July 7th I had the privilege of addressing the Laguna Woods Messianic Jewish Club on the subject of the Inquisition and on my archeological discoveries in Spain. It was sort of comical that I was keynote speaker, but I had no car that day, so my Publisher drove me from Huntington Beach, where her publishing house is, to Laguna Hills. When I got there I had my hot-off-the-press handout for my talk in my hand, plus my fresh dry-cleaning- since I had no clean slacks, and my guitar. I asked the Messianic Club President about whether she thought we should make photo copies of my talk, she thought that we should, but I had to sound check my guitar and mic. And sound check with the “Adat HaMashiach Youth Dancers”, so my publisher, Joni Prinjinski, went to Office Depot while I got the sound ready. We enjoyed a great turnout, over fifty people. Joni made 50 copies of the talk and we ran out. I was glad that I included the Hebrew at the last minute, since there were a couple Israelis there. One Israeli there, Roni Jordan of Tikvat Am Israel Ministries, told me that fewer than 500 Israeli Sabras (native born) believe that Jesus is the Messiah. This was important for me to know, since I’ve spoken with several Israelis since July 7th ’09. First I played songs in Hebrew, Spanish and English: “Baruch Adonai”, then “Dios de Maravillas” which I translated with my sister from English, and “Good News”. The Adat HaMashiach Youth Dancers did a tremendous job worshipping through dance and I could tell it was very meaningful for the senior at Laguna Woods.
Joni got back in time for the talk and everyone wanted a hand out, here is most of it:
Laguna Woods Messianic Jewish Club, July 7th. JD Alcala Bennett, Tentmakers Bible Mission
“I first went to Spain in 1997 with my family to check out the prospects of doing ministry there. Then I went to take Bibles to Morocco, via Spain, in 2000. The highlight of that trip, besides my team passing out over 2,000 Arabic Bibles, was that I was able to buy my mom a Passover plate that had been left behind when the Sephardic Jews of Morocco had their homes stolen by the Arabs in 1948 when the UN announced the birth of the Modern state of Israel. To date, one million Sephardim have made Aliyah from Morocco. So many great Sephardic silver smiths made Aliyah to Israel, leaving behind their silver in Tetuan, Morocco, just as they had to do in Spain during the Inquisition. So I bought a solid silver Passover plate for my mom, that had to be made by 1948. It had beautiful grapes vines around a star of David and spelled Shaddai in Hebrew the middle of the star.
Then I spent the summer of 2002, doing a supervised ministry in Spain, with my sister, for credit at California Baptist University. During this time of extensive study I had a fascinating, but sometimes painful time, seeing where my ancestors had been tortured and the ports where those who escaped sailed to the New World. This whole story of 2002 has been edited and prepared for publication since 2002 and will be titled: Walls of Spain: Diary of a Short-term Mission
A quote from my book coming out in August with JHOUSE PUBLISHING of Huntington Beach: Walls of Spain:
“Spain is hungry for change. She incurred self-inflicted mutilation upon herself during the 500 hundred official years of the Inquisition, tearing Spain’s leading doctors, economists, builders and scholars, not only from their positions, but from their aljamas, their juderias, their families, from the Iberian Peninsula, and finally from this world. The Spanish Inquisition killed millions of Semitic peoples: Moorish people, Berber People, Sephardic Peoples, not to mention the French Huguenot people, while expelling Spain’s self-earned prosperity, permanently.”
After the Spanish Inquisition had run its course first in Castilla and Leon, (1390) then to Aragon and Cataluña and Lenvante (1391), then after the sack of Andalusia by the Reyes Catolicos (1492), finally attacking the Arabs and Jews in Portugal and Navarra (1498).
After Iberia had sacked it’s Semitic people, the Spanish took up the task of chasing the Anusim, the Moriscos, the Marranos, and the Conversos to the new world, sacking our juderias, or Jewish quarters, in Nueva España in 1610, in Mexico City, in Guadalajara, and in my family’s Jewish Quarter in Coahuila.
Recently , my mother, who is staying with me while my sister & her family are in America, was reading a local history book and found that in out town of Olite, the Jews hid their scrolls from their oppressors shortly before being attacked by the Roman Catholic militants, called: Familiares. The book “Daily Life in Spain, in the Chapter entitled church and Religious life” says 20,000 Familiares, or honorary police of the Inquisition were recruited, and it tells that the Spaniard was anxious to enroll since it made them exempt from arrest in Spain and her empire, it says that Spaniards coveted the prestige and privileges that the Vatican gave them for participating, and all they had to do was prove the purity of their blood, that is, that they had no Semitic ancestors, a requirement rigorously demanded of by the Office of the Inquisition. By the 17th century there were 20,000 Inquisition Police. Once accused by these men, it was impossible to survive. If you plead “not-guilty” before the Tribunal of the Spanish Inquisition, you were tortured until you did confess to being guilty, or until death. If you plead guilty, you were sentenced to prison, where you would usually die quickly by starvation or from the unsanitary conditions, or you would be burned alive in the town square. This is what happened to the collective Jewish Community of Pamplona, Navarra, Spain. In 1498 The lower-class Navarro’s and Basque’s of Pamplona were eager to get the privileges of aiding the Inquisition and also knew that they could easily loot the homes and businesses of the accused, in this case, the Juderias of Pamplona, Estella, Olite, Tafalla, Tudela, Cortes, and Tarazona. All these Jewish communities mentioned were decimated. The book “Religious Intolerance in Spain” cites letters of Spanish farmers bragging in the 1600’s that they had their creditors taken away by the Pure Blooded Officers the Inquisition by accusing the creditors of being secret Jews. That is, bankers, landlords, and money lenders were in danger for their lives by any of their clients during the reign of the Inquisition.
The Queen of Navarra, Blanca the First, and her court were repulsed by the Inquisition. The book “The Jews of Navarra and the crisis of the 15th century” cites that all the royal auditors, economists and physicians in the royal court of Navarra were Semitic. At this time, Navarra was still its own sovereign kingdom, and at odds with the “Catholic Kings” of Spain: Ferdinand and especially Isabel, who is credited as the author of the Inquisition as she made it official in 1492.
Therefore, the Queen of Navarra was reluctant to welcome the arrival of the Inquisition, but the Vatican dispatched troops to Navarra by way of Catalunia, to ensure that the Queen of Navarra complied with the Pope. By 1498, even the town where Queen Blanca resided, and where I resided, was seeing the effects of the pillaging of Olite’s Moors and Hebrews under permission of the Spanish Inquisition. Well the Royal Treasury Accountants and physicians of Queen Blanca “the First” here in Olite were all Sephardic, or Hebrews. The Queen of Navarra had her Semitic peoples: descendants of Phoenicia, Syria and Judea, who had her protection until the Vatican backed Inquisition overruled her. These men hid their Torah by cutting the leather scrolls into book covers and covering the Royal accounts books which they worked with in the Royal Treasury Department, knowing the Bible would be safe there. Well one of these Torah pages survived until this last century, that is, it was secretly hidden and forgotten for way over 450 years and wasn’t discovered until the 1970’s.
In the book, The Jews of Navarra and the crisis of the 15th Century there was an upside-down photo of the scroll and it said that some think it could be a Jewish document. They didn’t even know what it was! So I looked at this book saying that there are archives “possibly Jewish origin” from the 1400’s in City Hall. Not in a far off city, right there out my window. I lived in Olite and could see the towers of the Royal Palace and City Hall from my 4th floor apartment. My mom and I were the first Sephardic Jews to live in Olite since the fires of the Inquisition consumed the Jewish community in 1498.
So my mother, Elizabeth Alcala, was the first to take action. She was staying with me in Olite while my sister’s family was in America on furlough. So she walked to city hall and asked if it was true that there were possibly old Jewish documents in the City Hall Archives. They allowed her up into the Palatial Council Chamber and showed my mom some ancient documents. She recognized them as Hebrew and was surprised that the people who had these documents didn’t even have a clue what they meant and what language they were in.
Well, Monday, February 4th 2008 I didn’t have to teach my morning class in Pamplona, so I went to ask questions about this “document” kept in City Hall which appeared in the fore-mentioned The Jews of Navarra and the Crisis of the 15th Century. The Olite Secretary of the City was very surprised when I told him that I’m a Sefardi who reads Hebrew and that I wanted to see it, so he cordially took me to the City Archives and brought out a two foot long document container and took me to the “Salon de Actos” or Town Hall/throne room and laid before me the long leather scroll that was hidden in 1498 and may have been ancient even then. I asked if anyone knew which book of the Bible was, and he said it took the local scholars a while just to figure out that it was Jewish and wasn’t Chinese or Arabic! That is, still no one knew which Bible passage this was, if it was the Bible at all. So I asked if the city hall would like for me to translate the scroll or at least tell them which passage of the Torah it is. The secretary, Jesus de Rincon, went right away to the Mayor’s office and returned with huge photo copies of the scroll which included every letter on the torn old leather document! He even provided me with a listing of all the books about Sephardics in Navarra, to see if that could help me find more information about the Jewish quarter of Olite, to see if scholars knew anything else about this scroll we had before us. That night I was excited silly and spread the pages out on the floor of my apartment and knelt, writing out a section in Hebrew which was obviously at the beginning of a chapter. Then I canvassed my own copy of the Torah to find a chapter that started the same way. That was a little difficult, since many passages of the Bible begin with:
לֵּאמֹר -מֹשֶׁה אֶל יְהוָה וַיְדַבֵּר
I know I could have looked it up in an online Hebrew Bible Atlas, but my internet connection was down and this was to exciting to ignore. Finally at 2 am, Feb. 5th, I found it: Numbers 34:1. The whole “Olite” scroll was Numbers 33:10 through Deut.1:8.
I see it fascinating that God allowed me, in his mercy, to be the Jew who received the mystery hidden away 500 years ago. I see the Olite Torah as a property DEED. It is the proof of property for the descendants of Isaac and Jacob. The passage that survived until our times speaks of our claim on the land of Canaan as an eternal inheritance ends with: “Behold, I have set the Land before you, go in and Possess the Land which Adonai sware unto your fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give unto them and to their seed after them.” Deut. 1:8. God is faithful to keep his Word, especially to the dead. Though the Treasury Accountants met a violent death at the hands of evil men, God honored their hope and deed of having their own land to live in, and the mystery of the Olite Scroll has been uncovered, it’s message, from the past tells us God has made a promise, and now, since 1948, we are all witnesses that God has brought Israel back to her land, and because God has indeed kept his promise about Israel, we can stand sure that He will honor his promise that Messiah will come back again to save Israel and will reign from Mountain Zion, with springs of Living Water flowing from his Messianic Throne. The Son of God will reign on earth one day, setting our dark world, right.”
After the talk I enjoyed meeting all kinds of people who came for the talk. I directed these new friends to a table where attractive postcards, with all my information for my work in Spain, were sitting.