Around 135 A.D. the leading Rabbi (Rabbi Akiva) believed that a man named Simon ben Kosiba (more commonly known as Simon bar Kochba) was really the Messiah. Rabbi Akiva believed Bar Kochba was going to lead Israel out of Rome's military control through an uprising, and convinced thousands of Jews to follow him into battle. History has proved that, Bar Kochba was no messiah and sadly thousands of Jews died, following this guidance.(1)
Some records indicate that some people were wrapped in Torah scrolls and burned alive.(1)
His name (Bar Kosiba) means Son of the Star, which his followers took to be a reference to Numbers 24:17, A star will come out of Jacob; a scepter will rise out of Israel.(1)
This proved again that Israel's leadership had no ability to truly recognize the Messiah. Due to the San Hedren's refusal to recognize Jesus as Messiah, for 2000 years, most Jews have rejected Jesus.
Pseudo-Messiah of the middle of the fifth century. In spite of Ashi's efforts to restrain within limits the expectation of the coming of the Messiah, a belief was spread that the Messiah would come in the eighty-fifth jubilee (about 440-470; comp. 'Ab. Zarah 9a, b), and the Jews of that period were full of suppressed excitement. At this time there appeared in Crete an enthusiast whose previous name is not known but who adopted the name of Moses. This pseudo Messiah traveled through the whole island in a year, and was successful in convincing the Jewish congregations that he was the expected Messiah. The Jews of Crete accordingly awaited eagerly the moment when they would be led out of the captivity; in the meantime they neglected their affairs and abandoned their property. On the appointed day the false Messiah, followed by the whole Jewish population of Crete, marched toward the sea. When they had arrived at a certain promontory Moses commanded them to throw themselves down, as the water would be divided before them. The Jews obeyed, and many of them lost their lives in the sea while others were rescued by mariners. Moses is said never to have been seen again (Socrates, "Historia Ecclesiastica," vii. 36).(2)
With Abraham ben Samuel Abulafia (b. 1240; d. after 1291), the cabalist, begin the pseudo-Messiahs whose activity is deeply influenced by their cabalistic speculations. As a result of his mystic studies, Abulafia came to believe first that he was a prophet; and in a prophetic book which he published in Urbino (1279) he declared that God had spoken to him. In Messina, on the island of Sicily, where he was well received and won disciples, he declared himself (in a work which he published Nov., 1284) to be the Messiah and announced 1290 as the year for the Messianic era to begin.(3)
Apart from this general Messianic theory, there was another computation, based on a presumably interpolated passage in the Zohar and particularly popular among the Jews, according to which the year 1648 was to be the year of Israel's redemption by the Messiah.
All these things so worked on the bewildered mind of Shabbethai as to lead him to conceive and partly carry out a plan which was of the gravest consequences for the whole of Jewry and whose effects are felt even at the present time: he decided to assume the role of the expected Messiah. Though only twenty-two years old, he dared (in the ominous year 1648) to reveal himself at Smyrna to a band of followers (whom he had won over through his cabalistic knowledge, his attractive appearance and personality, and his strange actions) as the true Messianic redeemer designated by God to overthrow the governments of the nations and to restore Israel to Jerusalem. His mode of revealing his mission was the pronouncing of the Tetragrammaton in Hebrew, an act which was allowed only to the high priest in the Sanctuary on the Day of Atonement. This was of great significance to those acquainted with rabbinical and especially cabalistic literature.
He boldly proclaimed himself as the Messiah, gaining many adherents. In order to impress his Messiahship upon the minds of his enthusiastic friends he indulged in all sorts of mystic juggleries; e.g., the celebration of his marriage as Son of God ("En Sof") with the Torah, preparing for this performance a solemn festival, to which he invited his friends.
Among the many prominent rabbis of that time who were followers of Shabbethai may be mentioned Isaac da Fonseca Aboab, Moses Raphael de Aguilar, Moses Galante, and Moses Zacuto.
He claimed to be "The first-begotten Son of God."
The effects of the pseudo-Messiah's conversion on the Jewish communities were extremely disheartening. Prominent rabbis who were believers in and followers of Shabbethai were prostrated by compunction and shame.(4)
In the late 1980s and early 1990s belief that Chabad-Lubavitch Rabbi Menachem Schneerson (known as "the Rebbe" was the Messiah reached a fever pitch among hundreds of thousands of Jews around the world. Schneerson purportedly has healed the sick, restored fertility to barren women and averted family tragedies. He has never claimed publicly to be the messiah, but critics say he has been slow to deny the claim when made by his followers. They contend that this is why Schneerson has never set foot in Israel; under Jewish tradition, the messiah will arrive only when the era of redemption begins.(5)
Rabbi Schneerson died at the age of 92 years old in 1994. In virtually every talk the Rebbi gave, every letter he wrote and every action he initiated, the theme, the sign-off and the objective was: the coming of Moshiach (the Messiah), and the attainment of the Redemption.(5)
Lubavitchers: Most Recently, a sect of Ultra Orthodox (Lubavitchers) in New York believed (and still believe) that Chief Rabbi Menachem Schneerson was the Messiah. When he died in 1994, they turned to Isaiah 53 to predict his resurrection and ascension to the throne of Jerusalem while waiting Schneerson's resurrection.(6) However, this is not the opinion of all Lubavitchers.
Rabbi Schneerson wanted the world to be a better place and continuing with this philosophy the Lubavitch sect of Judaism tries to make the world a better place through its ability to help others, both Jews and non-Jews.
In 1992, at the age of ninety, the Rebbe suffered a stroke; he passed away two years later, on June 12, 1994. Shortly thereafter, a bill was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Congressmen Charles Schumer, John Lewis, Newt Gingrich, and Jerry Lewis to bestow on the Rebbe the Congressional Gold Medal. The bill passed both Houses by unanimous consent, honoring the Rebbe for his "outstanding and lasting contributions toward improvements in world education, morality, and acts of charity".(7)
Other False Messiah's recognized by Jewish Encyclopedia (8) Include:
Other Modern Day Messiah's include:
Read more about the true Messiah from JewishRoots.Net Master Messiah Page.
1). A Rabbi Looks At The Last Days by Rabbi Jonathan Bernis p.82
5). Epicenter by Joel C. Rosenberg p.199
6). Source: Discovery Series, The Jewish tradition of two rabbis. (RBC Ministries)