Wandering Jew

In popular folklore, the Jew who hurried on Jesus when he was led to Crucifixion. As punishment, he was compelled to wander about the world, homeless and restless, until Judgment Day.

There are several variations of this story.

The first tells of Kartaphilos, the door-keeper of the Judgment Hall and employed by Pilate. He struck Jesus in the back with his fist as as he led Him forth, saying, "Go on faster, Jesus"; whereupon Jesus replied, "I am going, but thou shalt tarry till I come again."1 It goes on to add that Kartaphilos was baptized by Anannias and received the name Joseph. He falls into a trance at the end of every hundred years and wakes up as a man of about thirty.

The second legend relates that Jesus, pressed down by the weight of the cross, stopped to rest in front of door of a cobbler named Ahasuerus. The craftsman pushed him away, shouting "Get off! Away with you, away!" Jesus replied, "Truly I go away, and that quickly, but tarry thou till I come."2

A third variant has it that it was Ahasuerus, the cobbler, who dragged Jesus before the judgment seat of Pilate, saying to him, "Faster, Jesus, faster!"

There is a German legend in which the "Wandering Jew" is associated with John Buttadaeus. He was seen in Antwerp in the thirteenth century, again in the fifteenth century, and again in the sixteenth century. His last appearance was in Brussels in 1774. Leonard Doldius of Nünberg writes that Ahasuerus is sometimes called Buttadaeus.3

The French call him Iscaac Laquedem or Lakedion.4

Schubert has a poem entitled Ahasuer (the Wandering Jew).



  1. Chronicle of the Abbey of St. Alban, 1228.
  2. Paul von Eitzen, 1547.
  3. Praxis Alchymiae, 1604.
  4. Mitternacht: Dissertatio in Johannem XXI. 19, 1640.


  • Bonnerjea, Biren. (1920). A Dictionary of Superstitions and Mythology. Thomson Gale.
  • Cobham Brewer, E. (2001). The Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. Cassell reference.