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A. D. 1624. Another in the Low Countries pretended to be the Messias, of the family of David, and of the line of Nathan. He promised to destroy Rome, and to overthrow the kingdom of Antichrist, and the Turkish empire.
* A. D. 1666. This was a year of great expectation, and some wonderful thing was looked for by many. This was a fit time for an impostor to set up; and accordingly lying reports were carried about. It was told' about that great multitudes marched from unknown parts to the remote deserts of Arabia, and they were supposed to be the ten tribes of Israel, who have been dispersed for many ages ; that a ship was arrived in the north parts of Scotland with sails and cordage of silk, that the mariners spake nothing but Hebrew, that on the sails was this motto, The TWELVE TRIBES OF ISRAEL. Thus were credulous men possessed at that time.
• Then it was that Sabatai Sevi appeared at Smyrna, and professed himself to be the Messias. He promised the Jews deliverance and a prosperous kingdom. This which he promised they firmly believed. The Jews now attended to no business, discoursed of nothing but of their return, and believed Sabatai to be the Messias as firmly as we Christians believe any article of faith. A right reverend person, then in Turkey, told me, that meeting with a Jew of his acquaintance at Aleppo, he asked him what he thought of Sabatai. The Jew replied, that he believed him to be the Messias, and that he was so far of that belief, that, if he should prove an impostor, he would then turn Christian. It will be very fit I should be very particular in this relation, because the history is so very surprising and remarkable; and we have the account of it from those who were then in Turkey, and are now alive. I am so well satisfied as to the facts, that I dare vouch for the truth of the relation, and appeal for the truth of it to very many persons of great credit, who are now alive.
Sabatai Sevi was the son of Mordecai Sevi, a mean Jew of Smyrna. Sabatai was very bookish, and arrived to a great skill in the Hebrew learning. He was the author of a new doctrine, and for it was expelled the city. He went thence to Salonichi, of old called Thessalonica, where he married a very handsome woman, but was divorced from
her. Then he travelled into the Morea, then to Tripoli, Gaza, and Jerusalem. By the way he picked up a third wife. At Jerusalem he began to reform the Jews' constitutions, and abolish one of their solemn fasts, and communicated his design of professing himself the Messias to one Nathan. He was pleased with it, and sets up for his Elias or forerunner, and took upon him to abolish all the Jewish fasts, as not beseeming, when the bridegroom was now come. Nathan prophesies that the Messias should appear before the grand seignior in less than two years, and take from him his crown, and lead him in chains.
" At Gaza, Sabatai preached repentance, together with a faith in himself, so effectually, that the people gave themselves up to their devotions and alms. The noise of this Messias began to fill all places. Sabatai now resolves for Smyrna, and then for Constantinople. Nathan writes to him from Damascus; and thus he begins his letter : “ To the King, our king, Lord of Lords, who gathers the dispersed of Israel, who redeems our captivity, the man elevated to the height of all sublimity, the Messias of the God of Jacob, the true Messias, the celestial Lion, Sabatai Sevi.”
* And now throughout Turkey the Jews were in great expectation of glorious times. They now were devout and penitent, that they might not obstruct the good which they hoped for. Some fasted so long that they were famished to death; others buried themselves in the earth till their limbs grew stiff; some would endure melting wax dropped on their flesh; some rolled in snow, others in a cold season would put themselves into cold water ; and many whipped themselves. Business was laid aside, superfluities of household utensils were sold; the poor were provided for by immense contributions. Sabatai comes to Smyrna, where he was adored by the people, though the Chacham contradicted him, for which he was removed from his office. There he in writing styles himself “ the only and firstborn Son of God, the Messias, the Saviour of Israel.” And though he met with some opposition, yet he prevailed there at last to that degree, that some of his followers prophesied, and fell into strange ecstasies : four hundred men and women prophesied of his growing kingdom; and
infants who could hardly speak, would plainly pronounce Sabatai, Messias, and Son of God. The people were for a time possessed, and voices heard from their bowels; some fell into trances, foamed at the mouth, recounted their future prosperity, their visions of the Lion of Judah, and the triumphs of Sabatai. All which (says the relator) were certainly true, being effects of diabolical delusions, as the Jews themselves have since confessed unto me.
« Now the impostor swells and assumes. Whereas the Jews in their synagogues were wont to pray for the grand seignior, he orders those prayers to be forborne for the future, thinking it an indecent thing to pray for l.im who was shortly to be his captive ; and instead of praying for the Turkish emperor, he appoints prayers for himself, as another author relates. And (as my author, Joannes a Lent, goes on) he elected princes to govern the Jews in their march towards the Holy Land, and to minister justice to them when they should be possessed of it. These princes were men well known in the city of Smyrna at that time. The people now were pressing to see some miracle to confirm their faith, and to convince the Gentiles. Here the impostor was puzzled, though any juggling trick would have served their turn. But the credulous people supplied this defect. When Sabatai was before the cadi (or justice of peace), some affirmed they saw a pillar of fire between him and the cadi; and after some had affirmed it; others were ready to swear it, and did swear it also ; and this was presently believed by the Jews of that city, He that did not now believe him to be the Messias, was to be shunned as an excommunicate person. The impostor now declares that he was called of God to see Constantinople, where he had much to do. He ships himself, to that end, in a Turkish saick, in Jan.' 1666. He had a long and troublesome voyage: he had not power over the sea and winds. The vizier, upon the news, sends for him, and confines him to a loathsome prison. The Jews pay him their visits; and they of this city are now as infatuated as those of Smyrna. They forbid traffic, and refused to pay their debts. Some of our English merchants, not knowing how to recover their debts from the Jews, took this occasion to visit Sabatai, and make their complaints to
him against his subjects; whereupon he wrote this following letter to the Jews:
«« To you of the nation of the Jews, who expect the appearance of the Messias, and the salvation of Israel, peace without end. Whereas we are informed that you are in. debted to several of the English nation, it seemeth right unto us to order you to make satisfaction to these your just debts; which if you refuse to do, and not obey us herein, Know you that then you are not to enter with us into our joys and dominions.”
Sabatai remained a prisoner in Constantinople by the space of two months.
The grand vizier, designing for Candia, thought it not safe to leave him in the city during the grand seignior's absence and his own. He therefore removed him to the Dardanelli; a better air indeed, but yet out of the way; and, consequently, importing less danger to the city : which occasioned the Jews to conclude that the Turks could not, or durst not, take away his life; which had, they concluded, been the surest way to have removed all jealousy.
· The Jews flocked in great numbers to the castle where he was a prisoner; not only those that were near, but from Poland, Germany, Leghorn, Venice, and other places: they received Sabatai's blessing, and promises of advancement. The Turks made use of this confluence; they raised the price of their lodgings and provisions, and put their price upon those who desired to see Sabatai, for their admittance. This profit stopped their mouths, and no com. plaints were for this cause sent to Adrianople.
Sabatai, in this confinement, appoints the manner of celebrating his own nativity. He commands the Jews to keep it on the ninth day of the month Ab, and to make it a day of great joy, to celebrate it with pleasing meats and drinks, with illuminations and music. He obligeth them to acknowledge the love of God in giving them that day of consolation for the birth of their king Messias, Sabatai Sevi, his servant and first-born son in love.
"I only observe by the way the insolence of this im. postor. This day was a solemn day of fasting among the Jews formerly, as I have showed elsewhere, in memory of the burning of the temple by the Chaldees: several other
sad things happened in this month, as the Jews observe ; that then and upon the same day the second temple was destroyed; and that in this month it was decreed in the wilderness that the Israelites should not enter into Canaan, &c. Sabatai was born on this day, and therefore the fast must be turned into a feast : whereas, in truth, it had been well for the Jews had he not been born at all; and much better for himself, as will appear from what follows. But I return to my
author. The Jews of the city paid Sabatai Sevi great respect. They decked their synagogues with S. S. in letters of gold, and made for him in the wall a crown; they attributed the same titles and prophecies to him which we apply to our Saviour.
“He was also during this imprisonment visited by pilgrims from all parts, that had heard his story. Among whom Nehemiah Cohen from Poland was one, a man of great learning in the Kabbala and eastern tongues; who desired a conference with Sabatai, and at the conference maintained that, according to the Scripture, there ought to be a two-fold Messias ; one the son of Ephraim, a poor and despised teacher of the law; the other the son of David, to be a conqueror.
Nehemiah was content to be the former, the son of Ephraim, and to leave the glory and dignity of the latter to Sabatai. Sabatai, for what appears, did not mislike this. But here lay the ground of the quarrel : Nehemiah taught that the son of Ephraim ought to be the forerunner of the son of David, and to usher him in: and Nehemiah accused Sabatai of too great forwardness, in appearing as the son of David, before the son of Ephraim had led him the way. Sabatai could not brook this doctrine; for he might fear that the son of Ephraim, who was to lead the way, might pretend to be the son of David, and so leave him in the lurch; and therefore he excluded him from any part or share in this matter; which was the occasion of the ruin of Sabatai, and all his glorious designs.
Nehemiah, being disappointed, goes to Adrianople, and informs the great ministers of state against Sabatai, as a lewd and a dangerous person to the government, and that it was necessary to take him out of the way. The grand seignior, being informed of this, sends for Sabatai, who,