SABBATAI SEBI (1626-1676) , Jewish mystic, whose Messianic claims produced an unparalleled sensation throughout the
See also:world, was
See also:born in
See also:Smyrna . He was of
See also:Spanish descent and was gifted with a
See also:personality of rare
See also:fascination . As a lad he was attracted by the mysticism of
See also:Luria (q.v.), which impelled him to adopt the ascetic
See also:life . He passed his days and nights in a
See also:condition of ecstasy, He began to dream of the fulfilment of Messianic hones, being supported in his vision by the outbreak of
See also:English Millenarianism . Christian visionaries fixed the
See also:year 1666 for the
See also:millennium, and in his
See also:appeal to
See also:Cromwell on behalf of the return of the Jews to England Menasseh
See also:Israel (q.v.) made strong appeal to this belief . Sabbatai's
See also:father (Mordecai) was the Smyrna
See also:agent for an English hopse, and often heard of the expectations of the English Fifth
See also:Monarchy men . Dazzled by this confirmation of his nascent confidence, Sabbatai for a
See also:time found himself the
See also:object of suspicion and even persecution . This treatment, so far from extinguishing the flame, eventually converted it into a conflagration . It was in 1648 (the year which Kabbalists had calculated as the year of salvation) that Sabbatai proclaimed himself
See also:Messiah, and in Constantinople came across an able but somewhat unscrupulous man, who pretended that he had been warned by a prophetic
See also:voice that Sabbatai was indeed the long-awaited Redeemer . Others believed in him, but at first his adherents were a small circle of devotees who kept their faith a secret . He charmed men by his sweet singing of Psalms, and
See also:children were always fascinated by him . And now the era of his miracles begins .
He journeyed toJerusalem, and there was the instrument for conferring unexpected services on the community . An oppressive exaction was imposed by a
See also:pasha, and in
See also:order to win the succour of
See also:Raphael Halebi, Sabbatai repaired to Cairo, being on his route at
See also:Hebron hailed as Messiah . His
See also:mission was completely successful . At Cairo Sabbatai married . As a boy he had been married and divorced twice—but these were merely nominal unions . Now, however, the romantic
See also:story of a beautiful girl (Sarah) was on
See also:people's lips; she was
See also:firm in her assertion that she was the destined
See also:bride of the Messiah . Sabbatai had, at the same time, announced that in a dream a spiritual bride had been promised to him . At the
See also:house of Halebi bride and bridegroom met . The adhesion of Halebi produced many imitators, and with a retinue of believers, a charming wife and considerable funds, Sabbatai returned in
See also:triumph to the
See also:Land . Nathan of Gaza assumed the role of Elijah, the Messiah's forerunner, proclaimed the coming restoration of Israel and the salvation of the world through the bloodless victory of Sabbatai "
See also:riding on a lion with a seven-headed
See also:dragon in his jaws "'(
See also:Graetz) . Again 1666 was given as the apocalyptic year . Threatened with excommunication by the Rabbis of Jerusalem, Sabbatai returned to Smyrna (autumn of 1665) .
Here he was received with
See also:enthusiasm, and the masses were carried beyond all
See also:bounds . With delirious joy the Jews of Smyrna—men,
See also:women and children—fell down and worshipped . They prepared for the return .. Men
See also:left their
See also:work to make ready for the start . They fasted, they rejoiced; one
See also:hour they chilled themselves in the cemeteries, the next they rushed frantically through the streets singing Psalmic refrains . Nor did Sabbatai's adherents all belong to the ignorant classes . The
See also:Rabbi IIayittt Benveniste and other men of repute and learning shared the general delusion . It is unnecessary to tell the
See also:rest of the story in detail . Many letters are extant, written home to English and Dutch business-houses, in which the marvels of Sabbatai are reported, sometimes with apparent belief in them . From the
See also:Levant the Sabbataean
See also:movement spread to Venice, Amsterdam,
See also:Hamburg and
See also:London . Sabbatai was no longer able to doubt the reality of his mission .
See also:Day by day he was hailed from all the world as
See also:king of the Jews .
But hischaracter was too weak to sustain the
See also:part . Though he was almost deified by many of his brethren, who at his word agreed to modify their religious observances, yet he was unable to turn the enthusiasm of thousands to any account . Had he boldly led the way to Jerusalem, he would probably have carried every-thing before him . At the beginning of the fateful year 1666 Sabbatai went (or was summoned) to Constantinople . Herehe was arrested, but reports of miracles continued. and many of the
See also:Turks were inclined to become converts . Soon he was transferred to
See also:Abydos, amidst the almost tragic consternation of his deluded followers . In
See also:September Sabbatai was brought before the Sultan, and he had not the courage to refuse to accept
See also:Islam . And so the Messianic imposture ended in the apostacy of Sabbatai . The reaction among the Jews was terrible, and a sense of shame was joined to feelings of despair . But the sober-minded among the Jews—these had throughout been the vast majority—seized their opportunity to reclaim those who had been the victims of a terrible wrong . Yet many continued to believe in him, as he from time to time attempted to resume his rdle . In 1676 he died in obscurity in
See also:Albania .
See also:sect of Sabbataeans—the Dormeh of Salonica—survived him, and for many a long year the controversy for and against his claims left an
See also:echo in Jewish life . The literature on the life and career of this remarkable man is very extensive . Sabbatai Sebi figures largely in English books of the
See also:period . A valuable account is given in particular by Graetz,
See also:History of the Jews, vol. v. ch. iv . 1 .
See also:Zangwill has a brilliant
See also:sketch of Sabbatai's career in his Dreamers of the
See also:Ghetto . (I .
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