20 August 2017



Christopher Columbus discovered America; but he nearly died mid-journey, and was saved by an lalmanac and a natural spectacle.

In 1503, on Columbus’s fourth and final journey to the New World, his ships were attacked by ship worms that ate away at his ships.

On June 25, 1503, two of the ships docked on the island now known as Jamaica, hoping for help from Europe. The Arawak Indians living there first treated the crew like royal guests but later abandoned them. No food or shelter spelled death for the stranded Europeans.

Long ago, ship captains relied mainly on astrological charts and Columbus had with him the two books he always brought along.

One was Ephemeris by German mathematician and astronomer, Johannes Muller von Koenigsberg. This was an almanac with astronomical tables covering the years 1475–1506, giving detailed information the sun, moon and planets, as well as stars and constellations to navigate by. The second was an almanac of more than 300 pages of astronomical tables called Hachibut Hagadol (Perpetual Almanac of the Heavenly Bodies) by Rabbi Abraham Zacuto, who also served as royal astronomer to the King of Portugal.

From these books, Columbus learned that a lunar eclipse was predicted for the evening of February 29, 1504, and came up with a brilliant plan.

He told the Arawaks that G–D was very angry at them for no longer helping the stranded explorers, and therefore, their moon would be taken away from them in 3 days. Three days later, the terrified Arawaks watched as a beautiful full moon began to be nibbled away by something or somebody! In moments they were on their knees begging Columbus for forgiveness. Columbus promised to return their moon. When the eclipse was over, so were the troubles of his crew until aid arrived from Spain.

Source:  Mishpacha Magazine


Chava said...

How could these native people not know of eclipses??

Neshama said...

Chava, probably they were really primitive. That is why C Columbus was able to do what he did.

Chava said...

Yes but.. Primitive peoples are often more in tune with nature and cycles. This had surely happened to their ancestors. This story just sounds a little fishy to me... :-)
Also pretty underhanded considering what happened to the Native people in the end.

Neshama said...

Not a learning experience for them?

From https://www.britannica.com/topic/Arawak:

Arawak, American Indians of the Greater Antilles and South America. The Taino, an Arawak subgroup, were the first native peoples encountered by Christopher Columbus on Hispaniola. The island Arawak were virtually wiped out by Old World diseases to which they had no immunity. A small number of mainland Arawak survive in South America. Most (more than 15,000) live in Guyana, where they represent about one-third of the Indian population. Smaller groups are found in Suriname, French Guiana, and Venezuela. Their language, also called Arawak, is spoken chiefly by older adults, a characteristic that commonly foretells the death of a language.

Neshama said...

Also, their Arawak beliefs. It seemed they were afraid of the sun, moon.

Because of these powers there are many Arawak/Taino stories which account for the origins of some experienced phenomena in myth and or magic. Several myths had to do with caves. The sun and moon, for example, came out of caves. Another story tells that the people lived in caves and only came out at night.