MOLCHO, SOLOMON

MOLCHO, SOLOMON (c. 1500–1532), kabbalist and pseudomessiah. Born in Lisbon of Marrano parents, he was originally called Diogo Pires. Though details on his early life are scarce, it is clear that he received a secular education and, at the age of 21, was appointed secretary to the king's council and recorder at the court of appeals. It is probable that Molcho secretly   studied the Kabbalah. On meeting david reuveni after the latter's arrival in Portugal in 1525, he asked to be circumcised. Reuveni dissuaded him but, undeterred, Molcho circumcised himself and took a Hebrew name. While the symbolic meaning of the name is obscure, some scholarly opinion takes it as referring to Molcho's spiritual kinship with Reuveni (the name Molcho deriving from the Hebrew melekh = "king"). Reuveni suggested to Molcho that he flee, while he himself was forced to leave Portugal because of the suspicion that he had had a part in Molcho's conversion. The details of Molcho's flight are uncertain. Reuveni later claimed that he had sent him on a mysterious diplomatic mission to turkey ; Molcho himself stated that a divine command had directed his departure. His destination is also somewhat obscure. There are those who claim that he spent some time in Italy, jerusalem , safed , damascus , and even Constantinople. All authorities agree, however, that he settled for a period in salonika where he studied Kabbalah in the bet ha-midrash of Joseph Taitaẓak . There he probably met R. Joseph b. Ephraim Caro , whose writings reflect his admiration for Molcho. In Salonika Molcho gathered disciples and students who prevailed upon him to publish a collection of his sermons which are filled with expectation of coming redemption, Derashot (Salonika, 1529). In later editions the work is entitled Sefer ha-Mefo'ar. In the sack of Rome in 1527 he saw the signs of the coming redemption, and returned to Italy in 1529 and began to preach about it in Ancona. His sermons attracted many people, including Christians. The accusations of an informer that he was a Marrano who had reverted to Judaism caused him to flee to Pesaro and eventually to Rome. By then Molcho had become convinced that he was indeed the Messiah. In fulfillment of the talmudic legend (Sanh. 98a) that recounted the suffering of the Messiah, Molcho, dressed as a beggar, sat for 30 days, tasting no meat or wine, among the sick and the infirm on a bridge over the Tiber by the pope's palace. Molcho succeeded in gaining the confidence of Pope clement vii , who granted him protection (1530). His standing was further strengthened when his prophecies of a flood in Rome (1530) and an earthquake in Portugal (January 1531) came true. He preached widely and was successful in preventing the spread of the Inquisition to Portugal. He left Rome for Venice at the end of 1530 for an unsuccessful meeting with Reuveni. Attempting to mediate in a dispute between jacob mantino , the pope's physician, and Elijah Ḥalfon, kabbalist and physician, Molcho succeeded only in arousing the enmity of Mantino. Molcho fled to Rome and a friendlier atmosphere, but Mantino, seeing danger in Molcho's activities, followed him and intrigued against him. Molcho was accused by an inquisitional court of judaizing and was condemned to be burned at the stake. He was saved by the personal intervention of the pope, and another man was burned in his place. In 1532 Molcho left for northern Italy, where he again met with Reuveni. Together they went on a mission to Emperor Charles V who was then at Regensburg. Although the nature of their mission to Charles is somewhat speculative, R. Joseph (Joselmann) of Rosheim records in his memoirs that Molcho came in order to rouse the emperor to call upon the Jews to fight against the Turks. However, Charles brought Molcho to Mantua, where he was tried and burned at the stake in late 1532 after refusing to recant and convert to Christianity. Many Jews and Marranos in Italy, however, did not accept that Molcho had died, but believed that he had been saved once more. The influence of Molcho was considerable both during his lifetime and after his death. R. Joseph of Orly took note of Molcho in his messianic prophecies. Already in 1531 an important messianic movement had spread under his influence and had reached Poland. Some of his belongings were saved by the Jews of Prague and displayed long after his death; his influence on Shabbateanism (see Shabbetai Ẓevi ) was not insignificant. In addition to his Sefer ha-Mefo'ar, Molcho left a number of letters incorporated by R. Joseph ha-Kohen in his historical writings and in Ḥayyat Kaneh edited by Abraham Rothenberg in 1648, and some poetry. His life and that of Reuveni were the subject of much fictional writing, such as M. Brod's Reuveni Fuerst der Juden (1925); E. Fleg's Le Juif du pape (1925), and A.A. Kabak's Shelomoh Molkho (1928–29). -BIBLIOGRAPHY: A.Z. Aescoly (ed.), Ḥayyat Kaneh (1938); idem, Sippur David ha-Re'uveni (1940), 27–64, 140–83; idem, Ha-Tenu'ot ha-Meshiḥiyyot be-Yisrael (1956), 266–78; 365–412; R.J.Z. Werblowsky, Joseph Caro: Lawyer and Mystic (1962), 97–99; Scholem, Shabbetai Zevi, index: R. Joseph Caro, Maggid Yesharim (Amsterdam, 1644); A.H. Silver, A History of Messianic Speculation in Israel (1927), 133–5, 147–50; D. Kaufmann, in REJ, 24 (1897), 121–7; Vogelstein-Rieger, 2 (1895), 53–58; S. Stern, Josel of Rosheim (1965), 133–7; J.H. Greenstone, The Messiah Idea in Jewish History (1906), 195–202. (Joseph Shochetman)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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  • Molcho, Solomon — orig. Diogo Pires born с 1500, Portugal died 1532, Mantua Portuguese Jewish martyr. Born into a Marrano family, he became royal secretary in a Portuguese high court of justice. When an Arabian adventurer, David Reubeni (d. с 1532), arrived in… …   Universalium

  • Molcho, Solomon — (c. 1500–32)    Pseudo messiah. Molcho was born Diogo Pieres in Lisbon, of Marrano parents. It seems that he studied Hebrew, rabbinic literature and maybe the Cabbala as a boy. On the arrival of David REUVENI in Portugal in 1525, Molcho was swept …   Who’s Who in Jewish History after the period of the Old Testament

  • Molcho, Solomon — (c. 1500 32)    Italian kabbalist and pseudo messiah. He was born in Lisbon of marrano parents, and his given name was Diogo Pires. He became secretary to the King of Portugal s council and recorder at the Court of Appeals. After meeting David… …   Dictionary of Jewish Biography

  • Molcho, Solomon — orig. Diogo Pires ( 1500, Portugal–1532, Mantua). Mártir judío portugués. Nació en una familia de origen marrano, se convirtió en secretario real de un tribunal superior de justicia portuguesa. Cuando un aventurero árabe, David Reubeni (m. 1532) …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Solomon Molcho — Stylized signature of Solomon Molcho. Source: Manuscript owned by the Alliance Israélite Universelle Born Diogo Pires 1500 Portugal Died …   Wikipedia

  • Solomon — /sol euh meuhn/, n. 1. fl. 10th century B.C., king of Israel (son of David). 2. an extraordinarily wise man; a sage. 3. a male given name. * * * I flourished 10th century BC Son and successor of David. Nearly all that is known about him comes… …   Universalium

  • Solomon — (as used in expressions) Alkalai, Judah ben Solomon Hai Bandaranaike, S(olomon) W(est) R(idgeway) D(ias) Elijah ben Solomon Guggenheim, Solomon (Robert) Hurok, Sol(omon Isiaevich) Solomon ben Yehuda ibn Gabirol Israeli, Isaac ben Solomon Luria,… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • AMARILLO, ḤAYYIM MOSES BEN SOLOMON — (1695–1748), halakhic authority and preacher; brother of aaron amarillo . Born in Salonika, Ḥayyim Moses studied under his father Solomon, who before his death appointed him his successor as preacher in the Talmud Torah congregation. The… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • DIENNA, AZRIEL BEN SOLOMON — (d. 1536), Italian rabbi and halakhic authority. Dienna, who came from a French family that had settled in Italy, studied under R. Nethanel Trabot. In his youth he was a teacher in Reggio and later moved to Pavia where he remained for 15 years.… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • ḤABIB, MOSES BEN SOLOMON IBN — (c. 1654–1696), Turkish rabbi and author. He was born in salonika , a descendant of , and went to Jerusalem in his youth. He studied in the yeshivah of Jacob Ḥagiz and from c. 1677 to 1679 he traveled as an emissary of Jerusalem, reaching as far… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

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