The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 17 (part 2)

A revolt of the Samaritans is put down – Mar Saba requests a reduction in the land tax from Justinian, because Palestine was ruined – Justinian orders that the church of the Nativity in Jerusalem is rebuilt.

3. From the time when Proterius, patriarch of Alexandria, was killed and burned, to the time when Apollinaris killed the Jacobites and the doctrine of the Melkites triumphed, was thirty-five years (In another text it says “eighty-five years”).  [All this happened] because the doctrine of the Jacobites had conquered in Alexandria and throughout Egypt.  The successive patriarchs in Alexandria were in fact Jacobites, and also Jacobites were the kings in the land of Rum, including Leo the less, Zeno, Anastasius and others that we spoke of earlier.  In the twenty-first year of the reign of Justinian the inhabitants of Samaria in Palestine revolted, destroyed and burned all the churches, killed many Christians subjecting them to serious afflictions and put to death the bishop of Nablus.  Hearing of this, the king Justinian sent an great army and many Samaritans were killed.  Then Peter, patriarch of Jerusalem, asked the holy Mar Saba to travel to Constantinople in order to ask the king to lighten the kharāğ<ref>The kharaj or kharatch was the Islamic land-tax, here used for whatever Byzantine tax was its equivalent. kharāğ is apparently the Egyptian form of the word. – RP</ref> on the population of Palestine in view of the damage that the Samaritans had done there.  Mar Saba then went to Constantinople, and great was the joy with which the king received him.  He delivered the letter of the Patriarch of Jerusalem and was asked what he wanted.  Mar Saba said: “I ask you to lighten the kharāğ on Palestine because the Samaritans have exterminated the inhabitants, and have sown destruction.  I would also ask that the king orders the rebuilding of the churches that the Samaritans gave to the fire, that a  hospice for strangers is erected in Jerusalem, and that Eleona, the church begun by Elias, Patriarch of Jerusalem is completed”.  The king granted him this and all he had asked for, he sent with him one of [his] messengers to deal with that everything was done as requested, providing a lot of money.  He then wrote to his prefect in Palestine and ordered him to hand over to the messenger the proceeds of the kharāğ of Palestine, with which to build what the king had ordered.  The king ordered the messenger to demolish the church of Bethlehem, which was small, and to rebuild it more  impressive, big and beautiful, so that there was none more beautiful in Jerusalem.  When the messenger came to Jerusalem he erected a hospice for strangers.  He completed the construction of the church of Eleona, rebuilt the churches which the Samaritans had burned, he built many monasteries, demolished the church of Bethlehem and rebuilt it, just as we see it today.


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