"Palestine is destined to be the center of the globe."
"The above-mentioned Rabbi Benjamin was a man of wisdom and understanding, and of much information; and after strict inquiry his words were found to be true, and correct; for he was a true man."
--PREFACE TO THE TRAVELS.
This book contains the reports of Rabbi Benjamin, the son of Jonah, of blessed memory, 1 of Tudela, in the kingdom of Navarre. This man traveled through many and distant countries, as related in the following account, and took down in writing in each place what he saw or what was told him by men of integrity, whose names were known in Spain. Rabbi Benjamin also mentions some of the principal men in the places he visited; and when he returned, he brought this report along with him to the country of Castile in the year 933 (A.D. 1173). The above-mentioned Rabbi Benjamin was a man of wisdom and understanding, and of much information; and after strict inquiry his words were found to be true and correct, for he was a true man.
Thus says Rabbi Benjamin, son of Jonah, of blessed
memory. I first set out from the city of Saragossa, and proceeded down the river Ebro to Tortosa. Two days' journey
brought me to the ancient city of Tarragona, which contains
many cyclopean and pelasgic remains, 2 and similar buildings are found nowhere else in the whole kingdom of Spain.
This city stands on the coast. Two days thence is Barcelona, in which place there is a congregation of wise, learned,
and princely men, such as R. Shesheth, R. Shealthiel, and R. Solomon, son of R. Abraham, son of Chisdai, of blessed memory.
The city is handsome, though small, and is situated on the seashore. Its trade attracts merchants from all parts of the world: from Greece, from Pisa, Genoa, and Sicily, from Alexandria in Egypt, from Palestine and the adjacent countries.
A day's journey and a half brings you to Gerona, which city contains a small congregation of Jews. From thence it is three days to Narbonne, eminent for its university, from which the study of the law spreads over all countries. The city contains many wise and noble men, especially R. Calonymos, son of the great and noble R. Theodoros, of blessed memory, a descendant of the house of David, as proved by his pedigree. This man holds landed property from the sovereigns of the country, and nobody can deprive him of it by force. There is also R. Abraham, the president of the university, R. Makhir, R. Juda, and others of much merit and learning. Altogether the number of Jews amounts to about three hundred. It is four parasangs thence to the city of Beziers, which contains a congregation of learned men, the principals of which are R. Solomon Chalaphtha and R. Joseph, son of R. Nathaniel, of blessed memory.
From thence it is two days to Har Gáash, or Montpellier, a city conveniently situated for trade, being within two parasangs from the coast. You here meet with Christian and Mohammedan merchants from all parts: from Algarve (Portugal), Lombardy, the Roman Empire, Egypt, Palestine, Greece, France, Spain, and England. People of all tongues meet here, chiefly in consequence of the traffic of the Genoese and Pisans. The Jews of this city are among the wisest and most esteemed of the present generation. R. Reuben, son of Theodoros, R. Nathan, son of Zacharias, R. Samuel, their rabbi, R. Shelemiah, and R. Mordecai, of blessed memory, are the principal among them. Others are very rich, and benevolent toward all who apply to them for assistance. It is four parasangs hence to Lunel, a city containing also a holy congregation of Jews, who employ all their time upon the study of the law. This town is the place of residence of the celebrated rabbi R. Meshullam and his five
AN ANCIENT SYNAGOGUE IN PALESTINE.
Interior of one of the few synagogues still surviving in Palestine from past centuries.
sons (R. Joseph, R. Isaac, R. Jacob, R. Aron, and R. Asher), all of whom are eminent scholars and rich men. The latter is an ascetic, who does not attend to any worldly business, but studies day and night, keeps fasts, and never eats meat. He possesses an extraordinary degree of knowledge of everything relating to Talmudic learning. R. Moses, his brother-in-law, R. Samuel, the minister, R. Solomon Cohen, and the physician R. Juda, son of Thibbon, of Spanish origin, are also inhabitants of Lunel. All foreign students who resort hither to study the law are supplied with food and raiment at the public expense during the whole time of their stay in the university. The Jews of this city, amounting to about three hundred, are wise, holy, and benevolent men, who support their poor brethren near and far. The town stands within two parasangs of the coast. It is two parasangs hence to Beaucaire, a large town, containing about four hundred Jews, and a great university under the presidency of the great rabbi, R. Abraham, son of David, of blessed memory, a scholar of the first eminence in scriptural and Talmudic learning. He attracts students from distant countries, Who are lodged in his own house and are taught by him; he, moreover, provides them with all necessaries of life from his own means and private property, which is very considerable. R. Joseph, son of R. Menachem, R. Benbenast, R. Benjamin, R. Abraham, and R. Isaac, son of R. Moses of blessed memory, of this city, are also very great scholars and wise men. It is three parasangs farther to Nogres or Bourg de St. Gilles. The chief of the Jewish inhabitants, of which there are about one hundred, are R. Isaac, son of R. Jacob, R. Abraham, son of R. Juda, R. Eliasar, R. Isaac, R. Moses, and R. Jacob, son of the late rabbi R. Levi, of blessed memory. This town is a place of pilgrimage, visited by the inhabitants of distant countries and islands. It is situated within three parasangs of the sea, on the very banks of the large river Rhone, which traverses the whole of Provence. It is the place of residence of R. Abba Mari, son of R. Isaac, of blessed memory, who holds the office of steward to count Raymond.
To Arles, three parasangs. The chief of its two hundred Israelites are R. Moses, R. Tobi, R. Isaiah, R. Solomon the rabbi, R. Nathan, and R. Abba Mari, of blessed memory. It is three days hence to Marseilles, a city containing many eminent and wise men. Its three hundred Jews form two congregations, one of which resides in the lower town on the shore of the Mediterranean, and the other in the upper part, near the fortress. The latter supports a great university and boasts of many learned scholars. R. Simeon, son of R. Antoli, his brother, R. Jacob, and R. Levaro, are the chief of the upper synagogue, R. Jacob Perpiano, a rich man, R. Abraham, and his son-in-law, R. Meir, R. Isaac, and another Meir, preside over the lower congregation. An extensive trade is carried on in this city, which stands immediately on the coast. And here people take ship for Genoa, which also stands on the coast, and is reached in about four days. Two Jews from Ceuta, R. Samuel, son of Khilam, and his brother, reside there. The city is surrounded by a wall; no king governs over it, but senators chosen by the citizens out of their own body. Every house is provided with a tower, and in times of civil commotion war is carried on from the tops of these towers. The Genoese are masters of the sea, and build vessels called galleys, by means of which they carry on war in many places and bring home much plunder and booty. They are now at war with the Pisans.
From their city it is a distance of two days' journey to Pisa, which is a place of very great extent, containing about ten thousand fortified houses, from which war is carried on in times of civil commotion. All the inhabitants are brave; no king or prince governs over them, the supreme authority being vested in senators chosen by the people. The principal of the twenty Jews resident at Pisa are R. Moses, R. Chaim, and R. Joseph. The city has no walls, and stands about four miles from the sea, the navigation being carried on by means of vessels which ply upon the Arno, a river that runs through the city. Hence it is four parasangs to Lucca, a large city, which contains about forty Jews, the principal of whom are R. David, R. Samuel, and R. Jacob.
A journey of six days from thence brings you to the large city of Rome, the metropolis of all Christendom. Two hundred Jews live there, who are very much respected, and pay tribute to no one. Some of them are officers in the service of pope Alexander. 3 who is the chief ecclesiastic and head of the Christian church. The principal of the many eminent Jews resident here are R. Daniel and R. Jechiel. The latter is one of the pope's officers, a handsome, prudent, and wise man, who frequents the pope's palace, being the steward of his household and minister of his private property. R. Jechiel is a descendant of R. Nathan, the author of the book Aruch, and its comments. 4There are likewise at Rome, R. Joab, son of the rabbi R. Solomon, R. Menachem, the president of the university, R. Jechiel, who resides in Trastevere, and R. Benjamin, son of R. Shabthai, of blessed memory.
The city of Rome is divided into two parts by the river Tiber, which runs through it. In the first of these divisions you see the large place of worship called St. Peter of Rome, on the site of the extensive palace of Julius Cæsar. The city contains numerous buildings and structures entirely different from all other buildings upon the face of the earth. The extent of ground covered by the ruined and inhabited parts of Rome amounts to four-and-twenty miles. You there find eighty halls of the eighty eminent kings who were all called Imperator, from King Tarquin to King Pepin, the father of Charles (Charlemagne), who first conquered Spain and wrested it from the Mohammedans. 5 In the outskirts of Rome. is the palace of Titus, who was rejected by three hundred senators in consequence of his having wasted three years in the conquest of Jerusalem, which, according to their will,
he ought to have accomplished in two years. There is likewise the hall of the palace of King Vespasianus, a very large and strong building; also the hall of King Galba, containing 360 windows, equal in number to the days of the year. The circumference of this palace is nearly three miles. A battle was fought here in times of yore, and in the palace fell more than a hundred thousand, whose bones are hung up there even to the present day. The King caused a representation of the battle to be drawn, army against army, the men, the horses, and all their accoutrements being sculptured in marble, in order to preserve a memorial of the wars of antiquity. You there find also a cave under ground containing the King and his Queen upon their thrones, surrounded by about one hundred nobles of their court, all embalmed by physicians and in good preservation to this day.
Another remarkable object is St. Giovanni in porta Latina, in which place of worship there are two copper pillars constructed by King Solomon, of blessed memory, whose name, "Solomon, son of David," is engraved upon each. The Jews in Rome told Benjamin, that every year, about the time of the 9th of Ab, 6 these pillars sweat so much that the water runs down from them. You there see also the cave in which Titus, the son of Vespasian, hid the vessels of the temple, which he brought from Jerusalem; and in another cave on the banks of the Tiber, you find the sepulchers of those holy men of blessed memory, the ten martyrs of the kingdom. 7 Opposite St. Giovanni de Laterano, there is a statue of Samson, with a
lance of stone in his hand; also that of Absalom, the son of David, and of King Constantine, who built Constantinople, which city is called after his name; his statue is cast in copper, the man and horse being gilt. Rome contains many other remarkable buildings and works, the whole of which nobody can enumerate. . . .
It is one day hence to Acre, the Acco of Scripture, on the confines of the tribe of Asher. It is the frontier town of Palestine; and, in consequence of its situation on the shore of the Mediterranean and of its large port, it is the principal place of disembarkation of all pilgrims who visit Jerusalem by sea. A river called Kishon 8 runs near the city. There are here about two hundred Jewish inhabitants, of whom R. Zadok, R. Jepheth, and R. Jona are the principal. Three parasangs farther is Kaiffa, which is Gath Hachepher. 9 One side of this city is situated on the coast, on the other it is overlooked by Mount Carmel. Under the mountain are many Jewish sepulchers, and near the summit is the cavern of Elijah, upon whom be peace. Two Christians have built a place of worship near this site, which they call St. Elias. On the summit of the hill you may still trace the site of the altar which was rebuilt by Elijah, of blessed memory, in the time of King Ahab, and the circumference of which is about four yards. The river Makattua runs down the mountain and along its base. It is four parasangs hence to Khephar Thanchum, which is Capernaum, identical with Meon, the place of abode of Nabal the Carmelite. Six parasangs brings us to Cesarea, the Gath of the Philistines of Scripture, inhabited by about ten Jews and two hundred Cutheans. The latter are Samaritan Jews, commonly called Samaritans. This city is very elegant and beautiful, situated on the seashore, and was built by King Herod, who called it Cesarea in honor of the emperor, or Cæsar. To Kakun, the Keilah of Scripture, half a day's journey; in this place are no Jews. To St. George, the ancient Luz, half a day's journey. One
Jew only, a dyer, lives here. To Sebaste, one day's journey. This is the ancient Shomron, where you may still trace the site of the palace of Ahab, King of Israel. It was formerly a very strong city, and is situated on a mount, in a fine country, richly watered, and surrounded with gardens, orchards, vineyards, and olive-groves. No Jews live here.
It is two parasangs farther to Nablous, the ancient Sichem, on Mount Ephraim. This place contains no Jewish inhabitants, and is situated in the valley between Mount Gerizim and Mount Ebal. It is the abode of about one hundred Cutheans, who observe the Mosaic law only, and are called Samaritans. They have priests, descendants of Aaron the priest, of blessed memory, whom they call Aaronim. These do not intermarry with any other but priestly families; but they are priests only of their own law, who offer sacrifices and burnt-offerings in their synagogue on Mount Gerizim. They do this in accordance with the words of Scripture, "Thou shalt put the blessing on Mount Gerizim," and they pretend that this is the holy temple. 10 On passover and holidays they offer burnt-offerings on the altar which they have erected on Mount Gerizim, from the stones put up by the children of Israel after they had crossed the Jordan. They pretend to be of the tribe of Ephraim, and are in possession of the tomb of Joseph the righteous, the son of our father Jacob, upon whom be peace, as is proved by the following passage of Scripture, "The bones of Joseph, which the children of Israel brought up with them from Egypt, they buried in Sichem." The Samaritans do not possess the three letters He, Cheth, and Ain; the He of the name of our father Abraham, and they have no glory; the Cheth of the name of our father Isaac, in consequence of which they are devoid of piety; the Ain of the name of Jacob, for they want humility. Instead of these letters, they always put an Aleph, by which you may know that they are not of Jewish origin, because, in their knowledge of the law of Moses, they are deficient in
three letters. 11 This sect carefully avoids being defiled by touching corpses, bones, those killed by accident, or graves; and they change their daily garments whenever they visit their synagogue, upon which occasion they wash their body and put on other clothes. These are their daily habits.
Mount Gerizim is rich in wells and orchards, whereas Mount Ebal is dry like stone and rock. The city of Nablous lies in the valley between these two hills. Four parasangs from thence is situated Mount Gilboa, which Christians call Monto Jelbon. The country in this part is very barren. Five parasangs farther is the valley of Ajalon, called by the Christians Val de Luna. One parasang to Gran David, formerly the large city of Gibeon. It contains no Jewish inhabitants.
From thence it is three parasangs to Jerusalem, a small city strongly fortified with three walls. It contains a numerous population, composed of Jacobites, Armenians, Greeks, Georgians, Franks, and indeed of people of all tongues. The dyeing-house is rented by the year, and the exclusive privilege of dyeing is purchased from the king by the Jews of Jerusalem, two hundred of whom dwell in one corner of the city, under the tower of David. About ten yards of the base of this building are very ancient, having been constructed by our ancestors; the remaining part was added by the Mohammedans. The city contains no building stronger than the tower of David. There are at Jerusalem two hospitals, which support four hundred knights, and afford shelter to the sick; these are provided with everything they may want, both during life and in death; the second is called the hospital of Solomon, being the palace originally built by King Solomon. This hospital also harbors and furnishes four hundred knights, 12 who are ever ready to wage war, over and above those knights who arrive from the country of the Franks and other parts of Christendom. These generally have taken a vow upon themselves to stay a year or
two, and they remain until the period of their vow is expired. The large place of worship, called Sepulcher, and containing the sepulcher of that man, 13 is visited by all pilgrims.
Jerusalem has four gates, called the gates of Abraham, David, Sion, and Jehoshaphat. The latter stands opposite the place of the holy temple, which is occupied at present by a building called Templo Domino. Omar Ben Al-Khataab erected a large and handsome cupola over it, and nobody is allowed to introduce any image or painting into this place, it being set aside for prayers only. In front of it you see the western wall, one of the walls which formed the Holy of Holies of the ancient temple; it is called the Gate of Mercy, and all Jews resort thither to say their prayers near the wall of the court-yard. At Jerusalem you also see the stables erected by Solomon, and which formed part of his house. Immense stones have been employed in this fabric, the like of which are nowhere else to be met with. You further see to this day vestiges of the canal near which the sacrifices were slaughtered in ancient times; and all Jews inscribe their name upon an adjacent wall. If you leave the city by the gate of Jehoshaphat, you may see the pillar erected on Absalom's place, and the sepulcher of King Uzziah, and the great spring of Shiloah, which runs into the brook Kedron. Over this spring is a large building erected in the times of our forefathers. Very little water is found at Jerusalem; the inhabitants generally drink rain-water, which they collect in their houses.
From the Valley of Jehoshaphat the traveler immediately ascends the Mount of Olives, as this valley only intervenes between the city and the mount. From hence the Dead Sea is distinctly visible. Two parasangs from the sea stands the salt pillar into which Lot's wife was metamorphosed; and although the sheep continually lick it, the pillar grows again, and retains its original state. You also have a prospect over the whole valley of the Dead Sea, and of the brook of Shittim, even as far as Mount Nebo. Mount Sion is also near Jerusalem, upon the acclivity of which stands no building except
a place of worship of the Nazarenes (Christians). The traveler further sees there three Jewish cemeteries, where formerly the dead were buried; some of the sepulchers had stones with inscriptions upon them, but the Christians destroy these monuments, and use the stones in building their houses.
Jerusalem is surrounded by high mountains. On Mount Sion are the sepulchers of the house of David, and those of the kings who reigned after him. In consequence of the following circumstance, however, this place is at present hardly to be recognized. Fifteen years ago, one of the walls of the place of worship on Mount Sion fell down, and the patriarch commanded the priest to repair it. He ordered stones to be taken from the original wall of Sion for that purpose, and twenty workmen were hired at stated wages, who broke stones from the very foundation of the walls of Sion. Two of these laborers, who were intimate friends, upon a certain day treated one another, and repaired to their work after their friendly meal. The overseer accused them of dilatoriness, but they answered that they would still perform their day's work, and would employ thereupon the time while their fellow laborers were at meals. They then continued to break out stones, until, happening to meet with one which formed the mouth of a cavern, they agreed to enter it in search of treasure, and they proceeded until they reached a large hall, supported by pillars of marble, encrusted with gold and silver, and before which stood a table, with a golden scepter and crown. This was the sepulcher of David, King of Israel, to the left of which they saw that of Solomon in a similar state, and so on the sepulchers of all the kings of Juda, who were buried there. They further saw chests locked up, the contents of which nobody knew, and were on the point of entering the hall, when a blast of wind like a storm issued forth from the mouth of the cavern so strong that it threw them down almost lifeless on the ground. There they lay until evening, when another wind rushed forth, from which they heard a voice like that of a man calling aloud, "Get up, and go forth from this place." The men rushed out full of fear, and proceeded to the patriarch to report what had happened
to them. This ecclesiastic summoned into his presence R. Abraham el Constantini, a pious ascetic, one of the mourners of the downfall of Jerusalem, 14 and caused the two laborers to repeat what they had previously reported. R. Abraham thereupon informed the patriarch that they had discovered the sepulchers of the house of David and of the kings of Juda. The following morning the laborers were sent for again, but they were found stretched on their beds and still full of fear; they declared that they would not attempt to go again to the cave, as it was not God's will to discover it to any one. The patriarch ordered the place to be walled up, so as to hide it effectually from every one unto the present day. The above-mentioned R. Abraham told me all this.
Two parasangs from Jerusalem is Bethlehem of Judea, called Beth-lehem; and within half a mile of it, where several roads meet, stands the monument which points out the grave of Rachel. This monument is constructed of eleven stones, equal to the number of the children of Jacob. It is covered by a cupola, which rests upon four pillars; and every Jew who passes there inscribes his name on the stones of the monument. Twelve Jews, dyers by profession, 15 live at Bethlehem. The country abounds with rivulets, wells, and springs of water. Six parasangs farther is Hebron. The ancient city of that name was situated on the bill, and lies in ruins at present; whereas the modern town stands in the valley,
even in the field of Machpelah. Here is the large place of worship called St. Abraham, which during the time of the Mohammedans was a synagogue. The Gentiles have erected six sepulchers in this place, which they pretend to be those of Abraham and Sarah, of Isaac and Rebecca, and of Jacob and Leah; the pilgrims are told that they are the sepulchers of the fathers, and money is extorted from them. But if any Jew come, who gives an additional fee to the keeper of the cave, an iron door is opened, which dates from the times of our forefathers who rest in peace, and with a burning candle in his bands the visitor descends into a first cave, which is empty, traverses a second in the same state, and at last reaches a third, which contains six sepulchers, those of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and of Sarah, Rebecca, and Leah, one opposite the other. All these sepulchers bear inscriptions, the letters being engraved: thus, upon that of Abraham, we read, "This is the sepulcher of our father Abraham, upon whom be peace"; and so on that of Isaac and upon all the other sepulchers. A lamp burns in the cave and upon the sepulchers continually, both night and day; and you there see tubs filled with the bones of Israelites, for unto this day it is a custom of the house of Israel to bring thither the bones of their relicts and of their forefathers, and to leave them there. On the confines of the field of Machpelah stands the house of our father Abraham, 16 who rests in peace; before which house there is a spring, and, out of respect to Abraham, nobody is allowed to construct any building on that site.
It is five parasangs hence to Beit Jaberim, the ancient Mareshah, 17 where there are but three Jewish inhabitants. Five parasangs farther bring us to Toron de los Caballeros, which is Shunem, inhabited by three hundred Jews. We then proceed three parasangs to St. Samuel of Shiloh, the ancient Shiloh, within two parasangs of Jerusalem. When
the Christians took Ramleh, which is Ramah, from the Mohammedans, they discovered the sepulcher of Samuel the Ramathi near the Jewish synagogue, and removed his remains to Shiloh, where they erected a large place of worship over them, called St. Samuel of Shiloh to the present day. Hence it is three parasangs to Pesipua, which is Gibeah of Saul, or Geba of Benjamin; it contains no Jews. Three parasangs to Beith Nubi, which is Nob, the city of the priests. In the middle of the road are the two rocks of Jonathan, 18 the name of one of which is Botsets, and of the other Séné. The two Jews who live here are dyers.
It is three Parasangs hence to Ramleh, which is Harama, where you still find walls erected by our forefathers, as is evident from the inscriptions upon the stones. The city contains about three Jews; but it was formerly very considerable, for a Jewish cemetery in its vicinity is two miles in extent. Five parasangs hence to Jaffa, the Japho of Scripture, on the coast; one Jew only, a dyer by profession, lives here. Three parasangs to Ibelin, the ancient Jabneh, where the site of the schools may still be traced; it contains no Jews. Here was the frontier of the tribe of Ephraim. Two parasangs to Palmis, or Asdoud, 19 formerly a city of the Philistines, at present in ruins, and containing no Jews. Two parasangs to Ascalon, which is in fact the New Ascalon, built on the coast by Esra the priest, of blessed memory, and originally called Benebra, distant about four parasangs from ancient Ascalon, which lies in ruins. This city is very large and handsome; and merchants from all parts resort to it, on account of its convenient situation on the confines of Egypt. There are here about two hundred rabbanite Jews, of whom the principal are R. Tsemach, R. Aaron, and R. Solomon, besides about forty Caraites, and about three hundred Cutheans or Samaritans. In the city is a fountain called Bir Ibrabim-al-Khahil,
which was dug in the time of the Philistines. From hence back to St. George, which is Lydda, and in one day and a half to Serain, the Jezreel of Scripture, 20 a city containing a remarkably large fountain. It has one Jewish inhabitant, a dyer. Three parasangs to Sufurieh, the Tsippori of antiquity. The sepulchers of Rabenu Hakkadosh, of R. Chija, who came back from Babylon, and of Jonah the son of Amittai the prophet, are shown here; they are buried in the mountain, which also contains numerous other sepulchers.
From hence it is five parasangs to Tiberias, a city situated on the Jordan, which here bears the name of the Sea of Chinnereth, or Lake of Tiberias. Here are the falls of the Jordan, in consequence of which the place bears also the name of Ashdoth-Pisga, which means "the place where the rapid rivers have their fall": the Jordan afterward empties itself into Lake Asphaltes, or the Dead Sea. Tiberias contains about fifty Jews, the principal of whom are R. Abraham the astronomer, 21 R. Muchthar, and R. Isaac. The hot waters, which spout forth from under ground, are called the warm baths of Tiberias. In the vicinity is the synagogue of Khaleb, son of Jepuneh; and among numerous other Jewish sepulchers are those of R. Jochanan, son of Zakhai, 22 and of R. Jonathan, son of Levi. These are all in Lower Galilee. Two parasangs bring us to Tebnin, the Thimnatha of Scripture, 23 where you find the sepulcher of Samuel (Simeon) the
Just, and many other sepulchers of Israelites. It is hence one day to Gish, which is Gush Chaleb, and contains about twenty Jewish inhabitants. We go hence six parasangs to Meroon, which is Maron; 24 in a cave near this place are the sepulchers of Hillel and Shamai, and of twenty of their disciples, as well as those of R. Benjamin, son of Jephet, and of R. Juda, son of Bethera. Six parasangs to Alma, which contains fifty Jewish inhabitants, and a large cemetery of the Israelites. Half a day brings you to Kades, which is Kadesh Naphthali, on the banks of the Jordan. Here are the sepulchers of R. Eleasar, son of Arach, of R. Eleasar, son of Asariah, of Chuni Hamaagal, of R. Simeon, son of Gamaliel, of R. Jose Hagelili, and of Barak the son of Abinoam. 25 This place contains no Jews.
A day's journey brings us to Belinas, 26 the ancient Dan 27 where the traveler may see a cave, from which the Jordan issues, and three miles hence this river unites its waters with those of the Arnon, a rivulet of the ancient land of Moab. In front of the cave you may still trace vestiges of the altar of the image of Micha, which was adored by the children of
Dan in ancient times. Here also is the site of the altar erected by Jeroboam, son of Nebat, in honor of the golden calf; and here were the confines of the land of Israel toward the uttermost sea. 28
Two days from this place brings you to Damascus, a large city and the frontier town of the empire of Noureddin, 29 King of the Thogarmim, or Turks. This city is very large and handsome, and is enclosed with a wall and surrounded by a beautiful country, which in a circuit of fifteen miles presents the richest gardens and orchards, in such numbers and beauty as to be without equal upon earth. The rivers Amana and Parpar, the sources of which are on Mount Hermon (on which the city leans), run down here; the Amana follows its course through Damascus, and its waters are carried by means of pipes into the houses of the principal inhabitants, as well as into the streets and markets. A considerable trade is carried on here by merchants of all countries. The Parpar runs between the gardens and orchards in the outskirts, and supplies them copiously with water. Damascus contains a Mohammedan mosque, called "the Synagogue of Damascus," a building of unequaled magnificence. They say that it was the palace of Ben-Hadad, and that one wall of it is framed of glass by enchantment. This wall contains as many openings as there are days in the solar year, and the sun in gradual succession throws its light into the openings, which are divided into twelve degrees, equal to the number of the hours of the day, so that by this contrivance everybody may know what time it is. The palace contains vessels richly ornamented with gold and silver, formed like tubs, and of a size to allow three persons to bathe in them at once. In this building is also preserved the rib of a giant, which measures nine spans in length, and two in breadth, and which belonged to an ancient giant king named Abchamas, whose name was found engraved upon a stone of his tomb,
and it was further stated in the inscription that he reigned over the whole world.
This city contains three thousand Jews, many of whom are learned and rich men; it is the residence of the president of the university of Palestine, named R. Esra, whose brother, Sar Shalom, is the principal of the Jewish court of law. The other distinguished Jews are R. Joseph, who ranges fifth in the university, R. Matsliach, the lecturer and master of the schools, R. Meir, a flower of the learned, R. Joseph Ibn Pilath, who may be called the prop of the university, R. Heman the elder, and R. Zadok the physician. The city contains also two hundred Caraites and about four hundred Samaritans, sects which here live upon friendly terms, but they do not intermarry.
It is one day's journey thence to Jelaad, which is Gilead; it contains about sixty Jews, the principal of whom is R. Zadok. The city is large, well watered, and surrounded by gardens and orchards. Half a day's journey farther stands Salkhat, the city of Salcah of Scripture. From thence to Baalbec is half a day's journey. This is the city mentioned in Scripture as Baalath in the valley of Lebanon, which Solomon built for the daughter of Pharaoh. The palace is constructed of stones of enormous size, measuring twenty spans in length and twelve in breadth; no binding material holds these stones together, and people pretend that the building could have been erected only by the help of Ashmodai. A copious spring takes its rise at the upper side of the city, through which its waters rush like those of a considerable river. They are employed in the working of several mills within the city, which also encloses numerous gardens and orchards.
Tadmor in the desert was also built by Solomon of equally large stones; this city is surrounded by a wall, and stands in the desert, far from any inhabited place, being four days' journey distant from the above-mentioned Baalath. It contains two thousand warlike Jews, who are at war with the Christians and with the Arabian subjects of Noureddin, and assist their neighbors the Mohammedans. Their chiefs are
R. Isaac Hajevani, R. Nathan, and R. Usiel. Half a day brings us to Cariyatin, which is Kirjathaim; one Jew only, a dyer by profession, lives there. One day hence is Hamah, the Hamath of Scripture, on the Orontes, under Mount Lebanon. Some time ago this city was visited by an earthquake, in consequence of which fifteen thousand men died in one day, leaving only seventy survivors. 30 The principals of the Jews here are R. Ulah Hacohen, the sheikh Abu al Galeb, and Muktar. Half a day to Reiha, which is Hazor. Three parasangs to Lamdin, from whence it is a journey of two days to Aleppo, the Aram Zoba of Scripture. This city is the residence of King Noureddin, and contains his palace, a building fortified by an extraordinarily high wall. There being neither spring nor river, the inhabitants are obliged to drink rain-water, which is collected in every house in a cistern called in Arabic, Algub. The principal of the fifteen hundred Jews who live in Aleppo are R. Moses el-Coustandini, R. Israel, and R. Seth.
To Bales, which is Pethor 31 on the Euphrates, two days. Even at this day you there still find remains of the tower of Balaam the son of Beor (may the name of the wicked rot!) which he built in accordance with the hours of the day. This place contains about ten Jews. Half a day hence we come to Kala Jiaber, 32 which is Sela Midbarah. This city remained in the power of the Arabs even at the time when the Thogarmim (or Turks) took their country and dispersed them in the desert. It contains about two thousand Jews, of
whom R. Zedekiah, R. Chia, and R. Solomon are the principal. One day brings us to Racca, which is Calneh of Scripture, 33 on the confines of Mesopotamia, being the frontier town between that country and the empire of the Thogarmim (or Turks); it contains about seven hundred Jewish inhabitants, the principal of whom are R. Sakhai, R. Nadib, who is blind, and R. Joseph. One of the synagogues was built by Esra the scribe, when he returned to Jerusalem from Babylon. It is one day hence to the ancient place of Haran, 34 which contains twenty Jewish inhabitants, who also possess a synagogue erected by Esra. Nobody is allowed to construct any building on the spot where the house of our father Abraham was situated; even the Mohammedans pay respect to the place, and resort thither to pray. Two days' journey from thence is . . . 35 at the mouth of the El-Khabur, the Habor of Scripture. This river takes its course through Media, and loses itself in the Kizil Ozein. About two hundred Jews dwell near this place. Two days to Nisibin, a large city plentifully watered, and containing about one thousand Jews. Two days to Jezireh ben Omar, an island in the Tigris, at the foot of Mount Ararat, 36 and four miles distant from the spot where the ark of Noah rested; Omar Ben al-Khatab removed the ark from the summit of the two mountains and made a mosque of it. There still exists in the vicinity of the ark a synagogue of Esra the scribe, which is visited by the Jews of the city on the 9th of Ah. The city of Jezireh Omar Ben al-Khatab contains about four thousand
Jews, the principals of whom are R. Mubchar, R. Joseph, and R. Chiia.
Two days from thence stands Mosul, mentioned in Scripture as Ashur the great, which contains about seven thousand Jews, the principal of whom are R. Sakhai, the prince, a descendant of King David, and R. Joseph, surnamed Borhan-al-Phulkh, who is astronomer of Seifeddin, the brother of Noureddin, King of Damascus. This city, situated on the confines of Persia, is of great extent and very ancient; it stands on the banks of the Tigris, and is joined by a bridge to Nineveh. Although the latter lies in ruins, there are numerous inhabited villages and small towns on its site. Nineveh is on the Tigris, distant one parasang from the town of Arbil. 37 Mosul contains the synagogues of Obadiah, of Jonah, son of Amittai, and of Nahum the Elkoshite. It is three days hence to Rahabah, which is Rehoboth, by the river Euphrates, and contains about two thousand Jews, the principal of whom are R. Ezekiah, R. Ehud, and R. Isaac. The city is surrounded by a wall, it is very handsome, large, and well fortified; and the environs abound with gardens and orchards. One day to Karkisia, 38 the Carchemish of Scripture, on the banks of the Euphrates, containing about five hundred Jewish inhabitants, of whom the principal are R. Isaac and R. Elchanan. Two days to Juba, which is Pumbeditba, in Nehardea; it contains about two thousand Jews, some of them eminent scholars. R. Chen, R. Moses, and R. Eliakim are the principal. Here the traveler may see the sepulchers of R. Juda and R. Samuel, opposite two synagogues which they erected during their lives; as well as the sepulchers of R. Bosthenai, the prince of the captivity, of R. Nathan, and of R. Nachman, the son of Papa. 39 Five days to Hardah (or Hadrah), containing fifteen thousand Jews, of whom R. Saken, R. Joseph, and R. Nathaniel are the principal. Two days to Akbara, the city which was built by Jeconiah, King of Juda; it contains about ten thousand
Jews, the principal of whom are R. Joshua and R. Nathan.
Two days from thence stands Bagdad, the large metropolis of the Calif Emir-al-Mumenin al Abassi, of the family of their prophet, who is the chief of the Mohammedan religion. 40 All Mohammedan kings acknowledge him, and he holds the same dignity over them which the pope enjoys over the Christians. The palace of the Calif at Bagdad is three miles in extent. It contains a large park filled with all sorts of trees, both useful and ornamental, and all kinds of beasts, as well as a pond of water carried thither from the river Tigris; and whenever the Calif desires to enjoy himself and to sport and carouse, birds, beasts, and fishes are prepared for him and for his courtiers, whom he invites to his palace. This great Abasside is extremely friendly toward the Jews, many of his officers being of that nation; he understands all languages, is well versed in the Mosaic law, and reads and writes the Hebrew tongue. He enjoys nothing but what he earns by the labor of his own hands, and therefore manufactures coverlets, which he stamps with his seal, and which his officers sell in the public market; these articles are purchased by the nobles of the land, and from their produce his necessaries are provided. The Calif is an excellent man, trust-worthy and kind-hearted toward every one, but generally invisible to the Mohammedans. The pilgrims, who come hither from distant countries on their way to Mecca in Yemen, desire to be presented to him, and thus address him from the palace: "Our lord, light of the Mohammedans and splendor of our religion, show us the brightness of thy countenance"; but he heeds not their words. His servants and officers then approach and pray: "O lord, manifest thy peace to these men who come from distant lands and desire shelter in the shadow of thy glory." After this petition, he rises and puts one corner of his garment out of the window, which the pilgrims eagerly kiss. One of the lords then addresses them thus: "Go in peace, for our lord, the light of the Mohammedans,
is well pleased and gives you his blessing." This prince being esteemed by them equal to their prophet, they proceed on their way, full of joy at the words addressed to them by the lord who communicated the message of peace. All the brothers and other members of the Calif's family are accustomed to kiss his garments. Every one of them possesses a palace within that of the Calif, but they are all bound with chains of iron, and a special officer is appointed over each household to prevent their rising in rebellion against the great King. These measures are taken in consequence of what occurred some time ago, when the brothers rebelled and elected a king among themselves; to prevent which in future it was decreed that all the members of the Calif's family should be chained, in order to prevent their rebellious intentions. Every one of them, however, resides in his palace, and is there much honored; and they possess villages and towns, the rents of which are collected for them by their stewards. They eat and drink, and lead a merry life. The palace of the great King contains large buildings, pillars of gold and silver, and treasures of precious stones.
The Calif leaves his palace but once every year, viz., at the time of the feast called Ramadan; on which occasion many visitors assemble from distant parts, in order to have an opportunity of beholding his countenance. He then bestrides the royal mule, dressed in kingly robes, which are composed of gold and silver cloth. On his head he wears a turban, ornamented with precious stones of inestimable value; but over this turban is thrown a black veil, as a sign of humility, and as much as to say: "See all this worldly honor will be converted into darkness on the day of death." He is accompanied by a numerous retinue of Mohammedan nobles, arrayed in rich dresses and riding upon horses, princes of Arabia, of Media, of Persia, and even of Tibet, a country distant three months' journey from Arabia. The procession goes from the palace to the mosque at the Bozra gate, which is the metropolitan mosque. All who walk in procession, both men and women, are dressed in silk and purple. The streets and squares are enlivened with singing and rejoicing,
and by parties who dance before the great King, called Calif. He is saluted loudly by the assembled crowd, who cry: "Blessed art thou, our lord and King." He thereupon kisses his garment, and by holding it in his hand, acknowledges and returns the compliment. The procession moves on into the court of the mosque, where the Calif mounts a wooden pulpit and expounds their law unto them. The learned Mohammedans rise, pray for him, and praise his great kindness and piety; upon which the whole assembly answer, "Amen!" The Calif then pronounces his blessing, and kills a camel, which is led thither for that purpose, and this is their offering. It is distributed to the nobles, who send portions of it to their friends, who are eager to taste of the meat killed by the bands of their holy King, and are much rejoiced therewith. The Calif, after this ceremony, leaves the mosque, and returns alone, along the banks of the Tigris, to his palace, the noble Mohammedans accompanying him in boats, until he enters this building. He never returns by the way he came; and the path on the bank of the river is carefully guarded all the year round, so as to prevent any one treading in his footsteps. The Calif never leaves his palace again for a whole year. He is a pious and benevolent man, and has erected buildings on the other side of the river, on the banks of an arm of the Euphrates, which runs on one side of the city. These buildings include many large houses, streets, and hostelries for the sick poor, who resort thither in order to be cured. There are about sixty medical warehouses here, all well provided from the King's stores with spices and other necessaries; and every patient who claims assistance is fed at the King's expense until his cure is completed.
There is further a large building, called Dar-al-Maraphtan, 41 in which are confined all the insane persons who are met with, particularly during the hot season, every one of whom is secured by iron chains until his reason returns, when he is allowed to return to his home. For this purpose they are regularly examined once a month by officers appointed by
the King for that purpose; and when they are found to be possessed of reason they are immediately liberated. All this is done by the King in pure charity toward all who come to Bagdad, either ill or insane; for the King is a pious man, and his intention is excellent in this respect.
Bagdad contains about one thousand Jews, who enjoy peace, comfort, and much honor under the government of the great King. Among them are very wise men and presidents of the colleges, whose occupation is the study of the Mosaic law. The city contains ten colleges. The principal of the great college is the rabbi, R. Samuel, the son of Eli, principal of the college Geon Jacob; the provost of the Levites is the president of the second; R. Daniel, the master of the third college; R. Eleasar, the fellow, presides over the fourth; R. Eleasar, the son of Tsemach, is chief of the fifth college; he is master of the studies, and possesses a pedigree of his descent from the prophet Samuel, who rests in peace, and he and his brothers know the melodies that were sung in the temple during its existence; R. Chasadiah, principal fellow, is the master of the sixth, R. Chagai, the prince, the principal of the seventh, and R. Esra, the president of the eighth college; R. Abraham, called Abu Tahir, presides over the ninth, and R. Zakhai, son of Bosthenai, master of the studies, is president of the tenth college. All these are called Batlanim, i.e., the Idle: because their sole occupation consists in the discharge of public business. During every day of the week they dispense justice to all the Jewish inhabitants of the country, except Monday, which is set aside for assemblies under the presidency of the rabbi Samuel, master of the college Geon Jacob, who on that day dispenses justice to every applicant, and is assisted therein by the other Batlanim, presidents of the colleges.
The principal of all these, however, is R. Daniel, the son of Chisdai, who bears the titles of Prince of the Captivity and Lord, and who possesses a pedigree which proves his descent from King David. The Jews call him "Lord, Prince of the Captivity," and the Mohammedans entitle him Saidna Ben Daoud, noble descendant of David. He holds great command
over all Jewish congregations under the authority of the Emir-al-Mumenin, the lord of the Mohammedans, who has commanded that he shall be respected, and has confirmed his power by granting him a seal of office. Every one of his subjects, whether he be Jew or Mohammedan or of any other faith, is commanded to rise in the presence of the prince of the captivity, and to salute him respectfully, under a penalty of one hundred stripes. Whenever he pays a visit to the King, he is escorted by numerous horsemen, both Jews and Gentiles, and a crier proclaims aloud: "Make way before our lord the son of David, as becomes his dignity"; in Arabic, Amilu tarik la-saidna ben-Daud. Upon these occasions he rides upon a horse, and his dress is composed of embroidered silk; on his head he wears a large turban covered with a white cloth, and surmounted by a chain (or diadem). The authority of the prince of the captivity extends over the countries of Mesopotamia, Persia, Khorassan, Seba, which is Yemen, Diarbekb, all Armenia and the land of Kota near Mount Ararat, over the country of the Alanians, which is shut in by mountains, and has no outlet except by the iron gates which were made by Alexander, over Sikbia and all the provinces of the Turkomans unto the Aspisian mountains, over the country of the Georgians unto the river Oxus (these are the Girgasim of Scripture, and believe in Christianity), and as far as the frontiers of the provinces and cities of Tibet and India. All the Jewish congregations of these different countries receive authority from the prince of captivity to elect rabbis and ministers, all of whom appear before him in order to receive consecration 42 and the permission to officiate, upon which occasions presents and valuable gifts are offered to him, even from the remotest countries. The prince of the captivity possesses hostelries, gardens, and orchards in Babylonia, and extensive landed property inherited from his forefathers, of which nobody can deprive him. He enjoys a certain yearly income from the Jewish hostelries, the markets, and, the merchandise of the country, which is levied in form of a tax, over
and above what is presented to him from foreign countries. He is very rich, an excellent scholar, and so hospitable that numerous Israelites dine at his table every day. At the time of the installation of the prince of the captivity he expends considerable sums in presents to the King (or Calif), and to his princes and nobles. This ceremony is performed by the King or Calif, who lays his hands on the prince, after which the latter rides home from the King's abode to his own house, seated in a royal State carriage, and accompanied with the sound of various musical instruments; he afterward lays his hands on the gentlemen of the university, to reinstall them. Many of the Jews of Bagdad are good scholars and very rich. The city contains twenty-eight Jewish synagogues, situated partly in Bagdad and partly in Al-Khorkh, on the other side of the river Tigris, which runs through and divides the city. The metropolitan synagogue of the prince of the captivity is ornamented with pillars of richly colored marble, plated with gold and silver; on the pillars are inscribed verses of the Psalms in letters of gold. The ascent to the holy ark 43 is composed of ten marble steps, on the uppermost of which are the stalls set apart for the prince of the captivity and the other princes of the house of David.
The city of Bagdad is three miles in circumference; the country in which it is situated is rich in palm-trees, gardens, and orchards, so that nothing equals it in Mesopotamia. Merchants of all countries resort thither for purposes of trade, and it contains many wise philosophers, well skilled in sciences, and magicians proficient in all sorts of enchantment.
Two days from hence stands Gihiagin, or Ras-al-Ain, which is Resen, "the great city"; 44 it contains about five thousand Jews and a large synagogue. In a house near the synagogue is the sepulcher of 45; and, in a cave below it, that of his twelve disciples. From hence it is one day to Babylon. This is the ancient Babel, and now lies in ruins; but the streets
still extend thirty miles. The ruins of the palace of Nebuchadrezzar are still to be seen; but people are afraid to venture among them on account of the serpents and scorpions with which they are infested. Twenty thousand Jews live within about twenty miles from this place, and perform their worship in the synagogue of Daniel, who rests in peace. This synagogue is of remote antiquity, having been built by Daniel himself; it is constructed of solid stones and bricks. Here the traveler may also behold the palace of Nebuchadrezzar, with the burning fiery furnace into which were thrown Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah; it is a valley well known to everyone. 46 Hillah, which is at a distance of five miles, contains about ten thousand Jews and four synagogues, one of which is that of R. Meier, whose sepulcher is in front of it; another is that of R. Seiri, son of Hama, and R. Miri. 47 Public worship is performed daily in these synagogues. Four miles from hence is the tower built by the dispersed generation. 48 It is constructed of bricks called al-ajurr; the base measures two miles, the breadth two hundred and forty yards, and the height about one hundred canna. A spiral passage, built into the tower (in stages of ten yards each), leads up to the summit, from which we have a prospect of twenty miles, the country being one wide plain and quite level. The heavenly fire, which struck the tower, split it to its very foundation.
Half a day from hence, at Napacha 49, which contains two hundred Jews, is the synagogue of R. Isaac Napacha, in front of which is his sepulcher. Three parasangs hence, on the banks of the Euphrates, stands the synagogue of the prophet Ezekiel, who rests in peace. 50 The place of the synagogue
is fronted by sixty towers, the space between every two of which is also occupied by a synagogue; in the court of the largest stands the ark, and behind it is the sepulcher of Ezekiel, the son of Buzi the priest. This monument is covered with a large cupola, and the building is very handsome; it was erected by Jechoniah, King of Juda, and the thirty-five thousand Jews who went along with him, when Evil-Merodach released him from the prison, which was situated between the river Chaboras and another river. The names of Jechoniah and of all those who came with him are inscribed on the wall, the King's name first, that of Ezekiel last. This place is considered holy even to the present day and is one of those to which people resort from remote countries in order to pray, particularly at the season of new year and atonement day. There are great rejoicings here at that time, which are attended even by the prince of the captivity and the presidents of the colleges of Bagdad. The assembly is so large, that their temporary abodes cover twenty-two miles of open ground, and attract many Arabian merchants, who keep a market or fair. On the day of atonement the proper lesson of the day is read from a very large manuscript Pentateuch in Ezekiel's own handwriting. A lamp burns night and day on the sepulcher of the prophet, and has always been kept burning since the day he lighted it himself; the oil and wicks are renewed as often as necessary. A large house belonging to the sanctuary contains a very numerous collection of books, some of them as ancient as the second, some even coeval with the first temple, it being the custom that whoever dies childless bequeaths his books to this sanctuary. The inhabitants of the country lead to the sepulcher all foreign Jews, who come from Media and Persia to visit it in fulfilment of vows. The noble Mohammedans also resort thither to pray, because they hold the prophet Ezekiel, on whom be peace! in great veneration, and they call this place Dar Melicha (the agreeable abode); the sepulcher is also visited by all devout Arabs. Within half a mile of the synagogue are the sepulchers of Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, each covered with a large cupola. Even in times of war,
neither Jew nor Mohammedan ventures to despoil and profane the sepulcher of Ezekiel.
Three miles from hence stands the city of Al-Kotsonaath, containing three hundred Jewish inhabitants and the sepulchers of R. Papa, R. Huna, R. Joseph Sinai, and R. Joseph, the son of Hama, in front of each of which is a synagogue in which Jews daily pray. Three parasangs to Ain Japhata, which contains the sepulcher of the prophet Nahum the Elkoshite, who rests in peace. In a Persian village, a day from thence, are the sepulchers of R. Chisdai, R. Akiba, and R. Dossa; and in another village, half a day's distance in the desert, are those -of R. David, R. Juda., R. Kubreh, R. Sechora, and R. Aba; and on the river Lega, a distance of one day, that of King Zedekiah, who rests in peace; the latter is ornamented by a large cupola. It is one day hence to the city of Kufa, which contains about seventy thousand Jews; and in it is the sepulcher of King Jechoniah, which consists of a large building with a synagogue in front. One day and a half to Sura, the place called in the Talmud Matha-Mechasia, formerly the residence of the princes of the captivity and of the principals of the colleges. At Sura are the sepulchers of R. Shrira and his son Rabenu Hai, Rabenu Sadiah-al-Fajumi, R. Samuel, the son of Chophni the priest, and Zephaniah, the son of Khushi, the son of Gedaliah the prophet, and of many other princes of the captivity, descendants of the house of David, who formerly resided there before the city was ruined. Two days from hence is Shafjathib, where there is a synagogue, which the Israelites erected with earth and stones brought from Jerusalem, and which they called "the transplanted of Nehardea." One day and a half from hence is El Jubar, or Pombeditba, on the river Euphrates, containing about three thousand Jews, and the synagogues, sepulchers, and colleges of Rab and Samuel.
At twenty-one days' journey through the desert of Sheba, or Al-Yemen, from which Mesopotamia lies in a northerly direction, are the abodes of the Jews who are called Beni (children of) Rechab, men of Thema. The seat of their government is at Thema (or Tehama), where their prince and
governor rabbi Chanan resides. This city is large, and the extent of their country is sixteen days' journey toward the northern mountain range. They possess large and strong cities and are not subject to any of the Gentiles, but undertake warlike expeditions into distant provinces with the Arabians, their neighbors and allies, to take the spoil and the prey. These Arabians are Bedouins, who live in tents in the deserts and have no fixed abode, and who are in the habit of undertaking marauding expeditions into the province of Yemen. The Jews are a terror to their neighbors. Their country being very extensive, some of them cultivate the land and rear cattle. A number of studious and learned men, who spend their lives in the study of the law, are maintained by the tithes of all produce, part of which is also employed toward sustaining the poor and the ascetics, called "Mourners of Sion" and "Mourners of Jerusalem." These eat no meat and abstain from wine, dress always in black, and live in eaves or in low houses, and keep fasts all their lives except on Sabbaths and holy-days. 51 They continually implore the mercy of God for the Jews in exile, and devoutly pray that he may have compassion on them for the sake of his own great Dame; and they also include in their prayers all the Jews of Tehama and of Telmas. The latter contains about one hundred thousand Jews, who are governed by Prince Salomon, who, as well as his brother, Prince Chanan, are descendants of the royal house of David, who rests in peace, which is proved by their pedigrees. In doubtful cases they solicit the decisions of the prince of the captivity, and set aside forty days of every year, during which they go in rent clothes, and keep fasts, and pray for all the Jews who live in exile.
The province of which Thanaejm is the metropolis contains forty cities, two hundred villages, and one hundred small towns, and is inhabited by about three hundred thousand Jews. Thanaejm is a very strong city, fifteen square miles in extent, and large enough to allow agriculture to be carried on
within its boundaries; within which are also situated the palace of Prince Salomon, and many gardens and orchards. Telmas is also a city of considerable magnitude; it contains about one hundred thousand Jews, is strongly fortified, and situated between two very high mountains. Many of its inhabitants are well informed, wise, and rich. The distance from Telmas to Chaibar is three days' journey. It is reported that these Jews are of the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh, who were led away captives by Shalmaneser, King of Ashur, and who repaired into these mountainous regions, where they erected the above-named large and strong cities. They carried on war with many kingdoms, and are not easily to be reached because of their situation, which requires a march of eighteen days through uninhabited deserts, and thus renders them difficult of access.
Chaibar is also a very large city, and contains among its fifty thousand Jewish inhabitants many learned scholars. The people of this city are valiant, and engaged in wars with the inhabitants of Mesopotamia, with those of the northern districts, and with those of Yemen, who live near them; the latter province borders on India. It is a distance of twenty-five days' journey from the country of these Jews to 52 on the river Virah, in Yemen, which place contains about three thousand Jews. Waset 53 is distant seven days, and contains about ten thousand Jews, among whom is R. Nedain. Five days hence bring us to Bassora on the Tigris, which contains two thousand Israelites, many of whom are learned and wealthy. From hence it is two days to 54 on the river Samarra, or Shat-el-Arab. This is the frontier of Persia, and contains fifteen hundred Jews. The sepulcher of Ezra, the priest and scribe, is in this place, where he died on his journey from Jerusalem to King Artaxerxes. In front of the sepulcher a large synagogue and a Mohammedan mosque have been erected, the latter as a mark of the veneration in which
Ezra is held by the Mohammedans, who are very friendly toward the Jews, and resort thither to pray.
Four miles from thence begins Khuzistan, the Elam of Scripture, a large province, which, however, is but partially inhabited, a portion of it lying in ruins. Among the latter are the remains of Shushan, the metropolis and palace of King Ahasuerus, which still contains very large and handsome buildings of ancient date. It has seven thousand Jewish inhabitants, with fourteen synagogues; in front of one of which is the sepulcher of Daniel, who rests in peace. The river Ulai divides the city into two parts, which are connected by a bridge; that portion of it which is inhabited by the Jews contains the markets, to which all trade is confined, and there all the rich dwell; on the other side of the river they are poor, because they are deprived of the above-named advantages, and have even no gardens or orchards. These circumstances gave rise to jealousy, which was fostered by the belief that all honor and riches originated in the possession of the remains of the prophet Daniel, who rests in peace, and who was buried on the favored side of the river. A request was made by the poor for permission to remove the sepulcher to the other side, but it was rejected; upon which a war arose, and was carried on between the two parties for a length of time; this strife lasted until "their souls become loath," and they came to a mutual agreement, by which it was arranged that the coffin which contained Daniel's bones should be deposited alternately every year on either side. Both parties faithfully adhered to this arrangement, until it was interrupted by the interference of Sanjar Shah ben Shah 55 who governs all Persia, and holds supreme power over forty-five of its kings. This prince is called in Arabic Sultan-al-Fars-al-Khabir (Supreme Commander of Persia), and his empire extends from the banks of the Shat-el-Arab to the city of Samarkand and the Kizil Ozein, enclosing the city of Nishapur, the cities of Media, and the Chaphton mountains, and reaches as far as Tibet, in the forests of which country that
quadruped is found which yields the musk. The extent of his empire is four months and four days' journey. When this great emperor, Sanjar, King of Persia, came to Shushan and saw that the coffin of Daniel was removed from one side to the other, he crossed the bridge with a very numerous retinue, accompanied by Jews and Mohammedans, and inquired into the reason of those proceedings. Upon being told what we have related, he declared it to be derogatory to the honor of Daniel, and commanded that the distance between the two banks should be exactly measured, that Daniel's coffin should be deposited in another coffin, made of glass, and that it should be suspended from the center of the bridge by, chains of iron. A place of public worship was erected on the spot, open to every one who desired to say his prayers, whether he be Jew or Gentile; and the coffin of Daniel is suspended from the bridge unto this very day. The King commanded that, in honor of Daniel, nobody should be allowed to fish in the river one mile on each side of the coffin.
It is three days hence to Rudbar, which contains twenty thousand Jews., among whom are many scholars and rich men, but they generally live under great oppression. Two days hence bring us to the river Holwaul near which you find the abodes of about four thousand Jews. Four days to the district of Mulehet, 56 possessed by a sect who do not believe in the tenets of Mohammed, but live on the summit of high mountains, and pay obedience to the commands of the Old Man in the country of the Assassins. Four congregations of Jews dwell among them, and combine with them in their wars. They do not acknowledge the authority of the kings of Persia, but live on their mountains, whence they occasionally descend to make booty and to take spoil, with which they retire to their mountain fortresses, beyond the reach of their assailants. Some of the Jews who live in this country are excellent scholars, and all acknowledge the authority of the prince of the captivity, who resides at Bagdad in Babylonia.
Five days from hence is Amaria, which contains five-and-twenty thousand Jews. This congregation forms part of those who live in the mountains of Chaphton, and which amount to more than a hundred, extending to the frontiers of Media. These Jews are descendants of those who were originally led into captivity by King Shalmaneser; they speak the Syriac language, and among them are many excellent Talmudic scholars; they are neighbors to those of the city of Amaria, which is situated within one day's journey of the empire of Persia, to the King of which they are tributary. This tribute is collected by a deputy, and amounts here, as well as in all Mohammedan countries, to one amiri of gold, equal to one golden maravedi and one-third, for each male inhabitant of the age of fifteen and upward.
Ten years ago 57 there rose a man of the name of David El-Roy, of the city of Amaria, who had studied under the prince of the captivity, Chisdai, and under Eli, the president of the college of Geon Jacob in the city of Bagdad, and who became an excellent scholar, being well versed in the Mosaic law, in the decisions of the rabbis, and in the Talmud; understanding also the profane sciences, the language and the writings of the Mohammedans, and the scriptures of the magicians and enchanters. He made up his mind to rise in rebellion against the King of Persia, to unite and collect the Jews who live in the mountains of Chaphton, and with them to engage in war with all Gentiles, making the conquest of Jerusalem his final object. He gave signs to the Jews by false miracles, and assured them, "the Lord has sent me to conquer Jerusalem, and to deliver you from the yoke of the Gentiles." Some of the Jews did believe in him, and called him Messiah. When the King of Persia became acquainted with these circumstances, he sent and summoned David into his presence. The latter went without fear, and when brought before the court he was asked, "Art thou the king
of the Jews?" to which he made answer and said, "I am." Upon this the King immediately commanded that he should be secured and put into the prison where the captives are kept who are imprisoned for life, situated in the city of Dabaristan, on the banks of the Kizil Ozein, which is a broad river. After a lapse of three days, when the King sat in council to take the advice of his nobles and officers respecting the Jews who had rebelled against his authority, David appeared among them, having liberated himself from prison without human aid. When the King beheld him he inquired, "Who has brought thee hither, or who has set thee at liberty?" To which David made answer, "My own wisdom and subtility; for verily I fear neither thee nor thy servants." The King immediately commanded that he should be seized, but his servants answered and said, "We see him not, and are aware of his presence only by hearing the sound of his voice." The King was very much astonished at David's exceeding subtility, who thus addressed him: "I now go my own way"; and he went out, followed by the King and all his nobles and servants, to the banks of the river, where he took his shawl, spread it upon the water, and crossed it thereupon. At that moment he became visible, and all the servants of the King saw him cross the river on his shawl. He was pursued by them in boats, but without success, and they all confessed that no magician upon earth could equal him. He that very day traveled to Amaria, a distance of ten days' journey, by help of the Shem Hamphorash, 58 and related to the astonished Jews all that had happened to him. The King of Persia afterward sent to the Emir-el-Mumenin, the Calif of Bagdad, principal of the Mohammedans, to solicit the influence of the prince of the captivity, and of the presidents of the colleges, in order to check the proceedings of David El-Roy, and threatening to put to death all Jews who inhabited his empire. The congregations of Persia were
very severely dealt with about that time, and sent letters to the prince of the captivity and the presidents of the colleges at Bagdad to the following purpose: "Why will you allow us to die, and all the congregations of this empire? Restrain the deeds of this man, and prevent thereby the shedding of innocent blood." The prince of the captivity and the president of the colleges hereupon addressed David in letters which run thus: "Be it known unto thee that the time of our redemption has not yet arrived, and that we have not yet seen the signs by which it is to manifest itself, and that by strength no man shall prevail. We therefore command thee to discontinue the course thou hast adopted, on pain of being excommunicated from all Israel." Copies of these letters were sent to Sakhai, the prince of the Jews in Mosul, and to R. Joseph the astronomer, who is called Borhan-al-Fulkh, and also resides there, with the request to forward them to David El-Roy. The last mentioned prince and the astronomer added letters of their own, in which they advised and exhorted him; but he nevertheless continued in his criminal career. This he carried on until a certain prince of the name of Sin-el-Din, a vassal of the King of Persia, and a Turk by birth, cut it short by sending for the father-in-law of David El-Roy, to whom he offered ten thousand florins if he would secretly kill David El-Roy. This agreement being concluded, he went to David's house while he slept, and killed him on his bed, thus destroying his plans and evil designs. Notwithstanding this, the wrath of the King of Persia still continued against the Jews who lived in the mountains and in his country, who in their turn craved the influence of the prince of the captivity with the King of Persia. Their petitions and humble prayers were supported by a present of one hundred talents of gold, in consideration of which the anger of the King of Persia was subdued, and the land was tranquillized.
From that mountain to Hamadan 59 is a journey of ten days; this was the metropolis of Media, and contains about
fifty thousand Jews. in front of one of the synagogues is the sepulcher of Mordecai and Esther. Four days from thence stands Dabaristan, 60 on the river Kizil Ozein, it contains about four thousand Jewish inhabitants. The city of, Ispahan is distant seven days' journey; it is the metropolis of Persia, and residence of the King, being twelve miles in, extent, and containing about fifteen thousand Jews. Sar Shalom, the rabbi of this city and of all other towns of the Persian Empire, has been promoted to the dignity by the prince of the captivity.
Four days distant stands Shiraz, or Fars, a large city containing about ten thousand Jews. It is seven days thence to Giva, 61 a large city on the banks of the Oxus, containing about eight thousand Jews. Very extensive commerce is carried on in this place, to which traders of all countries and languages resort; the country about it is very flat. Five days from thence, on the frontiers of the kingdom, stands Samarkand, a city of considerable magnitude, which contains about fifty thousand Jews. The prince rabbi Obadiah is the governor of the community, which includes many wise and learned men. Four days from thence is the province of Tibet, in the forests of which country that beast is found which yields the musk. To the mountains of Khazvin, on the river Kizil Ozein, it is a journey of eight-and-twenty days. Jews of those parts, who live in Persia at present, report that the cities of Nishapur are inhabited by four tribes of Israel, viz., the tribe of Dan, that of Zebulon, and that of Naphthali, being part of the first exiles who were carried into captivity by Shalmaneser, King of Ashur, as reported in Scripture. 62 He banished them to Halah and Habor, the mountains of Gozan, and the mountains of Media. The extent of their country is twenty days' journey, and they possess many towns and cities in the mountains. The river Kizil Ozein forms their boundary on one side, and they are subject to no nation,
but are governed by their own prince, who bears the name of rabbi Joseph Amarkhela Halevi. 63 Some of these Jews are excellent scholars; others carry on agriculture; and many of them are engaged in war with the country of Cuth, by way of the desert. They are in alliance with the Caphar Tarac, or infidel Turks, 64 who adore the wind and live in the desert. This is a people who eat no bread and drink no wine, but devour the meat raw and quite unprepared; they have no noses, but draw breath through two small holes, and eat all sorts of meat, whether from clean or unclean beasts. They are on very friendly terms with the Jews.
About eighteen years ago this nation invaded Persia with a numerous host, and took the city of Rai, which they smote with the edge of the sword, carrying off the spoil to their deserts. Nothing similar had been seen before in the kingdom of Persia; and when the King of that country was made acquainted with this occurrence, his wrath was kindled, for, said he, "in the time of my predecessors no host like this ever issued from the desert; I will go and will extinguish their name from the earth." He raised the war-cry in the whole empire, collected all his troops, and made inquiry whether he could find any guide that would show him the place where his enemies pitched their tents. A man was met with, who spoke thus to the King: "I will show thee the place of their retreat, for I am one of them." The King promised to enrich him if he would fulfil his promise and show him the way. Upon inquiry how many provisions would be necessary for this long march through the desert, the spy answered: "take with you bread and water for fifteen days, as you will find no provisions whatever before you
reach their country." This advice being acted upon, they traveled fifteen days in the desert, and as they met with nothing that could serve for sustenance they became extremely short of provisions, and men and beasts began to die. The King sent for the spy, and thus spoke to him: "What is become of thy promise to show us our enemy?" No other reply being made than "I have mistaken my way," the head of the spy was cut off by the King's command. Orders were issued that every one who had any provisions left should share them with his companion; but every thing eatable was consumed, even the beasts, and after traveling thirteen additional days in the desert they at last reached the mountains of Khazvin, where the Jews dwell. They encamped in the gardens and orchards, and near the springs, which are in the vicinity of the river Kizil Ozein. It being the fruit season, they made free with it and destroyed much, but no living being came forward. They saw, however, cities and many towers on the mountains, and the King commanded two of his servants to go and inquire the name of the nation which inhabited these mountains, and to cross over to them, either in boats or by swimming the river. They at last discovered a large bridge, fortified by towers, and secured by a gate which was locked, and on the other side of the bridge a considerable city. They shouted on their side of the bridge until at last a man came forth to inquire what they wanted or to whom they belonged. They could not, however, make themselves understood, but brought an interpreter who spoke both languages; the questions being repeated, they replied: "We are the servants of the King of Persia, and have come to inquire who you are and whose subjects." The answer was: "We are Jews, we acknowledge no king or prince of the Gentiles, but are subjects of a Jewish prince." Upon inquiries after the Ghuzi, the Caphar Tarac or infidel Turks, the Jews made answer: "Verily they are our allies, and whoever seeks to harm them we consider our own enemy." The two men returned and reported this to the King of Persia, who became much afraid, and particularly so when, after a lapse of two days, the Jews sent a herald to offer him battle.
The King said, "I am not come to make war against you, but against the Caphar Tarac, or infidel Turks, who are my enemies; and if you attack me I will certainly take my vengeance, and will destroy all the Jews in my own kingdom, for I am well aware of your superiority over me in my present position; but I entreat you to act kindly and not to harass me, but allow me to fight with the Caphar Tarac, my enemy, and also to sell me as much provision as I want for the maintenance of my host." The Jews took counsel among themselves, and determined to comply with the request of the King of Persia for the sake of his Jewish subjects. The King and all his host were consequently admitted into the country of the Jews, and during his stay of fifteen days he was treated with most honorable distinction and respect. The Jews, however, meanwhile sent information to their allies, the Caphar Tarac, and made them acquainted with the above-mentioned circumstances; these took possession of all the mountain passes, and assembled a considerable host, consisting of all the inhabitants of that desert; and when the King of Persia went forth to give them battle, the Caphar Tarac conquered, killing and slaying so many of the Persians, that the King escaped to his country with only very few followers. One of the horsemen of the retinue of the King enticed a Jew of that country, named R. Moses, to go along with him; he carried this man with him into Persia, and there made him a slave. Upon a certain day, when the King was the spectator of sports carried on for his amusement, and consisting principally of the exercise of handling the bow, among all competitors none excelled this R. Moses. The King thereupon inquired after this man by means of an interpreter, and was told what had happened to him, and how he had been forcibly carried away from his country by the horseman; upon learning which the King not only immediately granted him his liberty, but gave him a dress of honor, composed of silk and fine linen, and many other presents. A proposal was also made to R. Moses, that if he would renounce his religion for that of the Persians, he should be treated with the utmost kindness, should gain considerable
riches, and be made the King's steward; but he refused, and said, "I can not make up my mind to any such step." The King, however, placed him in the house of the rabbi Sar Shalom, of the Ispahan congregation, who in the course of time became his father-in-law. This very R. Moses related all these things unto me.
From thence I returned to the country of Khuzistan, which lies on the Tigris. This river runs downward and falls into the Indian Sea (Persian Gulf), in the vicinity of an island called Kish. The extent of this island is six miles, and the inhabitants do not carry on any agriculture, for they have no rivers, nor more than one spring in the whole island, and are consequently obliged to drink rain-water. It is, however, a considerable market, being the spot to which the Indian merchants and those of the islands bring their commodities. While the traders of Mesopotamia, Yemen, and Persia import all silk and purple cloths, flax, cotton, hemp, mash, wheat, barley, millet, rye, and all other sorts of comestibles and pulse, which articles form objects of exchange, those from India import great quantities of spices, and the inhabitants of the island live by what they gain in their capacity of brokers to both parties. The island contains about five hundred Jews. It is ten days' passage by sea to El-Katif, a city with about five thousand Israelites. In this vicinity the pearls are found: about the twenty-fourth of the month of Nisan 65 large drops of rain are observed upon the surface of the water, which are swallowed by the reptiles, which thereupon close their shells and fall to the bottom of the sea; about the middle of the month of Thishri 66 people dive with the assistance of ropes, collect these reptiles from the bottom, and bring them up, after which they are opened and the pearls taken out.
Seven days from thence is Chulam, 67 on the confines of the country of the sun-worshipers, who are descendants of Kush, 68 are addicted to astrology, and are all black. This
nation is very trustworthy in matters of trade; and whenever foreign merchants enter their port, three secretaries of the king immediately repair on board their vessels, write down their names, and report them to him. The king thereupon grants them security for their property, which they may even leave in the open fields without any guard. One of the king's officers sits in the market, and receives goods that may have been found anywhere, and which he returns to those applicants who can minutely describe them. This custom is observed in the whole empire of the king. From Easter to new year, 69 during the whole of the summer, the heat is extreme. From the third hour of the day people shut themselves up in their houses until the evening, at which time everybody goes out. The streets and markets are lighted up, and the inhabitants employ all the night upon their business, which they are prevented from doing in the daytime by the excessive heat. . . .
Here are the confines of Germany, a country full of hills and mountains. The Jewish congregations of Germany inhabit the banks of the great river Rhine, from Cologne, where the empire commences, unto Cassanburg, the frontier of Germany, which is fifteen days' journey, and is called Ashkenas by the Jews. These are the cities of Germany which contain congregations of Israelites, all situated on the river Moselle---Coblence, Andernach, Kaub, Kartania, Bingen, Worms, and Mistran. In fact, the Jews are dispersed over all countries, and whoever hinders Israel from being collected shall never see any good sign, and shall not live with Israel. And at the time which the Lord has appointed to be a limit of our captivity and to exalt the horn of his anointed, every one shall come forth and shall say, "I will lead the Jews and I will assemble them."
These cities contain many eminent scholars; the congregations are on the best terms with one another, and are friendly toward strangers. Whenever a traveler visits them they are rejoiced thereat and hospitably receive him. They are full
of hopes, and say: "Be of good spirit, dear brethren, for the salvation of the Lord will be quick, like the twinkling of an eye; and, indeed, were it not that we had doubted hitherto that the end of our captivity had not yet arrived, we should have assembled long ago; but this is impossible before the time of song arrive, and the sound of the cooing turtle gives warning; then will the message arrive, and we will say, The name of the Lord be exalted!" 70 They send letters to one another, by which they exhort to hold firm in the Mosaic law. Those that spend their time as mourners of the downfall of Sion and the destruction of Jerusalem are always dressed in black clothes, and pray for mercy before the Lord, for the sake of their brethren.
Beside the cities which we have already mentioned as being in Germany, there are, further, Astransburg, Duidisburg, Mantern, Pisingas, Bamberg, Zor, and Regensburg, on the confines of the empire; all these cities contain many rich and learned Jews. Farther on is the country of Bohemia, called Prague. Here begins Sclavonia, called by the Jews who inhabit it Khenaan, because the inhabitants sell their children to all nations, which is also applicable to the people of Russia. The latter country is very extensive, reaching from the gates of Prague to those of Kiev, a large city on the confines of the empire. The country is very mountainous and full of forests; in the latter the beasts called vaiverges 71 are met, which yield the sable fur or ermine. In winter the cold is so intense that nobody ventures to leave his house. So far the kingdom of Russia.
The kingdom of France, called by the Jews Tsarphat, reaches from the town of Alsodo to Paris, the metropolis, and is six days in extent. This city, situated on the river Seine, belongs to King Louis, and contains many learned men, the equal of which are to be met with at present nowhere upon earth: they employ all their time upon the study of the law, are hospitable to all travelers, and on friendly terms with all their Jewish brethren.
May the Lord in his mercy be full of compassion toward them and us, and may he fulfil toward both the words of his Holy Scripture (Deut. xx. 3), "Then the Lord thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the nations, whither the Lord thy God hath scattered thee."--Amen, Amen, Amen.
383:1 The expression "of blessed memory" is generally added by Jews when mentioning the "honored dead" (see Proverbs x. 7), and recurs frequently in the following narrative.
383:2 This city was one of great antiquity; and at this time the remains of its ancient walls appear to have been very remarkable. Destroyed at an earlier period by the Saracens, Tarragona was rebuilt in the twelfth century.
387:3 Alexander III, who held the papacy from 1159 to 1181. The employment of Jews in the service of the pope is a circumstance worthy of remark.
387:4 The book Aruch was a celebrated dictionary, completed by Rabbi Nathan at Rome, in A.D. 1101.
387:5 These singular legends relating to the ancient buildings in Rome are chiefly taken from the writings of Josephus ben Gorion. Some of them may be compared with similar tales which are found in the works of Christian writers, and of which several examples are inserted in William of Malmesbury's History.
388:6 The time of the destruction of both temples at Jerusalem. The day is still one of fast and mourning to all Jews, and is celebrated as such by all synagogues.
388:7 These were ten ancient teachers of the Mishna, who suffered violent death in the period between Vespasian and Hadrian. A late legend not only connected these persecutions as one event, but assigned to the victims a common sepulcher at Rome. The legend contains a conversation of the ten martyrs with the emperor. Several of the ten were certainly not buried in Rome; the sepulchers of three, Akiba, Ishmael, and Juda ben Thema, were shown in Palestine in the thirteenth and sixteenth centuries. Antipatris is said by others to be the place of the sepulcher of R. Akiba. A more recent catalogue notices, as known in Palestine, the sepulchers of R. Juda, son of Baba, and Simon, son of Gamaliel, two others of the "ten martyrs."
389:8 The modern Nahr-el-Mukattua. See Judges v. 21.
389:9 Joshua xix. 13. Modern writers identify Kaiffa with the ancient Ephah, and not with Gath.
390:10 To which place, according to the tenets of the Talmudic Jews, the offerings are confined, and since the destruction of which they have been discontinued.
391:11 critics and travelers appear to confirm this statement relating to the peculiar pronunciation of the three letters by the Samaritans.
391:12 The knights templars.
392:13 Jesus is thus called in the Talmud.
394:14 After the slaughter of the Jews of Jerusalem by the crusaders, the few that were saved from destruction were dispersed in all directions. These persons who mourned over these unhappy circumstances were called "mourners of Jerusalem," and are mentioned under that title more than once by Benjamin. We find these mourners even among the Caraites about 1147. We read in several ancient Jewish writers of the danger incurred by the Jews who visited Jerusalem while it remained in the power of the Christians. Pethachia found only one Jew at Jerusalem, whereas Benjamin speaks of 200. A numerous congregation was again to be met with there about 1190; but about 1216 great discord prevailed among them in consequence of the pretensions of the different congregations.
394:15 It may be observed that most of the richer stuffs, the siclatons, etc., used in the west of Europe during the Middle Ages, came from the East, which accounts for the number of. dyers, mentioned by the traveler.
395:16 The "House of Abraham" is still shown to travelers, about an hour's ride from Hebron, the site being occupied by the ruins of a small convent.
395:17 Joshua xv. 44. It is the Bethogabris of the Greek and Latin writers, and supposed to be the Eleutheropolis of the early Christian fathers.
396:18 The rocks of Jonathan, mentioned (I Sam. xiv. 5) as being between Gibeah and Michmash, and which formed a narrow path between the two places, were also seen by Robinson and Smith. "Directly between Jeba and Mukhmas are two conical hills, not very high, which are probably the scene of Jonathan's romantic adventure against the Philistines, recorded in 1 Sam. xiv."
396:19 The Azotus of the ancient geographers.
397:20 The Esdraela of the Greeks, called by the historians of the crusades Gerinum and Zarain.
397:21 During the Middle Ages Jews were not unfrequently employed as astrologers by the Arabian princes. R. Isaac, the son of Baruch (A. D. 1080), appears, among others, to have rendered services of this kind to Almohammad. King Alphonso of Castile also entertained Jews who were proficients in astrology. The surname astrologer, was borne by Abraham in Tiberias. Eliezer, author of an astrological book of chances, lived in 1559. We also find mention of Joseph, astrologer of Seifeddin, sultan of Mosul; R. Isaac, an astronomer of the twelfth century in France; and Salomon, an astronomer in Nineveh.
397:22 Jochanan, son of Zakhai, was a celebrated teacher of the Mishna in the time of Vespasian; later catalogues mention his sepulcher in Tiberias.
397:23 This identification is evidently an error, as Thimnatha was in Judea, far to the south of Tiberias, and could not be Tebnin. Benjamin falls into another error in placing here the sepulcher of Samuel, who was buried in Ramah. Mr. Asher proposes to read Simeon.
398:24 Meirûn is still a place of pilgrimage to the Jews of the vicinity, who resort thither on certain days to say prayers on the sepulchers of some rabbis; and this corroborates our text, according to which Hillel and Shamai, the two most celebrated teachers of the Talmud, who flourished before the birth of our Savior, are interred in a cave near Merûn. This legend must have been very prevalent at our author's time, as it is also reported by Pethachia, who adds that a large stone vase, situated in the cave of the sepulcher, filled itself spontaneously with water whenever a worthy man entered it for the purpose of devotion, but remained empty if the visitor was a man of doubtful character. The two other persons whose sepulchers are mentioned here were celebrated teachers of the law, who flourished in the third and second centuries.
398:25 All the persons mentioned here were celebrated rabbis of the first century before, and the three centuries after Christ, except Barak, who is well known by the fourth chapter of the book of Judges.
398:26 This is Paneas, or Baneas, the ancient Cæsarea Philippi.
398:27 This identification is not quite correct, the ancient Dan having been situated on another small rivulet, still called Dan, and distant about four Roman miles west of Paneas on the way to Tyre. William of Tyre also identifies Dan with Cæsarea. The apparent source of the Jordan flows from under a cave at the foot of a precipice, in the sides of which are several niches with Greek inscriptions, which Benjamin has mistaken for the altar of Micha.
399:28 This is a mistake of Rabbi Benjamin, as this term, used in Deut, xi. 24, means the Mediterranean.
399:29 It is hardly necessary to state that this was the celebrated sultan of Damascus, Aleppo, and Egypt, so well known in the history of the crusades. He reigned from 1145 to 1173.
401:30 The earthquake alluded to visited this part of Syria in 1157, at which period Hamah, Antiochia, Emessa, Apamea, Laodicea, and many other cities, were laid in ruins. R. Benjamin calls the river Orontes Jabbok; the Arabians call it Oroad, or Asi. Reiha, or Rieha, is a name still borne by a place and mountain in this part of the road from Damascus to Aleppo.
401:31 Numb. xxii. 5. Deut. xxiii. 4. It is the Barbarissus of the Romans. Bales was taken by the crusaders under Tancred in 1111.
401:32 The Dauses, or Davana, of the Greeks. In the history of the crusades, Kalat (or fort) Jiaber is often mentioned; and the circumstances alluded to by our author are told at length by Desguignes. In Abulfeda's time this place was a deserted ruin; but the castle, built on a mound of marl and gypsum, still stands, thirty-five miles below Bir, on the left bank of the Euphrates.
402:33 The Callinicus of the Greeks, afterward called Nicephorium.
402:34 The Carrhæ of the ancients. The site of the house of Abraham is still pointed out as an object of veneration. Mr. Asher observes that, from Aleppo to Racca, our author, like most modern and ancient travelers, followed the course of the Euphrates; but being probably attracted, like Marco Polo, by the considerable trade then carried on at Mosul, he proceeded thither from Racca, by way of Haran, Nisibis, and Jezireh, a route pointed out as probably used by Alexander on Rennel's map of the retreat of the Ten Thousand.
402:35 It appears that the name of a city is omitted here. Our author probably wrote "from thence to Ras-el-Ain," at which place the Khabur becomes a formidable river.
402:36 This is of course not the true Ararat. It is called Jebel Judi. The island is the ancient Bezebde.
403:37 The ancient Erbela.
403:38 The ancient Cercusium.
403:39 All these were celebrated Jewish rabbis in the earlier centuries of the Christian era.
401:40 He Calif alluded to by Benjamin was either Moktafi, who died in 1160, or Mostanjeh abul-Modhaffer, who reigned from his death to 1170. It is probable that Benjamin was at Bagdad in 1164.
406:41 Dar-al-Morabittan in Arabic; literally, "abode of those who require being chained," i.e., of the raving mad.
408:42 The ceremony of consecration, performed by the prince of captivity, consisted in his laying his hands on the heads of the candidates.
409:43 The place where the rolls of the Pentateuch are deposited. It is generally elevated above the seats of the congregation.
409:44 Gen. x. 12. Ras-al-Ain is the Ressaina of the Romans; it is erroneously identified with Resen.
409:45 The name is omitted in all editions.
410:46 This tradition of the burning furnace is mentioned by the Arabian geographers, by whom we are further informed that the ashes still remained.
410:47 These are also some of the early rabbis concerning whom the Jews possess many legends; the places of burial of others are mentioned further on.
410:48 Benjamin here alludes to the Birs Nimrod, which is, however, more than four miles from Hillah. Al-ajurr is the Persian word for these bricks.
410:49 Perhaps the Nachaba of Ptolemy. It is not found in modern maps.
410:50 This celebrated sepulcher is still a place of pilgrimage to the Jews and Mohammedans in the East.
413:51 Fasting being prohibited on these days by the Talmud. This proves Niebuhr's supposition, that they were Talmudists, to be correct.
414:52 The name of a city appears to be omitted here.
414:53 Waset is the ancient Cybate. The Hebrew text reads Naset, which Mr. Asher has rightly corrected.
414:54 The name of a city is omitted here; no doubt Kornah, on the Samarra, or ancient Delos.
415:55 Sanjar was a very celebrated and powerful prince. He conquered Samarkand in 1140, and died in 1157, shortly before Benjamin visited the East.
416:56 Benjamin's account of the Assassins, and their residence at Mulehet, coincides very closely with that given by Marco Polo. It has been supposed that the sect of the Assassins originated in this district of Persia.
417:57 That is, probably, in A.D. 1155; for 1165 appears to be about the year in which Benjamin of Tudela visited Persia. The history of David El-Roy, and the scene of his imposture, have been illustrated by Major Rawlinson in a memoir communicated to the Geographical Society of London, and printed in its Transactions.
418:58 Shem Hamphorash, literally, "the explained name," the letters of the word "Jehovah" in their full explanation, a mystery known but to very few, and by which it is believed wonders may be executed. The wonders performed by Jesus are ascribed in the Talmud to his knowledge of this mystery.
419:59 Hamadan, which is now in a state of ruin, is said to stand on or near the site of the ancient Ecbatana. The sepulcher of Mordecai and Esther is still shown there.
420:60 This town is conjectured to be Farahabad.
420:61 The city of Khiva.
420:62 2 Kings xvii. 6, and xviii. 11. "And the King of Assyria did carry away Israel unto Assyria, and put them in Halah and in Habor, by the river Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes."
421:63 Of the tribe of Levi, the descendants of which are divided into Leviim and Khohanim, and are the only Jews who to this day claim the descent from a certain tribe, all others having mixed and become extinct in the course of time.
421:64 These were the Ghuzes, a Turkish tribe who emigrated in the twelfth century from the country to the north of the Oxus. The events mentioned in the text seem to have occurred in 1153, when the Ghuzes revolted against the Persians, defeated the Sultan, and plundered Mero and Nishapur. The Sultan was made a prisoner, and only escaped and returned to his own country in 1156.
424:65 In April.
424:66 In October.
424:67 Chulam, the Koulam of Marco Polo and Ibn-Batuta, was an important place on the coast of Malabar, but is much reduced in modern times.
425:69 I.e., from April to October.
426:70 Psalms xxxv. 27.
426:71 Vaiverges, Polish wiewiórka, the white squirrel, a quadruped the skins of which were considered to be of great value.