Eight Years in Asia and Africa from 1846 to 1855
Israel Joseph Benjamin (1818‒64) was a Jewish lumber trader from Falticeni, Moldavia (present-day Romania), who at the age of 25 set out to find the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel. Fashioning himself “The Second Benjamin” after the 12th-century Jewish traveler from Spain, Benjamin of Tudela, he spent five years visiting Jewish communities in what are today Israel, Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Armenia, Afghanistan, India, Singapore, China, and Egypt. After a brief return to Europe, he spent another three years in Libya, Algeria, Tunisia, and Morocco. He recorded the first five years of travels in a book that appeared in French in 1856 as Cinq années de voyage en orient 1846-1851 (Five years of travel in the Orient, 1846-1851). He combined his accounts of both sets of travels in an expanded book in German, published in 1858, under the title Acht Jahre in Asien und Afrika von 1846 bis 1855 (Eight years in Asia and Africa from 1846 to 1855). Translations into English and Hebrew followed in 1859. Benjamin describes the economic and social conditions in the Jewish communities he visited; he also recounts many traditions and local legends. Several chapters draw general conclusions about the state of the Jewish communities in different regions. The German version presented here is bound together with the other language editions in the copy held by the Library of Congress. The book has four synoptic tables, derived from the Bible, of the Jewish patriarchs from Adam to Abraham, the judges from Moses and Joshua to the prophet Samuel, the kings of Judah, and the kings of Israel. It ends with a fold-out map of Benjamin’s travels.
I. J. Benjamin, Hannover
Title in Original Language
Acht Jahre in Asien und Afrika von 1846 bis 1855
Type of Item
314 pages : tables, maps ; 22 centimeters
- Dan Ben-Amos, “The Second Benjamin,” in History and Anthropology in Jewish Studies, An Online Exhibition from the Center for Advanced Judaic Studies 2003‒2004 Fellows at the University of Pennsylvania, http://www.library.upenn.edu/exhibits/cajs/fellows04/toc.html#Ben-Amos.
Last updated: September 30, 2016