You are on page 1of 19

The Sabbatian Movement in Turkey (1703-1708) and Reverberations in Northern Europe

Author(s): Richard H. Popkin and Stephanie Chasin

Source: The Jewish Quarterly Review, New Series, Vol. 94, No. 2 (Spring, 2004), pp. 300-317
Published by: University of Pennsylvania Press
Stable URL:
Accessed: 20/10/2010 05:59

Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use, available at JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use provides, in part, that unless
you have obtained prior permission, you may not download an entire issue of a journal or multiple copies of articles, and you
may use content in the JSTOR archive only for your personal, non-commercial use.

Please contact the publisher regarding any further use of this work. Publisher contact information may be obtained at

Each copy of any part of a JSTOR transmission must contain the same copyright notice that appears on the screen or printed
page of such transmission.

JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of
content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms
of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact

University of Pennsylvania Press is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to The
Jewish Quarterly Review.
THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW, Vol. 94, No. 2 (Spring 2004) 300-317

The SabbatianMovement in Turkey

(1703-1708) and Reverberationsin
Northern Europe

WE DISCUSS IN THIS ESSAY some hitherto unknown documents that

recently came to our attention. Our investigation started from a simple
examination as to whether Gershom Scholem had used Jacques Bas-
nage's Hi#toire desJtuti in his book on Sabbatai Zevi. We found that Scho-
lem cites one item from Basnage's work, namely, the study of some of
Nostradamus's prophecies by the Sabbatian leader Abraham Miguel Car-
dozo.' When we looked up the reference in the fifteen-volume 1715-16
edition of Basnage, we found a much larger text concerning Sabbatai
Zevi and his disciples.2 The information on the Sabbatian movement
came from early eighteenth-century letters by Johannes Heyman, a
Flemish pastor in Turkey, and Baron Daniel Jan de Hochepied, the
Dutch consul at Smyrna. These letters were sent to the burgermeister of
Deventer, Gijsbert Cuper. Basnage apparently cites from the actual let-
ters rather than from any printed source.
In his history of the Jews, Basnage mentions Heyman's meeting with
Cardozo, who informed him of a former pupil of his, Daniel Israel Bona-
foux, living in Smyrna at that time, and was destined to become Car-
dozo's successor as leader of the Sabbatian movement. The phenomenal
excitement generated by Sabbatai Zevi's prophetic announcements of
1665-66 led to the appearance of prophets all over Europe and the Otto-

We would like to thank Professor Matt Goldish of Ohio State University for
his interest and encouragement and, especially, for providing information about
the status of the Sabbatian movement in Jewish communities in Turkey, Egypt,
and Palestine.
1. Gershom Scholem, Sabbatai Sevi: The Mystical Messiah (Princeton, N.J.,
1973), 646, n. 145.
2. Jacques Basnage, HMstoiredes Jutif depuid Jesus-Christ jusqa'a present: Pour
servir de continuation a l'HIMtoirede Joseph (The Hague, 1716).

The Jeuwis Quarterly Reviue (Spring 2004)

Copyright (? 2004 Center for Advanced Judaic Studies. All rights reserved.

man Empire.3 After his death there were messianic claimants in Poland
and various parts of the Middle East, some declaring themselves to be the
reincarnation of Sabbatai. Cardozo probably represented the mainstream
group of survivors, hence Daniel Israel, as Cardozo's successor, could
call upon the significant following that was still loyal to Sabbatai Zevi
through Cardozo's interpretations.4
In his article on Cardozo for the Encyclopedia Judaica, Scholem writes
that Cardozo was part of a Sabbatian group that believed Sabbatai Zevi
would return forty years after his conversion to Islam.5 Following Car-
dozo, Daniel Israel claimed that Sabbatai Zevi was still living and would,
after forty-five years in hiding, return as promised to deliver his people
from their suffering.6 Since Sabbatai Zevi died in 1676 this would put his
reappearance at 1721.
In his recent treatment of European reactions to the Sabbatai Zevi
story, Michael Heyd discusses the anonymous text "The Devil of Del-
phos, Or, the Prophets of Baal," which lists false messiahs and prophets,
naming Sabbatai Zevi as the most famous imposter.7While Heyd identi-
fies the text as a comparison of Sabbatianism and the French Prophets,
he makes no historical connection between what was going on in London,
Rotterdam, and in the Ottoman Empire. Neither Scholem nor Heyd men-
tion Daniel Israel, his connection to Cardozo, or the interest shown in
him by European millenarians in the Netherlands and Smyrna.
From 1703 until 1709 Heyman and Hochepied in Smyrna engaged in
a lively discussion with Cuper in the Netherlands about the Sabbatian

3. See Richard H. Popkin, "Two Unused Sources about Sabbatai Zevi and
his Effect on European Communities," Dutch Jewish History 2: Proceedingsof the
FourthSymposiumon the Historyof the Jews in the Netherlands,7-10 December-Tel-
Aviv-Jeruwalem,1986, ed. Jozeph Michman (Jerusalem: Institute for Research on
Dutch Jewry, Hebrew Univ., 1989), 2:67-74.
4. For more information about some of these other messianic prophets after
Sabbatai Zevi's death, see Harris Lenowitz, The Jewui,hMessiahs (New York,
1998), 168-97.
5. Gershom Scholem, "Cardozo, Abraham Miguel," Encyclopedia Judaica(New
York, 1972), 5:164-65. Cardozo had been the leading figure in the Sabbatian
movement after Sabbatai Zevi's death but seems not to have been completely
accepted because he was a Spaniard and not a Turkish Jew. (He also refused to
convert to Islam as Sabbatai had done.)
6. Jacques Basnage, TheHistoryof the Jewsfrom Jesus Chrit to thePresentTime,
trans. Thomas Taylor (London, 1708 ed.), 758.
7. See Michael Heyd, "The 'Jewish Quaker': Christian Perceptions of Sabba-
tai Zevi as an Enthusiast," HebraicaVeritas?ChristianHebraists,Jews,and the Study
of Judaim in EarlyModernEurope,ed. Allison Coudert and Jeffrey Shoulson (Phil-
adelphia, forthcoming 2004).
302 JQR 94:3 (2004)

movement and the state of the Jews in the Ottoman Empire. Cuper then
passed this information on to Jacques Basnage, who put it in the 1708
English edition of his history of the Jews. Each of these men was a mem-
ber of either the Dutch or the French Reformed Church in the Nether-
lands, and it was clear from their letters that Calvinism lay behind their
interest in the Jewish community of the Ottoman Empire. This corre-
spondence between Smyrna and the Netherlands generates a number of
questions. Why did events concerning the Jews, the Sabbatian move-
ment, and its principal figures so intrigue these men? Was there a conver-
sionary and millenarian impulse stemming from the Reformed Church
that provoked inquiries into the Sabbatian movement? Did the curiosity
about the Jews in Smyrna have a connection with the millenarian im-
pulses of the contemporary French Prophets movement in Europe? And
what does all of this tell us about Basnage's major work, Hi.itoire des Juf11?
Setting out to learn what we could about Gijsbert Cuper, we found a
massive trove of papers by this polymath at the Dutch Royal Library, of
which only a small part has been catalogued. Cuper was professor of
classics and headmaster of the Athenaeum at Deventer. He corresponded
regularly with some of the leading scholars both in the Netherlands and
abroad, including Johann Georg Graevius, Petrus Burman, Pierre Bayle,
Jean le Clerc, and G. W. Leibniz. There were also several letters to Cuper
from the Flemish pastor Heyman and the consul Hochepied.8
Cuper's correspondence with Heyman, Hochepied, Basnage, and oth-
ers coincided with the arrival in 1707 in England of the Huguenot refu-
gees.9 After the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685 it was no
longer legal to be a Protestant in France. Hundreds of thousands of refu-
gees poured into the Netherlands, Germany, and England. A remnant
remained in France, carrying on their religious beliefs in secret, hiding in
the woods and caves. Pierre Jurieu, the leader of the French Reformed
Church exiles in the Netherlands (and Basnage's brother-in-law), became
their contact with the outside world, sending them sermons and receiving
messages from them. When the persecutions in France became unbear-
able, these Protestants also fled. In England, they became known as the
French Prophets on account of their mystical practices and prophetic
revelations about the portent of their predicament. In the first decade of

8. We thank Professor Wiep van Bunge of Erasmus University of Rotterdam

for putting us in touch with a Dutch graduate student, Ruben Buys, who went
to the Royal Library and copied the letters in which we were interested and
carried on a further search for related materials, both there and in Leiden. We
are most grateful to Mr. Buys for his invaluable help in our research.
9. We thank Matt Goldish for pointing out this coincidence.

the eighteenth century, they attracted much attention. Nicolas Fatio de

Duillier, Isaac Newton's most important mathematical disciple, became
one of the movement's leaders, and various members of English nobility
joined the group. Great expectations were generated, followed by great
persecutions. Some left England for the Netherlands and started mille-
narian ferment among the French Reformed and Dutch Reformed
Church. It was to the leaders of the movement in Rotterdam that Pierre
Jurieu provided both shelter and money.'0
Both Jacques Basnage and Gijsbert Cuper were extremely interested
in the French Prophets and in the possibility that this group was the
harbinger of an imminent millenarian development. The last decade of
the seventeenth century and the first of the eighteenth was a period of
serious millenarian expectation. In England, scholars like Newton were
trying to figure out when the Messiah would appear from the prophecies
in the books of Daniel and Revelation. In his Boyle lectures, William
Whiston showed how many of the prophecies had already been fulfilled,
how many remained to be fulfilled, and mathematically how long it
should take to get to the end point in time. In the Netherlands, the Dutch
Reformed Church kept up its millenarian hopes. Many of its leaders
trained at Herborn, a Calvinist seminary in Germany with millenarian
tendencies, which held the Jews to be of critical importance in the culmi-
nation of human history." Some of them supported the contemporary
Jews of Amsterdam and watched their activities both inside and outside
the synagogue for signs that the crucial end events were about to begin.
From the seventeenth century, the premillennial theory offered by Jo-
seph Mede at Cambridge and Johann Heinrich Alsted at Herborn in-
cluded the conversion of the Jews as one of its crucial steps. Such
Calvinist scholars tried to ascertain the date when this conversion would
occur, with many calculations centered on 1655-56, although the dating
proved to be flexible. There was some question whether all Jews would
be expected to convert, just some, or, in Mede's theory, just one, like Saul
of Tarsus. In light of this, the significance of the Sabbatian movement
was of immediate theological concern. After 1665, when Sabbatai Zevi
made his announcement that the messianic age had begun, Protestant
millenarians learned as much as possible about the Sabbatians and Jew-

10. Hillel Schwartz, The FrenchProphets:The History of a MillenarianGroupin

Etqhteenth-CentaryEngland(Berkeley, 1980), 170-71.
11. On the history of Herborn, see Paul Dibon, "Le fonds neerlandais de la
bibliotheque de Herborn," Regards ar la Hollandeda siecle d'or (Naples, 1990),
304 JQR 94:3 (2004)

ish developments in the Ottoman Empire. This seems to explain the con-
tacts being established between Herborn and Smyrna and the shift from
theorizing about the significance of the Sabbatian movement to traveling
in the Ottoman Empire to learn about the state of the Jews first-hand.
In Sabbatai Zevi's time, Peter Serrarius testified that he rushed to the
Amsterdam synagogue to find out what he could about the rumors that
the Messiah had come in 1665. He sent John Dury a copy of Sabbatai
Zevi's letter to the Amsterdam synagogue. The Dutch newspapers of the
time contained numerous stories about Sabbatai Zevi, apparently to sat-
isfy the curiosity of non-Jews in the Netherlands.'2 Even though the pro-
claimed Messiah had never been seen or heard in the Netherlands, the
interest in Sabbatai Zevi and his movement was intense among Jews
and Christians; outside the Ottoman Empire, Amsterdam was one of the
principal centers of Sabbatianism.'3
Similarly, some of the French Reformed Church leaders in exile, such
as Jurieu, took an active interest in Jewish affairs. Jurieu was even given
a pension by the Amsterdam synagogue for promoting the welfare of the
Jews.'4 Basnage, unlike his brother-in-law, had no patience for the ec-
static and mystical methods that the French Prophets used in their mille-
narian practices. Nonetheless, he regarded these people as having a
special religious role in the divine drama and sent supportive messages to

12. Jetteke van Wijk, in her interesting article on the spread of the Sabbatian
movement in Europe, traces the role the emerging mass media played. While
reports in pamphlets were often not taken seriously, a more objective newspaper
journalism was developing. The first report about the Sabbatian movement in
one of these more impartial Dutch newspapers appeared in the summer of 1665
and by the beginning of the following year the OprechteHaerle,nseCourantwas
covering the events in the Levant in great detail. Between late 1665 and the
beginning of 1667, thirty-nine articles in thirty editions of that particular newspa-
per dealt with Sabbatai Zevi and his movement. The coverage not only informed
the Dutch and other Europeans as to the events in Smyrna but also facilitated
the success of Sabbatianism in Europe. See "The Rise and Fall of Shabbatai Zevi
as Reflected in Contemporary Press Reports," StudiaRosenthaliana33:1 (1999):
13. The interest was not confined to the Netherlands and the Ottoman Em-
pire. In 1810 the Abbe Gregoire discussed the secret followers of Sabbatai Zevi
in Turkey (the Donmeh). He ended his account by stating that in 1808 a follower
of Sabbatai Zevi had appeared in Paris as a musician. See Gregoire, Histotredea
sectes religieudes: Qut sont nees, se sont modiJi/es, se sont iteintes dans Lesdiffirentes con-
tresi diuglobe, depumsle commencement du st'ecle dernt'erjusqu'a l'epoque actuelle (Paris,
14. It would be interesting to know if Jurieu also received material on the
continuation of the Sabbatian movement in the Ottoman Empire in the early
eighteenth century.

his beleaguered coreligionists trapped in France, rushing to support them

when they emerged in England and the Netherlands. Basnage also made
clear in his Hitoire des Juifj that he expected the messianic age to begin
in the very near future and awaited the conversion of the Jews as a pre-
lude to the Second Coming, which the 1715-16 edition predicted would
occur in 1716.15
In disentangling the various threads from Cuper's correspondence,16 it
becomes evident that Heyman and Hochepied had developed a special
interest in the Sabbatian movement. Both were students at Herborn, and
both studied under Johannes a Lent, doctor of theology and professor of
Oriental languages and Church history, who had published a work on
Jewish messiahs in 1683 in which he discussed Sabbatai Zevi's career.17
Hochepied was appointed Dutch consul in Turkey in 1688.18With the
same zeal with which he championed the interests of the Reformed
Church in Smyrna, Hochepied also vowed to give protection to the Jews
of the Ottoman Empire, a community he considered to be oppressed.19

15. Basnage, Hiitoire desJuf11, 1715-16 ed., 15:1105: "en comptant les Annees
lunaires a la maniere des Chaldeens, comme faisoit Daniel, qui etoit en ce Pais-
la, cet Avenement doit s'accomplir l'An 1716."
16. Over the course of a couple of months we received packets of photocopies
of the letters that were found for us in the Dutch Royal Library. Most of them
are in Dutch. A graduate student at UCLA, Christine Sellin, translated the mate-
rial for us. We were also helped by a visiting Dutch professor, Elly van Gelderen.
All the letters we received were between Cuper and Heyman or between Cuper
and Basnage. The content of some of these letters clearly indicates that Hochep-
ied was a correspondent with Cuper as well, but so far we have been unable to
locate any of his letters.
17. Johannes a Lent, Schediasmahidtoricophi/ologicumde Judaeorumpseudo-mes-
s4il. A 1697 edition of this work is in the collection of the Center for Advanced
Judaic Studies library at the University of Pennsylvania. The work was the only
source of information that Basnage's good friend, Pierre Bayle, had about Sabba-
tai Zevi, who is mentioned just once, very briefly, in Bayle's Dictionary.Bayle
could not read the most available sources -the account by Paul Rycault in John
Evelyn's The ThreeImpostersand the account by the Dutch consul of the time,
Thomas Coenen-since they were in English and Dutch, languages he did not
know. The dissertation by Johannes a Lent includes material from both Rycault
and Coenen. See Pierre Bayle, art. "Weile," in which he writes "faux Messir
Sabbathi Tzebbi qui avoit fait beaucoup de bruit en Turquie depuis peu de tems."
Dictionnairehistorique et critique,1740 ed., 492. On Rycault and Evelyn, see Rich-
ard H. Popkin, "Three English Tellings of the Sabbatai Zevi Story," Jeuwdh Hic-
tory 8:1-2 (1994): 43-54.
18. Paul Rycault had held the position of English consul during the time of
Sabbatai Zevi.
19. Abraham J. van der Aa, Biographcichuoordenboek derNederlanden(Haarlem,
306 JQR 94:3 (2004)

The second figure in our story, Heyman, was appointed to pastor to the
Dutch merchants in Smyrna after his graduation from Herborn. From
the time he arrived in the Ottoman Empire in the summer of 1700, Hey-
man began acquiring the tools he needed to understand the many cultures
around him. He learned Turkish, Arabic, and Hebrew, among other lan-
guages, and he translated Turkish documents for the Dutch govern-
ment.20In 1703, Cuper mentions in his letters that he has been reading a
book by a Huguenot refugee, Pierre Allix, who, according to his interpre-
tation of the book of Daniel, predicts the messianic era will begin in
1720.21 This, as well as a request from Hochepied, seems to have led
Heyman to investigate Jewish messianism among the Turkish Jews and
to send a treatise to Cuper a few months later with the results of his
research. This tract was sent via Hochepied. To date we have been unable
to locate it but much of its content seems to be repeated in the letters.
Heyman and Hochepied embarked on a series of reports to Cuper, at-
tempting to learn as much as possible about the messianic Jewish activi-
ties in Smyrna and its environs. Heyman made sure that his letters
reached Cuper, sending them on different boats from different ports with
instructions for their delivery to the Netherlands.
At the time Heyman and Hochpied were writing to their Dutch corre-
spondents, the Sabbatian movement itself was at something of a cross-
roads. Sabbatai Zevi had died in 1676, and his chief prophet, Nathan of
Gaza, died in 1680. During the decade after Nathan's death, a consider-
able number of Ottoman Jews, convinced of the imminent return of Sab-
batai, converted to Islam in his footsteps. This Muslim Sabbatian sect
became known as the Donmeh, and over the next half century it slowly
lost touch with the more conservative Sabbatians who remained within
the Jewish fold. The same period saw a wave of Sabbatian prophetic
activity in Europe, particularly in connection with the circle of Abraham
Rovigo in Italy. In the Ottoman Empire, Abraham Miguel Cardozo con-
tinued his teaching and prophetic activities on behalf of the movement.
Daniel Israel Bonafoux, his student and fellow prophet, was possessed of
a maggid,a heavenly mentor who revealed secrets to him, including vari-
ous dates of messianic expectation. He saw visions of deceased Sabbatian
figures and performed tricks with a globe of fire that appeared behind

20. This led Cuper later to recommend him to be in charge of language studies
at the University of Leiden.
21. Gijsbert Cuper to Johannes Heyman, January 13, 1703, Cuper Collec-
tion, Koninklijke Bibliotheek, The Hague.

him as a sign of his bona fides. He also received instructions from Car-
dozo on certain mystico-magical activities he was to perform.22
When Heyman and Hochpied reported on Daniel Israel, Israel and
Cardozo were in the middle of a deep imbroglio with other Sabbatians.
The background was this: In 1700, two leaders of the Ashkenazi believ-
ers, Judah he-Hasid and Hayim Malakh, had organized and led a size-
able movement of Sabbatians to Jerusalem in expectation of Sabbatai's
imminent reappearance. Judah he-Hasid died almost immediately upon
their arrival, as did many others who accompanied him. It appeared that
the enterprise would collapse as yet another failure of Sabbatian proph-
ecy; but a number of the believers held out, and they were reinforced in
1702 by a new group led by Abraham Rovigo and Mordecai Ashkenazi.
A study hall was established with survivors from the original group as
well as the newcomers. Cardozo was deeply distrustful of the entire proj-
ect. When representatives of the he-Hasid circle came to Turkey in 1701-
1702, Cardozo warned his disciples there not to get involved with them.
He was certain that the Jerusalem undertaking was doomed. He also
insisted that the two he-Hasid representatives in Smyrna came not to
learn certain secrets of Sabbatai's teachings from Cardozo's students as
they claimed, but to unmask Daniel Israel as a fraud. (The local rabbis
had long suspected Daniel; they had the local qadi expel him from the
city, and he was forced to live in the suburb of Kasaba.) On this occasion
Cardozo gave Daniel a secret ceremony to perform that would reveal the
true intentions of these visitors. They soon returned to Jerusalem. It
should be noted, however, that the he-Hasid group that came to Cardozo
himself in Constantinople impressed him favorably and left on good
In his first letter on the subject of the Sabbatian movement, Heyman
explains that somebody was presenting himself as a prophet among the
Jews in Tiria, telling them that Sabbatai Zevi was still alive and would

22. On Daniel Israel Bonafoux, see Sefer merivatkode4h,in Aron Freimann,

'InyeneShabtai Tsevi (Berlin, 1912; reprint: Jerusalem, 1968), 10-11; Heinrich
Graetz, GeschichtederJudenvondenaltestenZeitenbkizur Gegenwart(Berlin, 1890);
Sefunot14 (= TheBookof GreekJewvry 4: TheShab6ateanMovementin Greece,Jubilee
VolumePresentedto GershomScholembyMeir Benayabu)(Jerusalem, 1971-77), 197,
and n. 85 there; Basnage, History of the Jews, 757-59.
23. Meir Benayahu, "The 'Holy Brotherhood' of R. Judah Hasid and their
Settlement in Jerusalem," Sefunot3-4 (1960): 133-82, esp.161-63. See also D. J.
Halperin, trans. and ed., AbrahamMiguel Cardozo:SelectedWritings (New York,
2001), 243, 248-49.
308 JQR 94:3 (2004)

return as promised. With scorn, Heyman describes the tricks and magic
being used to convince the gullible Jews of this message.24Cuper replies
a few months later that Hochepied had written to him about the same
Jewish prophet, Daniel Israel, who was in the valley of Magnesia, south-
east of Smyrna, and asks Heyman if this is close to Tiria or whether the
professed prophet is moving from one place to another.25
In the next several letters Heyman supplies more information about
what the Jews are doing and believing and Cuper in turn raises ques-
tions. Cuper is dubious about the reports concerning new prophets, cer-
tain that the Jews would at some point see the error of following these
false messiahs or magicians and convert to Christianity. Although dis-
dainful of the conjuring methods used by Daniel Israel, Heyman was
sufficiently involved with the Sabbatians to plan a trip to Jerusalem in
1704 with the prophet. Heyman asks Cuper if the latter could obtain
funds for the impecunious Daniel Israel to make the trip, but there is
nothing in the material we have looked through that indicates they made
such a joint voyage. Heyman, who wrote a book on his travels throughout
Europe and the Middle East, apparently went to Jerusalem at a later
date without Daniel Israel.26Daniel's desire to go to Palestine in 1704-5,
about which we learn from the Dutch correspondence, is instructive. The
anti-Sabbatian camp in Jerusalem had finally asserted itself exactly at
this point and had Hayim Malakh and his Sabbatian group expelled from
the city. Many converted to Islam. The entire movement was in crisis
with the collapse of this mission of great hope for the believers.27It ap-
pears that either Cardozo and Daniel had made peace with the he-Hasid/
Malakh group by this time and hoped to revive it, or they sought an
entirely separate movement to the Holy Land under their own auspices.
In 1705 Cuper writes to Heyman for more information about the ev-
eryday life of these Jews. Although he has learned much from Heyman
and Hochepied about the Jews who still expect Sabbatai Zevi to return
and celebrate his birthday (and also follow the prophet Daniel Israel),
Cuper keeps probing to find out if there are signs that anything is happen-
ing within the Jewish community that would indicate preparation for
messianic events. Did they live in one community? Were they of one

24. Heyman to Cuper, April 13, 1703.

25. Cuper to Heyman, August 3, 1703
26. Heyman to Cuper, June 23, 1704. On Heyman's travels throughout the
Middle East, see his Reizen door een gedee/te van Europa, kletn Asien, verscheideeilanden
van de archipel, Syrien, Palestina of het H. Land, Aegypten, den berg Sinai, enz (Leiden,
27. Benayahu, "The 'Holy Brotherhood,"' 3-4.

opinion? He asks Heyman to forward such reports to him, the sooner the
better, so that he can be informed of this "unprecedented and scarcely
believable business."28
As cited in Basnage, in 1706 Heyman met the leader of the Sabbatians,
Abraham Miguel Cardozo, in Cairo. Heyman writes to Cuper that Car-
dozo is about a hundred years old and has two wives, one apparently
young enough to have an infant.29It was during this meeting that Car-
dozo told Heyman that Daniel Israel was his student and disciple and
cited a quatrain from Nostradamus to indicate the approaching messianic
event.30Heyman confides that he is skeptical of Cardozo's claims to be a
prophet, saying that his predictions of future events only proved his de-
ceit. To indicate that he was in fact the Messiah, Cardozo showed Hey-
man the pair of horns that he had behind his ears, which, Heyman relates,
he touched and thought were about a finger in length. Heyman then felt
behind his own ears and found the beginnings of little horns, which he
believed to be a sinister omen.
Cuper expresses surprise that Cardozo would have known of Nostra-
damus, of whom he says that he "is seen by that [Jewish] nation as a
prophet, which he is also held to be by many Christians."'3' Heyman re-
plies that Cardozo probably learned of the French seer while in studying
in Spain, perhaps at Salamanca. Nostradamus' teachings would have
been more common in a Christian country than in the Muslim world.
Cuper was obviously unaware that Cardozo was a Spaniard. Cardozo
then transmitted the prophecies of Nostradamus to the Jews in the Otto-
man Empire, who otherwise would not have known of them.32
Heyman remarks that a change occurs in the Sabbatian movement

28. "wat van dese ongehoorde en haast ongelooflycke saake magh wesen."
Cuper to Heyman, December 19, 1705.
29. Heyman to Cuper, May 29, 1706.
30. Heyman to Cuper, May 29, 1706:
En l'an cincq cens octante plus et moins
On attendra le siecle bien etrange
En l'an sept cens et trois (cieux en temoins)
Regner plusjeurs un a cinq feront change.
31. "dat by die natie weit aengesien als een prophet, waer voor hy ook by veil
Christenen weit gehouden." Cuper to Heyman, September 27, 1706.
32. Heyman to Cuper, January 29, 1707. Nostradamus himself in his letter to
the French king, Henri II, explained that his ability to foretell the future came
from his forebears. Elsewhere he clarifies this by claiming that he was a member
of one of the lost tribes. See Richard H. Popkin, "Predicting, Prophesying, Divin-
ing and Foretelling from Nostradamus to Hume," HMtoryof EuropeanIdeas 5:2
(1984): 117-35.
310 JQR 94:3 (2004)

after Cardozo's murder by his nephew in the summer of 1706. Daniel

Israel carried on the movement, although, as Heyman writes, he did not
perform his rapturous miracles as he had done previously. His power
seemed to have ceased completely, and he carried on his work in silence.33
Yet even as Daniel Israel lost some of his influence, the Calvinists' interest
in Sabbatianism and the Ottoman Empire's Jewish community did not
Heyman and Hochepied gathered information about the attention
given to the disciples of Sabbatai Zevi and any messianic activity. In
1707, Cuper writes to both Hochepied and Heyman that "from Aleppo
to Marseilles, letters have been received" that tell of the "birth of a child,
called the messiah and the antichrist," and that Jews are recounting how
certain miracles and celestial signs appeared on the day of his birth.
Cuper comments that the belief in such things is so indecent that he can-
not imagine how the grand master of Malta could be taken in by the
reports. The Jews, on the other hand, are so credulous, Cuper writes,
that they "take everything for a messiah." Nevertheless, Cuper urges his
correspondents in Smyrna to find out where these stories come from and
whether Jews, or other Oriental peoples, believe in them.34
In the following summer, Heyman writes to Cuper that he had been
taken by the Jews of Smyrna to a nearby village named Sjobar to see the
synagogue that stood above the cave of the prophet Elijah. There the
Dutch pastor spent the whole time disputing with his hosts and discuss-
ing the coming of the Messiah. The Turks, Heyman learned, were expect-
ing the arrival of the Antichrist, a giant who could straddle hills half a
mile apart and whose voice could be heard around the world. Hearing
his call, the Jews would then gather from all parts of the world. The
Muslims expected that Jesus would then descend from heaven, and on
the wings of angels be set down on the towers of the white mosque in
Damascus. At this point men would take up daggers and kill the Anti-
christ. One of the Jews, who had recently been in Constantinople, related
to Heyman that he had a letter in High German which told of the birth
of a Jewish child in Baghdad who could speak eight days after his cir-
cumcision. Heyman asked whether the child was the Messiah, to which
the answer was no but that the child was sent by the Messiah. Heyman

33. Heyman to Cuper, January 29, 1707.

34. "Van Aleppo zyn tot Marseillen brieven vekoomen dewelke Schynen de
geboorte van een kindt, die Messias ende de AntiChrist genaemt wert.... Ick
kenne de lightgeloofdigheyt der Jooden, ende dat die natie, een exempel van
Godts reghtveerdighe toorn, alles voor eenen Messias aenneemt." Cuper to Hey-
man, March 12, 1707.

concluded this section of his letter with the hope that he could go to
Constantinople in the coming year to learn more.35
Seemingly intrigued by these messages from Smyrna about the birth
of a messiah, Cuper relates to Heyman that he had been informed by
Hochepied about a "child that is supposed to be the Antichrist and the
true messiah" and that this Jewish child "could eat, walk and speak
within eight days after the circumcision." Cuper once more dismisses
such reports as fiction, commenting, "this poor and unhappy folk believes
everything that gives hope." The Jews, he continues, "suffer the judg-
ment of God, because [they are] a people that know not Christ.... I
wish from the bottom of my heart, that Christ, if it pleases him, converts
his brothers of the flesh, and that the plenitude of the heathens could
enter into his kingdom."36In this, Cuper seems to share Basnage's view
that it is up to the divine power to bring about the conversion of the
Another item of interest for these correspondents was the dispersal of
Jews throughout the world. The search for the lost tribes was intense
during this period, as it had been since the previous century. According
to millenarian beliefs based on passages from the books of Daniel and
Revelation, the ten tribes would reappear at the end of time, after the fall
of the world's empires. For both Jewish and Christian millenarians, the
Jews would be returned to the Holy Land, whereupon universal salva-

35. Heyman to Cuper, July 10, 1708.

36. "De H. de Hochepid heeft my geschreven van het fabulens kind, dat den
Antichrist soude zyn, en den waaren Messias maer syn Wel G. [his honor] seydt
niet, dat dit een verdightsel is van de Venetiansse Jooden.... Het Joods kind
dat binnen 8 daghen nae de besnydenis wandelde, ensprak is sekerlyk een ver-
dightsel, ende dit arm en ongeluckigh volk gelooft alles wat maer hoop geeft tot
de komste van haaren noeyd sullende koome Messias.... Het gheen V-Eern
[your honor] seydt van de kleynaghtinge die de Mahometaanen voor de Jooden
hebben, is al mede een klaar teeken van haare verwerpinge en groote blintheyt,
ende siet men daer nyt, dat het oordeel van Goot op haer leyt om dat een volk
dat Christus niet kend of ten hooghsten maar aght een prophet te zyn haar soo
qualyk handle daernoghtans gheen deel heeft aen den twist die tusschen de Chris-
tenen en haar is of den Messias gekoomen is of niet. Ick wensche nyt grond van
my herd dat Christus eens belief de te beekeeren syne broederen nae het vleesch
ende dat de volheyt der Heydenen al moghte ingegaen zyn in syn Coningryk."
Cuper to Heyman, February 16, 1709.
37. The Amsterdam Jewish community was important in this regard. If the
Jews were beginning to see the errors of their ways and beginning to convert, it
would be visible to their Christian friends. The Amsterdam Jewish community
was free and the choice that the Jews would make would not be coerced, as it
had been in Spain and Portugal, but would be most meaningful.
312 JQR 94:3 (2004)

tion would be achieved, although for Christians the conversion of the

Jews to Christianitywas a vital factor in bringing about the Second Com-
ing.38Reports from explorers and colonizers gave rise to theories that the
lost tribes were in both North and South America. The opening up of
commerce to India and China and the discovery of Jewish activities there
led to rumors that the lost tribes were in Asia. Similarly, the contact with
"judaized" Ethiopians, or Abyssinians, also led to speculations along
these lines.
The correspondence between Heyman and Cuper clearly reveals the
interest in the millenariantheory of the lost tribes. The conquest of Mecca
by the ten tribes of Israel, a recurrent theme circulating in Europe since
at least the 1640s, was supposed to be a sign that the messianic age was
about to begin. John Dury gives a picture of this in his introduction to
Thomas Thorowgood's Jews in America, or Probabilities, that those Indiand
are Judaitca1.39 A thousand or more years after Mohammed's conquest of
Mecca in 630 C.E., the Jewish recapture would precede their return to
the Holy Land and the messianic events that would then ensue. Some
seventeenth-century reports, detailed by Scholem, even claim that Mecca
had been conquered by the ten tribes of Israel and it was just a matter of
days until other events would take place.40
In a letter to Cuper written in 1705, Heyman mentioned a group of
Arabs known as the Jews of Chaibar, who lived around Mecca; both he
and Cuper attempted to determine the genealogy of this group. They
were still exchanging information about this community in 1708. Heyman
noted that he had asked many people about them. He discovered that in
the time of Mohammed they had an army of twenty-four troops, each
comprising a thousand men, and that they fought against Mohammed
and his followers. They were also called "Anas," Heyman informs Cuper,
but when he asked the Jews about this community they told him that
they were unaware of such a group and that only Arab Muslims were to
be found in that land, possibly "because they were taken with the fanciful

38. See Clarke Garrett, Respectable Folly; MZ/fllenartand

and the French Revolution
in Franceand England (Baltimore, 1975), 185; Henri Mechoulan, introduction to
Menasseh ben Israel, Esperance d'idrad(Paris, 1979), esp. 55-61; Richard H. Pop-
kin, "Christian Jews and Jewish Christians in the Seventeenth Century," Jewidh
Christians and Christian Jewvs,ed. R. H. Popkin and G. M. Weiner (Dordrecht,
1994), 57-72; and Richard H. Popkin, "The Lost Tribes, the Caraites and the
English Millenarians," Journal of Jevidh Studies 37:2 (1986): 213-27.
39. See Richard H. Popkin, "The Rise and Fall of the Jewish Indian Theory,"
AfenadsehBen Israel and Hid World, ed. Yosef Kaplan, Henry M6choulan, and Rich-
ard H. Popkin (Leiden, 1989), 67.
40. See Scholem, Sabbatai Sev4 335-36.

stories of the famous Sabbatian." Heyman vowed to find out more about
The letters from Hochepied and Heyman to Cuper are the reason Sab-
batai Zevi and his disciples are to be found in Basnage's history of the
Jews. A series of letters between Cuper and Basnage in 1707 indicate
that Basnage, a leading pastor and journalistic figure among the French
refugees in the Netherlands, was working on a second edition of his his-
tory. Josephus had provided an account of the history of the Jews up to
the Roman destruction of the Temple in the first century. Subsequently,
there are accounts of Jewish developments in various parts of the world
but no complete or comprehensive history.42 Basnage, in exile in the
Netherlands, took up where Josephus left off. Basnage saw himself in
the same historical camp as those writing the histories of various coun-
tries and movements. His was an attempt to be objective and to structure
the material in a meaningful form. He sought to encompass what hap-
pened in Jewish communities all over the world and to deal with impor-
tant Jewish theories, such as the kabbalah, in terms that European
intellectuals could appreciate. In this sense, Basnage's is the first attempt
at a nontheological history.43 Basnage was very close to Pierre Bayle, in
friendship and in spirit, and he used much the same historical and critical
The documents we have found from the Cuper collection show that
Basnage did not know about the Sabbatai Zevi episode while he was
writing the second edition. Basnage sent a manuscript copy to Cuper in
1707 and, in a series of letters, Cuper gave his opinion about various
points, evidencing a particular interest in the treatment of false messiahs
in ancient and medieval times. As Cuper worked through the manuscript
he realized there was no mention of Sabbatai Zevi. At this point, he rec-
ommended to Basnage that he read Johannes 'aLent and also forwarded
him the materials he had been sent by Hochepied and Heyman. This led
Basnage to include some of the Sabbatai Zevi story and part of one of
Heyman's letters on the last page of the English edition that appeared in
1708.44Out of order and unconnected to the preceding material, it looked

41. Heyman to Cuper, July 10, 1708.

42. Menasseh ben Israel had said that he was going to undertake such a his-
tory. He included this venture in the list of books he intended to publish, which
he appended to various writings. He died before accomplishing the task.
43. See Adam Sutcliffe, Judaidm and Enlihtenment (Cambridge, 2003), espe-
cially the chapter "The Limits of Erudition: Jacques Basnage and Pierre Bayle,"
44. Basnage to Cuper, October 8, 1707.
314 JQR 94:3 (2004)

like what it was: a last-minute addition. In the third edition the material
was fully incorporated into the section on the Jews in the Ottoman Em-
Basnage's Hiitoire des Juifs was extremely influential. The first edition
of 1706 was so successful that an abridged edition was actually appended
to an edition of Josephus, and a somewhat modified version was put
out in Catholic France. A Dutch version appeared in 1726 and Solomon
Maimon embarked upon a Hebrew translation in the late eighteenth cen-
tury, although it was never completed. Hannah Adams also relied heavily
upon the work in producing her own Hiitoly of the Jews (1812).46 Histoire
des Jtfs was used as a basis for two eighteenth-century histories of the
Jews in Danish and Yiddish.4 The Danish history by Ludvig Holberg
was translated into German, thus transmitting Basnage's history, includ-
ing his information about Sabbatai Zevi and his disciples, throughout
Europe. For unexplained reasons, Basnage reports that Sabbatai Zevi
was beheaded by the Turkish authorities. This account first appears in
the 1708 English edition and is repeated in French in the 1715-16 edi-
tion.8 We do not know whether Basnage heard this story from reports
sent by Hochepied and Heyman to Cuper. At any rate, Holberg accepted
it at face value and reiterated it in his Dutch edition. This version does
not, however, appear in Menahem Mann Amelander's Yiddish history of
the Jews. Amelander instead discusses Sabbatai Zevi's conversion to
Islam and remarks that one year after the false messiah's death "another
imposter," Daniel Israel, appeared.9 Holberg took Basnage's comment

45. It was Professor Matt Goldish who first apprised us of the fact that Bas-
nage did not discuss anything about Sabbatai Zevi until the English edition and
that only in the third edition (1715-16) was the Sabbatian movement placed in
historical context.
46. TheHidtoryof the Jewvfrom the Destructionof Jerusalemto theNineteenthCen-
tury, 2 vols. (Boston, 1812).
47. Basnage, Vervolgop FlavitusJosephusof AlgemeneHidtoriederJoodscheNaatsie
(Amsterdam, 1726); Ludvig Holberg, JodiskehiAtorie fra verdensbegyndelse,
til didsetider (Copenhagen, 1742); Menahem Mann Amelander, She'eritYidrael
(Amsterdam, 1743). See G. Cerny, Theology,PolitiscandLettersat the Crossroadsof
EuropeanCivilization:JacquesBadnageand the BayleanHuguenotRefugeesin theDutch
Republic (Dordrecht, 1987), 185. Cerny notes that Amelander's history was
printed seven times in Yiddish and ten times in Hebrew translation.
48. "You know, that [Sabbatai Zevi] pretended to be the Messiah; and that
he abjur'd his Religion, turn'd Mahometan, and thirty six or thirty seven Years
ago, lost his Head by order of Sultan Mfahomet" (emphasis in original), Historyof
the Jewv,1708 ed., 758.
49. "Eenige jaren na den dood van SabbathaiZebi, deed zich een andere be-
drieger op, DaniffIIsrad genaamd, die te Slnyrna het voorzangers-ambt bij zijne
geloofsgenooten vervulde" (emphasis in original). Amelander, She'erit Yidrael,

that Daniel Israel's influence subsided after Cardoza's death to mean that
the movement came to a complete and final end with Daniel Israel in
1706.50 However, as we show, the letters about the Sabbatians continued
to arrive in the Netherlands from Smyrna, indicating that the movement
lasted at least until 1709, the year before Heyman's return to the Nether-
The letters concerning Daniel Israel and the return of Sabbatai Zevi
cease when Heyman returns to the Netherlands to take up his new post
at Leiden in 1710. There does not seem to be any further discussion of
the matter of Daniel Israel or Sabbatai Zevi. The last we hear of Daniel
Israel in Smyrna correlates well with the Dutch correspondence. Just at
the time Hochpied and Heyman were hearing reports about new messi-
anic stirrings connected with the reappearance of the lost tribes, Daniel
Israel was producing a forged letter, ostensibly from the tribes and the
"Childrenof Moses," announcing that the Messiah would come in 1710.51
Since Hochepied remained in Smyrna until his death in 1723, it is possi-
ble that, were his letters to be found, scholars could determine what hap-
pened to the remnants of the Sabbatian movement.
The material we have uncovered so far opens up a new chapter in the
story of the Sabbatai Zevi movement and poses some interesting ques-
tions as to the links between the Sabbatians and other, non-Jewish mille-
narian movements in Europe. Matt Goldish identifies the similarities in
spirit possession that occur among the Quakers, the Alumbrados, the
French Prophets, and the dervishes in the Ottoman Empire, remarking
that they all have similar spiritual activities, even though there is little
evidence of direct interaction.52Initially, Quaker practice was some sort

438. We were informed by Professor Yosef Kaplan that Amelander's description

of the Sabbatai Zevi story is based on Thomas Coenen's book via the abridged
Hebrew version published by Rabbi Jacob Emden in his anti-Sabbatian an-
50. "no one thinks about [Sabbatai Zevi] anymore. Only a single Jew, Daniel
Israel, who lived in Smyrna, said that he still lived and would emerge from hiding
after 40 years . . . he confirmed this from a passage in the book of the Prophet
Daniel.... Many took him for a prophet, and believed that Sabbatai was still
alive; so they celebrated his birthday . . . on the 18th of December. Neither the
Turks nor the Christians in Smyrna knew about this. When they found out, Dan-
iel had to leave the city. This was the end of the impostorship of Sabathai Tzevi,
which was one of the most noteworthy happenings in Jewish history." Holberg,
Hidtoryof the Jewv,2:647. We would like to thank Professor Chris Laursen at the
University of California, Riverside for this information on Holberg.
51. Benayahu in Sefunot14, 197, n. 85.
52. Matt Goldish, "Vision and Possession: Nathan of Gaza's Earliest Prophe-
cies in Historical Context," Spirit Possession in Judaidm: Cases and Contexts from the
Middle Ages to the Present, ed. Matt Goldish (Detroit, 2003), 230-32.
316 JOR 94:3 (2004)

of spiritualized Judaism, and its founder, George Fox, traveled around

England, crying out, "To be a Jew externally is nothing, to be a Jew
internally is everything." The Quakers were merchants all over Europe,
the Ottoman Empire, and the new colonies. Similarly, Alumbrados, six-
teenth-century Spanish mystics who claimed to have direct communica-
tion with God, appeared among the clergy that sought spiritual contact
with the American Indians and the natives of various Asian communities.
A more extreme form of this type of mysticism appeared in the preaching
of Miguel de Molinos. In his spiritual guide he advocated a form of devo-
tion called Quietism, whereby the practitioner tried to extinguish all de-
sires and allow the soul to become completely absorbed in God. This
doctrine was very popular at the end of the seventeenth and the begin-
ning of the eighteenth century, especially in northern Europe. The der-
vishes seem to have appeared in many centers of the Ottoman Empire,
including Constantinople, Tirana, and Cairo, where travelers were able
to witness public performances in which the dervishes' ecstatic activity
induced a state of exhaustive intoxication and sometimes unconscious-
ness. The French Prophets were first known through reports of their
spiritual activities carried on secretly in France and then through the
amazing reenactments in England and the Netherlands. Reports about
the followers of Sabbatai Zevi from 1665 onward tell of similar behavior
patterns. All these groups produced believers who made prophecies, par-
ticipated in inspirational spiritual possession, and predicted glorious fu-
ture events.
The letters in the Cuper archive document how an important European
account of Sabbatianism, that of Jacques Basnage's Hitoire des Jutfs,
came out of the reports by two Dutchmen who were in Turkey in the
early eighteenth century. Basnage's history provided the basic story of
the Sabbatian movement for the next century. Projects like Basnage's
were undertaken to provide an account of Judaism from the fall of the
Temple to the present day. Undoubtedly, one major reason for his study
was to inform a non-Jewish audience about the current state of the Jews,
as well as their possible conversion in the near future. Other tasks, like
those undertaken by the Dutch consul and minister in Smyrna, were con-
ducted to discover the present state of Jewish existence in the Ottoman
Empire and send reports back to the Netherlands. Hochepied and Hey-
man applied their millenarian Calvinist outlook to the situation of the
Jews in the Ottoman Empire and especially the Sabbatian movement
with its promise of an imminent messianic culmination. This fit with the
general expectation of northern Protestants coming from works like those
of Pierre Allix and from the emergence of the French Prophets on En-

glish and Dutch soil. The Dutch Sephardic community had, to a great
extent, accepted Sabbatai Zevi, so what happened after his conversion to
Islam became of great concern to those looking for signs of the end of
days. Sabbatianism, therefore, did not come to an abrupt end after the
death of Sabbatai Zevi, with vestiges to be found only in the Donmeh
sect. The letters from Cuper, Heyman, and Hochepied clearly indicate an
ongoing and active interest by Jews who continued to follow Sabbatai
Zevi and his disciples, stimulated by the millenarian and messianic fervor
that existed in both Europe and the Ottoman Empire. Perhaps further
research into Dutch sources will throw more light on what happened to
the Sabbatian movement in Turkey in the latter part of the eighteenth