To Come to the Land makes available in English a vast body of research,
previously available only in Hebrew, on the early history of the land now
known as Israel.
Abraham David here focuses on the Spanish and Portuguese Jews who fled
the Iberian Peninsula during the 16th century, tracing the beginnings of
Sephardic influence in the land of Israel.
After the Ottoman Turks conquered Syria, Palestine, and Egypt in 1516,
the Ottoman regime, unlike their Mamluk predecessors, encouraged economic
development and settlement throughout the region. This openness to immigration
offered a solution to the crisis Iberian Jews were undergoing as a result
of their expulsion from Spain and the forced conversions in Portugal. Within
a few years of the Ottoman conquest, Jews of Spanish extraction, many of
them clustered in urban areas, dominated the Jewish communities of Eretz-Israel.
In this carefully researched study, David examines the lasting impression
made by these enterprising Jewish settlers on the commercial, social, and
intellectual life of the area under early Ottoman rule. Of particular interest
is his examination of the cities of Jerusalem and Safed and David's succinct
biographies of leading Jewish personalities throughout the region.
This first English translation of a ground-breaking Hebrew work provides
a comprehensive overview of a significant chapter in the history of Israel
and explores some of the factors that brought to it the best minds of the
age. Essential for scholars of late Medieval Jewish history, To Come to
the Land will also be an important resource for scholars of intellectual
history, as it provides background crucial to an understanding of the intellectual
flourishing of the period.
Abraham David is Senior Researcher at the Jewish National and University Library in Jerusalem and author of many books, including A Hebrew Chronicle from Prague, c. 1615, also published by this press. Dena Ordan is a free-lance translator in Jerusalem.