Email Email   

REUBENI, DAVID (ca. 1491-ca. 1535).

False Messiah. He was born in Khaibar, Central Arabia, and died in Spain. Half-mystic, half-adventurer, David Reubeni created a great stir, and despite the warnings of level-headed leaders, many Jews saw him as a forerunner of the Messiah who would bring freedom to them and to the Holy Land. Reubeni arrived in Rome in 1524 and managed to get an audience with Pope Clement VII. He declared himself ambassador from his brother, King Joseph Reubeni, ruler over the descendants of the tribe of Reuben, one of the Ten Lost Tribes dwelling somewhere in Tatary. He promised the Pope to raise an army of Jews of the East to fight against the Turks in the Holy Land. Such were Reubeni’s bearing and personality that the Pope believed him and gave him credentials to the kings of Portugal and Abyssinia. To secure the aid of these monarchs in freeing Palestine, wealthy members of the Roman Jewish community supplied Reubeni with money to travel in state. He came to Portugal in 1525, where King John III received him with high honors. The Marranos thought Reubeni was the Messiah and flocked around him. One of them, Diego Pires, openly returned to Judaism, took the name of Solomon Molkho, and joined Reubeni’s followers. The Portuguese authorities became suspicious, and Reubeni found it necessary to leave Portugal. Continuing his fantastic career, he went to Venice where he offered the Senate an alliance with his king. The Venetian authorities had him investigated, and he was forced to leave empty-handed. In 1532, bearing a banner inscribed with initials of the Hebrew words “Who is like unto You, O Lord, among the mighty?” Reubeni together with Molkho appeared in Ratisbon before Charles V, Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. Reubeni tried to persuade the Emperor to call the Jews to arms against the Turks. Charles V put both Reubeni and Molkho in chains; eventually, Reubeni was sent to Spain where he was placed in the hands of the Inquisition. The circumstances of his death are uncertain. Reubeni’s diary is now in the Bodleian Library at Oxford University. (See also Messianism.)

Print Friendly, PDF & Email