- Christogenea Saturdays
TruthVid's 100 Proofs that the Israelites were White, Part 45
Here we shall continue our explanation of how many of the blessings of Jacob and Moses upon the twelve tribes of Israel had evidently been fulfilled in the history of the development of European culture and civilization. As we have already said, when the promises were made to Abraham, that his seed would become many nations, there was no Germany, England, France nor any other European nation as we know them, and most of the tribes which ultimately became the nations of modern Europe were not yet in Europe. That is because they mostly descended from the ancient Israelites of our Bibles, but usually by the time they arrived in Europe they had assumed other names. So we began this review of the blessings with Judah, and now we are in the middle of our discussion of Levi.
57) Parallels between the Druids of Europe and the Levitical Priests, continued
In our last presentation we had some citations from the notes found in The Annals of Ireland translated from The Original Irish of The Four Masters, which was translated by Owen Connellan and first published in 1846. These citations described some of the beliefs and practices of the ancient Druids as they were remembered by the Medieval sages, and we saw that many of them corresponded with those of the ancient Levitical priests of our Bibles. But now, because so little of the ancient Irish literature was preserved, and hardly anything predating the 8th century AD, we shall turn to Latin and Greek writers for their understanding of the Druids.
The following is summarized from my notes for Druids and Early Christianity in Britain, Part 2, a February, 2015 podcast with Sven Longshanks.
From Julius Caesar, The Gallic Wars, Book 6:
Throughout all Gaul there are two orders of those men who are of any rank and dignity: for the commonality is held almost in the condition of slaves, and dares to undertake nothing of itself, and is admitted to no deliberation. The greater part, when they are pressed either by debt, or the large amount of their tributes, or the oppression of the more powerful, give themselves up in vassalage to the nobles, who possess over them the same rights without exception as masters over their slaves. But of these two orders, one is that of the Druids, the other that of the knights. The former are engaged in things sacred, conduct the public and the private sacrifices, and interpret all matters of religion. To these a large number of the young men resort for the purpose of instruction, and they [the Druids] are in great honor among them. [This was the same role which the Levites served in the assemblies of the ancient Israelites.] For they determine respecting almost all controversies, public and private; and if any crime has been perpetrated, if murder has been committed, if there be any dispute about an inheritance, if any about boundaries, these same persons decide it; they decree rewards and punishments; if any one, either in a private or public capacity, has not submitted to their decision, they interdict him from the sacrifices. [The ancient Levites also served this role, and while not all of the judges were Levites, many were, such as Eli and Samuel, but the local towns and villages all had Levites for their own local matters, to serve as judges, and they maintained the cities of refuge.] This among them is the most heavy punishment. Those who have been thus interdicted are esteemed in the number of the impious and the criminal: all shun them, and avoid their society and conversation, lest they receive some evil from their contact; nor is justice administered to them when seeking it, nor is any dignity bestowed on them. Over all these Druids one presides, who possesses supreme authority among them. [Likewise there was one principal judge in Israel although not always a Levite, and there was one high priest.] Upon his death, if any individual among the rest is pre-eminent in dignity, he succeeds; but, if there are many equal, the election is made by the suffrages of the Druids; sometimes they even contend for the presidency with arms. These assemble at a fixed period of the year in a consecrated place in the territories of the Carnutes, which is reckoned the central region of the whole of Gaul. Hither all, who have disputes, assemble from every part, and submit to their decrees and determinations. This institution is supposed to have been devised in Britain, and to have been brought over from it into Gaul [the supposition seems to have been on the part of the Romans]; and now those who desire to gain a more accurate knowledge of that system generally proceed thither for the purpose of studying it.
The Druids do not go to war, nor pay tribute together with the rest; they have an exemption from military service and a dispensation in all matters. [So did the Levites not go to war, Numbers 1:45-47, and neither did they pay tribute, as they had received tribute.] Induced by such great advantages, many embrace this profession of their own accord, and [many] are sent to it by their parents and relations [this is of course a departure from the ancient Israelites]. They are said there to learn by heart a great number of verses; accordingly some remain in the course of training twenty years. Nor do they regard it lawful to commit these to writing, though in almost all other matters, in their public and private transactions, they use Greek characters [this is also a departure, unless Caesar only thought that the Hebrew characters were Greek]. That practice they seem to me to have adopted for two reasons; because they neither desire their doctrines to be divulged among the mass of the people, nor those who learn, to devote themselves the less to the efforts of memory, relying on writing; since it generally occurs to most men, that, in their dependence on writing, they relax their diligence in learning thoroughly, and their employment of the memory. They wish to inculcate this as one of their leading tenets, that souls do not become extinct, but pass after death from one body to another [transmigration], and they think that men by this tenet are in a great degree excited to valor, the fear of death being disregarded. They likewise discuss and impart to the youth many things respecting the stars and their motion, respecting the extent of the world and of our earth, respecting the nature of things, respecting the power and the majesty of the immortal gods. [Here Caesar seems to have been describing Druidical beliefs in terms familiar to Romans, and Hebrews did not believe in the migration of souls. Of course, Hebrews did believe in the eternal nature of the spirit. Diodorus Siculus in his Library of History (5.28.6) had also attributed this Pythagorean belief in transmigration to the Gauls. However not everything the Druids believed or taught need have belonged to Hebrews, as they had adopted paganism long before they were removed from Israel.]
The nation of all the Gauls is extremely devoted to superstitious rites; and on that account they who are troubled with unusually severe diseases, and they who are engaged in battles and dangers, either sacrifice men as victims, or vow that they will sacrifice them, and employ the Druids as the performers of those sacrifices; because they think that unless the life of a man be offered for the life of a man, the mind of the immortal gods can not be rendered propitious, and they have sacrifices of that kind ordained for national purposes. [The ancient Israelites had a Soldier's Ransom for a similar purpose, in Exodus chapter 30, where we read in part: “12 When thou takest the sum of the children of Israel after their number, then shall they give every man a ransom for his soul unto the LORD, when thou numberest them; that there be no plague among them, when thou numberest them…. 16 And thou shalt take the atonement money of the children of Israel, and shalt appoint it for the service of the tabernacle of the congregation; that it may be a memorial unto the children of Israel before the LORD, to make an atonement for your souls.” So the soldiers in ancient Israel paid a ransom in order to keep their own lives.] Others have figures of vast size, the limbs of which formed of osiers they fill with living men, which being set on fire, the men perish enveloped in the flames. They consider that the oblation of such as have been taken in theft, or in robbery, or any other offense, is more acceptable to the immortal gods; but when a supply of that class is wanting, they have recourse to the oblation of even the innocent.
Some of this is obviously Roman war propaganda. The Druids, and all of the Galatae, executed men who were guilty of certain crimes. Even today the bodies of those who were executed are found in bogs, and modern so-called anthropologists point to them as some sort of sacrifice victims. Yet the historian Tacitus said in his Germania, chapter 12, speaking of the punishments of criminals by the Germanic tribes: “The assembly is competent also to hear criminal charges, especially those involving the risk of capital punishment. The mode of execution varies according to the offense. Traitors and deserters are hanged on tree; cowards, shirkers and sodomites are pressed down under a wicker hurdle into the slimy mud of a bog. This distinction in the punishments is based on the idea that offenders against the state should be made a public example of, whereas deeds of shame should be buried out of men's sight.” (Translation by H. Mattingly revised by S. A. Hanford. Published by Penguin Books.)
Next we shall cite Diodorus Siculus, who was a contemporary of Julius Caesar:
From Diodorus Siculus, Library of History, Book 5 Chapter 31:
31 The Gauls are terrifying in aspect and their voices are deep and altogether harsh; when they meet together they converse with few words and in riddles, hinting darkly at things for the most part and using one word when they mean another; and they like to talk in superlatives, to the end that they may extol themselves and depreciate all other men. They are also boasters and threateners and are fond of pompous language, and yet they have sharp wits and are not without cleverness at learning. 2 Among them are also to be found lyric poets whom they call Bards. These men sing to the accompaniment of instruments which are like lyres, and their songs may be either of praise or of obloquy. [The Levitical priests typically fulfilled this role in Israel, although ideally their praise was directed at Yahweh their God, and their obloquy at His enemies.] Philosophers, as we may call them, and men learned in religious affairs are unusually honoured among them and are called by them Druids. 3 The Gauls likewise make use of diviners, accounting them worthy of high approbation, and these men foretell the future by means of the flight or cries of birds and of the slaughter of sacred animals, and they have all the multitude subservient to them. [The law forbid diviners in Israel, but reading Homer, such diviners seemed to be common among Greeks and others.] They also observe a custom which is especially astonishing and incredible, in case they are taking thought with respect to matters of great concern; for in such cases they devote to death a human being and plunge a dagger into him in the region above the diaphragm, and when the stricken victim has fallen they read the future from the manner of his fall and from the twitching of his limbs, as well as from the gushing of the blood, having learned to place confidence in an ancient and long-continued practice of observing such matters. [Among the Greeks described by Homer, augurs had observed the sacrifice of animals, and examined the entrails, for these same reasons. But human sacrifice, according to the Old Testament, especially of children, was common among the Canaanites and then the Israelites who had followed them, although it is not found in Scripture for this particular reason.] 4 And it is a custom of theirs that no one should perform a sacrifice without a "philosopher"; for thank-offerings should be rendered to the gods, they say, by the hands of men who are experienced in the nature of the divine, and who speak, as it were, the language of the gods, and it is also through the mediation of such men, they think, that blessings likewise should be sought. [Likewise, once the Levitical priesthood was established, the Israelites did not sacrifice without a priest (i.e. 1 Samuel 2:13).] 5 Nor is it only in the exigencies of peace, but in their wars as well, that they obey, before all others, these men and their chanting poets, and such obedience is observed not only by their friends but also by their enemies; many times, for instance, when two armies approach each other in battle with swords drawn and spears thrust forward, these men step forth between them and cause them to cease, as though having cast a spell over certain kinds of wild beasts. In this way, even among the wildest barbarians, does passion give place before wisdom, and Ares stands in awe of the Muses. [The kings and people of Israel had often inquired of the prophets, who were of the tribe of Levi, or of the high priest, before going to war.]
Strabo of Cappadocia followed Diodorus Siculus by around fifty years:
From Strabo, Geography, Book 4, Chapter 4:
4 Among all the Gallic peoples, generally speaking, there are three sets of men who are held in exceptional honour; the Bards, the Vates and the Druids. The Bards are singers and poets; the Vates, diviners and natural philosophers; while the Druids, in addition to natural philosophy, study also moral philosophy. [With different names, these same roles were filled mostly by Levites in the Old Testament.] The Druids are considered the most just of men, and on this account they are entrusted with the decision, not only of the private disputes, but of the public disputes as well; so that, in former times, they even arbitrated cases of war and made the opponents stop when they were about to line up for battle, and the murder cases, in particular, had been turned over to them for decision. [This role was also fulfilled by Levites, in the cities of refuge especially.] Further, when there is a big yield from these cases, there is forthcoming a big yield from the land too, as they think. However, not only the Druids, but others as well, say that men's souls, and also the universe, are indestructible, although both fire and water will at some time or other prevail over them [the Hebrews believed that men’s spirits were indestructible].
5 In addition to their trait of simplicity and high-spiritedness, that of witlessness and boastfulness is much in evidence, and also that of fondness for ornaments; for they not only wear golden ornaments — both chains round their necks and bracelets round their arms and wrists — but their dignitaries wear garments that are dyed in colours and sprinkled with gold. And by reason of this levity of character they not only look insufferable when victorious, but also scared out of their wits when worsted. Again, in addition to their witlessness, there is also that custom, barbarous and exotic, which attends most of the northern tribes — 198 I mean the fact that when they depart from the battle they hang the heads of their enemies from the necks of their horses, and, when they have brought them home, nail the spectacle to the entrances of their homes. At any rate, Poseidonius says that he himself saw this spectacle in many places, and that, although at first he loathed it, afterwards, through his familiarity with it, he could bear it calmly. [Poseidonius was an early 1st century BC philosopher, geographer and historian. He sojourned among the Kelts in the first decade of that century.] The heads of enemies of high repute, however, they used to embalm in cedar-oil and exhibit to strangers, and they would not deign to give them back even for a ransom of an equal weight of gold. But the Romans put a stop to these customs, as well as to all those connected with the sacrifices and divinations that are opposed to our usages. They used to strike a human being, whom they had devoted to death, in the back with a sabre, and then divine from his death-struggle. But they would not sacrifice without the Druids. We are told of still other kinds of human sacrifices; for example, they would shoot victims to death with arrows, or impale them in the temples, or, having devised a colossus of straw and wood, throw into the colossus cattle and wild animals of all sorts and human beings, and then make a burnt-offering of the whole thing.
While the Romans were often no less barbaric, among other things, an important point was that the Gauls did not sacrifice without a Druid. Ostensibly, the Romans were not only against Druidism, but had sought to impose their own religion among the peoples they conquered. It was not lawful for Romans to accept any outside religion (Acts 16:20-21).
From Pliny the Elder, Natural History, Book 30 Chapter 4, The Druids of the Gallic Provinces:
The Gallic provinces, too, were pervaded by the magic art, and that even down to a period within memory; for it was the Emperor Tiberius that put down their Druids, [actually he only outlawed Druidism on paper] and all that tribe of wizards and physicians. But why make further mention of these prohibitions, with reference to an art which has now crossed the very Ocean even, and has penetrated to the void recesses of Nature [the shores of the oceans]? At the present day, struck with fascination, Britannia still cultivates this art, and that, with ceremonials so august, that she might almost seem to have been the first to communicate them to the people of Persia. To such a degree are nations throughout the whole world, totally different as they are and quite unknown to one another, in accord upon this one point!
Such being the fact, then, we cannot too highly appreciate the obligation that is due to the Roman people, for having put an end to those monstrous rites, in accordance with which, to murder a man was to do an act of the greatest devoutness, and to eat his flesh was to secure the highest blessings of health.
Of course, it seems that some of these accounts are filled with embellishments. As it was described by Suetonius in his Lives of the Twelve Caesars of Claudius, Part 25, “He utterly abolished the cruel and inhuman religion of the Druids among the Gauls, which under Augustus had merely been prohibited to Roman citizens.” During the reign of that same Claudius, the historian Tacitus left us an account which described the role of the Druids in the battle with the Iceni, while Britain was governed by a different Suetonius:
From Tacitus' Annals of Rome Book 14 Chapters 29-30:
29 ... For the present, however, Britain was in the charge of Suetonius Paulinus, in military skill and in popular report — which allows no man to lack his rival — a formidable competitor to Corbulo, and anxious to equal the laurels of the recovery of Armenia by crushing a national enemy. He prepared accordingly to attack the island of Mona, which had a considerable population of its own, while serving as a haven for refugees; and, in view of the shallow and variable channel, constructed a flotilla of boats with flat bottoms. By this method the infantry crossed; the cavalry, who followed, did so by fording or, in deeper water, by swimming at the side of their horses.
30 1 On the beach stood the adverse array, a serried mass of arms and men, with women flitting between the ranks. In the style of Furies, in robes of deathly black and with dishevelled hair, they brandished their torches; while a circle of Druids, lifting their hands to heaven and showering imprecations, struck the troops with such an awe at the extraordinary spectacle that, as though their limbs were paralysed, they exposed their bodies to wounds without an attempt at movement. Then, reassured by their general, and inciting each other never to flinch before a band of females and fanatics, they charged behind the standards, cut down all who met them, and enveloped the enemy in his own flames. The next step was to install a garrison among the conquered population, and to demolish the groves consecrated to their savage cults: for they considered it a duty to consult their deities by means of human entrails. — While he was thus occupied, the sudden revolt of the province [meaning the province of the Iceni and the revolt of Boudicca after her estate was plundered and her daughters were raped by Romans] was announced to Suetonius.
Some historians, or rather pseudo-historians, see this incident as the Druids' last stand, as if all of the Druids of Britain were on this island of Mona. Others claim that Suetonius Paulinus' motive for invasion was to “wipe out the Druids”, but there is no indication of that in the actual surviving histories, either in Tacitus or in Dio Cassius who does not even mention druids in connection with Paulinus' presence at Mona (Anglesey). They fail to note that after Tacitus, there is hardly a history of Britain from a perspective which was not either Roman or Christian, and there is hardly a history at all which mentions Britain or Ireland in any detail, outside of that part of Britain controlled by Rome. Both Procopius the 6th century Byzantine historian, and Jordanes the 6th century historian of the Goths, had each turned to writers of the first century for what little they knew about Britain.
So little is known about the Druids, and little of what is known is first-hand. But what was recorded of them seems to depict them in a way where we can imagine they had a mixture of both Levitical and pagan, perhaps even Canaanite traditions, and that we would expect of the children of Israel from the time of the 9th century before Christ, the time when the Irish scholars believed Druidism came to Britain, and when the Phoenicians were emigrating from Israel and mining tin in Cornwall.
Encyclopedia Britannica offers this summary of the Druids in their article on the subject:
Druid, member of the learned class among the ancient Celts. They acted as priests, teachers, and judges. The earliest known records of the Druids come from the 3rd century bce. Their name may have come from a Celtic word meaning “knower of the oak tree.” Very little is known for certain about the Druids, who kept no records of their own.
Here we have seen that Pliny the Elder had called the Druids a “tribe of wizards and physicians”, and there was also a priestly tribe of wizards in Mesopotamia, many of whom may apparently have been Levites, who were called Magi. So Pliny himself had also said that “Britannia still cultivates this art, and that, with ceremonials so august, that she might almost seem to have been the first to communicate them to the people of Persia.” If such “wizards and physicians” were common across the ancient world, perhaps Pliny could not have made such a connection, and therefore it seems that Druids and Magi may have had more in common with one another than with the priestly cults of other nations, such as the Greeks and Romans. So with this we shall offer a brief discussion of the Magi, as at least some of them were apparently also Levites.
We should probably not comment on Zoroastrianism here, but it is difficult not to notice. The religion is assumed to be very old, but it is not mentioned in any texts until the 5th century BC. There were magi later in history who were Zoroastrian priests, but that does not mean that all the magi followed Zoroaster. The first mention of magi in Persian inscriptions is in the Behistun inscription of Darius I circa 520 BC, who refers to some of the magi as rebels.
From the Encyclopedia Britannica article on the Magus:
Magus, plural Magi, member of an ancient Persian clan specializing in cultic activities. The name is the Latinized form of magoi (e.g., in Herodotus 1:101), the ancient Greek transliteration of the Iranian original. From it the word magic is derived.
According to the Wikipedia article on magus, the word is “generally assumed to be a loan word from Median”, the language of the Medes, so there is an apparent conflict among academics. As we may see, the historian Herodotus also thought the Magi were originally Medes. Continuing with Britannica:
It is disputed whether the magi were from the beginning followers of Zoroaster and his first propagandists. They do not appear as such in the trilingual inscription of Bīsitūn [Behistun], in which Darius the Great describes his speedy and final triumph over the magi who had revolted against his rule (522 bc). Rather it appears that they constituted a priesthood serving several religions. The magi were a priestly caste during the Seleucid, Parthian, and Sāsānian periods; later parts of the Avesta, such as the ritualistic sections of the Vidēvdāt (Vendidad), probably derive from them. From the 1st century and onward the word in its Syriac form (magusai) was applied to magicians and soothsayers, chiefly from Babylonia, with a reputation for the most varied forms of wisdom. As long as the Persian empire lasted there was always a distinction between the Persian magi, who were credited with profound and extraordinary religious knowledge, and the Babylonian magi, who were often considered to be outright imposters.
From Herodotus, The Histories, Book 1:
The historian Herodotus mentioned the magi on several occasions in Book 1 of his Histories, first in chapter 101 where he imagined that the magi were a peculiar tribe, saying that “The Median tribes are these — the Busae, the Paretaceni, the Struchates, the Arizanti, the Budii, the Magi: so many are their tribes.” So we see that Herodotus had believed that the magi belonged originally to the Medes, and we know from Scripture and history that many of the children of Israel had been settled by the Assyrians “in the cities of the Medes”, as we read in 2 Kings chapters 17 and 18. But writing of his own time, he mentions magi often in the context of the Persians, as the Medes were a significant part of their empire and the magi remained influential within the empire. Later in his Histories, Herodotus wrote that “These Medes were called anciently by all people Arians” (The Histories 7.62). But ostensibly, Herodotus would not have known to distinguish Israelites in Medea, who had been there for over two centuries, from the Medes themselves. Neither did he distinguish Judaeans from Syrians, as three times in his writings he mentioned the “Syrians of Palestine” where he was actually referring to Judaeans.
In chapter 140 of the Histories we read:
So much I can say of them of my own certain knowledge. But there are other matters concerning the dead which are secretly and obscurely told — how the dead bodies of Persians are not buried before they have been mangled by bird or dog. That this is the way of the Magians I know for a certainty; for they do not conceal the practice. But this is certain, that before the Persians bury the body in earth they embalm it in wax. These Magians are much unlike to the priests of Egypt, as to all other men: for the priests count it sacrilege to kill aught that lives, save what they sacrifice; but the Magians kill with their own hands every creature, save only dogs and men; they kill all alike, ants and snakes, creeping and flying things, and take much pride therein. Leaving this custom to be such as it has been from the first, I return now to my former story.
We must note that the Levites had also killed their sacrifices with their own hands. Herodotus had described the sacrifices of the magi a little earlier, in chapter 132:
And this is their fashion of sacrifice to the aforesaid gods: when about to sacrifice they neither build altars nor kindle fire, they use no libations, nor music, nor fillets, nor barley meal; but to whomsoever of the gods a man will sacrifice, he leads the beast to an open space and then calls on the god, himself wearing a wreath on his cap, of myrtle for choice. To pray for blessings for himself alone is not lawful for the sacrificer; rather he prays that it may be well with the king and all the Persians; for he reckons himself among them. He then cuts the victim limb from limb into portions, and having boiled the flesh spreads the softest grass, trefoil by choice, and places all of it on this. When he has so disposed it a Magian comes near and chants over it the song of the birth of the gods, as the Persian tradition relates it; for no sacrifice can be offered without a Magian. Then after a little while the sacrificer carries away the flesh and uses it as he pleases.
Here Herodotus even described the sacrifice a little differently, where a man killed it himself, but a magi serving as priest was nevertheless required. As the Persians would not sacrifice without a Magus (Herodotus 1.132), the Kelts would not without sacrifice without a Druid (Strabo 8.3.25).
So we see some customs common to the Druids and Magi, and to each with those of the Levitical priests. But more significantly is the testimony of Matthew concerning the Magi who had come to Jerusalem in anticipation of the birth of the Messiah of Israel. In Matthew chapter 2 there is an account of certain magi who had come from the east for that reason, and the east is certainly a reference to the Parthian Empire, as the magi were a priestly caste originally found among the Medes, and later the Persians also, as we have seen in the words of the 5th century BC Greek historian Herodotus.
The magi came to Jerusalem because they understood the time of the birth of the Messiah from the appearance of a certain star, evidently from some ancient knowledge which is not recorded in the Old Testament. But the Word of God was only given to the children of Israel, and the promised Messiah was the exclusive savior of the children of Israel, statements which are explicit in the Old Testament, for example in the 147th Psalm and in Isaiah 43:3, 45:15 and elsewhere. No other nation would have, should have or even could have expected a Messiah.
So it is likely, and even certain, that these magi were descendants of the ancient Israelites, many of whom had been resettled “in the cities of the Medes”, according to both Assyrian inscriptions and the Biblical accounts found in 2 Kings chapters 17 and 18, and as we have just cited, Herodotus had written that the magi were a tribe, or race among the Medes. So we see that the magi came from ancient Medea, and even if the words of Herodotus do not prove conclusively that they were ancient Israelites, of whom Herodotus seemed to be ignorant, the fact that these magi were awaiting a Messiah in Israel around this time certainly does provide that proof.
The fact that men such as Pliny noticed similarities between Druids and magi, as opposed to all of the other priesthoods of the pagans, and that these two are also similar to the ancient Levites, cannot be overlooked, as no other race outside of Palestine had such customs. Therefore we may find it safe to conclude that both Magi and Druids were extensions of the functions of the Israelite tribe of Levi in the places where Israel had been in captivity.