Dinner Topics for Columbus Day
Christopher Columbus—the History Hero who revived Judeo-Christian heritage in America
Columbus and the Connection to house of Israel
Little known is the fact that Columbus may have been a convert from Judaism to Christianity, and that he sought to gather the lost tribes of Israel to the fold of Jesus Christ.
Columbus Day, October 12, has been observed as an official U.S. holiday since 1934. The year 1992, marked the five-hundredth anniversary of Columbus’s first landfall in the New World.
Since then, many of the epic stories that make up our great American history have been purged from the schools. The rising generation is growing to adulthood with little or no knowledge of their rich heritage of liberty and their Judeo-Christian roots. October 12, if observed, no longer has much to do with the far-reaching significance of Columbus’ discovery. Like the birthdays of Washington and Lincoln, Columbus Day is being overshadowed these days by the new state religion: Islam.
Even those who did study some basic history during the 20th century, however, did not have the opportunity to know the epic hero who was Christopher Columbus. Little known is the fact that Columbus may have been a convert from Judaism to Christianity, and that he sought to gather the lost tribes of Israel to the fold of Jesus Christ. Following are excerpts from an article by Shirley Heater which documents inspiring facts about this nearly-forgotten hero. Truly this is a story to save in your personal “Treasury of Epic Stories”, to pass on to your children and grandchildren.
Christopher Columbus: Man of Vision and Faith
by Shirley R. Heater
Was the discovery made by accident, or was Columbus led by God? The Book of Mormon says he was led by the Holy Spirit, and now we have confirmation of this in Columbus’s own words, as well as additional new insights. An authentic Columbus manuscript has gone virtually unexamined until recent years. In Columbus’s Book of Prophecies, translated into English in 1991, he provides his own answers about Divine influence in his accomplishments.
Christopher Columbus, as he is known to English speakers, was born Christopher Colombo in the seaport of Genoa, Italy, in 1451.
His sailing career began when he was about 13 or 14 years old. He became a skilled seaman and navigator on merchant ships which traveled the Mediterranean Sea. In 1476, he joined his brother Bartholomew in the Portugal city of Lisbon, where they worked together on map-making. His Portuguese name was Cristovao Colom.
During his eight years in Lisbon, Columbus expanded his sailing experience into the Atlantic Ocean. He married, became the father of a son, Diego, and shortly thereafter was widowed. It was also during this period that his “vision” of sailing to new lands and saving lost souls germinated. He sought backing for his proposed venture from King John II of Portugal who turned him down.
Undaunted, he went to the port city of Palos de la Frontera in Spain, taking his young son with him. They were befriended by the friars of the monastery at La Rabida and then at Las Cuevas in Seville, who embraced and encouraged his ideas. His name took on the Spanish form, Cristobal Colon.
The magnitude of his intended enterprise soon opened the doors to Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand. Their interest did not wane even though other matters kept them from following through with their approval for seven years.
During that prolonged period, he made his home in Cordoba (Cordova) where he met a young woman who became the mother of his second son, Ferdinand. [Note: He is still known throughout the Spanish-speaking world as Cristobal Colon Christopher Columbus, the English form, comes to us by way of the early colonists. Whatever the version of his name–Cristoforo, Cristovao, Cristobal or Christopher–the meaning is the same: “Christ bearer” (Sale 1990: 254n)].
Isaiah and the Isles of the Sea
Columbus and Nephi [from the Book of Mormon] had special regard for Isaiah, the Old Testament prophet most often quoted or referred to in both Columbus’s Book of Prophecies and the Book of Mormon. More intriguing is the fact that Nephi and Columbus selected the same portions of Isaiah and that each saw himself fulfilling those prophecies.
The Book of Mormon identifies the seed of Lehi as a remnant, a branch broken off which will be restored to the knowledge of their covenant and their Redeemer (e.g., 1 Nephi 4:15-17). Nephi and his brother, Jacob, are the only Book of Mormon writers who crossed the ocean, and they uniquely view their promised land as an island. Nephi, who delighted in the words of Isaiah (2 Nephi 11:8), “likened” them to his people (2 Nephi 8:3) in their literal fulfillment.
When Columbus was led to the “isles of the sea,” the door was opened to the lands occupied by the remnant of the Book of Mormon people. This set events in motion for the eventual restoration of the knowledge of the covenants.
Lost Tribes and Other Sheep
Through Columbus’s writings, it is obvious that he fully expected to find the lost tribes of Israel (Wiesenthal 1973:61). He saw himself as “Christ-bearer” (the meaning of his name Christopher), God’s messenger to bring a knowledge of the Savior to the lost tribes
Particularly noteworthy is Columbus’s inclusion of John 10:16 in his Book of Prophecies: “I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen [fold], and I must bring them also; they will hear my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd” (Brigham 1991:264-265). It is with great foresight that he believed that the “flock” would not just be “Israel after the flesh” but that a “spiritual Israel” would be formed of all who would come to Christ (208-209).
When Jesus visited Lehi’s descendants, he told them that they were the other sheep of which he had spoken and that he had still other sheep (3 Nephi 7:20, 24-26). He also told them that those Gentiles who repented would also be numbered among his people (v. 37). There are specific promises in the Book of Mormon to restore the Lamanites to “the knowledge of their Redeemer, … and be numbered among his sheep” which are yet to be fulfilled (Helaman 5:104). This restoration was set in motion when Columbus was led to the New World, followed by Gentiles who brought the “record of the Jews” 0 Nephi 3:155-161). It will culminate when they receive the Book of Mormon and the two books “grow together” (2 Nephi 2:17-23).
The Jewish Connection
Was Columbus Jewish? There are several proponents of Columbus’s Jewish heritage, with varying viewpoints. Some believe “What there is abundant circumstantial evidence that Columbus was of a Jewish background, at least on one side of the family” (Fuson 1987:16).
The description of Columbus in the Book of Mormon as “a man among the Gentiles” could be interpreted either as a Jew or a Gentile (1 Nephi 3:145).
Columbus is seen either as a converso, a converted Jew (Madariaga 1949:54-65,119-135), or a marrano, a professing Christian who was still a secretly-practicing Jew (Wiesenthal 1973:124-133). Whether or not he was of Jewish ancestry is an interesting proposition. Columbus’s writings are abundantly interwoven with professions of faith and belief in Jesus Christ as his Savior (Brigham 1991:179-181), and he affirms his faith in a letter to the king and queen of Spain (182-183):
Columbus’s mission was permeated with a “Jewish flavor.” Many Jews supported his venture, providing maps, instruments and finances. Many crew members are believed to have been Jewish. In anticipation of finding the lost tribes on his first voyage, Columbus took along a converso, Luis de Torres, an experienced interpreter who “knew how to speak Hebrew, Chaldean, and even some Arabic” (Fusan 1987:100-101).
Upon arrival in the New World, Hebrew was probably spoken in an attempt to communicate with the natives. In the log of his first voyage, Columbus linked the beginning of his voyage to America (early morning of August 3rd) and the expulsion of all professing Jews from Spain (effective at midnight of August 2nd) (Fusan 1987:52). The Jewish people were hopeful of finding a new place of refuge (Wiesenthal 1973:88). The New World was to become a haven for Jews and a new promised land. In fact, the first refugees came in the late fifteenth century; many were marranos (Sachar 1992:10).
Columbus also desired to free Jerusalem from the Muslims and restore the Holy Land to the Church. This could only be financed by discovering new lands and gathering enough gold, silver and precious stones (Fusan 1987:34). However, he knew that his desire to bring freedom to the people of the Old Testament could ultimately come only through their conversion to Jesus Christ.