Tea-Tephi or Scota?

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Tea-Tephi or Scota?

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Moreover, these appellations, meaning what they did in Hebrew, could possibly have been applied to a Hebrew princess accompanying Jeremiah even if they were not her actual names—stories about her, then, may have confused her with other women. Also in favor is that if the other names mentioned were aligned with Jeremiah, she would fall into place as well.

And there is another possible explanation regarding her identity. One of the primary Irish chronicles, The Annals of the Kings of Ireland by the Four Masters, mentions "Tea, daughter of Lughaidh, son of Itha, whom Eremhon married in Spain" (1636, Vol. 1, p. 31). At first glance, this would seem to rule out her being the daughter of Zedekiah. However, Lughaidh may not refer to an actual person. The Irish are referred to as the "race of Lughaidh" and Ireland as "the land of Lughaidh"—"one of the many arbitrary bardic names for Ireland" (Annals of the Four Masters, Vol. 6, appendix).

Lughaidh in old Gaelic could mean "House of God"—broken down as Logh, "God," and aidhe, "house, habitation, fortress" (Edward O’Reilly, An Irish-English Dictionary, 1821, 1864). "House of God" (Hebrew Beth-El) may have been a designation for David’s dynasty or even for the "large, rough stone" reportedly brought by Jeremiah (see Appendix 7: "The Stone of Destiny"). The word Lughaidh may also come from lugha or lughadh, meaning "oath"—apparently because it invokes God (O’Reilly, note by editor John O’Donovan, p. 671; N. MacLeod and D. Dewar, A Dictionary of the Gaelic Language, 1831, 1909)—and could be related to God’s oath to David.

The name Itha or Ith may mean "crown," as does the related Welsh yd (O’Reilly). Ith, coming from Spain, is said to be the son of Breoghan in some accounts, but this may simply be because the Milesian line of kings came to Ireland from Brigantium (modern Corunna near Santiago de Compostella) on the northwest coast of Spain. Indeed, Tea is in at least one old poem called Temor of Bregia. Brega or Breagh, it should be noted, was the immediate territory of Tara in ancient Ireland, named after the Celtic tribe known as the Brigantes (or vice versa). The Brigantes were located in southeast Ireland by the Roman geographer Ptolemy around 150 A.D. He also mentioned them as being one of the Celtic tribes in Britain at that time, as other sources also attest (see www.roman-britain.org/tribes/brigantes.htm). Some now believe that they derived their name from the Celtic goddess Brigid. Indeed, it could be that she is simply a later deification of Tea, combined with features of other pagan goddesses. According to some scholars, the name Brigid "comes from the Old Irish brigante, meaning ‘the exalted one’" (In Search of Ancient Ireland, Program 2: "Saints," PBS Home Video, 2002). This title could conceivably correspond to the modern "highness" for a royal personage. In any event, it is certainly possible that the name Brigantes or Brega originally came from Brigantium in northwest Spain—all perhaps relating to a royal title.

Thus, "Tea, daughter of Lughaidh, son of Itha, son of Breoghan" could conceivably be read as "Tea, daughter of the House of God [or oath], child of the crown, child of Brigantium [or child of royalty]." This would well describe a Jewish princess of David’s line who came to Ireland by way of the Iberian Peninsula.

On the other hand, it may be that Lughaidh and Ith were actual people and that this Tea was not Zedekiah’s daughter. Perhaps, instead, Lughaidh was synonymous with the earlier mentioned Gathelus who supposedly married a "pharaoh’s daughter" named Scota in the Irish and Scottish histories. She may well have been Zedekiah’s daughter, as some contend. Gathelus and Scota, in certain accounts, never made it to Ireland. And in this scenario, Tea-Tephi, their daughter, would have been the granddaughter of Zedekiah. If so, this would still have fulfilled God’s promise that David would have a descendant ruling in "all generations"—as long as the overturn of the throne from Judah to Ireland was accomplished before the generation alive at Jerusalem’s fall passed away.

However, there are problems with the above explanation, chief of which is that Gathelus and Scota’s son, one of several sons, is said to have become king—not their daughter (incidentally this too still fits with God’s promise to David). Yet most of their sons are reported to have died—leaving the youngest, Heremon, to rule. But perhaps Heremon was actually not their son. It could be that he was their son-in-law, married to their daughter Tea-Tephi.

Then again, it could just as well be that this is all wrong, that there was no intervening generation in the transfer of the throne to Ireland, and that Tea-Tephi was the same as Scota. Others believe Scota was the sister of Tea (as Jeremiah escorted the king’s "daughters"—plural). And still others argue that Gathelus and Scota can’t be linked with Zedekiah in any fashion since they supposedly long predated Zedekiah and Jeremiah (see Appendix 8: "Gathelus, Scota and the Exodus").