Dating the Milesian Arrival in Ireland
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In the transfer of the Davidic throne from Judah to Ireland, a princess of the house of David married a man of Milesian royal lineage who either was or soon became the king of Ireland—or whose child with the Davidic princess sat on the Irish throne. We can be confident that this marriage took place at the time of the prophet Jeremiah, who—sometimes identified with the ancient Irish historical figure Ollam Fodhla—evidently supervised the transplanting of the monarchy.
How can we know this happened in Jeremiah’s day? Certainly by scriptural indications—but also by understanding, from historical clues, approximately what time the Milesians invaded Ireland. For the transfer of the Davidic throne had to have taken place either after Milesian rule over Ireland commenced or shortly before—the latter case meaning that the Milesian takeover of Ireland was actually part of the process of transferring the Davidic throne.
Unfortunately, the dating of the Milesian arrival in Ireland is an area of broad dispute. But there are factors that should help us in forming a reasonable answer. It is shown elsewhere in this publication that the Milesian or Scotic invaders took control of the island nation from the Tuatha de Danaan—a fact generally stipulated.
Further, an Irish source has been quoted placing the first appearance of the Danaans in Ireland around 1200 B.C., shortly after the time of Deborah the prophetess. No doubt colonization continued through the period of the Israel-Phoenician alliance in the days of David and Solomon (ca. 1000 B.C.) and even beyond then.
Some place the Milesian takeover of Ireland in David’s day or before. But there are problems with this idea. Irish historian Geoffrey Keating, in his History of Ireland from the Earliest Period to the English Invasion, says, "The Danaans were a people of great learning and wealth; they left Greece after a battle with the Assyrians and went to Ireland; and also to Danmark, and called it ‘Dan-mares,’ Dan’s country" (Vol. 1, 1866, pp. 195-199). This is most likely referring to the time of Assyria’s invasions of Israel in the 700s B.C.
Now the Danaans’ migration described here was evidently not their first into Ireland. Rather, these went to settle with the numbers of their tribe who already inhabited the Emerald Isle. But this later settlement most likely took place while the Danaans still ruled in Ireland. It seems highly improbable that this influx followed the establishment of the Milesians over the Danaans. Thus the Milesian arrival in Ireland, in all likelihood, postdated Israel’s Assyrian conquest—placing it after the 700s B.C. This would require Ollam Fodhla to have flourished after this time as well. Therefore, the chronologies dating him to between 1100 and 800 B.C. are shown to most likely be in error.
And notice what the Lebor Gabala Erenn, or Book of Invasions of Ireland, says about the Milesian arrival: "The Tuatha de Danaan did not suffer them to come to land there, for they had not held a parley with them . . . They encircled Ireland three times, till Thursday, so far as the day of the week, on the day before the Calendes of May, the 17th day of the moon: Anno Mundi 3500" (compiled ca. 1150, Rescension of Michael O’Cleirigh, 1620s, translated by R.A. Stewart Macalister, 1938, Vol. 1, p. 122). Anno Mundi means "Year of the World," considered from the time of Adam’s creation, which medieval clerics reckoned at shortly before 4000 B.C. Thus, this source puts the Milesian arrival shortly before 500 B.C.
In confirmation of all this is recent historical testimony. Author John Bardon writes in A History of Ulster: "Archaeological enquiry does not show evidence of formidable invasion [because there was no cultural break—the inhabitants and invaders both being Israelites]; rather there was a steady infiltration from Britain and the European mainland over the centuries. The first Celtic speakers [and Celtic, it can be shown, is derived from Hebrew] may have come as early as 1000 B.C. and in greater numbers from about 500 B.C. and, equipped with iron weapons and advancing on horseback, they brought the native peoples under subjugation" (1992, p. 9).
The earlier wave of Hebrew immigrants would be the Danaans, from 1200 to 700 B.C. The later wave would be the Milesians from the mid-500s on. Notice what was happening at this time in the Aegean according to the Encyclopaedia Britannica:
"During the 7th century [600s B.C.], Miletus came into conflict with the neighboring state of Lydia and probably acknowledged Lydian overlordship in the mid-6th century. In the latter part of the sixth century, it came under Persian rule, along with other Greek cities of Anatolia [i.e., Asia Minor or Turkey]. About 499 BC the Milesians led the Ionian revolt that marked the beginning of the Greco-Persian Wars. The city was stormed and sacked by the Persians in 494. After the Persian defeat by the Greeks (479), Miletus joined the Athenian dominated Delian League; but by the mid-5th century it was weakened and impoverished by internal divisions and in 442 was defeated in war by neighboring Samos" ("Miletus," Vol. 8, p. 125).
This turmoil was evidently the impetus behind major westward migration. Will Durant states: "Near the beginning of the sixth century the Phocaeans of Ionia [Phocaea was the northernmost Milesian city of the Ionian Twelve in Asia Minor] landed on the southern shore of France, founded Massalia (Marseilles), and carried Greek products up the Rhone and its branches . . . Westward they ventured into Spain and built the towns of Rhodae (Rosas), Emporium (Ampurias), Hemeroscopium, and Maenaca (near Malaga). The Greeks in Spain flourished for a while by exploiting the silver mines of Tartessus [Tarshish in southern Spain]; but in 535 the Carthaginians [Phoenicians of Northwest Africa] and Etruscans [Italians] combined their forces to destroy the Phocaean [Milesian] fleet, and from that time Greek power in the western Mediterranean waned" (p. 169).
The mid- to late sixth century B.C., then, would seem to be the period that the Milesians were being driven to Spain and beyond Spain into Ireland. This was soon after the fall of Jerusalem (586 B.C.), which means the prophet Jeremiah could conceivably have been among the Milesians when they first arrived in Ireland.
Some place the Milesian arrival in Spain and Ireland nearly 1,000 years earlier—around the time of the Exodus—based upon the stories surrounding the traditional Irish ancestors Gathelus and Scota. However, even besides the obvious mistake of making the Milesian arrival predate that of the Danaan’s, that chronological framework is clearly in error for numerous reasons (see Appendix 8: "Gathelus, Scota and the Exodus").