Sunday, 11 March 2007


Born in 1626, Turkish Jew, Sabbatai Zevi had a religious experience when he was sixteen before going on a six year fast.
Emerging as a man who went from deep gloom to absolute euphoria, he declared himself the Messiah after hearing of a pogrom in Poland.
Preaching that the forbidden was allowed, including scourging and group sex, he attracted a large cult following, being banished from Salonika and then Smyrna. Meeting the Jewish scholar, Nathan Ashkenazi, in Jerusalem, the scholar encouraged his delusions and scenes of mass hysteria followed as Zevi declared the Day of Judgement was upon them.
Eventually, in Constantinople, the Sultan had had enough and arrested him, agreeing to spare his life if he converted to Islam. Zevi obliged, but six years later he was back to being Christ, finally dying in Albania.

(c) Anthony North, March 2007

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