Benjamin Nehemiah ben Elnathan

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BENJAMIN NEHEMIAH BEN ELNATHAN (16th century), Italian Jewish chronicler. Exiled from Naples, and later a resident or perhaps rabbi of Civitanova near Ancona, he was arrested with five other members of the Jewish community in the summer of 1559 on a charge of being implicated in the conversion of a Catholic priest. They were sent to Rome for trial by the Inquisition but were released with the other prisoners of the Holy Office on the death of Pope *Paul iv. On Benjamin's return he wrote a vivid account of his experiences, viewing them in the historical context of Paul iv's persecution of the Jews and Marranos of Ancona, which he apparently witnessed. He wrote his account in fine, idiomatic Hebrew, and it is an important contribution to Hebrew literature as well as to Jewish history. The chronicle was discovered by I. Sonne and published in Tarbiz (vol. 2, 1930/31), and again in his Mi-Paolo ha-Revi'i ad Pius ha-Hamishi (1954).

[Cecil Roth]

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Benjamin Nehemiah ben Elnathan

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