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. Presented here is the English edition, which in the copy held by the Library of Congress is bound together with the French, German, and Hebrew editions.

Date Created

Subject Date

Publication Information

I. J. Benjamin, Hannover


Title in Original Language

Eight years in Asia and Africa from 1846 to 1855

Type of Item

Physical Description

332 pages : maps ; 22 centimeters


  1. Dan Ben-Amos, “The Second Benjamin,” 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