List of messiah claimants

This is a list of people who have been said to be a messiah either by themselves, or by their followers. The list is divided into categories, which are sorted according to date of birth (where known).

Jewish messiah claimants

Main article: Jewish messianic claimants. Note that for messiahs lacking articles, there may be more detail here.

The Jewish Messiah originally meant a divinely-appointed king; David and Cyrus the Great and Alexander the Great[1] are examples of such. Later, especially after the failure of Bar Kokhba’s revolt, it came to represent a figure who would deliver the Jews from oppression and usher in a new world.

  • Judas of Galilee (?), son of Hezekiah/Ezekias, member of the Zealots faction who led a bloody revolt against a Roman census in AD 6. (JA18)
  • Simon (ca. 4 BC), a former slave of Herod the Great who rebelled.
  • Athronges (ca. 3 BC)
  • Jesus of Nazareth (ca. 4 BC – AD 30), a wandering prophet and teacher who was crucified by the Romans; Jews who believed him to be the Messiah called him “Christ” and became the first Christians.
  • Theudas (? – 46), who attempted a short-lived revolt against the Romans before being slain. (JA20.5.1)
  • “Egyptian Prophet”, c.55, (an allusion to Moses), with 30,000 unarmed Jews doing The Exodus reenactment massacred by Procurator Antonius Felix (JW2.13.5, JA20.8.6, Acts 21:38)
  • Menahem ben Judah (?), allegedly son of Judas of Galilee, partook in a revolt against Agrippa II before being slain by a rival Zealot leader.
  • Simon bar Kokhba (?- ca. 135), founded a short-lived Jewish state before being defeated in the Second Jewish-Roman War.
  • Moses of Crete (?), who in about 440-470, convinced the Jews of Crete to attempt to walk into the sea to return to Israel; he disappeared after that disaster.
  • Ishak ben Ya’kub Obadiah Abu ‘Isa al-Isfahani (684-705), who led a revolt in Persia against the Umayyad Caliph ‘Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan.
    • Yudghan (?), a disciple of Abu ‘Isa who continued the faith after Isa was slain.
  • Serene (?), who around 720 claimed to be the Messiah and advocated expulsion of Muslims and relaxing various rabbinic laws before being arrested; he then recanted.
  • David Alroy (?), born in Kurdistan, who around 1160 agitated against the caliph before being assassinated.
  • Nissim ben Abraham (?), active around 1295.
  • Moses Botarel of Cisneros (?), active around 1413; claimed to be a sorcerer able to combine the names of God.
  • Asher Lemmlein (?), a German near Venice who proclaimed himself a forerunner of the Messiah in 1502.
  • David Reubeni (1490-1541?) and Solomon Molcho (1500-1532), adventurers who travelled in Portugal, Italy, and Turkey; Molcho was eventually burned at the stake by the Pope.
  • A mostly unknown Czech Jew from around the 1650s[2].
  • Sabbatai Zevi (1626-1676), an Ottoman Jew who claimed to be the Messiah, but then converted to Islam; still has followers today in the Donmeh.
    • Barukhia Russo (Osman Baba), successor of Sabbatai Zevi.
    • Jacob Querido (?-1690), claimed to be the new incarnation of Sabbatai; later converted to Islam and led the Donmeh.
    • Miguel Cardoso (1630-1706), another successor of Sabbatai who claimed to be the “Messiah ben Ephraim.”
    • Mordecai Mokia (1650-1729), “the Rebuker,” another person who proclaimed himself Messiah after Sabbatai’s death.
    • Löbele Prossnitz (?-1750), a proven fraud who nevertheless attained some following amongst former followers of Sabbatai, calling himself the “Messiah ben Joseph.”
  • Jacob Joseph Frank (1726-1791), who claimed to be the reincarnation of King David and preached a synthesis of Christianity and Judaism.
  • Menachem Mendel Schneerson (1902-1994), a Lubavitch rabbi who tried to “prepare the way” for the Messiah; some followers believe him to be the Messiah

Christian messiah claimants

See also: Second Coming and List of people who have claimed to be Jesus

Some verses in the Bible suggest that Jesus will come again in some fashion; various people have claimed to, in fact, be the second coming of Jesus. Others have been styled a new Messiah still under the umbrella of Christianity.

Muslim messiah claimants

Main article: People claiming to be the Mahdi

Islamic tradition has a prophecy of the Mahdi, who will come alongside the return of Isa (Jesus).

  • Syed Mohammad Jaunpuri (1443-1505), who travelled Northeastern India; he influenced the Mahdavia and the Zikris.
  • Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (1835-1908) of Qadian, ‘the Promised Messiah’ return of Jesus, founder of the Ahmadiyya religious movement.
  • Muhammad Ahmad (“The Mad Mahdi”) (1844-1885), who declared himself the Mahdi in 1881, defeated the Ottomans, and founded a short-lived empire in Sudan.
  • Báb (1819-1850), who declared himself to be the promised Mahdi in Shiraz, Iran in 1844.
  • Sayyid Mohammed Abdullah Hassan of Somaliland (1864-1920), who engaged in military conflicts from 1900 to 1920.
  • Rashad Khalifa (1935-1990), a numerologist who analyzed the Qu’ran; claimed to be the “Messenger of the Covenant” and founded the “Submitters International” movement before being murdered.
  • Juhayman al-Otaibi (1936-1980), who seized the Grand Mosque in Mecca in November 1979 and declared his son-in-law the Mahdi.
  • Dia Abdul-Zahra Leader of the Soldiers of Heaven. Died in the Battle of Najaf with Iraqi Forces in January 2007.

Other/combination messiah claimants

This list features people who are said, either by themselves or their followers, to be some form of a messiah that do not easily fit into only Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

See also


  1. ^ Jewish Encyclopedia: Messiah: Alexander as Messiah
  2. ^ A page from the Jewish Museum of Prague about Solomon Molcho mentions this nameless Czech Jew.


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