Israelite origin of the Nordic peoples

by Mikkel S. Kragh

According to the greatest historians of the Nordic nations, the ancestors of the Danes and the other Nordic peoples migrated to Scandinavia from a place around the Caucasus Mountains. That was not their origin, though. Prior to that they had lived in the land of Israel and were known as the Israelite tribes of Dan, Naphtali, Asher and Gad. According to the Bible, these Israelite tribes were deported to areas just south of where Nordic historians traced the ancestors of the Nordic peoples to.

The Nordic peoples lived around Asgard on the Don River

The Icelandic historian and politician Snorri Sturlasson (1179-1241) wrote Heimskringla (“The Orb of the Earth”, sometimes also called The Chronicles of the Kings of Norway, c. 1230). This book starts with the Ynglinga Saga, where Snorri explained that the ancestors of the Icelanders, Norwegians, Swedes and Danes, under the leadership of a chieftain called Odin, had migrated to Scandinavia from a place on the Don River in southern Russia:

North of the Black Sea we find Svithjod [Scythia] the Great, or the Cold. ... North of those mountains [the Caucasus], which are situated far from all inhabited places, there is a river which flows through Svithjod, which is called Tanakvisl or Vanakvisl [the Don River]. It flows into the Black Sea. Along the Vanakvisl the country is called Vanaland or Vanaheim. That river divides two of the three parts of the Earth; east of it is Asia but west of it is Europe, as we have explained. East of Tanakvisl in Asia there is the country of Asaland or Asaheim, but the main castle in that country is called Asgard. In the castle there was a chieftain called Odin; there was also a great sacrificial place there.” (Snorre Sturlassøn: Ynglinga-Saga, Norges Konge-Sagaer, p. 4)

The renowned Danish historian Peter Frederik Suhm (1728-1798) agreed with Snorri Sturlasson that the Danes and Nordic peoples had come from Tanaïs. Tanaïs was the Greek name for the Don River, as well as the name of a Greek city on the western side of the Don River delta, close to where Asgard was said be have been:

... those people which the last Odin led from Tanaïs to the north were actually called Aser, or Alans. In the Hervarer Saga they are called Asia Men, but usually they are called Aser or Æser, which explains why those people who came along with Odin, and later were made into gods, were called Aser, and he [Odin] was called the most dignified of the Aser, the mightiest of them all. The place where they lived was called Asgaard, and this is also the name of the dwelling place of the gods in the Edda.” (Peter Friderich Suhm: Om Odin og den Hedniske Gudlære og Gudstieneste udi Norden, pp. 35-36, 1771)

In the pagan Norse mythology, the false “gods” were divided into two groups called Aser and Vaner, just like these two tribes which Snorri and Suhm describe. Suhm explains that the reason that the leaders of these two tribes were later said to be “gods” is that they falsely claimed to be gods, even though they were simply mortal men.

Snorri even traced the Aser and Vaner even further, beyond the Caucasus Mountains:

A great mountain range stretches from north-east to south-west. It divides the Greater Svithjod from other kingdoms. South of these mountains it is not far from Turkland: there Odin has great estates.” (Snorri Sturlasson: Ynglinga-Saga, Heimskringla, p. 5)

The Aser & Vaner wanders to Saxony and Scandinavia

In Suhm's main work, Historie af Danmark (“History of Denmark”, 1782), he elaborates on how the ancestors of the Scandinavians and many Germans migrated into northern Europe. He wrote that it is:

reasonable that our fathers have come here through Russia and eastern Poland. Now, when they came to present-day Livonia [western part of Latvia], they split in two great great multitudes. The first went north, and our fathers descend from them, and the other went west, and they became the forefathers of many German peoples...” (Peter Friderich Suhm: Historie af Danmark, 1. Tomé, 1782)

This was affirmed by Olof Rudbeck, the greatest Swedish historian of his time, in his work Atland eller Manheim (1679-1702), where he also traced the Swedes and the other Nordic peoples to areas north of the Caucasus Mountains.

Departure from Asgard on the Don in the 1st cen. BC

We can get an idea about when the Aser and Vaner tribes left the Black Sea region from Snorri Sturlasson. He writes that when the Romans expanded into Odin's territory, Odin migrated with his people to Scandinavia:

During that time the Roman generals conquered numerous countries and subjected many peoples. Many chieftains fled from the ensuing turmoil in their countries. But because Odin was far-sighted and knowledgeable in sorceries, he knew that his offspring was going to live and built in the northern parts of the Earth. Therefore he set his brothers Vee and Vilje over Asgard, while he himself – and with him all the Diar and many other people – first went west into Gardarike [Russia], and then south into Saxland [Saxony, northern Germany]. He had many sons: across Saxland he subdued many kingdoms and placed his sons as governors. Then he went north to the [Baltic] Sea and found his place to live on an island. That place is now called Odin's-Ø [“Odin's Island”, today Odense] on Funen [the second largest Danish island].” (Snorri Sturlasson: Ynglinga-Saga, Norges Konge-Sagaer, p. 6)

Snorri continues and writes that Odin conquered Sweden and settled in Uppsala. He set his son Skjold as king in Lejre – close to Roskilde, Denmark – and let him marry Gefion, the legendary mother of Zealand, the biggest Danish island. King Skjold is acknowledged as the first king of Denmark, at least according to the legends.

Snorri is famous for writing the Heimskringla (c. 1230), which is a history book, and also for compiling the Younger Edda (c. 1220). The latter contains most of the traditions of the Nordic mythology. But Snorri also wrote a foreword, which was a historical account of the migrations of Odin and the Aser and Vaner tribes from the Black Sea region to Scandinavia. The account in the Younger Edda differs slightly from the one in Heimskringla, but also adds some details not found in the latter:

... when the Roman chieftain Pompey was ravaging the eastern part of the world, Odin fled out of Asia and into the northern part of the world, and he gave himself and his men their names and said that Priam [King of Troy] had been called Odin and his queen Frigg, and that their kingdom was called after her and was called Friggia [Phrygia], and that was where their castle was situated. And whether Odin said this to make himself seem great or whether it was due to the change of language, many learned men have believed this to be a true legend...” (Edda-Myterne, p. 180)

Here Snorri adds that Odin and his people fled when Pompey was “ravaging the eastern part of the world”. This no doubt refers to the Third Mithridatic War 73-63 BC, a major war between Rome and King Mithridates of Pontus which was fought in the eastern Mediterranean, the Anatolian Peninsula, Armenia and the Levant. It was eventually led by Pompey the Great and ended in Roman victory when Mithridates fled to Crimea.

At least 3 chieftains called Odin

Odin was not just one man. According to P.F. Suhm, there were at least three different men called Odin. The first one was the one who led the Aser and Vaner out of Asgard on the Don, and the last Odin was the one who set up his kingdom in Uppsala, Sweden. The classic Danish historian Saxo Grammaticus, who wrote Gesta Danorum (“The Deeds of the Danes” or “Denmark's Chronicle”, 1208), the first history of the Danish people, writes that the last Odin claimed that he was a god and demanded that people worship him as such:

At that time there was a man called Odin, who all across Europe falsely was seen as a god. Most of the time he lived in Uppdala, whether this was because of the noted ignorance of the people there, or because he found a special pleasure in that beautiful area. The kings in the countries of the North, who were very keen on showing him honor as a god, cast a golden image, adorned it with heavy bangles and sent it to him in Byzantium, as a witness of how much they feared him as a god.” (Saxo Grammaticus: Danmarks Krønike, Book 1, p. 18)

Odin: name or title?

Saxo wrote that Odin was his name. But I think that Odin was rather his title. That would explain why Suhm wrote that there were three Odins.

The Aser and Vaner tribes lived in the same areas as the proto-Slavic peoples lived. The Russian word for “one” is один (pronounced “adin” or “adjin”). When you go to Google Translate and translate “one” from English to Russian, you get один, and Google Translate even adds that it is pronounced “odin”!

Odin could therefore be a title meaning “number one”, or another title similar to king.

1963 Danish history book confirms the eastern origin of the Nordic peoples

In 1963 Politiken Publishers published Volume 1 of Politikens Danmarkshistorie, written by Johannes Brøndsted. 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 the “New York Times of Denmark”. Johannes Brøndsted was a capable and respected archaeologist and historian, as well as director of the National Museum of Denmark.

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. The theory is supported by the distribution of the ending of certain place names on Funen (-lev in the north-east, -inge in the south-west), which H.V. Clausen [1861-1937] wrote was connected with a presumed conquest originating from Zealand.” (Johannes Brøndsted: Politikens Danmarkshistorie, Vol. 1, pp. 490, 492)

Thor Heyerdahl and the Search for Odin

The Norwegian adventurer and ethnographer Thor Heyerdahl is famous for the Kon-Tiki Expedition. As the last project of his life, Heyerdahl wanted to test the veracity of Snorri's stories about Odin and the Aser and Vaner originating from somewhere north of the Caucasus were true. He travelled to Azerbaijan, where he met the Christian Udi (Odin) people, which unlike most other people in that country had not converted to Islam. He also did archaeological digs in the southern Russian city Azov on the Don River, which may have been where Asgard was situated. Azov also starts with an Az-, like As-gard. The Russian word for city is “gorod”, so Asgard/Asgorod would mean “As[er] city” in Russian. Heyerdahl concluded that Odin and the Aser and Vaner tribes had indeed lived there and migrated to Scandinavia, just like Snorri and the other Nordic historians had written. He summarized his findings in the book Jakten på Odin (“The Search for Odin”):

It is in a plain and simple language that Snorri Sturlasson has written about Odin's northward travel from the world's old cultural centers to the northern edge of Europe. … In a geographical summary which is impossible to misunderstand, Snorri first takes us from his own world in Western Europe through Gibraltar and the Mediterranean Sea to the Black Sea. There he places Odin in the court of the Aser on the eastern side of the border river Tanaïs' delta, where Azov is today. Then he determines the time when this event took place. It was when the Romans marched into the Caucausus area. Then we get a whole new travel route for Odin's flight, which also does not require any interpretation.

These people were obviously not gods, but they were also no ordinary entourage, who set their course towards the northern part of the world when the Romans entered Turkey. With his entourage of Aser and adopted Vaner, and under pressure from the invincible Romans, he starts an emigration out of the Caucasus area which is under threat. The route went from the Black Sea to the Baltic Sea, and was forced to follow the great rivers through Russia's impenetrable primeval forests. As Snorri points out, first west through Gardarike, the viking name for Russia. Either through the Black Sea coast of southern Russia and up the Dnieper, or directly up the Don, and then pulling the boats across land - which the Vikings also did later - from the southern flowing rivers of Russia to the western flowing rivers of Latvia and Estonia, and into the Baltic Sea.” (Thor Heyerdahl & Per Lillieström: Jakten på Odin, p. 36)

Aser & Vaner of Scandinavia: The Israelite tribes of Asher & Dan

We can therefore trace the Aser and Vaner tribes to south of the Caucasus Mountains. In the Old Testament we read that two tribes with similar names were deported to areas very close by: The Israelite tribes of Asher and Dan.

Asher and Dan were two of the so-called Lost 10 Tribes of Israel. Israel originally consisted of 12 tribes. After the death of King Solomon, the 10 northern tribes of Israel seceded from the Royal House of David and Solomon in Jerusalem and created the Kingdom of Israel, while the two southern tribes continued under the name the Kingdom of Judah. Around 721 BC the Assyrian Empire invaded the northern Kingdom of Israel and deported the 10 tribes of Israel out of the land of Israel and settled them in areas in northern Iraq and Syria, western Iran and south-eastern Turkey. This is just south of where Snorri wrote that the Aser and Vaner had come from:

Then the king of Assyria came up throughout all the land, and went up to Samaria, and besieged it three years. In the ninth year of [king] Hoshea [of Israel] the king of Assyria took Samaria [the capital of Israel], 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 17:5-6)

Therefore the LORD was very angry with Israel, and removed them out of his sight: there was none left but the tribe of Judah only.” (2 Kings 17:18)

The reason why God let the 10 tribes of Israel be deported was because ever since their first king Jeroboam, they had worshipped pagan gods and not the God of Israel. Therefore God let the Assyrian Empire deport Israel out of the Promised Land. Instead the Assyrians placed pagan peoples in the land of Israel, and they became the ancestors of the Samaritans of the New Testament:

For the children of Israel walked in all the sins of Jeroboam which he did; they departed not from them. Until the LORD removed Israel out of his sight, as he had said by all his servants the prophets. So was Israel carried away out of their own land to Assyria unto this day. And the king of Assyria brought men from Babylon, and from Cuthah, and from Ava, and from Hamath, and from Sepharvaim, and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the children of Israel: and they possessed Samaria, and dwelt in the cities thereof.” (2 Kings 17:22-24)

Only Judah was, and is, called “Jews”

Up until around the time when the 10 tribes of Israel were deported, the Bible never refers to Israel as “Jews”. The first time the King James Version of the Bible mentions “Jews” is in the context of the “Jews” fighting against Israel and Syria. The Jews mentioned are the Kingdom of Judah and Israel is the Kingdom of Israel:

Then Rezin king of Syria and Pekah son of Remaliah king of Israel came up to Jerusalem to war: and they besieged Ahaz, but could not overcome him. At that time Rezin king of Syria recovered Elath to Syria, and drave the Jews from Elath: and the Syrians came to Elath, and dwelt there unto this day.” (2 Kings 16:5-6)

Reading this makes complete sense if you understand that Israel means the 10 Tribes of Israel and the Jews means Judah. But it makes no sense if you think the Jews and Israel are identical, like most Christians and the world today see it.

The orthodox Rabbi Shmuley Boteach (born 1966), whom Newsweek magazine called “the most famous rabbi in America”, confirmed this in his best-selling book Judaism for Everyone (2002):

An Israelite is someone who is a descendant of Jacob... After the dispersion of the ten tribes, the Israelites were referred to as Jews because the remainder of the Jewish nation, those who today form the bulk of the Jewish people - all stem from the tribe of Judah.” (Shmuley Boteach: Judaism for Everyone, p. 387, 2002)

Dan also called Tan & Van

The three Israelite tribes which lived furthest to the north were the tribes of Dan, Naphtali and Asher. Before Israel settled in the Holy Land and were wandering in the wilderness, the 12 tribes were divided into 4 camps, each with one leader tribe. The northern camp was the Camp of Dan, which consisted of the tribes of Dan, Naphtali and Asher. Dan was the leader of the camp (Numbers 2:25).

When the 10 tribes of Israel were deported, the tribes of Dan and Asher – and probably also Naphtali, and maybe Gad as well – became known as the Aser and Vaner of Nordic history. Dan became known as Vaner or Taner. In most languages of the world, words and names often change between D and T. For example, in modern Danish, Denmark is called “Danmark”. But on the runes on the famous Little Jellinge Rock (c. 950-960), King Gorm the Old of Denmark called his nation “Tanmarkar” – with a T. On the runes on the Greater Jellinge Rock (c. 965), Gorm's son King Harald Bluetooth wrote that he made the Danes Christians, but called his nation “Tanmaurk” and his people “Tani” – both with a T. But the Benedictine monk Regino of Prüm refers to Denmark as “Denimarca” - with a D – in his history of the Carolingian Empire Chronicon (c. 900).

The Don River has its name from Russian, but in Ukrainian it is called “Din”, the ancient Greeks called it “Tanaïs”, and Snorri called it Vanakvisl and Tanakvisl. Just in this river-name we find three variations of the name Dan: D-n, Tan and Van. Writing in Latin c. AD 551, the Gothic historian Jordanes called the Dnieper River “Danaper” and the Dniestr River “Danaster” (Jordanes: Getica V:35, p. 16).

The patriarch Jacob-Israel prophesied of Dan:“Dan shall be a serpent by the way, and adder in the path” (Gen 49:17) This could be interpreted to mean that Dan would leave marks of his name name wherever he went. In the Book of Judges it is also recorded three times that the Danites called places after the name of their father Dan (Dan, Mahaneh-Dan, etc.) A partial fulfilment of this could be that Dan in his exile called numerous river names after his father Dan.

The Cimbrians and the Cimmerians

The ancient Germanic tribe the Cimbrians are generally believed to have originated in northern Jutland. A part of northern Jutland is, for example, called Himmerland, which is said to be derived from the “Cimbrian Land”. In 120 BC the Germanic tribes the Cimbrians, the Teutons, the Ambrones and the Tigurini migrated into the Roman Republic. During the ensuing Cimbrian War, the Romans tried to stop them and expel them, but they wandered across Germania, Gaul and Hispania and were eventually defeated by the Roman Consul Gaius Marius east of Turin, northern Italy, in 101 BC.

Suhm was convinced that the Cimbrians were descendants of the Cimmerians (Kimmerians), an ancient people which lived on the steppes north of the Black Sea:

Since the Nordic Cimbrians are, as I will show later, one and the same people as the Cimmerians, both when it comes to their origin, name and descent, then it is safe to assume that after the first time they were driven out by the Scythians a part of them went north, and brought the Cimmerian or Cimbrian name with them into the Nordic countries...” (Peter Friderich Suhm: Forsøg til et Udkast af en Historie over Folkenes Oprindelse I Almindelighed, som en Indledning til de Nordiske Folkes i Særdeleshed, p. 332, 1769)

Two centuries later, the Danish Assyriologist Anne K.G. Kristensen wrote Who were the Cimmerians, and where did they come from? (1988) which was published by the Royal Academy of Sciences and Letters. Here she showed that the Cimmerians from the areas north of the Black Sea were in fact the Lost 10 Tribes of Israel:

According to Herodotus and Greek tradition as a whole, the original home of the Cimmerians was north of the Black Sea in what was then known as Scythia. In spite of persistent archaeological excavations, however, it has not been possible to determine the presence of Cimmerians in Scythia or elsewhere. The question of the origin of the Cimmerians, therefore, remains somewhat of a mystery.

The author of the present investigation wishes to show, with an analysis of all available contemporaneous evidence from the time of Sargon II and Esarhaddon (8th to 9th centuries B.C.), that the Cimmerians were in fact identical with Israelites deported from Northern Israel after the fall of Samaria in 722 B.C. Large parts of these deportees were then posted or indeed settled in the Zagros area, under Assyrian supervision, and in garrisons along the frontier between Assyria and Urartu (Armenia), where we find them in 714.” (Anne K.G. Kristensen: Who were the Cimmerians, and where did they come from?, p. 2)

We can thereby trace the Lost 10 Tribes of Israel to the Cimmerians south of the Caucasus and north of the Black Sea, and trace the Cimmerians to the Cimbrians of Jutland.

Scythia: another name for Sweden

Scythia was the ancient name for a vast area encompassing the Ukraine and southern Russia. The Scythians are often believed to have been of many different ethnic origins who just happened to live in the same area. They were known for providing the ancient Greeks with grain (just like the Ukraine and Russia provide numerous nations with grain today).

The Old Norse name for Scythia was Svithjod. As we already saw, Snorri called Scythia for “Svithjod the Great”, but he simply called Sweden for “Svithjod”, because he wrote that the ancestors of the Swedes had migrated from Svithjod the Great (Greater Scythia) to Sweden (Lesser Scythia, or Lesser Svithjod). Even today the Icelandic name for Sweden is Svíþjóð (pronounced Svithjod or Svithjoth).

One of the chapters of Olof Rudbeck's Atland eller Manheim (1677-1702) is simply called On Sweden's name: Scythia. Georg Stiernhielm (1598-1672), the most learned man in 17th century Sweden, simply called the Swedish language “Scythian”.

We can thereby trace the Swedish people, as well as the name Sweden, to Scythia, an area where the Lost 10 Tribes of Israel can also be traced to have lived.

Dolmens and other megaliths

The patriarchs and the 12 tribes of Israel are recorded in numerous places in the Old Testament to have set up stone monuments. The prophet Jeremiah said that the Lost 10 Tribes would continue to do this in their exile, as a way of showing the way they migrated:

Set thee up waymarks, make thee high heaps: set thine heart toward the highway, even the way which thou wentest: turn again, O virgin of Israel, turn again to these thy cities.” (Jeremiah 31:21)

Similar dolmens and other megaliths are found in Israel and Jordan, across the Mediterranean, the Caucasus, the Balkans, and western and northern Europe. These dolmens and megaliths are of a similar type, which is different from megaliths in other places of the world. There is reason to believe that these dolmens and megaliths were set up by the Lost 10 Tribes in their migratory routes from the Middle East to north-western Europe. Yair Davidiy, an Orthodox Jewish author of numerous books on the Lost 10 Tribes, quotes the famous Rabbi David Kimchi of Medieval France:

'Radak' (Rabbi David Kimchi, 1157-1236, of Narbonne, France, on Jeremiah 31:21): SET UP ROADMARKERS [tsionim] (Jeremiah 31): This was directed to the Community of Israel, that in the generation when they would be exiled they should set up waymarks [i.e. 'tsionim'] such as PILED-UP STONES OR STONE MONUMENTS. The purpose of these monuments was to mark the paths [of migration for the sake of future recognition]. The meaning was to say that even though you will be exiled, hope is not lost and you are still destined to return to these your cities. MAKE YOURSELF WAYMARKS [HIGH HEAPS] [Hebrew: 'tamrurim']. The same message is repeated though the wording is changed since both 'tamrurim' [i.e. 'high heaps'] and 'tsionim' [i.e. 'waymarks'] connote elevated-height [from the root 'tamar', 'amar']”.

Yair Davidiy continues:

Megalithic monuments and dolmens were once found throughout the Land of Israel though many have been destroyed and most of those remaining are in the Golan and east of the Jordan where they are known to the Arabs as 'Kubur Beni Israil', i.e. 'Graves of the Children of Israel'. Certain features of these monuments, such as the existence of cupholes, a ca. 23 degree inclination of the roof stone, etc., etc., are also found on similar structures in Britain and the west.” (Yair Davidiy: Ancestry: The Hebrew Identity of the Celtic Races, pp. 255, 252)

In Tokkekøb Hegn, a forest close to where the author lives north of Copenhagen, Denmark, there are a handful of well-preserved dolmens and megaliths, while in the neighboring forests of similar size there are few or none. The archaeologists say that this is because there was an ancient “highway” running through Tokkekøb Hegn, and this is why all these monuments were placed there. These archaeologists claim that these monuments are from the Stone Age, but they could have their dating wrong. These stone monuments are along an ancient major road, so they would fit Jeremiah's prophecy that Israel was to set up waymarks and high heaps along the highways.

Semitic origin of the Runes, Part I: Kjell Aartun

The Runes were the alphabet used in ancient Scandinavia. They are usually believed to have been adapted from Roman letters. But Professor Kjell Aartun (1925-2023) - a Norwegian theologian and linguist who was considered a leading expert in Semitic languages and was a member of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters – was convinced that the Runes was a Semitic alphabet which had come from the Middle East to Scandinavia. In 1994 he wrote:

Outside Central Europe and the Nordic countries the Runic writings have as of this date been shown in two of the important old oriental cultures: the former Trojan culture in Asia Minor by the Dardanelles and the old high culture in the Syria and Palestine area, which were basically identical.” (Kjell Aartun: Runer i kulturhistorisk sammenheng, p. 13)

Professor Aartun writes that when the Runes emerged around Troy and Syria-Palestine they were already a fully developed alphabet which was intended to express a written Middle Eastern language.

Semitic origin of the Runes, Part II: Jørgen Chr. Bang

Assistant Professor Jørgen Chr. Bang of University of Southern Denmark said in 1997 that the similarities between the Runes and the Semitic letters are so great that the Runes cannot have sprung from the Roman alphabet:

There exists historical accounts which makes it probable that around the year 0 there was a larger immigration into Denmark of a people of culture originating from the regions around the Black Sea and also cultural plants of Middle Eastern origin. The Runes and the the Old Norse language may have come here with this people. … I find it interesting, and almost symbolic, that rye, our 'national' grain for our daily bread, seems to have followed the same route as the Runes in my hypothesis, that is from the Middle East to southern Russia and Central Europe, where it paused for a longer while, until it reached us in the Older Roman Times, that is prior to AD 200.” (Jørgen Chr. Bang: Runernes herkomst og medbyrd, pp. 1, 8)

Professor Bang mentions Johannes Brøndsted, the author of Politikens Danmarkshistorie Vol. 1 (1963) mentioned above, concerning the theory that the Danes came to Denmark in two waves, one around the birth of Christ and another in the 3rd century, and adds:

I find it completely in accord with these data that we can imagine that the Runes in the shape of the Futhark [the Runic alphabet] got here with the last immigration of the Danes, and that both the previous immigration and the immigration of the Danes were Germanic-speaking peoples of culture from the Black Sea region, where they had close relationships with the Goths and perhaps the later Slavs. And that this people, just like the rye grain, had a cultural past in the Middle East. It is not impossible that a part of the Indo-European Germanic branch, that is the Danes, not only brought along the rye as a cultural plant from the Middle East, but that they also conserved the cultural writing from these areas, that is the writing which came to the Nordic countries in the shape of the Futhark and the Runic alphabet.

Considering this there may be more truth in the stories of the historian of old, Snorri of Iceland (c. 1220-1240), about the arrival of Odin and the Danes into the Nordic countries than one might imagine. Snorri tells that the Danes lived by the Black Sea and the reason why they changed their residence to the Nordic countries: When the Romans intermeddled too much in the Black Sea region, the foresighted Danes decided that it would be easier for them to keep their traditions and culture by moving to the North. This they did, bringing along with them their most precious belongings (here I see the Runes and the Futhark as possible, precious belongings), and they were received with admiration. The language and culture of the Danes spread across all the Nordic countries, and they intermarried with the native inhabitants, though some in England kept their native language. Maybe Snorri is referring to Celtic.” (ibid, p. 9-10)

Semitic origin of the Runes, Part III: Örjan Svensson

The Swedish linguist Örjan Svensson has written four books about the Runes and how they were originally written in Hebrew and Aramaic. Örjan Svensson shows that the Runes were originally written from right to left, like modern Hebrew and Arabic, and that those people who wrote the Runes were Israelites from the Lost 10 Tribes who had blended in with the Germanic-speaking tribes which settled Scandinavia and northern Germany from app. 100 BC and onwards.

Mr. Svensson devotes a chapter to the older Gallehus Horn, one of two golden horns found in southern Jutland, Denmark, found in 1639. The horn contains no explicit Runes or other writings, but instead a linear depiction of animals, people, weapons and other symbols. Mr. Svensson takes the Hebrew name of these symbols and translates them into meaning:

'Since I am a praised and merciful ruler:

The whole glory to our ruler.'

This indicates that the golden horns of Gallehus originally belonged to a ruler of the early Danes, who originally descended from the Israelite tribe of Dan. It is also interesting to note that the combined runic gematria of the deciphered text is equal to 17 + 27 + 54 + 55 + 7 + 17 + 35 + 42 + 20 + 69 = 343 = 7 x 7 x 7.”

7 is a holy number in the Bible, so Mr. Svensson concludes that the Hebrew origin of the text is proved by Gematria. (Örjan Svensson: Scandinavian Secrets: The Hebrew Code of the Runes, pp. 234-237)

In 2003 John Troeng wrote an article in the Swedish magazine Fornvännen (“The Friend of Ancient Things”) entitled A Semitic origin of some runes – An influential foreign presence in Denmark c. AD 200, where he shows that some of the Runes must have been of Semitic origin. One of the reasons he mentions is that the Runes were written without space between the words, just like other Semitic inscriptions. (ibid, p. 10)

Germanic-Hebrew similarities, Part I: Louis Hjelmslev

The Hebrew of the Old Testament is usually considered belonging to the Hamito-Semitic group of languages, whereas the Germanic languages - including the Nordic languages and English - belong to the Indo-European group of languages. One of the world's most respected linguists was the Dane Louis Hjelmslev of the University of Copenhagen. In 1963, Hjelmslev wrote in his landmark book Language: An Introduction, that:

A genetic relationship between Indo-European and Hamito-Semitic was demonstrated in detail by the Danish linguist Hermann Møller, using the method of element-functions, in studies dating from 1906-17.” (Louis Hjelmslev: Language: An Introduction, p. 79, 1963)

By comparing them, Hjelmslev substantiated the theory that the Semitic, Indo-European, and Finno-Ugrian languages were derived from one single original ancient language, which he called Nostratic. Hjelmslev did not believe that other languages - such as Chinese, Turkic and Native American languages - had a common origin with Nostratic.

Germanic-Hebrew similarities, Part II: Terry Marvin Blodgett

The American Terry Marvin Blodgett, University of Utah, summarized his account in the doctoral thesis from 1981: Phonological Similarities in Germanic and Hebrew:

... the findings of this chapter open up the possibility that the linguistic similarities between Germanic and Hebrew, as presented throughout this dissertation, might be explained as the basis of Hebraic migrations to Germanic territory, possibly as early as 700 B.C., with other groups arriving during the ensuing centuries.” (Terry Marvin Blodgett: Phonological Similarities in Germanic and Hebrew, p. 155, 1981)

Blodgett also showed in details that the vowel changes Ablaut and Umlaut, today known in High German, was common both in Hebrew and Germanic languages, but not in other Indo-European languages.

Germanic-Hebrew similarities, Part III: Grzegorz Jagodzinski

The Polish linguist Grzegorz Jagodzinski came to the same conclusion in 2005 in his critical comparisons between Indo-European and Semitic languages:

It is worth noticing that there exists especially much convergence between the Semitic languages and the Germanic branch [of the Indo-European languages*].” (*My parenthesis) (Grzegorz Jagodzinski: Indo-European and Semitic Languages, 2005)

Germanic-Hebrew similarities, Part IV: Isaac Mozeson

Isaac E. Mozeson, a Canadian born Jew from the Yeshiva University in New York City, wrote the book The Word: The Dictionary That Reveals the Hebrew Source of English (1989). In this book, Dr. Mozeson showed how 22,000 English words had a Hebrew origin. Examples are the English words skunk, gopher, giraffe and horse, which in Hebrew have the meanings stinker, digger, neck and plower.

We can therefore conclude that the Lost 10 Tribes of Israel migrated into areas where non-Israelite peoples speaking Germanic, Celtic and Finnish languages lived and picked up the language of those non-Israelite peoples, but also added Hebrew words into the vocabularies of those languages. In other words, the proto-Germanic, proto-Celtic and proto-Finnish peoples were not Israelites, but some of them assimilated with the Lost 10 Tribes of Israel and became the nations of north-western Europe.

We find a somewhat similar example with the Ashkenazi Jews, who today make up app. 70% of all Jews worldwide. The Ashkenazi Jews lived in Germany, which they called Ashkenaz. In the 9th century the German Jews started to talk their own version of High German mixed with Hebrew and Aramaic words. They called this language Yiddish. The Yiddish-speaking Ashkenazi Jews later moved into Eastern Europe and Russia, but kept the Yiddish language. (Most of the Jews which perished in the Holocaust were Yiddish-speaking, and after WW2 most of the survivors stopped speaking Yiddish.) Even though most Jews prior to WW2 spoke a Germanic language, it does of course not mean that they descended from Germans.

Lactose tolerance and a “land flowing with milk and honey”

When the God of Israel promised the land of Canaan to the Israelites, He described it as a land “flowing with milk and honey”. That was a wonderful promise... if they were able to digest milk, that is. When the Israelites left Egypt, they must therefore have been able to consume raw milk. Otherwise it would not make sense of God to call the Promised Land for “a land flowing with milk and honey”.

Today app. 65% of the world's adults cannot consume raw milk without getting a bad stomach. That is because most of the world's adults have lactose intolerance. Lactose is the sugar in milk, and they lack the enzymes to digest it, and therefore they get a bad stomach if they drink milk. Children are, of course, lactose tolerant, so they drink their mother's milk. But once most reach adulthood, they become lactose intolerant.

But 35% of the world's adults have developed lactose tolerance and can drink milk without any problems. By far the largest group of people who are lactose tolerant are people of northern European descent. In fact, a world map of where the highest percentages of lactose tolerance are found among the indigenous populations, shows that this group is found in areas almost identical to the areas usually associated with the Lost 10 Tribes of Israel: the British Isles, Iceland, southern and central Scandinavia, southern Finland, northern Germany and the Netherlands. (Itan Yuval et al.: A worldwide correlation of lactase persistence phenotype and genotypes, 2010)

Scientists do not know exactly how and when lactose tolerance developed. One article on the U.S. National Public Radio website suggests that it started when people in the Middle East app. 8,000 years ago started to domesticate cows, goats and sheep, and that some of these farmers migrated to northern Europe and multiplied, because milk can be stored easily in the colder climate of northern Europe, but not in the warm Middle Eastern climate. The article says that scientists do not know when this lactose tolerance started, and that it could have developed in between 2,000 and 20,000 years. That sounds like they do not know much and are just making educated guesses. (Helen Thompson: An Evolutionary Whodunit: How Did Humans Develop Lactose Tolerance?, 2012)

In any case, when the Israelites left Egypt, they must already have been lactose tolerant. According to the scientists, lactose tolerance only started app. 8,000 years ago, and the Exodus was app. 3,400 years ago. At the time of the Exodus, the Israelites must therefore been one of the very few ethnic groups in the world's with lactose tolerance.

Today, besides the cluster of lactose tolerance among people of northern European descent, there are also two other clusters: One in western Africa centered around Senegal and one centered in central Saudi Arabia. Since there is no genetic connection with the west Africans (but a slightly close relationships to the Arabs, because they are descendants of Abraham's son Ishmael, Isaac's half-brother), the three clusters have probably evolved independently from each other.

Therefore especially during the Exodus, but also today, the Israelites are among the few ethnic groups it would have made sense to describe the Promised Land as a “land flowing with milk and honey”. To most other ethnic groups it would have meant a “land flowing bad stomachs and honey”. Not exactly what you would call a Promised Land!

Scandinavians who have believed in our Israelite origin

The knowledge that the Nordic and related peoples are the descendants of the Lost 10 Tribes of Israel has not nearly been as widespread in the Nordic nations as it has been in the English-speaking nations, among the Afrikaners of South Africa and the Jews, the three groups of peoples where this knowledge has, and is, most known. But four noteworthy Scandinavians who have believed in this truth and written about it can be mentioned.

Witness #1: Johannes Eurenius

Johannes ‘Jöns’ Jacobi Eurenius (1688-1751) was a Swedish pastor in Torsåker, Ångermanland, 170 km NW of Stockholm, Sweden.

Johannes Eurenius is best known for his book ATLANTICA ORIENTALIS Eller Atlands Näs, Til des rätta Belägenhet beskrifwet för många år sedan (Strengnäs, Sweden, 1751. Also published in Latin in 1764). The 157 page book describes that the Swedes, Goths, Scandinavians and related peoples are the descendants of the Lost 10 Tribes of Israel which were deported out of the land of Israel app. 721 BC. Eurenius also wrote that the Greek myth of Atlantis was a folk memory of the Israelites' lost land of Israel, from whence they had been deported. Hence the title of the book.

Eurenius's book was in part a response to the famous Swedish historian Olof Rudbeck's book Atland eller Manheim (1679), already mentioned in this article, where Rudbeck claimed that Sweden was in fact Atlantis. We are not aware of any contemporaries who believed in Eurenius' theory about the Lost 10 Tribes. But the book was taken seriously, because the Danish contemporary historian P.F. Suhm mentions Eurenius and Atlantica Orientalis in his own books.

Quotes from Atlantica Orientalis:

From Chapter VI, “The Dispersed SCYTHIANS or Exiled Israelites”: “The name of the SCYTHIANS is just as famous as their true extraction is unknown. All histories speak of them, and many count them as their fellow-countrymen; but no one seems to be able to positively prove how they first dispersed in Asia, and how their great power and glory was able to spread during that time. Because the strongest nations in that region were the Chaldeans, the Assyrians, the Medes, the Persians and the Greeks. To me it is therefore very obvious that these Scythians were the families of Israel, who after the time of Salmanasser dispersed themselves in the Eastern Lands, and did not, at the request of Cyrus, go home, but did settle the then uninhabited wastelands and lands towards the North.” (p. 83)

From Chapter VII, “The origin of the SVIAR and the GOTHS from the Scythians or the Lost Children of ISRAEL”, where Eurenius wrote that the Norse god Thor is a corrupted memory of Moses: “Thor is a Hebrew word, as well as Moses' title. Because he came out of the thunderstorm and thunder, and came with the Law of God, which in the Hebrew also identifies Thor as the Lawgiver.” (p. 109)

Thor is said to have had a club with which he struck his enemies and opened the rock. Johannes Magnus [1488-1544, Swedish historian] in Hist. L. I:9, Adam of Bremen [famous 11th cen. German historian] and Ericus Olai [1420s-1486, the 'father of Swedish historiography'] call it Thor's sceptre or staff, and write that it was surrounded by fire. This is a certain reminder of the Moses' staff which followed him into the fire, hit the rock and defeated his adversaries.” (p. 110)

Eurenius also wrote that the pagan temple in Uppsala was modeled after king Solomon's temple in Jerusalem: “Of the temple in Sala [Uppsala]. Just as the city had its name from the former residence of the Israelites in Canaan, so too was the temple in Uppsala an image of Solomon's ruined temple in Jerusalem.” (p. 112)

Concerning how the Israelites and the Swedes worshipped God: “With all this, you can still on all points feel an extraordinary similarity between how God was worshipped among the Israelites and among the Swedes, which convinces us of their relationship.” (p. 115)

Witness #2: Anna Bjørner

Anna Larssen Bjørner (1875-1955) was the founder of the Pentecostal movement in Denmark and of the Apostolic Church in Denmark.

Anna Bjørner was one of the most famous actresses in the Danish theater world, but in 1909 she converted to Christ, gave up her acting career and got married to the YMCA secretary in Elsinore, Sigurd Bjørner (1875-1953). The Bjørner couple then started a crusade which was the birth of the Pentecostal awakening in Denmark.

In 1924 the Bjørners founded the Apostolic Church in Denmark, which was a branch of the Apostolic Church in Britain, and they planted congregations all over Denmark. Earlier they had started publishing the magazine Evangeliebladet (”The Gospel Magazine”).

One of the main subjects in Evangeliebladet was the Lost 10 Tribes of Israel, which they identified as the Anglo-Saxons and related peoples. Even the frontpage article in Evangeliebladet was several times on the Lost 10 Tribes of Israel. They were usually written by Anna Bjørner, but there were also articles by the prominent British-Israelites of those days, including William Pascoe Goard, Edward Odlum, J. Llewellyn Thomas, Stephen Jeffreys, and Grattan Guinness. There were several articles which were directly translated from The National Message, the magazine of the British-Israel-World Federation. The only foreign magazine which Evangeliebladet advertised would be sold on the Apostolic Church's meetings was also The National Message. Other Scandinavians who wrote about the Lost 10 Tribes of Israel in Evangeliebladet were the Norwegian Albert Hiorth and the Swedish Pentecostal preacher Nils Ramselius.

Anna and Sigurd Bjørner left the Apostolic Church and Evangeliebladet in April 1936, for reason which remain unclear. Immediately after the Bjørners had departed, all mentioning of the Lost 10 Tribes of Israel disappeared from Evangeliebladet, and two years later when they again mentioned Israel and Jews, they claimed that the Jews were all of Israel. The latter is still what is preached in the Apostolic Church to this day, and when Anna Bjørner was finally invited to speak in the Apostolic Church again in the early 1950s, she was expressly forbidden not to mention anything about the Lost 10 Tribes of Israel.

Quotes by Anna Bjørner

There are so many Christians who cannot see that Jesus is the Redeemer of Israel. In John Chapter 11 we read that the high priests and the Pharisees have summoned a meeting to discuss what they should do about Jesus, who does so many signs among the people, and if it continues like this, they say, the Romans will come and take away both the land and the people. But Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said: 'Ye know nothing at all, Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not.' - 'And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation (The Jews in Palestine): And not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad (The 10 Tribes of Israel).' Christendom believes that these are the Christians who are spoken of here, but it is obvious that this is impossible - there were no 'scattered Christians' at that time. It was Israel that Jesus came to. And the high priest says: It is better that one man dies for the whole people, rather than the whole people should perish. It is a prophecy, he knows not himself what he says; but he proclaims that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, should redeem not only Judah, but also the Lost Sheep of the House of Israel, the Ten Tribes who were in the dispersion. It were 'the Children of God' who were to be gathered as one nation with Judah. But Judah did not receive Him, only a small band of men from Galilee - of the Tribe of Benjamin.” (Anna Bjørner: Kajfas' mærkelige profeti (”Caiaphas' Strange Prophecy”). Evangeliebladet: Organ for den apostolske Kirke i Danmark, August 7, 1935, pp. 1-2)

The 10 Tribes of Israel, however, did not return from their captivity in Assyria, but wandered north across the Caucasus, around the Black Sea, until they landed in Central Europe and finally came to the place which God had given them as a refuge: 'The Isles in the Sea' (The British Isles), from where Ephraim-Israel at last shall come, whereas Judah shall come from the 'four corners of the world'. The historians tell us that Hebrew memorials, grave tombs, and other things left behind, marks the way which they had wandered. The Gospel of Jesus, which had been rejected by Judah, was there proclaimed for the Gentiles, and among them were the Ten Tribes of Israel as the 'Lost Sheep of the House of Israel'. Here, the Gospel was received, and today these Lost Ten Tribes make up the core of the Christian nations of the globe.” (Anna Bjørner: Den store Pyramide (”The Great Pyramid”). Evangeliebladet, April 21, 1927, p. 1)

Witness #3: Albert Hiorth

Albert Hiorth (1876-1949) was a Norwegian engineer, inventor, and speaker. Hiorth is particularly known for his grandiose plans for reconstructing the land of Israel after World War II, as well as for his belief that the north Europeans were the Lost 10 Tribes of Israel. During the Nazi occupation Hiorth was arrested because he had a Jewess five generations back and because he possessed a radio. He used the opportunity to tell the Germans soldiers that both the Germans and the Norwegians were part of the Tribes of Israel. His son Frederik died in a Nazi concentration camp.

Hiorth was thrilled when the new Jewish State of Israel became a reality in 1948. He had grandiose plans about a waterwork by the Dead Sea which could irrigate all of Israel. Trygve Lie, the Norwegian General Secretary of the United Nations, suggested in June 1948 that Albert Hiorth's plans should be realized. Albert Hiorth wrote several booklets on the Lost 10 Tribes of Israel, including Alle Tings Gjenoprettelse (“The Restitution of All Things”, 1936), Omkring Israels Hus og Folk og Judas Hus og Folk (Zionistene og Jøde-'Israel' i dag) (“Concerning the House and People of Israel and the House and People of Judah (The Zionists and Jew-'Israel' Today)”, 1949), and Israel i Brennpunktet (“Israel in Focus”, 1949). Shortly after Hiorth's death his biography was published by Harald Stene Dehlin: Boken om Albert Hiorth: En Norsk Aladdin (“The Albert Hiorth Book: A Norwegian Aladdin”, Lutherstiftelsen, 1949).

Quote by Albert Hiorth

In an interview with Albert Hiorth we read:

The Jews are not all Israel. Palestine is not all of the Promised Land. Almost a thousand years before Christ the land of Israel was divided into the Kingdom of the 10 Tribes (the Kingdom of Israel) and the Kingdom of the 2 Tribes (the Kingdom of Judah). The inhabitants of the Kingdom of the 10 Tribes were carried away to Assyria by King Salmanassar and others app. 700 BC. They have never returned to their fatherland, and their historical marks are vanished. Still many believe that it is the 10 Tribes we find once again in the North Germanic and Anglo-Saxon peoples today. Engineer Hiorth also shares this view, and he brings forth a number of facts which he believes definitely points in this direction. Around 600 BC the inhabitants of the Kingdom of the 2 Tribes were also carried away. They ended up in Babel, as we know, where they stayed for 70 years. But of this remnant, which made up two twelfths, it was only a tiny remnant which returned from Babylon. The conclusion is therefore: Those who got to live in Jewland after the Babylonian captivity were but a rudiment of original Israel. And they were even mixed to a large extent, primarily with Edomites.” (Interview by Alfred Hauge in Israel i Brennpunktet, pp. 8-9)

Witness #4: Thoralf Gilbrandt

Thoralf Gilbrandt (1919-2006) was one of the biggest names within the Pentecostal movement in Norway. He was the editor of Korsets Seier (“Victory of the Cross”), the magazine of the Pentecostal movement in Norway. He was the editor of Illustrert Norsk Bibelleksikon (“Illustrated Norwegian Bible Encyclopedia”) 1965-69 and 1986-1992. Gilbrandt was also one of the three men who produced a new translation of the Bible in Norwegian in 1988.

In 1999 Thoralf Gilbrandt published the book Israel i endetiden & mysteriet om de ti tapte stammer (“Israel in the End Times & the Mystery of the Ten Lost Tribes”), where he wrote that the descendants of the Lost 10 Tribes of Israel were the Germanic and Celtic peoples of Europe and their descendants across the world. Gilbrandt was very sympathetic to the Jewish State of Israel and the Jewish people in general, whom he identified with Judah, which is going to be reunited with the Lost 10 Tribes of Israel in the future, according the Isaiah 11:11-12.

Quotes by Thoralf Gilbrandt

Furthermore there are found certain historical indications that the Israeli [sic] immigration into Europe did not take place in the shape of small isolated groups which were swallowed up and disappeared in the sea of European peoples. To the contrary, it seems like it was something like national deportations, actually small peoples’ wanderings.” (p. 213)

... many historians view the two [Kimmerians and Celts] as one and the same people. The Celts, this culture carrying and culture creating people, had Israeli [sic ] origins.” (p. 213)

Now this must not be understood as if the great Celtic peoples’ wanderings which for a long time flooded Europe consisted of Israelis [sic]. Even though there was an Israeli [sic] core in this people which suddenly appeared, it was probably a mixed people. The Kimmerians united with the local peoples where they advanced.” (p. 217)


We can therefore with a great amount of certainty trace Israelite migrations into the Nordic countries, in particular of the tribes of Dan, Napthali, Asher and Gad. These Israelites assimilated with proto-Germanic and proto-Celtic peoples and became the Nordic peoples of Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Iceland and northern Germany.

While the languages of the Nordic nations are primarily of Germanic and therefore Indo-European origin, there are also noticeable Hebrew influences. The alphabet of ancient Scandinavia, the Runes, also appears to have been derived from the ancient Hebrew alphabet.

There were also other migrations of Israelite tribes, especially to the British Isles, the Low Countries and Finland, but they are not the subject of this article.

These descendants of Israel will, together with the other of the Lost 10 Tribes of Israel, reunite with Judah (the Jews) at the Second Coming of Christ.

July 2023

Note: This article is an English updated adaptation of the booklet Vor Israelitiske Oprindelse (“Our Israelite Origin”, 2006). It was written in Danish to Danes, and Scandinavians in general, with many references and expressions which non-Scandinavians would not understand if it was translated directly.


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