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In this popular CNN article, the author raises many arguments to prove that Columbus was a Marrano (hidden Jew), I found none to be very compelling besides for the following one:

At the top left-hand corner of all but one of the 13 letters written by Columbus to his son Diego contained the handwritten Hebrew letters bet-hei, meaning b'ezrat Hashem (with God's help). Observant Jews have for centuries customarily added this blessing to their letters. No letters to outsiders bear this mark, and the one letter to Diego in which this was omitted was one meant for King Ferdinand.

This article is lacking citations, so I tried searching for other sources to corroborate this claim but I wasn't able to. The reason I'm doubting this claim is because if Columbus really wrote these Hebrew letters (an exclusive Hebrew practice) then why are scholars still debating whether Columbus was indeed a Jew, I mean doesn't this prove ipso facto that he was indeed one? How else can we explain the existence of two Hebrew letters on his letters? Why is it brought as a sidenote to the other five non-compelling arguments in the article cited above? Are his letters still in existence today (or at least images of them), is it possible to verify this claim? I mean if I would see those two Hebrew letters with my own eyes, to me that would more than enough proof he was of Jewish origin.

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    and another recent "historian" said columbus was the son of a polish king... i wouldnt put much faith in either interpretation. – ed.hank Feb 2 at 14:00
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    Probably hearsay and conspiracy theories. The author doesn't appear to be a historian at all. – Denis de Bernardy Feb 2 at 14:20
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    This page attributes the b'ezrat Hashem theory to a "Semitic linguist Maurice David, who discovered the meaning of the symbols". Maybe Maurice David Goldman (1898-1957), linguist and professor of Semitic studies is meant? Another page has some facsimiles of the b'h monogram in Columbus' letters... – tohuwawohu Feb 2 at 14:27
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    @ed.hank and denis, what concerns me is the evidence the author brings, its not the respectability of the author, or the fact that this theory sounds cool! there is no reason to downvote this question, as it is perfectly acceptable. It's very easy to just brush away everything by saying "conspiracy theory", but the question is how do you deal with the evidence? – Bach Feb 2 at 14:34
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    I wonder if anyone can find evidence of the b'ezerat Hashem in Columbus' letters, and evidence of this custom in other Jewish writings. Right now we've got the word of one historian; science progresses by seeking and testing evidence. – Mark C. Wallace Feb 2 at 15:08
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While there are some not very widely supported theories out there that postulate some somehow Jewish origin for Columbus (esWP: Cristóbal Colón, Origen, Hipótesis secundarias, enWP: Catalan-Jewish hypothesis) this even if 'true' is not saying much about his beliefs and writing practices.

The claim to investigate here says very explicitly:

At the top left-hand corner of all but one of the 13 letters written by Columbus to his son Diego contained the handwritten Hebrew letters bet-hei, meaning b'ezrat Hashem (with God's help).

And he did mark his letters in a peculiar way:

enter image description here
Christopher Columbus autograph letter written to his son Diego on 5th February 1505

enter image description here enter image description here
— to Diego December 1st, 1504

enter image description here
— to Diego December 13, 1504

Most clearly seen in this version (to Diego, 18th January 1505)

enter image description here — (Beth and hei in the top left-hand margin.) On a site that promotes to see the matter as settled: 'Columbus being from Ibiza'

Or another take on his handwriting
enter image description here
Columbus Manuscript: In this manuscript, enscribed Cadiz, Spain, November 20, 1493,

So, in Hebrew the letters supposedly used are Aramaic/quadratic script:
ה ב

and in the letters (many facsimiles in The authentic letters of Columbus, 1895) we see this:

enter image description here

How much this resembles Hebrew lettering?

https://happytruelife.wordpress.com/2012/06/25/kabbalah-weekly-tune-up-thought-into-action/kaballah-hei-bet-mem/

In cursive handwriting (albeit quite modern)

https://i.pinimg.com/originals/cb/e2/da/cbe2dac061ab75c358091c68080c9681.gif

Wikipedia has a handwriting style for cursive Hebrew letters including in Spain and those dated 1480:

enter image description here

The above may also be compared to Solitreo and Ladino scripts that use these alphabets for perhaps a Judeo-Spanish hand

A modern letter using the acronym at the top of a letter (note that it is top right though):
enter image description here

But the question asks for "see with own eyes"…
Therefore I will refrain from judging the theories of origin for Columbus, here, or whether it is indeed the claimed letter combination. Just that using a certain symbol, even if it should be the claimed one, is not and cannot be the 'final proof that he was a Jew', or somehow of Jewish Origin. At best, this might add a little detail for some circumstantial evidence.

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    Great answer, and just what I needed! +1. Unfortunately, I don't see the ב"ה. Maybe the other letters he sent to his son were clearer. – Bach Feb 2 at 19:00
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    @Bach What is supposed to be this letter combo is the swinging doodle I gave here. In the "Authentic letters" you can see that (in PDF those that are halfway recognisable) something similar appears in those to Diego. However, I am no expert for Hebrew handwriting in that period, and I am not convinced that "it is 'this' and nothing else". (TBF, if, I tend to see more an older Italian-style influence ligature. But compare p137ff in the "AuthLetters"; the doodle is in small variations visible) Unless an expert in late medieval Hebrew handwriting spells a verdict, I remain skeptical of this) – LаngLаngС Feb 2 at 20:16
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    The theory that the mark is the b'ezrat Hashem seems to have originated in Maurice David's 1933 book Who Was Columbus? His Real Name and Real Fatherland. Unfortunately, the idea that Columbus was Jewish has recently become a popular theme on many right-wing & neo-Nazi sites (e.g. stormfront.org and Camelot Daily). – sempaiscuba Feb 2 at 21:47
  • Although I really like your answer I strongly disagree with your last statement, "Just that using a certain symbol, even if it should be the claimed one, is not and cannot be the 'final proof that he was a Jew', or somehow of Jewish Origin. At best, this might add a little detail for some circumstantial evidence." – Bach Feb 2 at 22:53

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