Alexander van der Haven, From Lowly Metaphor to Divine Flesh: Sarah the Ashkenazi, Sabbatai Tsvi’s Messianic Queen and the Sabbatian Movement

Menasseh ben Israel Institute Studies vii, (ISBN 978-90815860-5-4; 79 pp. ill., Amsterdam 2012)


This study deals with the legendary Sarah the Askhenazi, queen of the even more legendary Turkish self-proclaimed messiah Sabbatai Tsevi. It portrays this messianic femme fatale, a refugee from the pogroms in Poland who lived among others in Amsterdam and Livorno before she fulfilled what she believed was her destiny: to marry the messiah. Van der Haven vividly describes Sarah’s religious ambitions and her involvement in the power struggles at the Sabbatian court. In doing so Van der Haven sheds a new light on a woman who in refusing to resign to a submissive role as mere metaphor of the kabbalistic notion of the divine, possibly played a crucial role in defining the Sabbatian movement.