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MOSES OF CRETE:

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).

Bibliography:
  • Grätz, Gesch. 3d ed., iv. 354-355.
E. C. M. Sel.
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