BENJAMIN OF TIBERIAS


BENJAMIN OF TIBERIAS
BENJAMIN OF TIBERIAS, leader of Palestinian Jewry at the beginning of the seventh century C.E. At the time of the Persian invasion of Ereẓ Israel in 614, Benjamin appears to have been among the Jewish leaders who negotiated with the Persians; as a result of these contacts, the Persian armies received Jewish military support. Benjamin then considered the Christians to be the enemies of his people; however, when the armies of Heraclius, the Byzantine emperor, reconquered the country in 628, he was compelled to receive them on friendly terms. Benjamin, who was exceedingly wealthy, accomodated the emperor in Tiberias and then succeeded in obtaining a general pardon from him for those Jews who had committed offenses against Christians under Persian rule. Benjamin accompanied Heraclius to Jerusalem in 629, and on the way the emperor succeeded in persuading him to be converted. He was baptized in the house of Eustathios, an influential Christian living in Neapolis (now Nablus). In Jerusalem the members of the Christian clergy influenced Heraclius to break the promise which he had given to the Jews through the intervention of Benjamin; the emperor condemned many of them to death, and prohibited the Jews from living in Jerusalem or within a three-mile radius of the city. There is no further mention of Benjamin in historical sources. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: M. Avi-Yonah, Bi-Ymei Roma u-Bizantyon (19522), 190, 200f. (Michael Avi-Yonah)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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