This fascinating book vividly portrays the wandering Jew as a very real character in the great drama of history. In nineteen engaging narratives, some twelve centuries old, travelling Jewish scholars, merchants, pilgrims, ambassadors and others are revealed to be men of many moods and missions. In these pages you will meet:
• Isaac, an interpreter in the service of the Emperor Charlemagne, who in the year 802 escorted an elephant named Abulabaz, a gift to the Emperor from the caliph Harun ar-Rashid, over the Alps to the Emperor’s court.
• Eldad the Danite, who lived on the Gulf of Aden, and who in the late 9th century was shipwrecked and seized by cannibals, and lived to tell the tale.
• Benjamin of Tudela, who in the late 12th century wandered over most of the civilized world of his day, making a record of all he saw. His mission: to find asylum for Jews dispersed by the fanaticism stirred by the Crusades. • Judah-al-Harizi, the great Hebrew satirical poet of the 13th century, whose masterpiece, the Tachkemoni, is filled with clever, sometimes bitter jibes at the notables encountered in his many travels.
• Elijah of Ferrara, who describes 15th-century life in Jerusalem, and tells of the plague in Egypt and Palestine that carried away his sons and grandson.
Rich in human experience and historic detail, their accounts and 14 more revealing narratives offer rare perspectives on the unfolding drama of life in Europe, the Near East and North Africa in the Middle Ages. This is a volume that will appeal to a broad spectrum of readers, from those interested in travel and adventure to those interested in cultural history and Judaica.
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