BENJAMIN BEN JONAH OF TUDELAH. Massa'ot shel Rabbi Binyamin [the Travels of Rabbi Binyamin].

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BENJAMIN BEN JONAH OF TUDELAH. Massa'ot shel Rabbi Binyamin [the Travels of Rabbi Binyamin].
Ferrara: Samuel ibn Usque, 1556.
32 leaves, title-page showing the Usque Printer's mark, an armillary sphere (Yaari, Hebrew printer Marks 22).
8vo, 135 x 90 mm. (5 3/8 x 3 3/8 in.), rebound in modern leather; old boards bound in, title-page patched (upper outer corner, with minor loose of lettering, replaced in facsimile), minor marginal worming, slight staining, soiling and browning.
Vinograd, Ferrara 42 (registered incomplete copy in JNUL); Steinschneider 4570,2; Zedner 85 remarks: "Only one other copy known"; Deinard, Atikot Yehuda p. 28 mentions that all the first three editions (Constantinople 1543, Ferrara 1556 and Freiburg (Breisgau) 1583 are very rare; The Sassoon sale of highly important Hebrew Printed Books, 30th June, 1970 lot 16: imperfect copy lacking title and leaf 8; not in Roest; not in Yudlov, Ginzei Yisrael.

Benjamin of Tudela is the most famous Jewish medieval traveler who journeyed in the second half of the 12th century through many countries describing life in Southern Europe and in the East. There is no general account of the Mediterranean world or of the Middle East in this period which approaches that of Benjamin of Tudela in importance, whether for Jewish or for general history. The importance of the work can be gauged from the fact that it has been translated into almost every language of Europe, and is used as a primary source-book by all medieval historians. (See: Encyclopaedia Judaica, vol. 4, colms 535-538).
The Itinerary was first published at Constantinople in 1543. However the very rare second edition of Ferrara 1556 was printed according to a much differing and better manuscript than the first edition. (See: A. Yaari, Mas'ot Erets Yisrael 1977, pp. 761-762).
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