Answers to Quora Questions
The question was:
Was the god Baal once worshipped in Ireland? If so, how?
Was this the same Baal worshipped in the Middle East?
How did this practice come to be in Ireland?
Would it have included human sacrifice similar to Baal worship in the Middle East?
Baal was the chief god of the pagan Canaanite pantheon. Baal was a sun-god. He had become the chief god of the Northern Israelites before they were exiled:
2-Kings (NASB) 17:
16 They forsook all the commandments of the LORD their God and made for themselves molten images, even two calves, and made an Asherah and worshiped all the host of heaven and served Baal. 17 Then they made their sons and their daughters pass through the fire, and practiced divination and enchantments, and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the LORD, provoking Him. 18 So the LORD was very angry with Israel and removed them from His sight; none was left except the tribe of Judah.
In Ireland the supreme god was known as Beal (meaning baal) or as "Beal Samhan." This name is paralleled by that of the Canaanite-Syrian god "Baal Samim." This name in Hebrew (Baal Shamayim) would mean "Lord of Heaven".
In Britain and Ireland numerous Celtic place-names retain the term "baal" or derivations of it: Baal-y-bai, Beal-Tene, Balhomais, Ballinluig, Balmuick, Balnaguard, etc. In Ireland "baal" place-names are especially numerous.
In Britain place-names associated with baal are usually near stone circles or other megalithic remains.
In Britanny (Celtic France) a priest is called a "belloc" meaning "priest of bel".
Bel was also a name for Israel in the terminology of Greek Mythology where Danaus and Belus represent the Tribe of Dan and the rest of Israel.
This is reflected in Welsh Mythology which gives us the Children of Don and Bile and the Irish tradition giving the Descendants of Bile (Milesians) and the Tuatha de Dana.
Throughout the Celtic sphere of Western and central Europe the god "Bel" was worshipped. "Bel" is an alternate pronunciation (in the Ancient Near East and Mesopotamia) for Baal.
The name "Belenus" is also derived from Bel or Baal:
One of the forms of Baal-worship in Ireland and the British Isles was through the Beltane. The term "Beltane" means "Fire of Bel." The Beltain was practiced until recently and may still be practiced today. The practice was carried out not only in the British Isles but also in Sweden.
At Beltain two "needfires" were lighted between which they drove their cattle for purification and luck. Children and adults would also jump over the fires. There were also pantomine ceremonies in which someone would pretend to be symbolically offered up to the fire. In Ancient Times a real victim would have been sacrificed. This was one of the forms of Moloch worship which the Hebrews were commanded not to do but which they did anyway after adopting the practice from the Canaanites.
"Then they made their sons and their daughters pass through the fire" (2-Kings 17:17).
HEBREW CELTIC NAMESAKES
These practices came to Ireland and the West with Exiled Israelites. After ca. 700 BCE (or later according to Revised Chronologies) Israelites together with Philistines, Phoenician Canaanites, Edomites, and others moved by various paths to Western Europe and settled there. Their descendants are still there. Settlers of Hebrew descent were especially predominant in parts of Ireland and Britain. The so-called "Celts" who settled in the British Isles did not call themselves "Celt" but rather IBERI or "Hiberi." This name is a form of the Hebrew word usually translated as "Hebrew." The term "Hiberni" derives from this source.