Nordic Israelism

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Nordic Israelism or Norse Israelism is the belief that Scandinavian peoples, or the Nordic countries (Sweden, Denmark, Faroe Islands, Finland, Iceland, Norway) descend from the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel. Although there is evidence of such a belief from literature during the Early Modern Period, Nordic Israelism as a movement and ideology only emerged in the latter half of the 19th century among several early proponents of British Israelism.


Early predecessors[edit]

Henry Spelman, who in 1620 connected the Danes to the Tribe of Dan

A 15th-century Latin chronicle, "Chronicon Holsatiae vetus", found in Gottfried Leibniz's Accessiones historicae (1698), states the Danes were of the Tribe of Dan, while the Jutes the Jews.[1] Later the antiquarian Henry Spelman in 1620 had further claimed that the Danes were the Israelite Tribe of Dan, based on the apparent similarity in name.[2] In the 18th century the Swedish historian Olof von Dalin believed that the ancient Finns (alongside Lapps and Estonians) who sprung from the Neuri descended ultimately from the lost tribes of Israel:

John Eurenius (1688–1751), a Swedish pastor in Torsåker, Angermanland, Sweden, also connected the Israelites to the Nordic countries, in his Atlantica Orientalis (1751) he theorised that the Gods of Norse mythology were deified ancestors from the Levant, who he connected to Israel.[4] Olof Rudbeck the Younger in the 18th century also attempted to prove that the Nordic languages sprung from Hebrew.[5]

Birth of the movement, 1850s[edit]

Nordic Israelism as an established movement emerged as an offshoot of British Israelism in the 1850s.[6] Key British Israelite authors such as John Cox Gawler and J. H. Allen first identified the Tribe of Dan with Denmark and others with different Scandinavian countries (e.g. Naphtali with Norway), while the remaining tribes they equated with Britain.[7] Other British Israelites such as Edward Hine however took a more particularist view, deciding that only the British nation fulfilled the prophecies for Israel and that all the Israelites should be identified with Britain, not Scandinavia.[8] Nonetheless Hine still believed that the Tribe of Dan had at one stage been in Denmark, from which he believed the name of the country was derived but that Dan's final destined resting place (as well as the other tribes of Israel) was Britain. Other British Israelites took this view, maintaining that the Israelites migrated across Europe, having entered from Asia, leaving their name across various locations, but ultimately their final resting place was Britain.[9][10] British Israelites however who did not subscribe to this more particularist view initially attacked Hine's identifications in The Standard of Israel quarterly magazine of the "Anglo-Israel Association".[11] Later however, most British Israelites fused their views with the Nordic-Israelism offshoot, as identity groups were set up across Scandinavia promoting the identification of certain Israelite tribes with the Nordic countries and they remained closely linked to British-Israel organisations such as the British-Israel-World Federation.[12]

Anna, Sigurd Bjørner and Albert Hiorth[edit]

Anna Bjørner and Sigurd Bjørner

Anna Larssen Bjørner (1875–1955) and Sigurd Bjørner (1875–1953), the founders of Danish Pentecostalism and the "Apostolic Church" in Denmark are considered to have been early pioneers in the Nordic-Israelism movement. They published from the 1920s a quarterly magazine entitled Evangeliebladet which covered identifications of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel with Denmark, other Scandinavian countries and published some British Israelism literature.[2] They also published regular articles from other proponents of the Nordic Israel identity, including those of Ole Jørgen Johnsen, a Norwegian preacher from Hasla who authored Israel i de siste dage ("Israel in the Last Days") in 1924.

The renowned engineer Albert Hiorth was a prominent Nordic Israelism proponent and author of the early 20th century.

Contemporary movement[edit]

Nordisk Israel is a Scandinavian organisation which still runs promoting the Nordic variant of British Israelism.[13]


Many of the tenets or beliefs core to Nordic Israelism cross over with British Israelism, however there are notable differences in the identifications of the Ten lost tribes.


Proponents of Nordic Israelism follow John Cox Gawler's identification of the Tribe of Dan with Denmark. However Gawler also placed Dan in Scotland and Ireland, an identification British Israelites follow, but proponents of Nordic Israelism stress more on the identification with Denmark.[14]


Finland is identified with the Tribe of Issachar by Nordic Israelites. Proponents point out that in Finnish the word for Father is Isä, connecting the word to Issachar and its Hebrew etymology:


Nordisk Israel identify the Tribe of Naphtali with Norway.[16]


The pyramidologist Adam Rutherford in 1937 published Iceland’s Great Inheritance (1937) in which he connected the Tribe of Benjamin to Iceland. Modern proponents of Nordic Israelism follow this identification and articles have been published further on the identification.[17]

Thor Heyerdahl's Jakten på Odin[edit]

Thor Heyerdahl's Jakten på Odin is often cited by modern Nordic Israelites to support their theories.[18]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Quoted in Sharon Turner's "History of the Anglo-Saxons" vol.I., 1799-1805, p. 130 and Suhm: Critisk Historie af Danmark, Vol. 1 (1774), p. 175)
  2. ^ a b Witnesses to the Israelite Origin of the Nordic
  3. ^ Svearikes Historia, Volume 1, 1747: pages 54–55.
  4. ^ [1]
  5. ^ S. Gusten Olsen, "The Incredible Nordic Origins", (1981), p. 63.
  6. ^ John Cox Gawler is credited as being an early founder of the movement with his identification of the Tribe of Dan with Denmark in his work Dan, the pioneer of Israel (1880).
  7. ^ J. H. Allen, Judah's Sceptre and Joseph's Birthright, 1902, p. 263-64; John Cox Gawler's Dan, the pioneer of Israel (1880) [2]
  8. ^ Edward Hine, The English Nation Identified with the Lost House of Israel by Twenty-Seven Identifications, (Manchester: Heywood, 1870), p. v; Life From The Dead, 1874, Vol. I, pp. 327-328.
  9. ^ Roberts, L.G.A., British History Traced from Egypt and Palestine, London, 1927, p. 27 ff.
  10. ^ Evidence of Migration to Britain | Christian Assemblies International
  11. ^ The Standard of Israel, 1876, Vol II, p. 100.
  12. ^ In the 1920s the National Message quarterly of the British-Israel-World Federation printed the Danish Evangeliebladet identity magazine.
  13. ^ - Israels 12 stammer - The 12 tribes of Israel
  14. ^ Gusten Olsen, "The Incredible Nordic Origins", (1981).
  15. ^ Finland: An Israelitish Nation of Issachar
  16. ^ "Norway, Iceland, and the Faroe Islands being the tribe of Naphtali" By Mikkel Stjernholm Kragh
  17. ^ Iceland tribe of Benjamin
  18. ^ Nordic Israel Literature