The Book of Prophecies (in Spanish, El Libro de las Profecías) is a compilation of apocalyptical religious revelations written by Christopher Columbus towards the end of his life, probably with the assistance of his friend, the Carthusian monk Gaspar Gorricio. It was written between September 1501 and March 1502, with additions until about 1505.
The BOOK OF PROPHECIES
Edited by Christopher Columbus
Excerpted with English Translation
At a very early age I began to sail upon the ocean. For more than forty years, I have sailed everywhere that people go. I prayed to the most merciful Lord about my heart’s great desire, and He gave me the spirit and the intelligence for the task: seafaring, astronomy, geometry, arithmetic, skill in drafting spherical maps and placing correctly the cities, rivers, mountains and ports. I also studied cosmology, history, chronology and philosophy.
It was the Lord who put into my mind (I could feel His hand upon me) the fact that it would be possible to sail from here to the Indies. All who heard of my project rejected it with laughter, ridiculing me. There is no questions that the inspiration was from the Holy Spirit, because he comforted me with rays of marvelous illumination from the Holy Scriptures, a strong and clear testimony from the 44 books of the Old Testament, from the four Gospels, and from the 23 Epistles of the blessed Apostles, encouraging me continually to press forward; and without ceasing for a moment they now encourage me to make haste.
Our Lord Jesus desired to perform a very obvious miracle in the voyage to the Indies, to comfort me and the who people of God. I spent seven years in the royal court, discussing the matter with many persons of great reputation and wisdom in all the arts; and in the end they concluded that it was all foolishness, so they gave it up. But since things generally came to pass that were predicted by our Savior Jesus Christ, we should also believe that this particular prophecy will come to pass. In support of this, I offer the gospel text, Matthew 24:35, in which Jesus said that all things would pass away, but not His marvelous Word. He also affirmed that it was necessary that all things be fulfilled that were prophesied by Himself and by the prophets.
I said that I would state my reasons. I hold alone to the sacred and Holy Scriptures, and to the interpretations of prophecy given by certain devout persons.
It is possible that those who see this book will accuse me of being unlearned in literature, of being a layman and a sailor. I reply with the words of Matthew 11:25: “Lord, because thou has hid these things from the wise the prudent, and hath revealed them unto babes.”
The Holy Scripture testifies in the Old Testament by our Redeemer Jesus Christ, that the world must come to an end. The signs of when this must happen are given by Matthew, Mark and Luke. The prophets also predicted many things about it.
Our Redeemer Jesus Christ said that before the end of the world, all things must come to pass that had been written by the prophets.
The prophets wrote in various ways. Isaiah is the one most praised by Jerome, Augustine and by the other theologians. They all say that Isaiah was not only a prophet, but an evangelist as well. Isaiah goes into great detail in describing future events and in calling all people to our holy faith.
Most of the prophecies of Holy Scripture have been fulfilled already… I am a most unworthy sinner, but I have cried out to the Lord for grace and mercy, and they have covered me completely. I have found the sweetest consolations since I made it my whole purpose to enjoy His marvelous presence.
For the execution of the journey to the Indies I did not make use of intelligence, mathematics or maps. It is simply the fulfillment of what Isaiah had prophesied. All this is what I desire to write down for you in this book.
No one should fear to undertake any task in the name of our Savior, if it is according to His sovereign will even though He gives advice. He lacks nothing that it is in the power of men to give Him. Oh what a gracious Lord, who desires that people should perform for Him those things for which He holds Himself responsible! Day and night moment by moment, everyone should express to Him their most devoted gratitude.
I said that some of the prophecies remained yet to be fulfilled. These are great and wonderful things for the earth, and the signs are that the Lord is hastening the end. The fact that the gospel must still be preached to so many lands in such a short time – this is what convinces me.
Psalm 122: 1,2
I rejoiced with those who said to me,
“Let us go to the house of the LORD.”
Our feet are standing
in your gates, O Jerusalem.
Psalm 126: 1,2
When the LORD brought back the captives to Zion,
we were like men who dreamed.
Our mouths were filled with laughter,
our tongues with song of joy.
Then it was said among the nations,
“The LORD has done great things for them.”
Psalm 128: 1,5,6
Blessed are all who fear the LORD,
who walk in His ways.
May the LORD bless you from Zion
all the days of your life;
may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem,
and may you live to see your children’s children,
Peace be upon Israel.
Psalm 129: 4,5
But the LORD is righteous;
he has cut me free from the cords of the wicked.
May all who the Zion
be turned back in shame.
Psalm 132: 1,6,7,12,13
O LORD, remember David
and all the hardships he endured.
We heard it in Ephrathah,
we came upon it in the field of Jaar:
Let us go to His dwelling place;
let us worship at His footstool.
Then their sons will sit
on your throne for ever and ever.
For the LORD has chosen Zion,
he has desired it for his dwelling.
Psalm 134: 1-3
Praise the LORD, all you servants of the LORD
who minister by night in the house of the LORD.
Lift up your hands in the sanctuary
and praise the LORD.
May the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth,
bless you from Zion.
Psalm 135: 1,2,21
Praise the name of the LORD;
Praise him, you servants of the LORD,
you who minister in the house of the LORD,
in the courts of the house of our God.
Praise be to the LORD from Zion,
to him who dwells in Jerusalem.
Extol the LORD, O Jerusalem;
praise your God, O Zion.
Solomon’s Prayer: Ecclesiasticus 36:14-19
Take pity, Lord, on the people called by your name, on Israel whom you made as your first- born. Have mercy on your holy city of Jerusalem, your dwelling place. Fill Zion with your indescribable excellence and your people with your glory. Uphold those whom you created first and fulfill what has been prophesied in your name. Give those who wait for you their reward and let your prophets be proved true. Hear, Lord, the prayer of your servants, according to Aaron’s blessing on your people; and lead us in the path of righteousness, so that all the inhabitants of the earth may know that you, Lord, are the everlasting God.
Rabbi Samuel Nicholas of Lyra, a Messianic Jew
It is an epistle or letter, translated from Arabic to Castilian, which Rabbi Samuel of Israel, a native of the city of Fez, sent to the master Isaac, rabbi of the synagogue of Morocco, both of whom were afterwards good and faithful Christians.
My dear master: As we know between ourselves and in my private reading that we are the sons of the patriarch Jacob, I have great fear that, in regard to ourselves, what was prophesied by the mouth of Isaiah in chapter 30 will be fulfilled: “O Israel, the Lord will put you to death and will call his servants by another name.” (see Isaiah 65:15). I fear, sir, that those servants are the Gentiles, to whom that name much be given according to what Moses says: “The Gentiles will be at the head and the unbelieving people at the tail,” (see Deuteronomy 28: 13,44b) as has been our lot now for more than a thousand years. Even Jeremiah says of the Gentiles in chapter 6: “The earth will be full of the knowledge of God as the waters cover the sea.” (see Isaiah 11:9b) And thus says Solomon of them in his prayer in Book 3 of Kings in chapter 48. (I Kings 8:41- 43). “Lord God, when the foreigner comes from a distant land to your holy house and there calls upon your holy name very blessed, you will hear him, my Lord, because all things will learn to fear your name as well as your people Israel.” For, my dear Sir, what do we boast about and why do we despise the Gentiles, since Solomon makes them participants in the reverence of the Lord and his holy house? And perhaps the Lord excluded us from that, his holy house, just as he told us. And even Moses says of these Gentiles in Book 4 of the Law: “This is what the Lord says: the whole earth will be full of the glory of the Lord.” (Numbers 14:21) And David says of them in Psalm 21: “All the ends of the earth will come before you and turn to the Lord.” (Psalm 22:27). Isaiah aid that same thing in chapter 55: “O holy house, your light came and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. The peoples will come to your light. (Isaiah 60: 1,3). My dear Sir, who are those that came to the house of the Lord, if not foreigners who were ignorant of the Lord, worshiping idols? And not only the peoples, yet even their rulers who, according to Isaiah’s prophecy, would come to the light of the holy house; and we have wandered away from it now for more than a thousand years. Indeed this same Isaiah says something else in chapter 65: “Look, you will summon the people you know not, and the nations that did not know you will come to you; (see Isaiah 55:5) just as in actual fact it appears, now that more than a thousand years have passed since the Messiah was sent, according to the Law, and they came, and he gave them a new Law, pure and holy; and for that reason Isaiah says in chapter 42: “he people came together along with their rulers and they assembled in the house of the Lord. (see Isaiah 2: 2,3). Our translation does not render this passage in this way. And yet, my dear Sir, I fear what was said to those peoples is read in this same chapter which says: “Assemble yourselves and come, all you Gentiles who were saved by God.” And again Isaiah says of them in chapter 64: “Those who asked for me sought me, and those who sought me found me.” And Jeremiah says more in chapter 3: “All the peoples will gather in the name of the Lord in the holy house and they will no longer walk in the wickedness of their hearts. (Jeremiah 3:17). And Jeremiah says more in chapter 16: “O Yahweh, my Lord and my God, to you the peoples will come from the remotest ends of the earth and say: ‘Our fathers inherited nothing but lies and wickedness!” (Jeremiah 16:19). And even the prophet Zephaniah says of those same Gentiles in chapter 3: “It is ordained that the peoples shall speak in the name of the Lord and serve him shoulder to shoulder – all mankind everywhere and all the islands of the earth. (see Zephaniah 3:9). The prophet Zechariah said this same thing in chapter 2: “Rejoice, house of Zion, for will come to you and will live among you. In that day many nations will be joined to the Lord and will become his people.” (Zechariah 2: 10,11).
In the same way this prophet says in chapter 8: “This is what the Lord Almighty says: Many peoples will come from many places, and a man will say to his neighbor, ‘Let us certainly go and seek out the Lord.’ ” (Zechariah 8: 20, 21). And, my dear Sir, these prophecies have been fulfilled and are being fulfilled today before your eyes. Because, Sir, you clearly see how all peoples of all languages read the books of the Law and the Prophets and the Psalms, and now have rejected the idols, in which none of them believes because of the teaching of Moses and Aaron; and they have believed in that righteous One, of whom the prophet Habakkuk spoke in chapter 3: “You came out, Lord, to save your people with your Messiah (Anointed One).” (Habakkuk 3:13).
I fear, my dear Sir, that the Sovereign God comforted and gave life to these peoples because of their faith, and he put us to death with incredulity and hardness, according to what was spoken by the mouth of Isaiah in chapter 65 where it says thus: “This is what the Lord says: Because I called you and you did not answer me, the ones who are my servants will drink and you will perish from thirst; my servants will rejoice with gladness of heart and you will be confounded in bitterness of your hearts. God will put you to death, O Israel, and will call his servants by another name. (Isaiah 65: 12-15). By which name that God, who is blessed throughout the earth, will bless. Amen. And now for more than a thousand years, we have seen the salvation of this blessed name of God over the face of the earth and seen that he scattered us in captivity throughout the whole world and its four parts. And clearly the face of God’s wrath has been shown to us, not for punishment, but for destruction. And that is the curse with which God threatened that he would put us to death. And God calls these peoples, the Gentiles, his servants, and they have already received what God promised in the Law before the death of our first name, according to the order of the words spoken by Isaiah. And the famine and thirst that we suffer is not a famine of bread; it is famine of prayers, which is the drought of our souls, and a famine of hearing the Word of God, according to what the prophet Amos said in chapter 6. (Amos 8:11). And you, my dear Sir, have known this thing for a longer time and more clearly than I.
I fear, my dear master, that those peoples have had a thousand years of life after Israel was put to death. Those peoples had nothing good before they believed in God and in his Christ (Anointed One). And they caused us to be like those creatures who have no leader, spoken of by Habakkuk, chapter 1. (Habakkuk 1:14). And those peoples, after they were enlightened by faith, have their fasts, feasts and ceremonies of the new Law. And, in addition, all those things which are contained in the old Law, all that have to do with purification. And you see, Sir, how in every language and in every corner and in every place, in the East and in the West, the peoples confess the name of the Lord; and they did not believe in him through Moses, nor through any of the prophets, as one should wish them to be students in the Law and in the books of the prophets. But God called them by means of the disciples of the righteous One, who came out with God for their salvation, according to what God says through the mouth of the prophet Habakkuk, chapter 3 (Habakkuk 3:13). Those disciples of that righteous One were our sons and of the sons of Israel, who by another name are called apostles. And I very much suspect, Sir, that they are those of whom God says by the mouth of David in Psalm 18: “Their voice goes out into all the earth, and their words were spread to the remotest ends of the world.” (Psalm 19:4). And because the prophet shows that he spoke of the latter and not of us, he therefore says before: “There is no language nor speech where their voice is not heard.” (Psalm 19:3). However, this cannot have its fulfillment in our Hebrew language; because none of the peoples obeyed our preachers, Moses, Aaron, and the others, before they killed and rejected them. Yet, the peoples today know Moses and the prophets, and they know God and live by a new Law according to the teaching of the apostles.
I Chronicles 28: 1,2,6,7,9
David summoned all the officials of Israel. “I had it in my heart to build a house as a place of rest for the ark of the covenant of the LORD. The Lord said to me: ‘Solomon your son is the one who will build my house and my courts, for I have chosen him to be my son, and I will be his father. I will establish his kingdom forever if he is unswerving in carrying out my commands and laws, as is being done at this time.’ If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will reject you forever.”
“I say to you that they will come from the east and the west and will sit down at the feast with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.”
Gloss (Nicholas of Lyra): Because a great many of the Gentiles existent in the different parts of the world were converted to the faith through the preaching of the apostles.
Matthew 2: 1,2
“Behold, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, ‘Where is the one who has been born King of the Jews? Because we have seen His star in the east and come to worship Him.’ ” Gloss (Nicholas of Lyra): This prefigures that the faith of Christ would be received devoutly by the Gentiles, because the Magi, who were Gentiles, earnestly sought Christ Himself and, after finding Him, worshiped Him. For that very reason it is sung in the hymn: “So the Magi from the east where the sun rises and as the first fruits of humanity, by the direction of the star, were the first to offer presents.
Christopher Columbus’ Prayer
O God, who without ostentatious clamor or effort teaches the heart of humankind and who makes stammering tongues eloquent and who is ever ready to come near at the opportune time, please consider the thoughts of our minds and be favorably inclined toward our desires. For we, inasmuch as we are limited in human knowledge, have indeed fathomed your power, because, O Lord, blessed is the one you teach and to whom you make known your law. We beseech you, O Lord, to enlighten our minds concerning what has been written about you and about your Holy Place – instructions, books, and prophecies – under the inspiration of the Spirit. Amen.