Tribal Identifications: Naphtali

by Yair Davidiy


See also Norway

"And the sons of Naphtali; Jahzeel, and Guni, and Jezer, and Shilem"  Genesis 46; 24


             While still in the Land of Israel the Tribes of Reuben, Gad, and Menasseh (from whom emerged most of the Gothic nations) on the east banks of the Jordan had been bordered by DAN and Naphtali to the west. NAPHTALI was to re-emerge under the same name Naphtali(sometimes rendered as  EPHTHALI) in Scythia who were described by the Chinese as of Gothic stock. The Naphtali were also known as Abdali, Ye-da, Ye-ta, Ephtha, Hua, Huones, White Huns, Thyssagetae, Little Goths, and other names. Some of the above names were actually those of subject peoples1 with whom the Naphtalites became confused or those of peoples who occupied areas2 associated with the Naphtalites shortly after the Naphtalites had moved out. Such confusion is frequent in Central Asian Histories. They are also often (wrongly) identified with the Kidarites3 who were a Central Asian people of part-Arab origin whom the Assyrians had exiled.
                  The group identified with the Naphtalites by the Chinese are the same as the "Little-Guti"4 as distinct from the "Great-Goths"  who were the Massagetae. -Gutiand Gothare different forms for the same name-. "Little-Guti" or "Little-Goth" would similarly have been rendered as "Thyssagetae"5. A people called Thyssagetae were located by Herodotus6 in the north of Scythia in the Urals region (in present-day northeast Russia) neighboring the Iyrcae. The IYRCAE (sometimes referred to as "Turcae") too became forefathers to part of the Scandinavians and Finns of Finland. East of this area (of the Iyrcae and Thyssagetae), much later, the Cartographer Ortellius7 recorded a tradition concerning the DANORUM and Naphthalitum (i.e. Danites and Naphtalites) whom he says were the White Huns described by the Byzantine historian, Procopius, as being entirely different from the Huns proper. "White Huns" is another name for the Naphtalites. East of the Caspian Sea Jewish traditions recalled the previous presence of Naphtalites and Danes. Ortellius placed other members of the Lost Tribes in the approximate region of Serica on Ptolemy's Map. These other Hebrew Tribes, said Ortellius, were named "GAUTHS". "GAUTH" is a recognized form of the name "Goth". The "GAUTHS" of Ortellius correspond to the Yueh-chi Goths of Chinese records and to the east Massagetae of Ptolemy. There were contemporary Roman Chroniclers who identified the Goths of the west with the Massagetae of the east8. One linguistic explanation of the name Massagetae is "Great Goths". Close to the Massagetae in the vicinity of Badakhshan and Tibet (where Chinese records present part of the Little-Guti as having been) local legends recorded the presence of the Israelite Tribes, Naphtali, Dan, Zebulon, and Asher.

                 Chinese sources13 indicate that a portion of the Naphtali were in Serica (to the far east of Scythia) and these may possibly be the SIZYGES (Sigini) mentioned by Ptolemy who were in proximity to the Damnae (of Dan), the Chatae Scythae, and the Achassa.

                 The "CHATAE SCYTHAE" and "ACHASSA" in Serica are reminiscent of the terms CHATTI and HESSE for a group in Western Europe. In Europe "CHATTI" and "HESSE" were considered different versions of the same name for the same people. A connection with Hushim (Hus-im) of Dan has been indicated: It should be remembered that Dan and Naphtali were full-brothers both sons of Israel from his concubine Bilhah and that the two brothers usually marched together. In England the Sycgs14 were a group amongst the Saxons and settled in Essex. The Anglo-Saxon peoples had emerged from different areas of Scythia, including Serica, and there seems to have been a connection between the SIZYGES, SYCGS, and SIGINS, and the Naphtalite Huns.

                 The Chinese records say that that portion of the Naphtalites who had been to the north of them moved westward prior to 450 c.e. They also say that they had previously been north of the Altai Mountains and were part of the Massagetae15, blue eyed and fair-haired. Some of them had later come eastward towards the Great Wall of China where the Juan-juan (Avars? Huns?16) subjected them so they rebelled and also left for the west. A remnant of Naphtali numbering about 100,000 people or fielding 100,00017 soldiers (the Chronicle is unclear) conquered Bactria and established an Empire bordering on Persia, China, and India. They had subjugated the Hyoni18 and Kidarites and later history seems to confuse between the three groups. At all events a people called "Neptali" or "Eptali" established themselves in Herat (the capital of Hara), conquered Gandhara on the Indus in 465 c.e. and by 500 were the masters of central and northern India from which they were expelled afterwards. They partially re-established themselves in Kashmir in 542 and some of their descendants are believed to be found amongst the Rajput (warrior) clans of Rajputana, India and also in Kafirstan, Afghanistan, and amongst the Jats in the Punjab of India. In 490 c.e.19 they or their associated allies had defeated the Gaogu (Uigurs? Khazars?) in northwest Mongolia after which they are no longer heard of in that region. Some believe them to have become part of the Khazar federation20. At all events the bulk of the Naphtali had began previously to migrate westward before 450 c.e. and had disappeared from the Scythian area.

                 Prior to the events described above, The original earlier NAPHTALITES and bulk of the Naphtalite nation had gone westward and were since unheard of. They became the Vikings of Scandinavia, especially of NORWAY: Scandinavia in the 500's and 600's c.e. received an influx of settlers from the east21. This was shortly after the bulk of Naphtalites had embarked on their westward trek. In Norway during this period there was a rapid clearance of forests and the establishment of new settlements22. Examination of graveyards23 revealed that the average height of the newcomers was taller than that of the previous inhabitants though culturally they may not have been much different. In Scythia, Naphtalites and Danites from DAN had been recorded together. Denmark likewise received a large-scale immigration, at about this same time, of people who had always regarded themselves as DANES, descendants of "DAN the Great"24, meaning Dan of Israel. In Scandinavia during this era of New Settlement25 the wealth in quantity and quality of iron products is outstanding, especially when compared to that known from the contemporary Franks and others in the south. Serica26, whence the Naphtalites had departed had been world-famous for its mineral resources and iron. Metal working in the eastern Scythian region was associated with the ruling classes and the Sacae conquering peoples of Scythia, such as the Naphtalites and Khazars prior to their moving westward.

                 In East Scythia and Serica, the working of metal has been ascribed to clans derived from, or attached somehow to, the Saka and Goths27, with traits of shamanism reminiscent to the practices of Odin. Also names of products, such as "Solomon's swords"28 and other factors29 hint at Judaising tendencies such as are believed to have existed amongst the Naphtalites and which reached their logical conclusion in the conversion of the Khazars to whom the Nephtali were related. The metallurgical activity of Serica and east Siberia seems to have ended fairly rapidly and may be directly traceable to the exodus of Naphtalites. Its continuation is noticed almost without interruption in Scandinavia where legends of Odin and Thor repeat again the existence of kin and possessions in the east, in the lands of the "Turks", who have been identified as the Iyrcae neighbors of the Thyssagetae from Naphtali.  Scandinavian legend recorded their ancestors having migrated from the plain of Yeda which Snorre placed with Asgard on the Don River but it may have been further to the east.  "Yda" in east Scythia. "Yda" or "Yeda" was one of the names that had been applied to the Naphtalites as well as being the name of an area east of the Caspian in which they had settled.

                 The art style of Scandinavia had always been similar to that of  Scythia, especially the so called "Sarmatian" area east of the Caspian, but during the New Settlement era the impression is that "Sarmatian"30 type jewelry henceforth was to be produced in Scandinavia as if it was a local cultural development. At the same time this style had disappeared from the Sarmatian areas. The "Sarmatian" style had owed its origin and inherent dynamic development to the Sakae or Yeuchi-Goti (called "Tokharians" by Rostovtzieff31) of whom the Naphtalites were part. The migration of this style logically accompanied the movement of its originators.  We have traced this style back to Phoenicians and ancient Israelites.

                 The influx of population into Scandinavia seems to have been continuous and by the 700's c.e. Scandinavia appears to have become overpopulated.  Consequently, the excess "Vikings" of Sweden, Norway, and Denmark began their oversea excursions which led to settlement in Ireland, England, Scotland, France, and elsewhere.

                 Sons of Naphtali were (Genesis 46;24): Jahzeel, Guni, Jezer, and Shillem. Jahzeel are recalled in Zealand of Denmark. Culturally, the region of Zealand in Denmark had contacts with Zeeland in Holland up to the first century b.c.e. after which the emphasis turned towards the Vandal Silingi area of Silesia32. In Danish Zealand itself are places known as Sjaelland, Silund, and Selund which names are cognate to that of the Vandal-Silingi in Silesia and possibly derive from Shillem (Silem) son of Naphtali. Chieftains' graves33 from the 200's c.e. in Silesia reveal pottery similar to that found in Danish Zealand, Fyne, Vendyssel (North Jutland) and from south Norway. Guni, son of Naphtali, may be recalled in the Gugerni of Batavian-Holland and in the Egan of Denmark. Jezer, son of Naphtali, is connected to the Vraesan of Denmark and from the Danish isle of Fyne, the Vraesi are believed to have migrated en-masse to Britain34. The symbol of Naphtali was "A hind let loose" (Genesis 49;21) and  a deer or stag was used as a royal symbol by the Kings of Scandinavia. The stag also seems to have been a favourite motif amongst Phoenecian and Israelite craftsmen.

                 The Israelite Tribe of Naphtali therefore became the Nephtali-Huns (or Hephtalitesas they are also called) who together with the Dani were once in east Scythia. From east Scythia the Naphtali migrated to Norway and the Danes to Denmark. This was proven by Scandinavian tradition, by tracing names, by demographic considerations, and by archaeological finds. The sons of Naphtali were Jahzeel, Guni, Jezer, and Shillem and these appellations are reminiscent of Scandinavian place and ethnic names such as Zealand, Egan, Vraesan, and Sillund.

<<The river which since the end of World War-II marks the border between Norway and Russia is called Granse Jakobs elv which means Jacobs border river>>. Orjan Svennson


                 Norway was settled by groups (such as the Nephtalite Huns) who mainly descended from Naphtali. Elements from Benjamin, Gad, and other Tribes were also important. The Goths (from Gad) ruled over Norway for some time, as did the Swedes (who are also descended from Gad) after them. The symbol of Naphtali was a stag or deer and a deer was a symbol of Scandinavian (including Norwegian) royalty. The Norwegian coat of arms depicts a lion bearing an ax. A lion was one of the symbols of Gad (Deuteronomy 33; 20). Moses predicted that a blow from one of the weapons of Gad would be sufficient to sever arm with the head (Deuteronomy 33; 20) indicating the favored use of a striking ax-like weapon as compared with a thrusting pointed one. The ax or something like it was one of the major weapons of the ancient Cimmerians and of the Massagetae who were Goths east of the Caspian and with whom the Nephtalite Huns were affiliated.

Norway: New Insights?

We identified Norway as having been settled by Naphtali. Now we have some new points: [Genesis 49:21] NAPHTALI IS A HIND LET LOOSE: HE GIVETH GOODLY WORDS. Napthali we identified with the Naphtalite Huns who settled in Scandinavia especially in Norway. The deer we noticed was a major symbol of Scandinavian royalty and aristocracy. The following note from Lars Ims (on another forum) came to our attention: <<Odin has been around a lot longer ....but maybe not as a warrior god. Thor and Tyr seems to be older warrior gods than Odin, even though they also may have had different functions at earlier stages of Norse or Germanic religion. I think it would be more fruitful to follow what we may call the thul-connection to understand Odin's early life. The Greek traveler Pytheas from Massilia (Marseille) traveled along the coast of what is now known as Norway perhaps as far north as Bodo around 330 BC, and he called that land Thule, which a Norse scholars like Ottar Groenvik understands as "the land of the Thuls" or "the Thul land". If he is right, that would definitely connect Odin to an early stage of Norse religion, since Odin is both called "the old thul" and "the great thul" (Fimbulthul). The word means "speaker" in Old English, and Odin's pulpit or speaker's chair is referred to as "the chair of the thul" in Mnemonic lists of word synonyms are called thulur in Old Icelandic literature. From all this we might conclude that Odin as the thul is a cultic or religious speaker whose lore is knowledge such as runes and other intellectual skills. We may assume that in this early stage of his life, Odin is more a god of wisdom than anything else, and that he only later assumed the functions of other gods such as the martial aspect. Odin is after all not an active warrior in the myths. He himself only partakes in the first and last battles of the world, when he initiates the Aesir-Vanir war by throwing his spear over the opposing army, and when he fights the Fenrir wolf and dies during Ragnarok. Thor, on the other hand, is always off somewhere in the east to fight the giants. Odin's main interest seems to lie in procuring knowledge at any cost, and this may reflect his earlier and perhaps truer self. .>>
Brit-Am Remarks: Odin was the mythical leader of people who migrated from the Black Sea shores and the Don River estuary to Scandinavia and the West.  Various interpretations have been given for the name: In the Caucasus area the name could mean The Dan and later Odin in Scandinavian Danish tradition was identified with Dan the Great ancestor of the Danes.

Odin was explained by Isaac Mozeson (The Word) to be a form of the Hebrew Adon meaning lord  and one of the titles of Joseph.

Sometimes one name can have several meanings, or it can have one original meaning but receives additional meanings when it is interpreted according to the different language areas its bearer finds himself among. This is actually quite common. According to the above we would suggest that the name is derived from the Hebrew Da or Yeda meaning knowledge, knowing, make know. This root in different dialects could be pronounced as donor Ydon. We see from above that the name and personality of Odon were associated with knowledge.

Norway was known as Thule. P. Senstius (1931) once suggested that Thule is a shortened form of  Nafthali. At all events we have located Naphthali in Norway. The above note says that not only Norway but also the people of Norway were called Thuls and that this word means Speaker. <<Odin is both called "the old thul" and "the great thul" (Fimbulthul). The word means "speaker" in Old English>> <<The Greek traveler Pytheas from Massilia (Marseille) traveled along the coast of what is now known as Norway perhaps as far north as Bodo around 330 BC, and he called that land Thule, which a Norse scholars like Ottar Groenvik understands as "the land of the Thuls" or "the Thul land".>>
Are these the goodly words that Naphtali speaks.


The people of Naphtali should repent. They were partly responsible for the Oslo agreements that caused the death of many in Judah and much suffering and threatened all Israel with a diminution of sovereignty or worse over the Promised Land.


  Naphtalite-Huns (= Thyssagetae of east Scythia, =Sian Yueh-chi i.e.
Little Goths.).
  Thule (Norway).
Clans of Nephtali:
Jahzeel = Zeeland (Holland), Zealand (Denmark), Yssel  (Scandinavia).
Guni = Egan (Norway), Gugerni (Holland), Chouni (Huni, Huns of Scandinavia
Jezer = Jassar (Alans);. Vraesi (Denmark, emigrated en-masse to Britain).
Shillem = Sillingae (amongst the Vandals, Holland, and Scandinavia).

 Tribal Identifications: Naphtali Continued

This note should be added onto the previous Tribal Identifications: Naphtali but it also links up with our commentary on Joshua 20 that we have just sent out.

After the Israelite Tribes were exiled by the Assyrians these Tribes were re-settled in different areas of the Assyrian Empire. Many groups from the Israelite Tribes retained their original Tribal Identity. They usually federated with other Israelite entities and are identifiable as part of the Scythian forces. Most of the Israelites were due to be pushed northwards as part of the Scythian hosts though some groups retained a presence for some time in the Iranian area. In Scythia one group identified by its neighbors as Israelite called itself Nephtali. The Nephtali were also referred to as Cadussi. This people had first been recorded close to Mannae southwest of the Caspian Sea. The area was one of the major regions to which Northern Israelites had been transported by the Assyrians. The Apocryphal Book of Tobias mentions Israelite exiles from the Tribe of Nephtali in Ecbatana and Rages of Media both of which adjoined the Cadussii area.

"This is the story of Tobit, son of Tobiel, son of Hananiel, son of Aduel, son of Gabael, son of Raphael, son of Raguel, of the family of Asiel, of the tribe of Naphtali. He was taken captive in the time of Enemessaros [i.e. Shalmanessar] king of Assyria, from Thisbe which is south of Kedesh Naphtali in Upper Galilee above Hazor, behind the road to the west, north of Peor." (Tobit 1;1-2).

"After the deportation to Assyria when I was taken captive and came to Nineveh..." (Tobit 1;10).

"All my kinsmen grieved for me, and Ahikar looked after me for two years until he moved to Elymais" (Tobit 2;10).

"Sarah, the daughter of Raguel who lived at Ecbatana in Media(Tobit 2;7).

"I have often travelled into Media and used to lodge with Gabael our fellow countryman who lives there at Rages" (Tobit 5;6).

             The Book of Tobias (Tobit) thus testifies to the presence of Israelite Exiles from the Tribe of Naphtali in the Cadussi area. Later we have evidence of a people to the north in Scythia who were known as Naphtalites also being referred to as Cadussi or Kadussi. The very name Kadussimay be derived from a Hebrew word meaning Holy Ones(Kadoshi).

             The Nephtalites were called Cadussi by the Greeks, Romans, and Persians but Pliny reported that they termed themselves "Gaeli".  ["Gaeli" is also one of the names that the Celtic Hiberi called themselves. They Gaeli had migrated to the British Isles from the Middle East via Spain.]. The term Cadussiderives from Kadesh (or Kades) which city was a major center in the Land of Israel and situated in the territory of Naphtali (Joshua 20:7). The Cadussi-Gaeli were related to the Sacae Scythians according to Xenophon. [We identify the Sacae as ancestors of the Angles and Saxons who invaded Britain]. The Cadussi (or Kadussi) later moved northwards into Scythia east of the Ural mountains where they were also referred to as Nephtalites or Nephtalite Huns though some sources still referred to them as "Kadassaye" i.e. Cadussi. Legends, their Tribal names, and additional factors link them to the Israelite Tribes of Nephtali, Dan, Judah, and other Israelite Tribes. After a series of wars and migrations the Cadussi-Nephtalites (also known as "White Huns", Thysagetae, Little Goths, and sundry other names) split up into several groups. The majority went westward and entered Scandinavia to form what later became the Danes and Norwegians. Another portion remained in Scythia to eventually merge with the Khazars who converted to Judaism. Some of the Naphtalites may have gone eastward (where they became interspersed amongst the Rajput Indian castes) as well as to Afghanistan. These last mentioned Indian and Afghan groups alternately may be derived from peoples who had once been subject to the Nephtalites, and so mistakenly are sometimes identified with them. This last explanation now seems the most probable and was a frequent occurrence in the history of that region. Still another small band of Nùphtalites went to the South Arabian kingdom of Kinda, became Jewish, and merged with the Jews of Yemen most of whom are now to be found in the State of Israel .

At all events the majority entered Scandinavia and at one stage a portion moved to Ireland and Britain.


1.      Altheim, "GDH" vol. i, ch.2 .

2.      "

3.      "

4.      "

5.      Rawlinson vol. 3, p.214. n.4

6.      Herodotus

7.      Ortellius, Map of Tartaria

8.      Wolfram

9.      Altheim, "GDH" vol.I p.54ff

10.  Herodotus 5;9 ,

11.  Encyc. Britt. 1955 "Archaeology. Iron Age", quotes J.L.Myres also
Meyer " Geschichte des Altums", vol. I, p.891

12.  Caesar, "The Gallic Wars" 6;31

13.  McGovern p.486ff

14.  Moncrieff p.124

15.  McGovern

16.  McGovern p.405.

17.  "

18.  Altheim "GDH" vol. I, p.34

19.  McGovern p.465

20.  Altheim, "GDH" vol. I, p.86

21.  Derby p.26

22.  Derby p.26 .

23.  "

24.  Saxo Grammaticus

25.  Derby p.26

26.  Lozinski p.33ff

27.  de Rougemont p.32ff

28.  Altheim, "GDH" vol. 2, p.91

29.  Godbey p.382

30.  Rostovtzeff (1973), P.104

31.  31 Rostovtzeff (1973), p.104

32.  Starcke p.80ff.

33.  Starcke p.80ff.

34.  Malone p.211 Wrosnan: Vraeson, Wrsy


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