Frisians - Sons of Issachar !

by Bert Otten





This series of articles is to prove that the Frisians are descendants of the tribe of Issachar, one of the Lost Ten Tribes. Many books have been written about the nations of northwestern Europe to be of Israelite descent in general, and Great Britain (Ephraim) and the United States of America (Manasseh) to be Joseph in particular.


The Celts


There are many parallels between the Celts, who surfaced in Europe from about 600 BC onwards, and the ten-tribed northern House of Israel (also called Ephraim and Samaria), which was taken into Assyrian captivity from 721 to 718 BC.

The Celts are the descendants of the House of Israel, Samaria, Bit Khumri (Assyrian for Beth Omri, the House of Omri), hence 'Khymri' or 'Cimmerians'. There is quite an astonishing analogy between the Northern House of Israel with their levites/priests on the one hand and the Celts and Druids on the other.

Among the Celts, the Druids were the only teachers of religion, like the priests/Levites were in Israel. The Druids offered sacrifices, like the priests did in Israel.

Among pagan nations it is normally the civil government which judges criminals, especially so in murder cases. This was not so among the Celts. The Druids, and not the kings or heads of tribes, decided about life and death, as did the priests in Israel.

Like the priests, the Druids had their highpriest. Like the priests and Levites, the Druids were in charge of religion. Another strong link is the fact that both Levites in Israel and Druids among the Celts were exempt from military service and paying taxes.

The Celts seemed to have raised commemorative stone monuments like the Israelites and the oak tree played a significant role in the lives of both the Celts and the idolatrous Israelites of the Northern Kingdom.

The Celts had special feasts in May and October, a corruption of the feasts of the Eternal (Lev 23).

The Celtic day started at sunset - as it did in Israel - and the Celtic year started, according to certain historians, in autumn - as the year still does with the Jews.

The most gruesome analogy is the one of human sacrifices. For this reason Julius Ceasar considered the Celts barbaric and for the same reason God drove the Ten Tribes out of the promised land.

The Celts also used a solar-lunar calendar, with alternating months of 29 and 30 days. The Jewish Calendar still is a solar-lunar calendar to this very day.


Zebulun & Issachar


Those who write about the Lost Tribes are quite unanimous about the identity of the Dutch as Zebulunites. Zebulun's prophecies (Ge 49 & Dt 33) have such a strong focus on a tribe living off the sea. The Bible is supported in this by the apocryphal Testament of Zebulun (from The Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs) in which the very first sailing-boat is ascribed to Zebulun and in which Zebulun encourages his tribe to be compassionate. Love for water, for the sea, and compassion for fellowmen are strong national characteristics in Holland. In Deuteronomy 33, Issachar shares Zebulun's prophecy concerning maritime and naval blessings. In the Testament of Issachar, the patriarch Issachar calls his tribe to simplicity and goodness (eenvoud, recht-door zee!) and encourages his descendants to breed cattle! With Zebulun around, Issachar cannot be far away.


Chapter 1 - Strong and Brave Fighters


Just before his death the patriarch Jacob prophesied about his sons' descendants in the last days. Jacob's blessing for Issachar is mentioned in Genesis 49:14-15, 'Issachar is a strong ass' (KJV), 'a rawboned donkey' (NIV), 'un ne robuste' (Louis Segond), 'un ne osseux' (TOB), 'een bonkige ezel' (NBG), 'een sterk gebeende ezel' (SVV = Staten Vertaling).

The Jewish Encyclopedia states about Issachar, "... Jacob in blessing his children before his death compared Issachar to a strong and bony ass (Ge 49:14). This expression is a prophecy referring to the tribe of Issachar."


Physical Apparel


The descendants of Issachar are described as robust, forceful and vigorous people. A likewise description can be found about the Frisians by the Romans.

M.D.Teenstra about the Frisians in De Kroniek van Groningen, Friesland en Drenthe, "... De Romeinen beschreven de Friezen als ruw en woest, groot van lichaamsbouw en sterk gespierd ... (The Romans described the Frisians as rough and fierce, of big physique and very muscular)". [All translations from Dutch works are by the author of Frisians - Sons of Issachar!]


Brave Fighters!


Issachar being a raw-boned donkey, not only referred to the physique of his descendants but also to their military ability. Although not an aggressive people by nature, they were reliable fighters whenever called upon.

In Judges 1, it is described how the tribes of Israel took possession of the promised land. Of each tribe it is mentioned how it failed to drive out certain Canaanites living in its area. The only tribe not mentioned in this account is Issachar! Either because Issachar was included in Zebulun - more about that later - or because it was the only tribe to drive out the Canaanites. It is not known whether the Issacharites did or did not drive out the Canaanites, however, Holy Scripture does not accuse them of not having done so.

In the days of David the tribe is described as very populous, able to supply more able men to fight for Israel than any other tribe (except for Judah!). I Chronicles 7:2, "And the sons of Tola; [son of Issachar] ... they were valiant men of might in their generations; whose number was in the days of David 22,600." And in verse 4, "... were bands of soldiers for war, 36,000 men: for they had many wives and sons" and verse 5, "And their brethren among all the families of Issachar were valiant men of might, reckoned in all by their genealogies 87,000." (KJV).

According to the Jewish Encyclopedia this gives a total of 145,600 men! Zebulun was probably included though, in the last figure of 87,000 as it is not mentioned at all in I Chronicles, chapters 2-8. To realise the magnitude of this figure of 145,600, or even the one of 87,000, look at the number of men the Transjordan tribes, Reuben, Gad and half of Manasseh, could just muster together. I Chronicles 5:18, "The sons of Reuben and the Gadites and half the tribe of Manasseh, of valiant men, men able to bear buckler and sword, and to shoot with bow, and skilful in war, were 44,760, that went out to the war."


Frisians - brave people


The Encyclopaedia Britannica, Ninth Edition, about the Frisians, "In the 13th book of his Annals, Tacitus tells how the chiefs, Verritus and Malorix, as he calls them, excited the amusement and admiration of the people by taking, unasked, their seat among the senators in Pompey's theatre, when they heard that strangers from nations distinguished by their bravery and friendship to the Romans were advanced to that honourable position." (Emphasis added).

And, Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, Vol.19, p.413, "The Frisians struggled against Roman over-lordship somewhat longer, and it was not until AD 47 that they finally submitted to the victorious arms of

Domitius Corbulo. The Frisian auxiliaries were likewise regarded as excellent troups." (Emphasis added ).




Why are they compared to a strong and bony ass? Probably because it also refers to their stubborness. In English the expression is 'as stubborn as an ass', in Dutch 'zo koppig als een ezel'.

However in Holland, in Dutch the Frisians are also known for their stubborness, 'Friese stijfkop' ('stubborn Frisian').


Chapter 2 - Couching Down Between Two Burdens


Genesis 49:14-15, "Issachar is a strong ass couching down between two burdens: And he saw that the rest was good, and the land that it was pleasant; and bowed his shoulder to bear, and became a servant unto tribute."


Tillage & Tribute


Concerning these two verses Matthew Henry's Commentary states the following,

"Concerning Issachar, v. 14-15, That the men of that tribe should be strong and industrious, fit for labour and inclined to labour, particularly the toil of husbandry, like the ass, that patiently carried his burden, and, by using himself to it, makes it the easier. Issachar submitted to two burdens, tillage and tribute. It was a tribe that took pains and thriving thereby, was called upon for rents and taxes." (Emphasis added). Scott's Commentary, Vol.I, concerning the same two verses,

"v. 14-15, Issachar is described under the emblem of a strong ass, as Judah had been under that of a fierce lion. This implied that the tribe of Issachar would be industrious and unambitous; bearing labour or tribute peaceably, of which burdens others grievously complained. ... He was sensible that rest, not from labour, but from war and contention, was profitable; and, being satisfied with the pleasantness of a remote part of the country, he little intermeddled with the affairs of the state, OR OF WAR; ...".

Another excellent comment is found in the Dutch Staten Bijbel met kanttekeningen,

"Bij gelijkenis van een sterken doch luien en gemakkelijken ezel, voorzegt hij dat de nakomelingen van Issaschar wel sterk zouden zijn en sterk van vermogen, door de goedheid van hun land, maar zoo tot gemak en vrede genegen, dat zij niets bijzonders zouden uitrichten, ja zich door anderen laten overlasten: ... (In comparison with a strong but lazy and easy-going ass, he predicts Issachar's descendants to become strong and of great capacity though, by the fatness of their land, however so much inclined to ease and peace, that they would not accomplish much, yeah even become tribute to others ...)".


Frisians - not aggressive


Compare this with what the Encyclopaedia Britannica, Ninth Edition, says about the Frisians,

"FRISIANS, - ... - a people of Teutonic stock, who at their first appearance in history, are found in possession of the same district of Europe which they still, at least partially, occupy [the land it was pleasant!] So far as can be judged they have NEVER been of an AGGRESSIVE disposition [he saw that the rest was good], and it is not improbable that at one time they may have possessed a much wider territory than history usually assignes them."

Further on in the same article,

"... For this neglect the principal reason is undoubtedly the fact that the people have, at least in modern times, displayed no strong political individuality [bowed his shoulder to bear], but have allowed themselves peacefully to be merged in more powerful nationalities [and became a servant unto tribute]."

Those more powerful nationalities are the Dutch (Zebulun) and the Germans (Assyria). Most of Issachar's descendants live either in the Netherlands or in northern Germany.


Encyclopaedia Britannica, 15th edition, Micropaedia Vol.5, p. 14-15,

"Frisian, member of a Germanic people speaking a language closely related to English and living in the Frisian islands, in Friesland, a northern province of the Netherlands, and in Ostfriesland and Nordfriesland in Germany ... From the lst to the 5th century AD, they were more or less tributary to the Romans; their land was then infiltrated by Angles and Saxons on the way to England and subsequently conquered by the Franks under Charlemagne, who converted them to Christianity. In subsequent

centuries ['in the last days'] they were territorially divided [between two campfires (NIV, margin)]; in the 16th century the western Frisians joined the union that was to become The Netherlands ..."


The Frisians are territorially divided. According to the Standaard Encyclopedie, their descendants live in West-Friesland (northern part of Noord-Holland), Friesland (also called Mid-Friesland, this is the present-day province of Friesland), the Frisian Ommelanden between the Ems and the Lauwers Zee (the present-day province of Groningen, except for the capital and the peat-colony in the southeast), Ost-Friesland and Sagelterland in Germany, the West, East and North-Frisian isles including Helgoland, all along the coasts of the Netherlands and Germany, together with Nord-Friesland between Husum and Tnder, just south of the Danish border in Northern Germany.


Frisian, a proper language


Three dialects of modern Frisian are still spoken today, Encyclopaedia Britannica, 15th edition, Micropaedia Vol.5, p.15,

"... Although Frisian was formerly spoken from what is now the province of Noord-Holland (North Holland) in the Netherlands along the North Sea coastal area to modern German Schleswig, including the offshore islands in this area, modern Frisian is spoken in only three small remaining areas, each with its own dialect. These dialects are West-Frisian [c. 375,000 people], spoken in the province of Friesland in the Netherlands, including the islands of Schiermonnikoog and Terschelling; East Frisian [c. 2,000 people], spoken in Saterland west of Oldenburg, W. Ger.; and North Frisian [c. 8,000 people], spoken along the west coast of Schleswig in West Germany and on the offshore islands of Sylt, Fhr, Amrum, the Halligan islands and Helgoland. ... Although Frisian was hardly used at all as a written language for about 300 years after the end of the old Frisian period, there has been a revival in modern times in the West Frisian area. The language is now used in the schools and courts in the province of Friesland and is acknowledged as an official language by the government of The Netherlands. There is also a Frisian Academy. East and North Frisian are being gradually supplanted by German."


Plat Deutsch


Another interesting feature is that the language spoken in all of Northern Germany is not High German, but Low German (Plat Deutsch). Low German falls into the same sub-group of the Germanic (Teutonic) languages as Dutch. The following is an overview of the Germanic languages. Note that Frisian and English fall into the same category. The meaning of this will be discussed later.

It can be concluded that the Frisians are still living in the lands they habitated 2000 years ago and that they have not come to the forming of their own political state. They preferred to be absorbed by the Dutch and Germans into their states, because the land they were and are residing in was and still is pleasant.


Chapter 3 - Cattle!


Husbandry is one of the decisive signs that Frisians are from the tribe of Issachar. Husbandry is the main characteristic of the tribe of Issachar. To go back to the remarks of Matthew Henry's Commentary on Genesis 49:14-15,

"That the men of that tribe should be strong and industrious, fit for labour and inclined to labour, particularly the toil of husbandry, ... " (Emphasis added).

Because the land was pleasant, it was good for agriculture and cattle-breeding! And because the Issacharite is most often a farmer at heart, he is able and willing to give up a certain amount of political freedom for the quiet and peaceful life of a farmer.

Mishpth - stallingen

For the word two burdens in Genesis 49:14 (KJV), the Hebrew Lexicon of Strong's Exhaustive Concordance, gives the following,

" 4942. (...) mispth; from 8192; a stall for cattle (only dual): burden and sheephold."


The literal translation is stalls (two of them, note that Frisian cowsheds are traditionally built in such a fashion that two rows of cows have their backs towards the path in the middle), that is why the Dutch NBG translation translates this with stallingen and La Bible Segond, "(Il) se couche dans 'les tables'."

The Segond translation of these two verses is most beautiful,

"Issacar est un ne robuste Qui se couche dans les tables. Il voit que le lieu o il repose est agrable, Et que la contre est magnifique; Et il courbe son paule sous le fardeau, Il s'assujettit un tribut."

The word 'mispth' is a direct reference to the Issacharites becoming husbandmen.

This aspect is stressed again in Moses' blessing for the different tribes in Deuteronomy 33. As stated before, Issachar does not have a

blessing for himself amongst Moses' blessings. His blessing is included in Zebulun's blessing. All of verse 19 states what they will do together! In verse 18, however, a subtle difference is made between Zebulunites of proper Zebulunite stock and Zebulunites of Issacharite stock, Deuteronomy 33:18,

"About Zebulun he said:

' Rejoice, Zebulun, in your going out,

and you, Issachar, in your tents.'"

Zebulun would be most dominant in trade, navigation and colonizing; Issachar would rather be blessed in his tents. Matthew Henry's Commentary applies your tents to husbandry, p.207,

"... And Issachar must rejoice in his tents, that is, in his business at home, his husbandry, to which the men of that tribe generally confined themselves ...".

and further on,

"... It was for the common good of Israel that the men of Zebulun were merchants and that the men of Issachar were husbandmen ...".


Scott's Commentary, Vol.I,

"Of Issachar it is foretold, that he should prosper, and 'rejoice in his tents', as a shepherd tending his flock. ..."

The New Bible Commentary, ed. by F. Davidson,

"Issachar (v.18) is promised prosperity in agriculture at home ('tents')."

The Staten Bijbel, met kanttekeningen, is very clear about this,

"en Issaschar over uwe hutten." In the margin, "Dat is, over uw veehandel, waartoe de hutten dienden. Zie Gen 4:20, en verg. Gen 49:14,15" (And Issachar rejoice about your tents, that is about your cattle-trade, the tents were being used for. Cf. Gen 4:20 and Gen 49:14,15).

A good point is made here. Often the first use in the Bible of a Hebrew word is very important to its meaning. Genesis 4:20 gives us the true understanding about these tents,

"And Adah bare Jabal: he was the father of such as dwell in tents, and of such as have cattle (KJV). ... the father of those who live in tents and raise livestock. (NIV)".

We should not think of nomads. The inventor of cattle-farming is mentioned here together with some other inventors. Tents is therefore linked here with cattle-farming.

In both texts the same Hebrew word hel is used. The Hebrew Lexicon in Strong's Exhaustive Concordance states concerning this word,


"168. (...) 'hel, (...); from 166; a tent (as clearly conspicuous from a distance): - covering; (dwelling) (place), home, tabernacle, tent."

Home - um; Dokkum, Marum, Pogum


Issachar is to be blessed at home, in his tents, maybe that is why so many Frisian names of towns and villages end in HOME! Endings like -ham, -hem, -heim, -heem, -haam, -hiem, all mean more or less the same, HOME! The Frisian ending is -um, the 'h' having been dropped. A great number of toponyms in Friesland, Groningen and Ost-Friesland end in '-um'.

Issachar in Solomon's time

The area of Issachar was blessed and was very rich in livestock and in agricultural products at the time of David and Solomon too.

Israel under Solomon attained its greatest size ever. It included Edom, Moab, Ammon and stretched all the way to Damascus. Within Israel, Issachar occupied a very small territory. Still it formed, by itself, one of Solomon's twelve tax districts (I Ki 4:17). Of each district the same amount of supplies were expected, I Kings 4:7,

"Solomon also had twelve district governors over all Israel, who supplied provisions for the king and the royal household. Each one had to provide supplies for one month in the year."

Can you imagine how much they had to provide! King Solomon's wives and concubines alone numbered a thousand!

In Issachar there were sixteen towns and villages. Three of them had been given away to the Levites, which left thirteen towns and villages (Jos 19 and 20). The twelve districts of Solomon's tax districts, however, were not a district for a tribe. Compare Issachar's small area, for example, with the sixth district of Ben-Geber mentioned in verse 13,

"Ben Geber - in Ramoth Gilead (the settlements of Jair son of Manasseh in Gilead were his, as well as the


district of Argob in Bashan and its sixty large walled cities with bronze gate bars);" (NIV).

Another mention of Issachar's agricultural and livestock riches in the Bible is to be found in

I Chronicles 12:39-40,

"The men spent three days there with David, eating and drinking, for their families had supplied provisions for them. Also, their neighbours from as far away as Issachar, Zebulun and Naphtali came bringing food on donkeys, camels, mules and oxen. There were plentiful supplies of flour, fig cakes, raisin cakes, wine, oil, cattle, and sheep, for there was joy in Israel (NIV)".

Testament of Issachar

Of all twelve patriarchs, in The Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs the Patriarch Issachar is the only one who stressed the importance of husbandry for his sons, Testament of Issachar,

"III, 1. When therefore, I grew up my children, I walked in uprightness of heart, and I became a husbandman for my father and my brethren, and I brought in fruits from the field according to their season."

Further on Issachar gave his sons the following advice, Testament of Issachar,

"v. 1. Keep, therefore, my children, the law of God, And get singleness [complete devotion to one purpose only] And walk in guilelessness [integrity; uprightness of heart], Not playing the busybody with the business of your neighbour.

2. But love the Lord and your neighbour, Have compassion on the poor and weak.

3. Bow down your back unto husbandry, and toil in labours in all manner of husbandry. Offering gifts to the Lord with thanksgiving.

4. For with the first fruits of the earth will the Lord bless you, even as He blessed all the saints from Abel even unto now.

5. For no other portion is given to you than of the fatness of the earth, whose fruits are raised by toil."


Job - son of Issachar


Most people are unaware that Job is the most famous Issacharite. He was one of Issachar's sons. Genesis 46:13, (KJV),

"And the sons of Issachar; Tola, and Phuvah, and Job, and Shimron."

The Hebrew for Job is here 'ywb' according to Strong's; in the book of Job the Hebrew 'ywb' is used. In James 5:11 the name is rendered in Greek as 'Iob' and in the Koran he features as 'Ayyub'. 'ywb' comes from 'yab', meaning 'hated' or 'persecuted'. (Could it be that the very Frisian names like Ubbo, Ubbe, Obbe, Abe and Ubo stem from this?)

It is very likely that 'ywb' of Genesis 46 and 'ywb' of the book of Job are one and the same person. In this respect it in interesting to see that the legendary Testament of Job places the story in the time of the Twelve Patriarchs. The book claims that Job's second wife was Dinah, Jacob and Leah's daughter. This may seem unlikely, however, it places the story exactly at the right time. Job may well have have married his aunt Dinah; just consider the fact that Abram, his great-grandfather married his half sister, before him, and that much later, Moses' father Amram, was to marry his aunt Jochebed.

Job was a very rich man, but - as a true Issacharite - not so much in gold, silver and land. He must have had that as well, but notice the following, Job 1:3,

"and he owned 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen and 500 donkeys, and had a large number of servants. He was the greatest [some translations, richest] man among all the people of the East(NIV)."


After his trial God doubled Job's wealth, Job 42:10,

"After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before."

God probably blessed Job through his own work. Verse 11 states that all his brothers and sisters gave him a piece of silver and a gold ring. Quite likely Job used this as starting capital for his husbandry and God blessed his work, Job 42:12,

"The Lord blessed the latter part of Job's life more than the first. He had 14,000 sheep, 6,000 camels, a 1,000 yoke of oxen and a 1,000 donkeys."

If God blessed Job through his own work, he surely fulfilled his father's prophetic blessing.


Frisians - Cows or People?


Most English speaking people of the Anglo-Saxon world have never heard of a Frisian language, Friesland, West-Friesland, Ost-Friesland, Frisian isles, a proper Frisian culture, history and identity.

However, the expression Frisian cow is nearly proverbial in the English language. Mention Frisians and the average farmer in the Anglo-Saxon world will think of cows, not of people.

The Frisian cow is one of the best dairy cows in the world. It is a distinct breed found all over the northern parts of the Netherlands and Germany. From the province of Friesland to Holstein (North Friesland) the Frisian cow can be found, therefore also called the Frisian-Holsteiner cow.

Agriculture, and especially cattle-farming is and always has been a dominant factor in the life of Frisians. This was the reason why the land was so pleasant to them; the low countries of the plains of the northern Netherlands and northern Germany are among the best for cattle farming. This is why the Frisians were able to stay in that area for over 2,000 years - and willing to pay the price, no Greater Frisia as an independant Frisian state.

Encyclopaedia Britannica, 15th edition, Micropaedia, Vol.5, p.15,

"In modern times the Frisians have become most famous for their cattle (records from as early as the lst century BC suggest considerable cattle raising); they also engage in other agriculture."

and page 11, about the province of Friesland,

"... These lands support potatoes, wheat, sugar beets, and pasture for the Frisian cattle. Agriculture is the basis of the provincial economy; beef and dairy products are sold in large quantities. ... "

Encyclopaedia Britannica, Ninth Edition, about the Frisians in Roman times,

"The Frisians were so far rendered tributary by Drusus that they continued to pay to the Romans a tax of hides [!] until the foolish exactions of Olennius, who demanded that all the hides should be of a certain superlative quality - drove them to revolt in 28 A.D. ..."

Note the following the Eleventh Edition of 1910 states about Friesland, Vol.11, p.230, bearing Issachar's blessing in Genesis 49, in mind,

"The clay and low-fen furnish a luxuriant meadowland for the principal industries of the province - cattle-rearing and cheese- and butter-making. Horse-breeding has also been practised for centuries, and the breed of black Frisian horse is well known. On the clay lands agriculture is also extensively practised .... Despite the general productiveness of the soil, however, the social condition of Friesland has remained in a backward state and poverty is rife in many districts. The ownership of property being largely in the hands of absentee landlords, the peasantry have little interest in the land, the profits from which go to enrich other provinces. Moreover, the nature of the fertility of the meadow-lands is

such as to require little manual labour, and other industrial means of subsistence have hardly yet come into existence."

This was the situation in the years before 1910. It is a lot better now of course, although the three most northern provinces of the Netherlands, Groningen, Drenthe and Friesland, together with southern Limburg, still have the highest unemployment rate in the Netherlands nowadays (1988).


De Ommelanden


Note the following about the province of Groningen, in history known as the Frisian Ommelanden, squeezed in between the Dutch province of Friesland and German Ost-Friesland. Encyclopaedia Britannica, 15th edition,

"The northern part of the province is flat and consists of marine and sandy clay, particularly in the estuaries reclaimed in the Middle Ages and the polders reclaimed later along the northern coast. This rich agricultural region produces wheat, barley, oats, potatoes, sugar beets, oilseeds, and pastures for livestock (especially in the Ommelanden around the capital)."

It is more or less the same picture for all of the North German Plain.


Chapter 4 - Zebulun and Issachar - One people Now


Concerning the several lists of the Israelite tribes in the Bible, The Companion Bible notes in Appendix 45,

"These [lists of the Twelve Tribes] vary according to the different objects with which they are given, and the different connections in which they stand, according to birth: mothers, encampment, numeration, blessing, geographical relation etc. All are worthy of attention and study."

How true! A lot can be learnt from the order in which the tribes are given. Issachar and Zebulun are always mentioned together, except on two occasions.

In sending out the twelve spies, the Issacharite Igal is mentioned as fourth and the Zebulunite Gaddiel as seventh (Num 13:7,10) spy. The second occasion in which the two tribes seem to be split up is when the twelve tribes blessed and cursed the people from Mount Gerizim and from Mount Ebal (Deut 27).

The six tribes to bless Israel were Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Joseph and Benjamin. They were Leah's second, third, fourth and fifth sons, followed by Rachel's two sons, all mentioned in order of birth.

The six tribes to curse the people from Mount Ebal were Reuben, Gad, Asher, Zebulun, Dan and Naphtali. First Leah's firstborn son Reuben, then the two sons of Zilpah, Gad and Asher - then in the middle of the four handmaiden tribes, Zebulun, sixth son of Leah - and finally Bilhah's sons, Dan and Naphtali.

Why this order? Why is Zebulun not mentioned after Reuben? Zebulun's place in the second six seems to be illogical at first sight, but if the two lists are numbered, it can be seen that both Zebulun and Issachar are fourth (four is the number of judgement). As the first list is mainly in order of importance and birth, Zebulun had to get fourth position in the second list to be opposite to Issachar. This becomes quite clear by lining up the two lists:

Combining the two lists by zigzagging from one to the other the order becomes, Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Gad, Asher, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Dan, Joseph, Benjamin and Naphtali. This is quite a normal order, except for Gad and Asher squeezed in among Leah's sons. It is as if they were put in there to keep


both Issachar and Zebulun at fourth position in the two lists. Thus Issachar and Zebulun are always put together, with the one exception of the list of the twelve spies.

No other two tribes are mentioned together as often as these two. Even Ephraim and Manasseh are separated in at least three lists (Num 13, Jdg 5 and Rev 7). The reason why is quite obvious, Issachar and Zebulun were eventually to become one nation.


Issachar before Zebulun


Conclusions can also be drawn from the order in which Zebulun and Issachar are mentioned. Issachar is mentioned before Zebulun whenever the lists are according to birth, rank or spiritual dominance.

Two examples of the latter, Issachar preceded Zebulun in bringing the offering for the dedication of the altar (Num 7) and Issachar was placed on Mount Gerizim, blessing the people rather than cursing them.


Zebulun before Issachar


Whenever Zebulun is mentioned before Issachar (five times) in the enumerations, it always concerns national and physical dominance.

Jacob in blessing his children (Gen 49), first blessed Leah's six sons in the order of their birth. Issachar and Zebulun, however, were turned around. Like Ishmael and Isaac, Esau and Jacob and Manasseh and Ephraim had been turned around before them.

Within God's system the younger is often served by the elder. The ten elder brothers were to bow down before Joseph; Judah, the tribe with the scepter promise was the youngest of the first group of Leah's four sons (Issachar and Zebulun were born quite a bit later); King Saul, Israel's first king, came from Benjamin, the youngest son of Jacob; David was the youngest of his family and his elder brothers served him. God's principle, "and the elder shall serve the younger". (Gen 25:23) can be found throughout the Bible.

Jesus Christ summed it up in Matthew 20:27-28,

"... but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister. And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant."

In Jacob's prophetic blessing (Gen 49), Issachar is prophesied to become a servant and is therefore mentioned after Zebulun. In Moses' blessing there is no separate blessing for Issachar at all, Issachar is included in Zebulun's blessing (Deut 33).

In Numbers 34, ten leaders for the remaining ten tribes are appointed by Moses to help Joshua and Eleazar to assign the land. Zebulun is mentioned before Issachar. Another example of national dominance.

When Joshua was old, seven tribes had not yet received their inheritance, including Issachar and Zebulun. Joshua 18:10 reads,

"Joshua then cast lots for them in Shiloh in the presence of the Lord, and there he distributed the land to the Israelites according to their tribal divisions." (NIV).


Providence, not luck


Casting lots in Israel meant asking for divine intervention. It is important to realize that the order of events are not dictated here by the order of birth, importance or tradition, but by sheer divine intervention.


Three divine interventions can be noticed with respect to Zebulun and Issachar in the casting of the lots, 1. Zebulun's lot came up before Issachar's lot; 2. the two tribes were not separated in casting, Zebulun's lot came up third and Issachar's lot came up fourth; 3. their territories happened to border. All this was achieved by the casting of lots. It could easily have turned out differently, Joshua 18:19,

"... they left and went through the land. They wrote its description on a scroll, town by town, in seven parts, and returned to Joshua in the camp of Shiloh."

If either Zebulun or Issachar would have drawn the first, Benjamin's lot, or the second, Simeon's lot, then the two tribes would have been seperated. The seven areas had been described with all their towns and villages, hence the aforementioned divine intervention.


Zebulun & Issachar - landlocked


Noteworthy is also that for the sake of prophecy and for the sake of identifying the tribes in the endtime it would be better and more convincing, if neither tribe bordered the sea. The important sea, lakes, rivers and waters these two tribes were to live off in the final two millennia.


Time of the Judges


Judges 4 and 5 tell the account of Deborah and Barak. Judges 5:15 (RV) reads,

"And the princes of Issachar were with Deborah; as was Issachar, so was Barak."

Deborah may have been of the tribe of Issachar (or Zebulun). Fact is that Issachar is mentioned after Zebulun in verse 14. Zebulun precedes Issachar again in national dominance. In Deborah's song (Jdg 5), Zebulun is mentioned twice. In the prose account of the events (Jdg 4), Issachar is not mentioned at all. Quite likely because it is included in Zebulun!


Daberath & Tabor


Further proof of such an inclusion is found when forty-eight towns were assigned to the Levites. Four towns were ceded by Zebulun and four by Issachar. One of the latter four was Daberath (Jos 21:28). Daberath, however, lay in Zebulun's territory (Jos 19:12)! So the Issacharites ceded a Zebulunite town. In David's time a similar event happened (I Chron 6:77). At that time, Zebulun ceded the Issacharite town Tabor.

As mentioned before, all the tribes were accused of not having driven out the Canaanites (Jdg 1), with the omission of Issachar. A reason for this omission could be that they were included in Zebulun in Judges 1:30,

"Neither did Zebulun drive out the Canaanites ...".

The Issacharites, being a kind of Zebulunites with a kind of servant relationship to the proper Zebulunites (Deut 33), would not be held responsible in this line of reasoning.


Zebulun omitted


Long genealogies are given in the first book of Chronicles from Adam to the time of David and Solomon. I Chronicles 2:1-2 mentions the twelve sons of Israel. From I Chronicles 2:2 to I Chronicles 8:40 the genealogies and descendants are given of the twelve tribes.

This is the only list in which Zebulun is not mentioned at all. This is sometimes accounted for as follows: Zebulun had three sons, Sered, Elon and Jahleel, but no grandsons. These three sons only had daughters. Zebulun's granddaughters were given an inheritance in Israel like the daughters of the tribe of Manasseh received an inheritance among the sons (Jos 17:3-6).




Although Zebulun is not mentioned in I Chronicles 2-8, it is most likely included in Issachar in I Chronicles 7:5,

"The relatives who were fighting men belonging to all the clans of Issachar, as listed in their genealogy, were 87,000 in all."

To be able to appreciate this high figure of Issacharites (they were not even mentioned in Judges 1!), it should be noted that the highest number for a tribe had been 76,500 for Judah in Numbers 26. In I Chronicles 7:1-5 is the enormous total of 145,600 Issacharites, if all of the Issacharites mentioned in verse 2 (22,600), verse 3 (36,000) and verse 5 (87,000) are added up. These were all the able bodied men from twenty years and older, able and ready to defend Israel. Compare this with Reuben, Gad and half Manasseh (I Chron 5:18), who together put 44,760 men in the field, and also with the tribe of Benjamin, mentioned in I Chronicles 7:6-12, who could muster 59,434 men. It is very likely that the figure of 145,600 Issacharites contained all the Zebulunites as well. Traditionally they were both very populous tribes (Num 1 and 26).


Judah, Issachar & Zebulun


Judah, Issachar and Zebulun marched together under Judah's standard during the forty years in the desert. In Numbers 26 the three tribes numbered 201,300 men, about a third of the total of 601,730 men for all of Israel.

Although Zebulun is not mentioned in I Chronicles 2-8, it certainly is in I Chronicles 12:33. In I Chronicles 12, "the numbers of the men armed for battle who came to David at Hebron to hand over Saul's kingdom to him" are mentioned here.

Ephraim 20,800, Dan 28,600, Naphtali 38,000, Asher 40,000, Reuben, Gad and half Manasseh 120,000, and then the highest figure of all, Zebulun 50,000.

I Chronicles 12:32 and 33,


"men of Issachar, who understood the times and knew what Israel should do - 200 chiefs, with all their relatives under their command; men of Zebulun, experienced soldiers prepared for battle with every type of weapon, to help David with undivided loyalty - ['not of double heart'(KJV), not with Dutch courage!] 50,000;" (NIV)


Zebulun had the highest turnout of all the tribes. It is interesting to see what Josephus has to add to this, Antiquities of the Jews, VII, II, 2,

"... Out of the tribe of Issachar came 200 who foreknew what was to come hereafter, but of armed men 20,000. Of the tribe of Zebulun 50,000 chosen men. This was the only tribe that came universally in to David; ..."


House of Orange


This choice of Zebulun for the House of David is reflected in the loyalty and love of the Dutch to the House of Orange, which is of Davidic descent (through the English, Scottish and Irish kings). In sports the Dutch do not defend their national colours (red, white and blue) but they, play for Orange (voor Oranje spelen).

Josephus records the amount of Issacharite soldiers, 20,000, which is not mentioned in I Chronicles 12 and he also accounts for the high Zebulunite number.

Combining I Chronicles 12:32-33 and the comments of Josephus with I Chronicles 7:1-5, it all seems to fit nicely. The remaining "brethren among all the families of Issachar" numbered 87,000, of which 50,000 Zebulunites and 37,000 Issacharites; the latter would also show that not all of the tribe of Issachar went over to join David at Hebron as the Zebulunites did.


One Nation


Zebulun and Issachar, continuously mentioned together, became very closely affiliated in the past and even more so now at present: the Hollanders and Frisians have amalgamated into one nation.

The Frisians have been spread out so much over the Low Countries and migration out of Friesland has been so great and constant, that it is no wonder that the whole nation of the Netherlands shows both strong Zebulunite as well as significant Issacharite characteristics. This does not mean of course that all Issacharites/Frisians are living in the Netherlands today.