Who Are the Slavs?
Eastern Europe is one of the most dangerous geopolitical crossroads on the globe. Since the times of the Roman Empire, civilizations and empires have risen and fallen because of the battles waged on the strip of land between the Baltic, Adriatic and Black seas.
The Roman Empire succumbed to Germanic invasions from this territory in the a.d. 400s. The Germanic kingdoms themselves were then overrun by hordes from the east, such as the Huns and Mongols. Eventually Roman Catholic Habsburg Austria gained power, but it was soon threatened by the Muslim Ottoman Turks from the south. For centuries, the Turks extended northwest from the Balkans until their decisive defeat in Vienna in 1683. Then Orthodox Russia expanded from the east, and for more than two centuries all three empires battled it out in Eastern Europe. Catholic met Muslim met Orthodox.
Even after the most destructive wars ever—World Wars i and ii—the main battleground between the Soviet Union and the West was still considered to be Eastern Europe, though war never did break out.
Who are the people that live in this highly volatile area? Today they are called the Slavs. They comprise the largest ethnic body in Europe.
What does biblical prophecy say will happen to them?
In the last article in this series, the Russian people were identified by their biblical ancestors, Meshech and Tubal. The Russians are a multiethnic people, and the Slavs comprise their greatest ethnicity. So, if the majority of the Russians are Slavic, and the majority of people inhabiting Eastern and Central Europe are Slavic as well, why aren’t all these people identified by the same biblical names?
The answer lies in a remarkable history recorded by ancient historians.
The Concise History
Because so many history sources today reject the biblical record, they remain uncertain regarding the origins of the Slavic people.
The Encyclopedia Britannica, for example, records that the original homeland of the Slavs “was Asia, from which they migrated in the third or second millennium bceto populate parts of Eastern Europe” (Online Edition, emphasis added throughout). While there was an early settlement of Slavic people in Eastern Europe, according to the encyclopedia, it wasn’t until the fifth and sixth centuries a.d. that the greater migration of Slavs came. These people “proceeded in the Germans’ wake westward into the country between the Oder and the Elbe-Saale line, southward into Bohemia, Moravia, Hungary, and the Balkans, and northward along the upper Dnieper River” (ibid).
This concise history of the origins of the Slavic people is correct in the overall direction of their migration. It doesn’t explain, however, from what part of Asia the migration began, and it dates the appearance of the Slavic people later than what was once known.
The missing pieces and proper dating can be put together through the use of ancient Greek and Roman sources. The story of the Slavs’ migration starts in the Middle East!
For a few generations after the Noachian Flood, the Middle East contained all families of the Earth. Eventually, though, many of these families—after having grown considerably in population—migrated out of the area. Many of these peoples are little mentioned in the Bible and in some cases were never heard of again, such as the family of Tiras.
Other nations remained in the Middle East much longer, but then, after periods of upheaval, left in waves of large migrations. Many of those nations, including the Israelites and Assyrians, trekked to distant lands. These larger and later migrations are typically rejected by scholars, who prefer to believe these biblical peoples have remained in the Middle East to this day. Yet at the same time—as the Encyclopedia Britannica shows—large populations mysteriously pop up in different parts of the world at later times. But certainly these populations couldn’t just spontaneously pop into existence!
Only when the biblical narrative is accepted can one connect the dots and understand: These large populations that spring up in Eastern Europe are merely continuations of various migrations of people that started in the Middle East centuries before!
The history of the Slavic people demonstrates this pattern. The story begins in Asia as the encyclopedia states—specifically in the Middle East region of the Asian continent.
They Come From the Middle East
The greatest periods of upheaval in the Middle East, and therefore the start of many long migrations, were typically a result of the destruction of one empire and the start of a new one. For example, the Assyrian Empire established itself by ruthlessly conquering neighboring people and deporting them to other areas of its territory. It collapsed in 612 b.c. at the hands of a coalition of nations led by the Chaldeans and an Iranian people called the Medes, descendants of the biblical patriarch Madai. The Chaldeans set up an empire in Mesopotamia, while the Medes continued to rule the territory of modern-day Iran and the areas surrounding the Caspian Sea.
The Medes ruled their area in a loose confederation with neighboring people, most notably the Persians. In 550 b.c., Cyrus led the Persians, another Iranian people, in revolt against the Medes. After bringing their neighboring Medes under Persian rule, Cyrus conquered the Chaldean Empire and Asia Minor, establishing the Persian Empire—sometimes called the Medo-Persian Empire after the close federation between the two tribes.
At the establishment of the Persian Empire, another period of migration began of people moving from the Middle East into Europe. Among them were the Israelites, the Assyrians and the Medes.
The Medes began sending colonies of people into Europe shortly after the Persians gained power.
In the 400s b.c., Greek geographer Herodotus recorded much of what was known of the people within and surrounding Greece. Of those living in Eastern Europe and southern Russia at the time, he described a specific tribe dressed like the Medes that dwelled east all the way to the Danube—a people whose “borders reach down almost to the Eneti upon the Adriatic Sea, and they call themselves colonists of the Medes.”
Roman geographer Pliny confirms what Herodotus recorded. He wrote in the first century a.d. of the people who lived in what is now modern-day Ukraine: “We then come to the river Tanais [River Don], which discharges itself into the sea by two mouths, and the banks of which are inhabited by the Sarmatæ, the descendants of the Medi.”
So Roman and Greek historians record that the descendants of the Medes migrated out of Asia from what is now Iran into Europe—settling all over Eastern Europe, from modern-day Ukraine all the way to the Balkans! At Pliny’s time, the Medes began to be called Sarmatians.
Encyclopedia Britannica also recognizes the Sarmatians to be a people of Iranian stock. So the descendants of the Medes, a dominant Iranian tribe, featured prominently in the Sarmatian tribes.
The Medes are found in end-time prophecies in Jeremiah 25:25 and Isaiah 21. In both instances, they are spoken of alongside another Iranian people, the Elamites.
Clearly then, the Medes were not the only Iranian people found migrating from the Middle East into Europe.
The ancient Elamites dwelled east of Babylon in southern Mesopotamia, in modern-day Iran. According to Jewish historian Josephus, it was from the Elamites that the Persians originated. The Elamites were closely associated with the Medes and were found in the mountains of Greater Media—the northern region of Iran.
Genesis 14:1 shows that the Elamites already had a history of moving toward Europe more than a thousand years earlier, when they had conquered Asia Minor in a confederation led by Assyria. From there, a colony had moved further northwest into the Balkans, where they were called by the exact same name by the Greeks.
Remarkably, the Elamites can be found in Greek histories in Eastern Europe, specifically in the Balkans! The Greeks observed a tribe of people living in the Balkans to the north of them called the Elimaei. These people were originally an independent kingdom, but they were later conquered by the Macedonians in the fourth century b.c.
This reference in history provides the origins of the many tribes that migrated into Eastern Europe that were later called Slavs. The word Elimaei was the same Greek name for the land near Babylon called “Elam.”
It is clear that many of the Slavs today are the descendants of Elam and the Medes.
Medes and Elamites Now in Europe!
So tribes of Elamites and Medes were among the Sarmatians who migrated into Europe. The Sarmatians were found in southern European Russia all the way to the Balkans as far back as Herodotus’s time, but the great migration of the Sarmatian people into the area did not begin until the start of the third century b.c., two centuries later.
By the first century a.d., the Romans were becoming more familiar with the people of Eastern Europe, and the Sarmatian people were called by specific tribal names such as the Venedi (or Veneti), Sclaveni and Antes. Roman historian Tacitus records the strong link between the Slavic tribe Venedi and the Sarmatians, recording that “the Venedians are a counterpart to the Sarmatians” and lived in similar ways.
These tribes were later grouped together as Slavs in the sixth century a.d., when they finally came into prominence in Eastern Europe after the Huns were defeated. Modern scholarship will say how the Slavs “suddenly” appeared and conquered Eastern Europe, but the previously quoted sources show that they were living in Europe long before under different names. It was only after the Romans, Germans and Huns were pushed back that the Slavs were finally able to come to power.
The start of the great Sarmatian migration coincides with an important date in history that reveals the impetus behind the movement of people at this time. That date was the destruction of the Persian Empire in 331 b.c. Just three decades later, the allied people of the Persians—most prominently the Medes and Elamites but most likely other people as well—appear north of the Black Sea in great numbers as the Sarmatians and, later, as the Slavs.
Hard to Swallow?
Does this history seem hard to swallow?
Even Herodotus found it difficult. When talking of Medes’ migration into Eastern Europe, he wrote, “[T]hey call themselves colonists of the Medes, but how they can be colonists of the Medes I for my part cannot imagine. Still nothing is impossible in the long lapse of ages.” George Rawlinson, an expert on ancient history and the translator of Herodotus’s work used in this series, commented that perhaps they “retained a better recollection than other European tribes of their migrations westward.”
Yes, these people did have a better memory of where they came from. And as a result, we know the origins of the Slavic people!
There are many scholars who do recognize and assert the Iranian roots of the Slavic people, even though it is not generally accepted. A scholarly Croatian society called zdpph held a conference presenting the research results of these scholars in 1998. Among the research was genetic evidence showing that in 75 percent of cases, Croats were of Iranian origin. Results also included evidence of ancient Croatian names in an ancient stone inscription of Darius and in Greek inscriptions around the Sea of Azov dating to the second and third century b.c., precisely the time period the archeological record shows the great migration of the Sarmatians occurred.
Other similarities are obvious. For example, one of the major rivers that ran through Elam was called Croatis, virtually the same term used for the Slavic people called Croatians! Moreover, “the name of the Croatian capital, Zagreb, is related to the Zagros mountain range of Iran. The Dinara mountains in Dalmatia and the dinar currency may be connected to Mount Dinar (Dene) of Iran. The name Serbia is similar to the Seropi or Surappi River in Elam,” according to Dr. Samar Abbas (Jat Jyoti, November 2003). There was also a strong Iranian influence in the religion of the Slavs before they converted to Christianity.
These similarities don’t just apply to the Croats but other Slavic people as well, as shown by the ancient histories recorded by the Greeks and Romans.
There can only be one conclusion: The ancient Elamites, Medes and other associated Iranian people migrated from the Middle East into Europe, where they became known first as Sarmatians and then Slavs!
The Slavs moved into Europe from modern-day Iran through the Caucasus, the same territory the descendants of Meshech and Tubal had migrated and were continuing to migrate through. Greek geographer Strabo wrote that the Sarmatians dwelled in an area which extended “south as far as the Caucasian Mountains,” which joined the Moschian Mountains. The “plain of the Iberians is inhabited by people who … dress after both the Armenian and the Median fashion,” living like “the Sarmatians, of whom they are both neighbors and kinsmen,” he wrote.
As covered in a previous article, the descendants of Meshech and Tubal are now known as the Russians. Strabo shows the strong connection between the Russians and the other Slavic people as these people all migrated through the same areas and around the same times. This is why the general classification of Slav includes nearly all the people of Eastern Europe, including those in the Balkans, Russia, Poland and Ukraine.
The Slavic people spread east to the Ural Mountains and west all the way to the Adriatic Sea and north of the Danube River in Eastern Europe, following the advanced colonies of their people that had migrated to the same locations years before.
Though all labeled Slavic, these peoples included several distinctly different groups. They created their own nations and ethnic types based largely on where they finally settled and with whom.
It is clear from the histories shown that the Ukrainian ethnic type—once known as the Little Russians but classified with the Eastern Slav group today—descended from the Medes. Those Slavs further west in the Balkans north to Poland—classified as South and West Slavs—have a stronger ancestry from Elam and possibly other Iranian tribes from the Middle East.
The Slavs in Prophecy
The proximity and close association of the descendants of these two peoples was prophesied in Isaiah 21:2, where they are allied together and attack the last resurrection of the Holy Roman Empire, the German-led European Union. When you combine this prophecy with the one in Revelation 17, which shows that the EU will contract from its current 27 members to 10 national groupings, it becomes very clear that some Eastern European nations will not be in the Union!
Interestingly, in this prophecy as well as the one found in Jeremiah 25:25, the Persians are nowhere to be found. If the Medes and Elamites were still in modern-day Iran as many believe, surely the Persians would have been listed in this prophecy as well. However, as this prophecy shows, the Elamites and Medes migrated out of Iran, while the Persians remained. That is why Persia is not associated with them in biblical prophecy.
Elam is also mentioned by itself in a prophecy in Ezekiel 32. This chapter contains end-time prophecies for several nations. Interestingly, Elam is spoken of in order between Germany (the modern-day Assyrians) and Russia (modern-day Meshech and Tubal). This is perhaps another biblical confirmation of where to find the descendants of Elam today: stuck between the Germans and the Russians. (Request our free booklet Germany and the Holy Roman Empire for proof that the Germans are the modern-day Assyrians.)
And so the most numerous ethnic and linguistic body of peoples in all Europe are divided between east and west—with the East Slavs, Russians, Ukrainians and Belarusians in one camp, and Europe in the other. Most of the rest of the Slavic people look to a German-led Europe for their security.
Historically, the state of these nations doesn’t rest in their own hands, but rather depends on what Russia and Germany decide to do. World Wars i and ii both played out on these nations’ territories, leaving much of their land destroyed and their populations brutalized.
Today, Russia has regained much of the stature it lost when the Soviet Union fell, and Germany is addressing global affairs on its own terms. Given the return to power of both nations, those who live in between the two juggernauts need to know, now more than ever, what the Bible prophesies will happen next. Will history repeat itself?
The answer is yes! Eastern Europe will soon once again become a bloody battlefield between these world powers! These powers will once again clash with warfare more fierce and terrible than the previous world wars combined!