Joseph Farah Promoting “Amazing Prophecy” Attributed to Thirteenth-Century Rabbi

WND again, this time with a piece from Joseph Farah himself:

JUST 5 YEARS TILL ‘END TIMES’ COMMENCE?
Exclusive: Joseph Farah explains so far dead-on prophecies of 13th-century rabbi

“Five years”? That’s a relief, given that back in July WND was warning us that “2012 DOOMSDAY: IT’S NOT JUST MAYAN CLAIM: Countless cultures predict end-time scenario this year”.

By “exclusive”, Farah means that he has exclusively read something published in a magazine:

Several years ago, Ludwig Schneider, a German-language scholar, discovered an amazing prophecy dating back to 1217 by a scholarly and highly respected rabbi by the name of Judah Ben Samuel.

Because most of his writings were published so long ago – before the invention of the printing press – and in German, few copies have survived. But Schneider has a copy of Judah Ben Samuel’s prophecy about the nation of Israel and the messianic era and has translated the highlights of it into English and other languages for the magazine Israel Today.

The guts of the story is that the rabbi, writing in 1217, supposedly provided a future history of the Holy Land from 1517 to 2017, successfully predicting the Ottoman conquest of Jerusalem in 1517, the beginning of the British Mandate in 1917, the division of Jerusalem up  until 1967, and finally:

…The rabbi also prophesied that during the 10th Jubilee, Jerusalem would be under the control of the Jews and the Messianic “end times” would begin. The 10th Jubilee began in 1967 and will be concluded in – 2017.

Farah’s source is an article called “Israel: Between Mysticism and Reality”, which was published in Israel Today in March 2008 (page 18). Schneider – actually a former Pentecostal pastor rather than a “scholar” – tells us what Ben Samuel supposedly predicted, but he does not provide any quotations of any length or even give a reference for any primary text. This makes it virtually impossible to check whether Schneider has imposed his own interpretation on Ben Samuel’s work. Schneider also describes Ben Samuel as a “top Talmudic scholar”, which is strange; according to the 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia:

The study of the Talmud, especially as it was treated by his contemporaries, seemed to him fruitless.

We’re told only that “occasionally a halakic writing” is attributed to him.

Not only is the Israel Today article weak; Farah’s presentation of that article is misleading. Farah gives the impression that Schneider has discovered some rare manuscript, but this is not indicated by Schneider himself: assuming that Schneider really did read something written by Ben Samuel, there is no reason to suppose that he went any further than to consult a published edition (probably of the Sefer Ḥasidim, or a quote attributed to him in some other work). The Jewish Encyclopedia states only that he was said to have known “the exact year of Israel’s redemption”.

Schneider has not “discovered” something written by Ben Samuel, and much less has he “translated” it “into English and other languages”. Rather, it seems that he “discovered” his own hidden meaning in a particular text, which cannot be assessed independently because he hasn’t given any reference. It’s not even clear whether Schneider has done his own work, or is just repeating something derived from elsewhere.

Farah also adds some details about Ben Samuel’s life:

…He was quite famous in his time as the initiator of the Chassidic Ashkenaz, a movement of Jewish mysticism in Germany. He founded a yeshiva in Regensburg and secured many pupils. Legend has it that, as a young man, he was an excellent bowman but knew little or nothing about daily prayers. But once he got serious about his faith, legend has it that he performed many miracles… So renowned was his work, the Bishop of Salzburg asked him to serve as his personal seer.

It is likely that Farah has got these details from the Jewish Encyclopedia, although he’s distorted the information slightly; the Encyclopedia states that

He maintained social intercourse with the Bishop of Salzburg and acted as seer for the Duke of Regensburg.

That’s a significant difference, as Farah’s version suggests Ben Samuel had some kind of official relationship with the Roman Catholic Church. Perhaps this is why Farah also fails to tell his readers that the legends of Ben Samuel’s miracles include the story that

He miraculously prevented a Jewish child from being baptized.

Joseph Farah purports to be a Christian (although he tends to ignore the commandment about not telling lies): one wonders if he can explain why it is that the Rabbi, despite prophesying the future with supernatural accuracy, did not believe that Jesus is the Messiah and his Lord and Saviour. I’ve discussed the conundrum of Christian fundamentalism’s relationship with Judaism previously.

The story of Ben Samuel’s prophecy has previously been spread around the internet in the form of a message by Pastor F.M. Riley. Riley does not give any source, although his article is probably also derived from Israel Today. Riley also considers “Planet X” to be of apocalyptic significance.

One Response

  1. […] into “Hebrew mysteries” previously; I’ve also logged some of Farah’s ludicrous pretensions to expertise in prophecy (clue: anyone who bills themselves being a “prophecy expert” […]

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