Sunday, November 29, 2009

Supplement for the Second Edition of

Who Was Jesus?

How Much Can Be Known about the Koranic Jesus?

The Israelite priesthood was apparently regarded from an early time as the preserve of the tribe of Levi, with members of this tribe offering priestly services wherever they were needed (see Judges 17:6b-13). At some point, however, as the Israelite Yahweh cult became more organized, the priesthood came to be restricted exclusively to one particular Levitical lineage: the house of Aaron who was allegedly the brother of Moses, the first priest of Israel and the man originally given charge of the Ark of the Covenant (the sacred wooden chest in which the spirit of the invisible Yahweh was supposed to reside). The last officially recognized Aaronic chief priest, whose name was Abiathar, served under King David (c. 1005-964 BC), but was made to share his office with a man called Zadok who was apparently neither of Aaronic nor even of Levitical descent. Later, when Solomon succeeded his father David as king, Abiathar was sacked from the chief priesthood and banished to an agricultural estate that his family owned in Anathoth (1 Kings 2:26; Joshua 21:18) − today, almost certainly the village called Antutah (Arabicized form of the Biblical Hebrew Anatot, name changed today to al-Mubarakah), in the fertile hinterland of the Saudi Arabian coastal town of Jizan, close by the border with Yemen.

From that time on, the chief priesthood of the Davidic kingdom – under Solomon, then under the kings of Judah who were his successors – became the exclusive preserve of the house of Zadok. This same Zadokite priestly establishment continued to dominate Israelite religious affairs following the Babylonian conquest of Judah in 586 BC and the deportation of its leading citizens to Iraq. In the meanwhile, the Aaronic priesthood had somehow managed to survive in Anathoth, probably supported by a body of die-hard Israelites who refused to accept the sacerdotal authority of the Zadokites. Among the Aaronic priests of Anathoth was the Prophet Jeremiah, who predicted – and lived to witness – the downfall of Judah, and who vanished from history in obscure circumstances shortly thereafter.

Apart from identifying “Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah” as being one “of the priests who were in Anathoth” (Jeremiah 1:1), the Received Text of the Hebrew Bible, which was compiled and redacted by the Zadokites and their associates in post-exilic times, has nothing to say about the house of Aaron following the dismissal of Abiathar from the chief priesthood. And nothing would have been known about the fate of the Aaronic priestly line after the mysterious disappearance of Jeremiah, had it not been for the Koran, where it identifies Maryam – the Koranic Mary – as an Israelite temple figure of unequivocally Aaronic lineage (see chapter four). As the son of Maryam, Issa − the Koranic Jesus who was believed to be virgin-born − would have naturally inherited his mother’s Aaronic lineage, apparently to become the head of the house of Aaron in due course. The fact that the Koran recognizes him as al-Masih, or “the Christ,” indicates that he was recognized by his followers, in his time, as the long-awaited priestly messiah whose mission was to end the prolonged Zadokite usurpation of the Israelite priesthood, and to restore it to the house of Aaron to which it legitimately belonged.

The Koranic juxtaposition between the Aaronic Issa and the Zadokite Ezra (see chapter four) seems to indicate a historical connection between the careers of the two men. Ezra, who was active in the middle decades of the fifth century BC, was the person chiefly responsible for the post-exilic revival of the law of Moses, on the basis of which the scattered remnants of the Israelite people were reorganized under Zadokite leadership as the religious community of the “Jews” (yehuwdim, from yehuwdah, the Hebrew for Judah). Disregarding the fact that an Aaronic priesthood still existed in Arabia in his time, and that this priesthood probably commanded an Israelite following of some size, Ezra claimed for himself an Aaronic lineage to which he was not entitled (Ezra 7:1-5). Alternatively, it was his Jewish followers who fabricated this lineage for him during his lifetime, or following his death. This daring action, whether on his part or that of his partisans, would alone have sufficed to elicit an open confrontation on the issue between the houses of Zadok and Aaron. And there is good indication that a contest over the possession of the Ark of Covenant – to the Israelites, the ultimate touchstone of genuine priestly standing – may have been at the heart of the matter.

Of the fate of the Ark of the Covenant after it came to be installed in the temple of Solomon (see 1 Kings 8:1-11), the Received Text of the Hebrew Bible, curiously, has nothing to say, leaving the ultimate fate of the Ark unknown. However, in a book on the antiquities of Arabia written in the early decades of the eighth century AD, an early Muslim historian and epigraphist, Wahb ibn Munabbih (Kitab al-tijan li-muluk Himyar, Hyderabad Deccan, AH 1347, pp.179-180), reports that the Israelites once deposited the Ark in Mecca as they fled through the Hijaz in panic before a powerful coalition of enemies, and that the Ark remained thereafter in Mecca until Issa ibn Maryam arrived in the city to claim it. Wahb, who was the descendant of a prominent Jewish family from the Yemen, was well versed in the Israelite lore of Arabia. What lends special credence to his Ark story is, first, the casual manner in which he relates it, without comment or elaboration, and, second, the fact that he relates it in the context of the history of Mecca, and not that of the Israelites, about which he has much to say elsewhere. Add to this the fact that his story of the Ark makes good historical sense. In a struggle between Issa and the Zadokites over the legitimate right to the Israelite priesthood, what success could have been more dramatic for an Aaronic messiah than suddenly managing to find and take possession of the long lost and virtually forgotten Ark?

The question of the Ark aside, Wahb’s account of its concealment in Mecca and of its subsequent reclamation from there by Issa in that city seems to assume, first, that pre-exilic Israelite history ran its course in Arabia and second, that the geographical setting of Issa’s career was equally Arabian. It was in Arabia, apparently, that he died and was buried. This, at least according to a story originally told by an Arabian notable from Medina, in the Hijaz, and quoted by the great Arab scholar al-Tabari (d. AD 923) in his major historical work Tarikh al-rusul wal-muluk (Cairo edition, 1967, vol.1, pp.603-4):

One of our womenfolk had made a vow to climb to the peak of al-Jamma', a mountain in al-Aqiq, [south of] Medina. So I climbed with her until we reached the mountain top. There stood an enormous sarcophagus with two huge tombstones, one [at each end], which bore inscriptions in a writing unknown to me. I carried the two stones back with me. But as I was crossing a passage down the mountainside, the two of them became too difficult for me to carry; so I dropped one and descended with the other. I asked people who knew Syriac if they could read [the inscription on that stone], but they could not. Then I showed it to people from the Yemen who could write [Hebrew], or who wrote the South Arabian script, and they could not read it. So, when I found no one who could make sense of [the inscription], I put it away at home under a chest, where it remained for years. Then some Persians arrived [in Medina] from [the town of] Maha to buy beads. I asked them: “Do you have a written language?” They answered: “We do.” So I brought out the [inscription] for them [to see] and, behold, they were reading it, as it was in their script: “This is the grave of Issa ibn Maryam, the messenger of God to the people of this land.” It turned out that [Persians] had inhabited the area at that time, and [Issa] died in their midst, so they buried him on top of the mountain.

This story not only confirms the location of the career of Issa ibn Maryam in the Arabian province of the Hijaz, but also relates it to the period of Persian rule in the lands of the Near East (535-330 BC). More interesting, however, is the fact that ¤abar was aware that the Issa who was buried on top of Mount Jamma', south of Medina, was a person entirely different from the Jesus who was crucified by the Jews in Jerusalem during the reign of the Roman emperor Tiberius. “I have been told,” he says, “that the man taken to be Issa and crucified in his place was an Israelite called Ishu bin Fandara” (Tabari, vol.1, p.605). This name is none other than the pejorative name Yeshu' ben Panthera, or ben Pandera (see chapter three), by which the Jewish Talmud refers to the Davidic Jesus who was crucified in the Palestinian Jerusalem, and whom we have agreed to call Jeshu bar Nagara (see chapter seven).

With respect to the dating of the career of the Koranic Jesus who was Issa ibn Maryam, the Damascene Muslim historian, Abul-Qasim Ibn Asakir, writing in the twelfth century AD (Sirat al-Sayyid al-Masih, Suleiman Murad, ed., Amman, 1996, par.10), cites a tradition related by an early Muslim authority who died in AD 721 which asserts that the “ascension” of Issa to God’s presence occurred 933 years before the start of the Muslim era (AD 622). Unless another explanation can be given to this tradition, it means that the “ascension” of Issa (possibly to mean his canonization or apotheosis) occurred is 311 BC, and that his career as a prophet and Aaronic Messiah belonged to the late fourth century BC, and not to the late fifth or early fourth centurs earlier surmised (see chapter four).


  1. 1.) How could the persians read a scripture that has been written more than 1000 years ago?
    What kind of alphabet did they use?

    2.) The book of Wahb ibm Munabib: Are the any english translations.I am especially interested in him because of
    "Wahb, who was the descendant of a prominent Jewish family from the Yemen, was well versed in the Israelite lore of Arabia"
    The conscience of teh arab jews to live in their fathers land (the promised land) has also been reported elsewhere. Do you know of any sources.

    The book of 'Al Tabari'. I have one of the series in english for obvoius reasons.
    Volume III (The children of Israel)
    What is the correct volume for the story above?

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Is there any connection with the Essenes and the koranic issa?They wear white clothes and the name essa is virtually identical with issa!

  4. (b)To my knowledge, the work of Wahb has not been translated, nor even brought out in a new Arabic edition. Itt formed the main basis, however, for Dozy's virtually forgotten (and possible suppred work: Die Israeliten zu Mekka im David's Zeit (forgive my German orthography, if incorrect (Dozy, by the way, who was the student of Sylvestre de Sacy, was the eacher of Wright, who was the teacher of Arnold, who was the teacher of Gibb, wo was the teacher of Bernard Lewis, who was my teacher. I thought the genealogy might interest you.)

  5. (a)The longer response got messed up. Anyway, I think the inscription must have been written in the OLD PERSIAN CUNEIFORM which would conceivably have survived until the early years of the Hijra as a script in which Zoroastrian texts were written. Had the inscription been written in IMPERIAL ARAMAIC,Jews, certainly, would have managed to read it (which was not reportedly the case).

  6. (a cont.) There is no reason I can think of why such a story would have been invented, which nonetheless remains possible.

  7. (c) The tomb of Jesus story is told by Tabari in a section at the end of the first volume of the Arabic edition entitled: The Affairs of Israel after Solomon and David, Peache be upon Both

  8. To my knowledge, the name of the Essenes has only come down to us in Greek; an Greek. alas, sacrificed the Semitic guttural consonants to eplace them with vowels and make their larguage readable (at the expense of making it etymologically absurd). Scholars attribute some of the Dead Sea scroll material to the Essenes; but I am left, to date, unconvinced by their efforts. I demand habeas corpus -- which in this case is virtually imposible to produce.

  9. the scholar rachel elior made a compelling argument about the essenes. the fact that they have forsaken all sexual activities put them at odds with the taurat "torah" tradition of "go forth and multiply" it seems that all we know about thgis mistrious sect came from the historian josephus and other greek and roman historians had merely repeated his story. the prevailant theory of attributing the dead sea scrolls to the essenes has been endorsed by some modern historians. they claim that traces of ink found at the qimran site is similar to the ink used in writing the scrolls.
    on the subject of the scrolls, i find the similsrities between some koranic verses and those of the scrolls most interesting.

  10. chapter 9 verse 30 of the koran mentions some one by the name ouzair. i am not sure if this is the same as azra. the verse says:" and the jews have said that ouzair is the son of god and al-nassara said that al-masseeh is the son of god..."

  11. The Koranic Uzair is Ezra. His tomb, Nabi Uzair, is visited by Jews in souther Iraq. He lived in the fifth century B.C. and was the founder of Judaism as a religious community. The Koran treats the Israelites, correctly, as a people, and the Jews as a religious community, and nowhere confuses between the two.

  12. thank you for drawing my attention to the distiction between the children of israeel and the jews.

  13. in your book, the search for jesus, which i read in arabic, you mentioned that paul had spent some time in arabia. and that he said something about the tablets that existed there. do we know where he went in arabia? i am only relying on my weak memory, but did you mention that these tablets could be part of the oreginal injeel?
    what are your thoughts on the bible of barnaba?

  14. To my limited knowledge, Injil Barnaba was a nineteenth century hoax, sometimes attributed to the Indian Muslim Ahmadiyya movement. However, do not take my word for it.
    That Paul went to Arabia is beyond doubt: where exactly, one cannot tell. He could have undertaken an extensive tour in the peninsula, and particularly in its historically significant western parts. In his epistles, he seaps of "scrolls" which were particularly precious to him. I assume these scrolls were what he returned with from his Arabian visit. Among them, I would say, was the Injil (read it in Arabic as INJILA', from WAZN INFA'ALA -- INJALA -- of the verb JALA, "become clear") of the NASARA: the followers of the Arabian Jesus ISSA ibn MARYAM whose tomb lay on a mountain top south of Medina.
    The early church fathers, until the seventh century AD, knew of the existence of an Injil in Aramaic (not Greek)which they dismissed as inconsequential. No copy of this original Injil has been retrieved to date.

  15. the jews in toronto are clebrating hanoukkah by lighting minarot. since minarot ia a word of arabic root does the word hanoukkah have an arabic root also.
    does yom kipur mean "great day" or does kipur come from the arabic verb kaffara?
    a yamani student in the states told a friend of mine that some northen yamani tribes use the word "phir'on" to mean a giant. any comments?

  16. The verbal root of hanukah is حنك
    which ih Hebrew means "consecrate, dedicate" (re the dedication of Solomon's temple). In Arabic, the same root refers to the custom of "consecrating, dedicating" a newborn child by rubbing its palate with something sweet.
    The Hebrew kippur is the Arabic kaffara.
    I am not familiar with Yemeni dialects.

  17. the koranic jesus starts with a man called imran. sura 3 verse 35. i am sure you are familiar with the verse. the koran mentions that the wife of imran gave birth to maryam and alludes to her being orphaned, in verse 37 of the same sura, and that zakaria was in charge of her. verse 44 talks about casting of sticks an arabian practice similar to flipping of coins to see who is going to look after maryam.
    verse 33 says:" god has favoured adam and nouh and the house of ibrahim and the house of imran over the whole of mankind"
    in sura 19 verse 23 :"when she experienced pangs of childbirth she retired to the trunk of a date tree..etc"
    the koranic jesus has indeed very arabian flavor.
    as i am not familiar with the new tastement, i wonder if there is any mention to maryam's parenhood and her relation with zakaria.
    your comments will be greatly appreciated.

  18. The Koranic Imran is the equivalent of the Biblical Amram: the father of Moses and Aaron, and hence the ancestor of the house of Aaron, the legitimate priests of Israel from whom Maryam, mother of Issa, was descended. I believe this is made clear in my book WHO WAS JESUS, to which the above text in this blog was intended to be published as a supplement. The other Jesus, who died on the cross in Jerusalem, had a maternal aunt called Maryam (in Greek, Maria), so his mother could not have possibly been called Maryam. Moreover, he was a direct descendant of David, and not a descendant of Aaron.

  19. i went back to your book alba'th a'n yassou' page 116. i am sorry i must have missed the page when i read the book some time ago which i bought under the table in beirut.
    could the word "mihrab" riffer to a place name. in most mosques there is a cavity next to the "manbar" where the imam stands to lead the prayers, that is also called a mihrab.
    change of subject. where does the word psalms come from? is the letter "p" same as "ba'" in arabic?
    thank you

  20. Dr.Salibi. Is it the prophet Imran buried in Salalah? Prophet Saleh is also there,so is Ayub (Job) and prophet Hud not far near Tarim over the Yemen border. Do you have any comments for that? Were they really there and for what and why are their tombs so long (10+ to 30meters)?

  21. Moreover Dr.Salibi, I want to add that your work of great courage and scholarship is so monumental that all mankind is indebted to you but they will only know much later. It is like Galileo. I pray you may still have a healthy long life and that you can continue sharing with us more and more. As a physician I am at your disposal any time as you are a treasure we need . Being a jewish/christian muslim convert of 30 years I am passioned to understand the details and history of Abrahamic religions. Being an american educated frenchman I had decided to live in Abha/Asir for the good rainy and mild weather and greenery . I came to know all of south arabia thru to Yemen and Oman and Somalia too. Every day,everywhere i felt there was great antiquity there. I felt this must have been a much richer and better place than Palestine for ancients but nobody seems(ed)to know or want to know what was there before. One day I decided to type 3 words on Google: ANCIENT ASIR ARCHEOLOGY and there were so many entries all mentioning ancient caravan trade and rich kingdoms and ancient israelites and in almost all Dr.Kamal-Salibi was mentioned as a ground breaking visionary. I felt these 3 words led by my own eyes and intuition had landed me on solid gold.There was Dr.Bernard-Leeman and his book "Queen-of-Sheba-and-Israel" indepedently confirming Salibi from Geez -language Kebra-Nagast ( ) and Al _Hijaz_Land_of_Abraham_and_the_israeli_prophets ( ) and Dr.Michael-Sanders (Moses-in-Yemen) and Velikovsky a 50 years ago (Paran/Faran .Kadesh-Barnea IS Mekkah) and Ze'ev and Finkelstein,chief archeologists Tel Aviv university:"nothing of David and Solomon in Israel,the bible is not to be used as a history of Palestine...". I want to share my findings on the ground in Asir and Hijaz. Soon...

  22. Response to Dan Dannawi: mihrab is a common noun:
    يقال ربة محراب أي صاحبة غرفة عالية
    والمحراب أيضا صدر البيت وأكرم مواضعه
    ومنه سمي محراب المسجد
    وهو مقام الامام منه والمصلى

    Accordingly, I would say than Maryam's mihrab in the temple her place of religious retirement: more likely than not, an "upper chamber" of the temple which was reserved for her because of her special standing.

  23. Dr. Nur, You are so fortunate to be living in Abha, in the heartlands of Asir, which I only visited once in 1983, albeit on an extended visit. If you learn anything about the various locations there, I will be most grateful if you share your knowledge with me to the extent you wish.
    Biblical scholars agree that Job came from the southern part of present-day Yemen, and a proper re-reading of the book of Job may some day indicate where precisely he came from in the area. When I visited Hadhramut and the Yemeni regions beyond in 1974, I was shown a run which was said to be the tomb of Salih in a district called Thamud, then (if I recall correctly) in the sixth muhafaza of what was then South Yemen. The whole setting was intriguing. When I later visited Dhofar, I was not told that Imran was buried there, in Salala, but there might well be a local tradition to this effect. The long toms said to be those of prophets or saints were probably made long to glorify the sacred relics inside them. They are found all over the Near East.

    Dr. Bernard Leeman was perhaps the first scholar to encourage me in my work, and we have been in regular contact since 1985, I believe. I found his last book extremely interesting. At 80+, I may not be at the right age to start learning a new Semitic language. But I am strongly tempted to give Geez a try.

  24. dr. salibi, thank you for your clarification of the word mihrab.
    another word that is mentioned in the koran with relation to issa son of maryam is "al-hawareyoun"
    soura al-imran verse 52.:...issa said who are my helpers/supporters in god, the hawareyoun said we are the helpers/supporters of god..."
    who are in your opinion those hawareyoun.
    in your book alba'ath an yasoo' page 127. you mentioned that the southern bounderies of demashq was called houran. is there a relation between houran and hawareyoun.

  25. As faar as I know, haware means "white. And judging by Islamic tradition, the followers of Issa ibn Maryam -- or, art least, the elect among them, such as Waraqa ibn Nawfal -- used to wear while.

  26. I hope you will come again. We could arrange an invitation for you to tour these places together. In fact if your health will allow it is very necessary. In fact Dr.Leeman says so. He sent a comment that he wishes for you to do so and ,generally, research to be done there too. I will try to invite him for a visit after I return there from France. In the meantime we can do it virtually thru google maps. I will start with my visit to Wadi Horan. First I must say there are two wadis Horan about 30kms apart and they are going in opposite directions of the hijazi ridge. The first one which originates in the hills of Beljorashi at the border of the escarpment and flows east toward Wadi Bisha and to Nejd in central Arabia to constitute that huge pre/proto-Phorat/Euphrates that is mentioned in your books (for road maps and satellite pictures see here fig.1 etc; ) . I have visited/slept with locals who were happy to hear about the idea of Abraham from Hijaz. AND.,.the other one which is BELOW Belshorassi and passes at Mahkwa and runs to L(e)ith on the Red Sea opposite side. The watershed of this one is from here on this sea side of the Beljorassi town to al-Baha from where today's main road follows this main wadi down the steep 2000m++ escarpment to Mahkwa in the Tihama plain . When I told my hosts who are prominent members of the main al-Omari tribe of Mahkwa that I was going to drive back up to visit the other wadi Horan at the top they were laughing telling me that THIS IS the Wadi Horan. Now my idea about this is that there being still a very ancient /dangerous snake like road between these two important ancient towns top and bottom and the Wadis were very convenient camel highways from arabian empty quarter desert to Lith and on to Mekkah and/or to Abyssinia by boat . The reason being the bottom of these wadis is smooth with sand/gravel for the camel hoofs. To continue...

  27. Dear Prof Salibi,

    i am happy to hear from Dr. Leeman here, with whom is have been in contact for now approximately 10 years. He was the first person who took your research on biblical israel serious, and i was very glad that found him.
    I heard first time from him when he had posted an recension of Hancocks book 'The sign and the seal' and i made immediately contact with him.
    I also got his last book with a personal dedication from him, but i failed until today to get it printed, which i will do in 2010.

  28. To Dr.Nur

    Dear Dr.Nur, i have posted your three magic words
    ANCIENT ASIR ARCHEOLOGY and indeed found 2520 Sites immediately.

    Best wishes

  29. Dear Dr. Nur,
    your living place in Abha makes me a little envy.
    Not that i would spend my whole life there, but i am certainly interested to take a trip to these asir mountains, What are the conditions for a non muslim to voyage there?

    Best wishes

  30. dear wolfgang

    what search engine did you use to get 2520 sites covering the topic : ANCIENT ASIR ARCHEOLOGY. i tried google and got thousands of sites but none of them actually addressed the subject directly. what am i doing wrong. thanks
    danny d

  31. To Dan dannawi

    I got exactly those Number of sites, but as you found out yourself, not all of these sites are actually devoted to this subject. Unfortunately you have to filter them. Maybe you find more sites because you are not in germany, i really do not know how the google searching machines are programmed.
    But i found two or three sites devoted to the subject, but i was yet too lazy to look at them all.
    One side was pro Salibi with very good arguments,
    another was a jewish site with the tendency to ridicule,(i left there a remark, but expect this to be filtered out) but to inspect them all is little bit of tedious work, so really there are many sites but i assume 80-90% to be not
    directly devoted to the subject.
    I am sure with a little bit changes in the Searching you may get more specific links.
    So sorry, at first i hoped to find more.
    And sometimes we have to swallow our own words back ;-).Have you tried to put the 'magic words' in quotation marks?

  32. Thanks for your interest in my post.I actually forgot which 3 words that I typed exactly it could have been ASIR RELIGION ANCIENT OR CIVILIZATION,KINGS ETC. I REMEMBER I KEPT TYPING THE WHOLE NIGHT AS SEARCH ENGINES HANDLE BEST BY 3 WORDS.FOR EXAMPLE KAMAL-SALIBI IS A DIFFERENT ENTRY THAN KAMAL AND/OR+ SALIBI AS YOU ARE WASTING 2 ENTRIES. YOU KNOW THAT RIGHT? SO I JUST WANTED TO PRAISE DR.SALIBI FOR HIS GROUND-BREAKING WORK. So every now and then I typed his name and recently I found his/this blog and I was very happy.I did/do the same for DR.BERNARD-LEEMAN.ALSO search engines results vary minutes by minutes as they are dependent on later entries and number of searches combinations.

  33. Dear WOLFGANGGR indeed if your intention is to help deepen your/this field of knowledge. there are many ways that you can come as tourist,work,business visit.Keep posting and we'll try to help you make contacts. In my case being a european (non-sectarian) muslim convert has attracted me much good will and contacts there just as it did for Yusuf-al-Islam,Mohamad-Asad and x others.So it helped but it is not absolutly necessary and you can post your details at my blog account or thru this blog and i will be glad to help all as I could for helping the search in turning this enormous historical page as understanding the past is key to the present,and to the future.

  34. To Dr. Nur:By the way, living in Abha, you may
    do our little experiment with the sundial next summer. A flat roof and a vertical stick would be ideal.
    Before i can even plan my voyage to Asir only after examination of the conditions and of course of the costs.
    I have to think about that.
    Best wishes

  35. So 15km after Beljorassi on the way to al-Baha I saw a sign "BANI-KEBIR" 2KM to the right and I went to see as the name is inspiring "great/big tribe/people"and indeed it seemed a mixed ancient/new village with ruins and an old mosq with a very ancient fig tree,the trunk big as a car and tall canopy 10Om wide,maybe more than 1000yrs old. So I asked one elder about some prehistoric/preislamic legacy in the area and he told me yes there are large mounds of earth and stones 15KM into the hills and people say they are THE TOMBS of ancient king(s)("BEFORE ISLAM:YES,YES"). But I did not go as they said you should leave in morning with a guide as nobody is on the way and the trail is poor. Back on the road 1Okm further and 1OKM before al-BAHA on the right there is a very old abandoned ancient fortified city but a rather big one of piled flat black stones as there are many in the area and below. The age could be 500yrs to 3000yrs. Who would know? It is sturdy and they could just keep fixing them for ages.There are many such abandoned cities here and down below. The architecture is very different from ABHA (with its winged stone/mud houses)150km south (JUDAH TO SHEBA kingdoms?),but there is still the communications of watch-towers from hilltop to hilltop. At this point there is a very rich wadi with much greenery,orchards,terraces,fiels mostly left neglected now.And to left towers and hamlets dominate the ridge at a very strategic location where you dominate the only approach the large U-shaped gorge of the down wadi HORAN X2 from al-BAHA to MARWAH straight down and facing watching anybody/armies etc climbing the 2000m serpentine road climbing the 90% slanted slope with 100m gravel loops with levels of 30m like a staircase. A feat and marvel of ancient engineering that must have required an authority with means and much time,slaves and labor.At the base of which is a tall wide prehistoric cave above the wadi and along its course many fields large and small in its bed left nude like an X-RAY picture of better times and climate. I hope it is not boring and it may give Dr.SALIBI ideas for comment or suggestions for further investigations or guidance.

  36. According to Hamad al-Jasir's book on Saudi Arabian tribes (2 vols., alphabetical listing) Banu Kabir are a tribe of the Sarat of Bilad Ghamid; in his account of the Sarat of Ghamid and Zahran, he lists two villages inhabited by branches of this tribe between Baljurashi and Baha. The villages are named al-Hadb and al-Ghabar. One might even be able to locate these two villages on the rough map that Jasir provides.

  37. I don't have any historical data or argument to share.

    Just wanted to write and say how much I appreciate this dialogue and what a pleasure it is to be able to read and dialogue with such great intellects such as yours, Dr. Salibi.

    Thank you very much for this great endeavour. Please keep it up.

  38. DR.Salibi: about JESUS,besides the two you mention,MITHRA of Persia has/had all the attributes given to the "christian" JESUS e.g born of a virgin, 25TH of december etc,2000yrs before the palestinian JESUS and 500 to 1000 before the Aaronic Jesus.
    His cult was popular among roman soldiers after conquests in mideast and emperor CONSTANTINE was a mithraist who simply found it easy to rename himself a christian. What is the relation of mithraist cult to that faith as origins etc and any comment? see link

  39. I have already responded to this matter on e-mail.Parallels between the Jesus story and the stories of other dying gods (as they are called in Frazer's Golden Bough, are numerous. I am no specialist on this subject, being merely a linguist and a student of historiography and historical geography.

  40. Yes,Dr.Kamal-Salibi,and your modesty in light of your great career and experience is a testimony to posterity of the seriousness and reflexion you give to your work,words and thoughts. Another topic I wish for your comment if or when you have time is concerning the tombs of MOSES,SOLOMON AND JESUS which are claimed for centuries,identified and currently studied by historians-locals and western. There is much data on that just type:Moses tomb kashmir,and so forth for example. What do you think the likelihood for it to be true and its significance to the larger biblical/historical picture? I was reading about the fact that until the end of ice age 8-10000yrs ago the ocean levels was 120m below present.The persian gulf being an average of 35m deep it was a dry valley well watered by a river combining the Hafar al Bathin of Arabia,Tigris+Euphrates,and Karun(of Iran)into a Shat al Arab river estuary much into the indian ocean where it probably combined with the Indus estuary. do you think that semites,their histories and myths evolved there? Or what are semites?If such a thing-and where they/their proto language was from?

  41. Dr. Salibi:
    About the origin of the name Meccah, could that be attributed to Micah the idol maker? What about the name Pekkah? Could that be attributed to king Pekkah?
    I wonder if the name of Micah's mother Emlah has anything to do with the Arabic term "currency."
    Also I have analyzed the term Ad-ha and the verb dah-ha (to sacrify) if they are created by the Its-hac tradition? I have written about this subject on the Bahayeddin website citing relationship between the Misfilah quarter in Mecca, Mambra and the story of Abraham and Sara.



    The Messiah Myth: The Near Eastern Roots of Jesus and David
    by Professor Thomas L. Thompson
    The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts
    There is no trace of evidence after 150 years of search that any significant Jewish civilisation with some grand Temples ever existed in Palestine. Thus search for the location of biblical stories has to be directed southward to central Arabia.

  43. AND THIS TOO/ Deconstructing the walls of Jericho
    Ze'ev Herzog of Tel Aviv University announced: "the Israelites were never in Egypt, ... In addition, Herzog's colleague, Israel Finkelstein, claims the Jews were nothing more .... Copyright 2007-2009 All Rights Reserved. ...

  44. I disagree. The Israel spoken of in the Bible is a historical reality. That it had hardly anything central to do with Palestine in incidental. The Bible, as received, and if properly read, tells the legends followed by the proto-history then history of this Israel, until the time that it ceased to exist as a political en entity, and its remnants were reorganized as religious communites, among them the Jews, Samaritans, Nazarenes, Falasha, the so-called Jews of the Malabar coast, and possibly a host of thers. Sooner or later (though not necessarily in my lifetime) these facts will come to be accepted.

    The consensus was formed around three general issues: a) the history of ancient Israel , b) the sources of the Torah, and c) the biblical text. ... - Cached " (TITLE):
    " Down with History, Up with Reading: The Current State of Biblical Studies[1] "

    By Gary A. Rendsburg, Cornell University

    MAIN THESIS:" .. .[10] Accordingly, the Genesis stories are the inventions of Jews during the Babylonian exile when such customs were the way of life. And why have patriarchal stories at all? Why have Abraham originating in Mesopotamia and emigrating to Canaan? BECAUSE THIS WAS EARLY ZIONIST PROPAGANDA to get Jews to leave their homes in comfortable Babylon to make the long journey to begin a new and arduous life in the land of their forefathers. It is clear from Second Isaiah and Ezra and Nehemiah, and from Babylonian textual remains—I refer here to the Murashu documents which describe affluent Jewish businessmen in Mesopotamia during this period—that not all Jews wanted to return to Israel. Thus was Abraham invented.."

  46. AND THESE ARE OTHER BIG POINTS:"...As such, the Israelites had never been to Egypt (well, perhaps a small number of them had, but they were insignificant in the ethnic composition of the new people of Israel). The Bible’s foundational story about the Israelites as slaves in Egypt is not a reflection of any historical reality, but rather a reflection of the fact that Israel had been slaves in the land of Canaan, slaves to Canaanite urban centers..."AND OTHER BIG POINT "..The fact that the Israelites originate as Canaanites explains why there is so much polytheism present in the Bible’s description of the people of Israel. Israel was not a monotheism or a monolatry fighting polytheistic tendencies among its people under the influence of their Canaanite neighbors, but rather just another group of Canaanite polytheists, albeit one with a small but vocal and in the end successful group of radical thinkers conceiving of the idea of one god. ... "

  47. Dr. Salibi:
    I have questions about the term: Ad-ha. Where does it come from? I see it related to the verb Dah-ha (sacrify), and the Duha (dawn) all of which suggest the story of Its-hac. Can a term be born from a tradition? Could Makkah be the country of Abraham with such clues?
    Respectfully, Noureddine

  48. I do not have the least doubt, in my guts, that the setting for the story of the Abraham was in the Mecca neighbourhood of the Hijaz, certainly where Abraham was the father of Ishmael by Hagar. Now, Abraham, I am equally certain, was a compound legendary/historical personality. The Koran is concerned with only one of them; Genesis, with the whole lot, including some Abrahams who were Abrams. As a term, Ad-ha, apart from the rot, is not an Arabic term. I suspect it is a borrowing from ancient Egyptian (cf. the name of the Egyptian god DAHAWTI, or a derivative from it). But my suspicion may be wide of the mark.

    Judging by the evidence of Syrian place names, however, there appears to have been an ancient and forgotten "Semitic" language in which the prefixed definite article was the ALEPH as a glottal stop (for example, Idlib, Ibta`, Izra`, Adhra`at, etc.) In such a language, Adha (from the root (dhaw or dhy)could have meant "THE dawn" or "THE sacrifice" (I would opt for the latter, which makes better sense). But still, I would hesitate to rule on the question.

  49. Dr. Salibi,

    I read your book Bible Came from Arabia in the late '80's and have been fascinated by your work, but had no idea of your further work. I am glad to have found you!

    You mention the Ark of the Covenant in your work. Can you tell us anything more about it? The Biblical account seems to be silent after 587 BC. If the Jerusalem of that time was in Asir, then the Ark may indeed have been hidden in that area.

  50. Dr Salibi,

    I read your book "The Bible Came From Arabia" in the late 1980's and was impressed. I never followed up on your work and I am glad I finally found you here.

    Can you comment on the Ark of the Covenant? The Bible is silent after 587 BC. Could it have been hidden in the Asir region when Nabuchadnezzar attacked? If Jesus came to get it from Mecca, where would he have taken it? We seem to have no record of Jesus being in possession of it.

  51. The last OT mention of the Ark, chronologically, occurs in 2 Chronicles 35:5 where it is said that King Josiah (c.649-609 B.C.)ordered the Levites to return the Ark to Solomon's temple, from which it had presumably been taken away at some earlier time. No account or date are given by the OT for its final disappearance. And no mention of it is made in the Biblical accounts of the Babylonian conquest and destruction of the Kingdom of Judah in c.587 B.C., as far as I can recall. The Jesus of the NT, by my reckoning (see my book WHO WAS JESUS...), cobnines several characters: in the very least, one fertility God called Al Issa who possessed "kingdom, power and glory", and two historical figures: a priestly messiah of the line of Aaron (not Zadok) who was the Koranic Issa ibn Maryam (Jesus son of Mary), and who died in about 400 B.C., and a Yashua Bar Nagara (Jesus son tthe Carpenter) who was a royal Messiah, having been a recognized descendant of David. It was this second historical Jesus who was crucified in c.AD 30 when he tried to seize power in the Palestinian Jerusalem as the rightful Christ King, and so replace the non-Israelite Herodian line. This Jesus was not a religious figure at all, but a political one: a failedclaimant to the Davidic throne. And he had nothing to do with the Ark, if he thought about it at all.It was Paul who transformed him into a God. The person who was reportedly presented with the Ark by the people of Mecca was the Koranic Jesus son of Mary, who was a priest and an Aaronic messiah revered as a Prophet of Israel. The text above speaks of him, and was originally intended to be a supplement to the second edition of my Jesus book.

  52. This comment has been removed by the author.

  53. Thank you for your detailed reply. I recently read your book on Jesus. Quite fascinating.

    On the subject of the Ark, here is my problem. If the Ark did survive Nebuchadnazzer's sacking of Jerusalem, why is so little written about it? It was apparently of enormous significance to the Jews and something would be written about it somewhere (other than the one reference you have given).

    One more question: I am trying to locate all the place names you mention in your books on Google Earth but I am having a hard time. Can you point me to a source for looking up the individual villages you have identified in your work?

  54. 1.The fact that one reference to the fate of the Ark happens to be known to me does no exclude the possibility that other such references, though as yet unknown to me, can exist. With luck, some may yet be found.

    2.Like you, I am having a hard time struggling with Google Earth to locate all the places I mention in my studies. It is hard work, and the results come slow. Friends from Asir who drop by to see me every know and then affirm for me some locations, and occasionally send me photographs of them. The most detailed military maps of Arabia indicate countless locations for which no names are given, which may account for the difficulties one finds with Google Earth in this connection.

  55. Can we make a collaborative effort and put our own place markers on Google Earth? If you are interested I would be happy to look into how best to do this.

  56. I am afraid I am not computer literate enough for such an exercise. I hope I can be guided by your suggestions, however.

  57. Well, Google Earth allows one to place markers of one's choice. One can even create a virtual tour with audio narration (say for a military campaign) and share it with friends. All this would require extensive work. Even though I am quite familiar with computers, there is a significant learning curve, and therefore time commitment.

    One would need a detailed map of the Asir region and then identify each village on Google Earth. If there are volunteers who can form a group and collaborate, the task would become much easier.

  58. I shall try to find local volunteers among my grand-students (the students of my students, who were born to the computer)to train me. Yet many thanks for the suggestion.

  59. If there are others, I would be happy to contribute. I don't have your e-mail address. Please send me an e-mail at mominkhan _at_

    We can develop mailing lists and even start video conferencing on Skype to plan out something.

    You might want to read this:

  60. The address you gave me for yourself is unreachable. My address is

  61. I tried to send you an email but I have not heard back. Please try again.

  62. Dr. Salibi:
    Thank you for responding to my question about Al-Ad-ha term. The dawn tradition seems to be a cult in the Muslim tradition for as much as the Fajr prayers are valued and advised. The Duha is also sworn-by in the Kuran as if it were something sacred. The ram sacrifice must be done before sunrise or it is worthless. I also noticed in the Map of Makkah and its surroundings names like Misfilah quarter, Jabal Thawr south of Makkah, Masjid Namirah the place venerated by the Prophet, which rang some bells from the story of Abraham in Genesis. Could these names be of a value being all gathered in one area? Could the name Marwah be close to Moriah or does it have to be a mountain like Arafat? And what is the etymology of Arafat as a name?
    Respectfully, Noureddine Shurafa.

  63. Dr. Salibi:
    I met you one day in 1988 in Amman Jordan after one of your conferences. In this conference you distributed pamphlets that I still keep, type-written, about Jerusalem. You mentioned that you were studying the name of Jerusalem as being a combination of two names, for two separate regions. have you elaborated about this subject ever since?
    I also found that the name of Jerusalem in the mosaic map of Madaba Church is written: HAΓIΑΠΌΛΙC IEPO Y CA…[ΛEΜ]. I question the letter Y in this name in Greek.

    Respectfully, Noureddine.

  64. The toponym Marwah is identical with Moryan. The shift between the semivowels w and y and the glottal stop (aleph)is a regular feature in Shifts from one Semitic language to another. Jabal Thawr carries the name of the Bibilical Shur (Hagar and Ishmael almost died of thirst on the "road to Shur" (transcription of hte Biblical Sh to the Arabic TTh is again regular). Namirah (Arabic for she-leopard/tiger)In the Biblical Mamre, home of Abraham, Mamre being the Arabic MANMIRAH (region where leopard/tigers are found)with the medial NUN occulted because it precedes the silent MIM. In this case, the MIM is pronounced as a double letter, so that the accurate rendering of Biblical ممره (cf. Arabic منمرة)would be Mammera (the last open aleph being the Aramaic definite Article). There is at least one other Manmirah in the Qunfudhah hinterland of Asir. As for Arafat, it seems to me to be a name descriptive of a place: عرفات feminine plural of عرفة:مكان مرتفع مستطيل.

  65. I am not familiar with the Madaba mosaic spelling of the name Jerusalem, in Greek, in two distinct parts with a (meaningless) Y in between. However, I do not see the point you wish to make on this matter.

  66. Dear Doctor Salibi:
    I meant the conjunction U (Y=&) linking two other terms: Hiero and Salem (or Shalayim whichever is correct), makes it an association of two, to confirm your proposal in 1988 about Jerusalem being the name of two distinct regions. I am interested in whatever you have written about this subject ever since.

  67. My Greek dictionary (Liddel & Scott)does not identify the U as a conjunction equivalent to KAI, "also=and". I wish it were as you suggest. The same applies to my Greek grammars. For my latest interpretation of the topography of the Biblical Jerusalem (linguistically, see the geographical chapters of the SECOND EDITION of my book THE HISTORICITY OF BIBLICAL ISRAEL: sTUDIES IN 1&2 SAMUEL (Beirut, Dar Nelson, 2010, which is available through AMAZON.

  68. To: Dr. Nur. My gmail account has been hacked into. Please send me a message to the following address so I can recoup your address: Salibi.Kamal Thank you.