Fuks, Amsterdam 443; EJ (orig. ed.), Vol. XIV, col. 1229 (facs. of a variant title page)
For a brief period in 1666, Jews around the world came to believe that the long awaited Messiah had finally appeared in the person of Sabbatai Tzvi, a charismatic kabbalist from Izmir, Turkey. The widespread belief, shared by a majority of contemporary Jews, was short-lived and widely disavowed after Sabbatai Tzvi converted to Islam in the autumn of that same year. During the brief time that most of world Jewry believed the messiah had arrived, numerous publications appeared that alluded to the messianic era through both title page images and the use of chronograms that incorporated messianic themes. Though the text of this volume of Haftarot is devoid of any Sabbatian content, the chronogram emphasizes the word Nosha, from Deuteronomy 33:29, a clear messianic reference.
There are in fact versions of the title page of this work which are explicitly Sabbatian in nature, but following the messianic pretender's sudden conversion to Islam in the Autumn of 1666, these were replaced by the version seen here, in which only the outer frame was printed and the space for text left blank in the center. The contemporary scribe or artist who filled in the text and so beautifully decorated the title page, left out most of the Sabbatian imagery which appears in other copies. However, the crown at the top of the page, in some books from 1666 is seen inscribed with the words Ateret Tzvi (Crown of [Sabbatai] Tzvi) and the messianic chronogram hint at the turmoil and uncertainty that gripped the Amsterdam community just as this book came to press.
It is most likely that this volume was issued together with the Pentateuch that appeared the same year (see Fuks, Amsterdam 443). There is a slight possibility, however, that the Haftarot were also issued independently.
Literature: L. Fuks, Hebrew Typography in the Northern Netherlands 1585-1815, II (1987), p. 341; G. Scholem, Sabbatai Sevi: The Mystical Messiah (1975), pp. 524-527; 528, n. 144; A.M. Habermann, A History of the Hebrew Book (Hebrew), p. 104.
Please call 1-800-555-5555 to order a print catalog for this sale.
Online Registration to Bid is Closed for this Sale. Would you like to watch the live sale?Watch Live Sale