The Oak and the Gods of the Druids The oak, for diverse reasons, for instance its fertility and longevity, seems to have played an important part in the religion of the Druids. In the opinion of numerous historians, it even could be said to form an essential part of the religion of the Gauls.
Could there exist a similarity of customs between ancient Israel and the Celtic peoples concerning the oak?
Remember that Israel was punished for turning away from the commandments of the Eternal and for having followed the paganism of other nations. Consequently, the customs and traditions which the Israelites introduced into Europe, as Celtic immigrants, would not be part of their original religion, contained in the Pentateuch.
At the moment the Israelites were taken into captivity, their religion, as we have already indicated, had become a mixture of abominable beliefs, while some vestige of the original beliefs showed up under the outward appearance of paganism.
Let's see then if ancient Israel also practiced cults under the oak, as did the Gauls! As strange as it may seem, the response is affirmative; the Bible gives us ample witness.
It was thus that Joshua took a large stone and set it up under the oak "which was in the place consecrated to the Eternal," Joshua 24:26. It was under the oak of Ophra (Judges 6:11, 19-20), that Gideon received the message of the angel in order to deliver Israel; following that, he offered a sacrifice under the same oak.
It seems that it was the custom, among the Israelites, to sometimes bury the dead under a particular oak, Genesis 35:4, 8; I Chronicles 10:12.
Then again, oaks often marked the emplacement of alters. In this respect, one of the most severe divine accusations against this pagan worship was pronounced against Israel by the mouth of the prophet Ezekiel:
"Then shall ye know that I am the Lord, when their slain men shall be among their idols round about their alters, upon every high hill, in all the tops of the mountains, and under every green tree, and under every thick oak, the place where they did offer sweet savor to all their idols," Ezekiel 6:13.
But just who were these pagan gods who required their worship under certain trees?
The Gaulic Gods In his famous work known as "The Pharsalia," Lucan, the Latin poet born at Corduba in 39 A.D., mentions three great gods who, among the Gauls, made up a triad, or a trinity, forming a unity. The collective symbolism of these three gods was often represented by three pillars of equal height, set up on a common base.
The Gauls called them: Teutates (the principal god of the "commoners"), Tauranus (the celestial bull), and Esus (the god of war to which they offered human sacrifices).
Remember that the Israelites, after turning to paganism, also turned to the cult of bulls and calves. It is thus that Jeroboam placed calves at Bethel, and that the people offered sacrifice on the altar (I Kings 12:28-33). This abominable cult was in practice at the time the Israelites were taken into captivity by the Assyrians. The bull and the calf, among the Israelites who had become pagan, were commonly associated with the celestial elements, as was the case with the Gauls.
As for "Esus," the god of life, etymologists assure us that this name is derived from an Assyrian root, signifying "to be"; note the similarity of the meaning with YHVH, in Hebrew, which is synonymous with the term: "I AM."
At first, in spite of the usage of symbols, the Druidic religion was not made up of graven images of its gods to be worshipped! This strange and remarkable fact contrasts clearly with the customs of the surrounding nations.
"In other words... [there is] not one trace of idolatry, or of cultural evolution in the Celtic religion, thus, their art was radically different from that of ancient Greco-Latin art. Not a single statue of a god existed in Gaul before the Roman Epoch, remarked Camille Jullian" (Les Gaulois, Pernoud, p. 78).
This astounding assertion, made by one of the greatest French historians, is without a doubt very significant. What is more, it is collaborated by other famous and esteemed historians, notably by Courcelles-Seneuil, who writes:
"A sort of rite seems to have precluded it [the representation of their divinities], for it was not because of a lack of craftsmanship that this abstention can be attributed" (Les Dieux Gaulois, Courcelles, p. 61).
Once again, if the historians would only study the Bible, they would find that the religion of no other people (except that of Israel) prohibited adoration of idols!
Baal Among the Two Peoples Who was then the "principal god" of the Gauls, who required them to worship under oaks and with altars built of raised pillars, this three-part god to which they offered human sacrifices?
The world knows his identity. It was the common god of the Chaldeans, the Egyptians, the Phoenicians, and the Greeks (Les Dieux Gaulois, Courcelles, p. 253). The paganized Israelites worshipped it also under more or less varied names, the most well-known of which are Bel or Baal.
Every student of the Bible knows the abominable role that Baal played in Israel. The Eternal God punished the Israelites because they turned to Baal; they offered him incense, made statues of molten metals, built him altars, and sacrificed their children before him.
"They thought to cause My people to forget My name... as their fathers have forgotten my name for Baal" declares the Eternal, Jeremiah 23:27.
This Baal, according to historians, was also the founder of Druidism (Celtic Researches, Davies, p. 190). In other words Baalism was the religion of the Druids. Baal was considered the source of all the gifts of nature; he passed off as the god of feasts of the earth, to whom people offered their firstfruits. He symbolized wisdom and fertility, in association with Ashtaroth.
One has only to compare the abominations committed by the Gauls with those of the Israelites to establish the common denominator between the religion of the two peoples. By the mouths of all of His prophets (Jeremiah 7:9, 19:5, etc.), the Eternal condemns without ceasing these abominations.
It is thus incontestable that the religion of the Druids is identical with that of the Israelites who turned from the Eternal. The two peoples practiced the same pagan religion, the same rites, the same cult!
This truth is one of the most evident proofs established that the Celtic peoples are none other than the scattered tribes of Israel!