Schwarz, Yehoseph

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SCHWARZ, YEHOSEPH (1804–1865), rabbi and early Ereẓ Israel geographer. Born in Floss, Bavaria, Schwarz studied at the University of Wuerzburg, devoting himself to the understanding of the Bible and the oral tradition. In 1829 he prepared a map of Ereẓ Israel in Hebrew and German that was published in three editions by 1832. He settled in Jerusalem (1833) and lived there until his death, being the first Jew, after *Estori ha-Parḥi, to devote himself to the study of historical topography of the Land of Israel. Schwarz registered the rising and setting of the sun 4,000 times and composed a calendar of the length of each day of the year in Jerusalem, which was published in 1860 by his son-in-law R. Azriel Aharon Yaffe. In 1845 he published Tevu'ot ha-Areẓ ("The Produce of the Land") in Jerusalem. It deals with the borders of Ereẓ Israel, its topography, the division of the country according to the Bible and the rabbinic tradition, the genealogy of the peoples (Gen. 10), geographical names in the Bible, Jerusalem, and the Temple Mount. It also includes chapters on the flora and fauna, climate, and the earthquakes of the country and a section devoted to the history of Ereẓ Israel from the destruction of the Second Temple. This book was translated into English by Isaac *Leeser under the title A Descriptive Geography and Brief Historical Sketch of Palestine and printed together with a map and illustrations in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1850 (reprint 1970), when Schwarz visited there on behalf of the scholars of Jerusalem. Two years later the book appeared in German, translated by Israel Schwarz, the author's nephew. It is less valuable than contemporary scientific works on the subject (e.g., Edward *Robinson's) because Schwarz ignored the achievements of Christian scholars. However, the book contains about a hundred correct identifications of places based on talmudic literature. Schwarz headed a "yeshivah ketannah," i.e., an elementary yeshivah for students before proceeding to an ordinary yeshivah, and published his work on halakhot and aggadah in Sarei ha-Meʾah (Jerusalem, 1861), and Divrei Yosef (ibid., 1862).


A.M. Luncz, in: Lu'aḥ Ereẓ-Yisrael li-Shenat 5661 (1900).

[Abraham J. Brawer]

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Schwarz, Yehoseph

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