A New Jewish Document on the Mission of Baha'u'llah

By Moshe Sharon

    In 2015 an antique dealer offered for sale a document of great interest. He could make out that the hand written document in Hebrew characters had something to do with the Bahá'í religion since the word Bahá' and combinations with this word appeared throughout the document. This one page text is written in three languages: Hebrew, Judaeo-Arabic and Talmudic Aramaic.

    The document was offered to an antique collector in Israel who brought it to me at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem for evaluation. I could easily recognize its value for understanding how Jews, who joined the Bahá'í faith, made an effort, using Jewish messianic traditions and Biblical sources to prove, in Jewish terms, the true manifestation, even the full divinity of Bahá'u'lláh.

    The text is placed within the context of the messianic expectations and calculations based on the cryptic numbers in the book of Daniel 12:11-12. As is well known almost all the "Calculators of the End (of Days)" (Hebrew: (מח�©�'י קיצין based their date for the coming of the Messiah, the ultimate redeemer, on the same texts of the book of Daniel.

    A four pages manuscript of a text calculating the End of Days and fixing it also according to Daniel's prophecies was written by Joseph Ben 'Uliel (1858-1937) a Rabbi, professor of Romanic languages in the University of Lisbon, and the Consul of Morocco in Portugal. After explaining all the dates appearing in Daniel's prophecies, he concluded that the year 1917 represents the Messianic Time. I shall refer to this text as well. (It was recently sold in Jerusalem for a reasonable price.)

    'Abdu'l Bahá (SAQ, 36-42) used solely Daniel's prophecies in order to prove the true missions of both the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh, using both the Christian and the lunar-Islamic calendars. Jewish searchers of Messianic time and the coming of the Son of David are scattered abundantly throughout Jewish History, which is dotted with great number of impostures as well. This is understandable due to the long exile and its misery from which, most Jews believed, only the long awaited divine redeemer can deliver.

    For many Jews in Iran of the 19th century Bahá'u'lláh was such a redeemer. In this document we have the proof that one of them engaged himself in making the calculation using both the numbers, and the Hebrew text (not used by 'Abdu'l Bahá) in the book of Daniel, as well as the method of acronyms, in order to send the message that the Messiah is here not in the form of an anointed person but more as God Himself.

    As to the document itself. I am not allowed to publish it, nor am I allowed to quote it in writing, and this short report and my lecture are more or less the only things that I can do about it unless it is purchased from the dealer who is asking a high price for it hoping that the Bahá'ís will buy it. I advised the BWC not to pay this price, because I believe that at the end the dealer will come down to the price I offered, since, in my mind, there will hardly be anybody outside our narrow circle who would understand its value.

    I copied (not photographed) the document, and shall show and analyze it in the lecture.

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