Benjamin of Tudela

(Benjamin ben-Jonah)
(12th century)
   Medieval Spanish traveller. Benjamin, who came from the town of Tudela in northern Spain, was the roving reporter of Jewish life in the Mediterranean and Near East in the 12 century. Nothing is known of his personal background, except what can be gleaned from his Sefer ha-Massa’ot (‘Book of Travels’, 1543), an outstanding work of its kind. The interest he showed in the trade in gems and coral suggests that he might have been connected with that occupation. The length of his journey is uncertain, but probably lasted about fourteen years. He set out from Tudela (?1159), and travelled slowly through Spain, France, Italy, Greece, Turkey, the Aegean, Cyprus and Asia Minor, until he reached the Holy Land (?1167). In all the Jewish communities he visited he made careful notes of the number of members, the communal leaders and scholars, the way they earned their livelihood, and the general conditions in their countries of residence. Of particular interest are the accounts of Jewish centres of learning in Provence, and of life in Constantinople. Palestine at that time was under the Crusader kingdom of Jerusalem. Benjamin visited not only the Holy City and its shrines, but all the other main towns - Acre, Haifa, Caesarea, Nablus (where he studied the customs of the Samaritans), Bethlehem, Hebron, Ashkelon and Tiberias. He then journeyed through Mesopotamia and Persia, giving a full account of the caliph’s court in Baghdad and of the extraordinary story of David ALROY, the false messiah. There is a good deal of information about China, India and Ceylon that was no doubt collected from sources other than first-hand observations. Benjamin travelled back to Spain through Egypt, Sicily and France. The ‘Book of Travels’ is on the whole sober, clear and factual, and was presumably distilled from a larger quantity of material collected by Benjamin. It was translated into a number of European languages, and remains an invaluable source work for the study of the medieval period, both Jewish and general.

Who’s Who in Jewish History after the period of the Old Testament. . 2012.

Look at other dictionaries:

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  • Benjamín de Tudela — (n. Tudela, (Navarra), 1130 † 1173). Viajero y escritor. Poco se sabe de él ya que la única fuente de que disponemos es su “Libro de Viajes”. Aunque escritores no judíos le titulan frecuentemente como “rabí”, no existen pruebas concluyentes de… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Benjamin von Tudela — (in Aragonien), gelehrter Rabbiner, reiste 1159 bis 1173 von Spanien über Italien, Griechenland nach Palästina, Persien und Aegypten und kehrte über Sicilien heim; der Zweck dieser weiten Reise war sich Kenntniß von der Lage und der religiösen… …   Herders Conversations-Lexikon

  • Benjamin von Tudela — Die Reisen des Benjamin von Tudela. Benjamin von Tudela, auch Benjamin ben Jona, eigentlich Benjamín bar Jonás de Tudela (* etwa in den ersten Jahrzehnten des 12. Jahrhunderts in der nordspanischen Stadt Tudela, Navarra; † ca. 1173 in Kastilien)… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Benjamin of Tudela — ▪ Spanish rabbi born 12th century, Navarre [France]       rabbi who was the first known European traveler to approach the frontiers of China and whose account of his journey, Massaʿot (The Itinerary of Benjamin of Tudela, 1907), illuminates the… …   Universalium

  • Benjamin aus Tudela — Benjamin aus Tudẹla,   jüdischer Gelehrter aus Navarra, Vorläufer Marco Polos; bereiste 1159 73 die Mittelmeerländer, Vorderasien und Ägypten. Sein Reisebericht (erste Ausgabe in Hebräisch, Konstantinopel 1543; viele Übersetzungen und… …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Benjamin of Tudela — (fl. second half of 12th cent)    Spanish traveller. A resident of Tudela, he set out on his travels in about 1167 and returned in 1172 or 1173. He visited France, Italy, Greece, Syria, Palestine, Iraq, the Persian Gulf, Egypt and Sicily. His… …   Dictionary of Jewish Biography

  • Benjamin of Tudela —    Jewish traveler from Spain (q.v.) who visited Constantinople (q.v.) during the reign of Manuel I Komnenos (q.v.). His description of the city is invaluable, as are his other travel notes, including his description of his journey through… …   Historical dictionary of Byzantium

  • Tudela, Navarre — Tudela is a municipality in Spain, the second city of the autonomous community of Navarre. Its population is around 40,000. Tudela is conveniently sited in the Ebro valley. Fast trains running on two track electrified railways serve the city and… …   Wikipedia

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