THE TRIBE OF ZEBULON: RECLAIMERS OF THE SEA
By Steven M. Collins
Zebulon was a younger brother of Reuben, and little information is provided about Zebulon in the Bible. Zebulon formerly lived in the area west of the Sea of Galilee. After their relocation to Asia, they were one of the many related "Sacae" tribes, which bore the name of Isaac. Consequently, their migrations would have followed the route of the larger tribes of Israel, first into Asia, and later into Europe. Ordinarily, that would make it difficult to determine the specific location of the modern Zebulonites. However, the Bible gives us a very revealing clue concerning their identity in the modern world. In fact, it is uncannily accurate in describing one modern European nation.
Genesis 49:13 gives this short but meaningful clue regarding the latter day location of the tribe of Zebulon:
"Zebulon shall dwell at the haven of the sea; and he shall be for a haven of ships; and his border shall be unto Zidon." (KJV)
A dictionary definition of the word "haven" includes the alternate meanings "any sheltered, safe place; refuge," and "a port, harbor." The Bible prophesied that the Zebulonites would inhabit an area that was a "haven" (i.e. a "shelter" or "refuge") for ships from the sea. Since the Israelites migrated into Europe from Asia, we obviously need to look for a European nation which is on a seacoast and is "sheltered from the sea."
Many readers will know which nation in Europe was "bought back from the sea" via its famous dikes. That nation is the Netherlands (Holland). Much of Holland's land is quite literally "sheltered from the sea" via its dike system, so the prophetic description of a "haven of the sea" is strikingly apt. The phrase "haven of ships" indicates that the land of Zebulon must also include a major harbor facility. Indeed, the Amplified Bible translates this phrase as "a landing place for ships." Does the Dutch nation satisfy this requirement? Yes!
The Dutch port of Rotterdam became the busiest modern seaport in the world. The Encyclopedia Americana (1988 Ed., Vol. 23, see "Rotterdam," p. 805) states regarding Rotterdam:
"It's port, in volume of freight handles, is the largest in the world...In addition to foreign trade, the port handles the huge barge traffic that is carried on the Rhine River and associated waterways...The port now extends continuously from Rotterdam to the Sea. At the mouth of the New Waterway lies the great port complex of Europort ("Gateway of Europe").
Not only is Rotterdam the busiest ocean-going seaport, it is now a gateway to all of Europe via a system of interconnected canals on Europe's mainland. The above is sufficient to identify the Dutch people as modern Zebulon, but a prophecy of Moses in Deuteronomy 33:18-19 about the future of the tribe of Zebulon gives even more support to this viewpoint. Moses prophesied:
"...of Zebulon he said...they shall suck of the abundance of the seas and of treasures hidden in the sand." (KJV)
The Hebrew word translated "suck" is used elsewhere in the Bible to describe infants sucking milk out of a breast. When an infant "sucks" milk from a breast, it "drains" or "empties" the milk in the breasts. Moses prophesied that the Zebulonites would "suck" the "seas" and gain an "abundance" from doing so. The connection with Holland is obvious! The Dutch literally, "sucked out (i.e. 'drained') the sea" via their system of dikes and windmills, and gained "abundant" land as a result. The phrase "treasures hidden in the sand" could refer to the same thing, but it may have another meaning which also identifies the Dutch. What "treasure," frequently "hidden in the sand," has become critically important in the modern world? The answer is oil, and one of the largest oil companies in the world is "Royal Dutch/Shell."
The Dutch nation formerly had overseas colonies of its own, the largest of which was oil-rich Indonesia (known for centuries as the Dutch East Indies). Indonesia became independent of the Dutch after World War II, and is now a member of OPEC. However, the Royal Dutch/Shell Oil Company is still one of the premier oil-producing companies of the world. It is unique in that it bears the name of a specific European nation in its corporate title, unlike Exxon, Standard Oil, Mobil Oil, etc.
The second portion of the prophecy in Genesis 49:13 is as cryptic as the first portion is clear, but since it is there, a possible decipherment will be proposed. What can be understood about the prophecy "...his border shall be unto Zidon?" The following answer is speculative, but it does find a fulfillment in modern Holland
The key may lie in the Hebrew word translated "border," which literally means "thighs." This Hebrew word is so translated in Daniel 2:32 in the phrase "its belly and thighs of brass." This phrase is part of a description of a body, and denotes the lower torso down through the uppermost portion of the legs of a statue seen in a dream since Daniel 2:33 refers to the statue's "legs" as being different from its "thighs." In other words, the ancient Hebrew word for "thighs" in Genesis 49:13 includes the pubic area. [On this specific application, I wish to acknowledge the assistance of the late-Dr. Charles Dorothy, a graduate of Claremont Graduate School, who checked the above analysis for accuracy.] How could this reference point to the modern Dutch nation?
The Dutch capital of Amsterdam is world famous for its "red light district" offering all kinds of erotic/sinful pleasures in its various "sex shops." The CBS television program "60 Minutes" featured (in its 1990-91 season) a program about the Amsterdam "sex district" which included prostitutes openly peddling their bodies to customers just behind windows at street level! In 1992, the Dutch Parliament effectively legalized the prostitution industry by repealing a law which previously had banned pimps. The ancient Sidonians were famous for sponsoring and tolerating sinful sex practices which were part of the fertility cult worship associated with Baal and Ashtaroth. Wicked Queen Jezebel, whose name is synonymous with brazen sexual temptation, was a Sidonian. A dictionary lists one meaning of the word "Jezebel" as "any shameless, wicked woman."
Official Dutch tolerance of a major industry featuring sexual sins parallels the Sidonian tolerance of similar practices, and would give meaning to the Genesis 49 prophecy about modern Zebulon being comparable to the sexually-sinful Sidonians.
The Netherlands perfectly fulfills the biblical prophecy about a modern seacoast nation that is "sheltered from the sea," has "sucked" the sea dry in an area, has a major "seaport," and a sex industry like that of ancient Sidon. That a prophecy thousands of years old has come true so accurately in the "latter day" period for which it was intended gives further testimony that there is an all-powerful God who can accurately foresee the future.
The Bible clearly indicates the Dutch are the modern Zebulonites.
Steven M. Collins