The Mystery of the Lost Jubilee: Part VII – Judah Ben Samuel’s “Internet Prophecy”

In part six of our series, we showed that the years 1917 and 1967 and the amazing events in them can justify both a 50 year cycle between Jubilees and a 49 year cycle. We called this a divine dilemma, knowing that the events of 2016 and 2017 have the potential to reveal which is correct. The initial comments have been excellent and are split between preference for a 49 year interval and 50 year interval between Jubilees. That article concluded our introduction to the Jubilee.

Today we begin a two part discussion about a Jubilee prophecy that has been making the rounds on the Internet for the last eight years that has been attributed to Judah Ben Samuel, known in Jewish circles as Yehudah Hachassid.

In this column we will bring you up to date on that Internet prophecy, and next time we will tell you about our fascinating visit to the headquarters of Israel Today Magazine that published the first article on that topic in 2008, and we will reveal brand new information about this topic.BIN-OpEd-Experts-300x250(1)

First of all, who is Judah Ben Samuel?

Judah Ben Samuel (Rabbi Yehudah Hachassid) was born in Speyer, Germany and died in Regensburg, Germany in 1217. His date of birth is omitted in the Jewish Encyclopedia but was probably 1140 or 1150. He certainly lived during the time of the Crusades and was aware of the state of Jerusalem. He was considered one of the fathers of a certain kind of Jewish mysticism (Chassidei Ashkenaz) that emphasized moral ethics and prayer. Around 1195 he settled in Regensburg and it was here that he wrote an important work: Sefer Hasidim (Book of the Pious). This seminal work deals with many matters, including pride, prayer, reward and punishment, penitence, Sabbath, fasting, and more.

It is said that Rabbi Ben Samuel had written or at least contributed to a Sefer Gematriyot (Book on Numerology) and a Sefer Hakavod (Book of Glory), but unfortunately our checks could not locate either of these works. They may have been lost. Should anyone reading this have access to either of them, you have something that belongs in a Jewish history museum.

Judah Ben Samuel’s writings are difficult to follow, as they are mostly a collection of loosely connected thoughts rather than organized systematically with overall thematic statements. A Jewish Encyclopedia article on him written in 1899 concludes like this:

[Historical scholar Leopold] Zunz says of him: “To vindicate whatever is noble in human endeavors, and the highest aspirations of the Israelite, and to discover the inmost truths alluded to in the Sacred Books, seemed to be the ultimate purpose of a mind in which poetic, moral, and divine qualities were fused.”

He was well respected in his day, and even today. He was certainly an influence on the Vilna Gaon, recognized as one of the greatest scholars in Jewish history. Ben Shmuel certainly had mystical leanings, and according to his students he had a burning desire to see the coming of the Messiah.

Now, we fast forward to the Internet Age and describe the Jubilee Prophecy that has begun to be attributed to him in thousands of web pages and writings since 2008.

The Internet Prophecy

The prophecy attributed to Judah Ben Samuel goes like this:

“When the Ottomans conquer Jerusalem, they will rule over Jerusalem for eight Jubilees. Afterwards, Jerusalem will become no-man’s land for one Jubilee, and then in the ninth Jubilee it will once again come back into the possession of the Jewish nation – which would signify the beginning of the Messianic end time.”

After Judah Ben Samuel’s death in 1217, it was actually the Mamluks who would capture Jerusalem first. They did so in 1250. But the Ottomans would take Jerusalem in 1517 and they would hold it for exactly 400 years until 1917, as we discussed in the last article.

So the articles that promote this prophecy point out that 400 years between 1517 and 1917 is eight Jubilee periods exactly, assuming that the Jubilee is 50 years in length. They further note that 1917 to 1967 is the ninth Jubilee period, during which Jerusalem was controlled by the British and then divided between Israel and Jordan between 1948 and 1967.

Old City Walls built by the Ottomans. The road pictured marks part of the 1949 “green line” that divided East and West Jerusalem until 1967. (Photo: Sherwood Burton).
Old City Walls built by the Ottomans. The road pictured marks part of the 1949 “green line” that divided East and West Jerusalem until 1967. (Photo: Sherwood Burton).

Many of these articles then go further and make an inference that by the tenth Jubilee, the Messiah should return, i.e. by 2017. This is a stretch, because even the Internet prophecy as written makes no such claim.

The writers here make no such claim, although we would gladly welcome the Messiah at any time. In fact, Bob observes that according to this Internet prophecy, the case could be made for placing the commencement of the Messianic age immediately in 1967, which he sees as a similar claim that Christians make when they say the times of the Gentiles was already over as of 1967:

“Jerusalem would be trampled under foot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.” Luke 21:24

Finally, many of the Internet articles also point out that the time between Judah Ben Samuel’s death in 1217 to the conquering of Jerusalem by the Ottomans in 1517 is exactly 300 years, which is itself six Jubilee periods.

In summary, this prophecy seems to make a strong historical pattern argument for a 50 year Jubilee cycle, because it shows a long term sequence of historical events occurring in a repeating 50 year pattern over hundreds of years.

The Problems

The Internet prophecy as written above as attributed to Judah Ben Samuel, however, has three big problems.

First, a number of Internet articles sceptical of this prophecy have pointed out that the Ottoman empire mentioned in the prophecy did not even begin until 1299, more than 80 years after his death. The term “Ottoman” comes from the man, Osman I, who was not even born until 40 years after Judah Ben Samuel. More generally, the “Turks” were segmented, scattered and in continuous decline at the time Judah Ben Samuel lived! This begs the question of exactly how is the original prophecy is worded in its original language and context? That question leads us to a bigger problem.

Second, the available works of Judah Ben Samuel do not contain any reference to this prophecy as far as we are aware! Had there been such reference, it would certainly have garnered the attention of Jews given the respect paid to him.

Third, the announcement of this prophecy was not made until a few years ago, essentially after most or all of its events were completed. Predictions that are released after-the-fact immediately raise concerns.

It was these problems that caused us to discover that there is exactly one original source for everything written on the subject. This prophecy comes from an article published in Israel Today magazine, March 2008, page 18, by Ludwig Schneider. We immediately contacted the article’s author requesting information about the source of the prophecy, but have received no reply as of the time of this writing.

Next Time

In the next article, we will tell you about our fascinating meeting with Ludwig Schneider’s son, Aviel Schneider, the Editor-in-Chief of Israel Today magazine. We will share what he told us about the article, his father, and the source of the prophecy.

Connect with Others

Does anyone know of other historical arguments for a “50 year pattern between Jubilees” that are as strong as the prophecy described in this article? We will read your comments and it could lead to future articles and group discussions. As you know, in this project we are joining with you, asking that we all work together as detectives to see if by God’s help we might solve the Mystery of the Lost Jubilee.

Put your comments below! And if you are joining this series for the first time, also add “count me in.”