History knows, in general, that the Gauls are the true ancestors of the French; but there again, there are very divided opinions on the origin of this Celtic people. Who then were the Gauls? Where did they come from? What is their true origin? What were their characteristic traits, their customs, their culture, and their religion? This is precisely their history that we are going to study in the light of the Bible. In doing this, we must "prove all things," in order to prove and reclaim the truth, according to divine instructions, I Thessalonians 5:21. Indeed, all scripture was given by divine inspiration, "to teach, to convince, to correct, and to instruct," II Timothy 3:16. We must become as the Bereans, who, having received the Word, eagerly "searched the scriptures daily, to prove whether these things be so," Acts 17:10, 11. But once the truth is revealed to you, you must accept it honestly and without prejudice, in order to replace the false doctrines you have believed before. The history of the Gauls, in the eyes of the world, begins around the seventh century B.C. — but the fact is the Gauls existed long before this era! If their identity remains lost in history, it is because they carried before a different name: a Biblical Name. As strange as it might seem, the history of the Gauls — this people who lived under the rulership of the Druids — begins at the same time as the history of Israel, and that, so the Bible tells us with great precision, begins with Abraham. To be able to really understand this story, you must first attentively read and study the sensational work of Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong, "The United States and British Commonwealth in Prophecy." This booklet, at once astonishing and exciting, complements ours; in other words, the two form a single study. We could not overemphasize this, for without having read "The United States and British Commonwealth in Prophecy" you will never be able to understand the direct connection between the Celtic peoples and the Israelites. (If you have not read it, write us, and we will send you a copy free of charge. Not only because we often refer to this booklet, but it forms, we should repeat, an essential and integral part of this study.) In the first chapter of his work, Mr. Armstrong explains in detail and with skill the promise the Eternal made to Abraham. It proves irrefutably that this divine promise has a double phase — a double nature: one physical, the other spiritual. Mr. Armstrong also shows that the physical promise pertained to Israel while the spiritual promise was to Judah. The world doesn't understand this prophecy at all, and they think that Judah and Israel are the same nation. As Mr. Armstrong demonstrates, this grave error prevents people from understanding the truth. The term "Jew" is only a nickname given to the people of Judah. It refers only to that nation, the house of Judah — never to the house of Israel. In fact, the very first time the Bible speaks of the "Jews," they were in a state of war against Israel! II Kings 16:5-6. Under King Rehoboam, of the dynasty of David, the house of Judah (including the tribe of Benjamin), struggled against the ten other tribes, composed of, under Jeroboam, a separate, different nation! This alone is enough to show that the Jews and the Israelites are two distinct, separate nations. But people don't know this because they don't study the Bible. In our time, some places inhabited by the ten tribes of Israel, are not Jewish! So we must note that each time the Bible prophesies on "Israel" or "the house of Israel" or even on "Samaria" it does not refer to the Jews! However, speaking of the entire twelve tribes, the terms "Israel" and "children of Israel" include the Jews, but they never refer exclusively to the Jews. Certainly the Jews are Israelites, but not all Israelites are Jews. We can better understand this question by saying that Parisians, generally, are Frenchmen, but not all Frenchmen are Parisians.
Israel in Captivity
The second time the Bible makes mention of the name "Jew," the house of Israel is already in captivity, under the Assyrian empire, "distant from the face of the Eternal." Merely glance at a map of Palestine to understand the reasons for an Assyrian invasion, who carried out the long and miserable captivity of the children of Israel. Their country was a roadway to Egypt, whose riches were greatly envied by other nations. The success of the Assyrian invasion was due not only to the power of their army, but especially to the sad decadence of the Israelites who, "distant from the face of the Eternal," were weakened by corruption of their morals and internal struggles. It will be interesting to briefly examine the history of this decadence, which began under the reign of Solomon, when the two nations, Israel and Judah, were still united and a single power.
Grandeur and Decadence under Solomon
About the year 1000 B.C., Solomon was at the apex of his glory! He dominated all the countries from the Euphrates to the frontiers of Egypt (I Kings 4:21; II Chronicles 9:26). Becoming rich and powerful, he was allied by marriage with the Egyptian Pharaoh (I Kings 3:1) and maintained excellent relations with Hiram, the Phoenician king of Tyre and Sidon (I Kings 5:1, 12). Under the reign of Solomon the famous temple of Jerusalem was built. At this time the riches and prosperity of the country was such that silver had become "as common in Jerusalem as stones" (I Kings 10:27). However, what interests us in the present work, is the alliance Solomon made with the Phoenicians who helped him not only to build the temple, but also in foreign trade. Solomon, rich and powerful, furnished the ships and ports, while his ally, Hiram, put at the disposition of the King of Israel his famous Phoenician sailors, who traveled the entire world, returning every three years "bringing gold, and silver, ivory, monkeys, and peacocks," I Kings 10:22; II Chronicles 9:21. Peacocks originated in India; thus it was there the Phoenicians went. At that time, such a voyage at sea, round trip, took about three years. According to the Bible, the center of commerce by transit was Tarsis. The "Petit Larouse" says the Phoenicians founded numerous branches in North Africa, "notable at Carthage, which must have eclipsed them later. In Spain, they established themselves strongly, founding cities, such as Cadiz, Malaga, Adra, and Elche. They exploited the rich mines of copper of Tharsis, in Andalousie" (New Little Larousse, 1960 Edition, article: "Phoenicia"). Another famous port they founded is actually known under the name of Marseille (France). Ruined after the downfall of Phoenician power, this city was rebuilt, about the year 600 B.C., by a colony of Phoenicians. What historians don't know (or was it merely rejected by them?), is that this great exploitation of enterprise by the Phoenicians was done in direct alliance with Solomon and Israel. As we will see further on, the Israelites and the Phoenicians, by royal marriages or political claims, maintained good relations on both sides during several centuries. Even under Herod, king of Judea, the Phoenicians desired peace, because their country still took their subsistence from that of the Jews, Acts 12:20. In the end, when Israel went out of captivity, the route of retreat was totally cut off to the south by the forces of the powerful Babylonian Empire. So it is perfectly natural that the Israelites, at the end of their captivity, turned towards the North, to be near their ancient colonies.
In spite of his brilliant successes and the immense riches that he had accumulated, Solomon imposed a rude servitude on the people. At his death, the Israelites demanded of Rehoboam, his son, that he alleviate the heavy judgment imposed by his father. Rehoboam refused them, and the twelve tribes dispersed in two groups. Ten of them united to form a distinct kingdom, I Kings 12:19, under Jeroboam, one of Solomon's servants, while the two others (the tribes of Judah and Benjamin) remained faithful to King Rehoboam.
Israel Turns to Idolatry
Jeroboam, striving to keep the two kingdoms separate, followed the pagan example of the Egyptians, and instituted the cult of the calves. This pagan holiday would replace the Holy Days of the Eternal. "Jeroboam established sacrifices for the high places, for the groves, and for the idols he had made," II Chronicles 11:15. The Levites who were found throughout Israel quit their dwellings to join Judah, II Chronicles 11:13-14. Israel had turned to paganism. There were, in the tribes of the North, nineteen kings who then succeeded to the throne; each of them committed himself to the worship of the golden calves! Some also worshipped Baal, the god of the sun. Israel had become pagan. So for this reason the ten tribes, once liberated, were easily lost in the world as they already followed its ways, that is, its pagan customs! It is thus that Israel lost the sign that identified it as the people of the Eternal (Ezekiel 20:12). The dynasty of Jeroboam was set up with his son and followed by a series of evil kings, whose sole preoccupations seemed to be idolatry and war — notably the war against Judah, and against Syria.
The Dynasty of Omri
It was not until the dynasty of Omri, 50 years later (around the year 920 B.C.), that Israel recovered a little of her former prosperity. Omri moved his capital to Samaria, a city which was centrally located and more easily defended. Omri's reputation was so great among the neighboring peoples that even today, we find his name on several historical documents, notably on "the stone of the Moabites" as well as on some Assyrian inscriptions. After the death of Omri, for some years, the Assyrians still called Israel by the name of "Bit Khumri," meaning "the house of Omri." This also explains why the fact that a number of Israelites who appeared later, in Europe, were under the general name "Kymri" or "Cimmerians." As for Omri, in spite of the success he carried off on his neighbors, his conduct, in the eyes of the eternal, was worse than that of all the monarchs who had ruled before him! (I Kings 16:25).
Ahab, son of Omri, acted even worse than his father had! Not only did he worship the golden calf, but he took for a wife a Phoenician princess, Jezebel, and served the pagan gods, especially Baal the sun god (I Kings 16:31). More, he made an idol to Ashtaroth, the Phoenician goddess of the sky, from which name the English have derived the term "Easter." It's no wonder Ahab had so irritated the Eternal! To the list of all the abominations he had committed, even could be added "human sacrifices"! We will see later that the Druids, priests to the Gauls, practiced in turn this cult based on "human sacrifices." And so on, the list of abominations continues without lapse. After the death of Ahab, his son Ahaziah associated himself with the King of Judah and strove to rebuild the ships of Solomon, but this was a lost cause. The damages (II Chronicles 20:37) caused by a storm were such that it was impossible to repair them. During the reign of Joram, second son of Ahab, one of the captains of the army, named Jehu, set himself against the house of Ahab and killed all those of that house who remained. He also exterminated Baal from the midst of Israel (II Kings 10:18-28), but even he did not abandon the golden calves which were at Bethel and Dan. Thus "the anger of the Eternal was kindled against Israel, and He delivered them into the hand of Hazael, King of Syria, and into the hand of Ben-Hadad, son of Hazael, all the time these kings lived" (II Kings 13:3). It wasn't until during the reign of Jeroboam II (822-781 B.C.) that there was a momentary restoration of Israel. However, the reign of Jeroboam, followed by that of Zechariah, the last of the dynasty of Jehu, also marked the "beginning of the end" for Israel. Wars multiplied; anarchy had become almost total. It is through this state of affairs that Israel had finally been taken into captivity. Assyria abandoned itself to pillage! During his reign, King Menahem succeeded in safeguarding some small portion of the independence of Israel, by buying the alliance of the king of Assyria. But when his successor, king Pekah allied with Syria, attacked Judah, the latter asked help from the king of Assyria. From then on they were beaten. The Assyrians were glad to help, since the enemy pillaged as well. They would conquer at the same time Israel and Syria, and would take their inhabitants into captivity. It is important to notice here that, among the captives were not only the inhabitants of Galilee but also those of Gilead (II Kings 15:29), about which we will speak later in this article.
Israel is Taken into Captivity
Hoshea, the last king of Israel, did reign nine years, but he also was subject to Tiglath-Pileser, king of Assyria, and paid him a tribute. This situation ended when the king of Assyria discovered a "conspiracy" by Hoshea, who had sent messengers to Egypt. This dealt a mortal blow to Israel. The king of Assyria scoured the entire country and took Israel into captivity. He sent them "to Halah, and on the Habor, river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes (Persia)" (II Kings 17:6). According to their custom, the Assyrians did deport at the same time other peoples and established them in the cities of Samaria, in place of the children of Israel (Halley's Handbook, p. 164). So doing, they hoped to speed up the denationalization of their prisoners. After this conquest, the Assyrian Empire continued to be powerful for a hundred years, before being destroyed in turn by the Babylonians and the Medes. Always we must remember that, due to the gradual and continuous weakening of the Assyrian Empire — this Empire that had so much under its grasp — a part of the Israelites, as history records, liberated themselves from under the yoke of their conquerors several years before the definite destruction of the Assyrian Empire.