I know this is widely claimed, but is there a historical source that can confirm that Shlomo Molcho considered himself a messiah (as opposed to merely predicting a keitz and generating a messianic fervor)?

This paper, for example, claims that he considered himself the Mashiach ben Ephraim, and this book writes that he claimed to be Eliyahu HaNavi. Is this speculation and inference, or did he actually identify himself as such in Chayat Hakaneh, Sefer HaMefoar, or elsewhere?

(Inspired by this question).

  • Do the paper or book explain what their bases are? – Double AA Jan 23 '13 at 23:19
  • @DoubleAA Not as far as I can tell. The paper (p. 19, note 68) seems to base it's claim on a vision Shlomo Molcho described here, from which one might infer that he thought he was destined to be Mashiach ben Yosef based on his description of "Mashiach ben Ephraim" here. – Fred Jan 24 '13 at 1:38
  • This is the way I should have asked my question. Thanks. – Bruce James Jan 24 '13 at 15:10
  • is this on topic? – mevaqesh Jun 3 '16 at 22:00
  • @Fred in case you are interested, there is currently quite a bit of discussion on meta over here: meta.judaism.stackexchange.com/q/262/8775 about which sort of questions ought to be on topic. Perhaps you would be interested in contributing. – mevaqesh Jul 21 '16 at 18:48

According to historian Henry Hart Milman, The History of the Jews (1883 available at Google E-Books), p. 360, Molcho never said he was messiah. Sol Scharfstein's book, Chronicle of Jewish History: From the Patriarchs to the 21st Century (Ktav 1997), p 173, says that Molcho considered himself a "messenger of G-d" sent to "proclaim the coming of the Messiah" (although Scharfstein lists Molcho as a "false messiah"). Another historian, Phylis Jestice, in her book Holy People of the World: A Cross-Cultural Encyclopedia (ABC-Clio 2004), p. 582, asserts that although Molcho did not claim to be the Messiah, others of his generation believed him to be the Messiah, including Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav (she doesn't provide a source, however). Rabbi Nachman's position seems unlikely since Molcho was already dead for 200 years by that time, and it is unlikely that Rabbi Nachman would have disagreed with Rambam's position that dead people can't be the Messiah.

  • Both answers are good, but I'm accepting this one because it basically shows that people who claim that he was a false messiah have no evidence that he actually declared himself a messiah. – Fred Jan 24 '13 at 19:37
  • @Fred He still might have been a false messianist, even if he didn't think or declare himself the Messiah. – Double AA Jan 27 '13 at 0:16
  • @DoubleAA - I guess that depends on your definition of "false messianist." If it means someone who incorrectly predicted the coming of the messiah, then I suppose so. Do you mean something else? – Fred Jan 27 '13 at 3:05
  • @Fred: I'm sure that these people put the Lubavitcher in the same category. – Bruce James Jan 27 '13 at 17:04
  • "it is unlikely that Rabbi Nachman would have disagreed with Rambam's position that dead people can't be the Messiah." It does not seem unlikely that a Hassidic figure could disagree with Rambam... – mevaqesh Oct 28 '15 at 4:14

Seder HaDoros records that he said he was a messenger of the Mashiach. (He writes this in the name of Shalsheles HaKabbalah (page 21), who lived at this very time.)

  • +1. Notice that the quote from Shalsheles HaKabblalah is והיה אומר היותו משלוחי המשיח, which does not suggest that he thought he was unique. – Fred Jan 24 '13 at 2:24
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    judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/17837/… --> I guess the Seder HaDorot agreed with this statement of the Shalshelet HaKabbalah – Menachem Jan 24 '13 at 15:29
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    @Menachem Read the first footnote in the publisher's foreword (the publisher was the son of the author of Maskil LeEisan, printed in the back of the Vilna Shas). – b a Jan 24 '13 at 18:39
  • @ba In fact, the Hebrew Wikipedia article cited in the linked comment above basically summarizes that footnote. – Fred Jan 24 '13 at 18:56
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    @Fred You're right, I had not looked at the Wikipedia page this time, relying on when I read it from the other comment. (Though I do think the Wikipedia page is slightly unclear and doesn't mention a few of the points.) – b a Jan 24 '13 at 19:04

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