A Tour of Palestine 1695
Posted by Tarud den 19.03.2009
A recent visit to Huber’s antiquarian bookstore in Budapest, Hungary, yielded a veritable time-machine: A large volume (in Latin), published by Brodelet in 1714, entitled Palestina ex monumentis veteribus illustrate, which documents a survey of the Holy Land made in 1695 by its author, Hadriani Relandi. Relandi was eminently qualified to conduct this exhaustive survey: He was a geographer, cartographer and a polylinguist, possessing – in addition to the European languages – full command of Hebrew, Arabic and classical Greek. His journey encompassed 2500 sites mentioned in the Bible, Mishna and Talmud.
He began by mapping Eretz Israel, employing plane-table topography, triangulation and a sextant for an extremely accurate map (relandi map.jpg). He then identified each and every site mentioned in the Bible, Mishna and Talmud with the source of its name. If it was a Jewish source, he quoted the appropriate text from Scripture. If the place name was Roman or Greek in origin, he supplied the source for those. He also conducted a census of each such habitation, with the following data:
1. Not one place in Eretz Israel has a name that originates in Arabic. Place names are Hebrew, Greek or Roman (Latin), that were given meaningless Arabic derivations. Akko, Haifa, Yafo, Nablus, Gaza or Jenin have no meaning in Arabic, and city names like Ramallah, Al-Khalil and Al-Quds lack historic or philological Arab roots. In 1696, the year of the survey, Ramallah was called Bt’ala (=Beit-El), Hebron was Chevron, and the Cave of the Machpela was Al-Khalil, Arabic for patriarch Avraham.
2. The country was a wasteland. Its few inhabitants were concentrated in cities like Jerusalem, Acre, Safed, Jaffa, Tiberias and Gaza. Most of the city folk were Jewish or Christian, and only a few Muslims, usually Bedouins. Nablus (Shechem)was an exception, home to some 120 Muslims and 70 Shomronim (Samaritans). Natzeret (Nazareth), capital of the Galilee, was inhabited by 700 Christians. Some 5000 people lived in Jerusalem, most of them Jews. Interestingly, Muslims are mentioned only as nomadic Bedouins, who served as seasonal agriculture and construction workers. The population of Gaza was equally divided between Jews and Christians. The Jews raised grapes, olives and wheat crops (Gush Katif), while the Christians were occupied in commerce and transportation of goods. Safed and Tiberias also had Jewish communities, but the only occupation mentioned is fishing in the Sea of Galilee. A city like Um-al-Fahm, for example, is mentioned as a small village consisting of 10 Christian families, with a small Maronite church.
3. Relandi’s book completely refutes post-modern theories about a Palestinian nation or a “Palestinian tradition”, and reinforces Jewish ownership of the land, to the total exclusion of the Arabs, who even stole and adopted the Latin name of Palestine. 700 years of Arab rule in Spain, for example, have left a real cultural Moorish legacy of literature, architecture, engineering, medicine and the like. Andalusia and Guadalajara are undeniable facts, whereas in Israel, there is nothing that is Arab: no city names, no culture or art, no history, and no evidence of Arab rule. There is only a legacy of violence and robbery of the Jews’ promised most sacred land.
There is no Palestinian nation, there never was one, and there may never be one.
By Avi Goldreich