Who was Eldad ha-Dani? Jewish Biography as History by Dr. Henry Abramson

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Claiming descent from the long-lost Ten Tribes of Israel, Eldad was a ninth-century traveler with a fantastic story: beyond the “River Kush” lay an intact civilization of Jews who enjoyed political sovereignty, in preparation for their eventual return to the Land of Israel in messianic times. Surviving shipwreck, cannibals and attack from fire-worshipping pagans, Eldad’s story of the mystical river Sambatyon and the Jews who lived there captivated the Jewish mind for centuries, and had a lasting impact on the development of Christian thought as well. But was he for real?

Dr. Abramson is way better in print (and taller, too):

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9 thoughts on “Who was Eldad ha-Dani? Jewish Biography as History by Dr. Henry Abramson

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  1. Dr Abramson thank you very informative. And I do like your jokes .. Well mostly. You presentation was very engaging and researched. I like how you explained how this character affected Christians and Jews in later times.

  2. Interesting. It make me go back to books of course Internet and learn more,that from such an easy and extremely interesting lecture. “Yashar coach”

  3. Good stuff. When I looked into it before, the river Kush is the River Niger not the well known Nile and thats talking about all those West African Hebrew communities. The Yoruba were tracked by German scientist to fleeing into Africa from the North around the fall of the Assyrian Empire. The Igbo and the Ashanti in the West are some of the big ones and its also the Ewe, Akan and Ga, I believe and the Lemba of the South are full of ancient Israelite traditions. Eldad said more from the southern kingdom came down there later and told them of the destruction of the Temple.

  4. Thank you, Rabbi. As always, your lectures are illuminating and intellectually- stimulating. However, I must add one note; from my own research in the accounts of Eldad ha-Dani he recounts an Ethiopian Jewish kingdom (Kingdom of Semien ruled by the semi-lengendary Jewess Queen Yodit). Regardless, I enjoyed this lecture as well as many others and I look forward to more to come.

  5. I really enjoyed this lecture. I discovered it while looking up information about Ethiopian Jews. I am a practicing Roman Catholic and a black American. I feel as if I’ve learned more about Judaism from your lecture than I’ve known in 45 years of living. Your beautiful explanation of Eldad ha-Dani’s oral and written tradition is an easy to listen to discourse. I was quite pleased to hear you touch on historical Jewish culture, Talmudic law, and the humanity of how Eldad ha-Dani was received by Jewish authority of the time without mentioning his skin tone or race. He is well represented as a scholarly and well traveled Jew, an inspiration for nationhood. Thank you!

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