Thursday 15 October 2015

Dutch Israelites?

Many of us are familiar with the theory of British Israelism, the idea that the "ten lost tribes" - particularly Ephraim and Manasseh - ended up in English-speaking countries. But have you heard of the Dutch Israelites? It seems the Dutch were first Europeans off the block in claiming for themselves a biblical lineage.

The genius behind this claim (and he actually was a clever bloke when he wasn't trying to expound on the Bible) was Johannes Goropius Becanus, born in 1519. This polymath believed the Garden of Eden was located in Antwerp, and that the language of Eden was Dutch (specifically the Antwerp dialect).

Proof was abundant if you studied etymology. "According to Becanus, Adam apparently derived from the Dutch compound Haat-Dam (Dam-Against-Hate) and Eve is Eeuw-Vat (The-Eternal-Barrel)."
According to Dutch Israelites, the Dutch were one of the lost tribes of Israel, namely the Zebulun. After all, one of the children of Zebulun was called Helon, who gave his name to Holland. Some outlying Dutch fundamentalists still believe this...
This identification of Zebulun with the Netherlands was later carried over into the British version. The Dutch could be graciously conceded their identity as the tribe of Zebulun as long as Anglo-Saxons could appropriate the more important tribes of Joseph (Ephraim and Manasseh) unto themselves. The Brits however only came to this amazing discovery after the Dutch, given that John Sadler, Oliver Cromwell's private secretary, was the first to indulge the fantasy. Sadler was born in 1615.

An Anglican scholar named C. T. Dimont summed it all up in 1933 - around the time a certain Herbert Armstrong uncritically adopted the whole kit and kaboodle - with the words, "It must be said quite clearly that British-Israel turns the Bible into a handbook of national megalomania".

All of which seems very quaint today, except for the fact that a number of apocalyptic sects that venerate Armstrong still actively promote British Israelism, albeit often tied in with a rabid American exceptionalism. National megalomania still accompanies the teaching.

I'm indebted for much of this information to the article by Khaled Diab, "Did Adam and Eve Speak Dutch", featured in Haaretz.

But still, I'm tempted to add, it's all Dutch to me.


  1. Gavin, I cannot thank you enough for this epiphany and will add the information to my infamous "The Spectacular Failure of British Israelism" (currently unavailable during revision delayed by some technologies that are not working properly).

    It should be pointed out that the British-Israel Church of God ( denies the DNA evidence which refutes British Israelism. Apparently, the 'expert' they cite believes that haplogroups can randomly change because of a loss of loss of DNA information ( This is stupid because the Y-Chromosome has been shown to be stable over thousands of years of time.

    It never ceases to amaze me that people will fight tooth and nail to preserve their lies and delusions, even in the face of scientific evidence. We could certainly 'forgive' people of the 16th and 17th century where the information was not available and people could come up with ideas off the top of their heads without introducing much controversy. Naïve people could nod in agreement, acknowledging the 'evidence' of their racial superiority. Today, though, there's no excuse. Ideas like British Israelism need to be put to a quick and merciless death with much shouting and waving of arms as its lifeless corpse is buried in an unmarked grave in a pauper's graveyard.

  2. Hoeh engaged in the same kind of fatuous word play to support his ideas. Once you drink the Armstrongite kool-aid, anything spouted by the Armstrongite ministry can seem to have validity. The fact is the Dutch belong to the same Atlantic Haplotype as the Belgians, west Germans, west French, Spanish, Portuguese, Basques and the various Celtic British tribes. The Anglo-Saxons are thought to be included in this although there is a residue in south Britain of another closely associated Central European haplotype that is identified with the central and east Germans and Slavs that may have been imported with the Anglo-Saxons. These haplotypes are far removed from the predominant haplotypes you find among the Jews and other Middle Easterners. In other words, British-Israelism is a thoroughgoing hoax.

    A cursory look at the web indicated that one of the proponents of the idea of the Dutch being Zebulon is a Welshman who affects the clothing of an orthodox Jew - yamulka and all. I don't get this. Why do non-Jews want to pretend to be Jews. They claim a Jewish history and keep the holydays and even sometimes affect the clothing - like a masquerade party. I think if they had lived in Germany in 1939, they would all have been pure Gentiles.

    -- Neo

  3. A-men to Black Ops Mikey's and Neo's comments about British Israelism. Ignorance and bigotry are the real foundations for this teaching!

  4. I checked out the page cited by Black Ops and found it to be a bunch of speculation. This statement is an example: "The haplogroups "J1 & J2" largely associated with Jews could have developed from R1b simply by loss of the extra DNA information that distinguishes J from R."

    That is like saying nothing. Any haplogroup could result from any other haplogroup with the loss of the distinguishing information. The distinguishing information is what it is all about. It is like saying that a line of cows could give descent to elephants through the loss of information that makes a cow, a cow and the gaining of genetic information that makes them an elephant. There's no process for that kind or large change.

    What these dreamers are saying is that the whole genetic system is without meaning and is not really a system at all. It is random and anything can give rise to anything. If you look at the maps associated with various haplogroups in Wikipedia you will not see evidence of randomness but cohesive populations. Migration, of course, accounts for some diversity.

    When confronted with violent anti-Semitism, I wonder how many of these pretenders would instantaneously morph into Gentiles.

    -- Neo