Bar Hebraeus’ Chronography The Kings of the Arabs Translated from Syriac by Ernest A. Wallis Budge

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Oxford University Press
London 1932
Here beginneth the Tenth Series, which passeth on from the GREEK (IONIAN) kings to the ARAB kings.

AFTER the twelve years of [the reign of] HERACLIUS, MAHAMAD began to be famous, and, moreover, the Era of the lunar month (1) of the TAYYAYE (ARABS) beginneth with this year, which is the six thousand one hundred and thirtieth year from ADAM, and the nine hundred and thirty-third year of the GREEKS (YAWNAYE), and the six hundred and twenty-fourth year of the Era of our Redeemer.
In the first year of the ARABS, SHAHRBARAZ captured AMCYRA, and after that RHODES.
And in the fourth year of the ARABS, SHAHRBARAZ and KARDIGAN (KARDENGAN) encamped around CONSTANTINOPLE, and their hosts crossed TARKI and pitched their camp on the western quarter of CONSTANTINOPLE, and afflicted it greatly. Then suddenly a period of inactivity took place among them because it was said to KESRU, ‘SHAHRBARAZ laugheth at thee, and saith that the victory concerning which thou art boasting thyself is his and not thine’. Therefore KESRU sent KARDIGAN to take the head of SHAHRBARAZ. The envoy was captured by the RHOMAYE. And when HERACLIUS learned [this] he sent secretly to SHAHRBARAZ, and with oaths [concerning his safety] had him brought to him. And when he went in and saw the envoy and the letter, and was certain about the matter, he acted cunningly and altered the letter, to which he added [the order] that ‘three hundred nobles were to be killed with SHAHRBARAZ’. And he took the letter, and went out, and read it before KARDIGAN and before the troops. And he said unto KARDIGAN, ‘Doth it please thee to do this?’ And the chiefs (or, nobles) were filled with wrath, and they scoffed at KESRU. And they made a compact with HERACLIUS, and they also gave him their sons as hostages for the confirmation of the conditions of the peace, [96] and departed on their way. And HERACLIUS sent a message to the KHAKAN, the king of the KAZARAYE, [asking him] to send to him forty thousand soldiers so that he might go against the PERSIANS, and he promised to give him his daughter EUDOXIA to wife.
Now when KESRU heard that SHAHRBARAZ had rebelled, and that HERACLIUS had gone down to his country, his courage became little, and he was greatly depressed. And he collected as many soldiers as he was able, and made RUZBIHAN captain over them. And when the PERSIANS met the RHOMAYE in battle, the PERSIANS were defeated and RUZBIHAN was killed. And when KESRU heard this, he fled from SAKUTHA where he was lying(or, encamped). And HERACLIUS pursued him and captured his treasures and his rich possessions. Then SHIRIN, the son of KESRU, who had been imprisoned by his father, went forth from his place of bondage, and pursued his father KESRU and killed him; and he reigned after him for nine months. When HERACLIUS returned to pass the winter in EDESSA, SHIRIN sent a letter to him and informed him of the slaughter of his father; and he (HERACLIUS) made a covenant of peace with him [and arranged] that the PERSIANS should evacuate the countries of the RHOMAYE. And SHIRIN died, having reigned for nine months.
And ‘ARDASHIR reigned after him for one year and nine months. And SHAHRBARAZ, who was with HERACLIUS, killed this [king], and he himself reigned, and confirmed the covenant with HERACLIUSt and the conditions [of peace].
And in the sixth year of the ARABS a portion of the hemisphere of the sun departed, and there was darkness from the month of the FIRST TESHRIN (OCTOBER) till the month of HAZIRAN (JUNE). [It lasted so long] that men used to say that the sphere of the sun would never become whole and perfect again. And the zanta, that is to say the sickness of the shar’ afta tumour, broke out in PALESTINE, and tens of thousands of men died of the disease.

A Cutting
THE WRITERS OF HISTORIES say that when the armies of the TAYYAYE. (ARABS) overtook HERACLIUS and occupied the various countries, he gathered to gether all the bishops, and the chiefs of the priests, and the rest of the satraps, and that he questioned them concerning the matter, saying, ‘What kind of a people are these and what are they?’ And each one of them made answer in so far as his mind understood the matter, until at length the whole subject had been laid bare before him. And he replied thus, ‘1 see that these people in their actions, and manners, and Faith (Religion) are like unto an early cloudy dawn, in which there is no absolute darkness, and yet it lacketh light which is perfect and clear’. And they asked him for an explanation of the speech. And he replied, ‘Yea, indeed, they are remote [97] from the darkness, inasmuch as they have rejected the worship of idols, and they worship One God. But they lack the perfectly clear light because of their remoteness from the light and because of their imperfect knowledge of our Christian Faith and Orthodox Confession.’ And his speech was fair (or, good) in the eyes of the people.

The History of the Confession of Faith of the TAYYAYE which was revealed at this time
was a very small child when his father ‘ABD ALLAH died, and his uncle ABU TALIB brought him up. And he took to wife a woman who was a widow, whose name was KHADIJAH because she was rich in possessions (i.e. wealthy). And with the wealth of this woman, and with her camels he became a merchant, and he went up from YATHREB his city to PALESTINE. And when he saw the land, that it was fertile and produced good things, he conversed with certain JEWS and he learned from them that God had given them that land of promise because of their belief in One God, and their rejection of the worship of idols. And he also desired this [land] earnestly, and he began to persuade his fellow countrymen about this matter when he was forty years of age. And it was rumoured among the chiefs of MAKKAH (MECCA) that he was introducing among them a foreign Confession (i.e. Religion), and they pursued him and threatened him with killing if he did not cease from this. Then he fled from that place and went to another city, the name of which was YATHREB. And the citizens went forth to meet him, and they received (i.e ‘welcomed) him, and they promised to help him in everything, and from this [incident] they were called ‘ANSAR’, that is to say, ‘Helpers’. And he taught them the Confession (or, Religion) of One God, and to abandon gods that were useless. And he exhorted them concerning the cleansing of the body and ablutions, because at that period the ARABS were a dirty people. And he formed companies of them, and he sent preachers (or, fighting propagandists) into PALESTINE, and when, as on several occasions when he went with them, they were successful and returned carrying with them riches and goods and possessions, they cleaved unto him with all their hearts. And many other peoples, when they heard of his success and riches, became subject unto him without trouble [on his part]. And when those who cleaved to him increased in number, he himself did not go up with them to share in the profit, but he sent other men at the head of his caravans whilst he himself dwelt in honour in his city. [98] And to the man who would not accept his Religion he returned answer, not any longer with [words of] persuasion, but with the sword. And those who turned [to him] he permitted [to enjoy] not only fleshly desires, and much copulation with women, both with those who were free and those who were concubines, but [he allowed] a man to divorce his wife whenever he wished and take another. And they were to keep the daily fast for one month only in the year, and he allowed them to eat throughout the night until daybreak.
And he declared that in the world which was to come after the Resurrection, there would be rivers .of honey, and milk, and wine, and trees loaded with delectable fruits, and reclinings on couches of gold with cushions of coral (?) and topaz (?), and union with women who surpassed the sun in beauty. [These things] he used to say God had prepared for the children of his Religion. And when he had lived ten years and two months, after he had assumed the place of a prophet forsooth, his kingdom extended from one [place] to another, and it increased and expanded, and embraced the greater number of the countries of the RHOMAYE and the whole of the kingdom of the PERSIANS.
And there rose among them philosophers, and mathematicians, and physicians, who surpassed the ancient [sages] in the exactness of their knowledge. The only foundations on which they set up their buildings were Greek houses; the wisdom-buildings (or, science-buildings) which they erected were great by reason of their highly polished diction, and their greatly skilled researches (or, investigations). Thus it hath happened that we, from whom they (i.e. the GREEKS) have acquired wisdom through translators, all of whom are SYRIANS, have been compelled to ask for wisdom from them. But as concerning the books of their Law, that is to say, Canons of marriages, and offerings, and ablutions, and the manner of [saying] prayers, and the amount of alms, and the various kinds of merchandise, and loans, and the division of inheritances, and the liberation of slaves–all these matters they have dilated upon to such a degree that not one of them, even though he has studied [the subject] during the whole period of his life, is able to decide finally questions and answers concerning them in a fitting manner. Moreover, there hath broken forth among them many heresies. Even as they say that he himself (i.e. MUHAMMAD) said, ‘My sect (?) is rent into more than seventy parts; one of them is redeemed, and the rest are for the fire’. The one [part] was that which conformed to his actions; and the others [belonged] to those who brought forth new things.
Some of them deal with the subject of the kingdom–like those who adjudicated the first headship (khalifate) after their prophet to ‘ALI his uncle’s son and his son-in-Iaw, [99] and his sons after him. But others adjudicated it to ABU BAKR, the old man, his father-in-law, and to ‘ALI the fourth headship. Some of them deal with the subject of Religion, such as those who say that God–praise be to His goodness!–is a body, and that He reclineth in bodily form in a material chariot which is greater than.the heavens and the earth. Others confess that He hath not a bodily form, but is visible to eyes of flesh; the righteous will see him at the Resurrection. And some men say that He speaketh with an everlasting word, which subsisteth in His Being, and that He liveth an everlasting life. But others, who are afraid of the personality [attributed to Him] by the Christians, and are unable to confess that His speech and life are accidental and temporal, are forced to say, ‘It is that He speaketh but not with words’. And so also, ‘He liveth, but not in life’. And some men say, ‘God created the sinner that he might sin and burn in GEHENNA, and the righteous man that he might be proclaimed righteous and enjoy happiness in PARADISE’.
And the question ‘Wherefore?’ is not to be asked. Man hath not dominion over existence. And others affirm the existence of freedom (i.e. free will) like the Christians. And that we may not go beyond the mark (i.e. outside our subject), we will return to our work. And because this kingdom of the ARABS swept away that of the RHOMAYE from our countries, we will [now] describe in order events as they took place as far as we are able to do so from reading and hearing.

After MAHAMMAD, ABU BAKR [ruled] for two years. This [Khalifah] sent; forth four captains of hosts, [one] to PALESTlNE, [one] to EGYPT, [one] to PERSIA, [and one] to ARABIA against the Christian ARABS. The captain who came to PALESTINE marched against CAESAREA. Then SARGI (SERGIUS) PATRICIUS collected from among the RHOMAYE and from among the SHAMRAYE (SAMARITANS) an army of about five thousand foot soldiers. And when the ARABS joined battle with the RHOMAYE they were victorious, and they destroyed first of all the SHAMRAYE. And when PATRICIUS saw that the people who were with him were defeated, he turned his back [in flight]. And the ARABS pursued the RHOMAYE, and they mowed them down as reapers mow the standing crops. Now it happened that SARGI (SERGIUS) fell from his horse, and his servants gathered together and set him on it again. And again he fell, and again they set him on his horse. And again he fell, for the third time. And when his servants wanted to set him on his horse again, he said unto them, ‘Save yourselves, and leave ye me that I may die by myself without [100] even you being with me’. And thus the ARABS overtook him and killed him, and they returned with victory. And in a similar manner those captains of hosts who had gone to the other regions returned with victory. And the fear of the ARABS fell upon all kings.
And at that time the PERSIANS evacuated EGYPT and PALESTINE, and all the countries of the RHOMAYE. And SHAHRBARAZ sent HERACLIUS and he took an army with him and he killed KARDIGAN; and then he reigned one year and was killed. And after him BARAM, the daughter of KESRU, reigned for a few months and died. And then her sister ZADIMIDUKHT reigned. And many [others] reigned [after her] in a period of two years. And at this time the natives of EDESSA whom KESRU had carried off into captivity returned from PERSIA. And HERACLIUS transgressed the Law and took MARTINA, his brother’s daughter, to wife, and begat by her an illegitimate son HERAKLUNA. At this time, in the month of ILUL (SEPTEMBER), an earthquake took place. And a sign, like unto a spear, appeared in the heavens, and it reached from the south to the north, and it remained there for thirty days. This manifestly made known the victory of the ARABS.

After ABU BAKR, ‘OMAR BAR-KHATTAB [ruled] ten years. This Khalifah sent a raiding army to ARABIA, and he took BOSRA (AL-BASRAH). And a year later he sent an army to PERSIA. Since the PERSIANS were divided, some following YAZDAGARD the son of KESRU and others HORMIZD, the ARABS prevailed over them and HORMIZD was killed, and YAZDAGARD reigned. Then HERACLIUS sent an army with THEODORIC his brother against the ARABS. When they had come into the country of ANTIOCH, there was in the village of GAWSITH a certain man who was a Chalcedonian and who lived on a pillar, and he said unto THEODORIC, ‘Promise to blot out those who are of the house of SEVERUS, and I will pledge myself to give thee victory’. And THEODORIC replied, ‘Apart from thy word it is laid upon me (i.e. it is my duty) to drive out the JACOBlTES’. And when they arrived opposite to the ARABS, the RHOMAYE pitched their whole camp in the neighbourhood of the ARABS. And when they set themselves in battle array against the ARABS, they were cut down like old worn-out palm-trees by the ARABS, and the remainder of them fled. Then the ARABS looted the Fossaton (i.e. Camp), and became rich with the gold, and silver, and slaves, and possessions which they found [therein].
And in the fourth year of ‘OMAR, [101] BAANIS, captain of the host of the RHOMAYE, and the son of SHAHRBARAZ the PERSIAN also, who when his father was killed took refuge with the RHOMAYE, and the treasurer of the king who was in EDESSA also, collected sixty thousand horsemen. And they came face to face with the ARABS in the country of EMESSA, and the RHOMAYE were defeated and forty thousand of them perished, and the greater number of them were drowned in the river of YARMUKA. Then the son of SHAHRBARAZ, whose life had been saved, sent a message to ‘OMAR, saying, ‘Give me an army and I will subjugate the PERSIANS for thee’. But the daughters of KESRU, who had been carried off as captives by the ARABS, made known to ‘OMAR what SHAHRBARAZ and his son had done to KESRU and his sons, and they warned him that they were men of guile, and said, ‘Thou must not be led astray by their words’. And ‘OMAR, accepting their words, sent to EMESSA, and hung (or, impaled?) the son of SHAHRBARAZ on a wooden post. And ‘OMAR came to DAMASCUS and gave a pledge to the DAMASCENES [as to the safety of their lives] and they opened their gates to the ARABS. From there he sent KHALID with an army to the country of ALEPPO and ANTIOCH, and a great many men perished. And, moreover, when men and women, and youths and maidens were gathered together for the festival in the Monastery of MAR SIMEON STYLITES, the ARABS came upon them and carried them all away into captivity.
And at this time also SA’AD went forth from YATHREB, and he pitched his camp by the side of KUFAH, which is ‘AKULA. And YAZDAGARD also sent an army, and the soldiers thereof pitched their camps on the EUPHRATES. And the PERSIANS sent an Arab spy to spy on the ARABS, and when he drew nigh unto them he saw a Ma’daya (i.e., a nomad Arab) who was squatting on the ground and micturating and eating bread. And the spy said unto him in the Saracenic tongue, ‘What art thou doing?’ And the nomad replied, ‘Behold, [1 am doing] exactly what thou seest–casting out the old and taking in the new’. And straightway he went back and informed the PERSIANS, saying, ‘The people I have seen are barefooted and naked, but they are very brave’. And he repeated to the captain of the host what he had heard, that ‘their victory is from God’. And when they had set the battle in array, the PERSIANS were defeated, and they were pursued until [they came] to CTESIPHON, which is on the DEGLATH (TIGRIS). One mighty man of war of the PERSIANS fled from a nomad who pursued him, and he went into a village which was in the neighbourhood, and a peasant ploughman hid him. And when the peasant saw the nomad who was pursuing him, and that he was naked, and had only a reed in his hand, he went in [102] to the PERSIAN and reviled him, saying, ‘How is it that thou, who art arrayed in armour and hast in thy possession all the weapons of war, dost flee from a naked man? And why hast thou not turned back and taken his head?’ And the PERSIAN said unto the peasant, ‘Bring me a mazara’ (i.e. a wooden instrument of torture used in flogging men). And when the peasant had brought it he made a mark on it like an arrow, and slit,it up and said, ‘[Many] times I have set the mark of an arrow like this on the nomads whom thou hast seen’, and he collected all the arrows in his tunic like flies.
And again YAZDAGARD gathered together a second host of men, and he attacked the ARABS on the EUPHRATES; and the ARABS were victorious, and they went to CTESIPHON and carried away the treasures and the people thereof. And again YAZDAGARD for the third time mustered his troops in GALULA, and he attacked the ARABS and was defeated. And he mustered his troops for the fourth time in MOUNT MADAI, and he attacked the ARABS and was broken; these four musterings took place in one year. And YAZDAGARD being in utter despair fled to the frontier of the TURKAYE in the country of SIGISTAN. And having remained there hidden for five years he was killed, and thus was blotted out the kingdom of the PERSIANS which is called ‘BETH SASAN’. This kingdom began with ‘ARDASHIR, the son of BABAK, in the year five hundred and thirty-eight of the GREEKS, and ended in the year nine hundred and fifty-six of the GREEKS (A.D. 227-645). In like manner HERACLIUS in despair marched from ANTIOCH to CONSTANTINOPLE, saying, ‘Sozo Suria’, that is to say, ‘Remain thou in peace, SYRIA’. And his troops began to plunder the native Christians, and those RHOMAYE were far worse than the ARABS, for they carried off everything they found. And HERACLIUS wrote to BETH NAHRIN, and to EGYPT and ARMENIA, and to all the RHOMAYE, saying ‘Let not any man in future fight against the ARABS (i.e. cease raiding the ARABs), only let him that is able to keep his watch remain at his post’.
And then ‘OMAR went to EGYPT, and KURA, the bishop of ALEXANDRIA, went out to meet him and he undertook to give him every year two hundred thousand dinars, but stipulated that the ARABS must not be allowed to invade EGYPT; and ‘OMAR accepted [KURA’s undertaking], and did not invade [EGYPT]. And when HERACLIUS heard of this he was offended, as a man who would not, except under strictest compulsion, give gold to the ARABS, and he sent a certain ARMENIAN [called] MANUEL to negotiate the matter. And when the envoys of the ARABS came to take the gold, MANUEL, who had made them encamp with the army [103] in BABYLONIA [of EGYPT], that is to say, FOSTAT, said unto them, ‘I do not drape myself with linen, like KURA, that I may give you gold, but with armour’. And when the envoys had gone back empty to ‘OMAR, MANUEL became afraid and left EGYPT and fled, and the ARABS made themselves masters of EGYPT.
And in the fifteenth year of the ARABS (A.D. 636) ‘OMAR came to PALESTINE, and SOPHRONIUS, the bishop of JERUSALEM, went forth to meet him. And the bishop received [his] pledge concerning the safety of the whole country. ‘OMAR also wrote for him a sigillum (i.e. a Patent of authority, or farman?) and also decreed that no JEW should have authority to dwell in JERUSALEM. And when ‘OMAR went into JERUSALEM, he commanded, and a MASGID (MOSQUE) for the ARABS to pray in was built on the site of the Temple of SOLOMON. And when the bishop saw that the gannents which ‘OMAR was wearing were dirty, he pressed him to accept from him a change of raiment and a napkin (i.e. head-cloth); and brought them before him, but ‘OMAR did not wish [for them]. This man ‘OMAR was wholly upright (or, just) and he was remote from avarice, and although they (the ARABS) were masters of all the treasures of the PERSIANS and the RHOMAYE. he never changed his original manner of attire.
And from there ‘OMAR passed through the, cities of SYRIA, and he subjugated them all. And he crossed the EUPHRATES to the east, and the citizens of EDESSA went out to him, and received a word (i.e. pledge) concerning their city. TELLA and DARA, which he did not besiege, he took by storm, and he killed the RHOMAYE who were therein. And in the nineteenth year of the ARABS (A.D. 640) ‘OMAR commanded that all the countries of his dominion should be assessed for the poll tax. And in that same year, which was the nine hundred and fifty-first year of the GREEKS, HERACLIUS died, and CONSTANTINUS (III?), his eldest son, reigned four months. MARTINA, his father’s wife, killed him by poison, and she made king her young son HERAKLUNA, who was called ‘the New DAVID’. And he was displeasing to the Senate, and they swept aside HERAKLUNA and made KUSTANS, the son of the murdered man, king. This man killed his two uncles and MARTiNA, the wife of HERACLIUS. Now ‘OMAR ruled for twelve years. A certain man who was a decorator, having complained to him concerning his master on [several] occasions, and being neglected by him, smote ‘OMAR in his belly with a knife whilst he was praying and he died.

After ‘OMAR, ‘OTHMAN [ruled] twelve years. This Khalifah began by showing himself avaricious, and he collected gold for himself; and the ARABS gathered together to kill him, but when he promised to behave like the kings [104] who were his predecessors, they allowed him [to live].
This Khalifah sent SA’ID his son to harry the king of the PERSIANS. Then YAZDAGARD, after having hidden himself for five years in SIGISTAN, went forth and came to KUFAH; and SA’ID came to MARW (MERV) after he had subjugated the whole of PERSIA. And YAZDAGARD was afraid, and in order that they might not deliver him up, went forth and hid himself in a mill, and there a certain man, a TURKAYA, killed him.
At this time MU’AWIYAH, the captain of the host of the ARABS, came and encamped against CAESARAEA of PALESTINE, and he invested it by sea and by land. And from the beginning of the FIRST KANON (DECEMBER) to IYAR (MAY) he attacked it fiercely. And although seventy-two engines of war were hurling stones at its wall, no breach was made in it. Then the ARABS dug a hole [under, or, in the wall] and [some of them] entered, and others scaled the wall by means of ladders. And the ARABS remained three days on the wall and were unable to descend into the city. Then, when the ARABS became masters [of the city], seven thousand RHOMAYE who were guarding the city escaped in boats. And MU’AWIYAH captured the riches that were in it, and he laid the inhabitants thereof under tribute. From there the ARABS passed into CILICIA. And they arrived suddenly at ‘UKHITA, and made themselves masters of the gates there. And they collected its riches, and they tortured the nobles so that they might show [them] all the goods that were hidden, and they carried off all the people, men and women and children, into slavery. And they defiled the churches wickedly.
And in the twenty-fifth year of the ARABS, which is the year nine hundred and fifty-eight of the GREEKS (A.D. 647), GREGORIUS PATRIK of AFRICA rebelled against KUSTANS. And the ARABS made ready for a raiding expedition and they went to AFRICA, but although they were not a match for the anny of PATRIK, they took possession of all the cities on the sea-coast. And GREGORIUS came back and resumed his subjugation to KUSTANS. And MU’AWIYAH divided his troops into two camps. And over the one he made captain one HABIB, a SYRIAN, an evil man, and sent him to ARMENIA in the season of winter. And he went there, and the ARABS carried off the people into captivity, and they killed the men whom they encountered, and burnt the villages and came back. And the other army, which was with MU’AWIYAH, went to the country of CESARAEA of CAPPADOCIA. And when the ARABS had crossed the mountain passes, they found the villages prosperous, and they plundered them; and they pitched their tents close to CESARAEA, and fought for ten days, but were not a match for [105] its strength. Then they destroyed the whole district, and left it a waste and desolate place, and returned.

(Continued on Next Page)
(1) The Hijrah began on the 16th day of TAMMUZ (JULY), A.D. 622.