« Benham, William Benjamin of Tudela Bennett, James »

Benjamin of Tudela

BENJAMIN OF TUDELA (a town of Navarre, on the Ebro, 160 miles n.e. of Madrid): Properly Benjamin ben Jonah, a Spanish rabbi, who in 1160 (or 1165; cf. Grätz, Geschichte der Juden, vi, note 10) left home and traveled through Catalonia, southern France, Italy, Greece, the islands of the Levant, Syria, Palestine, and Mesopotamia to Bagdad; thence he proceeded to Egypt by way of Khuzistan, the Indian Ocean, and Yemen; and finally returned to Spain in 1173. The information which he gathered with great diligence not only concerning the places visited, but also of adjoining lands, was written down in a Hebrew work (Massa'oth shel rabbi Binyamin, "Itinerary of the Rabbi Benjamin"), which is one of the most famous of early books of travel. Benjamin was credulous, perhaps deficient in general information, and interested primarily in things Jewish; his book abounds in errors and absurdities, but it does not, justify the charge of deliberate falsification, and it contains much that is true and valuable not only concerning the numbers, status, and dispersion of the Jews of the twelfth century, but also concerning general history, political conditions, trade, descriptions of places, and the like.

Bibliography: The "Itinerary" was first published at Constantinople in 1543; then Ferrara, 1558; Freiburg, 1583; and many times subsequently. Arias Montanus end C. l’Empereur issued the text with a Latin translation, the former at Antwerp, 1575; the latter at Leyden, 1633. An English translation (from the Latin of Arias Montanus) was published in Purchas's Pilgrims, London, 1625, and is given in Bohn's Early Travels in Palestine, London, 1848. Others (with text) are by A. Asher, 2 vols., London, 1840–41, and M. N. Adler, London, 1907, the latter based on a British Museum MS. which differs considerably from other copies. A Germ. transl., with text, notes, etc., by L. Grünhut and M. N. Adler, was published at Frankfort, 2 vols., 1903–04. Consult also M. N. Adler, in the Palestine Exploration Fund Quarterly Statement, Oct., 1894.

« Benham, William Benjamin of Tudela Bennett, James »
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