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/?

The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 7 – part 5

We continue the reign of Alexander the Great.  Eutychius believes that Cassander poisoned him.  It is interesting that the evil reputation of Cassander (not named here) persisted after 13 centuries.

16. Alexander won many victories, and among the Greeks, thirteen kings obeyed him.  He founded thirteen cities, some in the west and others in the east.  He waged so many wars and gained so many victories that no king was greater than him.  He founded a city and called it by his name, Alexandria.  He then moved the government from the city of Makidūniya to the city of Alexandria.  He raised the lighthouse of Alexandria and made it a guide for all those who sailed by sea to lead them to the route that went to Alexandria.  After the king had conquered and obtained the empire of the world, he went to Bābil where he was poisoned and died.  This is because Alūmafidā[1], his mother, had written a letter in which she complained about his lieutenant, who commanded Makidūniyah, and as Alexander was angry at him, he had thought of killing him.  But getting wind of this, he sent his son to Alexander with many gifts and presents and with deadly poison, advising him to conduct himself with every kind of gentle wisdom in order to poison Alexander.  The young man came to Alexander, bearing all the gifts he had with him.  He came across, among others, the cupbearer of Alexander, with whom the latter had previously clashed and beaten up.  So, nourishing a great grudge against Alexander, the cupbearer assisted the young man in his intentions. Then one of Alexander’s followers joined them, in their conspiracy.  Now it happened that Alexander gave a banquet to his friends, where everyone ate and drank. Alexander was sitting with his followers and his close friends, cheerful and happy among the diners.  When he asked for a drink, the cupbearer poured the poison into the king’s cup and handed it to him.  Drinking it, the king immediately knew that he would die, and he called a scribe and dictated a letter to his mother in these terms:

“From the servant of God, Alexander, conqueror and lord of the land of the earth yesterday and today his pledge,[2] to his affectionate and merciful mother Alūmafīdā whose nearness he is unable to enjoy. Sincere and great peace to you.  The road that I am now travelling, O my mother, is the same as those have travelled who have fallen asleep before me, and that you and those who survive me will travel.  In this world we are just like the day that chases away the day that came before it.  Do not regret this world for the fact that it deceives its creatures.  You have an example of what you know about King Philip who could not stay with you nor survive.  Arm yourself, then, with sound endurance and remove your anguish and look for solitude.  Order that none should come to you unless they have not seen misfortune, so that you may know better what it is and know better about your condition and you can better care for your own. What I go to is a better and more restful condition than the one in which I lived.  Do good by me and accept this in resignation and endurance so that sorrow does not overcome you.  This letter I send to you on the last day of this life and on the first of the other, with the hope that it will console you and be a source of blessing to  you.  Do not disappoint me and do not sadden my spirit. Peace to you”.

He then commanded his seal put to the letter and for it to be sent secretly to his mother.  He then ordered his minister Fīlīmūn to keep his death secret and to go immediately to Alexandria.  Then he died.  It is said that when Alexander came to Qūmus, he became seriously ill and that his illness grew worse and worse every day.  His mother had told him that a diviner had predicted, when he was born, that he would die in a place whose sky was golden and whose earth was iron.  As ill as he was, Alexander came to Shahrazūr. His illness had become more acute during the journey. Then he stopped, and they put under him two boards with a coating of iron, and he sat down, while a man gave him shade with a shield inlaid with gold.  On seeing this, Alexander remembered the words of his mother, called his minister, dictated a letter to his mother and died.  When his mother received the letter, she ordered a banquet, inviting people to join.  However, she placed custodians at the door, with the order that nobody should enter except those who had not been hit by some misfortune.  The gatekeepers therefore questioned those who came and if they were struck by a disaster they would not let him in.  By doing so they excluded everyone and there was no one who could take part in the banquet.  On seeing this, [Alūmafīdā] accepted her fate in good faith, became strong and was convinced that this was the common fate of the mortals. The minister Fīlīmūn laid the body of Alexander in a golden coffin as an honour. In another text it is said: “He filled it with honey and kept the death secret.” He then led the soldiers to Alexandria, carrying behind the coffin of the [king], and as soon as the death of Alexander was made public in front of the people,  he showed them the coffin and placed it in the centre of the court.  Then the minister Filīmūn ordered the wise men to keep up a funeral elegy, which was a comfort for the friends of the followers, and an education for all the people.

 

 

  1. [1]I.e. Olympias.
  2. [2]I really didn’t understand this: “Dal servo di Dio, Alessandro, conquistatore e signore dei paesi della terra ieri ed oggi suo pegno“.

The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 7 – part 4

We continue with the story of Alexander.  The Abbasid caliphs, for whom Eutychius wrote, were basically Persians, and so the destruction of the Achaemenids by Alexander – who is treated as the king of the “Rum”! – was obviously sensitive territory.  Eutychius copes with this inconvenience by denying Alexander his military victory, and instead attributing the defeat of Darius to treachery.  One doubts that anyone was fooled, but the flattery doubtless benefited the author.

I notice that Google Translate continues to mistranslate the numerals.  I must recheck all the numbers of years from A to B.

14 And when he came to the king, the messenger told him what Alexander had done.  Then Alexander gathered together his compatriots and his men, and said to them, “There are three ways to accomplish things:  with great forethought, with the ability to realize them, and with the implementation of both with a firm intention. Whoever of you is of this opinion will get what he wants and, whoever shares this will join with me, but whoever is not of the same opinion should stay away from me.” They replied, “God has united these three things in our king, while we have some who own one and some who own another, but no one is able to effectively implement what he has.”  Alexander was fully satisfied with their words.  Then he made all the arrangements and went out against Dāriyūs.  They met at al-Gazirah[1] and the war was protracted on both sides for forty days.  Dāriyūs had five trenches dug, and he placed in each of them a general (“isbahid”) at the head of twelve thousand men and every man went out to fight every five days.  Dāriyūs then ordered his men to bring him two heads of Rūm every day.  And in fact, two heads of the Rūm or one only were delivered to him daily.  Alexander was saddened at that in his heart and his rage reached its peak. He then sent to Dāriyūs: “We are almost annihilating each other. I therefore propose a way that allows us and you to come out of this; that is, that you deploy your men with a gap, so that I can take the way through your troops on the side where you are, and so can go back to my country.  We, indeed, have no intention of fleeing in the face of deployed troops, because such a thing would be a dishonour that could never be washed away, a spot that could never be purified and an unforgivable ignominy.”  Dāriyūs replied, “We do not think it appropriate to give you what you ask for, or see the reason for it.”  When he saw this, Alexander was thoughtful, with his head in his hands, looking for a way out.  Then he said to his men: “O Rūm, this means we are feeble and with little strength to win.  If there is any one among you, or among the Persians, who can suggest some stratagem in this matter in order to get us out of such anguish, he will have half the realm of the Persians and the Rūm and half of what is at the junction [of the whole territory]”.  The words of Alexander were heard by Khisnisf and Adarshīst[2], the sons of Adarbakht, the captains of the guard of Dāriyūs.  In another text it is said “of the armies”.  When it came to arms, they fell on Dāriyūs with their swords and struck him to the ground. The Persians were put to flight, and many were killed on the field.  It happened then that Alexander came to Dāriyūs, and saw him in that state, and he dismounted from his horse, rested his head on his chest, washed his face, bended his wounds, kissed him and wept, said, “Praise God who has not given it to any of my men to kill you. What we now see was already written in the foreknowledge of God.  Ask whatever you want.  For my part I grant you the right to ask three things, but you will also allow me to ask for one.”  Dāriyūs said to him: “I want you not to overthrow the nobles and dignitaries of Fāris, and to guarantee their safety.  I want you to not destroy the temples of fire, and to care for their security.  I want you to do justice on those who killed me, and return him the same, because he will certainly betray your favour if he is released as he has already betrayed mine.”  Alexander assured him that he would do what he had asked, and said, “What I want from you is that you give me your daughter Rūshtaq, and that this is done through you and with your blessing.” Dāriyūs replied, “I grant her to you in marriage, provided that you entrust the kingdom, after you, to a son that you have from her.”  Alexander consented and Dāriyūs gave his daughter to him in marriage.  Then he died.  Alexander then ordered him to be buried, wrapping him in the most precious linen that the king possessed and commanded the soldiers, Greeks and Persians, to march with the weapons [in salute] before his coffin.  Alexander and his most prominent men followed the parade to the place of the burial.  Then Alexander said, “If it had been my task to reduce Dāriyūs to the state in which you saw him, I would have done it because he was in any case my enemy.  Great is therefore the service of he who has spared me such an action and I feel I must reward him.  Come before me, and I swear solemnly in the name of God, that I will exalt him and raise him up above all my men.”  Then Khisnisf and Adarshīst, sons of Adarbakht, went on to him, and said to him, “We are the leaders of the guard of Dāriyūs, who have spared you such an action.  Therefore, give us what you promised us.”  [Alexander] ordered them to be crucified on two great crosses, saying: “These two men deserved to get what I ordered for them, because of their broken promise and for having betrayed their king. If they have not been loyal to their king, they will not be to anyone else.  I gave them what I had promised them and raised them above all my men.”  He then ordered gifts to be made to the mother, wife and daughter of Dāriyūsh, to give them the appropriate clothes to their rank and surround them with all honour.  He then ordered that gifts and clothing should be given to the Persian generals and notables as appropriate to their rank, benefits and expectations and confirmed them in their offices.  For these things they loved him, and held him dear to them.  Then Alexander invited those who wished to follow him in the invasion of India.  They went with him, glad and ready to fight.

15. Alexander thus reigned over seven provinces. From the captivity of Babil to the reign of Alexander 263 years had passed; from the reign of David to that of Alexander, 740; from the exodus of the children of Israel from Egypt to the reign of Alexander, 1,346; from Abraham to the reign of Alexander, 1,853; from Fāliq to the reign of Alexander, 2,394; from the flood to the reign of Alexander, 2,925; from Adam to the reign of Alexander, 5,181.  The teacher of Alexander was Aristātālis, the philosopher.  Also in the city of Athinah was a wise man named Diyūğānūs [3].

 

 

 

  1. [1]I.e. in Mesopotamia.
  2. [2]Arrian in the Anabasis III, 21, calls them “Satibarzan and Barsaente.”
  3. [3]Aristotle and Diogenes.