The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 17 (part 3)

The reign of Justinian continues: but we get the first mention of Islam. 

4. After completing this, he returned to the king.  The king said to him: “Describe how you built the Bethlehem church.”  After hearing the description, the king did not find it to his liking and was not at all satisfied.  Great was his anger against him and he said:  “You took the money and you used it for yourself, you built a small building, you made the church dark, and you have not built it as I would have liked it to be, nor have you followed my advice.”  And so saying he commanded them to lop off his head.

5. King Justinian built in Constantinople the beautiful church of St. Sophia.  Mar Saba died at the age of ninety-four.  Having been informed of the favourable attitude of the King Justinian and his predilection for building churches and monasteries, the monks of Tur Sīnā came to him and complained of the fact that the Arab Ishmaelites harassed them, ate their food, destroyed their sites, broke into their cells, grabbing everything that was there, and entered into the church during the Eucharist.  King Justinian said to them: “What do you want [me to do]?”.  They answered: “We ask you, O king, to build us a monastery in which we can feel safe.”  Before that, in fact, there was no monastery on Mount Sinai where the monks could gather, but they were just scattered here and there in the valleys around the bush from which God – Powerful is his name – spoke to Moses.  Above the bush they had a large tower, which still exists today, in which was the church of Martmaryam.  In that tower the monks were accustomed to assemble, and immediately repaired there when any threat hung over them.  The king sent with them one of his men, to whom he gave much money, and he wrote to his prefect in Egypt to give the messenger all the money he asked, to provide men and to send him food from Egypt.  The messenger ordered the building of a church near the Red Sea, the erection of the monastery of Rayah, and the building of the monastery of Mount Sinai, fortifying it so that there was none more protected and more secure, and that there was nowhere above the monastery from which harm to the monastery itself, and the monks, could come.

6. Once he reached the Red Sea, the messenger erected near the Red Sea the church of Mar Athanasius, and built the monastery of Rayah, and he continued to the Mountain of Tur Sīnā where he found the bush in a gorge between two mountains, the tower built on it, in the vicinity of the bush, as well as sources of water that flowed near the bush, and the monks scattered in the valleys.  He thought of erecting the monastery at the top of the mountain, leaving out the site of the tower and the burning bush, but discarded the idea because of the water; because there was no water in the upper part of the mountain.  So he built the monastery above the bush, on the site of the tower, so that the tower itself was inside it.  Thus the monastery found itself between two mountains in a gorge.  If someone climbed to the top of the mountain, to the north, and he threw down a stone, it would fall in the middle of the monastery and could cause damage to the monks.  And yet he built the monastery in that narrow place only because of the bush, the famous ruins and the water.  Then he built a church on top of the mountain, at the place where Moses received the Torah.  The superior of the monastery was called Dula.  When he returned to king Justinian, the messenger spoke of the churches and monasteries that he had built and described how he had built the monastery of Mount Sinai.  The king said to him: “You were wrong, and you have compromised the safety of the monks in exposing them to the mercy of their enemies.  Why did you not build the monastery on top of the mountain?”.  The messenger replied, “I built the monastery above the bush and near the water simply in consideration of the fact that if I built the monastery on top of the mountain, the monks would have remained without water, and that if the people besieged them, and prevented access to water, they would die of thirst.  And also in consideration of the fact that the bush would be away from them.”  The king said to him: “Then you should have broken down the northern slope overlooking the monastery so that the monks could suffer no damage.”  The messenger replied, “Even if we had spent the riches of the land of Rum, Egypt and Syria, we could not achieve what you ask.” The king was enraged with him and ordered them to lop off his head.

7. Then he sent another messenger together with a hundred men chosen from among the slaves of Rum, with their wives and their children, ordering him to take from Egypt another hundred men with their wives and their children, chosen from among the slaves, and to build them houses, out by Tur Sīnā, so that they could establish themselves and guard the monastery and the monks, making sure that they had the necessary means of livelihood, bringing to them and to the monastery enough food from Egypt.  When he arrived at Tur Sīnā, the messenger built, outside the monastery to the east, many homes, the walls of a fortress and settled the slaves there.  They began to protect the monastery and to defend it.  The place is called today “the monastery of the slaves.”  They increased and multiplied over time and during the caliphate of ‘Abd al-Malik b.Marwan Islam was imposed on them, so they attacked each other and fought among themselves; some of them were killed, others fled, others were converted to Islam.  Their descendants still present today in those places, are the Muslims called Banu Salih, also called Ghulmān ad-Dayr  [= servants of the monastery], from which come the Lakhmids.  Following their conversion to Islam, the monks destroyed the houses.

8. In the second year of the reign of Justinian, there was made patriarch of Rome Boniface.  He held the office for two years and died.  In the fourth year of his reign, there was made patriarch of Rome, John.  He held the office for two years and died.  In the sixth year of his reign, there was made patriarch of Rome Aghābiyūs.  He held the office for a year and died.  In the seventh year of his reign, there was made patriarch of Rome Bīlīnariyus.  He held the office for five years and he died.  In the thirteenth year of his reign, there was made patriarch of Rome Vigilius.  He held the office for eighteen years and died.  In his fifteenth year in office there was the Fifth Council.  In the tenth year of his reign, that is, of the reign of Justinian, there was made patriarch of Constantinople Epiphanius.  He was a Jacobite.  He held the office for six years and died.

9. King Justinian wrote a voluminous treatise containing many rulings and laws.  In the seventeenth year of his reign, there was made patriarch of Constantinople Eutychius.  He held the office for twelve years and was deposed.  In his eleventh year in office there was the Fifth Council.  In the fourteenth year of the reign of Justinian, there was made patriarch of Jerusalem, Macarius.  He held the office for two years and died.  In the seventeenth year of his reign, there was made patriarch of Jerusalem Eutychius.  He held the office for twelve years and died.  In his eleventh year in office there was the Fifth Council.  In the fifteenth year of his reign, there was made patriarch of Antioch Domnus.  He held the office for fourteen years and died.  In his thirteenth year in office there was the Fifth Council.  In the time of king Justinian there appeared in the sky a big star that remained there for forty days.  Then there appeared in the sky a spear of fire which remained there for several days.

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