the Black Sea. The country of the people on the Vanaquisl was called Vanaland, or Vanaheim; and the river separates the three parts of the world, of which the eastern most part is called Asia, and the western most Europe.” (Snorre Sturlasson: Ynglinge Saga pt. 1)

The river Tanakvisl/Vanakvisl/Tanais must be the river Don, because its ancient Greek name was Tanaïs. In the Old Testament, the Danites named places after their ancestor Dan (Judges 18:12, 29), and Don also carries the name Dan.

The Vaner lived adjacent to the Aser, whose chief was Odin:

The country east of the Tanaquisl in Asia was called Asaland, or Asaheim, and the chief city in that land was called Asgaard. In that city was a chief called Odin, and it was a great place for sacrifice. It was the custom there that twelve temple priests should both direct the sacrifices, and also judge the people. They were called Diar, or Drotner, and all the people served and obeyed them. Odin was a great and very far-travelled warrior, who conquered many kingdoms, and so successful was he that in every battle the victory was on his side.” (Snorri Sturlasson: Ynglinge Saga pt. 2)

The lost tribes of Israel’s migration from the Middle East to Northern Europe

After a war between the Aser and Vaner, which ended without anyone of them prevailing, Odin led the tribes to Northern Europe:

There goes a great mountain barrier from north-east to south-west, which divides the Greater Swithiod from other kingdoms. South of this mountain ridge it is not far to Turkland, where Odin had great possessions. In those times the Roman chiefs went wide around in the world, subduing to themselves all people; and on this account many chiefs fled from their domains. But Odin having foreknowledge, and magic-sight, knew that his posterity would come to settle and dwell in the northern half of the world. He therefore set his brothers Ve and Vilje over Asgaard; and he himself, with all the gods and a great many other people, wandered out, first westward to Gardarike [Russia], and then south to Saxland [Saxony]. He had many sons; and after having subdued an extensive kingdom in Saxland, he set his sons to rule the country. He himself went northwards to the [Baltic] sea, and took up his abode in an island which is called Odin’s Island [Odense] on Funen.” (Snorri Sturlasson: Ynglinge Saga pt. 5, my brackets)

The account of this migration is confirmed by important Scandinavian historians such as Peter Friderich Suhm (Denmark, 1728-1798) and Olof Rudbeck the Elder (Sweden, 1630-1702). Suhm and Rudbeck did not trace our origins all the way back to the Israelites, but Suhm did write - speaking of the Nordic peoples – that

the ancestors of us, the Germans, and the Celts lived together in Asia Minor” (P.F. Suhm:Om Odin og den Hedniske Gudelære og Gudstieneste udi Norden (1771), p. 140-141)

The Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl also confirmed Snorri Sturlasson’s account in 2002, when he published Jakten på Odin (The Search for Odin), wherein Heyerdahl specifically wrote that the ancestors of the Norsemen came from Azerbaijan.

The many Odins

There were several Odins. Suhm writes of at least three different Odins. Odin was most likely not a name, but a title, which meant something like “lord, chief, no. one or prime minister”.

In Russian, Odin means “one”. I have asked a Russian lady about this, and she confirmed it.

The lost tribes of Israel are divided in two groups

When the lost tribes, led by Odin, came to the Baltic Sea, they divided themselves into two groups. One group went north across the Baltic Sea and became the ancestors of the Nordic tribes, such as the Danes, Swedes (Svear), Geats (Götar), and Norwegians. The other group went west across what today is Poland and became the ancestors of the Germanic tribes.

Suhm thus writes that it is

reasonable that our fathers have come here via Russia and the eastern part of Poland. When they came to the Baltic Sea and present-day Livonia, they divided themselves into two great multitudes. The one went north, and our fathers descend from them, and the other went west, and became the ancestors of many German peoples” (P.F. Suhm: Historie af Danmark, Vol. 1 (1782), p. 4-5)

Denmark called Vanaheim

After the tribes had arrived in Northern Europe, Vanaheim - the homeland of the Vaner - was still a geographical place. Suhm mentions a Swedish King Svedger in the 1st century AD who went to Vanaheim and married a Vaner woman, and then continued to Germany, the Greater Svithjod and Gothheim, to search for the old Odin, who had been missing for five years. (P.F. Suhm: Om Odin og den Hedniske Gudelære og Gudstieneste udi Norden (1771), p. 99)

From the context, it seems that by Vanaheim is meant Denmark.

The original Danes and Jutes

The Gothic historian Jordanes writes in De origine actibusque getarum (The origin and deeds of the Goths, 551 AD) that the Danes came out of the Swedes. (The original Swedes and the Geats later formed Sweden.) The reason for this is that the Danes were of the tribe of Dan, and that they came to the Scandinavian peninsula along with the other Israelite tribes of Naphtali, Asher and Gad. These four Israelite tribe were descended from Jacob-Israel's two wives Bilhah and Zilpah. In the Old Testament, they were usually closely associated with each other and most of their territories in the Holy Land were also next to each other.

The original Jutes, on the other hand, were of the tribe of Judah, who along with other Israelite tribes descended from Jacob-Israel's first wife, Leah, made up the Germanic tribes that settled on the European continent and the Jutland peninsula.

Origin of the nation of Denmark

Suhm writes that around AD 235 a certain King Dan Mikillati, who was king of the Danes in Scania and Halland – which today is southern Sweden - was also crowned as king of the islands Zealand, Funen, Møn, Falster, and Lolland. When the Jutes and the Angles were invaded by the Saxons, Dan Mikillati succesfully helped them, and because of this the Jutes and the Angles also crowned him as king in Viborg in Jutland (P.F. Suhm: Historie af Danmark (1782), p. 103-112).

What Peter Frederik Suhm wrote fits remarkably well with what the respected Danish historian Johannes Brøndsted wrote. Johannes Brøndsted wrote that the ancestors of the Danes arrived to Denmark in two waves from the east. The first shortly after the birth of Christ, and the second in the 3rd cen. AD. The latter is exactly the same time that Suhm writes that Dan Mikilati was crowned as king of the Danes in Scanialand and the islands and Jutland.

The Danes arrive in Denmark 1st to 3rd cen AD

Johannes Brøndsted was a capable and respected archaeologist and historian, as well as director of the National Museum of Denmark. Brøndsted wrote this in Volume 1 of Politikens Danmarkshistorie. Politiken Publishers is one of the the largest publishers in Denmark, and also publish the liberal newspaper Politiken, one of the biggest newspapers in the country. Politiken is something like the “New York Times of Denmark”.

As we said, Johannes Brøndsted wrote that the ancestors of most modern Danes migrated into Denmark in two waves, one shortly after the birth of Christ and another in the 3rd century AD, and that they came from the region north of the Black Sea and brough along with them the Runic alphabet and the rye grain (Rye bread is the most popular bread in Denmark today.):

Shortly after the birth of Christ, in other words in the start of the Older Roman Era, an immigration must have taken place into Denmark of decidedly longskulled people of the Nordic type. … It must also be assumed that a new immigration of the same type of people, that is people of the Nordic type, must have taken place in the Younger Roman Era, probably sometime in the 200s. … This way we get a picture, albeit lacking in details, that sometime in the 200s an invasion of Denmark from the east took place. It was a conquest which first subdued Zealand, then eastern Funen, and then the advance stopped, because the attempt to conquer the western parts of the country failed.

By chasing out the Heruli tribe in the Younger Roman Era, the Danes got control of the southern regions of the Nordic countries, which became their future homeland, called Denmark. Jordanes (c. 550) says concerning this place, and he is probably speaking of the Danes, that they claim to be the tallest of all the peoples of Scandinavia. This fits with the anthropological measurings of skeletons from Denmark from the Roman Era which show a rise in the average height of the males.

It can therefore not be denied that the thought of the Danes coming to our country sometime in the 200s can find some support both in archaeological and historical sources, even though the latter are both late and scarce.” (Johannes Brøndsted: Politikens Danmarkshistorie, Vol. 1, pp. 490, 492, 1977)

Jutes invade England

Even though the Jutes had become a part of Denmark under King Dan Mikillati app. 235 AD, Jutland remained the apple of discord between Danes and Saxons, and to such an extent that the Jutes often were reckoned as belonging to the latter rather than the former. (P.F. Suhm: Historie af Danmark, Vol. 1 (1782), p. 109)

In the 5th century AD, when the earth in Jutland was exhausted and could not support the population, the Jutes invaded England along with the Angles and the Saxons. In these invasion are not mentioned any Danes. The Danes and the Norwegians only invaded the British Isles in the later Viking Era (8th to 11th century).

The name Danmark (Denmark)

Danmark – the Danish name for Denmark - means “the Danes’ borderland”, because “mark” meant borderland. Danmark was originally the name for Dan Mikillati’s kingdom in Scania and Halland, but eventually became the name of the entire kingdom.

The Danish historiographer Iver Nielsen Hertzholm (1635-1693) wrote that the Danes’ and Denmark’s name comes “from the Hebrew word Dan: meaning to judge, investigate, and believes that we are called so because of our wisdom” (according to P.F. Suhm: Critisk Historie af Danmark (1774), p. 144). Iver Hertzholm did not write that the Danes did or did not descend from the Israelite tribe of Dan, but only that their name came from the Israelite tribe of Dan. Whether Iver Hertzholm did believe that the Danes were Israelites of the tribe of Dan is not known.

In the days of the Old Testament, the tribe of Dan had a habit of naming places after their father Dan, the son of Israel. Dan originally lived in a territory next to Ephraim, Benjamin, Judah and the Philistines. In the early 12th century 600 Danites sought a new territory in the north of Israel, where there lived Phoenicians, next to Naphtali and the half tribe of Manasseh in Bashan. On their way, they camped in a place in Judah, which the Danites called Mahaneh-dan, meaning “Camp of Dan”:

And there went from thence of the family of the Danites, out of Zorah and out of Eshtaol, six hundred men appointed with weapons of war. And they went up and pitched in Kirjath-jearim, in Judah: wherefore they called that place Mahaneh-dan unto this day: behold, it is behind Kirjath-jearim.” (Judges 18:11-12)

After they had smitten the peaceful Phoenicians of Laish with the sword and burned the city, they called the new city Dan:

And they built a city, and dwelt therein. And they called the name of the city Dan, after the name of Dan their father, who was born unto Israel: howbeit the name of the city was Laish at the first.” (Judges 18:28-29)

When the tribe of Dan, now called Vaner and Taner, migrated across Eastern Europe, they likewise seem to have named several major rivers after themselves. The river Don, by the ancient Norsemen called Tanakvisl and Vanakvisl, and by the ancient Greeks called Tanaïs, has already been mentioned. Other major East European rivers with the prefix D-n are: Donets, a tributary to the Don.The Dnieper, which by late Greek and Roman authors was called Danapris and Danaper respectively.The Dniestr, which by the Romans and Jordanes (6th century AD) was called Danastris and Danastus. The Danube, which in German, Danish, and other languages is called Donau.

In 1219 King Valdemar II of Denmark led a succesfull crusade in Estonia to convert the Estonians to the Christian faith. Besides King Valdemar and the Danish army, the Crusaders also included Archbishop Sunesen of Denmark, Bishop Theodorik of Estonia, a German army, and a Slavonic Sorb army. The Crusaders encamped at Lyndanisse and began to build a castle which they called Dane Castle (Castrum Danorum), which became the city Tallinn, which in Estonian means Dane City, and today is the capital of Estonia. (It was at the battle of Lyndanisse that a flag – which probably had belonged to some of the Crusaders and had gotten hurled up in the air - fell down from the sky, and became Dannebrog, the Danish flag.)

Today Danes likewise have a habit of using the name Dan in their firms. If you type in “Dan” in the Danish online yellow pages (see here), there comes out a long list of firms, such as:

Dantex – they make cable tubes and other tubes

Dan-Ejendomme – they rent out apartments

Dan-Glas – there are several firms by this name, they are into car windows

Dan-Tæk – they thatch roofs (with straws)

Rota-Dan – they make different kinds of wheels

Dan-Color – they produce different kinds of paints

Dan Dryer – they produce dryers for bathrooms

Dan-markering – they make road signs and other forms of road markings

DanTrailers - they make trailers for cars

Dan Delektron – they produce lightning conductors

Nor-Dan Bus – a Norwegian-Danish bus company

Dan Cargo – a leading Nordic firm within international transport and third-party logistics

Dan-cool – they make vehicles with refrigerators and freezers (for butchers, for example)

Dan-Labels – they make labels

Dan Stål – there are numerous firms by this name that makes products with steel and other metals

Advodan - a firm of lawyers (advocates)

Baby Dan – they develop, produce, and sell safety equipment for children age 0-5

Dan Auto Parts – they sell auto parts

Danfoss – they make thermostates and other products

Dan Group Alarm – they set up alarms

The tribe of Dan & ships

According to the Bible, the tribe of Dan has a close relationship with water and ships. App. 1285 BC, when the Israelites were living under a Canaanite occupation army, Barak and Deborah led a succesfull revolt against the Canaanites. But some of the Israelite tribes chose not to be a part of the rebellion. Because of this Deborah and Barak complained about those Israelite tribes, and said concerning the tribe of Dan:

why did Dan remain in ships?” (Judges 5:17)

At this point in time, the tribe of Dan lived in the south-western part of the land of Israel, in what modern Israeli Jews call 'Gush Dan', meaning the 'Block of Dan', around Tel Aviv, where 44% of modern Israeli Jews live.

Later the majority of the tribe of Dan migrated to the northern part of the land of Israel on the border to modern Lebanon, which we read about in the book of Judges chap. 17-18. This was on the border to the Phoenicians, which were a Canaanite people with whom the Israelites had a good relationship. The Phoenician King of Tyre, for example, helped in supplying cedar wood for the construction of the temple in Jerusalem.

Later in the 8th cen. BC when the Assyrian first threatened and later invaded Israel, the Danites were probably the first to flee by seeking hire on Phoenician ships, since that was an easy way of escaping.

In the Bible we thereby see that the tribe of Dan has a close relationship with water and ships.

This is fulfilled in the modern Danes, who across the world are famous for being descendants of the Vikings, whose raids and exploits took place on Viking ships, which happen to look remarkably like the ships of the Phoenicians.

Deborah and Barak's prophecy about the tribe of Dan's relationship with ships is also fulfilled in modern Denmark, where the by far largest Danish company is the shipping company A.P. Møller Mærsk, which is the second largest shipping company in the world, only surpassed by Swiss-Italian MSC. Actually Mærsk was the largest shipping company in the world until January 2022. It was only then that MSC overtook Mærsk's position as the world's largest shipping company.

Mærsk's position as Denmark's largest and most important business is also symbolized in the fact that Mærsk's headquarter in Copenhagen is just north of Amalienborg Palace, which is the primary residence of the Danish king. And also that Mærsk has paid for the construction of the Copenhagen Opera House, which is situated symmetrically across the harbor from Amalienborg Palace. (This is written on January 18, 2024, only four days after Queen Margrethe II abdicated and was succeeded by her son, who is now King Frederik 10th.)


There are so many historical and Biblical connections between the modern Danish people and the Israelite tribe of Dan that the modern Danes must be descendants of Danites. I have written in more detail about this in other articles.

Many other peoples have also written about how the modern Danes are Israelite Danites. The first to do so in a book which is still popular today was John Cox Gawler in the book Dan: The Pioneer of Israel (1880). John Cox Gawler was the official Keeper of the British Crown Jewels in the Tower of London. Gawler's book was translated into Danish in 1993 by a Christian couple from Næstved, southern Zealand, but this Danish translation is today very hard to get hold of.

January 2024

(This is a revised version of 'Danes & Jutes: Dan & Judah-Dan' from May 2009)


Authorized King James Version of the Bible

Snorri Sturlasson: Heimskringla or the Chronicles of the Kings of Norway translated by Samuel Laing (London, 1844) A few corrections to the English translation has been made. (Online version here.)

Peter Friderich Suhm: Critisk Historie af Danmark, udi den Hedenske Tid, fra Odin til Gorm den Gamle,Vol. 1(Critical History of Denmark, out in the Heathen Times, from Odin until Gorm the Old)(Copenhagen: Brødrene Johann Christian & Georg Christopher Berling, 1774) (Online here.)

Peter Friderich Suhm: Historie af Danmark, Vol. 1 (Copenhagen: Brødrene Berling, 1782) (Online here.)

Peter Friderich Suhm: Om Odin og den Hedniske Gudelære og Gudstieneste udi Norden (Copenhagen: Brødrene Berling, 1771)