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Joseph Schwarz.

Palestinian geographer; born at Flosz, Bavaria, Oct. 22, 1804; died at Jerusalem Feb. 5, 1865. When he was seventeen years old he graduated as teacher from the Königliches Schullehrerseminar of Colberg, after which he joined his brother Israel at the University of Würzburg, where for five years he devoted himself to the history and geography of the Holy Land, and published a map of Palestine (1829; republished at Vienna, 1831, and Triest, 1832). It was his ardent desire, however, to study in Palestine itself the physical history and geography of the Holy Land, where his knowledge of Talmudic sources and early Jewish writers would be of more service. Accordingly he decided to settle in Jerusalem, whither he wentin 1833. Schwarz then began a series of journeys and explorations in various parts of Palestine, to which he devoted about fifteen years. The results of his investigations and researches into the history, geography, geology, fauna, and flora of that country have placed him in the front rank of Palestinian explorers and geographers. He is the greatest Jewish authority on Palestinian matters since Estori Farḥi (1282-1357), the author of "Kaftor wa-Feraḥ." One of the first of his undertakings was to record from personal observations, made on Mount Olivet in Jerusalem, the exact time of sunrise and sunset for every day in the year, for the purpose of determining for the pious Watiḳin, of whose sect he was a devout member, the proper time for the morning "Shema'."

In America.

Schwarz adopted the ritual, minhagim, and customs of the Sephardim. In 1849 he accepted the mission of meshullaḥ, visiting especially England and the United States, and staying for a time in New York. An incident of his visit to America was the translation of his "Tebu'ot ha-Areẓ" into English by Isaac Leeser; it was probably the most important Jewish work published in America up to that time. The expense of publication was met by A. Hart. Later Schwarz revisited his native country, where, in 1852, was published a German translation of his work, for which he was decorated by the Emperor of Austria. Schwarz then returned to Jerusalem, and continued his study of rabbinical literature and Cabala, joining the Beth-El cabalistic congregation in Jerusalem.

Another important event in his career was his attempt to discover the Ten Tribes, which he thought might be found in Africa (Abyssinia, Central and South Africa) and in Yemen, Tibet, and China. He ridiculed the idea of identifying them with the American Indians or the East-Indians. An interesting correspondence on this subject is added to Leeser's edition of the "Tebu'ot, ha-Areẓ" (pp. 493-518).


Schwarz published the following works: "Luaḥ," a calendar for the year 5604 (Jerusalem, 1843); "Tebu'ot ha-Shemesh," in four parts, on the physical history of the Holy Land, the cycle of the sun, and the calculation of sunrise and sunset (ib. 1843); "Tebu'ot ha-Areẓ," geography, geology, and chronology of Palestine (ib. 1845); "Peri Tebu'ah," Biblical and Talmudic notes on Palestine, the second part, entitled "Pardes," treating of the four methods of commentating (ib. 1861); "Teshubot," responsa and, under the title "Shoshannat ha-'Emeḳ," additions to and corrections of his former works (ib. 1862); "Luaḥ," tables of sunrise and sunset in the latitude of Jerusalem, published by his son-in-law Azriel Aaron Jaffe (ib. 1862). The English translation of the "Tebu'ot ha-Areẓ" made by Isaac Leeser bore the title "A Descriptive and Historical Sketch of Palestine," and was published with maps, engravings, and a portrait of the author (Philadelphia, 1850). A German translation was published by Israel Schwarz under the title "Das Heilige Land" (Frankfort-on-the-Main, 1852). Extracts from the "Tebu'ot" were published by Kalman Schulmann in his "Shulmit," (Wilna, 1855), and a complete edition of the work was printed by Joseph Kohen-Ẓedeḳ at Lemberg in 1865; Luncz's edition, Jerusalem, 1890, contains a complete biography of Schwarz, an index of the geographical names, and notes.

  • Fürst, Bibl. Jud. iii. 300;
  • Israel Schwarz's preface to Das Heilige Land;
  • Zeitlin, Bibl. Post-Mendels. pp. 357-358;
  • the preface to Luncz's edition, Jerusalem, 1890.
S. J. D. E.
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