Dhu Nuwas

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Dhu Nuwas
Title: King of Himyar
 Term in office: 515–525
 Predecessor: Rabiah?
 Successor: ?
Birth:  
 Date: ?
 Place: ?
Death:  
 Date: 525
 Place: Yemen
Relgious Affiliation: Jewish

Biography

Jewish King of Himyar, now, Yemen.

Jewish King from 515-525. According to the Arabian historians the name "Dhu Nuwas" was given him on account of his curly hair (Ibn Khaldun, "Prolegomena," p. 311; Hamzah of Ispahan, "Annals," i. 133). Von Kremer connects the name with a fortress "Nuwash" in southern Arabia ("Süd-Arab. Sage," p. 90); but the Arabic derivation is substantiated by the name "Masruk," given him in the Syriac translation of John Psaltes. In Greek sources he is known as δουναáν (acc.) or δουναáç (nom.); while the name found in John of Ephesus has been explained by Von Gutschmid as the Greek τῶν ἐξω Ιυδῶν. In Ethiopic accounts he is called "Phineas." If the contradictory and sometimes legendary accounts of the personality of Dhu Nuwas given by the Arabian writers can be trusted, he was not a Jew by birth, but embraced Judaism after ascending the throne, taking the name of "Joseph." Having killed the debauched usurper Khani'ah Yanuf Dhu Shanatir, who endeavored to maltreat him, Dhu Nuwas successfully propagated Judaism in Yemen.



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His zeal for Judaism brought about his fall. Having heard of the persecutions of the Jews by the Byzantine emperors, he retaliated by putting to death some Byzantine merchants who were traveling on business through Himyara. This destroyed the trade of Yemen with Europe and involved Dhu Nuwas in a war with the heathen king Aidug, whose commercial interests were injured thereby. Dhu Nuwas was defeated (521), but succeeded in reestablishing his kingdom. Soon, however, he entangled himself in a new difficulty. He made war against the Christian city Najran, in Yemen, which was a dependency of his kingdom; and on its capitulation, in spite, it is said, of his promise of immunity from punishment, he offered the citizens the alternative of embracing Judaism or being put to death. As they refused to renounce their faith, he executed their chief, Ḥarith (Aretas) ibn Kaleb, and three hundred and forty chosen men.

Even as late as 1665, when the Shabbetai Zvi had returned to Turkey, rumors were current of a Jewish Army which would advance from the Arabian desert to conquer Palestine.


HEJAZ : Coastal province in North West Arabia. now part of Saudia Arabia. The origin of permanent Jewish settlement is obscure, but there is evidence of the presence of Jews between the 1st and 4th cents. CE. In ancient poetry of the region, the Jews are depicted chiefly as traders and wine-merchants. The most important Jewish community was that of Medina.

MEDINA (formerly Yathrib): Town in ARABIA. At the time that the Prophet Mohammed settled there in 622, Medina. and its immediate neighborhood harbored the largest Jewish community of North Arabia. The origin and previous history of these Jews is unclear, but they may have arrived shortly after the destruction of the Second Temple. They formed three main communities, Banu-Lnadir, Banu Kainuka, and Banu Kuraiza, who occupied themselves mainly with the cultivation of palm-groves but also exercised other callings. Numerous quarrels and feuds forced them to erect forts for protection. A few years after the arrival of Mohammed, who at first was friendly to them, all the Jews were either expelled or massacred. No Jews have since been allowed there.

BANU-L-NADIR: One of the three Jewish tribes in Medina, in the vicinity of which they owned landed estates and strongholds. Through cultivation of the soil, moneylending, and trading in weapons and jewels they accumulated considerable wealth. They were besieged in their forts by Mohammed and surrendered after about two weeks (c. 626); their immovable property was confiscated, but they themselves were permitted to depart. They left for the North and founded new settlements, partly in Khaibar and partly in Syria.

BANU KAINUKA: One of the three Jewish tribes in MEDINA. Possessing no land, they lived from commerce and as goldsmiths. They were the first to suffer from the hostile attitude adopted by MOHAMMED after his failure to win the Jews over to Islam. They were attacked and besieged in their strongholds, probably in 624, and were forced to surrender after 15 days. Mohammed first wished to have all the men executed but spared them on condition that they quit the town, leaving all their property in the hands of the Moslems. They first migrated to the Jewish centers in Wadi-l-Kura and later further N to Adhriat.

BANU KURAIZA: One of the three Jewish tribes in MEDINA. They inhabited several villages to the S of the town, and their main occupation was agriculture. At the rise of Islam, they numbered 750 fighting-men and held some fortified positions in the neighborhood. The B.K. were the last Jews to be attacked by Mohammed who charged them with treason. When forced to surrender, they were treated more cruelly than their two fellow-tribes, the men being executed and the women and children sold into slavery. Raihana, a woman of the tribe, was married to Mohammed. Among the B.K. were several poets, some of whose Arabic verses are extant.

Several Jewish colonies were also found North of Medina including a) Khaibar, b) Fadak, c) Wadi 'I-Qura, and d) Taima. The Jewish population increased through the conversion of Arabs to Judaism. Some Jews lived in Mecca, at least temporarily, before the rise of Islam. Mohammed subdued the Jewish colonies North of the city but permitted the inhabitants to stay. Under the reign of Omar, the Jews were expelled from Khaibar and Fadak and possibly from Wadi 'I-Qura. In Wadi 'I-Qura they were able to reestablish themselves in the 10th cent, but after that there are no subsequent traces of Jews in Hejaz (Saudia Arabia).

In 628, Khaibar, an oasis north of Medina was subdued by the Prophet Mohammed. The origins of its Jewish community, as of others in HEJAZ, are obscure. The Jews were allowed to stay and retain their lands, giving half their produce to the Moslem conquerors. Mohammed adopted this policy because there were then no other trained agriculturalists in the region. When skilled slave labor from conquered countries be came available, the Jews of Khaibar. were expelled by Omar (641).

HADRAMAUT: A country of the southern Arabian peninsula, east of Aden. It is a very ancient Jewish settlement, with distinctive traditions and a strongly marked physical type which became known to the outside world only in the 1940's. The community emigrated to Israel after the foundation of the state.

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