One of the most common themes of Scripture is the idolatry of Israel. The Israelites were very prone to idolatry and at any point in their history many of the Israelites were doubtless practicing pagans. The pagan gods and practices of Europe are often helpful in identifying the Israelites as many of them point back to the lands of the Scriptures.
The Celtic god Bel is likely a parrallel to one of the Baal’s of Canaan whom the Israelites worshiped and the Beltane rites reflect those devoted to the Baal’s in ancient Canaan. Even today in some parts of the British Isles Beltane festivals continue the practice of passage through fire.
The British Islands are famous for their megaliths. Particularly cromlechs which are rings of standing stones with an altar or pillar in the centre. These are not unique to Britain and the same structures have been found at Byblos and Gylgal in Palestine.
The Irish used to call the altars Bothal, and in North-West Semitic languages they are called Bethel. They are mentioned several times in Scripture and God foretold that the dispersed Israelites would build such structures in Jeremiah 31.21.While not the direct object of this discussion, it can be established that the ancient Phoenicians of early Greek literature were one and the same race of people as the Israelites of Canaan, speaking the same tongue and living in the same lands.
‘The Israelite Origins of Europa: the Phoenicians in the West’
Just as the Israelites of Scripture the Phoenicians were frequent idolaters but also worshiped a supreme deity El which is an epithet of YHVH. While they also worshiped the very same Baal and Astarte of the Scriptures they always continued to hail El as the king of the gods. These are of course the same religious practices as those of ancient Israel.
It may come as a surprise to many Europeans to find that their continent was named after an Israelite but Europa herself was surely a Phoenician by all Greek accounts. She is consistently mentioned as immediate kin of Phoenix himself.
Many other ancient Hellenic heroes, gods and demigods are of Israelite-Phoenician origin including Heracles, Dionysus, Semele, the Cabiri, Oedipus, Phoenix, Minos, Sarpedon, Rhadamanthys, Phineus and Adonis among others.
The Trojans were also considered close relatives of the Phoenicians. Cadmus “the Phoenician” who founded Thebes was said to be the brother in law of Dardanos the Trojan patriarch. While beyond the scope of this discussion, it can be established that Dardanos and his brother Calchal were sons of Zerah son of Judah.
All of these interrelated tribes have an ancient connection to Crete which served as a waypoint for settlement from elsewhere in the Eastern Mediterranean. There dwelt at various times Minoan-Philistines, Ionian-Javanites, Dardanian-Judahites, Danaan-Danites, and Dorian and Phoenician-Israelites all partaking in bull worship just as did the Israelites of the Exodus.
‘Dardan, Danaan and Dorian Origins: the Mediterranean Migrations of Ancient Israel’
The Trojans, though their ancestors had partaken in such idolatry, never forgot their chief God, YHWH. They always remembered him as Jove (aka Jupiter, a contraction of Jove Pater), the king of the gods and never ceased their sacrifices to him. In ancient Latin, with a soft J and a soft V, Jove is pronounced almost identically to YHWH (Ioue, or Iaoue according to Greek Christian sources).
The goddess Astarte/Ishtar worshiped by the Israelites in Scripture was associated with fertility and sexual rites in the Near East and the Germanic goddess Eostre too is associated with fertility. Astarte is commonly identified as the Queen of Heaven in Mesopotamian texts and is also mentioned by that title in Jeremiah 7.18 where we find that the Israelite women are making special cakes for Astarte. Germanic women likewise made cakes in celebration of pagan Easter festivities. Astarte was regarded by the Greeks as parallel to their own Aphrodite, and likewise they connected Baal with their own Zeus.
Odin was a Germanic war god, and the Assyrians and Babylonians had a war god known as Adon. The Babylonian Adon was the god of wine and in the Norse Elder Edda we are told that Odin ate no food but wine: “The illustrious father of armies, with his own hand, fattens his two wolves; but the victorious Odin takes no other nourishment to himself than what arises from the unintermittent quaffing of wine. For ’tis with wine alone that Odin in arms renowned is nourished forever.”
As Odin had a son called Thor, so the Assyrian Adon had a son called Thouros (Cedrenus, vol. 1, p. 29). The name Thouros seems just to be another form of zoro, or doro, meaning, ‘the seed.’ So Odin’s son, Thor, is an exact parallel to the Assyrian god Adon’s son Thouros. Of course the pagan Israelites of the Assyrian captivity no doubt were influenced by their captors and so we find Assyrian and Babylonian gods among the pantheons of Europe.
‘Scythian Origins: the Lost Tribes in Iran, the Steppe and Europe’
Herodotus informs us that the Scythians regarded swine as unclean, declining to use them for sacrifice or to raise them (The Histories 4.63). Likewise the Greeks of Comana, Pontus considered swine unclean and would not allow it to enter the city (Geography, 12.8.9).
The Persians were cousins of the Israelites and descendants of the Shemitic patriarch Elam. The Persians continued to deal extensively both with the Scythian-Israelites and the portion of Judah who remained in Canaan. The latter would later be liberated from Babylonian rule by the Aryan king Cyrus the Great.The ancient Zoroastrian religion of Iran is monotheistic and has clear affinities with Christianity and ancient Israelism.
Both religions worship a singular highest God (YHWH to the Israelites, Ahura Mazda to the Zoroastrians) who reigns over his Heavenly Host. Both religions feature the motif of the primordial battle between good and evil and both religions represented their God with a winged solar disc called Faravahar by the Zoroastrians and called the Sun of righteousness in Scripture (Malachi 4.2, also featured on the seal of King Hezekia of Judah).
Given the timeline it seems highly probable that the rejuvenation of Zoroastrianism in Iran was influenced by the Scythian Israelites from whom sprang the Parthians and many of the Sassanians who both practiced Zoroastrianism.
‘Zoroastrian and Christian Parrallels’