Simeon of Beth Arsham

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He described the massacre of Christians by Jews in the Yemen in 523AD in a contemporary letter to Simeon of Gabbula. Simeon, according to his own account, was on an embassy to Mundhir, king of Hira, when an embassy arrived from South Arabia announcing the accession of a new ruler there. The ambassadors related how he had attained the throne, and the measures he had taken against the Christians, and went on to urge Mundhir to adopt the same policy towards them. Simeon writes in order to stir up sympathy, and if possible obtain help for the oppressed Christians:

"The Jews amassed all the martyr's bones and brought them into the church where they heaped them up. They then brought in the priests, deacons, subdeacons, readers, and sons and daughters of the covenant...they filled the church from wall to wall, some 2,000 persons according to the men who came from Najran; then they piled wood all round the outside of the church and set light to it, thus burning the church with everyone inside it."


  • The letter is given by Assemani, B.O. vol. i. p. 359 seq. A letter of Jacob of Serugh, and a hymn by Johannes Psaltes, translated into Syriac by Paul of Edessa, have been published by Schroeter in Z.D.M.G. 31, p. 363 ff. See also Procopius, De bello Persico, i. 20.