Benjamin of Tudela

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Benjamin of Tudela

(to͞odā`lä), d.1173, rabbi considered the first European to approach the borders of China, b. Tudela, Spain. He traveled (1159–73) through Italy, Greece, Palestine, Persia, the western borders of China, Egypt, and Sicily. His account, Massaoth Schel Rabbi Benjamin, sheds light on the situation of Jews in Europe and Asia. Despite errors, the book is an invaluable historical source. An English translation was published in 1840 as The Itinerary of Rabbi Benjamin of Tudela.


See the critical text, tr. and ed. by M. N. Adler (1907, repr. 1964).

Benjamin of Tudela


Date of birth unknown; died 1173. Twelfth-century traveler.

A rabbi from the city of Tudela (Kingdom of Navarre), Benjamin traveled in the 1160’s and 1170’s through southern Europe, Asia Minor, Georgia, Syria, Palestine, and Mesopotamia. His travel notes are a valuable historical source containing interesting information about European trade with the East and the size of Jewish communities in various cities. These notes contain personal impressions and secondhand reports, some of which are unreliable.


“Puteshestvie rabbi Veniamina Tudel’skogo.” In Tri evreiskikh puteshestvennika XI i XII st. St. Petersburg, 1881.


Uspenskii, F. “Putevye zapiski Veniamina iz Tudely.” Annaly, Petrograd, 1923, no. 3.
Tucci, R. di. “Benjamino di Tudela i il suo viaggio.” Boll. della società geographica italiana, 1941, series 7, vol. 6.


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It seems that these writers were not personally familiar with the appearance of the mountains and may have based themselves on the description recorded by Benjamin of Tudela, a twelfth-century traveler, who wrote: "On Mount Gerizim there are springs, gardens, and orchards.
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