Three Sixteenth-Century Jewish Messiahs

Festschrift for GTM Prinsloo




Asher Lemlein, David Reuveni, Jewish messianic claimants, mysticism, Shlomo Molcho


Messianic movements and their messianic claimants are surprisingly ubiquitous in Jewish history. The hypothesis is that these movements always show some influence from a previous form of mysticism and reach their expression and culmination in a renewed urgency for messianic activity. This article demonstrates that sixteenth-century messianic tensions, as an example of this phenomenon, repeatedly had their genesis in one or another system of mysticism. The deeper the mystical component, the more dramatic the messianism. The messianic claimant believes he has the power to speak to kings and popes and is convinced he has the means to immediately effect a change in the religious, political, and cosmic order. This investigation focuses on three sixteenth-century Jewish messiahs, Asher Lemlein, David Reuveni, and Shlomo Molcho. Each, as I show, was rooted in an earlier form of mysticism.


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How to Cite

Michal, Gavin. 2023. “Three Sixteenth-Century Jewish Messiahs: Festschrift for GTM Prinsloo”. Journal for Semitics 32 (2):21 pages .



Received 2022-08-05
Accepted 2023-06-28
Published 2023-12-19