Evidence Of Israelitish Origins Of The Early European Pagan Myths And Religions - Christians for Truth
We often hear neo-pagans claim that Christianity is an alien “Middle Eastern” religion that was forced upon their noble pagan European ancestors at the point of a sword — while their own “natural” pagan religions somehow just sprang organically — just as did their Aryan race — like mushrooms from the fertile primeval forest floors.
The reason these early pagan Europeans, such as the Druids, so readily accepted Christianity and its Hebrew roots is that many of them were descendants of the “lost” Ten Tribes of Israel from the Assyrian captivity who — over many centuries — had lost their conscious connection to those tribes, but had nevertheless retained many of the pagan religious practices and traditions they had learned during the Assyrian captivity and then brought with them when they migrated up into Europe.
Recall that God had “divorced” the ten northern tribes of Israel and sent them into captivity because they had turned their backs on Him — breaking the First Commandment — by embracing the pagan religions of the surrounding nations — such as Baal worship, and sacrificing their children to Molech.
It should come as no surprise that when these “lost” ten tribes migrated up into Europe, they would retain these pagan practices and practice them in their new European homelands with local added color mixed in.
In 1876, a British clergyman — Jonathan Holt Titcomb, Vicar of St. Stephen’s church in South Lambeth, London — published a book entitled The Anglo-Israel Post Bag, in which he explored the evidence of Israelitish fingerprints upon the history, migrations, and pre-Christian traditions of the Anglo-Saxon peoples of the British Isles and the Continent.
While in this article we will focus on his chapter exploring the Israelitish origins of pre-Christian European pagan religions, we would recommend that you read his book in its entirety — as this chapter provides only the tip of the iceberg of a much larger — and persuasive — mass of evidence.
This Theory Accounts for Some Striking Correspondencies Between the Heathen Mythology of the Teutonic Nations and the State of Ancient Israel.
London, November 1, 1875
I dare say you have noticed that I sometimes speak of the Israelites as being one with the Teutonic race in general, and sometimes as being more particularly identified with Britain and the Anglo-Saxons.
There is no contradiction in this; for the greater must always include the less. At the same time, I am free to confess that as far as my study of this subject has advanced, I have scarcely made up my mind whether the Israelitsh stick may be regarded as actually co-extensive with the whole Teutonic race, or whether it may be traversing only certain leading sections of it with which it become incorporated — large enough, perhaps, to give a moral and religious tone to the whole, yet not necessarily individually coincident with the entire mass. While, this, however, represents a suspended point of belief; the facts now about to be considered are worthy of review on perfectly independent grounds.
It seems to be an undoubted fact that among the Keltic Druids of Britain, the heathen religion of our ancestors, more or less, took the form of Baal worship; being exactly that form of idolatry which must have been inherited among the Ten Tribes from their progenitors in the land of Israel during the times of their kings.
Indeed, the first name which Britain had, after it was inhabited by any races known to history was — “Y Vel Ynys” or “The Land of Bel” — V being pronounced B (see Edward Davies’ Celtic Researches, p. 190). You will remember, there were many cities in Israel into whose composition the word Baal entered; as (e.g.), Baalah (1 Chronicles 13:6); Baalath, a city build by Solomon (2 Chronicles 8:6); Baal-shalisha (2 Kings 4:42); and others I need not mention.
In like manner there is a town in Scotland, in Perthshire, named Tillie-Beltrane (meaning the “hill of the fire of Baal”); near to which there is still a Druidical stone circle. As for the names of places, both in Scotland and Ireland, beginning with “Bal”, there are so numerous that, after having reached above a hundred, I have up the task of counting them.
It is well known also that, on the lofty eminences of the cairns, which were extended in a line over the whole coast where the Druids resided, it was the custom on the eve of May Day to light up large fires in honor of “Baal”, the Keltic words used for the “sun.” Hence “Bealtreine” is a word still used for May Day among the Scotch Highlanders. “Two of these fires,” says Toland, “were kindled on May Day in every village; between which the men and beasts to be sacrificed had to be passed.” (Toland’s History of Druids, Vol. I, p. 71).
[Thomas] Pennant, in his Tour in Scotland, 1769 (p. 110) says, “On the first of May the herdsmen of every village hold their Beltein.” And Dr. Macpherson, in his Critical Dissertation XVII, p. 286, says,
“In Ireland Beltein is celebrated on the 21st of June, at the time of the solstice. Then, as they make fires on the tops of the hills, every member of the family made to pass through it; reckoning this ceremony necessary to insure good fortune through the succeeding year.”
–as quoted from Calmet’s Dictionary of the Bible
Who cannot see that this is a remnant of the older customs of Baal worship in Israel, when they made “their sons and daughters to pass through fire” (2 Kings 16:3)? Such customs are now gradually expiring, but the evidence is quite sufficient to show the historical connection which existed between the Baal worship of the ancient British Kelts — and the Baal worship of the perverted Israelites which they brought with them in their early migration to this country.
You may tell me all these facts might be accounted for by Phoenician colonization in Britain quite independently of any Israelitish race. But that is no proof of the impropriety of my showing how such facts are confirmatory of there having been an old Israelitish emigration as well.
Let us now come to the Teutonic nations (viz.) Scandinavia and Germany. If there be any truth in our supposition that this stock is Israelitish, we must find evidences of a similarity between their earliest religious faith, ad the religion which existed in Media, from whence the Tribes originally emigrated, and where they learned the religion of the country. Now is this so? Much depends on the answer.
I begin with remarking that there is evident ground in our accounting for the difference between the Baal worship of those Israelites whom we suppose to have first reached Britain, and those Tribes who afterwards reached it in the Saxon invasions. For the former, we believe to have come hither along the Mediterranean, through Spain, by an exodus preceding the captivity of the Ten Tribes (see my Letter XI); so that there is a manifest reason why they should have brought their Baal worship with them from Palestine.
But on the other hand, the rest of the Tribes, who left Media, and joined the Getae, and afterwards formed themselves into the Gothic nations, must have come hither along a different line of march. We shall, therefore, naturally look for a different form of religious faith in their case; especially as we find from the deciphering of one of the lately discovered inscriptions of Tiglath-Peleser, that it was the habit of the Assyrian monarchs to place their captives under the Magian religion.
The words are so important that I shall give them to you in full:
“There fell into my hands altogether, between the commencement of my reign and my fifth year, forty two countries with their kings. I brought them under one government. I placed them under the Magian religion.”
I quote this from Sir Henry Rawlinson’s translation, as a proof merely of the Assyrian policy pursued toward their captives. In this respect I hold it to be extremely important inasmuch as we have thus a fair right to believe that when the Assyrian king Shalmaneser carried away the remnant of the Ten Tribes, who had not escaped with the rest of their heathen, he pursued the same policy.
The question we have, therefore, to investigate is this — did the Tribes, on their exodus from Media, whom we profess to identify with the Gothic people, carry with them any evidences of a Magian form of worship? In other words, is this form of religion at all discernible among the Teutonic race? If it be not, the so far, cadit quaestio. If it be, then we have undoubtedly added to our list another valuable confirmation of the Anglo-Israel Theory. Let us see.
You must know that before the time of Zoroaster, who did not appear until after the Babylonian captivity, the Magian religion was, what is called, elemental. It consisted in a worship of the powers of Nature, and chiefly of the sun and light. The Magian had not temples, no altars, but worshiped in groves, and on hills, in the open air.
“In the element worship there were no temples, images, or emblems but only fire-altars on the high mountains for sacrifice.”
Now it was just the same in the primitive worship of the Scandinavian nation. [Paul Henri] Mallet says, in his celebrated work on Northern Antquities,
“The use of temples was proscribed by the primitive relgion, which taught that it was offensive to the gods to pretend to enclose them within the circuit of walls. There was, doubtless, a time when the Scandinavians worshiped their divinities only in the open air, and either knew not, or approved not of the use of temples.”
— from Chapter 6
The same is true of the Germans. I find in [the Introduction to] Friedrich Kohlrausch’s A History of Germany,
“They considered it at variance with the dignity of the divinity to enclose him within walls, or to represent hm in human shape. They built no temples, but they consecrated to holy purposes groves and woods, of which Nature had found the pillars, and whose canopy was heaven itself….And they still more strongly distinguished themselves by their firm and cheerful belief in the immortality of the soul. This sublime natural felling, and this purity of their religious ideas made them, in after times, better adapted for the reception of Christianity. There were the vessel which God had selected for the pure preservation of His doctrines. Like the Persians, they revered the sun and fire, but worshipped, as their superior god, Woden (Guodan, Godan, Gutar, Gott), calling him also by the beautiful name of the Universal Father (Alfadir).”
If you do not see in these facts a most singular line of evidence, confirmatory of a religious connection between the primitive religion of the Goths and of the Magians, I shall be much surprised. Whether they inherited this from an original Aryan ancestry, otherwise known to us, I cannot and will not attempt to say.
But undoubtedly, if the Tribes of Israel imbibed this Magian faith in Media, when they cast off finally their own sacred books, and had become merged among the heathen, and if, after having thus learned it, they appeared among the Getae on the Danube in the dawn of European history, and finally multiplied themselves into the so-called Gothic nations, then the whole chain of events is both continuous and natural.
If we now come to Teutonic literature, and its mythology — which through dating from a later time than the first period of the Gothic exodus from the Danube, must be, nevertheless, primevally connected with it — we shall meet with similarly striking results.
I will not lay much stress upon the Prose Edda of the Scandinavians, for it was written after Christianity had made a certain amount of way among them; and therefore, it is open to objectors to say that its author may have borrowed some of his ideas from the fundamental doctrines of Revelation. At the same time I shall made a few extracts from it because I see no reason myself for taking that view.
The work begins with an account of the visit of Gangler (the assumed name of a wise king) to Asgard, where he beheld three thrones raised one above another, with a man sitting on each of them; one of these being called Har, or, “The High and Lofty One;” the second, Jafuhar, or, “Equal to the High;” and the third, Thridi.
Gangler then enters into conversation with these and asks questions. First he asks, “Who is the eldest of the gods?”
To which Har replies, “He is called All-Father, or, the Father of All.”
“Where is this god?” continues Gangler. “What is his power, and what hath he done to display his glory?”
“He liveth,” replied Har, “from all ages; he preserveth all realms, and swayeth all things great and small.”
“He hath formed,” added Jafuhar, “heaven and earth, and the air, and all things thereunto belonging.”
“And what is more,” continued Thridi, “he hath made man and given him a soul which shall live and never perish. And all that are righteous shall dwell with him in the place called Gimli, but the wicked shall go to Hel, and thence to Nifhel, which is below in the ninth world.”
Further on Gangler says, “Thou tallest me many wonderful things of heaven, but what other homesteads are to be seen there?”
“There are many others,” replied Har. “One of them is Elfhome (Alfheim) wherein swell the beings called the Elves of Light; but the Elves of Darkness live under the earth, and differ from the others still more in their actions than in their appearance. The Elves of Light are fairer than the sun, but the Elves of Darkness are blacker than pitch.”
Still further on Har describes a future conflagration of the world, introducing Midgar the Serpent who will then be killed and a number of other mythological beings. In the course of this address he says,
“The stars shall be hurled from heaven, and the earth so violently shaken that trees will be torn up by the roots, the tottering mountains tumble headlong from their foundations, and all bonds and fetters he shivered in pieces.”
“Will any of the gods survive, and will there be any longer a heaven and earth?” demanded Gangler.;
“Then will arise out of the sea,” replied Har, “another earth most lovely and verdant, with pleasant fields, where the grain shall grow unsown. Vidar and Vali shall survive. They shall dwell on the plain of Ida, where Asgard formerly stood. Thither shall come the sons of Thor, Modi, and Magui. Baldur and Hodur shall also repair thither from the abode of Hel (death). There they shall sit and converse together, and call to mind their former knowledge, and the perils they underwent, and the fight with the world Fenrir, and the Midgard Serpent.”
“Soon after this Gangler heard a terrible noise. He looked everywhere, but could see neither palace nor city, nor anything save a vast plain. He, therefore, set out on his return to his kingdom, where he related all that he had seen and heard; and ever since these tidings have been handed down by oral tradition.”
These few extracts show, I think, one of two things: either that the eleventh century author, who put these oral traditions into written language, incorporated some ideas into them, derived from early missionaries of Christianity — or else that they are genuine recollections of the pre-historic and pre-Christian period, handed down through generations from the earliest Teutonic forms of mythological and religious beliefs.
The former opinion is, of course, open to any objector. But I am now going to give you my reasons for thinking otherwise. These are two-fold. (1) If, when thus written, they had been new and late additions to the beliefs which had been popularly received by the Scandinavians, it is hard to see how this author could have had the face to recite them as “tidings which had been handed down by oral tradition;” for the people to whom they were first delivered must have known better, and would have repudiated them.
(2) They cannot be regarded as new at the time of their delivery,, inasmuch as they agree, in the main, with a much more ancient composition called the Voluspa: “a poem,” says Mallet, “of undoubted antiquity, composed long before the name of Christianity was known in the north.” As this argument issue important to the bearings of the present subject, I shall take the liberty of adding a few quotations from that work also. You may then judge for yourself:
“The Voluspa begins with a description of Chaos,” says Mallet. “In the day-spring of the ages there was neither sea nor shore, nor refreshing breezes. There was neither earth below nor heaven above to be distinguished. The whole was only one vast abyss, without herbs, and without seeds. The sun had then no palace; the stars knew not their dwelling places; the moon was ignorant of her power.”
The account then goes on to relate how the abyss became gradually filled up with icy vapors, and continues thus,
“Then a warm breath, coming from the south, melted these vapors, and formed of them living drops, whence was born the giant Ymir. It is reported that, while he slept, an extraordinary seat under his armpits produced a male and female, whence is sprung the race of giants — a race evil and corrupt as well as Ymir their author. Another race was brought forth which formed alliances with that of the giant Ymir. This was called the family of Bor, so named from the second of that family who was the father of Odin. The sons of Bor slew the giant Ymir, and the blood ran from his wounds in such abundance that it caused a general inundation, wherein perished all the giants, except only one, who, saving himself in a bark, escaped with all his family. Then a new world was formed.”
I might go on with very much more, in a similar strain to this, confirmatory of what I have already quoted from the Edda. But why?
[For an able analysis of the Voluspa worked out as an historical and prophetical poem, based on the Israelitish wanderings and hopes, see John Wilson’s On Our Israelitish Origins, Lecture VII.]
Have I not said enough to convince you that, before its contact with Christianity, the old Teutonic mythology carried with it certain grotesque recollections of the Hebrew traditions, which are all in keeping with the idea that they were originally brought out of the Israelitish captivity?
Like all the rest of my argument, it is not a proof, but it is an additional confirmation; and so I place it on my list as an aid to the cumulative evidence which I am adducing. Nothing, perhaps, is sufficient to produce conviction by itself; but put it all together, and it comes out clear and strong.