ABDALLAH, YUSEF


ABDALLAH, YUSEF
ABDALLAH, YUSEF (late 19th–early 20th century), charlatan who revived messianic activity in Yemen in the 1890s. He began his activities no later than 1888 as the herald of the messiah. The leaders of the Jewish community in San'a, led by Ḥayyim Ḥibshush\>\> , actively opposed him until they succeeded in persuading the police chief and the Turkish authorities in San'a to deport him from the city (1895) to the town of Shibām northwest of San'a, where he remained with little influence until his death. Abdallah struggled against his opponents by means of letters and poems. The latter-day discovery and publication of a three-page manuscript of his includes four poems which do not exhibit any extraordinary talent, being in fact trivial in comparison to run-of-the-mill Yemenite poetry. Surprisingly, its content is far from revealing messianic tendencies. It does not offer the slightest suggestion of his supposed status as a messiah, or as the messenger of the messiah. All that appears in the poetry in this respect is a plea for redemption and the hastening of the arrival of the messiah, motifs familiar in Hebrew poetry throughout the generations. What can be found there are complaints about his opponents in the Jewish community and the Turkish and Muslim authorities. As opposed to the negative picture described by Ḥibshush, Koraḥ and most scholars (apart from Nini) find no deviation from the Jewish tradition of messianic expectations and observance of religious law in the poems. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: Y. Kafaḥ, "Ḥayyim Ḥibshush," in: Sefunot, 2 (1958), 278–79; A. Ya'ari, Shevut Teiman (1945), 124–48; Y. Tobi, Pirkei Shirah, 4 (2005); Y. Nini, The Jews of Yemen, 1880–1914 (1991), 145–50; B. Eraqi Klorman, The Jews of Yemen in the Nineteenth Century (1993), 158–64; A. Koraḥ, Sa'arat Teiman, 53–55; Y. Ratzahbi, Bo'i Teman (1967), 204–13. (Yosef Tobi (2nd ed.)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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