Baha’u’llah, the prophet and founder of the Baha’i Faith, claimed to fulfill the ancient prophecies of both Judaism and Christianity.

Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Baha’i Faith, referred to Baha’u’llah’s claim in several places:

Addressing the Jewish people Baha’u’llah has written: “The Most Great Law is come, and the Ancient Beauty ruleth upon the throne of David. Thus hath My Pen spoken that which the histories of bygone ages have related. At this time, however, David crieth aloud and saith: ‘O my loving Lord! Do Thou number me with such as have stood steadfast in  Thy Cause, O Thou through Whom the faces have been illumined, and the footsteps have slipped!’” – The Promised Day is Come, pp. 76-77.

To the Jewish people, He, moreover, announced that the Most Great Law has come, that “the Ancient Beauty [Baha’u’llah] ruleth upon the throne of David,” Who cries aloud and invokes His Name, that “from Zion hath appeared that which was hidden,” and that “from Jerusalem is heard the Voice of God, the One, the Incomparable, the Omniscient.” – God Passes By, p. 211.

Nor can we fail to note the progressive deterioration in the authority, wielded by the ecclesiastical leaders of the Jewish and Zoroastrian Faiths, ever since the voice of Baha’u’llah was raised, announcing, in no uncertain terms, that the “Most Great Law is come,” that the Ancient Beauty “ruleth upon the throne of David,” and that “whatsoever hath been announced in the Books (Zoroastrian Holy Writ) hath been revealed and made clear.” – Ibid., p. 230.

Shoghi Effendi also cited those famous passages in the book of Isaiah:

No less enthralling is the vision of Isaiah, the greatest of the Hebrew Prophets, predicting, as far back as twenty five hundred years ago, the destiny which mankind must, at its stage of maturity, achieve: “And He (the Lord) shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more …” [Isaiah 2:4] “And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots … And he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked. And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins. The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together … And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’s den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.” – The World Order of Baha’u’llah, p. 205.

While Baha’u’llah, Abdu’l-Baha and Shoghi Effendi often gave metaphorical interpretations of scriptural verses, in this case they all write in a boldly affirmative way about the actual genetic link between King David and Baha’u’llah:

He was moreover a descendant of Jesse …To Him Isaiah, the greatest of the Jewish prophets, had alluded as the “Glory of the Lord,”[6:3, 10:16, 35:2, 40:5, 58:8, 59:19, 60:1] the “Everlasting Father,” [9:6] the “Prince of Peace,” [9:6] the “Wonderful,” [9:6] the “Counsellor,” [9:6] the “Rod come forth out of the stem of Jesse” [11:1] and the “Branch grown out of His roots,” [11:1] Who “shall be established upon the throne of David,” [9:7] Who “will come with strong hand,” [40:10] Who “shall judge among the nations,” [2:4] Who “shall smite the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips slay the wicked,” [11:4] and Who “shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.” [11:12] Of Him David had sung in his Psalms, acclaiming Him as the “Lord of Hosts” and the “King of Glory.” – Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 94. (with scriptural references inserted in brackets)

So strong are the presumptions of those of Christian heritage that this claim couldn’t possibly apply to anyone besides Jesus, inasmuch as the gospels report so many persons having called Jesus “son of David.” He has been hailed as such for over two millennia, so many may still resist a genetic link between David and Baha’u’llah. Perhaps it was a Baha’i of Christian heritage who asked Shoghi Effendi to explain, no doubt once again, if this link is really physical. Shoghi Effendi directed his secretary to answer on his behalf:

Regarding your question concerning the Jesse from whom Baha’u’llah is descended: [Abdu’l-Baha] says in ‘Some Answered Questions’, referring to Isaiah, chapter 11, verses 1 to 10, that these verses apply ‘Word for word to Baha’u’llah.’ He then identifies this Jesse as the father of David in the following words: ‘… for Joseph was of the descendants of Jesse the father of David …’, thus identifying the Jesse of Isaiah, chapter 11, with being the father of David. Baha’u’llah is thus the descendant of Jesse, the father of David.

[Shoghi Effendi] hopes that this will clarify the matter for you. It is a tremendous and fascinating theme, Baha’u’llah’s connection with the Faith of Judaism, and one which possesses great interest to Jew and Christian alike. – From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual Baha’i, July 11, 1942.

Of course this raises an intriguing consideration: Baha’u’llah, the descendant of Sasanian kings of the Zoroastrian Faith, and more recently of a distinguished aristocratic family of Shi’i Muslim heritage, was also a Jew.

The opinions and views expressed in this article are those of the author only and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of BahaiTeachings.org or any institution of the Baha’i Faith.

11 Comments

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  • Bill Carsley
    Oct 17, 2017
    I appreciate your kind responses, Peter. It's unfortunate that the research you mention was ostensibly lost. Without it no collaborative evidence exists to support the lineage claim of Baha'u'llah and his family. Thus my original point stands - Baha'is possess no independent evidence to support Baha'u'llah's claim to have met the Messianic qualification of Isaiah 11:1.
    I agree that documentation by modern standards is not essential. But valid independent testimony is clearly necessary. The story of the "missing research" could be true. But, at best, it can only merit the credibility of "legend" for ...the non-Baha'i seeker. Absent any concrete independent testimony, Baha'i's are simply engaging in circular reasoning.
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  • Bill Carsley
    Oct 11, 2017
    Thank you (to whoever is responsible) for restoring my initial comment. My faith in Baha'i integrity is strengthened. Blessings to you...
    • Peter Terry
      Oct 14, 2017
      I have nothing to do with posting of comments. But the restoration of your question enabled me to provide you with an answer.
  • Bill Carsley
    Oct 11, 2017
    Peter, I would like to know why my previous comment was removed. Is this the way Baha'is deal with hard and honest questions? And supposedly Baha'is encourage independent research and rational thought? I am sorry for you.
  • Oct 10, 2017
    I gain so much appreciation for our Faith in articles such as this. I appreciate the time and research it takes to write such an article. I am highly inspired! Thank you Peter.
    • Peter Terry
      Oct 14, 2017
      Thank you for your kind words. They are a balm to the heart.
  • Bill Carsley
    Oct 10, 2017
    While I don't deny the possibility that Baha'u'llah was a genetic descendant of King David, I have yet to see any clear and convincing genealogical documentation to support that claim. Baha'i scholars are apparently unable to produce objective, independent evidence that would be sufficient to establish this claim apart from the Baha'i writings themselves.
    • Peter Terry
      Oct 14, 2017
      Hi Bill, genealogical documentation of the kind you presumably have in mind does not exist in most countries, including in Iran, and dating back hundreds or, in this case, thousands of years. They are preserved in oral traditions by families. An eminent Baha'i scholar, named Mirza Abu'l-Fadl Gulpaygani, researched and wrote a detailed genealogy of Baha'u'llah which was lost before it could be copied. In my article you see that I quote Baha'u'llah, his eldest son and his great grandson. Apparently the family preserved this tradition, and 'Abdu'l-Baha most likely heard it from Baha'u'llah himself. ...There is no documentation and never will be. That doesn't mean it isn't true.
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    • Peter Terry
      Oct 14, 2017
      Dear Bill, the genealogical documentation you speak of is only available in a few countries, and, in most of those countries, only for the past century or two. Prior to that, all lineages were preserved either in the oral traditions or unpublished documents. Mirza Abu'l-Fadl Gulpaygani, who had the equivalent of a PhD in history and theology from the Islamic community of learning of his time, researched and wrote a detailed study of Baha'u'llah's genealogy...the manuscript was lost. Under the conditions of oppression under which the Baha'is lived in Iran at that time (and most of the ...years since), it is not surprising that it should have been lost. But even that document could not have presented "modern" documentation.
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    • Bill Carsley
      Oct 12, 2017
      You may be right, Malcolm. But the point is that it's unreasonable to expect a non-Baha'i to accept as fact something that cannot be independently verified - and especially so when it bears on so crucial a point of faith as Messianic lineage. Circular reasoning based on confidence in inspired writers works for the already convinced believer, but it really doesn't help the sincere seeker in his honest quest for truth and certitude. It's a matter of needing to discover whether a faith claim actually matches with factual reality or not.