House of entertainment for travelers. In the Bible references are made to lodging-places ("malon") where caravans or parties of travelers stopped for the night (comp. Gen. xlii. 27, xliii. 21; Ex. iv. 24). This does not necessarily imply a separate building; a wall or enclosure to prevent the cattle from straying, with room to pitch tents and with accessibility to a well, would be sufficient to constitute such a lodging-place in early times, when it would scarcely have been to the advantage of any one individual to attempt to make a living out of passing travelers. According to tradition, there was an inn ("gerut"), built by Chimham, near Bethlehem (II Sam. xix. 37-40; but comp. Targum. ad loc.). By New Testament times the Holy Land had been sufficiently developed to afford opportunity for real inns, which are referred to in the New Testament (Luke x. 34, 35) and in the Talmud under the same word (πανδοχεῖον, ). That in both cases the house of entertainment was strictly of the nature of an inn is shown by the fact that there was a special word for "host" or "innkeeper" (πανδοχσύς, ). The good Samaritan left his patient at an inn (Luke x. 34), just as a company of Levites traveling to Zoar left at an inn one of their comrades who had fallen sick (Yeb. xvi. 7). The character of female inn-keepers was by no means above suspicion, as in the instance of Rahab, who is credited with being of that calling (Yer. Targ, Josh. ii. 1). Nevertheless, Rabbi Ishmael bar Jose declared that his father used to pray in an inn (Yer. Ber. iv. 7). Cattle as well as men were put up at inns ('Ab. Zarah ii. 1). The ancient inn was probably unfurnished, like the modern khan or caravansary, but probably had arches in the walls in which the travelers could shelter themselves.
In the Middle Ages each Jewish community had a communal inn where wandering travelers who had no acquaintances in the town could put up for a night or two without cost. These would usually be connected with the dancing-hall, or "Tanzhaus," where entertainments too large for private houses were given. Jews' inns occur in early Spanish records, and were probably of this kind. In Paris during the eighteenth century there was a special Jews' inn, or "auberge Juive," where all Jewish travelers had to stop, and which often became the subject of blackmail by the police under the charge of being disreputable (L. Kahn, "Les Juifs de Paris," passim). These communal inns were maintained out of the communal funds; wandering beggars being entertained on the ground floor, while paying guests could take rooms on the upper story. The use of Christian inns was often forbidden to Jews in medieval regulations (Gudemann, "Gesch." i. 260). An instance occurs where a Jew in England himself kept an inn (Jacobs, "Jews of Angevin England," p. 153).
- Abrahams, Jewish Life in the Middle Ages, pp. 74, 314;
- Levy, Neuhebr. Wörterb.