Two more items from Anthony Alcock

Dr Alcock has kindly sent over two new translations in the last week.  I am too busy to do them justice, but I am glad to make them available here:

Thank you, Dr. A.


Microsoft does not believe that Microsoft has a future?

Two events in the last week have convinced me that the management of Microsoft does not believe that their company has a future.  The management are, it seems, the sort of grey people who took over Apple, expelled Steve Jobs, and ran the company into the ground.

The first event took place at my PC in my workplace, where I was working on something delicate.  Windows 10 popped up an announcement that it wanted to do an upgrade.  I reset the schedule for a couple of hours hence and carried on.  And then, in the middle of my work, suddenly it closed all my work and tried to reboot.  Windows had ignored my request and just restarted.  Obviously some petty upgrade was way more important than my work.  But imagine that I was a broker, doing a deal for a hundred million dollars?  Well, my deal could wait.  As far as Microsoft was concerned, their update mattered more.

The second event took place in the evening, or rather over several evenings, in my hotel.  While at work, I realised that I needed to write a small windows application.  I’ve not written anything for windows in a  long time, but I remember how to do it.  A quick Visual Basic .Net application would be quite adequate.

So I went to the Microsoft site to get the tools, and found that … um … you can’t download Visual Basic .Net any more.  You have to download some obese monster called “Visual Studio 2017 Community Edition”.  Except you can’t download it.  You can install it off the web; but you can’t keep the media locally.  When you do install it, it demands to know which of a baffling array of options you want installed, nearly all of them irrelevant.

Bear in mind that I want to create a tiny Windows application – the environment that Microsoft control – and I want to do it in Basic, the language they control.  Surely that is the beginners’ path?  Why is it so hard?

Well I found my way through the menus and installed this THREE GIGABYTE (????) environment on my laptop.  Then I tried to set to work.  But … everything was hard.  Despite a decade of experience with Microsoft tools, and knowing clearly what I wanted to do, I was quite unable to work out how to do it.

The last straw came when I wanted to embed two icons in the project.  This should be trivial.  It was not.  You could, with difficulty, insert icons into your project.  But you couldn’t edit them.  The toolbars were greyed out.  Much googling later, I discovered that this was just how it was; you had to create them as external files.

The only people who could possibly work with Visual Studio would be a large professional corporate software department.  The individual tinkering at home is excluded.  It requires immense effort just to create a trivial application.  I remember VB6 – it was easy to do this.  I remember the original VB.Net – harder, but still not that hard.  But now … nobody new will develop for Microsoft.  It’s just too hard.

It is impossible to avoid the conclusion that Microsoft is now run by people who do not use Windows seriously, and none of whom write software.  Anybody who did either would not allow their products to get so out of shape.

But if Windows now is a relic, doomed to die – at least in the opinion of its owners – the rest of us still use it.  We would like it to work, thank you.

And if it is now impossible to easily develop new software for Windows, as seems to be the case, this again reinforces the feeling that the owners of Microsoft do not care.  They don’t believe that any real new software will be delivered.  They don’t believe in the hobbyist at home.

The hobbyist is now writing web applications, where he can run up an application with ease.  I saw this week a website which mimicked Microsoft Paint!  It was done in Javascript.  I guarantee it was easier to do than working with Visual Studio.  But Microsoft management don’t care what the hobbyist does.  They don’t give him any access.

It’s sad really.  Whither the desktop computer?


The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 6 – part 2 and final

Well this hasn’t happened for a while!  But somehow I have just translated the entire remainder of the chapter of Eutychius’ Annals.  Not bad considering that I only set out to do a couple of sections at the end of a long week at work!

The material in this chapter is from the Old Testament.  But even so, traces of the Chronicle tables of Eusebius are visible: “there prophesied in this time X and Y”.

Part of the fun of reading this stuff is trying to make out the familiar names from the Arabic transliteration.  It’s also interesting to see the story afresh from the perhaps too-familiar words of our bible.  It struck me, as I wrote this, that the kings of Israel and Judah had good reason to be nervous about the prophets, an alternative source of authority in their kingdom.  At any moment one of them might do what Elisha does below, and anoint some ambitious man as a rival king, whereupon civil war would ensue.  If the rebel was defeated, no doubt the prophet would also be killed.  But it meant that no king could feel safe with a prophet working in the kingdom.  No wonder so many prophets lived an exciting life!

3. After him his son Yūrām reigned, aged thirty-two. He reigned for eight years over Judah, in Ūrashalīm. This took place in the fifth year of the reign of Yūrām, son of Akhāb, king of Israel.  There prophesied, in his day, Elisha, disciple of Iliyā, and ‘Ubidiyā.  Ibn-Hadād, king of Syria (8), became active again, gathered his soldiers and marched against Yūrām, king of Israel, in Samaria, to wage war on him.  Yūrām was afraid of him, but Elisha told him: “Do not fear.  Fortify yourself in your city because God will give you victory over your enemy”.  Yūrām then stayed in his city.  The soldiers of Damascus were as numerous as the sand of the sea and surrounded the city of Yūrām and all the territory of Samaria.  The Israelites were under siege for three years.  Then a famine fell on Samaria so badly that the people were reduced to feed on the flesh of the dead and pigeon droppings, and the head of a donkey was sold for eighty “dirhams” and a glass of pigeon droppings for five “dirhams” (9).  While Yūrām, king of Israel, was walking along the walls of the city, he came across a woman struggling with another woman.  One of the women begged the king for help, saying: “This woman said: ‘Slay your son today, so we can eat him so as not to starve.  Tomorrow, I will slaughter mine and eat him’. Yesterday I killed my son and we ate him, but today she took her son and hid him”(10).  On hearing this, the king shuddered, tore his clothes, and covered his head with dust. He then sent to tell the prophet Elisha: “Did you not say that God would give me the victory over my enemy? But when will this happen?” The prophet Elisha answered the messenger: “Tell the king: ‘Tomorrow, at this same hour, God will grant you the victory over your enemy. At the city gate of Samaria flour will be sold at a dirham for a waybah and barley at a dirham for two waybah'” (11).  The messenger replied to the prophet Elisha: “But such a thing is completely impossible”. Elisha answered: “Well instead it will be like this. You will see it [with your own eyes], but you will not eat it.”(12). There were four leper Israelis at the far end of the walls who agreed among themselves: “When night comes we will lower ourselves from the walls and we will go to the Syrian soldiers. They will either kill us or give us bread to eat” (13).  They did as they said and once they arrived among the soldiers they tried to rummage through the tents and the camps.  But there was nobody there.  This was because it was rumoured on that same night among the soldiers of Damascus that the king of Egypt, the king of Israel, the king of Judah and all the kings (14) had joined forces to assail them by surprise, during the night, and they had therefore fled, leaving behind them their camps, tents, baggage, their household goods and all that they had.  The lepers came back and informed the king of Israel so that he could send men on the trail of the Syrians.  They travelled quickly to the banks of the Jordan River but found no traces [of the Damascus soldiers].  The king then gave orders to open the gate of the city, people poured out and looted everything that was in the tents of the Syrians.  Flour was immediately sold for a dirham a waybah and barley at a dirham for two waybah (15).  As for the messenger who had accused the prophet Elisha of lying, when he saw all this he died at the gate of the city because of the great crowds and the crush.  After this Yūrām, king of Judah, went out against the Rūm who were in ash-Sharāh and massacred them (16). Yūrām, king of Judah, died and was buried in the city of David.

4. After him his son Ukhuziyā reigned over Judah, at Urashalim, for a single year at the age of twenty-two.  This took place in the twelfth year of the reign of Yūrām, son of Akhāb, king of Israel.  His mother was called ‘Athaliyā, and she was the sister of Akhāb, king of Israel, son of ‘Umri.  There prophesied, in his day, Elisha and Abūdiyā.  Yūrām, king of Israel, moved, together with Gazāyil, king of the tribes, against ar-Rāmah (17) to fight against the Syrians (18).  Yūrām, king of Israel, was wounded in war and returned to the city of Yizrā`īl for treatment.  Ukhuziyā, son of Yūrām, came to him to greet him.  The prophet Elisha called his disciple Yūnis, son of Mitthaī, i.e. an-Nūn (19), who had been swallowed by the fish, gave him a horn with oil inside and told him: “Go to the city of Rāmah of Kal‘ād and you will find a commander named Yāhū, son of Yimsi (20).  Anoint him with this ointment as king of Israel” (21).  Yūnis, disciple of Elisha, went and did as he had ordered him.  Yāhū gave the news to his men, gathered them and moved to the city of Yizrā‘il in search of Yūrām, king of Israel.  Yūrām, king of Israel, and Ukhuziyā, king of Judah, came out against him.  Yāhū shot a dart which struck Yūrām, king of Israel, in the heart, and he killed him and cut off his head.  Ukhuziyā, king of Judah, fled but Yāhū pursued him and covered him with wounds.  However he managed to escape, and he took refuge in Mighiddū (22) and died there.  When Ukhuziyā died, his servants took him to Ūrashalīm and he was buried in the city of David.

5. Then the mother of Ukhuziyā, named ‘Athaliyā, reigned over Judah, at Ūrashalīm, for seven years.  Yāhū wrote to the chiefs of Samaria [telling them]: “If you are willing to obey me, choose yourself a king from among the sons of Akhāb, king of Israel”. They answered him: “We have no other king but you”. He wrote to them again: “Then kill all the sons of Akhab, king of Israel” (23).  The sons of Akhāb and the sons of his sons were seventy. They killed them and sent their heads to Yāhū.  Yāhū then went to Samaria, and of the descendants of Akhāb he did not leave one, but put everyone of them to death.  As he was walking he came across forty-two men and asked them: “Who are you?” They said: “We are the brothers of Ukhuziyā, king of Judah” (24).  Then Yāhū cut off their heads, destroyed the temple of the idol Bā‘il in Samaria, and killed the priests and their leaders.  He reigned over the Israelites for twenty-eight years.  Izbil, wife of Akhāb, went out, after dressing up, to meet Yāhū.  But Yāhū had her killed; her body was left unburied for several days and the dogs devoured her.  Then [Yāhū] arranged to bury what was left of her body.  ‘Athaliyā, after having obtained the kingdom of Judah, after her son Ukhuziyā, in Ūrashalīm, had the sons of her son Ukhuziyā killed.  She then went after the family of David with the intent to exterminate it as it belonged to the tribe of Akhāb, king of Israel.  She wanted to wipe out the whole race of David.  She had a daughter, the sister of Ukhuziyā, named Yahūshāyi‘, the wife of Yahwādā‘, leader of the priests (25).  She managed to save from her mother a son of Ukhuziyā, named Yuwāsh, keeping him hidden for six years.  In the days of ‘Athaliyā there prophesied Elisha and ‘Ubidiyā.  ‘Athaliyā profaned Ūrashalīm with adultery, because she ordered women to prostitute themselves in public without any restraint and men to fornicate with women without being censured (26).  When Yuwāsh, son of Ukhuziyā, grew bigger, the priest Yahūnādā‘ (27) gathered the magnates of Judah, presented Yuwāsh, son of Ukhuziyā, to them, and proclaimed him king.  Hearing this, ‘Athaliya tore herclothes, went out to see him and was killed with a sword stroke.

6. Yuwāsh, son of Ukhuziyā, reigned over Judah, at Ūrashalīm, for forty years, from the age of six (28).  This took place in the seventh year of the reign of Yāhū, king of Israel.  The mother of Yuwāsh was called Sinbā and was originally from Bersabea (29).  In his time there prophesied Elisha, Uriyā, and Zakhariyā, son of the priest Yahūnādā` (30).  During his life he always behaved well in Judah until the priest Yahūnādā` died at the age of one hundred and thirty years.  Then Yuwāsh, king of Judah, gave himself over to the worship of idols.  The prophet Zakhariyā, son of the priest Yahūnādā`, tried to dissuade him from doing so, but the king had him stoned to death.  It was in this way that Yuwāsh rewarded the priest Yahūnādā` who had made him king, namely by killing his son Zakhariyā, the prophet.  Gazāyil, king of Syria, came out against him (31), and seized the city of Gatti (32) by taking possession of it.  He then set about going up to Ūrashalīm.  Yuwāsh was very afraid of him, took all the treasures that were in the temple and that his fathers Yūshāfāt, Yūrām and Ukhuziyā had accumulated there and sent them to Gazāyil, king of Syria, to ingratiate himself.  He departed, and left him alone.  Yāhū, king of Israel, died and was buried in Samaria.

7. After his son Akhāz (33) reigned in Samaria for seventeen years.  This happened in the twenty-third year of the reign of Yuwāsh, king of Judah.  Akhāz devoted himself to the worship of idols and Israel was subjugated by Gazāyil, king of Syria, and by Hadād, son of Gazāyil (34).  Of the men of Israel, so many were killed in the war that only ten thousand footmen and fifty horsemen remained at the side of Akhaz, king of Israel.  The prophet Elisha died and Gazayil, king of Syria, also died.  His son Hadād reigned after him.  Akhāz, king of Israel, fought again and defeated Hadād, son of Gazāyil, king of Syria, taking from him the countries which his father had taken over and re-establishing his sovereignty.  Akhaz, king of Israel, died and was buried in Samaria.

8. After him, his son Yuwāsh reigned over Samaria in Israel for sixteen years.  This occurred in the thirty-ninth year of the reign of Yuwāsh, king of Judah (35).  His conduct of life was worse than his father’s and he worshiped the idols. As for Yuwāsh, king of Judah, his servants attacked him and killed him. He was buried in the city of David.

After him his son Amasiyā reigned over Judah, at Ūrashalīm, for twenty-nine years.  This took place in the second year of the reign of Yuwāsh, king of Israel.  He had the servants who had killed his father arrested and had them killed. In his time there prophesied ‘Amūs, the Davidic prophet.  Yuwāsh, king of Israel, went up to Ūrashalīm.  Amasiyā, king of Judah, was afraid of him and fled to Bayt Shams, abandoning the city (36).  Yuwāsh, king of Israel, tore down four hundred cubits of the walls of the city of Ūrashalīm and looted all the gold and silver that was in the palace of Amasiyā, king of Judah, taking it with him to Samaria.  Yuwāsh, king of Israel, died and was buried in Samaria.

9. After him his son Rubu‘am reigned over Israel in Samaria, for forty-one years.  This occurred in the fifteenth year of the reign of Amasiyā, king of Judah.  After the death of Yuwāsh, king of Israel, Amasiyā returned from Bayt Shams to Ūrashalīm in Judea.  Shortly thereafter, Rubu‘ām, king of Israel, gathered his army and went up to Ūrashalīm.  Amasiyā, king of Judah, fled from him, sheltering in the city of Lāhish.  But [Rubu‘am] pursued him to Lāhish and killed him (37).  His servants took him to Ūrashalīm and he was buried in the city of David.  After him his son ‘Uziyā ruled over Judah, at Ūrashalīm, for fifty-two years, at the age of sixteen.  This occurred in the fifteenth year (38) of the reign of Rubu‘ām, king of Israel.  In his time there prophesied ‘Amūs (39) and his son Sha’iyā (40) of the house of David, Yūsha‘, son of Yihādi of the tribe of Rubri (41) and Yūnis son of Matatay, i.e. Dhū’n-Nūn, of Kātihāfadh (42).  Rubu‘ām, king of Israel, died and was buried in Samaria.

10. After him, his son Zakhariyā reigned over Israel, in Samaria, for six months.  This took place in the twenty-ninth year of the reign of ‘Uziyā, king of Judah (43).  Shāllūm, son of Yābish, and Bil‘ām, two of his commanders, rebelled against him and killed him (44).  Shāllūm, son of Yābish, took possession of the kingdom. He reigned over Israel, in Samaria, for thirty days.  This took place in the twenty-ninth year of the reign of ‘Uziyā, king of Judah (45).  Then Menhakhim, son of Hadi, one of his commanders, rebelled and killed him and took possession of the kingdom. He reigned over Israel in Samaria for twenty years (46). This occurred in the thirty-first year of the reign of ‘Uziyā, king of Judah (47).  He went out against the city of Tirsā and stormed it, killing all the inhabitants and gutting their pregnant women.  Tula, king of Mossul (49) and Memphis, king of Israel, came out against him, and he gave them much gold and silver to ingratiate himself.  They then withdrew and left him alone.  Menhakhim, king of Israel, died and was buried in Samaria.

11. After him his son Fiqahiyā reigned in Israel, in Samaria, for two years.  This happened in the fiftieth year of the reign of ‘Uziyā, king of Judah.  Fāqih, son of Rimaliyā, who was one of his commanders, rebelled against him and killed him, seizing the kingdom.  This Fāqih, son of Rimaliyā, reigned over Israel in Samaria for twenty-eight years (49).  This happened in the fifty-second year of the reign of ‘Uziyā, king of Judah.  This ‘Uziyā committed all sorts of evil.  He dared even to enter the Holy of Holies, took the thurible from the priest’s hand and incensed the temple (50).  It was for this reason that ‘Uziyā contracted leprosy in the face, and yet he did not give up the kingdom because his son Yuwāthām administered and defended it (51).  ‘Uziyā, king of Judah, died and was buried in the city of David.

12. After him his son Yuwāthām reigned over Judah, at Ūrashalīm, for sixteen years, at the age of twenty-five.  This took place in the second year of the reign of Fāqih, king of Israel.  In his time there prophesied Isha‘iyā, Mīkhā al-Mūrashti (52) and Yū’īl, son of Fānū’īl (53). Tighlāt Filitsir, king of Mossul (54), came out [against him], occupied many cities of Israel and took possession of it.  Yuwāthām, king of Judah, died and was buried in Bethlehem, the city of David.  After him his son Akhāz ruled over Judah, at Ūrashalīm, for sixteen years, at the age of twenty.  In his time, there prophesied Isha‘iyā, Yūsha‘ and Mīkhā. The high priest was Uriyā.  Rāzūn, king of Damascus (55), came out [against him] with Fāqih, king of Israel, went up to Ūrashalīm and besieged the city.  But they could not take it, and withdrew.  Rāzūn, king of Damascus, destroyed the city of Fām of Syria (56), drove out the Jews and installed the Rūm that still live there.  Akhaz, king of Judah, wrote to Salmān-Asar, king of Mosul (57), asking for his help and sending him all the gold, silver and precious stones that were in the temple.  The king of Mossul went after him with his soldiers, conquered Damascus, burned it, and killed King Rāzūn.  Akhaz, king of Judah, went to him and thanked him for what he had done.  A commander of Fāqih, named Hūshi`, son of Ila (58), rebelled against Fāqih, king of Israel, and killed him, seizing the kingdom.  Hūshi` reigned over Samaria for nine years.  This happened in the twelfth year of the reign of Akhaz, king of Judah.  Akhaz, king of Judah, died and was buried in the house of David.  After him his son Hiziqiyā reigned over Judah, at Ūrashalīm, at the age of twenty-five, for twenty-nine years. This happened in the third year of the reign of Hūshi`, king of Israel.  In his time there prophesied Sha‘yā, Yūshā‘ and Mīkhā of the tribe of Ephraim.  In the fourth year of the reign of Hiziqiyā, king of Judah, i.e. in the seventh year of the reign of Hūshi`, king of Israel, Salmān-Asar, king of Mossul and al-Gazirah (59), went up to Samaria and besieged it for three years, until he took it.  He took Hūshi`, king of Israel, and had him put in prison, deporting ten tribes of Israel from the land of Samaria to Āmid (60), to Mossul and to Bābil.  Only the tribe of Judah and the house of David remained to reign and the tribe of Benjamin.  He then deported part of the populations of Bābil, Āmid and Mossul and made them live in the cities of Samaria instead of the Israelites.  Salmān-Asar, king of Mosul, left with them a priest named Lūn (61) to teach them the law.  Lūn taught them the Law that they still follow, and they were the fathers of the Samaritans and their sons are the Samaritans of today, because they separated from the Jews, denying the gift of prophecy to David and all the prophets, asserting that there was no prophet after the prophet Moses.  They elected their leader from the House of Harun and gave him the name of ar-ra’is.  Hiziqiyā, king of Judah, reigned over all the Israelites and over as many of them as remained in Samaria.  He had the idols torn down, the steles swept away, and the bronze serpent cut to pieces that Moses – peace be upon him – had forged in the desert and that the Israelites had revered and worshiped up to that time.  He had that shattered in pieces, and he began to fight against the foreign tribes and he confined them to Ghazza and to the city of Rafakh.  He then sent word to all the Israelites who were in Samaria and in the land of Judah to gather at Ūrashalīm to celebrate the passover.  They gathered and celebrated passover at Ūrashalīm.  Hiziqiyā, king of Judah, sacrificed two thousand calves and seven thousand sheep (62).  His commanders slaughtered a thousand calves and ten thousand sheep and celebrated a sumptuous and grandiose festival.

13. In the fourteenth year of the reign of Hiziqiyā, king of Judah, Sinnahārib, king of Mossul (63) went up to the land of Judah and occupied many cities.  Hiziqiyā, king of Judah, was afraid of him and sent word to him, at Lāhish: “Whatever you want to impose on me, I commit myself to give it to you, but please go away from me”. Sinnāhārīb, king of Mossul, wrote to him telling him: “Send me three hundred ‘qintār’ of gold and three hundred ‘qintār’ of silver” (64).  Hiziqiyā, king of Judah, sent him all the gold and silver that was in the temple, and he took down the golden doors of the temple and sent them to him.  That same night a cry was heard among the soldiers of Sinnāhārib, king of Mosul, and they killed one another.  Then Hiziqiyā, king of Judah, went out against them and killed one hundred and eighty-five thousand, and Sinnāhārib, king of Mossul, fled to Ninawā (65).  He had two sons, one named Anzarmālākh and the other Sarāsirā (66): they rebelled and killed him by the sword, then fleeing to the district of Qardā (67) in the Mossul region.  This king Hiziqiyā is the one whom God allowed to live for another fifteen years.  This is because he was close to dying and, having no children, he turned his face to the wall and wept bitterly in the presence of God.  God mercifully had compassion on him and sent an angel to let him know that God was extending his life by fifteen years.  Later he had a son whom he called Manassā.  It is said [well] that the one who told him: “God has prolonged your life by fifteen years” was the prophet Isha’iyā.  And it is true (68).  The son of Sinnāhārfb, named as-Sarğadūn, reigned over Mossul (69).  In the days of Hiziqiyā, king of Judah, there reigned over the Rūm Rūmiyūs, who founded a city calling it Rūmiyā, from his name. And in fact the Rūm were called Rūm just from the name of Rūmiyūs.  After that the king moved his residence to the city of Rūmiyā (70). Rūmiyūs reigned for thirty-six years.  Hiziqiyā, king of Judah, died and was buried in the house of David.

14. After him his son Manassā reigned over Judah, at Ūrashalīm, for fifty-five years, at the age of twelve.  In the third year of his reign (71) he made idols and the Israelites began to worship them.  The prophet Isaiah rebuked him, but he had him killed (72) by having him sawn in two and burning his body.  It is said that the prophet Isaiah, before being killed, was thirsty and invoked his Lord.  A spring of water opened before him and he drank from it.  [This would be] the spring of Silwān, whose interpretation is “sent”.  It is also said that when the pagans later inhabited Ūrashalīm, the spring had dried up, and it resumed flowing when the Israelites lived there [again].  The Israelites worshiped idols for fifty-four years.  Then the king of Bābil captured Manassā, king of Judah, and had him locked up in the cavity of a bronze calf (73) under which he set fire.  In the cavity of the calf Manassā raised prayers to God repenting of what he had done and imploring his Lord.  God forgave his sin and had compassion on him. The idol split in two and [Manassā] came out [alive].  God then sent him an angel who took him away to Ūrashalim.  Manassā, king of Judah, died and was buried in the garden of ‘Uziyā (74).  After him, his son Amnūn (75) reigned for two years, at the age of twenty-two.  He lived like his father, worshiping idols.  His servants attacked him in his house, killed him and buried him with his father in the garden of ‘Uziyā.  After him his son Yūsiyā reigned over Judah, at Ūrashalīm, for thirty-one years, at the age of eight.  In the second year of his reign (76), he broke down the idols and burnt them, and he also destroyed, by burning them, every temple dedicated to the idols in Samaria that the Israelites had built.  He had the priests of the idols killed and had them burned.  He then collected the bones of the dead who had worshiped the idols and burned them.  In the eighteenth year of his reign he celebrated the passover like no other, since the time of Yashū‘, son of Nūn, [= Joshua] had done.  There was then priest Hilqiyā, father of the prophet Irimiyā.  Hilqiyā found the book of the Law in the temple, read it, and arranged to celebrate passover according to what was said.  In his day there prophesied Khuldā, wife of Sallūm, custodian of the temple garments, the prophet Irimiyā and the prophet Sūfūniyā.  The prophet Irimiyā took the ark and hid it in a niche of a rock (77).  [In his day] there lived a false prophet named Hininā (78).

15. At the time of Yūsā, king of Judah, the pharaoh Nāhū (79), i.e. the lame, King of Egypt, went up against the king of Mosul, fought against him, overcame him and put him to flight, advancing to the Euphrates.  On his return Yūsā, king of Judah, met him with many gifts.  But after seeing him he had him killed.  His servants brought him from Mighiddū, i.e. Manbiğ (80), to Ūrashalīm, and buried him there. He was thirty-nine.

After him his son Yuwakhāz ruled over Judah, at Ūrashalīm, for three months, at the age of twenty-three.  The pharaoh Nāhū went up to Ūrashalīm, took Yuwakhāz, king of Judah, and had him chained and deported to Egypt along with a large number of Jews.  The pharaoh imposed a tribute on all the inhabitants of Ūrashalīm, forcing them to pay him every year a hundred “qintār” of gold and one hundred “qintar” of silver (81).  Then the pharaoh Nāhū returned to Egypt. Yuwakhāz, king of Judah, died in Egypt.

16. After him his son Iliyāqim, son of Yūsiyā, also called Yuwāqim, reigned over Judah, at Ūrashalīm, for eleven years, at the age of twenty-five.(82) In his day there prophesied the prophet Irimiyā, Uriyā, son of Sima’yā, of Qaryat al-‘Inab (83), and Yūri (84), father of Hiziqiyā.  Yuwāqim, king of Judah, sent annually to pharaoh Nāhū, king of Egypt, as a ransom for himself and for his country, one hundred “qintār” of gold and one hundred “qintār” of silver.  In the fourth year of the reign of Yuwāqim, king of Judah, Bakhtanāsir reigned in Bābil (85).  In his time this Bakhtanāsir went up to Ūrashalīm and Yuwāqim, king of Judah, welcomed him and became his vassal for three years.  Bakhtanassar then returned to Bābil and Yuwāqim sent him every year the same quantity of gold and silver that he sent to Pharaoh Nāhū, because Bakhtanassar reigned from the Euphrates to the city of Rafakh.  Later Yuwāqim, king of Judah, broke the covenant and sent him nothing more.  Yuwāqim, king of Judah, died and was buried in the house of David.

17. After him his son Yahūnākhīm, called Akhiyā, reigned at Ūrashalīm for three months at the age of eighteen.  Having failed to send to Bakhtanassar the price of the ransom, Bakhtanassar in person came to Ūrashalīm at the head of his army and besieged it.  Yahūnākhīm went to meet him with his mother, his servants and the magnates of Israel and opened the gates of the city.  Bakhtanassar entered the city and took away from the temple all the gold and silver vessels together with the precious stones, as well as all the precious stones, all the gold and silver that were in the king’s palace, sending them to Bābil.  He then chained Yahūnākhīm, king of Judah, and took him with him to Bābil along with seven thousand of his men (86).  He also brought every strong man of Israel to Bābil.  There were among the prisoners Dāniyāl, still a young man, and the three young men Hanāniyā, ‘Azariyā and Misā’īl who were thrown into the furnace (87).  Only the defenseless and the needy remained in the city.  Bakhtanassar entrusted the government of Ūrashalīm to a brother of Yuwāqim, king of Judah, son of Yūshiyā, named Mataniyā.  Bakhtanassar called him Sidiqiyā and [he was] the maternal uncle of Yahūnākhīm, king of Judah.  He reigned eleven years in Ūrashalīm at the age of twenty-one.  In his time there prophesied Irimiyā, Habaqūq and Yūri (88).  In the ninth year of his reign, Sidiqiyā, king of Judah, ceased to send to Bakhtanassar the gold and silver that he used to send him.  Bakhtanassar was irritated and sent one of his commanders, named Yanūzardān (89), head of the king’s guards, to Ūrashalīm and held it in a state of siege for three years.  Most of the people died because of famine and Sidiqiyā, king of Judah, sheltered at night in a cave, known as the “cave of dogs” (90), which he himself had prepared.  Yanūzardān noticed this, pursued him to Rihā, captured him, and sent him to Bakhtanassar at Antākiyah (91).  Bakhtanassar had him blinded and then ordered all his children decapitated.  Yanūzardān made a great slaughter of the Jews, destroyed the temple and burned it, sowed the ruins of Ūrashalīm and set it on fire, bringing to Bābil all the gold, silver and copper that was in the temple.  Some of the Jews fled to Egypt and others to the desert and the valleys.  Those who remained were made captive and deported to Bābil.  Ūrashalīm was reduced to a mass of ruins and there was no one left.  The prophet Habaqūq fled to the territory of Isma‘īl and then descended into Egypt.  This happened in the nineteenth year of the reign of Bakhtanassar.

18. From the reign of David to the captivity of Bābil and to the destruction of Bayt al-Maqdis (92), four hundred and seventy-seven years had elapsed; from the departure of the sons of Israel from Egypt to the captivity of Bābil, a thousand and eighty-three years had elapsed;from Abraham to the captivity of Bābil, fifteen hundred and ninety years had elapsed; from Fāliq to the captivity of Bābil, two thousand and one hundred and thirty years had elapsed; from the flood to the captivity of Bābil, two thousand six hundred and sixty-two years had elapsed; from Adam to the captivity of Bābil, four thousand nine hundred and eighteen years had elapsed.

Share – fraudulent use by cybersquatter

Just to warn everyone – my site is, not  I used to hold the latter domain name, but I let it lapse last year.

Now I discover that some sleazeball has registered the address for a year (carefully concealing his name), created a website on that address, in blog format, and, two days ago, filled it with content from my site.  The intention, obviously, is to mislead the public; but, I imagine, the real aim is found on the “contact” page here, which is not quite like mine, and reads:

We would love to hear from you. Please contact us with any questions or concerns that you might have.

Our customer service team delights in responding and will reach out to you very quickly.

“Concerns”?  “Our customer service team”?  Oh yes?

It is telling that the author posted a comment on this blog with a link, by way of letting me know about his efforts.

In other words, the person responsible expects me to write and complain, and will then demand money to push off.  They will be disappointed, I might add, if they hope to get money out of me.

There is a name, “Jeena Hony”, but I don’t suppose this means anything.

Why did I let the registration lapse?  Well, it was an annual expense, and I am getting older, and my pennies will get fewer.  It was only used right at the start of my career online, before I got, and after I found a cybersquatter had registered  I naively thought that someone might pick it up for genuine purposes.  It had not occurred to me that trying to extort money might follow.

It’s a bit sad, rather sick, and a sign of what the internet has become these days.  There’s no good reason why domain registrations should cost anything.  It’s merely a scam.  Worse yet if you are thereby committed for life.

Anyway, steer clear of


Josephus in the hands of Sir Roger L’Estrange

Sir Roger L’Estrange is probably mainly remembered today for his activities as a journalist and violent pamphleteer for the court during the reign of Charles II.[1]  As with others of Charles’ partisans, there was a strong element of ingratitude in all this.  L’Estrange had fought for Charles I in the civil war, but had received a pardon in 1653 from Oliver Cromwell, after which he had prospered under the commonwealth.  He was made surveyor of the press by the king in 1662, although the king did not see any reason to pay him a salary.

But how many of us are aware that this controversial figure was also a translator, and produced a translation of the works of Josephus?

A contemporary portrait of Sir Roger L’Estrange.

Yet so it is; the work appeared in 1702.  Even more interestingly, he became involved in a copyright dispute because of it!

The facts may be found in an old article by A.W. Pollard, “Copyright in Josephus”, in The Library 30 (1917), p.173-6.  Curiously Oxford University Press modestly ask for $44 in return for 24 hours access to this 101-year old item, here.

In 1609 a certain Thomas Lodge, “Doctor of Physick”, produced a translation  of The famous and memorable works of Josephus, based on the Latin and French.  This went through a number of editions, and a new edition appeared in 1676, revised against the French translation of Arnauld d’Andilly.

In 1693 a bookseller named Richard Sare advertised a new translation, by none other than Sir Roger L’Estrange.  On the 3rd April a bill appeared, signed by a number of booksellers, threatening legal action!

it being the Resolution of the Proprietors of the present English Copy, to use all lawful Means to vindicate their Right, and recover Satisfaction for the Damages they shall sustain by this New Undertaking; they and their Predecessors having been in just and quiet Possession of the same for near One Hundred Years, and having expended above Eight Hundred Pounds in amending their Translation by a Learned and Ingenious Hand, and in Printing a large Impression newly finish’d, now upon their hands.

Sare issued his own bill the next day, stating his intention to go on with it and disparaging the Lodge translation as “senseless”.

The new edition of Lodge did really exist, and really did appear in 1693, printed by Abel Roper, one of the signatories of the first bill.

The L’Estrange translation did not appear until nine years later, with the preface dated 28th January 1702, only a couple of years before L’Estrange’s death.  By that time the Glorious Revolution of William and Mary had come and gone.  The translator must have seemed like a ghostly figure from another age, as of course he was.

Pollard attributes the delay to bribery.  He points out that the owners of the Lodge translation had already made a substantial investment, even in their own terms, and paying off Sare or L’Estrange would have been worthwhile.  The claim to perpetual copyright in the translation is in keeping with the strange ideas of that age, and indeed was recognised by the old Common Law.  This somewhat vague right was reinforced, as was thought, by an Act of Queen Anne in 1710, giving copyright of 21 years exclusively to the publisher.

But what happened when the Queen Anne act expired?  There was a lawsuit, of course.  The essayist Augustine Birrell in “Authors in Court”[2], whom it is always a pleasure to read, recounts the matter.

These proceedings found their way, as all decent proceedings do, to the House of Lords — farther than which you cannot go, though ever so minded. It was now high time to settle this question, and their lordships accordingly, as was their proud practice in great cases, summoned the judges of the land before their bar, and put to them five carefully-worded questions, all going to the points — what was the old Common Law right, and has it survived the statute? Eleven judges attended, heard the questions, bowed and retired to consider their answers.  On the fifteenth of February, 1774, they reappeared, and it being announced that they differed, instead of being locked up without meat, drink, or firing until they agreed, they were requested to deliver their opinions with their reasons, which they straightway proceeded to do. The result may be stated with tolerable accuracy thus : by ten to one they were of opinion that the old Common Law recognised perpetual copyright. By six to five they were of opinion that the statute of Queen Anne had destroyed this right. The House of Lords adopted the opinion of the majority, reversed the decree of the Court below, and thus Thomson’s Seasonsbecame your Seasons, my Seasons, anybody’s Seasons.

Big money rested on all this.  Thomson the poet had sold his right for three of the Seasons to a certain Millar for a £242.  When Millar died in 1729, after selling the work for more than 40 years, his heirs sold the Seasons to a certain Beckett for £505.  Beckett himself sold the item also for more than 40 years.

All the same, claiming copyright on any English translation of an ancient author required quite a bit of impudence.

What did Sir Roger L’Estrange get for his translation?  For his folio volume of 1,130 pages, he received £300, plus a sixth part of the gross sales, plus 25 ordinary copies and 25 on royal paper.  The ordinary copies were priced at 25s, and the royal paper copies at  45s.  The edition was obviously a success, for a new edition in three volumes was accidentally destroyed in 1712 by a fire in the printer’s office.  There seem to have been reprints well into the 19th century.

I have not been able to locate a copy of L’Estrange’s work online.  It wouldn’t meet modern standards, I am sure.  But the tale is an interesting corner of the history of literature.

  1. [1]A short biography is here.
  2. [2]Res Judicatae, 1892, p.187, here.

Ps.Chrysostom, De Susanna Sermo – Coptic version translated by Anthony Alcock

Anthony Alcock continues to turn Coptic texts into English.  His latest contribution to us all is a translation of the Coptic version of pseudo-Chrysostom, De Susanna Sermo, a homily on the apocryphal book of Susanna:

For comparison, a draft translation of the original Greek text (PG 56: 589-594, CPG 4567) by “K.P.” is online at Academic here.

Both are useful.  Thank you!


From my diary

The coughs and colds and tummy bugs of winter have arrived, and I’ve had other things on my mind for the last three weeks.  But there are a few updates.

I’ve been updating my Mithras site with a few extra photographs found online.  Every so often I see one, sometimes on Twitter, and track down the origins of it.  The collection of labelled photographs on my siteis indeed proving useful, I discover, as I hoped; some books on Google Books are including it in their bibliography.

Some more pages of the Vita Compilata of Nicholas of Myra have arrived from the translator, but there’s a long way to go as yet.  The translator is a monk, with no mains power, so this naturally limits what he can do.  But it will be good to have this work in English.

Anthony Alcock has emailed me another translation from Coptic this evening – thank you – which I will upload tomorrow (I think).  It is very good that he is working away on this, and making the first widely available translations from Coptic.

I must get back to work on translating Eutychius.  Sadly my Saturdays are being called on for other purposes at the moment.


Update on my book, Origen’s Homilies on Ezekiel

Long term readers may remember that, back in 2014, my company published a rather splendid item in book form, Mischa Hooker’s marvellous translation of Origen’s Homilies on Ezekiel, including the catena fragments, with facing Greek text; some 700+ pages of it.  This was the second volume in the Ancient Texts in Translation series, from Chieftain Publishing.  The hardback was very splendid; and the paperback is a solid item too.

Hard sell:  The book is available still on in hardback ($80) and paperback ($45); and in hardback (£50) and paperback (£30).  Amazon don’t keep a lot of stock, naturally, but you can order any of these as all are in print.  Lead time is probably about a week when out of stock.  Please get your university library to buy it!

The idea behind creating paper books was always to sell enough copies to justify commissioning more academic translations, ideally to university libraries.  Once sales dried up, the book would be released onto the web in the public domain.  This was (and is still) always the intention.

It’s interesting to find that the book is turning out to be something of a slow burner.  Initial sales were not impressive.  Originally no English translation existed of these homilies.  But during the project, the excellent Thomas P. Scheck released one in the well-known Ancient Christian Writers series; and this naturally stole our thunder somewhat.  However he only included a translation of the 14 homilies from Latin, without the original language or the fragments.  Dr Hooker did take account of the Scheck version, which appeared when ours was almost complete.

But I find that the book has continued to sell!  In fact I was surprised to find that it made enough money last year, after three years, to justify keeping it in print for another year.  This was unexpected.

Today I learn that a new review of it has appeared, by Peter W. Martens, in the Society for Biblical Literature’s journal, the Review of Biblical Literature, and published 3rd Jan. 2018.  The review is accessible to SBL members here.

In fact this is the third review that has appeared (to my knowledge), the others being by:

  • Angela R. Christman, in: Journal of Theological Studies 68 (2017), 351-3 (see abstract).
  • L. Vianès, in: Revue de philologie, de littérature et d’histoire anciennes 88 (2014), 180-2.

I must confess to being encouraged by these.  With luck they will result in further sales.  The more copies that sell, the more I might feel inclined to do it again.  I do not believe that the Origen volume will ever recover the investment of money and time that I put into it (to say nothing of others); but if it comes anywhere near doing so, then that is all money to put into further projects.

But I still intend to release the results online.  I nearly did so this Christmas.  Maybe at the end of the year.