Wandering Jew

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Wandering Jew, in legend

Wandering Jew,

in literary and popular legend, a Jew who mocked or mistreated Jesus while he was on his way to the cross and who was condemned therefore to a life of wandering on earth until Judgment Day. The story of this wanderer was first recorded in the chronicles of Roger of Wendover and Matthew of Paris (13th cent.), but not until the early 17th cent. was he identified as a Jew. The story is common in Western Europe, but it presents marked national variations. Among the innumerable treatments of the subject is Shelley's Queen Mab.


See G. K. Anderson, The Legend of the Wandering Jew (1965); G. Hasan-Rokem and A. Dundes, ed., The Wandering Jew: Essays in the Interpretation of a Christian Legend (1986).

wandering jew, in botany

wandering jew,

common name for several creeping plants of the genus Tradescantia (including Zebrina) in the spiderwortspiderwort,
common name for some members of the Commelinaceae, a family of tropical and subtropical succulent herbs found especially in Africa and the Americas. Species of the spiderworts (genus Tradescantia) and the dayflowers (genus Commelina
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 family. T. pendula is most commonly cultivated in window boxes and hanging pots. Wandering jew is classified in the division MagnoliophytaMagnoliophyta
, division of the plant kingdom consisting of those organisms commonly called the flowering plants, or angiosperms. The angiosperms have leaves, stems, and roots, and vascular, or conducting, tissue (xylem and phloem).
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, class Liliopsida, order Commelinales, family Commelinaceae.

Wandering Jew


(Ahasuerus; in Russian, Agasfer or the Eternal Jew), a character in legends that appeared in the Middle Ages; supposedly condemned by God to eternal wandering for not having allowed Christ to rest on his way to the Crucifixion. The character of Ahasuerus the Wanderer has attracted the imagination of many writers. There have been poems about him by C. F. D. Schubart, N. Lenau, and J. W. Goethe; a philosophical drama by E. Quinet; and a satirical novel by E. Sue.


Shubart, C. F. D. Legenda ob Agasfere“vechnom zhide.”
Edited and with a foreword by M. Gorky. Petrograd, 1919. Sue, E. Agasfer, vols. 1–4. Moscow-Leningrad, 1933–36.

Wandering Jew

doomed to live forever for scorning Jesus. [Fr. Lit.: The Wandering Jew]

Wandering Jew

condemned to eternal wandering for mocking Christ. [Christian Legend: NCE, 2926; Fr. Lit.: Wandering Jew]