"Brit-Am Now"-362

February 9, 2004
1. Old Testament Practices in Britain

1. Old Testament Practices in Britain
RE: "Brit-Am Now"-360

>Would not the members of the "ten tribes" be distinguished by their Jewish
>practices such as keeping the sabbath etc.  These practices would also
>have surely been an incentive against mixing with the 'Gentiles'??
>Patrick Geaney

Joseph and Judah had different natures and destinies from the beginning
though eventually they will unite
and the specialities of both will be used in the service of all.
The Ten Tribes were exiled because they went in the ways of the Gentiles
around them, worshipped idols, practiced human sacrifice,
no longer kept circumcision, etc. See 2-Kings chapters 17 and 18 and the
prophets throughout.
They were in many ways already effectively "Gentiles" even before they were
Some of them did however continue to keep some of the commandments in one
way or other.
We have registered this several times.
Here is an extract (which has been sent out before) regarding Biblical
practices and the Celts.
The early Celtic Christians of the British Isles had a tendency to keep
aspects of the Mosaic Law. Our impression is that this
tendency had existed even before they became Christian.
The Druids practised a religion that was a mixture of Hebrew, Canaanite,
and other Middle Eastern practices.
Stephen Spikerman has written an article on the Hebraic aspects of Druidism
that will be published in a coming issue of our magazine.
In the meantime the following extracts from our own works may be of interest.

"It is stated in very old copies of The Book of Invasions and other ancient
documents that it was the Mosaic law that the Milesians brought into Errin
at their coming; that it had been learned and received from Moses in Egypt
by Cae Cain Beathach, who was himself an Israelite, who had been sent into
Egypt to learn the language of that country by the great master Fenius
Farsaith, from whom the Milesian brothers, who conquered Errin, are
recorded to have been the twenty second generation  in descent; and it is
stated  in the preface to Seanchas Mord that this was the law of Errin at
the time of the coming of St.Patrick".
LOUIS HYMAN, . "The Jews of Ireland", Jerusalem, Israel, 1972.


                  Leslie Hardinge (quoted by Deborah K.E. Crawford,
"St..Joseph In Britain: Reconsidering The Legends. Part 2", Folklore 105
(1994): 51 59.) says that the Celtic Christians of the British Isles placed
a "strong emphasis on the legal aspects of the Old Testament"5. An Irish
work ("Liber ex Lege Moisi") from ca.800 c.e. uses Old Testament Law as "a
prime directive, for the proper conduct of everyday life". It is claimed
that the Celtic Church was closer to Judaism than any other branch of
                 "The shared elements include the keeping of the Saturday
Sabbath, tithing, the definition of `first fruits' and offerings, the
establishment of walled precints for the priestly/monastic families,
inheritance of religious office, and fasting and dietary restrictions. It
also appears that the Celts kept Easter by older methods of reckoning, one
of which caused Easter to coincide with the Passover"6.

                 "Other scholarship suggests that Irish Churchmen of the
seventh and eighth centuries actually considered themselves to be priests
and Levites, as defined under Old Testament law"7.
                 Gildas apparently believed the British Celts ("Britones")
to be of Israelite descent8. At all events, he accused them of wanting to
join the Jews.
       "Theodore, Gildas, and Wilfred all associated the Celtic practices
with the Jews"9.

                  Celtic Christianity was a cultural continuation of Celtic
Druidism which emphasised Oral tradition and the learning by rote of
ancient law.
   Julius Caesar (The Conquest of Gaul) wrote:

                  "The Druidic doctrine is believed to have been found
existing in Britain and thence imported into Gaul; even today those who
want to make a profound study of it generally go to Britain for the
purpose...It is said that these pupils have to memorise a great number of
verses  so many, that some of them spend twenty years at their studies. The
Druids believe that their religion forbids them to commit their teachings
to writing, although for some other purposes, such as public and private
accounts, the Gauls use the Greek alphabet".

                 There existed a cultural continuity between Druidism and
Celtic Christianity which was especially apparent in relation to
                 "The stories brought by the Irish monks, and the brief
references written on the margins of manuscripts, demonstrate the ongoing
existence and importance of traditional Celtic accounts"11.
    Boswell adds to the above listed Jewish features of Celtic religion:
                 "...the prominence of Hebrew features in Irish canon law
collections (including Biblical cities of Refuge and Jubilee Years)
together with Mosaic prohibitions on diet and injunctions on tithes...There
was also a Hebrew treatment of the sanctuary ...and finally there were many
Hebrew words occurring in cryptographic monastic Irish works such as
Hisperica Famina"12.
       Mosaic parallelisms found amongst early Celtic Christians include
the prohibition of sex in the menstrual period and after birth, also ritual
animal slaughter was kept, and usury was prohibited13.

                 Old Testament Biblical  injunctions were generally
regarded as binding.. Members of the Celtic Church were suspected by the
Roman Catholics of Judaising and its members in Scotland were accused of
really being Jews14.
         "A total absence of any sculpture in the round and the rarity of
reliefs using human figures, suggests again the Semitic dislike
of  personification of the god"15.

                 The Romans had persecuted the Druids many of whom fled  to
Scandinavia according to Welsh tradition and this has been confirmed by
archaeological finds in Scandinavia. Those Druids who remained in west
Britain and Ireland founded colleges and communal settlements based at
least partly on clan relationships. With the acceptance of christianity the
Druidical colleges and settlements were transformed into monasteries  which
at first accepted married members16. Saints and customs of the early Celtic
Church had been taken over from Druidical belief and practice. These may
have included customs later identified as Jewish since it is known that a
similarity existed in several matters between the Celtic Druidical practice
and the Mosaic injunctions. The Druids like the Hebrews practised social
ostracism as a means of coercion, they had an Oral Law which it was
forbidden to write. They gave tithes and firstfruits. Their sacrificial
modes were similar to Biblical ones. They practiced ritual purity in ways
which are reminiscent of the Hebrew lore. Traditions existed that the
Celtic Irish at least practised the Mosaic Law before the coming of
                 The presence of Hebrew-"Mosaic" traits should be
considered in light of the other evidence indicating origins from the
Israelite area.[1]
                 "..Bede states and Macalister corroborates, the Irish
monks had a monopoly on the secret of preparing Tyrian purple dye from the
murex in their waters"17.
                   Irish manuscript and interlacing is said to have been of
Egyptian Coptic origin and there was an,
       "..Egyptian feeling and .. Syrian or Arabian affinities in
                 A type of music found in parts of Ireland is similar to
Arab music  and certain details in Irish mythology are similar to Arab
legends some of which were repeated in the Koran19.

                 Donald A. MacKenzie (1935)*21 examined the existence of
food prohibitions amongst the Scottish. His findings were that:
    In northeast England (bordering Scotland),
  "fishermen  dislike reference being made to the pig in connection with
their  work".
                 In Scotland an aversion to the pig is deep rooted even now
and was much stronger in the past. This aversion exists amongst both
Highlanders and Lowlanders.
     "There are still thousands of Highlanders and groups of Lowlanders who
refuse to keep pigs or to partake of their flesh".
  quotes from Sir Walter Scott ("The Fortunes of Nigel"):

                 "Sir Munko cannot abide pork, no more than the King's most
sacred majesty, nor my Lord Duke Lennox, nor Lord Dalgarno...But the Scots
never eat pork strange that! Some folk think they are a sort of Jews."
       "The Scots [i.e. Lowlanders] till within the last generation
disliked swine's flesh as an article of food  as much as the Highlanders do
at  present".
            Also from Sir Walter ("The Two  Drovers") we have an account of
execration in Gaelic of a Highlander cursing some Englishmen who had been
ridiculing him:
      "A hundred curses on the swine eaters, who know neither decency nor
        James-vi of Scotland (who became James-i of Great Britain) "hated
pork in all its varieties"22.
          In the English Civil War, a song against Scottish partisans of
the Rump Parliament (1639-1661) went:
        "The Jewish Scots that scorns to eat
                 The Flesh of Swine, and brewers beat,
                 'twas the sight of this Hogs head made 'em retreat,
                 Which nobody can deny."

   J.G.Dalyell (1691):
                 "Why do Scotchmen hate swine's flesh?"....
                 "They might borrow it of the Jews"...
                 "The same prejudice, though infinitely abated, still
subsists. Yet it is not known that swine have been regarded as mystical
animals in Scotland. Early in the seventeenth century the aversion to them
by the lower ranks, especially in the north, was so great, and elsewhere,
and the flesh was so much undervalued, that, except for those reared at
mills, the breed would have been extirpated".

A certain Captain Burt on duty in Scotland in 1730 wrote:
       "Pork is not very common with us, but what we have is good. I have
often heard that the Scots will not eat it..........It is here a general
notion that where the chief declares against pork, his followers affect to
show the same dislike..."

Mackenzie says that, "Burt also refers to the Scottish prejudice against
eating eels and pike"23.

Dr.Johnson (1773):
                 "The vulgar inhabitants of Skye, I know not whether of the
other islands, have not only eels but pork and bacon in abhorrence; and
accordingly I never saw a hog in the Hebrides, except one at Dunvegan".

  Rev.L.Grant (1793):
         "the deep rooted prejudice against swine's flesh is now removed..."

Dean Ramsay (1793-1872):
         "The old aversion to the `unclean animal' still lingers in the
Highlands....I recollect an old Scottish gentleman who shared this horror,
asking very gravely, `Were not swine forbidden  under the law and cursed
under the gospel?'".

John Toland (1714):
           "You know how considerable a  part of the British inhabitants
are the undoubted offspring of the Jews and how many worthy prelates of
this same stock, not to speak of Lords and commoners, may at this time make
an illustrious figure among us....A great number of 'em fled to Scotland
which is the reason so many in that part of the Island have a remarkable
aversion to pork and black puddings to this day, not to insist on some
other resemblances easily observable'24.."

         D.A.MacKenzie continued to discuss the swine taboo in chapter ii
of his work. He claimed that the taboo preceded Christianity and that the
coming of Christian missionaries to Scotland actually weakened the
prohibition. Mackenzie stated that after examination it appeared to him
that in ancient Scotland there were two different cults or attitudes, one
of which regarded the pig with abhorrence while the other revered it. The
Picts in northern Scotland had two clans, one called the Clan of Bears
(Orcs) and the other The Clan of Cats. Ancient pictures of wild boars have
been found engraved on rocks. A first century b.c.e. grave in Scotland
contained what appears to have been a pig offering and other finds indicate
the consumption of swine..

                 MacKenzie connects the pig taboo with the Galatians in
Galatian Anatolia. These were a small group of Galatians (also called
"Galli") who had gravitated to Anatolia (modern Turkey), conquered Phrygia
and formed their own kingdom called Galatia in which they ruled over the
natives. Lucian ("De Dea Syria") wrote concerning the Galli of Galatia:
           "They sacrifice bulls and cows alike and goats and sheep; pigs
alone which they abominate, are neither sacrificed nor eaten. Others look
on swine without disgust, but as holy animals".

                 Pausanius drawing upon a source from the 300s b.c.e. said
that the Galatae in Anatolia ceased to eat pork because Attis the god of
the region had been slain by a boar. Attis is connected with the cult of
the Great Mother and MacKenzie supposes that the Galatae adopted this cult.
Later, he suggests, mercenaries from the Celtic west who came into contact
with the Galatians of Galatia also received the pig taboo and somehow
through them it reached Scotland25. At all events, the ultimate source of
this pig taboo came from the Middle East.

                 Mackenzie brings numerous sources showing that in Gaul, in
Ireland, in other parts of Britain, pigs were both plentiful and respected.
The boar was a favourite symbol. Pigs were reared for meat all over the
Celtic area and the Continental Celts even had a developed industry curing
swine meat which they sold to the Romans and were famous for.
Archaeological findings often reveal preserved swine flesh in various
receptacles. All of these areas had frequent contact with the region of
Scotland and their influence is enough to explain all evidence (which in
fact is not so plentiful) of pig meat in ancient Scotland. On the other
hand, the suggestion of influence on Scotland from the Galatian area in
distant Anatolia is unconvincing. Despite Pausanius we cannot be really
sure that the Galatians did not bring their pig taboo with them to Anatolia
instead of adopting it there. At all events, why should only far-away
Scotland have been influenced by the Galatians of the east?

                 Another point is that a good portion of the population of
Scotland only arrived there well after ca.200 b.c.e. They came to Scotland
via Ireland or via Spain or via Scythia and the north. Different groups
settled in different areas yet the pig taboo was accepted all over Scotland
by a good proportion of the populace and the prohibition was deeply
entrenched in popular consciousness. Eels, hare, and pike are also
forbidden by the Mosaic code and the Scotts had prejudices against all of
these and refused to eat them though they are popular foods amongst the
neighbouring English. The obvious place to look for the source of these
prohibitions is in a past exposure to and acceptance of the Mosaic Law and
this was the source to which observers in the past usually traced them. It
is interesting to note that from time to time certain fish and fowl which
the Mosaic Code (of Ancient Israel) does permit came under a ban but only
in the case of those expressly prohibited by the Law of Moses did the taboo
last or become widely accepted.

                 "Julius Casar found that the ancient Britons tabooed the
hare, the domestic fowl and the goose. The hare is still taboo to many

  In western Brittany the hare was also tabooed27.
          It should be noted that abstaining from foods prohibited by the
Mosaic Law may have physiological advantages conducive to long-term
physical and emotional stability.
          Our examination of the religious practices of the early Christian
Celts revealed that not only food taboos but also a large number of other
practices were taken directly from the Mosaic Law and also that there
existed a conscious identification with  the Jews and ancient Levis. Some
of these practices had proven parallels in ancient Druidical pre-christian
custom which taken together with other facts proves that at least a portion
of these people were of Israelite descent.

                 In general a few pertinent subsidiary points should be
made: What applies to the ancient Celts of Ireland and Scotland reflects
upon their kin and descendants elsewhere in the British Isles and overseas.
These peoples were divided into different Tribal groups at different
cultural levels and maybe of differing origin as Irish sources themselves
are sometimes at pains to emphasise. Some contemporary reports (such as
those of Diodorus 5;32;3, st.Jerome, cf. Strabo 201*28) claimed that there
were primitive peoples in Ireland who practised cannibalism. Other evidence
suggests that different peoples in Ireland maintained different standards
and there were those whose cultural developments were of a very high
standard maybe in some respects the highest in the world at that time. It
has been plausibly stated that a hospital was established in Ulster in
ca.377 b.c.e. Hospitals were regulated by the "Brehon Law" saying that they
should be staffed by qualified personnel, be free from debt, should be
freely available to the sick, feeble, elderly, and orphans, and that they
should have four doors and fresh water. Dependants of the sick were  cared
                 "Physicians in ancient Ireland were skilled not only with
herbal remedies but in performing Caesarian operations, amputations and
even brain surgery.30"
       High humanitarian and cultural standards do not prove Israelite
origins but they do demonstrate empathic social justice and intellectual
wisdom which qualities comprise two of several criteria found to be
applicable in determining Hebrew origins.

                 Intellectual powers and social consciousness come to the
fore amongst many Jewish families and amongst the Scottish. Archaeological
finds and the Artwork of the Scottish Picts and the Irish Celts indicate
Middle Eastern origins. The mythology of the pagan world also indicates
that other peoples too were aware that the western Celts (especially those
of the British Isles) had the same ancestral origins as the Jews.

The following extracts relevant to Sabbath-keeping amongst the Insular
Celts are taken from
by Derek M. Marley, B.A.


"In this latter instance they seem to have followed a custom of which we
find traces in the early monastic church of Ireland, by which they held
Saturday to be the Sabbath on which they rested from all their labours"
(Life of St. Columba, page 96)
Columba specifically referred to Saturday as the Sabbath and this was the
custom of that early church on Iona.
" It seems to have been customary in the Celtic churches of the early times
in Ireland as well as Scotland, to keep Saturday as a day of rest from
labour. Thy observed the fourth commandment literally on the seventh day of
the week." (The Church in Scotland, Moffatt, page 140)

"The Celts ...kept Saturday as a day of rest." (The rise of the
Medieval Church, page 237)
"They worked on Sunday, but kept Saturday in a Sabbatical manner." (A
Hostory of Scotland from the Roman Occupation, vol.1, p.96)

"They held that Saturday was properly the Sabbath on which they abstained
from work." (Celtic Scotland, vol.2, p.350) During the 11th century the
Catholic Queen of Scotland, Margaret, tried to stamp out those that adhered
to God's Sabbath and who refused to honour the papacy's day.

"The ancient Irish Church observed Saturday instead of Sunday as the day of

"There is much evidence that the Sabbath prevailed in Wales universally
until AD 1115, when the first Roman Bishop was seated at St. David's. the
old Welsh Sabbath keeping churches did not even then altogether bow the
knee to Rome but fled to their hiding places."
(Seventh Day Baptists in Europe and America, vol.1, p29)

12 th Century: FRANCE & BRITAIN.
"For 20 years Peter de Bruys stirred southern France. He especially
emphasised a day of worship that was recognised at that time among the
Celtic Churches of the British Isles,........ namely the seventh day of the
fourth commandment."

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