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.

The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 5 – part 4 and final

Let’s return to the “Annals” of Sa`id ibn Bitriq, Melkite Patriarch of Alexandria in the 10th century.  I’m reading the Italian translation using Google Translate, and thereby producing an English translation – the only one that exists.  The material in chapter 5 is mainly derived from the Arabic bible, so is of limited historical interest.  The variations from our own version, however, are entertaining.  Judging by the erratic use of [] in the text, the proof-readers found this really dull too.  Onwards: the sons of Solomon, the kingdoms of Israel and Judah, down to Elijah and Elisha.

10. Solomon had a servant named Rubu’ām, son of Nābāt, of the tribe of Ephraim, whose mother, named Sīsarā, was a prostitute (48). Solomon entrusted the government of the tribe of Joseph to Rubu’am.  Rubu’ām [re]founded the city of Sā’īr [Sichem] in the territory of Ephraim.  He was strong and very brave.  The prophet Akhiyā came to him, took his garment and cut it into twelve pieces, gave ten to Rubu’ām, son of Nābāt, telling him:  “You will reign over ten tribes of the sons of Israel” (49).  Solomon then decided to kill Rubu’am, but he fled from him and took refuge with Shīshaq, Pharaoh of Egypt, and settled with him (50).  The pharaoh gave him as wife the sister of his wife, named Atū, who gave him a son whom he called Nābāt, like his father.  There prophesied, in the days of Solomon, Nāthān and Akhiyā (51) of the village of Shilūn.  The high priest was Sādūq (52).  At that time there lived, in the land of the Greeks, the Greek poet Homer.

Solomon died after reigning forty years.  He was buried in the house of David, and his son Ragī’ām reigned after him, at the age of sixteen.  He reigned for seventeen years in Ūrashalīm.  When Rubu’ām, the son of Nābāt, heard that Solomon was dead, he left Egypt, going to the city of Sā’īr (53).  The sons of Israel gathered together and went to Ragī’ām, son of Solomon, and said to him:  “Your father has administered us in a bad and reprehensible way.  Govern us with good manners and we will be your servants.”  He answered them: “Go ahead, I will give you my answer in three days”.  He therefore consulted his advisors who told him: “You will tell them: ‘”Where my father has ruled you badly, I will use with you and for you the most beautiful and good manners as well as the sweetest and mildest” (54).’  But he did not accept their advice.  Instead he went to his women and told them the same words he had addressed to his advisors.  The women advised him to tell the children of Israel: “Where my father has ruled you badly, I will so govern you as to disperse your community and break your union”. They also told him: “Tell them so, so that they will not treat you like a child and not give you due respect.”  He received their counsel and spoke to the children of Israel as his women had suggested to him (55).  When [the sons of Israel] heard his words, they left the hall and turned against him.  Ragī‘ām warred against them, and sent against them Dūnīrām, head of the receivers of tribute (56).  The sons of Israel stoned him and killed him.  Then Ragī’ām fled away from them and returned to Ūrashalīm.  The sons of Israel gathered and chose King Rubu’ām, son of Nābāt, as their king, and the kingdom divided.

11. Rubu’am, the son of Nābāt, reigned over ten tribes of the sons of Israel.  He built the city of Nābulus (57), which he chose as his home, and the city of Fāthūyil (58).  Ragī‘ām, son of Solomon, reigned over the tribes of Judah and Benjamin.  Ragī’ām, son of Solomon, had with him a hundred and twenty thousand (59) warriors and ruled over many cities, including Bethlehem, Bātshūr, Zīf, Lākhīsh, Gāt, ‘Azīqā and the cities of the territories of Judah and Benjamin (60) .  His mother was called Nānān and was an Ammonite (61).  His mother urged him to worship idols.  As for Rubu’ām, son of Nābāt, fearing that the sons of Israel would go up to Ūrashalīm, to the house of the Lord, with offerings and, on seeing the temple, would rebel against him and betray him to Ragī’ām, son of Solomon, king of Judah, he had two calves of gold made and placed one in Bayt-īl and the other in Bāniyās (62).  He appointed to their service some priests of the lineage of Levi telling them: “These are your gods who have saved you from the hand of the Pharaoh.  Worship them and you will no longer need to go up to Ūrashalīm “(63).  Then he set up for them a great feast that is still celebrated today in the land of Judah.

12. In the fifth year of the reign of Ragī’ām, son of Solomon, Shīshaq, pharaoh of Egypt, came up to Ūrashalīm at the head of twenty-two thousand men of whom seven thousand were horsemen.  Ragī’ām, son of Solomon, fled and Shīshaq, pharaoh of Egypt, took all the gold and silver that was in the house of the Lord and the gold and silver vessels that was in the palace of the King.  Ragī’ām, son of Solomon, then replaced it with vessels of copper [1 Kings 14.25-27].  There were many wars between Ragī’ām, son of Solomon, and Rubu’ām, son of Nābāt, for as long as Ragī’ām lived.  Ragī’ām, son of Solomon, married eighteen women and had many children.  He also married Mākhā, daughter of Abīshālūm (64), who bore him Abiyā and his brothers.  He also had thirty concubines (65).  His children were thirty-eight in total between males and females (66).  In the days of Ragī’ām, son of Solomon, there prophesied Sim‘ayā of Nahlām (67) and Akhiyā from Silo.  At Bayt-īl there prophesied ‘Ubīd (68) and the altar split in two.

13. Ragī’ām, son of Solomon, died and was buried with his father in David’s house.  After him his son Abiyā reigned, over Judah, at Ūrashalīm, for six years.  This occurred in the eighteenth year of the reign of Rubu’am, the son of Nābāt, king of Israel.  Between Abiyā, king of Judah, and Rubu’ām, king of Israel, there were many wars.  Abiyā, king of Judah, defeated him and killed five hundred thousand of the sons of Israel.  Rubu’ām, king of Israel, was afraid of Abiyā, king of Judah.  Abiyā, king of Judah, died and was buried in the city of David.  After him his son Āsā reigned over Judah, at Urashalīm, for forty-one years.  This occurred in the twenty-fourth year (69) of the reign of Rubu’ām, son of Nābāt, king of Israel. The mother of Āsā, king of Judah, was called Nā’imah, daughter of Abīshālūm (70).  Rubu’ām, son of Nābāt, king of Israel, died after having reigned for twenty-four years.  After him his son Nābāt (71) reigned over Israel for two years.  This took place in the second year of the reign of Āsā, king of Judah.  Fa’shā, son of Akhiyā, attacked Nābāt in Kib’ātūn and killed him (72).  Then he destroyed all the descendants of Rubu’ām, son of Nābāt.  Fa’shā, son of Akhiyā, reigned over Israel at Tirsā (73) for twenty-four years.  This took place in the third year of the reign of Āsā, king of Judah.  Between Āsā, king of Judah, and Fa’shā, king of Israel, there were many wars.  Fa’shā, king of Israel, crossed into the territory of Judah and founded Rāmā (74).  Āsā, king of Judah, sent [messengers] to Hadād, son of Ğazāyil, king of Damascus (75), with many gifts, and with all the gold, the silver and the precious stones that were piled up in his house asking his help against Fa’shā, king of Israel.  Hadād, son of Ğazāyil, sent him a huge army to help him.  [Āsā] then went out with the army and destroyed the cities of ‘Iyūn, of Bai, all the heights and all the territory of the Nifthālīm (76).  When Fa’shā, king of Israel, learned of it, he abandoned the construction of Rāmā and returned to Tirsā.  Āsā, king of Judah, took away the stones and wood with which Fa’shā, king of Israel, intended to build Rāmā and used it to build fortresses and palaces in the territory of Benjamin.  Zārākh, king of the Kushites, i.e. the inhabitants of Sūdān, came out against him at the head of a thousand thousand warriors.  Āsā, king of Judah, confronted them with three hundred thousand men of the tribe of Judah, and with fifty and two thousand men of the tribe of Benjamin (77), and he defeated them and made a great slaughter and put all their possessions to booty.

14. Fa’shā, king of Israel, died and was buried at Tirsā.  After him, his son Īlā reigned at Tirsā for two years.  This took place in the twenty-sixth year of the reign of Āsā, king of Judah.  ‘Omrī was commander of the army of Īlā, king of Israel, (78).  ‘Omrī attacked Īlā and killed him.  He also killed all the descendants of Fa’shā, king of Israel.  The sons of Israel had gathered at Gib’āthūr (79) to fight against the tribes, when they heard of the killing of Īlā, king of Israel.  Some of them accepted as king Omrī and others proclaimed their king Tibnī, son of Khīnāt, for a short time.  But Tibnī died and Omrī reigned over Israel for twelve years.  This took place in the twenty-seventh year of the reign of Āsā (80), king of Judah.  He reigned for six years at Tirsā and founded a city he called ‘Omrī, on Mount Sāmir (81).  He then reigned for six years in Samaria.  ‘Omrī died and was buried in Samaria.  After him, his son Akhāb reigned over Israel in Samaria for twenty-one years.  This occurred in the thirty-eight year of the reign of Āsā, king of Judah.  In old age Āsā fell ill with gout but his kingdom continued to be tranquil and at peace.  There prophesied, in his days, Hanānī, his son Yāhū, and ‘Azariyā, son of ‘Ūbid the prophet (82).  Āsā, king of Judah, died and was buried in the city of David.

15. After him his son Yūshāfāt reigned over Judah, at Ūrashalīm, at the age of thirty-five.  This took place in the fourth year of the reign of Akhāb, king of Israel.  The reign of Yūshāfāt was full of splendor and many were his possessions and numerous his army.  In his day, there prophesied Mikhā, son of Īlā (83), Yāhū, son of Hanānī, Ili’āzār, son of Dūdāyā (84), ‘Ubīdiyā (85), Iliyā, or al-Khadir (86), and the disciple of the latter Ilīsha ‘(87).  In his day there lived a pseudo-prophet named Sidiqiyā, son of Kina‘nā (88).  As for Akhāb, king of Israel, he married a woman named Izbil, daughter of Thalmānī, king of Sidon (89).  Akhāb, king of Israel, built a temple in Samaria where he placed the idol Bā‘il and worshiped him.  In the days of Akhāb, king of Israel, there lived an Israelite named Nābūthā (90) who had a very nice vegetable garden.  King Akhāb fell in love with it and sent messengers from Nābūthā asking him to sell him the garden because it was adjoining his home.  But Nābūthā refused it, saying:  “I inherited this garden from my fathers and my ancestors and I will not sell it or give it to anyone” (91).  Akhāb, king of Israel, received this badly, became irritated and angry.  His wife Izbil entered and told him: “Why do I always see you so angry and sad?”  He replied: “I asked Nābūthā to sell me his garden, but he refused it, and the fact that he rejected me and did not satisfy my request gave me great pain” (92).  Izbil left Akhāb, king of Israel, called the Israelites ready to obey them and told them: “Testify for me against Nābūthā by saying that he has denied God and has blasphemed against Moses” (93).  They testified against him and Izbil commanded that Nābūthā should be stoned to death.  Then Izbil went to Akhāb, king of Israel, and said to him: “Do not be in pain anymore.  I had Nābūthā killed.  Take your garden”(94).  Then the prophet Īliyās came to Akhāb, king of Israel, and scolded him and told him:  “Beware of putting your hands on the garden of Nābūthā and approaching it, because God is full of anger with you for having worshiped the idols and with your wife Izbil for killing prodigally Nābūthā.  But God has already chosen against you and your wife he who will kill you and her” (95).  On hearing the words of Iliyā, Akhāb, king of Israel, he felt great fear, left the garden and did not approach it.  When Izbil then heard that the prophet Iliyā had forbidden King Akhāb to take possession of the garden, she sent men to search for the prophet Iliyā with the intent of killing him.  The prophet Iliyā was afraid of her and asked the Lord not to rain on the earth (96).  The prophet Iliya escaped to the borders of the Jordan, on Mount Khūrīb, or Tūr-Sīnā (97), and he lived near the crevice of a spring.  He used to drink water from the crevasse, and every day a crow brought him bread and in the evening some meat to eat.  The prophet Īliyās, son of ‘Arbā, [was] from Gala’ad and the Arabs call him al-Khidr.  After a few days the spring dried up and the prophet Īliyās repaired to the city of Sārafiyyah of Sidon (98).  He came across a widow who collected wood and asked her for food and drink.  The woman took him to her house.  She had a little flour and some oil, prepared a focaccia and fed him and her children (99).  Iliyā invoked the blessing of the Lord on the container that contained the flour and on the one that contained the oil: that of flour was filled with flour, as was that of oil with oil.  The widow’s son became ill, and died.  Iliyā invoked his Lord, God restored his health and he lived.

16. After three years and six months (100) the prophet Iliyā decided to go to Akhāb, king of Israel.  It had never rained in all that time, and many people had died because of the great famine and drought.  And while ‘Ubīdiyā, lieutenant of Akhāb (101), went around the valleys in search of water he came upon Īliyā, who went with him to Akhāb, king of Israel.  King Akhāb told him: “It was you who asked the sky not to give rain all this time”. The prophet Iliyā answered him: “It was you who made the sky give no more rain because you worshiped idols and your wife Izbil killed prodigally Nābūthā and because you received the words of the false prophets” (102). Then King Akhāb summoned all the Israelites and all the false prophets: the prophets of the idol Bā‘il were four hundred thirty-four – In another text it says: they were four hundred and eighty – (103), and the prophets of Astīrā, which was a palm-tree they worshiped, were four hundred (104).  The prophet Iliyā said to the false prophets: “Let us take two calves. You will choose the best, slay it and offer it to your gods as a sacrifice. If a fire comes down from heaven and consumes it, we will know that your gods are true.  Otherwise I alone will do it and you will know that you are in error and I in truth “(105).  They then took a calf, slaughtered it and invoked their gods, Bā’il and others, from noon to night, but nothing happened.  Then the prophet Iliyā took twelve stones, formed an altar around which he dug a trench and laid wood on the stones.  He slaughtered the calf and laid it on the stones and wood. He poured twelve pitchers of water over it until it filled the little trench that ran around the altar.  He invoked his Lord, and there came a fire from heaven that devoured the flesh, the stones and the water until it dug a large ditch into the earth.  The Israelites were dismayed.  The prophet Iliyā then had the false prophets in the valley of Qīsūn killed by the sword (106).  Then the prophet Iliyā invoked his Lord.  God rained on them and the calamity left them.  When Izbil, wife of Akhab, heard what Iliya had done to the false prophets, she again threatened to kill him.  He was afraid of her and ran away.  Elisha, son of Yūshāfāt, met him while he was busy grazing oxen (107).  He left the oxen, followed Iliyā and became a disciple.

17. Then it happened that Ibn Hadād, king of Damascus (108), gathered the people of his kingdom, asked aid from thirty-two kings, formed a large and innumerable army and went out to fight against Akhāb, king of Israel, to whom he sent to say: “All the gold and silver you have, your male slaves and your female slaves, your women and everything you own is mine” (109).  Akhāb, king of Israel, was very afraid and consented to give him everything he had asked.  While the messengers came and went from one [king] to another, some young men, sons of the Syrian leaders, made a sortie by beating on the drums around the camp. When the Syrian soldiers saw them they believed they were being assaulted by the children of Israel and they flee wildly, chasing each other and killing each other.  Learning this, Akhāb, king of Israel, chased them together with his men.  He ransacked their camps, their tents and train and all they had (110).  Ibn-Hadād, king of Damascus, succeeded in escaping to Damascus where the other survivors reached him.  Then he raised an army and went out to fight, driven by the desire to take revenge on what had happened to him.  Akhāb, king of Israel, came out against him and put him to flight, killing twenty-seven thousand men (111).  Ibn-Hadād repaired by himself to Damascus where some councilors addressed these words to him: “The king of Israel is merciful, let’s go to him and ask him to leave us alone”.  Then they wore worn garments, and went to Akhāb, king of Israel, and said to him:  “Your servant, Ibn-Hadād, sends you to say: ‘Do not hold it against me for what I did against you.”‘ Akhāb, king of Israel, answered them: “I consider him my brother”. They answered him: “If he is your brother, give him a guarantee on Damascus, so that there is a truce between you and him”.  [Akhāb] consented (112).

18. Three years later Yūshāfāt, king of Judah, came down to Akhāb, king of Israel, to greet him. Akhāb met with him and hosted him at his house.  Yūshāfāt married his son Yūrām to ‘Ataliyā, sister of Akhāb, king of Israel.  Akhāb said to Yūshāfāt, king of Judah: “The city of Rāmūth of Kal’ād was ours (113), but the king of Syria took it from us.  If you helped me we could take it back”.  Yūshāfāt consented to what he had asked of him.  Then they gathered their men and marched on Ramwāth (114) of Kal’ād.  Learning this, the king of Syria gathered his men and went out against them.  Akhāb then said to Yūshāfāt: “Take off your clothes and wear mine so that you will not be recognized in war” (115).  He did so.  Now the king of Syria had ordered his men to seek, during the fight, the king of Israel, describing how he was dressed.  When they saw the garments of Yūshāfāt, king of Judah, they believed that it was Akhāb, king of Israel, pursued him and surrounded him.  But he gave a cry, addressed them and escaped them.  Akhāb, king of Israel, was hit by a dart and fled before the king of Syria.  Yūshāfāt returned to Ūrashalīm and Akhāb, king of Israel, returned home wounded.  Akhāb died because of the wound he had brought back and was buried in Samaria.

 

The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 5 – part 3

Eutychius continues with the reign of Solomon.

7. It is told that Hīram, king of Tire, was the first king to wear purple.  The cause of this was a shepherd who had a dog.  This shepherd went, one day, together with the flock and the dog, right onto the shore of the sea.  The dog took a shell that was lying on the bank, of a color similar to purple, and ate it.  In doing so, it filled its mouth with the blood of the shell.  Seeing him in that state, the shepherd took a woollen cloth and wiped the dog’s muzzle with it.  Then he put that woollen cloth on his head, like a crown, and so he began to walk in the sun, so that all those who saw him thought that rays of fire were coming out of his head.  Learning of this, Hīram, king of Tyre, sent for the shepherd who went straight to him.  [Hīram] saw the crown, was amazed and very pleased with the color, and ordered the dyers to dye an equal.  The dyers, then, went to the seashore, looked for shells until they found them, and they smelled the purple.  This is how we got purple (36).

The length of the temple that Solomon, son of David, built was sixty cubits, the width twenty and the height one hundred.  The interior was made all overlaid with gold.  Inside the temple he built a cedar-wood tabernacle twenty cubits long, twenty wide, and twenty high.  The inside and the outside he covered in gold.  On it he had the image of the cherubim sculptured in gold; the length of each of these was ten cubits, the width was five, one on the right and the other on the left of the tabernacle.  Each of them had six wings. They kept their wings spread out over the tabernacle as if to cover it.  He brought the ark from the city of Sihyūn and placed it in this [new] dwelling place.  In front of this tabernacle he had two majestic and imposing copper columns erected, each one thirty cubits high and five wide.  He then made a crimson veil studded with all kinds of precious stones and had it hung on the columns facing the tabernacle.  Then he made a table of copper on which to lay the bread of the sacrifice, twenty cubits long, twenty wide and ten high, which was covered all with gold and precious stones.  He then brought into the temple every vessel of gold, silver or precious stone.  He then built a palace for himself and covered it with gold and silver.  Inside the palace he built the hall of judgments, a hundred cubits long, fifty wide and thirty high, with four rows of cedar columns covered with gold on which stood four porticoes carved in gold.  Then he made a great ivory throne, engraved in gold and set with precious stones, and he had it placed in the centre of this hall, and he used to sit on it when he was busy with the affairs of the people.  He finished building the temple and the palace after seven years.  From the reign of David to the end of the construction of the temple fifty-nine years had passed.

8. The tributes owed to Solomon, son of David, each year were six hundred and sixty six thousand “qintār” (37) of gold, in addition to that from trade.  His daily provision was thirty “kurrs” of flowers of flour, sixty “kurrs” (38) of flour, ten calves, twenty-two bulls, one hundred sheep in addition to deer, goats, and birds.  In the palace of Solomon there were a hundred tables of gold and on each table a hundred trays and three hundred plates of gold, and beside each plate three hundred cups of gold.

One day when Solomon was sitting in the courtroom, two women came forward carrying a baby. One said: “Yesterday, I and this woman gave birth in the same house. The son of this woman died during the night while I was sleeping. She then took her already lifeless son and put him on me, taking my son.” The other said: “This child is mine. It is the son of this woman who is dead”.  Solomon then asked that they bring him a sword and taking the child with one hand he said: “I will cut the baby into two parts and give half of it to each of you.”  But the child’s mother said: “My lord, do not divide it. Give it to her”. The other said: “Divide him, so that he is neither mine nor hers”. Then Solomon gave the child to the one who had said “Do not divide it” because, from the love that she had shown for him, he realized that she was the mother.  And the people remained in admiration of his judgment (39).

Solomon had seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines (40).  Solomon married the daughter of Pharaoh Shīshaq (41), king of Egypt, and took her to Ūrashalīm.  Later the pharaoh left Egypt, attacked the city of ‘Āzar (42) and set them on fire.  He also burned out the Canaanites who lived in Māri‘āb (42), took their possessions and sent them to his daughter, the wife of Solomon.

9. Hearing about King Solomon, the Queen of Sheba (44) came to him with many gifts and gave him one hundred and thirty “qintār” of gold (45).  Solomon granted her all that she asked and [the queen] went away.  Solomon, son of David, married [many] women of foreign tribes, of the Ammonites, the Amalekites, the Moabites and other [peoples].  He loved them, and because of his intense love towards them they induced him to build a temple for them where he had idols placed for them to worship and sacrifice to (46).  For this reason, Solomon, son of David, was removed from the list of prophets.  Among his soldiers there were forty thousand riders on mares and twelve thousand horsemen on horses (47).

The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 5 – part 2

We’re in the Old Testament here.  Can you work out which familiar faces lie behind the Arabised names?

3. Then the king of Sūbā, called Hadad-‘Āzir, son of Rihūb (13), rose up against David, and waged war on him.  David confronted him and conquered him, killing seven thousand horsemen and twenty thousand infantrymen (14).  Then Sūris, king of Damascus (15), moved to bring help to Hadad-‘Āzir and David killed twenty-two thousand of his men.  Sūris, king of Damascus, became a slave of David.  David had all the gold and silver belts and the many jewels of the men of Hadad-‘Āzir taken and brought them to Ūrashalīm.  These jewels were then  taken by Sīsāf (16), king of Egypt, when he came to Ūrashalīm during the reign of Ragi‘ām, son of Sulaymān (17).  Following that same battle David brought to Ūrashalīm very much copper (18), and it was from this copper that Solomon made the columns, bases and doors when he built the temple.

4. After this David saw a woman named Birsāyi‘, daughter of Yliyāt (19), wife of Uriyā.  She was an attractive and beautiful woman.  In a passion, he summoned her and the woman went to him.  [David] slept with her and she conceived by him, while her husband Uriyā was with David’s lieutenant Yuwāb, fighting the tribes.  When [David] knew that [the woman] had conceived by him, he sent for Uriyā and gave him leave, and ordered him to sleep at his house that night.  Uriyā did not go home that night, but slept with the ushers in the palace [of the king].  The next day David sent him back to the war, thinking that Uriyā had spent the night at home.  By making Uriyā sleep at home, David simply waited for him to lie with his own wife, so that when she appeared that she was pregnant, he would not have had to say anything.  But since he had not slept at home, David wrote to Yuwāb to place Uriyā to fight at the head of the ark.  Yuwāb did as he was commanded and Uriyā fell fighting at the head of the ark.  After the death of Uriyā, David married his wife Birhāyi‘ and had a son.  Then the prophet Nāthān presented himself to him and said to him: “Two men lived in a village.  One was rich and possessed many sheep and oxen and the other was poor, and had only one sheep upon whose milk and wool he lived.  The rich had a man as a guest.  He took the poor man’s sheep, slaughtered it and fed it to his guest” (20).

David said to him: “What a wicked thing he did!  It is right that [the poor man] should have four [sheep] in exchange for the [stolen sheep]” (21). Then the prophet Nāthān rebuked him saying: “You are that man!” (22).  David tore his clothes, put on a rough sackcloth of wool and fasted for seven days, asking the Lord [not] to let the child die.  On the seventh day the child died.  Later the wife of Uriyā conceived a second time by David and he gave birth to Solomon.  David had twenty-four children.  Then Amnūn, son of David, who was the eldest of his children, looked at his sister on his father’s side, named Tamar, fell in love with her and lay with her.  So angry with him was the uterine brother of Tamar, named Abīshālūm, son of David, that he killed his brother Amnūn and took shelter with Thalmāni, son of ‘Imyāl, king of Kishūr (23).  Two hundred Israelites joined him and rose up against his father David, occupying Gibrun (24).  When David heard that he had occupied Gibrūn (25) he felt fear and escaped from Ūrashalīm, leaving the city.  His son went to Ūrashalīm and made his entrance.  He took his father’s concubines and fornicated with them.  Then he chased David who fled from him and passed over the Jordan. Then Yuwāb, David’s lieutenant, collected a part of his men and went out against Abīshālūm, son of David.  They came to battle in the territory of Ephraim.  Twenty thousand men fell from both sides and the battle was bitter.  Abīshālūm rode a mule and his hair became entangled with the branches of a terebinth, breaking the bone of his neck.  Yuwāh shot three arrows, hitting him in the heart and one of his men finished him with a sword stroke.  The news came to David and he felt immense pain.  Then he returned to Ūrashalīm.  Abīshālūm, son of David, had thick hair and when his hair was shaved from time to time, it actually weighed two hundred mithqāl (26).

5. There was a prophet in the time of David, Nāthān.  In his time also lived Wākhiyā as-Sīlūnī, Isāī, Hīmān and Badūthūn (27), of the tribe of Levi, and Yuwāb, son of Sārūyā sister of David, who was his lieutenant.  David and his lieutenant Yuwāb held a census of the tribes of the sons of Israel.  The sons of Israel counted by David and his lieutenant Yuwāb were forty million and a hundred thousand.  In another text it says: four million and one hundred thousand (28).  Four hundred and seventy thousand of them belonged to the tribe of Judah.  However, the tribes of Beniamin and Levi were not counted.  The number of “Sāqitūn”, of those who did not belong to the lineage of Jacob, was one thousand. God then said to the prophet Kād (29): “I had forbidden David to count the sons of Israel. So go to him and tell him to choose one of these three things: either that there is a famine throughout his kingdom for seven years; or that he is conquered and subjugated by his enemy for three months; or that death prevail for three days throughout his kingdom” (30). David chose death.  Seventy thousand people died within the space of six hours. David then begged for help from the prophet Kād.  They all implored God, who was moved to compassion on them and turned death away from them.  The high priest in the days of David was Abiyāthār, son of Abi-Mālikh (31), of the house of the priest Ālī and of Sādūq.  Now an old man, the prophet David called his son Solomon, dictated his will and gave him all the goods, jewels, gold and silver of his kingdom.  The prophet David died at the age of seventy. He had reigned for forty years.

6. After him his son Solomon reigned. He was twelve years old.  After his father he reigned for forty years. Yuwāb, David’s lieutenant, was afraid of him and took refuge in the sanctuary (32).  Solomon sent Nabā, son of Yahūnāda‘ (33) against him, who killed Yuwāb with a sword stroke and had him buried in the desert (34).  King Solomon came out stronger, and all the kings of the surrounding countries were afraid, and brought him gifts and concluded a truce with him.  Solomon surrounded Ūrashalīm with walls, and in the twelfth year of his reign began the construction of the temple.  Hiram, king of Sur, sent him many gifts, a lot of cedar, pine and fir wood, and a lot of money to make use of in the construction of the temple.  Solomon sent to Hīram each year twenty thousand “kurr” (35) of wheat and twenty thousand “kurr” of zibibbo.

Eutychius and the English Civil War

The Annals of the 10th century Arabic Christian writer Eutychius, also known as Sa`id ibn Bitriq, were printed for the first time, together with a Latin translation, during that curious period of history, the 1650s.  Charles I was dead, and the revolution had devolved into government by the army and the protector, Oliver Cromwell. Fanaticism was in the ascendant, and wearying the patience of all.

The editor and translator who achieved this feat was Edward Pococke, who held the professorships of Arabic and Hebrew at Oxford, and, amazingly managed to retain much of his academic connections despite the purges of the universities by the Commonwealth commissioners, and the opportunities this gave to the malicious or greedy.

A rather nice account of what happened may be found in G. J. Toomer, Eastern Wisedome and Learning: The Study of Arabic in Seventeenth-century England, Clarendon 1996.  I have only access to the Google Books preview, but it looks fascinating.

The Eutychius section begins on p.164.  Here is an excerpt.

The mover in this [project] was Selden, who wished to produce a complete edition and translation of the Annals of Eutychius, for which he had long borne an affection. At one time he contemplated doing this himself, for his own Latin translation of a large part of the work survives among his manuscripts in the Bodleian Library. However, in April 1652 he approached Langbaine with the proposal that the edition be printed at Oxford, at his own expense but under the supervision of Langbaine and Pococke, with a Latin translation which Pococke should make for the purpose.

On 11 May he put the same request to Pococke himself, who was reluctant, but felt that he could not refuse, since Selden had been so active in his promotion and defence. Twells has a long discussion of the reasons for Pococke’s reluctance, which he attributes primarily to Selden’s attempt (in his Eutychius, 1642) to use Eutychius to ‘bear down Episcopacy’, an attempt which Twells himself refutes at length. It is true that Pococke heartily disliked controversy, especially of the theological variety, but there was nothing of the kind in the book now projected by Selden, and it is absurd to suppose that he would feel himself compromised by the association with Selden’s earlier work. Rather, he must have disliked the delays in the publication of the Porta Mosis that this new task would entail.

Furthermore, Selden had idiosyncratic ideas about the right way to edit a text, and, although he had three manuscripts of the work available, insisted that the printed text should follow one of them to the letter, with any variants in the other two being consigned to the notes.[79]

Pococke was clearly unhappy with this practice, but perforce adopted it in the printed work. Above all, he knew how inferior as a historical source Eutychius’ Annals were in comparison with Abu ‘l-Faraj, and must have resented having to spend his time on this author when the other was still unpublished as a whole.

Pococke worked intermittently on the translation and correction of the text of the Eutychius from 1652 to 1654, by which time the book was substantially finished, and the title-page to the second volume already printed. Selden not only provided the paper for the edition, but also paid for Arabic type to be cast from the university’s matrices.

Twells mentions that a new puncheon and matrix were made for one letter at Pococke’s instance, and this story seems to have been generally accepted. The matter is indeed discussed by both Langbaine and Pococke in their correspondence with Selden (which reveals that the letter in question was dal). But the form of that letter in the printed Eutychius appears to be identical with that in earlier texts printed with the Oxford fount (e.g. those of John Greaves), so the plan must have been abandoned.

The publication of the work was delayed by the death of Selden, which occurred on 30 November 1654. In a codicil to his will he had bequeathed the whole edition of the Eutychius (500 copies) to Langbaine and Pococke, but it was published only in 1656, after Pococke had completed the notes (mainly listing variant readings), written the preface, and compiled extensive indices and a list of errata.

In the interval between 1654 and 1656, besides the distractions caused by the accusations of ‘insufficiency’ and by completing Porta Mosis, he had also been occupied with supervising the transfer of Selden’s oriental and other manuscripts to the Bodleian, where they had been donated.

Pococke’s preface to the Eutychius betrays his personal dissatisfaction with the work. He is distressed by the solecisms of the printed text which Selden’s editorial methods had imposed on him, and takes pains to document Eutychius’ untrustworthiness as a historian. Nevertheless, the translation is reliable, and given the paucity of any printed editions of Arabic historians at the time, it was a valuable contribution.

[79] This is explained by Pococke in his preface to the publication. This rule, and others which he insisted on, are listed by Selden in MS Selden supra 109, fol. 348.

Remarkable stuff for the disordered period of the Commonwealth.  For in such periods, when men are tested for their loyalty to this or that arbitrary principle, there are not lacking unscrupulous men who see their path to wealth by making accusations.  P.158-9 describe Pococke’s trials, even though he was a man who was obviously a bookworm and no harm to anyone.  In the preface to his Eutychius he refers to the “malitia plane insuperabili” which distracted him from his work on the volume.  He was denounced by some of his parishioners, who had a grudge about tithes, to the commissioners whose duty it was to remove idle and incompetent ministers.  Everyone testified for him.

However, it took the personal intervention of some eminent members of the university, headed by John Owen, the puritanical Vice-Chancellor, and himself one of the Commissioners appointed by Cromwell, to convince the County Commissioners ‘of the infinite contempt and reproach which would certainly fall upon them, when it should be said, that they had turned out a man for insufficiency, whom all the learned, not of England only, but of all Europe, justly admired for his vast knowledge, and extraordinary accomplishments’.

We could use a revival in Arabic learning today.  Would it really be so difficult or expensive to translate the whole of Arabic literature to 1500 into English?  But has there ever been a period of history in which such gigantic gestures were practical politics?  I fear not.

The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 5 – part 1

Let’s continue with translating the “Annals” of Sa`id ibn Bitriq, the Melkite patriarch of Alexandria in the 10th century.

1. After him reigned David, son of Yassà.  From the departure of the sons of Israel from Egypt to the kingdom of David there had passed 606 years; from Abraham to the kingdom of David, 1,113 years; from Fāliq to the reign of David, 1,654 years; from the flood to the kingdom of David, 2,185 years; from Adam to the kingdom of David, 4,441 years.  At the age of thirty David, son of Yassà, reigned over all the tribes of Israel.  He reigned forty years and six months, of which seven and six months were at Hibrūn, and thirty-three at Jerusalem. The head of Saul’s soldiers was Abnīr, son of Nīr.  Abnir killed ‘Ashā’il (1), brother of Yuwāb.  Yuwāb then went out with his men and killed three hundred and sixty men of Abnīr’s, burying his brother ‘Ashā’īl at Bethlehem. After the killing of Saul, Abnīr took Yasūsit (2), son of Saul, and proclaimed him at Ğal’àd, as king of the sons of Ephraim and of the sons of Israel. Yasūsit was forty years old at the time he began to reign.  Between the soldiers of Saul and those of David there were many wars and many deaths.  Saul had a concubine named Risfà (3). Abnīr took her for himself, but Yasūsit, son of Saul, forbade him. Abnīr became irritated and went over to David asking for his protection.  David accepted him and left him at liberty.  Yuwāb, son of Sāruyā (4) and husband of David’s sister, took Abnīr, who was the commander of David’s soldiers, and had him killed to avenge the death of ‘Ashā’īl, brother of Yuwāb.  David became very annoyed when he learned of it, and he ordered all his soldiers to tear their clothes and weep over Abnīr.  Then he had him buried at Hibrūn.  There were two brothers among the commanders of Saul, one named Rihāb and the other named Bā‘anā, of Rimmūn (5), of the tribe of Beniamin.  When they heard that Abnīr had been killed, they went at night (6) to the house of Yasūsit, son of Saul, and they set fire to the door, went in and killed him.  They then took his head and brought it to David.  But David had their hands and feet cut off, had them killed and hanged.  The head of Yasūsit, son of Saul, was buried in the tomb of Abnīr.

2. David founded the city of Ūshā and he called it the city of David, which is now  Sihyūn (7).  When the kings of the foreign tribes heard that David had become king, they gathered to fight him.  David confronted them with his army, killed them and annihilated them, thus consolidating the foundations of his reign. The counselor of David was called Yūshàfāt, son of Akhlīq (8).  Hīram, king of Sūr (9), sent him as a gift wood of cedar and fir, with which David built a temple.  He gathered the chiefs of the sons of Israel and he went to the house of Abīnādāb.  He brought out the ark and placed it on a cart.  The wagon was led by ‘Uzza and Ahyū, sons of Abīnādāb (10), two Israelites of the descendants of Qāhāt, son of Levi, because no one else of the Israelites could carry the ark apart from the descendants of Levi.  In loading the ark on the cart they covered it with fabric, and between the ark and the people there was a distance of a thousand cubits.  ‘Uzzā and Ahyū had already loaded the ark onto the cart when the bullocks leaned on their legs and the ark threatened to fall.  ‘Uzza then grabbed the ark but he fell dead to the ground.  David was frightened and he had the ark brought to the house of ‘Ubaydādūm the Hittite (11).  The ark remained with him for three months. David later took the ark away from the house of ‘Ubaydādūm.  Around the ark there were seven rows of men with trumpets, flutes and all sorts of musical instruments.  David wore a colorful robe, and he danced and strutted before the ark.  He then placed the ark in the middle of the tent that David himself had raised at Giluwā (12).[1]  David slaughtered many heifers and rams.  The ark was made of cedar wood, it was long, wide and tall a cubit and a half and all covered with gold.

  1. [1]The text seems to be corrupt here.

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.

The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 6 – part 1

Let’s return to translating the history composed in Arabic in the 10th century AD by Eutychius, or Sa`id ibn Bitriq, the Melkite Patriarch of Alexandria.  Last time we finished off chapter 7.  I seem to be working backwards through the intensely tedious rewriting of Old Testament narratives; because the further we go back, the less historical value Eutychius has. So now we reach chapter 6  It’s fun to try to recognise the bible characters in the unfamiliar Arabic names!  But this section is pretty much straight out of the OT.

1. After him his son Ukhuziyā reigned in Samaria for two years.  This took place in the nineteenth year of the reign of Yūshāfāt, king of Judah (1).  His conduct was as evil as that of his father and he was devoted to the worship of idols under the guidance of his mother Izbil, who had killed Nābūthā.  Ukhuziyā, king of Israel, fell seriously ill.  He feared for his life and sent a messenger to the priests of the idols, to ask them whether he would be cured of his illness or not.  On the way, the messenger came upon the prophet Iliyā.  The prophet Iliyā said to the messenger:  ‘Say to the king: “You will die.”‘  The messenger returned to the king and informed him [of what had happened].  Then the king told him:  “Describe the man who met you”.  He replied:  “He was a thick-haired man and wore a tight leather belt around his waist”  The king said: “It is the prophet Iliyā”.  He then sent one of his commanders to him with fifty men.  Iliyā was sitting on the top of Mount al-Karmil.  The commander told him: “O prophet of God, come down because the king is calling you”.  Iliyā replied: “If I am the prophet of God, may a fire come down from heaven to devour you and those who are with you”.  A fire came down and devoured them.  Then the king sent another commander with fifty men. He said: “O prophet of God, come down, because the king is calling you”.  Iliyā replied: “If I am the prophet of God, may a fire come down from heaven to devour you and those who are with you.”  And in fact it happened just like that.  Then [the king] sent a third commander with fifty men who spoke to him like the first two spoke to him, and he and those who were with him suffered the same fate.  Finally the king himself went to him and Iliyā came down to him and said: “You will not heal from your sickness, but you will die because you have worshiped idols and for your bad conduct in the presence of God, powerful and exalted”.  In the days of Ukhuziyā, king of Israel, and Yūshāfāt, king of Judah, Iliyā was raised to heaven.  Ukhuziyā, king of Israel, died of his illness and was buried with his father.

2. After him his brother Yūrām, son of Akhāb, reigned over the children of Israel, in Samaria, for twelve years.  This took place in the twenty-second year of the reign of Yūshāfāt, king of Judah.  The Ammonites and the Amalekites went out against Yūshāfāt, king of Judah with a great army, and Yūshāfāt was afraid of them.  There was a great outcry at night among the soldiers of ‘Ammān and’ Amāliq, and they killed each other, while the survivors fled before Yūshāfāt.  Yūshāfāt’s men set about ransacking their camps, tents and household goods for three days.  Then Yūshāfāt returned to Ūrashalīm.  Later the king of Moab moved against Yūrām, king of Israel.  Yūrām sent to seek help from Yūshāfāt, king of Judah, against the king of Moab.  He also sent for help from the king of the Rūm who was then in ash-Sharāh[1].  The three kings joined forces and went out against the king of Moab, taking the desert road in order to take him from behind.  They walked in the desert for seven days.  They missed the drinking water and so risked dying of thirst.  The prophet Elisha was there with them, telling them:   “Tomorrow these valleys will be filled with streams and God will give you the victory over your enemy”.  It happened as the prophet had said.  God gave them victory over the enemy and made a great slaughter of the men of the king of Moab.  Seeing that he was defeated, the king of Moab entered the fortified tower, took his firstborn and slaughtered him on the walls of Moab, offering him as a burnt offering.  The Israelites were terrified before such a scene, they stopped fighting against him and withdrew.  Yūshāfāt, king of Judah, died and was buried in the city of David.

  1. [1]Edom, rather than Rome!

The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 7 – part 7 and final

Let’s do a bit more of Eutychius, just to keep in touch with it.  The scene begins at the funeral of Alexander the Great, most of which is fiction, and then proceeds down the list of the Ptolemaic kings.

18. When the philosophers had finished speaking, the wife of Alexander, Rushtak, daughter of Dāriyūsh, king of the Persians, who had been the most dear creature to Alexander, arose, and laid her hand on the coffin, and said: “I did not think, O king, that by conquering Dāriyūsh your own kingdom would be conquered.” Then she said to the philosophers: “If you’re afraid about what you’ve spoken about Alexander, you have the cup that he’s been drinking with, and each one of you is free to think as he wishes. But if you have spoken to give comfort and as a sign of mourning, be prepared to answer, and to make good arguments, otherwise you will enjoy what he enjoyed and so your works will be in accordance with your words because, of course, you are not sheltered.” Then Alexander’s mother came forward, put her cheek on the coffin and said, “You have comforted us enough. What I feared for Alexander has happened to him and now there is no kingdom for him or against him. Be great in your loyalty to earthly life and also defend [your] truth.  For my part, I have been pleased with your comfort. ” And so she ordered that he be buried.

19. Alexander reigned for sixteen years.  He lived in all for thirty-two years. Alexander had appointed a servant to each country.  (In another text it is said: “a prefect”.) He ordered them not to entertain relations by correspondence with anyone superior to them, but everyone was to write only to him, and no one, except him, was called a king.  On the death of Alexander, however, each of them took possession of his own province.  The kingdom of Ağam was divided.[1]  In the hands of the Iskāniyyūn there remained the kingdoms of Paris and of al-Ahwāz  and these were called “rules.”[2]

20. After Alexander there reigned in Alexandria and Egypt his brother named Philip, called Batlīmūs Arīdāwus, for seven years.[3] (In another text it is said:  “for forty years”.) After him ruled Ptolemy, called al-Iksandrus, and nicknamed “the conquerer of Ur” for twenty-seven years. (In another text it is said:  “for twenty-one years.”) In his twentieth year of reign he ordered seventy Jews taken from Ūrashalīm and brought them to Alexandria, ordering them to translate the Torah and the Books of Prophets from Hebrew to Greek, placing each of them in a dwelling, isolated from the others, to see what was the interpretation of each of them.  When they finished translating the books, he saw their interpretations.  The versions were identical, with no discrepancy.  He then gathered the books together, sealed them with his own seal and placed them in the temple of an idol called Sirābiyūn.[4]

21. Among the Seventy was a man named Simeon the Just, who took Christ our Lord [into his arms] in the temple. This Simeon, in explaining the Torah and translating the Prophets from Hebrew into Greek, found in every letter that he was transcribing, a prophecy about Christ our Lord, and in his heart he tried not to admit it by saying, “This is not possible!”  God therefore delayed his death, and he lived three hundred and fifty years until he saw Christ our Lord.  When he saw Him he said: “Now send your servant out in peace, O Lord, according to your word, for our eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared for the benefit of all peoples.”

22. Ptolemy, the conqueror of Ur, died. After him ruled Ptolemy [I], called Lagus, for twenty-nine years.[5] He built a large hippodrome for horse racing in Alexandria, which was later burned down in the days of King Zeno.  After him, his son Ptolemy [II] reigned, called Philadelphus, for twenty-six years.  After him ruled Ptolemy [III], called Euergetes, for twenty-five years.  After him ruled Ptolemy [IV], named Philopator, for seventeen years.  After him ruled Ptolemy [V], Epiphanes, for twenty-four years. After him ruled Ptolemy [VI], known as Philometor, for twenty years.  In his time Syria and the land of Judah were subjugated by Antiyukhus, king of Rūm, who expelled the Jews from Syria, and slaughtered them with all sorts of violence and punishment.[6]  After him ruled his brother Ptolemy [VIII], also called Evergetes, for twenty-three years.[7]  In his time, Antiochus, King of the Rūm, founded Antakiya, who gave his own name. And so the city of Antiochus was called Antioch.  After him ruled Ptolemy [IX], Soter, for twenty years.  In its time the city of Sulukiyah was built.[8] After him ruled Ptolemy, also called Soter, for fifteen years.[9] After him ruled Ptolemy [X], called al-Iskandrus, and nicknamed Yasfis Philopator, for ten years.[10] (In another text it says “for twelve years”.)  After him ruled Ptolemy [XI], called Phusas, for eighteen days. (In another text it is said “for eight years”.)  After him ruled Ptolemy [XII] Diyunisiyus for twenty-nine years. After him, his daughter Iklawbatrah reigned, [the name] meaning “she who weeps on the rock,” for twenty-two years.[11] She built many great buildings in Alexandria and many wonderful things, introduced mosaic work, and built an imposing temple called “the Temple of Saturn.” When the Christians came, they transformed the temple into a church and called it ‘kanīsat Mīkā’īl’ (i.e. St. Michael’s Church), which is then what they call today ‘al-Qaysāriyyah’ and which was burnt down in the time when the Maghāribah entered into Alexandria with Mawlana al-Mansūr Abu’l Qasim, known under the name Abdallah and with Habāsah, when the caliph was al-Muqtadir Ja’far and Takin, his freeman, was prince of Egypt and Alexandria.[12]  [Cleopatra] build in the city of Ikhmīm[13] a hydrometer in order to keep under control the waters of the Nile of Egypt.  She then built another nilometer in the town of Ansinā.[14]

  1. [1]I.e. the kingdom of the non-Arabs.
  2. [2]Not sure about this: e furono chiamati “regoli”.  The kingdoms are Pars, old Persia, and Susiana.
  3. [3]I.e. Philip III Aridhaeus.
  4. [4]I.e. the Serapeum.
  5. [5]Eutychius has got confused here.  Ptolemy I, son of Lagus, was the first Ptolemy.
  6. [6]Antiochus IV Epiphanes.  Cf. 1 Maccabees.
  7. [7]Ptolemy VII, co-regent of Ptolemy VI, seems to be omitted.
  8. [8]I.e. Seleucia, near Babylon; but actually founded much earlier, just like Antioch.
  9. [9]Unknown to the Ptolemaic king-lists.
  10. [10]Ptolemy X Alexander.
  11. [11]The famous Cleopatra VII.
  12. [12]This is the Caesarium, converted into a church and burned down in 912 AD.
  13. [13]I.e. the Greek Chemnis or Panopolis.
  14. [14]Antinoe or Antinopolis.

The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 7 – part 6

Let’s translate a bit more of the work of the Arabic Christian writer, Sa`id ibn Bitriq, also known as Eutychius.  The last section dealt with the reign of Alexander the Great, and his death and burial by his minister “Filimun”.  For the funeral, Eutychius now introduces material from the “Sayings” literature.  So this chapter is fiction.

Collections of moral sayings attributed to famous figures circulated in antiquity in several languages, including Greek and Syriac.  They were a popular, and therefore a vulgar form of literature.  The material also came into Arabic.  Some of this material was used for Christian purposes, to demonstrate that the Greek philosophers predicted the events of the life of Christ, paralleling the predictions in the Old Testament.  None of this material is historically reliable.  Sayings pass from one author to another in the mass of material.  A modern analogy would be a joke book, where material may be attributed to Oscar Wilde, or to Winston Churchill, even if in fact it is proverbial. 

I’ve footnoted the Italian where I was unsure of the inevitably concise meaning.

17. Fīlīmūn the philosopher said, “This is a day of great instruction.  For the evil that he did has come about, and he abandoned the good that preceded him.[1]  He who wishes to weep over him whose kingdom has come to an end, let him weep.

Aflātūn [Plato] the philosopher said: “O you who gained by force everything, you accumulated what has deceived and abandoned you, and left you only the trouble of it, while the pleasure will pass to another.”

Aristatālīs [Aristotle] the philosopher said: “Alexander went away full of eloquence and returned to us silent.”

Nārin the philosopher said: “Say to Alexander’s flock, ‘This is a day when the flock leads the shepherd to pasture.'”

And Nīlūn said: “Can anyone console us for our king, who has suffered no disgrace, and truly leave us consoled?”

And another said, “This is the way that we must travel.  Desire what lasts as much as that which is temporary.”

And another said, “Take this as an example.  Yesterday gold was for Alexander a treasure.  Today Alexander was buried in gold.”

And another said, “You join those who rejoiced over your death, like those whose death will please you will join you.”[2]

And the philosopher Lūtas said: “Do not marvel at him who did not teach us anything when he was alive, and now warns us by his death.”

And the philosopher Mitrūn said: “Yesterday, O man, we could listen but not speak. Can you hear what we are saying today?”

And the philosopher Sīsan said, “This man has killed many people in order not to die himself.  Yet he died.  How could he not have been able to get rid of death with death?”

And another said, “Alexander did not teach us with his words as much as he teaches us now with his silence.”

And philosopher Dimitar said, “O you whose anger was the cause of your death, why have you never been angry with death?”

And another said, “Your strongholds tremble with fear, O king, and you have reassured the strongholds of those who feared you.”

And another said, “How do people neglect you today, O king, and how interested they are in your coffin!”

And another said, “How true is death to his own, yet they will not see, and they block their ears!”[3]

And the philosopher Fīluqatūn said: “If this is the end of life, it is best for us to be indifferent from its inception.”

And another said: “O people, do not weep over someone who has ceased to weep, but each of you weep for yourselves.”

And another said, “Well, you who were accustomed to the vastness of the conquered countries, how can you now endure such a narrow place?”

And another said: “If someone only weeps at death when it happens, there is still death on every new day.”

And another said: “You who were exalted, you have now become humble, and if you were in an enviable position, you have now become worthy of pity.”

And another said, “Who is he now whose anger was terrible, and standing beside him was forbidden?  Why are you not angry that death is allotted to you, or that you were unable to resist the humiliation [of death]?”[4]

And another said, “It is easy to see the example of the death of kings, and from kings the warning of the death of the will.”

And another said, “Alexander never had a lesson more effective than that of his death.”

And another said, “Your voice was terrible and high your kingdom. But now your voice is gone and your kingdom has fallen.”

And another said, “You could give favours and I could not speak. Today, however, I can speak and you can not give favours.”

And another said, “If nobody was safe from you yesterday, there is no one today who is your subject.”

And another said, “Yesterday the shepherd had cared for his flock, but today the flock cares for its shepherd.”

And another said, “You’ve joined those who had a claim against you and you’ll definitely have to pay it off.  Maybe I could know what tolerance you show to acts of paying debt and of justice.”

And another said, “If you had had as much severity and serenity in the past as you show us today, you would have been a sage.”

 

  1. [1]Not sure that I correctly render this sentence: “ne è venuto fuori il male che gli stava alle spalle e l’ha abbandonato il bene che lo precedeva.”
  2. [2]The Italian is:  “Ti possa raggiungere chi si è rallegrato della tua morte come tu hai raggiunto coloro la cui morte ti rallegrò”.  I can’t really understand this.
  3. [3]“Come è verace la morte con i suoi, eppure essi tacciano di falsità i loro occhi e si otturano le orecchie!”
  4. [4]Perché non ti sei incollerito sì che la morte s’allontanasse da te o perché non hai opposto resistenza per cacciar via da te l’umiliazione /della morte/?