Hope of Israel Ministries (Ecclesia of YEHOVAH):
The Saga of Ancient Hebrew Explorers
Who Really Discovered America?
Did ancient Hebrews reach the shores of the North and South American continents thousands of years before Christopher Columbus? What evidence is there for Hebrew and Israelite occupation of the Western Hemisphere even a thousand years before the Messiah? Was trans-Atlantic commerce and travel fairly routine in the days of king Solomon of Israel? Read here the intriguing, fascinating saga of the TRUE DISCOVERERS OF AMERICA!
by HOIM Staff
A stone in a dry creek bed in New Mexico, discovered by early settlers in the region, is one of the most amazing archaeological discoveries in the Western Hemisphere. It contains engraved on its flank the entire Ten Commandments written in ancient Hebrew script! Hebrew scholars, such as Cyrus Gordon of Brandeis University near Boston, have vouched for its authenticity. I visited the site of the huge boulder, near Las Lunas, New Mexico, in 1973 and photographed the Hebrew inscriptions. A local newspaper reporter guided me to the mysterious site, located out in the middle of the New Mexico desert. We watched for rattlesnakes, as we hiked in to the spot where the boulder lies, unmoved and in situ for who knows how many mysterious centuries. Who put it there? Who wrote the incredible inscription of the TEN COMMANDMENTS in an ancient Hebrew dialect.
In December, 1989, it was reported that an American explorer in Peru's highland jungles had found evidence that indicated king Solomon's legendary gold mines may have been in that region. The explorer, Gene Savoy, declared that he had found three stone tablets containing the first writing found from the ancient civilizations of the Andes. The inscriptions, he reported, are similar to Phoenician and Hebrew hieroglyphs!
Reports the San Francisco Chronicle: "The hieroglyphs on the tablets are similar to those used in King Solomon's time and include one identical to the symbol that always appeared on the ships he sent to the legendary land of Ophir, which the Bible described as the source of his gold, Savoy said" (December 7, 1989).
Savoy is no newcomer to archaeological discoveries. He was the discoverer of the last Inca city of Vilcabamba in 1964. Savoy declared that the three tablets each weigh several tons and measure about 5 by 10 feet. They were found in a cave near Gran Vilaya, the immense ruins of the Chachapoyas Indian civilization which he discovered in 1985.
Hebrews in the Americas 1,000 B.C.?
In 1973 I visited with Dr. Joseph Mahan in Atlanta, Georgia, an expert in ancient Indian ethnology of the southeastern Indians of the United States. He showed me samples of pottery uncovered from the waters around the Bahamas, and told me of Indian legends, including that of the Yuchis, stating they had migrated to the area of Florida and Georgia from the region of the Bahamas. According to their legends, the island sank beneath the sea and they fled for their lives.
These same Yuchis later migrated to the Oklahoma territory, where they eventually settled down. Amazingly enough, they show strong evidence that they had contact with the Old World in historic times. They have a custom which is unique among the American Indians. They are racially and linguistically different from their neighbors. Every year on the fifteenth day of the sacred month of harvest, in the fall, they make a pilgrimmage. For eight days they live in "booths" with roofs open to the sky, covered with branches and leaves and foliage. During this festival, they dance around the sacred fire, and called upon the name of God.
The ancient Israelites had the virtually identical custom, in many respects. In the harvest season in the fall, on the 15th day of the sacred month of harvest (the seventh month), they celebrate the "festival of booths" for eight days. During this time they lived in temporary booths, covered with branches, leaves, fronds. This festival goes back to the time of Moses and the Exodus from ancient Egypt (Leviticus 23).
How is it that two totally separated peoples observed the identical custom?
Dr. Cyrus Gordon, of Brandeis University in Boston, was privileged to sit in on one of the fall harvest festivals of the Yuchi Indians, and listened to their chants, songs, and sacred ceremonies. An expert in Hebrew, Minoan, and many Middle Eastern languages, he was incredulous. As he listened, he exclaimed to his companion, "They are speaking the Hebrew names for God!"
Dr. Joe Mahan is a strong believer in cultural contacts between the Indians and the East, long before Columbus. He showed me a small tablet containing ancient cuneiform writing of the Babylonians. "This," he said, "was found not long ago by a woman digging in her flower bed, here in Georgia. The inscription appears to be genuine. There is no reason not to believe it is authentic."
More and more, scholars are coming to admit that peoples from the Middle East reached the New World long before Columbus or the Vikings. One stone, found at Fort Benning, Georgia, has unusual markings all over it. I saw the stone myself, and took photographs of it. Professor Stanislav Segert, professor of Semitic languages at the University of Prague, has identified the markings on the stone as a script of the second millennium before the Messiah, from the Minoan civilization on the island of Crete!
In Quest of the White God, Pierre Honore points out similarities between the ancient Minoan writing and the script of the ancient Mayas. Independently of him, other scholars have noted striking similarities between Aztec glyphs from Mexico, and Cretan glyphs on the Phaistos Disc from the island of Crete in the Mediterranean.
In addition to these remarkable discoveries, Dr. Cyrus Gordon told me that Jews were in America in ancient times. The inscription on the stone, he asserts, is in the writing style of Canaan, the promised land of the Hebrews. Concludes Gordon, whom I interviewed at his old, New England style home in the suburbs of Boston: "There is no doubt that these findings, and others, reflect Bronze Age transatlantic communication between the Mediterranean and the New World around the middle of the second millennium B.C."
In 1968 Manfred Metcalf was looking for slabs to build a barbeque pit. Several strange-looking, flat rocks caught his eye; he picked up a large flat piece of sandstone about nine inches long, brushed it off, and noticed odd markings on it. Metcalf gave the stone to Dr. Joseph B. Mahan, Jr., Director of Education and Research at the nearby Columbus Museum of Arts and Crafts at Columbus, Georgia. Mahan sent a copy of the stone to Cyrus Gordon. Gordon reported:
"After studying the inscription, it was apparent to me that the affinities of the script were with the Aegean syllabary, whose two best known forms are Minoan Linear A, and Mycenaean Linear B. The double-axe in the lower left corner is of course reminiscent of Minoan civilization. The single verticle lines remind us of the vertical lines standing each for the numeral '1' in the Aegean syllabary; while the little circles stand for '100.'"
Concluded Gordon: "We therefore have American inscriptional contacts with the Aegean of the Bronze Age, near the south, west and north shores of the Gulf of Mexico. This can hardly be accidental; ancient Aegean writing near three different sectors of the Gulf reflects Bronze Age translatlantic communication between the Mediterranean and the New World around the middle of the second millennium B.C."
Gordon offers the exciting thought, "The Aegean analogues to Mayan writing, to the Aztec glyphs, and to the Metcalf Stone, inspire the hope that the deciphered scripts of the Mediterranean may provide keys for unlocking the forgotten systems of writing in the New World. A generation capable of landing men on the moon, may also be able to place pre-Columbian Americas within the framework of world history" (Manuscripts, summer of 1969).
Further proof that transatlantic travel and communication existed in the Bronze Age, in the middle of the second millennium B.C., during the time of David and Solomon, and before, comes to us from South America.
In 1872 a slave belonging of Joaquim Alves de Costa, found a broken stone tablet in the tropical rain forests of Brazil's Paraiba state. Baffled by the strange markings on the stone, Costa's son, who was a draftsman, made a copy of it and sent it to the Brazilian Emperor's Council of State. The stone came to the attention of Ladislau Netto, director of the national museum. He was convinced of the inscription's autthenticity and made a crude translation of it. Contemporary scholars scoffed. The very thought of Phoenicians reaching Brazil thousands of years before Columbus was viewed with disdain. Few scholars took the stone at all seriously.
In 1966 Dr. Jules Piccus, professor of romance languages at the University of Massachusetts, bought an old scrapbook at a rummage sale containing a letter written by Netto in 1874, which contained his translations of the markings on the stone and a tracing of the original copy he had received from Costa's son. Intrigued, Dr. Piccus brought the material to the attention of Cyrus H. Gordon. Dr. Gordon, the head of the Department of Mediterranean Studies at Brandeis and an expert in ancient Semitic languages, as well as author of some 13 books, was amazed. He compared the Paraiba inscription with the latest work on Phoenician writings. He discovered that it contained nuances and quirks of Phoenician style that could not have been known to a 19th century forger. The writings had to be genuine!
Gordon translated the inscription as follows: "We are Sidonian Canaanites from the city of the Mercantile King. We were cast up on this distant shore, a land of mountains. We sacrificed a youth to the celestial gods and goddesses in the nineteenth year of our mighty King Hiram and embarked from Ezion-geber into the Red Sea. We voyaged with ten ships and were at sea together for two years around Africa. Then we were separated by the hand of Baal and were no longer with our companions. So we have come here, twelve men and three women, into New Shore. Am I, the Admiral, a man who would flee? Nay! May the celestial gods and goddesses favor us well!"
The Navy of King Solomon
Cyrus Gordon believes the king mentioned in the script can be identified as Hiram III who reigned 553-533 B.C. The inscription seems to verify an unusual statement found in the Old Testament. An ancient Biblical chronicler wrote:
"And king Solomon made a navy of ships in Ezion-geber, which is beside Eloth, on the shore of the Red sea, in the land of Edom. And Hiram sent in the navy his servants, shipmen that had knowledge of the sea, with the servants of Solomon. And they came to Ophir, and fetched from thence gold, four hundred and twenty talents, and brought it to king Solomon" (I Kings 9:26-28).
In the days of Solomon there was an alliance between Hiram, the king of Tyre and the Israelites under Solomon. They were not only allies, but very friendly toward one another (II Chronicles 2:2-12). Israelites and Phoenicians even worked together to build the Temple of YEHOVAH God in Jerusalem (vs.13-18). This alliance included shipping together, although the Phoenicians were known to jealously guard the secrets of oceanic navigation from other nations. We read in II Chronicles 8, beginning verse 8:
"Then went Solomon to Ezion-geber, and to Eloth, at the sea side in the land of Edom. And Huram sent him by the hands of his servants ships, and servants that had knowledge of the sea; and they went with the servants of Solomon to Ophir, and took thence four hundred and fifty talents of gold, and brought them to king Solomon" (v. 17-18).
In the heyday of Solomon silver was "not any thing accounted of" (11 Chron. 9:20). We read, "And the king made silver in Jerusalem as stones, and cedar trees made he as the sycomore trees that are in the low plains in abundance" (v. 27). Solomon had his own personal fleets and dominated world trade. "And king Solomon passed all the kings of the earth in riches and wisdom" (v. 22).
There is archaeological evidence, in fact, that the fleets of Solomon and Hiram of Tyre circumnavigated the globe, sailing from Ezion-geber, a port at tne terminus of the Red Sea, near modern Aqaba or Eliat! Hebrew customs, discovered by the early English settlers in the Americas, were found among some of the Indian tribes, including the wearing of phylacteries! Minoan and Phoenician coins have been found, and inscriptions of ancient Phoenician and Minoan scripts, in Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, and the Star of David was even found in an ancient ruin of the Pueblo Indians in New Mexico! In the middle of the second millennium, B.C., and down to the time of Solomon, circa 1000 B.C., oceanic travel by maritime powers in the Middle East seems to have been fairly common.
Amazing Discoveries in Mexico
Were Hebrews in the Americas long before Columbus? More evidence comes from the investigations of Dr. Alexander von Wuthenau, whom I interviewed at his home in Mexico City. His living room was filled to overflowing with terra cotta pottery figures and objects d' art. In his book The Art of Terra Cotta Pottery in Pre-Columbian Central and South America, Dr. Von Wuthenau published scores of photographs of these art objects. He tells of his astonishment, when he first noted that in the earliest, lower levels of each excavation he encountered -- not typical Indian heads -- but heads of Mongolians, Chinese, Japanese, Tartars, Negroes, and "all kinds of white people, especially Semitic Types with and without beards" (p. 49).
At Acapulco, von Wuthenau found that early Semitic peoples lived in considerable numbers. "The curious points about these essentially primitive figures are that, first, there is an emphasis on markedly Semitic-Hebrew features," he declared (p. 86). Female figures found in the region are also markedly Caucasian, with delicate eyebrows, small mouths and opulent coiffures.
Cyrus Gordon, who has studied the collection, points out: "In the private collection of Alexander von Wuthenau is a Mayan head, larger than life-size, portraying a pensive, bearded Semite. The dolichosephalic ("long-headed") type fits the Near East well. He resembles certain European Jews, but he is more like many Yemenite Jews."
Near Tampico, the early Huastecan culture reveals portrait heads with a predominant Semitic, white element, but also Negroid features appear. At Veracruz, meanwhile, a figurine of a female dancer possesses the features just like those of a Frenchwoman of Brittany! She wears a headdress reminiscent of Phoenician fashion. Also at Veracruz a figure with a false beard, styled like an Egyptian beard, had a snake-like protrusion on the forehead.
Again and again, figures with definite Semitic features have been found. A sample of Maya ceramic painting shows a lady with a flower who has an undeniable Negroid character. The figure has an affinity with Egyptian painting, says Wuthenau. yet it was not found along the Nile, but in Central America! On the Pacific coast of Ecuador, also, evidence for the presence of early Hebrews has been found. Also discovered was a figurine of a lovely girl who wore a headdress with a remarkable Phoenician affinity. Other Ecuadorian heads show definite Semitic features. Clearly, the Semites penetrated a large part of the American continent in "prehistoric" times!
Discoveries in South America
In the past century, several Brazilians have found inscriptions on rocks along the Amazon river. Over a period of 50 years, four men, including two who were scientists, uncovered inscriptions which they independently concluded were Phoenician in origin.
The first man, Francisco Pinto, in 1872 found over 20 caves deep in the Brazilian jungle and uncovered about 250 strange inscriptions upon the rocks. He thought they were Phoenician, and Brazil's Director of History and Geography corroborated his suspicions. A German philologist who studied the markings in 1911 felt they were genuine.
In the 1880s, Ernest Ronan, a French scientist, combed the jungles and found several more inscribed stones. In the 1920s a scholar by the name of Bernardo da Silva discovered many more inscriptions along the Amazon. It makes good sense. It explains why the Mayans,who considered Quetzalcoatl as the bringer of their arts and laws, depicted him as being unusually blond!
When the Spaniards discovered the New World in the early sixteenth century, perhaps fifty million inhabitants lived in the Western Hemisphere, speaking over 900 languages. Such linguistic diversity has long puzzled scholars, and logically attests to a diversity of origins. Carleton S. Coon reported that the conquistadores "commented on Montezuma's light skin, but did not remark that this ruler rarely exposed himself to the bright sun." Coon adds: "George Catlin, in his portraits of the Mandan Indians, depicted some of them as blond. . . . Another case of allegedly abberrant Indians is that of the Pomo, Hupa, and neighboring tribes in north-central California whose beard growth seems to have been Caucasoid when they were first seen" (Coon, The Living Races of Man, p.154).
Another mystery to ethnologists is the existence of a white skinned, red-bearded tribe discovered by builders of Brazil's Trans-Amazon Highway. Called the Lower Assurinis because they live south of the route of the highway, they have ear lobes (which is uncharacteristic of other tribes), and their language differs from traditional dialects in the region.
Sir Walter Raleigh in his History of the World mentioned that the Indians he encountered used many Welsh words long before the Welsh were known to have come to America. Linguistic studies prove that the Welsh language is very closely akin to ancient Hebrew!
The Mystery of New Zealand's Maoris
There is evidence among the Maori and people of eastern Polynesia that the sun was deified as Tane and that Ra, the sun god, was the tutelary god of Borabora. The Maoris, also, made use of ancient solar observatories. "At Kerikeri, in the Bay of Islands, New Zealand, there is a miniature Stonehenge, the blocks standing about 7 feet out of the ground; and near Atiamuri, north of Taupo, there are other great monumental blocks -- some fifty of these still standing erect" (Maori Symbolism, p.137).
Interestingly, ancient Maori traditions relate that since antiquity the Maoris have observed ceremonial and dietary laws very similar to those of the ancient Hebrews. They even kept the seventh day "Sabbath" as a day of rest! Also, every 7 times 7 years -- or 49 years -- they observed a Jubilee Year similar to that of the ancient Hebrews." These similarities simply cannot be explained away as "mere coincidence"! The Maoris, like the Hebrews, even had a "sacred month" given over to Harvest thanksgiving, corresponding to the Hebrew month of Tishri and the Festival of Tabernacles.
How can these fascinating facts be explained? Such similarities must be more than mere coincidence. Like the Yuchi Indians of North America, the Maoris, at some very early stage of history, must have come in contact with ancient Hebrew mariners, roaming the seven seas, who taught them Hebrew customs and left behind signs of Hebraic influence!
How was this contact achieved? Was the ancient world covered by a global cultural continuity, indicating a globe-girdling civilization?
Ancient Maps of the "Sea Kings"
In his book Maps of the Ancient Sea Kings, Charles H. Hapgood tells of the Piri Re'is map of 1513 A.D. Studies of this map show that it correctly gives latitudes and longitudes along the coasts of Africa and Europe, indicating that the original mapmaker must have found the correct relative longitude across Africa and across the Atlantic to Brazil. This amazing map gives an accurate profile of the coast of South America to the Amazon, provides an amazing outline of the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico (supposedly not yet discovered!), and -- incredibly enough -- shows a part of the coast of the Antarctic Continent which was not discovered, in modern times, until 1818!
This map does not stand alone. A world map drawn by Oronteus Finaeus in 1531 gives a truly authentic map of Antarctica, indicating the coasts were probably ice-free when the original map was drawn (of which Oronteus Finaeus' map was a later copy). The Oronteus Finaeus map was strikingly similar to modern maps of the Antarctic. How could this be?
Another fascinating map is the map of Hadji Ahmed of 1559. It is evident that the cartographer had some extraordinary source maps at his disposal. Says Hapgood: "The shapes of North and South America have a surprisingly modern look, the western coasts are especially interesting. They seem to be about two centuries ahead of the cartography of the time. . . . The shape of what is now the United States is about Perfect" (p. 99).
Another map of the Middle Ages, the Reinel Chart of 1510 -- a Portuguese map of the Indian Ocean -- provides a striking example of the knowledge of the ancients. Studying the identifiable geographical localities and working out from them, Hapgood was astounded to find that "this map apparently shows the coast of Australia . . . The map also appeared to show some of the Caroline Islands of the Pacific. Latitudes and longitudes on this map are remarkably good, although Australia is shown too far north" (ibid., p. 134).
How can such remarkable accuracy be explained on the basis of almost total ignorance of the earth during that time? Obviously, at an earlier period of earth's history, sea-faring nations must have travelled around the world and accurately mapped the major continents, and fragments and copies of their ancient maps survived into the Middle Ages and were copied again.
Concludes Hapgood: "The evidence presented by the ancient maps appears to suggest the existence in remote times . . . of a true civilization, of a comparatively advanced sort, which either was localized in one area but had worldwide commerce, or was, in a real sense, a worldwide culture" (p. 193).
How advanced was this ancient culture? Says Hapgood, "In astronomy, nautical science, mapmaking and possibly ship-building, it was perhaps more advanced than any state of culture before the 18th Century of the Christian Era." He continues: "It was in the 18th Century that we first developed a practical means of finding longitude. It was in the 18th Century that we first accurately measured the circumference of the earth. Not until the 19th Century did we begin to send out ships for purposes of whaling or exploration into the Arctic or Antarctic Seas. The maps indicate that some ancient people may have done all these things" (Maps of the Ancient Sea Kings, p. 193).
What ancient society could have been responsible? Is there really any doubt?
The evidence is overwhelming. The Semitic features discovered in Mexico and South America, the Hebrew and Phoenicians inscriptions, the Hebrew religious customs found in the Americas, and similar customs in far off New Zealand among the Maories of ancient times, all attest to the fact that worldwide oceanic travel, trade and commerce was occurring during the time of the Solomonic Empire!
Hapgood says such mapmaking would indicate economic motivations and vast economic resources. Further, organized government is indicated, since the mapping of a continent such as Antarctica implies much organization, many expeditions, and the compilation of many local observations and maps into a general map under central supervision. He adds that it is unlikely that navigation and mapmaking were the only sciences developed by this ancient people. Such a comprehensive enterprise could only have been achieved during a relative time of world peace, and by a very powerful and extremely wealthy kingdom! What ancient kingdom could have accomplished this?
Biblical Evidence Confirms It
Based on Biblical evidence, from the Scriptures, there can be no doubt. The ancient Israelite kingdom of king Solomon, noted for its wealth, peace, and power, and incredible trade empire, must have been involved in leaving this ancient world-wide evidence behind -- including Hebrew customs, language, and practices.
YEHOVAH God told Ezekiel, "And say to Tyre, 0 you who dwell at entrance to the sea, who are merchants of the peoples of many islands and coastlands. . . The inhabitants of Sion and [the island] of Arvad were your oarsmen; your skilled wise men, O Tyre, were in you, they were your pilots. The old men of Gebal [a city north of Sidon] and its skilled and wise men in you were your calkers; all the ships of the sea with their mariners were in you to deal in your merchandise and trading" (Ezekiel 27:3, 8-9).
Ezekiel goes on, "Your rowers brought you out into the great and deep waters; the east wind has broken and wrecked you in the heart of the seas . . . When your wares came forth from the seas, you met the desire, and the demand, and the necessity of many people; you enriched the KINGS OF THE EARTH with your abundant wealth and merchandise. Now you are shattered by the seas . . ." (vs. 26, 33-34, Amplified Bible).
This sounds like the description of a globe-girdling nautical nation -- one which brings its wealth from afar! -- one which travels throughout the entire earth in its quest for material goods and trade!
We also read in the Bible: "For the king [Solomon] had at sea a navy of Tharshish with the navy of Hiram: once in three years came the navy of Tharshish, bringing gold, and silver, ivory, and apes, and peacocks" (I Kings 10:22).
Is it not significant that Ferdinand Magellan circumnavigated the globe, requiring three years -- from 1519-1522? Is it not meaningful that Sir Francis Drake, the first Englishman to circumnavigate the world, took three years to do so (1577-80)?
But there's even more evidence!
"You Resemble a Sinner of Canaan!"
Mariano Edward Rivero and John James von Tschudi in Peruvian Antiquities (1857) point out that after the most thorough examination and minute comparison, the religious rites of the American Indians plainly present many points of agreement with those of the Hebrew people (p.9). Continue these authors: "Like the Jews, the Indians offer their firstfruits, they keep their new moons, and the feast of expiations at the end of September or in the beginning of October; they divide the year into four seasons, corresponding with the Jewish festivals. . . . In some parts of North America circumcision is practised . . . There is also much analogy between the Hebrews and Indians in that which concerns various rites and customs; such as the ceremonies of purification, the use of the bath . . . fasting, and the manner of prayer. The Indians likewise abstain from the blood of animals, as also from fish without scales; they consider divers quadrupeds unclean, also certain birds and reptiles, and they are accustomed to offer as a holocaust the firstlings of the flock" (ibid.).
Surely, all these parallels are not mere coincidence! Can anyone in their right mind consign these similarities to mere "accident"?
Say Rivero and von Tschudi: "But that which most tends to fortify the opinion as to the Hebrew origin of the American tribes, is a species of ark, seemingly like that of the Old Testament; this the Indians take with them to war; it is never permitted to touch the ground, but rests upon stones or pieces of wood, it being deemed sacrilegious and unlawful to open it or look into it. The American priests scrupulously guard their sanctuary, and the High Priest carries on his breast a white shell adorned with precious stones, which recalls the Urim of the Jewish High Priest: of whom we are also reminded by a band of white plumes on his forehead" (p. 9-10).
These two reputable scientists of the last century also point out, "The use of Hebrew words was not uncommon in the religious performances of the North American Indians, and Adair assures us that they called an accused or guilty person haksit canaha, 'a sinner of Canaan'; and to him who was inattentive to religious worship, they said, Tschi haksit canaha, 'You resemble a sinner of Canaan'" (ibid.).
Though such evidence does not prove that the Indians themselves were Jews or Israelites, it does show that long before Columbus, Hebrews had reached the New World and had left their imprint upon its inhabitants. There undoubtedly was some intermarriage. Such incredible parallels are beyond the remotest possibility of being due to mere chance!
Why should it seem strange that peoples of the ancient world-in particular Phoenicians and Hebrews -- reached the New World and travelled to South America, and even crossed the Pacific? Is it really so incredible? The trouble is, most of us of the present generation have been brainwashed to think that the ancients were merely superstitious savages, terrified of sailing out to sea lest they fall off the edge of the earth.
But the Phoenicians had already sailed out beyond the "Pillars of Hercules" (Straits of Gibralter) by 1200 B.C. They developed the keel, streamlined their ships, covered the decks, and improved the sail. Their ships were from 80-100 feet long and used a single square sail besides oars. Their ships could average 100 miles in a day's time (24 hours). They were busy traders. Commerce was their principal aim. Tyre and Sidon, their home ports, were cities of immense wealth. Did ancient Phoenicians reach the New World? The evidence is inescapable.
Also interesting is the fact that the Quichua word for the sun, Inti, may very likely be derived from the Sanscrit root Indh, meaning "to shine, burn, or flame" and which corresponds to the East India word Indra, also meaning "the sun." It is also significant that the pre-Incas worshipped the invisible, Creator God, the Supreme Being, by the appellative Con, very similar to the Hebrew Cohen, the word for "priest," from the root Kahan meaning "to meditate in religious services, to officiate as a priest."
When all is said and done, Rivero and von Tschudi declare: "It cannot be denied, that the above tradition of the creation of the world, by the invisible and omnipotent Con, the primitive happy state of men, their corruption by sin, the destruction of the earth, and its regeneration, bears a distinct analogy to the Mosaic chronicle of the earliest epoch of the history of the human race . . ." (Peruvian Antiquities, p. 149).
The Gold of "Ophir"
In the book of Isaiah we read the enigmatic statement: "I will make a man more precious than fine gold; even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir" (Isa. 13:12). Where was the legendary "Ophir"? What was this "golden wedge"?
The Hebrew word for "wedge" is leshonah and refers to a "tongue," an instrument of some kind. The wedge of gold was, then, a bar or instrument of gold-literally, a "tongue of gold."
What could this "tongue" of gold have been? The gold of Ophir was not a scarce commodity since Solomon received 44 tons of it in a single year. Ophir was a place famous for its gold. Could it be that Isaiah was referring to a particular instrument of gold -- something famous in Ophir?
The Inca Empire was famous for the quantity and quality of the gold it produced. The Incas of modern Peru have a tradition that their earliest king was Pirua Paccari Manco. In modern Quichua Pirua means a granary or storehouse. The first dynasty of kings, called the Pirua dynasty, included the first eighteen kings in the king list. One of the commonest titles of the early kings was Capac which means "Rich."
One of the first kings was Manco Capac who founded the city of Cuzco ("Navel" in the special language of the Incas). Manco Capac is generally regarded as the progenitor of the Incas. Legends of the Incas tell us that he got rid of his three brothers and led the people of Cuzco. We read, "He took with him a golden staff. When the soil was so fertile that its whole length sank into the rich mould, there was to be the final resting place" (Markham, The Incas of Peru, p. 50, 53).
Another story calls this golden staff a "sceptre of gold about a yard long and two fingers thick" (Markham, Royal Commentaries of the Yncas, p. 64). Could this have been the "golden wedge" or "tongue" of Ophir?
John Crow relates another tradition of the ancient Incas. It is the story of "the Golden Wedge, according to which the Sun, wearied of the crude, barbaric ways of the uncivilized Indians, sent two of his children, a son and a daughter, to lift them from their primitive life. Placed on the earth near the banks of Lake Titicaca, these two children of the Sun were given a golden wedge which they were to carry with them wherever they wandered; and on the spot where this wedge sank without effort into the ground and disappered they were told to found their mother city. When the divine pair reached the vicinity of Cuzco, their talisman slid into the earth and vanished from sight" (The Epic of Latin America, p. 25).
Was this mysterious talisman -- this "golden wedge" -- the same thing mentioned by the prophet Isaiah -- the "golden wedge of Ophir"?
There is a close resemblance between the Pirua dynasty and the Hebrew word Ophir. In Hebrew, Ophir ("ph" can be pronounced either as an "f" or a "p") was the name of a place rich in gold (I Kings 9:28); sometimes the term Ophir was used for gold (Job 22:24). Ancient Peru would certainly fit the Biblical description of Ophir. It was famous for its gold. In the Temple of the Sun in Cuzco was a fantastic display of wealth. The four inside walls were covered with paper-thin sheets of gold. A giant golden figure of the Sun hung suspended over the main altar. A huge silver room was dedicated to the Moon. Surrounding the Temple of the Sun and several chapels was a huge stone wall, covered with a cornice or crest of gold a yard wide. Inside the Temple were decorations of gold and silver flowers, plants and animals. The Spaniards sacked the Temple and seized all the gold and silver ornaments.
From 1492 to 1600 about two billion pesos' worth of gold and silver flowed out of Spain's New World colonies -- at least three times the entire European supply of these precious metals up to that time. The total production of gold and silver in the Spanish colonies between 1492 and 1800 has been estimated at six billion dollars.
Historian Fernando Montesinos visited Peru from 1629-1642, a century after the conquest by the Spaniards. He travelled fifteen years through the country collecting material for a history of Peru. Montesinos wrote Ophir de Espana, Memorias Historiales y Politicas del Peru. He believed Peru was the Ophir of Solomon. He contended that Peru was first settled by Ophir, the grandson of Noah (Gen. 10:29).
Montesinos has been ridiculed and derided by historians. But since the early settlers of Peru were white-skinned and red bearded; since there was abundant gold in the region; since the name of the Pirua dynasty may correspond to the Hebrew Ophir; since the voyages of Solomon's fleet took about three years to complete; and since the "golden wedge" of Ophir could very well correspond to the "golden wedge" of Manco Capac; and since there is so much overwhelming evidence of cultural contacts betweens the ancient Peruvians and the Israelites, with close affinities in cosmology; and since there is definite evidence of the presence of ancient Semitic peoples in Peru, Equador, and the Western Hemisphere -- it seems very likely that Montesinos was right! Indeed, there is strong reason to believe that Peru was the ancient Ophir of the Bible!
When we examine all the evidence, the picture comes startlingly clear. Ancient Semites -- early Hebrews -- sailed to the Western Hemisphere 2,500 years before Columbus. Much of this knowledge has been lost to mankind. But now a great deal of it is being re-discovered. The ancient Israelites were here before us! They left signs of their presence everywhere -- in customs, language, religious similarities, archaelogical artifacts, and even the Ten Commandments inscribed on a remote stone in a dry creek bed in New Mexico!
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