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I remember that there had been a prophecy that a Hobbit would defeat Sauron. Knowing this, the Rangers protected the Shire. Sauron probably knew the prophecy as well, so why didn't he ever try to attack the Shire and kill all the Hobbits so that this would never happen. I can tell it would probably be hard to get an army all the way from Mordor to the Shire, but wouldn't Sauron do everything in his power to stop his downfall?

Seek for the Sword that was broken:

In Imladris it dwells;

There shall be counsels taken

Stronger than Morgul-spells.

There shall be shown a token

That Doom is near at hand,

For Isildur's Bane shall waken,

And the Halfling forth shall stand.

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Can you add the text of the prophecy? For context. – Valorum Jun 8 '14 at 18:22
@Richard I don't have the books right now, so I did a Google search and couldn't find it. I thought I remembered it being mentioned in the Council of Elrond, but I might have just imagined it. If the prophecy didn't really exist, my question is pointless. – Feldpausch All4 Jun 8 '14 at 18:35
There was no such prophecy. – Shamshiel Jun 8 '14 at 18:40
@Shamshiel Even that aside, force projection was a tough problem in Middle Earth. – Wayfaring Stranger Nov 7 '14 at 14:25
In addition, halflings have existed in different places in Middle Earth. The Stoors of the Anduin Vales, for example, were the tribe from whence came Sméagol. – Lexible Nov 7 '14 at 17:34
up vote 31 down vote accepted

The "prophecy" you're referring to is actually a part of Boromir's prophetic dream;

In this evil hour I have come on an errand over many dangerous leagues to Elrond: a hundred and ten days I have journeyed all alone. But I do not seek allies in war. The might of Elrond is in wisdom not in weapons, it is said. I come to ask for counsel and the unravelling of hard words. For on the eve of the sudden assault a dream came to my brother in a troubled sleep; and afterwards a like dream came oft to him again, and once to me.

'In that dream I thought the eastern sky grew dark and there was a growing thunder, but in the West a pale light lingered, and out of it I heard a voice, remote but clear, crying:

Seek for the Sword that was broken [, etc]...

Quite where this little ditty came from in the first place is a matter of conjecture but there's no way which Sauron could have heard it before Boromir started sharing it with his family and friends in order to try to work out what it means.

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In addition, Sauron appears to have first heard of "Baggins" and "The Shire", we're told, when those names were tortured out of Gollum, which happens by 3017 according to Appendix B; and Gandalf says to Frodo in April 3018 (Fellowship of the Ring, Chapter II, "The Shadow Of The Past") that Sauron might already be looking for the Shire, if he didn't already know where it was. But the dream didn't come to Faramir until the night before the assault on Osgiliath, 20 June 3018. – Matt Gutting Jun 9 '14 at 2:48
I'd also say "And the Halfing forth shall stand" does not prophecy the halfling will defeat Sauron. To me it seems to prophecy just that Frodo will offer to take the Ring to Mt. Doom and, yes, stand against Sauron, but that doesn't mean he will defeat him. – Dan Barron Dec 30 '14 at 22:19

I think your assumption that Sauron knew this prophecy is unfounded. See this quote from The Tale of Years, Appendix B of The Lord of the Rings, in the Third Age:

2953: [...] Being jealous and afraid of Gandalf [Saruman] sets spies to watch all his movements; and notes his interest in the Shire. He soon begins to keep agents in Bree and the Southfarthing.

c. 3000: [...] [Saruman] becomes a traitor to the Council. His spies report that the Shire is being closely guarded by the Rangers.

These quotes show that even Saruman, nominally the leader of the White Council and Gandalf's superior, was kept in the dark about Gandalf's interest in the Shire, due to Gandalf being suspicious of his motivations.

Until the events of the War of the Rings, hobbits were almost unknown to anyone except some northern lands, like Bree. The men of Gondor marveled at the sight of Pippin, and even Treebeard himself was surprised to learn of them. Nobody cared about them, and nobody thought they were important - not even themselves - except for Gandalf.

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I came across this seeking the same answer so I have looked in the Unfinished Tales and found the following in the Chapter "The Hunt for the Ring"

This comes after the Nazgul began unsuccessfully searching the area around the Gladden Fields then further North for the land of the Shire in the summer of 3018....

"At length they returned; but the summer was now far waned, and the wrath and fear of Sauron was mounting. When they came back to the Wold September had come; and there they met messengers from Barad-dûr conveying threats from their Master that filled even the Morgul-lord with dismay. For Sauron had now learned the words of Boromir, of Saruman's deeds, and the capture of Gandalf. From these things he concluded indeed that neither Saruman nor any of the Wise had possession yet of the ring, but that Saruman at least knew where it might be hidden. Speed alone would serve, and secrecy must be abandoned."

So to answer the intital question (and my own) it reads that Sauron learned of Boromir's Prophecy before his servants located the Shire. Thus it was too late in the day to eradicate the Halfling race.

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Sauron didnt know where the shire was,he tried to torture gollum for its location but gollum didnt know either & what he did know he falsified.Also Sauron had heard the prophecy before the counsel of Elrond.Check out unfinished tales "of the black riders"

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If you could add a source and back up "Check out unfinished tales "of the black riders"" this could be quite an interesting answer. – Liath Aug 26 '14 at 11:07
Gollum was captured in Mordor in the year 3017 and questioned and tormented.Now Sauron had never paid heed to the halflings even if he had heard of them and he did not yet know where their land lay.From Gollum even under pain he could not get any clear account because Gollum had no certain knowledge himself and because what he knew he falsified. Gollum became filled with a hatred of Sauron seeing in him his greatest enemy and rival.Thus it was that he dared to pretend that he believed that the land of the halflings was near where he had once dwelt besides the banks of the Gladden. – turinsbane Apr 8 '15 at 2:26

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