Including the large world map by Christopher Plantin, showing Australia's northern coastline

Arias Montanus, Benedictus. Antiquitatum Iudaicarum libri IX. In quis, praeter Judaeae, Hierosolymorum, & templi Salomonis accuratam delineationem, praecipui sacri ac profani gentis ritus describuntur.

Leiden, Officina Plantiniana, Franciscus Raphelengius, 1593.

4to (170 x 240 mm). (4), 200 pp. With woodcut printer's device on title-page, 15 (of 16) folding engraved maps, and 1 engraving in the text (p. 126). Contemporary vellum with handwritten spine title; traces of ties.


Rare first and only edition of this treatise on historical Palestine and the Jewish people by the eminent Spanish theologian Benito Arias Montano (1527-98), an intimate friend of Plantin's. Under the patronage of Philip II of Spain, Arias supervised the edition of the eight-volume Antwerp Polyglot Bible (1569-72), from which massive effort grew the present, more specialized work (cf. Voet I, 584 for the plate of the Temple at Jerusalem). The remarkable map of the world (Shirley 125: 2nd state of 3), showing the Jewish tribes dispersed over both hemispheres, is taken directly from the Antwerp Polyglot. Interestingly enough, "there is an unusual island shown in the position of Australia which has given rise to speculation" (Shirley).

Other engravings include a map showing the Middle East as far as Kuwait on the Gulf coast, a representation of Noah’s Ark, and several images of the Temple, depicting it as a symmetrically constructed City of God - the same ideal that informed the Escorial of King Philip. The book's nine parts treat the Holy Land and its geography, the Twelve Tribes of Israel, Jerusalem, the Temple, and the ritual institutions of ancient Judaism; the final chapter discusses the computation of time since the Creation.

The maps are identified with letters from A to P (some printed in red letterpress, others hand-lettered in ink). The first four plates are loose; the remaining plates are erroneously bound before their letter's respective quire signatures rather than in the place indicated by the text; the final plate Q (showing a Hebrew priest) is missing.

An old ink note (apparently a shelfmark) to the front pastedown. Occasional light browning; some tears to plates professionally repaired. Still a good copy of this rare work.

Adams M 1630. IA 107.302. Fürst II, 389. Palau 16496. Röhricht 751 (note). OCLC 491966297. Cf. Shirley 125 and fig. 107 (p. 150).