by Steven M. Collins
Issachar was a son of Jacob and Leah, and this tribe's original inheritance was located in the region of Galilee. After their migration into Asia, they were one of the many related Sacae tribes of the Scythians who were located throughout the steppes of South Russia in the region from Eastern Europe to east of the Caspian Sea. When the Scythians, and their Parthian relatives, migrated in large numbers toward Europe and Scandinavia in the centuries after the fall of Parthia, the tribe of Issachar left its name along the migration route.
Numbers 26:23 records that one of Issachar's clans was named after "Tola," one of Issachar's sons. This clan's name has long been associated with a region of Western Russia. The city of "Tula" can be found on Russian maps in the region south of Moscow, and the entire region (or province) also long been known by the same name. According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica, this city of approximately a half-million people:
"is first mentioned in 1147 [A.D], but its former site seems to have been
higher up the Tulitsa, an affluent of the Upa [River]." [i]
This account indicates the name of Tula has been placed on this region for at least a millennium. The city has existed at its current cite for approximately nine centuries, but also previously existed at another site located on the Tulitsa River, not far from the current city of Tula. The river named Tulitsa also bears the name of the Isscharite clan of Tola. This region was a migration route for other Israelite tribes as well as the River Don (named after the tribe of Dan) is located in the province of Tula. There is evidence that the body of Danites in this region took a westward migration route into Europe, giving their name to the nation of Danmark (Denmark). The Issacharite clan of Tola took a more northerly migration route into eastern Scandinavia.
The Europeans and Scandinavians are broadly known as Caucasians, named after the Caucasus Mountains between the Black and Caspian Sea. It is from that region that many Caucasian tribes migrated into Europe. If one draws a line from the Caucasus Mountains to the region where the names of the Issacharite clan of Tola are located and extends it onward to the north, your line will arrive in the nation of Finland.
There is strong biblical evidence that Finland is the modern homeland of much of the tribe of Issachar. I use the word much of the tribe of Issachar as there is also biblical evidence that part of it may be located elsewhere. The tribe of Issachar did not go into Asia from its old tribal homeland by Galilee in one piece. II Kings 15:27-29 records that King Tiglath-pileser of Assyria invaded the ancient Kingdom of Israel approximately two decades before the city of Samaria fell. Tiglath-pileser took captive the tribes living in Gilead (Reuben, Gad and half of Manasseh), Naphtali, which lived north of the Sea of Galilee and unspecified numbers of Israelites from other tribes who lived in Galilee. The tribe of Issachar lived in the region of Galilee so it is very likely that a portion of this tribe went into Asia at this time. The remainder of the tribe left its ancient homeland around the time when Samaria fell, and this authors book, The Lost Ten Tribes of IsraelFound!, makes the case that this remainder of the tribe of Issachar migrated with remnants of the other tribes to the region by the Black Sea in the Caucasus Mountains, where they were afterward known as Scythians or Sacae (named after their forefather, Isaac).
While the Issacharites who relocated to the Caucasus Mountains apparently migrated into Scandinavia via the Southern Russian region which bears a name of a tribal clan of Issachar, other Isscharites may have taken alternate routes into Europe along with the other tribes of Israel. I note that Yair Davidys book, The Tribes, agrees that many Isscharites migrated to Finland, but it traces other elements of that tribe to the modern nation of Switzerland in Central Europe.
It is my view that Genesis 49 offers us the best clues regarding the whereabouts of the modern tribes of Israel. While the scholarly writings of historians do give valuable clues to the locations of the tribes of Israel, all men are fallible and their writings do not carry the weight of scripture. Genesis 49, found in the Torah, is a prophecy which offers divinely inspired clues about the locations and characteristics of all the tribes of Israel in the latter days. It is also my view, common among Christians and Jews alike who are students of the bible and prophecy, that we are living in the latter day period of time which precedes the Messianic Age. Therefore, Genesis 49 is applicable to our modern era and to modern nations. Genesis 49 itself confirms that we are living in the latter days as so many of its clues are very descriptive of modern European and Scandinavian nations.
The Bible offers a very descriptive clue in Genesis 49:14-15 regarding the location of the tribe of Issachar in the latter days. It states:
"Issachar is a strong ass couching down between two burdens: and he saw that rest was good, and the land that it was pleasant; and bowed his shoulder to bear, and became a servant unto tribute." (KJV)
To identify this nation, we must look for a nation in Europe (and likely Scandinavia) which has a tradition of being quasi-independent ("under tribute"), located "between" two stronger nations or spheres of influence (the "two burdens"), and dwelling in reasonable peace and prosperity (their "rest was good, and...the land...was pleasant.")
In the ancient world a nation that was "under tribute" had limited self-rule and autonomy while under the dominance of a stronger nation. In ancient days this tribute was generally an annual payment of gold or the cessation of territory.
The nation of Finland has long been in the condition of living in a buffer zone between stronger, competing nations. After centuries of Swedish rule, the 1700's and 1800's saw Finland caught between Russia and Sweden, who fought for sovereignty over Finland. Finlands sovereignty has been compromised ever since. From 1899 to 1905, Russia dominated Finland, and the Encyclopaedia Britannica wrote:
"Russian officials and the Russian language were foisted on Finland wherever possible, and in 1903 the Russian governor...was invested with dictatorial powers."[ii]
The Finns were literally "under tribute" to Russia as "the Tsar peremptorily fixed an annual contribution"[iii] on Finland. In World War I, the Britannica notes that "Finland escaped invasion, but her liberties were restricted."[iv] This aptly describes a nation under tribute. World War I also saw Finns volunteering for service in the armies of both Germany and Russia (their "two burdens"). Some independence was restored in 1917, but in 1918, Finland "concluded a treaty which made her Germany's ally and vassal."[v] Finland was now "under tribute" to Germany, its other "burden." Between the world wars, Finland became increasingly identified as a Scandinavian nation, but the Russians again launched an attack on Finland as World War II began. The Finns made a heroic resistance against the Russians, but had to sign a treaty ceding territory and dominance to Russia. Finland remained a nation under tribute. When Germany attacked Russia in 1941, Finland briefly allied itself with Germany before signing an armistice with both Great Britain and Russia in 1944. At the end of World War II, Finland had to pay certain amounts of finished industrial goods (more "tribute") to the Russians.
Finland has been a buffer state between stronger nations for most of its history and has literally been "under tribute" to other nations in recent history. Its current "tribute" is Finland's neutralist foreign policy, for which it receives an accommodative relationship with its bigger neighbors. Since Finland is located in a "buffer zone" between the western and eastern blocs, a neutralist position is a politically safe one for Finland. The Finnish capital, Helsinki, even gave its name to the "Helsinki Accords," an East-West agreement signed in the neutralist nation of Finland.
Finland has found its peace and prosperity despite its "couching down between two burdens." This condition is so uniquely Finnish that it has even given birth to the term "Finlandization." Finland accepts some limitations on its sovereignty, but it currently enjoys a milder form of "tribute" than it has borne in recent history. It is currently a prosperous nation and is the headquarters of Nokia, the famous telecommunications company that is a dominant supplier of cellular phones to the world.
It is also likely that at least some of the Baltic people of Estonia are part of the tribe of Issachar. The small, Baltic nations have also been "couched down between two burdens." Russia and Germany have historically competed for control of these nations. The Estonian language confirms historic ties to Finland as both tongues are linked to the "Finno-Ugric" family of Indo-European languages.[vi]
Finland very literally fulfills the prophecy about Issachar's descendants in our modern world.
[i] Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1943 Ed., Vol. 22, see Tula, p. 538
[ii] Ibid, Vol. 9, see Finland, p. 253
[iii] Ibid, p. 253
[iv] Ibid, p. 253
[v] Ibid, p. 254
[vi] Ibid, Vol. 8, see Estonia, p. 739