Researcher of Political Science & Classical Islam. Initiated by the Khwajagan i-Naqshband.
“Why we win, in spite of our incredible blunders, is that we are the lost ten tribes of Israel.” [Jarrold, W.T.F. Our Great Heritage With Its Responsibilities, 1927, p. 187]
British Israelism (also called Anglo-Israelism) is the belief that people of Western European descent, particularly those in Great Britain, are the direct lineal descendants of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel. The concept often includes the belief that the British Royal Family is directly descended from the line of King David. There has never been a single head or an organisational structure to the movement. However, various British Israelite organisations were set up across the British Commonwealth and America from the 1870s, and many still continue to exist. Adherents may hold a diverse set of beliefs and claims that are ancillary to the core genealogical theory, however there are central tenets all British Israelites follow, including Two House Theology which is the core essence of British Israelism. A central teaching of the British Israelites Two House Theology is that while Jews are considered to be Israelites, not all Israelites are considered to be Jews. British Israelites believe that Jews only descend from Judah (and the tribe of Benjamin), while the House of Israel they believe are the White Britishor Anglo-Saxon-Celtic kindred peoples of North-Western Europe today.
It is generally considered that British Israelism as an ‘ideology’ was first founded in England, from where it spread to the United States.
British Israelism as an established movement traces itself back to the 17th century. Adriaan van der Schrieck (1560–1621) a Flemish language researcher in 1614 wrote:
“…the Netherlanders with the Gauls and Germans together in the earliest times were called: Celts, who are come out of the Hebrews.”
Tribe of Dan
James I of England (1567–1625) believed he was a king of Israel.
A key tenet of British Israelism is the belief that the Israelite Tribe of Dan migrated into Europe before the other tribes of Israel because they were a maritime people (Judges 5: 17).
British Israelites believe that an early Israelite colony was established in Greece and quote from Josephus who wrote that the Spartans descended from Abraham and from 1 Maccabees 12: 21 which says the same thing, as well as quoting Stephanus of Byzantium who established genealogical links between the Greeks and Israelites. Links between Danaus and other ancient European peoples are further established in British Israelism literature.
British Israelites believe the Tribe of Dan left a trail all over Europe, pointing out that Jacob prophesied that Dan would be a ‘Serpent by the way, an adder by the path’ (Genesis 49: 17) meaning that he would leave a trail wherever he would go. British Israelites specifically believe that this trail would contain the word ‘Dan’ (or words similar) since Joshua 19: 47 notes that the Tribe of Dan named territory after their own name. Often pointed out where the Tribe of Dan settled across Europe leaving their name are Denmark (Danish: DANmark) and Danube (DANube), amongst many others. British Israelites however believe that the Tribe of Dan’s final resting place was the Islands in the far north, meaning the British Isles. Often quoted is a place called Dan’s Resting Place in Ireland on Ptolemy’s world map.
Davidic origin of British monarchy
“Give thanks, O House of David! Few of My bondmen are thankful” [Qur’an 34:13]
Canadian British Israel Association notes: ‘we teach that it is the royal family of Great Britain who are descended from King David'[Israelite.ca].
One of the core beliefs of British Israelism is that the British monarchy are lineal descendants from King David (Davidic line). British Israelites cite I Kings 9: 5; I Chron. 17: 12, II Chron, 17: 18 and II Sam. 7: 13 which state that the throne of King David over Israel will be established forever. However the idea that the early British or Irish kings descended from King David is found in numerous early writings from the Early Modern Period, not solely British Israelite literature, for example Vincenzo Galilei’s Dialogue of Ancient and Modern Music(1581) notes Galilei’s belief that the Irish descend from King David. The idea however became prevalent and central to British Israelite teaching in the 19th century.
Most British Israelites today however continue traditionally to identify Ephraim with England or Britain, while America with Manesseh. The reverse identification has become the minority position.
There are also a minority of British Israelites who believe America is not in prophecy. These British Isrealites hold the position that the Israelites must always have the throne of King David ruling over them (I Chron. 17: 12; II Sam. 7: 13). Since the Thirteen Colonies in 1776 declared their independence and formed the United States of America, they lost their loyalty to the British monarch and no longer had a monarchy to rule over them. Some British Israelites therefore strongly reject the idea that America are Israel (Ephraim or Manessah).
Canada, Australia and New Zealand
An example of a British Israelite who held this minority view was William H. Poole who only believed the nations of the ‘British crown’ were Israelites, including Canada where he served as a Methodist minister.
Since Canada, Australia and New Zealand remain apart of the British Commonwealth, modern British Israelites who hold this minority view within British Israelism have no problem with accepting these countries as Israel, alongside Britain.
French Israelism (also called Franco-Israelism) is the pseudohistorical belief that people of Frankish descent are also the direct lineal descendants of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel, and it is often accompanied by the belief that the Merovingian dynasty is directly descended from the line of King David.
One of the earliest scholars to claim that he could trace the ten lost tribes of Israel to France was the French Huguenot writer, Jacques Abbadie, who fled French Roman Catholic persecution and later settled in London, England.
Nordic Israelism or Norse Israelism is the belief that Scandinavian peoples, or the Nordic countries (Denmark, Faroe Islands, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden) descend from the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel. Although there is evidence of such a belief from literature during theEarly 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.
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.
Finland is identified with the Tribe of Issachar by Nordic Israelites. Proponents point out that in Finnish the word for Father is Isa, connecting the word to Issachar and its Hebrew etymology:
“…But one of the most convincing details comes from the Finnish word for Father, which is, Isa – almost confirming ancient Finnish ties with the Israelite tribe of Issachar. Only Finnish has such a unique word for Father.”
Nordisk Israel identify the Tribe of Naphtali with Norway.
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.