The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 1 (part 8)

We now reach the days of Abraham, Jacob, and Joseph.  And … this is the very last chunk of Eutychius!  We’ve now read through the lot.  What now remains is to gather all the pieces together, revise them, add whatever notes seem appropriate, and make it available online.

16. Abraham was seventy-five years old when God commanded him to leave Harrān, the land of his father, and to live in the land of Kan‘ān, i.e. Syria.  Abraham took with him his wife Sarah, who was his sister on his father’s side, because Tārih, father of Abraham, after Yūnā (81), the mother of Abraham, died, married another woman named Tuhwayt, who gave him Sarah, whom Abraham then married. Therefore Abraham used to say: “She is my sister, my father’s daughter, but she is not my mother’s daughter” (82).  He also took with him Lūt, son of his brother, and left for the land of “al-Manāriyyīh al-‘ Amūriyyah “. (= Amorites).  Here everyone was against him and they took Lūt captive.  Abraham followed their tracks and freed Lūt from their hands.

When he returned, he crossed the Jebusite mountains and met Malshīsādāq, called the king of peace, a priest of God Most High.  When Abraham saw him from afar, he fell upon his feet, embraced him and kissed him, asking him to bless him.  Malshīsādāq blessed him and offered him bread and wine.  Abraham gave Malshīsādāq a tithe of all he had.  God then revealed to Abraham, “From now on you will be greater, because I will bless you and multiply your seed.” When the kings knew of this, and heard of Malshīsādāq they came to him.  Among them were Abīmālikh, king of Ğadar, Marqāl, king of Zaghar, Aryūsh, king of Zidstar, Gardā`umir, king of ‘Ilān, Targhalī, king of Zaghlāy, Bā‘āz, king of Ghīlāth, Yā‘iz , king of Sadūm, Birshā`, king of ‘Āmūrā, Sibāth, king of Adūm, Banbū, king of Dimashq, Baqtar, king of ar-Rabba, and Sim`ān, king of the Amūriyyīn.  These twelve kings went to Malshīsādāq, called the king of peace, and when they saw him and heard his words, they asked him to go with them, but he replied, “I can’t leave this place.”  Then they consulted and decided to build him a city, saying, “Verily, this is the king of all the earth and the father of all kings.”  So they built a city for him and put him there as king.  Malshīsādāq called that city Ūrashalīm.  When Mākhūl, king of at-Tayman, heard of King Malshīsādāq, he went to see him and gave him much money.  Malshīsādāq was honoured by all the kings and they called him the father of kings (83).

As for those who say that the days of Malshīsādāq had no beginning nor that his life has ever ended, bringing as an argument what the apostle Paul says in the passage, “Of whose days there was no beginning, nor an end to his life” (84), well they show that they have not understood the meaning of the apostle Paul’s affirmation, because of Sām, son of Noah, when he took with him Malshīsādāq, taking him away from his parents, it was not written in the [holy] book how old he was when he left the east or how many years old when he died.  [It was only written that] Malshīsādāq is the son of Fāliq, son of ‘Àbir, son of Shālakh, son of Qīnān, son of Arfakhshād, son of Sām, son of Noah, but none of these his ancestors was called his father.  In fact, the apostle Paul says, “No other man of his lineage served in the Temple” (85), nor did they ever attribute him a father among the tribes.  In fact the evangelists Matthew and Luke wrote only of the founders of the tribes.  This is why the apostle Paul wrote neither the name of his father nor that of his mother.  And yet the apostle Paul does not expressly say that he had no father, but that they did not write him in the genealogies of the tribes.

Abraham was fifty-one years old when Sārūgh died in the month of Adhār, or Baramhāt (86), at the age of three hundred and thirty years (87). In the days of Abraham the people of Lut, son of Aran, brother of Abraham, indulged in vice in the cities of Sadūm and ‘Amūrā (88). God destroyed them and saved Lūt.  Sarah, Abraham’s wife, was barren and could not bear children.  Abraham was very rich.  Sāra diede ad Abramo una sua serva di nome Hāğar.  Hagar conceived by Abraham and bore him a son whom Abraham called Isma‘īl (89). Abraham was eighty-six years old.  At the age of ninety-nine, Abraham was circumcised and also circumcised his son Ishmael, who was then thirteen years old.  Abraham had already turned 100 when Sārah, his wife, bore him a son whom Abraham called Ishāq (90).  Sārah was ninety years old.  On the eighth day after his birth, Isaac was circumcised.  After giving birth to Isaac, Sārah said to Abraham, “Send Hāğar and her son Ishmael away from me” (91).  Abraham gave his son Ishmael money and provisions and sent him, along with his mother, to the land of Yatrib (92) and Yemen (93).  Ishmael established his home there, married there, and reproduced and lived in all for one hundred and thirty-seven years.

17. In the days of Abraham there was, in the East, a king named Kūrish, that is the founder of Sumaysāt, of Qlūdiyā and of al-`Irāq (94).  Also in his time, there reigned Khābīt (94), wife of Sīn, a priest of the mountain; he built Nissībīn and ar-Ruhā (96) encircling them with a wall, and he also built a great temple in Harrān. Then he had a golden idol made in the name of Sīn, had it placed in the center of the temple and ordered all the inhabitants of Harrān to worship it.  The inhabitants of Harrān worshipped it for fifty years.  After this, Ba`alsamīn, king of al-`Irāq, fell madly in love with Talbīn, wife of Thamūr, king of Mosul, who escaped from him by setting fire to Harrān and burning it down, together with the temple and the idol ( 97).  Abraham was fifty-nine years old when Nākhūr died in the month of Tammūz, or Abīb (98), at the age of two hundred and eight (99).

18. Abraham was fifty-seven years old when God commanded him to kill his son Isaac and offer him as a sacrifice on the fire.  Isaac was then thirty-seven years old.  If someone were to ask what is the proof that Isaac was thirty-seven when his father set about sacrificing him, he will be answered, “Sārah had given birth to him at the age of ninety.  Now when she heard that Abraham had taken her son Isaac and had taken him to the mountain to sacrifice him, she felt intense pain and fell ill, for the pain she had suffered, until she died.  She was then a hundred and twenty-seven years old.  Isaac, therefore, had to have been, at that time, thirty-seven years old”.  So Abraham took his son Isaac and carried him to the mountain, bringing with him wood and fire.  Abraham tied his son Isaac’s hands behind his back, sat him down on the wood and then had him stretch out in order to sacrifice him.  But an angel from heaven called to him and said to him, “O Abraham, do not sacrifice your son.  We have tested your resignation and your obedience, we have scrutinized your soul and we have spared him, moved to compassion towards you “(100).  God then ordered him to sacrifice a large ram instead of Isaac.  When Sārah heard that Abraham had taken Isaac and led him to the mountain to sacrifice him, she cried out and raised loud laments and for the intense pain and sorrow she felt, she fell ill and died that same year.  She had lived in all one hundred and twenty-seven years (101).  After Sārah’s death, Abraham married a woman named Qītūra, daughter of Biqtar, king of ar-Rabba, and had many children (102).  Abraham supplied them with provisions and sent them away, far away from Isaac.  Abraham lived all one hundred and seventy-five years.

Isaac was thirty-five years old when Tārikh died in the month of Aylūl, or Tūt, (103) at the age of two hundred and five years and he was buried in Harrān (104).  At the age of forty Isaac married a woman named Ribqa (105), daughter of Mānū’il, son of Nākhūr, brother of Abraham (106).  Isaac was sixty years old when his wife Rebecca conceived.  Her pregnancy was difficult and painful (107).  She therefore went to Malshīsādāq, who prayed for her and said to her, “In your womb there are two peoples: you will give birth to two tribes and the older will obey the younger.” (108).  Rebecca gave birth to two sons in one birth.  Isaac called the first al-‘Is and the second Ya‘qūb (109).  He called him Jacob because he had come out of his mother’s womb clinging to Esau’s heel.  Isaac loved Esau and Rebecca Jacob.  Esau was stocky, hairy and always smelled bad.  When he grew old, Isaac called his son Esau and said to him, “Take your weapons, go to the desert and bring me game.  Prepare me a good meal so that that I may eat it and bless you, before I die.” (110).

Rebecca heard this, took Jacob, made him wear Esau’s clothes, then took some kidskin and placed it on his chest, on his shoulders and along Jacob’s arms.  Then she prepared a good dish and said: “Go, go to your father Isaac and tell him: ‘I am Esau’, so that he blesses you before he dies.” (111). Jacob went to Isaac and he said to him, “Come closer”. He approached, Isaac felt and said, “Certainly the voice is that of Jacob, but the touch is that of Esau” (112).  Then Isaac ate ​​and blessed Jacob, making him head over his brother.  Then Esau came, returning from the hunt, prepared the food and took it to his father Isaac.  But his father said to him, “Who came before you and took the blessing?” Esau burst into tears and said, “My Father, do you really have only one blessing?” Isaac replied, “By now I have made him your chief. What can I do for you?” (113).  Esau approached him and Isaac blessed him, after having made Jacob his chief.  Esau then decided to kill Jacob, but Jacob fled away from his brother, sheltering in Harrān with his uncle Lābān.  At the time of Isaac, Arīhā was built (114).  Seven kings built it and each surrounded it with a wall.  Isaac was seventy-five years old when Abraham died in the month of Nīsān, or Barmūdah (115), (in another text it says: in the month of Adhār, or Baramhāt) (116), at the age of one hundred and seventy-five (117).  Isaac was one hundred and twenty-three years old when Ishmael died in the month of Nīsān, or Barmūdah (118), at the age of one hundred and thirty-seven (119).  Isaac lived in all one hundred and eighty years (120).  Esau married, at the age of 40, one of the daughters of his uncle Ishmael, named Nahlāt (121), who bore him many children.  Then he married a Canaanite named Ghadā, daughter of Alūn, the Hittite (122).  He then married other women, among them from Rum, and spread himself among them.  He had an innumerable progeny; including the Amalekites and the Qurri (123).  Esau lived in all one hundred and twenty-nine years.

19. Jacob joined his Uncle Lābān in Harrān.  His uncle had two daughters: the older one was called Liyyā, who had bleary eyes, and the younger Rāhīl (124).  Jacob fell in love with Rachel and asked his uncle to marry her who told him, “Serve me for seven years, and I will give you Rachel in marriage.” (125).  He served him for seven years, but instead he sent Liyyā, Rachel’s sister, to him.  The next day Jacob told his uncle, “I served you for seven years just because you would give me Rachel as a wife.  Why, then, did you bring in her sister Liyyā to me?” (126).  Uncle Lābān answered him, “Serve me for another seven years, and I will marry you to Rachel” (127).  He then served him for another seven years, and he gave him Rachel as his wife.  Thus Jacob married the two sisters.  Liyyā bore him Ruben (128), Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issakar, and Zàbulon.  Rachel had no children.  Then she said to Jacob, “Take my slave Bilhā to conceive by you and I will have a son.” (129).  Bilhā, Rachel’s slave, gave birth to two sons by Jacob: Dān and Nifthālīm.  Liyyā then said to Jacob: “Take my servant Zilfa also, so that she may conceive of you and with my children I will have other children” (130).  Zilpha, servant of Liyya, gave birth to two sons by Jacob, ‘Ad (131) and Ashir.  Later, Rachel also conceived and gave birth to Yūsuf and Binyāmīn (132).  From these twelve sons of Jacob all the sons of Israel are descended.  Jacob then returned to the land of Kan’ān and God called Jacob Isrā’il.  Jacob was eighty-seven years old when Liyyā gave birth to Levi, his third child.  Levi’s date of birth was written down, unlike that of his other brothers, because Moses is from the lineage of Levi.  Jacob loved Joseph intensely and preferred him to his brothers.  That was why his brothers envied him and decided to kill him.  While they were grazing their sheep and their camels, they passed a caravan of Midianite merchants, Arabs of the lineage of Ishmael, who carried pine nuts, terebinth and oil headed for Egypt.  Joseph’s brothers took him and sold him for twenty dinars (133).  Joseph was seventeen.  So they took Joseph’s shirt, sprinkled the sleeves with blood and told Jacob, “A wolf has devoured Joseph.” (134).  When the merchants came with Joseph to Egypt, a servant of the Pharaoh, who was the head chef (135), bought Joseph.  His wife desired him and sent for him, but he did not bend to her wishes.  Then she spoke ill of him of her husband, saying, “This Jewish slave tried to seduce me.”  He then had him locked up in prison.

Jacob was one hundred and twenty years old when Isaac died in the month of Ayyār, or Bashans (136), at the age of one hundred and eighty, and he was one hundred and twenty when Esau died in the month of Tishrīn al-Awwal, or Bābih (137), aged one hundred and twenty-nine years old.

20. Pharaoh had the chief baker put in jail and the chief cupbearer together with Joseph.  The chief cupbearer dreamed that he was holding a bunch of grapes that he pressed and gave a drink to Pharaoh.  Joseph said to him, “It will happen just like you saw in the dream. Then remember me when you are near your lord.” (138).  The head of the bakers saw in a dream that he had on his head a tray full of bread from which the birds fed.  Joseph said to him, “You will be crucified and the birds will feed on your flesh.” (139).  Joseph’s words came true.  In fact, the pharaoh had a dream and the chief cupbearer told him, “There is a young Jew in prison who is very adept at interpreting dreams.”  Pharaoh sent for Joseph and said to him: “I saw seven fat cows come out of the sea followed by seven lean cows. The seven lean cows swallowed the seven fat cows.  I then saw seven fat ears of corn grow out of the ground followed by seven empty and dry ears.  The seven empty ears have swallowed the seven full ears.” Joseph said to him, “Your reign will be flourishing for seven years and for another seven years there will be drought and great famine.” (140).  Pharaoh then created Joseph the supreme administrator of his kingdom and gave him his ring. In the seven years of prosperity, Joseph amassed so much grain to fill countless barns.

21. Joseph was thirty years old when he married a woman named Asīnāt (141), daughter of the priest of the city of ‘Ayn Shams (142), who gave him two sons.  Joseph called the first Manasseh, who was his firstborn, and called the other Ifrām.  In the place called Minf (143), Joseph built a hydrometer to measure the increase in water from the Nile in Egypt; he had the canal called al-Manha (144) dug, and he built Hagar al-Làhūn (145).  At forty years old Levi, son of Jacob, had Qāhāt, in the territory of Kan’ān, three years before they entered Egypt.  At that time there was great famine in Egypt and in Syria.  The Egyptians bought grain from Joseph until they were left without a dìnàr or a dirham.  They therefore bought more grain by selling their property, their animals and their homes.  And when they had nothing left, they said to Joseph, “Let us sell ourselves to pharaoh and declare ourselves his slaves, but give us grain to eat and sow.” (146).  Thus Joseph bought for the pharaoh the people of the Egyptians, giving them grain to eat and to sow in exchange and making them pay the tithes of their crops, a custom that is still in force today.  Thus it was that the Egyptians became slaves of the pharaoh.  In his days lived Job the just man (147), or Ayyūb, son of Amūs, son of Zārākh, son of Rāghū’īl, son of Esau, son of Isaac, son of Abraham, son of Abraham.  He was very rich, and God put him to the test.  However, he gave thanks and endured with a docile spirit, and God withdrew the test from him and returned his goods.

22. A severe famine struck Syria.  Jacob then said to his sons,  “Go to Egypt and buy grain.” (148)  Joseph’s brothers went to Egypt.  When Joseph saw them, he recognized them.  But they did not recognize him.  Benjamin, his twin brother, was not with them.  Joseph said to them, “Who are you? Where do you come from, and what do you want?”. They replied, “We are the sons of Jacob. We were twelve, but a wolf devoured one, whose twin brother has remained with his father.  Our father is very old and weeps for the son devoured by the wolf day and night”.  Joseph said to them:  “You are nothing but spies.”  But they swore and Joseph said, “If you tell the truth and you are not spies, leave one of you here and return to your father bringing me your younger brother, the one whose brother the wolf has devoured, to let us know if you are telling the truth.”  They left with him Simeon, and Joseph ordered that their saddlebags be filled with grain, putting in every bag some silver that belonged to his lord.  When they came to Jacob, they informed him of what had happened and each found the silver in his bag.  They then returned to Egypt to buy grain, taking with them the silver and some goods.  They also brought Benjamin, Joseph’s twin brother.  When Joseph saw him, he ordered them to be treated with all respect and he felt great tenderness and emotion for them.  Their saddlebags were filled with wheat and he ordered once again to put in each one of them the silver of his master, while in that of Benjamin he had put a golden cup that belonged to the pharaoh.  When they had left Joseph and were headed to Syria, Joseph’s servants joined them and told them:  “[Our] lord has treated you with every respect, but you have behaved in the worst way by stealing the king’s gold cup.”  They replied, “Take also the one with whom you find it, and let him be the slave of your king.” They searched in their saddlebags and found the cup in the bag of Benjamin.  The servants then took Benjamin and took him to Joseph.  The brothers came back with him and told Joseph:  “Our Lord, our father is very old.  The brother of this young man was devoured by a wolf, as we have already told you, and his father still mourns him to this day.  If you keep him with you, we will not be able to return to our father, because if he is not with us his father will die from the pain.  Leave him free, so that he may return to his father, and take as your slave whichever of us seems good to you”.  Joseph answered them,  “God forbid we take anyone but the one in whose bag we found the cup”.  Then Joseph took pity on them and said, “I am Joseph, your brother.  Do not grieve or fear”.  Joseph then went to Jacob with tents and chariots and took him, along with all his descendants, to Egypt out of the land of Canaan (149). Jacob entered Egypt in the second year of the famine (in another text it is said: in the third), together with his sons and the children of his sons, without counting the women of his sons not born of his loins, with Joseph and his two sons: there were seventy people in all.  Jacob was then a hundred and thirty years old.  He remained in Egypt seventeen years.  Levi was sixty years old when Jacob died in Egypt.  Joseph and all his sons took him to the land of Canaan and buried him there with his father Isaac. Jacob lived in all forty-seven years.

23. In Egypt Qāhāt had, at sixty years old, ‘Imrān (150).  Qāhāt was fifteen years old when Joseph died.  His brothers laid him in a coffin and buried him in Egypt.  He was one hundred and ten years old.  It is said that Joseph’s body was placed in a marble coffin and thrown into the Nile (151).  ‘Imrān was seventy-three years old when Maryam was born to him, he had completed seventy-seven years when he had Harūn and after the eightieth year Moses was born to him – on him be peace.  ‘Imrān lived in all one hundred and thirty-six years.  He was thirty-seven years old when Levi died, at the age of one hundred and thirty-seven, and when he was seventy-six Qāhāt died, at the age of one hundred and twenty-seven.

8 thoughts on “The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 1 (part 8)

  1. It reads “Kan‘ān, i.e. Syria”. Is the i.e. Syria in Eutychius (أي سوريا or something), or is it comment, Roger?

  2. I am looking forward to the final version.
    It will be very useful addition to the literature base. Keep up the excellent work. Your web site is the go to page for any one interested in patristics.

  3. @Diego – yes! Started 21 Nov 2014 and got to the end yesterday. I now need to collect the bits, revise it, etc. But still … it’s all done except for 17 chapters intruded into part 14 which are entirely theological and consist of an attack on Nestorianism. Not sure I’ll bother with that.

  4. I think those sections on Nestorianism might be very valuable for the insight they may give to intramural disputes in Christianity at this time. As you know it’s often hard to get information on Nestorianism and perhaps Eutychius can help in that regard. Great work!

  5. The main problem is that I might not be able to understand the point being made in English, never mind in Italian!

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