A Tour and Census of Palestine Year 1695: No sign of Arabian names or “Palestinians”
by Avi Goldreich, used by courtesy of Think-Israel.org
Translated from the Hebrew by Nurit Greenger.
Original Hebrew version can be read here.
The time machine is a sensation that nests in me when I am visiting Mr. Hobber old books store in Budapest, Hungary. Hobber learned to know my quirks and after the initial greeting and the glass of mineral water (Mr. Hobber is a vegan) he leads me down the stairs to the huge basement, to the Jewish “section.”
Many of the books are written in the German language. They are books of Jewish rumination written by Christians or assimilating Jews. Sometime one can find a hand written Talmud volume that is very expensive; thousands of Euros, set in the specially aired cabinet. Hobber knows their value. Sometime one can find a bargain such as the book Palestina by Hadriani Relandi — its original professional name Palaestina, ex monumentis veteribus illustrata, published by Trajecti Batavorum: Ex Libraria G. Brodelet, 1714. One can find such original books in only few places in the world, also in Haifa University.
[Origina link for places where the book could be found and details about the author, etc.. Now down]:
The author Relandi, a real scholar, geographer, cartographer and well known philologist, spoke perfect Hebrew, Arabic and ancient Greek, as well as the European languages. The book was written in Latin. In 1695 he was sent on a sightseeing tour to Israel, at that time known as Palestina. In his travels he surveyed approximately 2500 places where people lived that were mentioned in the bible or Mishnah. His research method was interesting.
He first mapped the Land of Israel.
Secondly, Relandi identifies each of the places mentioned in the Mishnah or Talmud along with their original source. If the source was Jewish, he listed it together with the appropriate sentence in the Holy Scriptures. If the source was Roman or Greek he presented the connection in Greek or Latin.
Thirdly, he also arranged a population survey and census of each community.
His most prominent conclusions
1. Not one settlement in the Land of Israel has a name that is of Arabic origin.
Most of the settlement names originate in the Hebrew, Greek, Latin or Roman languages. In fact, till today, except to Ramlah, not one Arabic settlement has an original Arabic name. Till today, most of the settlements names are of Hebrew or Greek origin, the names distorted to senseless Arabic names. There is no meaning in Arabic to names such as Acco (Acre), Haifa, Jaffa, Nablus, Gaza, or Jenin and towns named Ramallah, El Halil and El-Kuds (Jerusalem) lack historical roots or Arabic philology. In 1696, the year Relandi toured the land, Ramallah, for instance, was called Bet’allah (From the Hebrew name Beit El) and Hebron was called Hebron (Hevron) and the Arabs called Mearat HaMachpelah El Chalil, their name for the Forefather Abraham.
2. Most of the land was empty, desolate.
Most of the land was empty, desolate, and the inhabitants few in number and mostly concentrate in the towns Jerusalem, Acco, Tzfat, Jaffa, Tiberius and Gaza. Most of the inhabitants were Jews and the rest Christians. There were few Muslims, mostly nomad Bedouins. Nablus, known as Shchem, was exceptional, where approximately 120 people, members of the Muslim Natsha family and approximately 70 Shomronites, lived.
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