Ishtori Haparchi

Ishtori Haparchi (1280-1355) (also Estori Haparchi, Ashtori ha-Parhi) (Hebrew: אשתורי הפרחי) is the pen name of the 14th century Jewish physician, topographer, and traveler, Isaac HaKohen Ben Moses.[1]


Ishtori Haparchi was born in France in 1280. Haparchi was descended from a line of sages and rabbis of fame. His Father was Rabbi Moshe HaParhi, a distinguished Talmudical scholar. His grandfather was, Rabbi Nathan of Trinquetaille, author of "Shaar HiTefisa"[2] His great grandfather was Meir ben Isaac of Carcassonne, author of the "Sefer ha-'Ezer". His family originally came from Florenzia, Spain.[2] The surname Haparchi means "the Florentine" in Hebrew (perach is Hebrew for flower). He is commonly known by the title Kaftor Vaferach taken from the name of his work, the expression being additionally a pun on his surname. When the Jews were expelled from France in 1306, he travelled to Spain and Egypt, and then settled in Eretz Yisrael. He worked as a physician in Bet She'an, where he died in 1355.


Ishtori Haparchi was the author of the first Hebrew book on the geography of Eretz Yisrael [3] Sefer Kaftor Vaferach (Hebrew: ספר כפתור ופרח (literally "Button and Flower"), written in 1322 and published in Venice in 1549.[2] Kaftor Vaferach ("Book of Button and Flower") is a Hebrew idiom derived from the description of the menorah in the Temple (Exodus 37:17) and means a "work of art". In the context of the book it refers to the lay of the land. Haparchi lists the names of towns and villages in Eretz Yisrael and discusses the topography of land based on first-hand visits to the sites. Modern scholarship has determined that most of the 180 ancient sites he identified were correct, among them Usha, Modi'in and Betar.[1]



  1. 1 2 Encyclopedia Judaica Keter, Jerusalem, 1972, "Estori Ha-Parchi," vol. 6, p.918. Yeshurun vol. 21 p. 855
  2. 1 2 3 "A History of Rabbi Ishtori HaParhi: The first researcher into the land of Israel". Les Fleurs de l'Orient. Retrieved 31 July 2017.
  3. "Ashtori ha-Parḥi (Jewish topographer)". Britannica Online Encyclopedia. Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 2011-03-25.
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