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Solomon Molcho

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Solomon Molcho (Hebrew: שלמה מולכוShlomo Mol'kho, originally Diogo Pires, (1500 – 13 December 1532) was a Portuguese mystic. Brilliant[1], a "New Christian" who converted back to Judaism, Molcho declared himself the Messiah, and was burned at the stake for apostasy.

Early life

Molcho was born a Christian to Marrano parents in Portugal about 1500. His baptismal name was probably Diogo Pires. He held the post of secretary in one of the higher courts of his native country. When the Jewish adventurer David Reubeni came ostensibly on a political mission from Khaibar (Peshawar, India) to Portugal, Molcho wished to join him, but was rejected. He then circumcised himself, though without thereby gaining Reubeni's favor, and emigrated to Turkey.

Occult studies

Molcho was a believer in dream interpretation who studied the Kabbalah with Joseph Taytazak and became acquainted with Joseph Caro. He then wandered as a preacher through the Land of Israel (then a province of the Ottoman Empire), where he achieved a great reputation and announced that the Messianic kingdom would come in 1540. In 1529 Molcho published a portion of his sermons under the title Derashot, or Sefer ha-Mefo'ar. Going to Italy, he was opposed by prominent Jews including Jacob Mantino ben Samuel, who feared that he might mislead their co-religionists. He succeeded in gaining the favor of Pope Clement VII and of some Judeophile cardinals at Rome. He was said to have predicted a certain flood which inundated Rome and various other places. After his many cabalistic and other strange experiments, Molcho felt justified in proclaiming himself the Messiah, or his precursor.

Travels and martyrdom

In company with David Reubeni, whom he came across in Italy, he went in 1532 to Ratisbon, where the emperor Charles V was holding a diet. On this occasion, Molcho carried a flag with the Hebrew word Maccabi, the four letters מכבי which also signify an abbreviation for Exodus 15:11 "Who among the mighty is like unto God?".[2] The emperor imprisoned both Molcho and Reubeni, and took them with him to Italy. In Mantua an ecclesiastical court sentenced Molcho to death by fire. At the stake, the emperor offered to pardon him on condition that he return to the Roman Catholic Church, but Molcho refused, asking for a martyr's death (5th of Tevet 5293 in the Hebrew calendar).

See also

References

  1. http://books.google.com/books?id=7lsVajEtaQ0C&lpg=PP1&dq=%22yosef%20eisen%22&pg=PA216#v=onepage&q=&f=false
  2. Singer, Isidore; Bloch, Phillipp. "Molko, Solomon" in Jewish Encyclopedia. Funk and Wagnalls, New York. 1901-1906.

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