The number twelve figures prominently in the history of both Israel and the early Celto-Saxon peoples. In the Bible we read that God’s people were organized into a twelve-tribe confederation. The Apostle Paul says in Acts 26:6-7, “And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers: Unto which promise our twelve tribes, instantly serving God day and night, hope to come.” In the Greek New Testament, St. Paul used the word, dodekaphulon, meaning twelve tribes.
We read of the importance of the number twelve in the book, “Number in Scripture,” by E.W. Bullinger, published in 1894 and reprinted often since that time. He says, “Twelve is a perfect number, signifying perfection in government, or of governmental perfection. It is found as a multiple in all that has to do with rule. The sun which “rules” the day, and the moon and stars which “govern” the night, do so by their passage through the twelve signs of the Zodiac which completes the great circle of the heavens of 360 (12×30) degrees or divisions, and thus govern the year.”
There were 12 patriarchs from Seth to Noah and his family, and twelve from Shem to Jacob. There were 12 tribes of Israel. The Temple of Solomon featured the number 12 in its construction. There were 12 judges of Israel given in the Bible. Twelve men were anointed in the Old Testament: Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, Ithamar, Saul, David, Absalom, Solomon, Jehu, Joash, and Jehoahaz (Exo. 29:7, 9; 1 Sam. 10:1; 16:13; 19:10; 1 Ki. 1:39; 2 Ki. 9:6; 11:12; 23:30).
Twelve is also prominent in the New Testament. There were 12 Apostles, 12 foundations in New Jerusalem with 12 gates, 12 pearls, and 12 angels. New Jerusalem will be 12,000 furlongs square, and the wall 144 (12×12) cubits. (Rev. 21:16-17) Christ was 12 years of age when he began teaching (Luke 2:42), and there are 12 legions of angels (Matt. 26:53).
The Hebraic principles that are widely seen in early Celto-Saxon government, law, and culture is a little-known subject today, but revealed at length by Sir Francis Palgrave (1788-1861), a respected English archivist and historian. He served as chief executive of the Public Record Office from its foundation in 1838 until his death and was knighted for his published research. In his book, “The Rise and Progress of the English Commonwealth” vol. 1, part 1, published in 1832, he reveals a great number of distinct Hebraic links.
Teutonic courts were held every full moon and new moon. (p.86) “They counted by nights, not by days, because it seemed to them that darkness was the mother of the dawn.” (p.86)
Anglo-Saxon laws were divided into three: laws, statutes, and judgments, as in ancient Israel: Lev. 26:46. (p.43) King Alfred’s laws were based on the Bible. (p.46-47, 58)
12 chief thanes or elected judges were appointed for life or good behavior. The full number of 12 was always required. (p.89-90) In Danmonia (Dan’s mines, modern Cornwall) there were 12 Lahmen. (p.100) There was a Duodenary division into 12 Leets or tribes. (p.97) The Gothic legal hundred was actually 6 score or 120 (12×10).
The Panionian Synod included 12 cities in Asia Minor by the Ionic league. (p.105) The Tyrrhenian Commonwealth was comprised of 12 governments, and the token of royalty was the battle-ax, as in Jeremiah 51:20. (p.106) The old Saxon Ealdermen was 12 in number. (p.110) The Laugrett of Iceland was composed of 144 (12×12) members. (p.115)
There were 12 parishes, called Vintains. (p.124) A jury or inquest of 24 men, called “the keys,” were sworn from 36 men in the Sheddings. They had jurisdiction to try criminal cases. (p.125) Twelve constables form a grand jury. (p.125)
Clergy complete the legislative assembly with 12 rectors of the 12 parishes representing the church in Guersey. (p.12)
Their government was based on the amphictyonic league of 12 tribes, whose origin dates to the Bible and the Greek Heroic Age. (p.105) By statute there were 12 knights of England and 12 knights of Scotland. (p.121) There were 12 men from every shire in William the Conqueror’s Parliament. (p.120) Among the Visigoths, the leader of a host was called an Adalid; there were 12 Adalids. (p.129) The Seio-Goths executive magistrate was elected by a council called the Naemda, composed of 12 men. (p.130-131)
In the early British Church, bishops were accompanied by 12 men. (p.132) In Norway, 12 peasants were summoned from every Norwegian region to perform homage at the accession of the Danish king. (p.133)
As in early ancient Israel, judgment was at first reserved to the king; this was considered oppressive without being effectual. It was replaced later with six circuits of 3 judges. (p.295)
Sir Francis says, “According to the Northmen, the establishment of Duodenary courts [based on the number 12] was coeval with their race. Beyond the Tanais, as we are told by Snorro [the early Norse historian], is the land, which men called Asaheim, or Asaland, and the chief city thereof is named Asgard. Odin was the ruler thereof, and it was a place of sacrifice and burnt-offering. And it was the law of Asgard, that the Twelve Priests of the Palace should be the mightiest over all. They ruled over the sacrifices, and gave judgment between man and man; they were called Diar, Priest; or Drottnar, Lords; and to them did the people owe all honour.” (p.134)
A Decanus was, he says, “a captain of Ten, the Teutonic armies being organized like the House of Israel and the Roman Legion. The division is so obvious, that there is little difficulty in assuming its existence in the Fyrd or military levies of the Anglo-Saxons.” (p.199)
The testimony of two witnesses was necessary to prove guilt. Among the Israelites this was a testimony of Divine Law. Sir Francis Palgrave references Deut. 17:6; 2 Cor. 13:1; 1 Tim. 5:19. (p.235)
Palgrave states, “The whole frame of their [Celto-Saxon] government bespeaks an earlier origin.” (p.126) He adds, “…it will appear much more agreeable to the laws of probability, that a custom uniformly observed amongst so many distinct nations, resulted from a common prototype, wherever that prototype may be found…after these Tribes and Nations were scattered so widely.” (p.136)
Indeed, the ten tribes of the House of Israel were scattered widely across Europe and into the British Isles, and the Israelite customs they uniformly displayed, by the laws of probability, identify them as that biblical people.
We have focused here on only one aspect of Celto-Saxon identity with ancient Israel. There is so much more evidence to cover in other articles on this fascinating subject.