Nostradamus, a 16th-century French author of an allegedly prophetic book, made many predictions that have parallels in Jewish Messianic prophecies. Despite the similarities, the differences, especially those concerning Nostradamus himself, are most significant.
Nostradamus predictions were published in Les Propheties, a collection of 942 poetic quatrains (four-line semi-poetic sections) published in 1555, allegedly predicting future events. He devised a method of obscuring his meaning by using “Virgilianised” syntax, word games and a mixture of other languages such as Greek, Italian, Latin, and Provençal, leading to much conjecture and conflict about the precise meaning of his predictions. As the new year begins, the media is full of conjecture concerning the relevance of these predictions to current events.
Rabbi Berger, the Rabbi of King David’s Tomb on Mount Zion, emphasized the importance of prophecy but cautioned that what Nostradamus could not be considered prophetic.
“Prophecy is the basis of Judaism,” Rabbi Berger told Breaking Israel News. “The difference between Torah and philosophy, or conjecture by a scholar, is that Hashem revealed himself via the Torah. Philosophy, or predictions in the case of Nostradamus, are a mental achievement. Prophecy is more than a mental achievement. It is a natural product of a high level of connectedness to Hashem, and this can only come through purity of action and thought.”
The rabbi noted that according to Jewish tradition, prophecy was taken away after the destruction of the First Temple, ending entirely in the first generation of the Second Temple Era. Rabbi Berger pointed out that Nostradamus could not be considered a prophet in any case. Even in the era of prophets, Jews were only permitted to pay heed to Jewish prophets who perform the Torah commandments.
Born Michel de Nostredame in 1503, his parents converted to Catholicism before he was born though he was very cognizant of his Jewish heritage. It is significant that in letters, Nostradamus referred to prophecy as an inherited Jewish gift: “My natural instinct bestowed upon me by my forebears…the inborn speech of mystical prognostication…much as seeing as if in a fiery mirror…as if by an obsessive vista.”
As a boy, Nostradamus studied Hebrew as well as Latin and Greek. As his grandfathers were court physicians, he learned about herbal medicine, Kabbalah, and alchemy.
Though Jewish prophets did bring their prophecies to non-Jews, as in the case of Jonah, the only non-Jewish prophet mentioned in the Bible was Balaam, a sorcerer who, according to Rabbinic tradition, had a very high level of prophecy.
“Balaam was a true prophet but what did he do with it? ” Rabbi Berger pointed out. “Did the people who heard him do tshuva (repent)? He attempted to curse the Jews; a very ungodly use for this God-given ability.”
Exponents of Nostradamus note six predictions that seem to have strong relevance for the upcoming year. Many of these predictions parallel Messianic prophecies from Jewish sources.
1. World War
Nostradamus wrote, “the big war will start in France and all Europe will be attacked, it will be long and terrifying for everyone and then finally there will be peace but only a few will enjoy it – a war will start between the two great world powers and it will last for a period of 27 years.” In other verses he writes: “for disagreements and negligences there will be opened a passage for Mohammed: of blood sunk in the ground and in the sea, Marseille’s port will be covered by ships and and sails”.
This conforms to a prophecy by Rabbi Yisrael Meir Kagan, a Torah sage known as the Chofetz Chaim, who predicted almost 100 years ago, before the onset of World War II, that a third world war will begin 75 years after the beginning of the next great and horrible war. After this final war ends, the age of the Messiah will begin.
This war is also described in a prophecy written in Pirkei D’Rebbe Eliezer, a collection of Biblical exegesis believed to have been compiled in the seventh century. According to the prophecy, the “sons of Ishmael”, identified by most Torah scholars as Islam, will wage a war against “Edom”, which some rabbis identify as Western culture.
2. A major eruption of Mount Vesuvius:
Nostradamus writes that there will be an event that “shake(s) the earth every five minutes,” and that at least 6,000 people will be killed. He also writes about an “an earthquake that shall concern particularly the western area of the United States. Its power shall be felt in lands throughout the globe.”
This describes what would occur if the Yellowstone Caldera in Utah were to erupt. The enormous crater is one of the world’s most dangerous seismic hotspots. A cataclysmic eruption would bury a large portion of the United States under volcanic ash, causing temperatures around the globe to plummet, and prevent air-traffic in the affected area.
The caldera was unusually active in the past six months with over 2,500 earthquakes shaking the region.
Increased seismic activity is described explicitly in the prophets as accompanying the End-of-Days.
“Who looketh on the earth, and it trembleth; He toucheth the mountains, and they smoke” Psalm 104:32
3. Comet or asteroid strike:
Nostradamus writes, “a moment of great violence will coincide with the appearance of a comet in the sky. A nuclear terrorism and natural catastrophes will destroy our planet.”
This prediction conforms to a Jewish prophecy concerning the end-of-times. This astronomic prophecy is based in the Biblical account of Balaam, who describes a “Star of Jacob”.
I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not nigh; there shall step forth a star out of Yakov, and a scepter shall rise out of Yisrael, and shall smite through the corners of Moab, and break down all the sons of Seth. Numbers 24:17
The Zohar, the basis of Jewish mysticism, goes into great depth describing the appearance of this star.
4. Economic collapse:
Nostradamus writes that “the rich would die many times over.” Many take this economic crash to be the result of WW3 or a global natural disaster. Maybe cryptocurrencies will impact the global economy in 2018? Or maybe someone will hack the global stock markets or China will orchestra an economic war with the world economy? Who knows.
Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, a renowned Jewish scholar and leader known as the “Alter Rebbe”, had a vision almost 300 years ago that seems to indicate that the world’s resources will run out, forcing the Messiah to come. According to the Alter Rebbe this collapse will take place in this generation.