Automatically translated from Basque, translation may contain errors. More information here. Elhuyarren itzultzaile automatikoaren logoa

Lessons from the Sabbatai Zevi mesiase

Izmir (Turkey), 1647. Rabbi Sabbatai Zevi (1626-1676) self-proclaimed Messiah. This self-name had no impact at that time. In 1651 he was expelled from Izmir and, for years, traversed Greece, Thrace, Palestine and Egypt adrift. But in 1665 Nathan met Gaza and thanks to his push he began to be a follower and in a short time the messianic movement occupied almost all of Europe, from Venice to Poland. It became one of the most important messianic movements in Jewish history.

But the following year, in 1666, Zevi was arrested by the Ottomans and the Jewish messiah moved to Islam. There's a version that says it changed because she fell in love with a Muslim woman, but most experts say she did it to save her life.

God is not Great (God is not good), published in 2007 by journalist and historian Christopher Hitchens (1949-2011), said that "for his enthusiastic followers not to create another religion" they decided not to kill Zevi. “At Visir’s palace, they asked Mesiasa if he was willing to receive a supernatural judgment. The archers of the court would regard it as a destiny and, if the sky deviated the arrows, they would consider it as true. If she gave up the test, they would kill her on the side. If he preferred to reject the dilemma, they said he was a real Muslim and would leave him alive.” And Zevi bet on the last option.

Thousands of followers who left everything to chase him, ran out and betrayed. But a few decided to continue behind Zevi by integrating conversion to Islam into their beliefs. Three and a half centuries later, there are still followers in Turkey. According to Hitchens, "the small Turkish syncratic sect, known as Dönme, holds loyalty to the Jews within the skin of Islamic ritual practice."

Hitchens used the case of Sabbatai Zevi to explain what he thought about the origin of religions. “It’s absurd that billions of people follow the orders of prophets who lived in the desert 1,300 or 2,000 years ago.”

He believes that these religions today dominate thanks to the political capacity of the profiles, the perseverance of their followers and apostles and, finally, randomly, who so desired. Sabbatai Zevi was perhaps not a skilled politician, nor a chance accompanied him, but it cannot be denied that some of his followers, contradictory, absurd contradictions, committed themselves to creating a religion around him.

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