Isaac Chelo (also Hilo, Hilu or Khelo), in Hebrew יצחק חילו, was a rabbi of 14th century Larissa.[1] He is famous for an itinerary of the Holy Land first published in 1847. However, the document is now commonly considered a 19th-century forgery.

Chelo's ItineraryEdit

In 1847, the controversial[2] French scholar Carmoly published an account Les chemins de Jérusalem (The Roads from Jerusalem), purporting to be Chelo's description of Jerusalem and seven roads leading from it, written in 1334.[3] An English translation was published by Adler in 1930.[4] Carmoly wrote that the original Hebrew manuscript was in his own library, but when his library was catalogued after his death no such manuscript was found.[1] Scholem examined the library in 1925 and found nine lines of an 18th-century copy of the Itinerary.[1] He charged that the Itinerary had a number of anachronisms, contradictions, and quotations from Kabbalistic works postdating Chelo.[5] On this basis, Scholem judged the Itinerary to be a forgery, written or greatly expanded by Carmoly himself.[5] This assessment has been accepted by Dan Shapira,[1] Joshua Prawer[6] and Yoel Elitsur.[7] Prawer also alleged that there was no Jewish community in Hebron at the time the Itinerary claimed to describe one.[1] Prawer wrote that "This itinerary is unfortunately still being quoted by unwary scholars, even though the forgery was proved almost 50 years ago."[6]


  1. ^ a b c d e Dan D. Y. Shapira (2006). "Remarks on Avraham Firkowicz and the Hebrew Mejelis "Document"". Acta Orientalia Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae. 59 (2): 131–180.
  2. ^ He has been accused of fabrications by several scholars, see Cecil Roth (2007). "Forgeries". In Michael Berenbaum and Fred Skolnik (ed.). Encyclopaedia Judaica. 7 (2 ed.). Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA. pp. 125–126.
  3. ^ E. Carmoly (1847). Itinéraires de la Terre Sainte des XIIIe, XIVe, XVe, XVIe et XVIIe siècle, traduits de I'hébreu, et accompagnés de tables, de cartes et d 'éclaircissements. Bruxelles: A. Vandale.
  4. ^ Elkan Nathan Adler (1930). Jewish Travellers in the Middle Ages (Dover 1987 ed.). London: Routledge. pp. 130–150.
  5. ^ a b Shapira (2006), citing G. Scholem (1934). "ספר שבילי דירושלים המיוחס לר' יצחק חילו - מזויף (The Book of the Way to Jerusalem Attributed to R. Isaac Hilo - a Forgery)". Zion. 6: 39–53, 220–221.
  6. ^ a b Joshua Prawer (1988). The History of the Jews in the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem. Oxford University Press. p. 277 n.85. Students of itineraries always remember the very famous and clever forgery of a mid-19th-century scholar of repute, E. Carmoly, who invented the itinerary of one Isaac Chelo.
  7. ^ Yoel Elitsur (2004). Ancient place names in the Holy Land. Magnes Press, Hebrew University. p. 183.