The late historian, John Philip Cohane, authored in 1969 an interesting and much ignored book on ancient European history titled, “The Key: A Startling Enquiry into the Riddle of Man’s Past.” He collected evidence to support his belief that the Celtic, Welsh, and Irish peoples had a link with ancient Israel. Predictably his writing was criticized as “pseudo-science” by some establishment scholars, but his work was favorably reviewed by perhaps the leading Semitic language scholar of the late twentieth century, Dr. Cyrus Herzl Gordon, who wrote the book’s forward.
Mr. Cohane also authored “The Indestructible Irish” in 1968 in which he proposed that the Irish peoples were of “Mediterranean origin.” In this book also, he affirmed that the original blood stock in England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales is Semitic.
Cohane wrote, “I had been working for over two years on the material which was finally incorporated into The Key before I discovered I had stepped all unwittingly into a vicious academic battle as to what role the Mediterranean and especially Semitic peoples played in the prehistory and ancient history of Ireland and Britain.” (The Key, p.265) Some leading scholars agreed with his thesis of the Hebrew heritage of Western European peoples, but were forced to remain silent due to the intolerance of critics.
One of the most distinguished Celtic scholars wrote Cohane requesting anonymity, saying, “On the British Isles people do not like the idea that there could be connections…But they exist, and Celtic mythology is full of early Mediterranean elements. I have been told that Morris-Jones’ article (an appendix to The Welsh People by John Rhys and David Brnmor-Jones, first published in the late 1890’s) was very badly received in Wales as well as in Ireland when it appeared. It is never being quoted…” (ibid.)
Mr. Cohane seems to be completely oblivious to the existence of the British-Israel movement and literature, but his studies parallel our own in several areas, especially the Tuatha de Danaan’s link to the Mideast and the biblical tribe of Dan. Indeed, it is well accepted by academics that the word, tuath, means “tribe.” In speaking of the Danaid legends, he states that therein Dan’s father, Ypper, “looks and sounds suspiciously like a corruption of Eber.” (p.255) The name Eber is the source of the word, Hebrew, the sons of Eber. Cohane comments that in 845 A.D. the Vikings conquered Moorish Seville by traveling up the River Guadalquiver, a corruption of “Wadi al-Eber,” River of the Hebrews. (p.252) Another waterway in Spain is the Ebro River. Spain is still known as the Iberian Peninsula, a name that is duplicated far-away in Iberia on the banks of the Caucasus Mountain range. It is clear that these names in seemingly unconnected distant regions are directly related to the migrating Hebrews, some who crossed the Caucasus into Europe in early times, and others who sailed westward across the Mediterranean. Each branch of this people in their travels left their name behind as migratory signposts.
We are also informed that according to legendary history, Dan was the one “from whom, so saith antiquity, the pedigrees of our kings have flowed in glorious series, like channels from some parent spring.” (p.255) From the name, Dan, we obtain Denmark, meaning “Dan’s settlement.” The famed Irish hill of Tara was originally written as “Terah,” the father of Abraham, in the ancient Irish manuscripts. (p.220) The Irish “Chaoi” are connected with the Achaoi Greeks of Homer, and the biblical district of Dedan is linked to the Danaan legends. (p.199) The popular view today is that the Danaan received their name from a minor Irish female deity. Yet this makes little sense since this tribe figures in the early history of several Mediterranean lands that would have little reason to take the name of a little-known Irish deity.
Mr. Cohane commented that a group of “embattled but extremely well-positioned authorities” such as the head of Celtic studies at Queen’s University in Belfast have been documenting a Celtic-Semitic language link. He states, “These authorities, following a course first charted at the turn of the century by the Welsh etymologist John Morris-Jones, claim that both English and Insular Celtic share a common substratum that is closely related to the Hamito-Semitic languages, including the Berber dialects and Egyptian, and to Hebrew. This is not a claim that has been greeted with open arms in either England or Ireland…neither Celtophiles nor Anglophiles have been anxious to acknowledge that any significant common bloodstream exists between the traditional adversaries the Irish and the English, let alone wanting to have anything to do with the Mediterranean or, above all, with the Hebrews.” (p.28)
Evidence from archaeology, however, backs up the theory of an early eastern Mediterranean migration into the British Isles. A large number of Greek and Egyptian faience beads of a composition similar to glass have been found at Stonehenge and Avebury in England showing migratory patterns. A carved hilt dagger found in Britain is identical to those found in graves of ancient Greek Mycenae. The lintel stone technique used at Stonehenge is identical to the famous Postern Gate at Mycenae, and found nowhere else in Europe. (p.29)
Mr. Cohane commented that the word, Viking, was derived from the root “vik” meaning one who came from a bay, fjord, or creek. (p.251) Although establishment historians deny the existence of any ancient Hebrew sea migrations, the Bible records, “why did Dan remain in ships? Asher continued on the sea shore, and abode in his breaches.” (Judges 5:17) The use of the word, breaches, is a somewhat confusing archaic term today, but the Amplified Version clarifies, “why did Dan stay with the ships? Asher sat still on the seacoast and remained by his creeks.” The ancient Septuagint translates, “why does Dan remain in ships? Aser sat down on the sea-coasts, and he will tabernacle at his ports.” The Bible verifies Hebrew migrations by sea from their creeks and ports across the Mediterranean to Western lands.
This knowledge is indeed an answer to the mystery of the outworking of God’s plans and purposes, a veritable key, an explanation and solution to our questions concerning the fulfillment of Biblical prophecies and promises in our world today. Yet this key remains hidden and unusable for the great majority of Christians whose understanding of Scripture is often limited to eternal life and little more.
The unnamed Celtic scholar mentioned earlier summed up the situation well saying, “Nationalism and counter-nationalism play a big part in this game of life, as well as political doctrines. Fortunately there are always people who do not follow the general pattern, and those are the only ones who really search for the truth.” (p.265) Let us not be among those who simply follow the crowd, but hope and pray that more Christians will be among those who are willing to search for the truth!