The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 4

Chapter four is also derived from the Arabic bible.

1.  Then the priest ‘Ālī governed the people for twenty years.  The temple was located in Shīlūm (1).  The priest ‘Ālī had two sons.  The first was called Hufni and the second Finhās.  In his time there lived a prophet of ar-Rāmayyayn (2) named Hilqānā, son of Yārūhām, of the tribe of Levi (3).  The prophet Hilqānā had two wives: one was called Hanna, and was sterile, and the other Hanānā (4), who had children.  Hanna used to go to the temple in Shīlūn to invoke God and ask him to give her a child.  She had made a vow to God that she would put him at the service of the temple.  She conceived and bore Samū’il, the prophet.  When Samū’il was three years old, his father Hilqānā and his mother Hanna took him to the temple in Shīlūn, where they offered sacrifices to God and entrusted their son Samū’il to the priest ‘Ālī.  So Samū’īl began to serve in the temple.  The foreign tribes gathered to fight against the children of Israel and killed four thousand men in war.  Then the leaders of the sons of Israel said:  “Let us take the Ark of the Covenant from Shīlūn and keep it among us when we fight for God, to deliver us through it from the hands of our enemies” (5).  So they took the ark from Shīlūn and placed the two sons of ‘Ālī, Hufni and Finhās near them. The foreign tribes came out against them and beat them and killed thirty thousand Israelites.  Whoever managed to escape fled.  The two sons of ‘Ālī, Hufni and Finhās were also killed.  The foreign tribes seized the ark and took it from Yazdūd to Ghazza (6), placing it in the temple of the idol Dā‘ūn.  The priest ‘Ālī was sitting at the temple door in Shīlūn, when a man entered who had taken part in the defeat, with a dirty face and tattered clothes. The priest Ālī said to him: “What happened to you?”  He replied: “The sons of Israel have been defeated. They made a great slaughter, even your children were killed and the ark was taken” (7).  On hearing that the ark had been taken, the priest ‘Ālī fell face down and died instantly, at the age of ninety (8).  The next day the inhabitants of Ghazza poured into the temple of Dā‘ūn to see the ark, but they found the idol Dā‘ūn with his face to the ground, at the foot of the ark.  Death fell on the city of Ghazza, the inhabitants were hit by dysentery and their territory filled with flies and geckos (9). The ark stayed with them for four months.  In another text it is said: for seven months.  Eventually the inhabitants of Ghazza said: “Clearly if we were struck by the dysentery and the plague of these flies and geckos it was because of this ark.  Let’s carry it away if we do not want to die”.  But some said: “Let’s see if it is precisely for this reason.  Let us take two bulls that have never ploughed, attach them to a new cart and place the ark on top of it, placing a chest near it with images of the flies and geckos (10) of gold and silver, gift of every village, of Ghazza, of ‘Asqalān, of Rafakh, of Yazdūd and of ‘Aqrūn (11). If the bulls go to the land of the sons of Israel, we will get rid of the ark and we will know that this dysentery, flies and geckos are here because of the ark.  But if they do not go in the direction of the land of the sons of Israel, we will know that all this is a phenomenon of the alteration of the air and of the pestilence” (12).  They did as they said.  But the two bulls made their way to the land of the sons of Israel, and that was how they found peace from the dysentery that had struck them, and the geckos and flies left them.  When the two bulls arrived at Bayt Shams (13), the inhabitants were busy at the harvest in the camp of Usiyā  (14).  They took the ark, tore the chariot to pieces and sacrificed the two bullocks, hastening them to God as a sacrifice.  Then they took the casket with pictures of flies and geckos of gold and silver. The ark was taken to the village known to the inhabitants under the name of Qaryat al-Inab (15), and to the home of Abinādāb, father of Ghazā (16) and hidden in a place called “al-Ğab’ā “, i.e. the stronghold.  There were chosen as custodians of the Ark Ghazā and Ahnū (17).

3. After the death of the priest ‘Ālī, the prophet Samuel ruled the people for twenty years. The children of Israel abandoned the worship of idols and began to worship God.  The foreign tribes were afraid of them.  The sons of Israel took back from the foreign tribes all the cities they had occupied, from ‘Aqrūn to Rafakh.  The prophet Samuel had two sons: the elder was called Yū’il and the younger Abiyyā.  They ruled the people in peace and quiet at Bi’r Sab‘a (18).  When the prophet Samuel became old, some of the Israelites went to him, to ar-Rāma, and told him: “Give us a king to reign over us like all the other peoples have.” The prophet Samuel answered them: “If you make a king, he will take your possessions for himself, and he will take tithes of all that you possess” (19).  They answered him: “That is acceptable”. Then the prophet Samuel told them: “I know a man from the tribe of Beniamin, named Qīsh, son of Anī’īl (20), who has a son named Shāwl (21), handsome, tall and brave. I will make him your king “.  Qish, Saul’s father, [found that] some donkeys were lost. Qīsh said to his son Saul: “Take your servant with you and go and look for the donkeys”. Saul went out from village to village looking for the donkeys.  The servant told him: “Let us go to the village of the prophet Samuel and he will show us the place where the donkeys are” (22).  Then they went to the prophet Samuel, who gave them food and drink.  Then he took a horn full of oil, poured it on Saul’s head and anointed him saying: “Today God makes you king of the children of Israel.  You will have a sign in the fact that you will go to your father and find the donkeys are with him” (23).  And it happened as the prophet Samuel had said.

4. Saul was the first to reign over the sons of Israel.  The men of the city of Yābīn (24) and of the city of Gala’ad went over to Māhash (25) the Ammonite because they were not satisfied with King Saul.  Māhash went out with many men to fight Saul.  But Saul won, and he made a great slaughter of the Ammonites.  Then the prophet Samuel took with him Saul and a group of elders of the sons of Israel and went with them to Galğāl (26).  He took a horn full of oil and anointed Saul a second time in Galğal before those gathered there.  The people were pleased with the choice of Saul and offered many sacrifices to God. Saul chose three thousand Israelites to stay with him.  Saul had a son named Yūnāthān (27).  Gionata, son of Saul, took a thousand of his father’s men and fought against Nāsīm (28) who was in Yūnawā (29) and killed him along with a great multitude of the foreign tribes.  When the foreign tribes learned what Jonathan had done, they gathered thirty thousand foot soldiers and six thousand horsemen (30) and went out to fight against the sons of Israel in Galğal.  The children of Israel were overwhelmed by fear and escaped into the mountains, through the valleys and into the desert.  Saul was in Galğāl.  Gionata then took with him a group of Israelites, went out against the soldiers of the foreign tribes and defeated them, making a great slaughter.  When he heard about it, Saul attacked the soldiers of the foreign tribes by surprise and killed them, and none were saved.  Then the prophet Samuel said to King Saul: “Go to the city of the Amalekites, destroy it and fire it, killing all those who are there, men, women, children and animals” (31). Saul took with him four thousand infantrymen of Galğal and thirty thousand Israelites of the tribe of Judah (32) and set off against the Amalekites.  He killed all the Amalekites from the city of Hayūlā to the city of Sur (33) and captured Aghāğ, king of the Amalekites alive. But he did not destroy their farms and their vineyards, nor did he kill any of their animals; on the contrary, his men looted their flocks, their cattle and their pack animals. When [Saul] returned from the war to Galğāl, the prophet Samuel told him: “Did I not order you to kill their flocks, their cattle, their pack animals and destroy their land?  Since you have not done so, I will anoint another man as king of the sons of Israel “(34). Then the prophet Samuel took Aghağ, king of the Amalekites, and had him killed. Then he returned to ar-Rāma and Saul returned to his home, al-Gab‘a (35).

5. A few days later Samuel went to Bethlehem, took Dāwud (36), son of Yassà, and anointed him with the oil as king of the sons of Israel.  David was still young.  Later the foreign tribes reunited to fight against Saul.  Saul went out to face them with his men. David’s brothers were fighting alongside Saul.  Yassà took his son David, provided him with food and sent him to his brothers at the war.  David reached his brothers in the middle of the war and saw a man of the foreign tribes, named Gulyāt (37), who shouted: “Sons of Israel, is there no one to come forward?”(38).  David told his brothers: “I will kill that man” (39).  The brothers scolded him.  But King Saul heard about it, called David, gave him a shield and a sword and ordered him to face Goliath.  When he was on the front line, David got rid of the shield and the weapons, throwing the sword away and took a sling that he always carried with him, put a stone on it and threw it, striking Goliath’s forehead.  Goliath collapsed on the ground.  David took the sword and finished him off.  The soldiers of the foreign tribes therefore fled and were massacred.  Saul named David the head of a thousand leaders (40).

6. Saul sent David to fight against the foreign tribes a second time.  David went out and killed a hundred men and cut off their foreskins and sent them to Saul.  Saul gave his daughter Milhūl to him as wife (41).  And those foreskins were her dowry.  Every time Saul sent David to fight he won and conquered [the city].  Seeing this, Saul feared he could take the throne away from him.  He was therefore very afraid of David and thought to kill him.  But David fled and four hundred men joined him (42).  The prophet Samuel died and was buried in his house, in ar-Rāmah.  Saul went out once again to fight against the foreign tribes, but he was defeated and was left wounded on the field.  He then said to his armour-bearer: “Kill me, so that the enemy do not take me alive” (43).  But the servant refused to do so.  Then Saul took the sword and killed himself.  Seeing this, the servant also gave himself death.  In that battle a great slaughter of the sons of Israel was made and among them were killed Gionata, Abīnādām and Malhīsh, the sons of Saul (44).  The next morning the tribes sought out the dead, took the head of Saul and those of his sons, and sent them to their country, hanging their bodies on the fortified tower of Baniyas (45).  Learning of this in his country (46), they took the bodies and buried them in Baniyas (47).  David was in Siqlā` (48).  A man with a smeared face and tattered clothes showed up.  David told him: “What news do you bring?” He replied: “Saul and his sons Gionata, Abinādam and Malhish were killed in the war.  And it was I who killed them” (49).  David and his men tore their clothes and for three days (50) remained without eating bread, because of the sadness felt for the fate of Saul and the sons of Israel who had died with him.  Then David called the man who had brought him the news and had him killed, to punish him for having himself confessed to having killed them.  Saul had reigned for twenty years.


Leave a Reply