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v. 3. "The wild kine," the antilope defassa, a species of bovine antelope. deer," ârâm (for arʼûm), plural of rim. Rim is the white antelope (antilope leucoryx); though identical in form with the Hebrew r'êm (rêym), it is very doubtful whether the latter word means the same: the LXX translate it by μovórepws (A. V. “unicorn”). The Assyrian is, like the Arabic, rimu, and there is a good discussion of the meaning of this word in an article on the Animals of the Assyrian Sculptures in the Transactions of the Society of Biblical Archæology for 1877; it appears certain that it is not the antilope leucoryx, but some larger and robuster animal, perhaps the wild buffalo (see Job xxxix, 9-12).
v. 5. "Trench": round the tent a trench is dug to receive the rain from the roof and prevent the water from flooding the interior.
v. 6. “In the morn”: the morning was the time when raids were made, and the word şabûḥ thus itself is used in the sense of a sudden attack. Ya şabâḥâh was the battle-cry (shi'ár) of Temîm in the Day of el-Kulâb. To wish peace in the morning to a place is therefore an appropriate greeting.
vv. 7-15. The journey here described would take the wanderers along the southern skirt of the tract called by Palgrave (Cent. and East. Arabia, Vol. I, chap. vi) "the Upper Kaseem;" er-Rass is still a place of some importance, and will be found marked on Palgrave's map some distance to the North of 'Oneyzeh. In the days of Zuheyr the country was in the possession of the Benû Asad, who were not always on the friendliest terms with the Benû Dubyân, among whom the poet lived.
Tassels of scarlet wool decorated the haudaj in which ladies rode. ""Ishrig seeds": ḥabbu-l-fenû; the exact nature of this plant with a scarlet seed or fruit is very doubtful: see Lane, s. vv.
فني and عشرق
v. 16. "The Holy House" is the Ka'beh. The mention of its building by the Qureysh and the men of Jurhum must not be understood of the same time. Jurhum was the name of two Arab stocks: the first the ancient race who peopled the lower Hijâz and Tihâmeh at the time of the legendary settlement of Ishmael among them, with whom he is said to have intermarried; the second (whom M. de Perceval regards as alone having had a historical existence) a tribe who ruled in Mekkeh from about 70 B. C. to 200 A. D. They were expelled from Mekkch and dispersed so that no memorial of them remained by an Azdite stock from el-Yemen called the Khuzâ'ah (C. de Perceval, Essai, i, 218. Aghânî, xiii, 108-111.). The second Jurhum are said (Agh. id., p. 109) to have rebuilt the Ka'beh on the foundations laid by Abraham after it had been overthrown by a flood: the architect was one 'Omar cl-Jârûd, whose descendants were known as the Jedarah, or masons. The Qurcysh settled in Mekkch during its occupation by the Khuzâ‘ah, and gained possession of the Ka'bch in the time of Quşayy, whose mother was of the race of the Jedarah, about 440 A. D. (C. de Perceval). Quṣayy, in the year 450 A. D. or thereabout, caused the building erected by the Jurhum to be demolished, and rebuilt the Ka'bch on a grander scale. It was rebuilt a third time in the year 605 A. D., very shortly before the Mo‘allaqah was composed. Mohammed, then 35 years old, assisted in the work. These thrco occasions are probably those to which Zuhoyr refers.
"Circle round," tafa haulahu; the tawaf, or going round seven times, was one of the most ancient rites of the religion of the Arabs; it was the mode of worship used not only for the Ka'beh, but also for the other objects of reverence among the pagan Arabs see Lane, s. v. Duwâr.
v. 18. In this verse ma beyna-l-'ashireti must be understood as meaning the friendship of the two houses of the family. Beyn ("that which is between") has two contrary significations: disunion, that which parts or separates, and concord, that which joins; so Đâtu-l-beyn means both enmity and friendship.
'Ashireh here means the stock of Baghîd son of Reyth son of Ghaṭafân, the common father of 'Abs and Dubyân; according to the dictionaries 'ashireh is the smallest sub-division of the tribe, but its use here is clearly opposed to that view. The various words meaning tribe and family are very loosely applied in the old poetry, and the distinctions drawn between them by lexicographers (scc Lane s. v. sha'b) do not seem to be borne out by usage. In v. 24 'Abs and Dubyân are each called gaum, and in v. 34 'Abs is a hayy.
v. 19. The literal translation of this verse is
"Ye two repaired the condition of 'Abs and Dubyân (by peace), after that
they had shared one with another in destruction, and had brayed between them the perfume of Menshim." The second hemistich is said to refer to a custom which existed among the Arabs of plunging their hands into a bowl of perfume as they took an oath together to fight for a cause until the last of them was slain. Menshim, the commentators say, was a woman in Mekkeh who sold perfume. Such an oath was followed by war to the bitter end, and so "he brayed the perfume of Menshim" became a proverb for entering on deadly strife. That oaths so taken were counted of special force may be seen from the tale of "the Oath of the Perfumed ones," hilf el-Muṭayyabin, taken by the sons of 'Abd-Menâf and their partisans in or about 490 A. D. (see C. de Perceval, Essai, i. 254. Ibn-el-Athîr, Kâmil, i. pp. 329-30.)
v. 22. Ma'add was the forefather of all those Arabs (generally called mustaʻribeh or insititious) who traced their descent from 'Adnan, whose son he was. The name is thus used to denote the Central stocks, settled for the most part in Nejd and el-Hijâz, as opposed to the Arabs of el-Yemen or of Yemenic origin by whom they were bordered on the North and South. The name of Ma'add's son Nizâr is also used in the same way. Nizâr was the father of Muḍar, Rabî'ah, and Anmar; the last-named and his descendants joined themselves to tho people of el-Yemen; and "Rabî'ah and Muḍar" is again a comprehensive term used to designate the tribes of Nejd and the Hijaz.
v. 25. "Slit-eared, of goodly breed": min 'ifâlin muzennemi. There are two ways of taking this phrase: the first is that here adopted, whereby muzennem is rondered as an adjective attached to 'iful, meaning "slit-eared." Camels of good breed had a slit made in the ear, and the piece of skin thus detached (called zenemeh) left to hang down. The ordinary grammatical construction would require the feminine, muzennemeh, to agree with 'ifal; but tho masculine is used by a poetic license. The other, resting on the authority of Abû 'Obeydeh, reads 'ifâli Muzennemi, (6 young camels (the offspring) of Muzennem" (or el-Muzennem): Muzennem, he says, being the name of a famous stallion-camel whose breed was much renowned among the Arabs.
It is worth remarking that this line seems to contradict the assertion of et-Tebrîzî, in his commentary on the Ḥamâseh, p. 107, that the young camels (seven or eight months old) called 'ifál (plural of 'afil) were not given in payment of bloodwits. Perhaps there was an exception in the case of the better breeds. The passage, however, on which et-Tebrîzî makes this remark does not necessarily bear him out.
v. 26. "Tribesmen together leagued," el-Aḥláƒ, plural of hilf. The commentary says that these confederates were Ghaṭafân, Asad and Țayyi'; other authorities quoted by Lane (s. v. hilf) restrict the appellation to Asad and Ghaṭafân, Asad and Tayyi', or Fezârah (a branch of Dubyân) and Asad. Since Đubyân, a division of Ghaṭafân, is named separately from the Ahlaf, it would seem probable that the word here means only Asad and Tayyi'. I do not, however, find that these confederates took any part in the War of Dâhis, except at the battle of Shi'b Jebeleh, when Asad joined Đubyân and Temîm against ‘Âmir and ‘Abs; their presence at the oath-taking between the various branches of Ghaṭafân would, however, render the engagement more formal and solemn: they were a sort of "Guaranteeing Power."
vv. 27-28. Herr von Kremer (Culturgeschichte des Orients unter den Chalifen, Vol. ii., p. 358, note*) regards these verses as interpolated, and alien from the spirit of the poetry of the Ignorance. He says, moreover, that they are inconsistent with v. 48, which expresses the true feeling of that age, that of the Future no man knows anything. Certainly their spirit is more religious than is usual in the old poetry, and the mention of the Book and the Reckoning Day points to a body of doctrine which we are accustomed to think was first planted among the Arabs by Mohammed. But it is to be remarked that the passage where the verses come (vv. 26-33) seems thoroughly consecutive and complete in sense: that the same number of verses is given, in the same order, in all the recensions of the poem; and that v. 28 exhibits a very curious construction, easily intelligible indeed, but unlikely to be used in an interpolation : this is the carrying on of the mejzûm imperfect from the apodosis of the conditional sentence in v. 27 b into the unconditional proposition of v. 28.
As regards the possibility of such an exhortation being addressed to the tribes settled in the country East of Yethrib and South of the mountains of Tayyi' in 610 A. D., I do not think that it should be hastily rejected. Few subjects are more obscure than the real nature of the religion of the pagan Arabs. It would seem that at the time when the Prophet arose there was extremely little religious faith in the people of any sort that their old divinities were held by them in much the same estimation as that in which our own forefathers in Norway and Iceland held Odin and Thor when Christianity first overspread the North. But beyond the reverence, such as it was, paid to
* His words are "Das Gedicht, Zohair XVI, wird man wegen v. 27 (28), der von der Abrechnung am jüngsten Tage spricht, für unecht oder interpolirt erklären müssen. Ich entscheide mich für das Letztere, denn v. 49 (48) spricht die echtc, alte Idee aus, dass man von dem Zukünftigen nichts wisse." In the same note, H. von Kremer sees traces of Mohammedan recension in the name 'Abd-allâh in a poem of 'Antarah's. I presume that he considers the occurrence of that name as belonging to the father of Mohammed, the son of Jud'ân, and the brother of Dureyd son of eş-Şimmeh, as well as to the tribe-fathers 'Abd-allâh ibn el-Azd (Ma'ârif, p. 54), 'Abd-allâh ibn Ghaṭafân (id. p. 39), and ‘Abd-allâh ibn Ka'b and ‘Abd-allâh ibn Kilâb, sub-divisions of ‘Âmir ibn Şa'şa'ah (id. pp. 42 and 43), to be insufficiently vouched for.
el-Lât, el-‘Ozzà, Menât, Fuls, Wedd, and the rest, there was certainly a back-ground of faith in The God, Allah, whose name was, as it still is, in the mouth of every Bedawî as his most frequent ejaculation. Without assuming such a faith as already well known to the people, a great portion of the Qur'ân would be impossible: that revelation is addressed to men who join other gods with God, not those who deny Him. Some tribes may have had more of this belief in the One God, and been accustomed to look more immediately to Him, others (especially those who, like the Qureysh, possessed famous shrines of idolatrous worship which brought them in much profit,) less : probably contact with Judaism and Christianity determined in some measure the greater or less degree of it. Now among the neighbours of the tribes of Ghaṭafân were the Jews settled from Yethrib to Kheybar and Teymâ; to the North was Kelb in the Daumat (or Dûmat) el-Jendel, almost entirely Christian; Christianity had made some progress in Tayyi', nearer still; and we have seen how, according to a fairly vouched for story, Qeys son of Zuheyr, the chief of 'Abs, spent the last years of his life as a Christian anchorite in 'Omân. To the West was Yethrib, in constant relations with the Kings of Ghassân, who were Christian, together with their people; and to the North-cast was el-Hîreh, whose King, en-No'mân Abû Qâbûs, had long been a Christian, and where Christianity had spread among the people long before his day. En-Nabighah of Dubyân, Zuheyr's famous contemporary, had dwelt long at the Courts both of el-Hîreh and Ghassân; and in a well-known passage* (much contested, it is true, but in favour of the genuineness of which much may be said,) he refers to a Rabbinical legend of Solomon's power over the Jinn, and how they built for him Tedmur. At the fair of 'Okay Quss son of Sâ'ideh had preached Christianity long before Zuheyr made this poem. And to 'Abs itself belonged one of the Hanifs, Khâlid son of Sinân son of Gheyth (see Ibn Quteybeh, Ma'ârif, p. 30). These things seem to me to make it not impossible that the lines may be genuine. The objection that they are inconsistent with v. 48 appears wholly groundless; the latter refers to the vicissitudes of this world and the chances of life: the former to the reckoning of God in the world after death. (See note on v. 32 for a further argument in favour of the authenticity of these verses.)
v. 29. War, el-Harb, is feminine in Arabic; as in vv. 31 and 32 it is personified as a woman, it seemed best to use in the translation the feminine pronoun in vv. 29 and 30.
v. 31. Skin," thifûl, is the mat of skin that is placed beneath the mill to receive the flour. The comparison of War to a mill and the slain to ground grain is common in the old poetry; so says 'Amr son of Kulthûm (Moʻall. vv. 30, 31)—
متى تنقل إلى قوم رحاناً يكونوا في اللقاء لها طحيناً
يكون ثقالها شرقي نجد ولهوتها قضاعة أجمعينـا
* En-Nâbighah, v. 22 sqq. For a discussion of this passage, see Noeldcke, Beiträge z. Kenntn. der Poes. d. alt. Araber, p. XI, and Ahlwardt, Bemerkungen über die Aechtheit d. alt. Arab. Gedichte, pp. 17-18 and 41. Noeldoke appears to overlook the tradition (unless he rejects it) that en-No'mân was a Christian.
"When our War-mill is set against a people
as grain they fall thereunder ground to powder;
"Year by year shall her womb conceive": telqaḥ kishúfan; kishaf is said of a she-camel that conceives in two following years. Another word used in a like sense of War is 'awan, which is applied to an animal with a hard hoof (as a cow or mare), that after bringing forth her first-born (bikr) conceives again forthwith and bears another young one; so ḥarbun ‘awân is said of a war the fury of which is perpetually renewed (see Ḥamâseh, p. 180). Again, ha'il, plural ḥiyál, is used of a war which lies long dormant; its meaning is a she-camel that does not conceive for two years, or some years, and it is therefore the opposite of kishaf. El-Hârith son of 'Obâd said of the War of Basûs after the slaying of his son Bujeyr by Muhelhil
"The War of Wâ'il has conceived at last, having long been barren."
“Aḥmar of ‘Âd." According to the received story of the Muslims, it was to Thamûd, not to 'Âd, that the prophet Ṣâliḥ was sent to warn them of their wickedness. The sign that he gave them was a gigantic shc-camel that issued forth at his bidding from a rock (Qur'ân vii. 71): "Then said those among them that were filled with pride-'Verily we reject that in which ye believed.' And they slew the she-camel and rebelled against their Lord, and said 'O Şâlih! bring upon us that wherewith thou didst threaten us, if thou art indeed of the Sent of God!' Then the earthquake seized them, and they lay on their faces in their dwellings, dead." (Qur. l. c. vv. 74-76. The story is also told in Sûrah xi, vv. 64–71.) The leader in the slaying of the Camel was Qudâr el-Ahmar, "Qudâr the Red"; and thus "More unlucky than Aḥmar of Thamûd," and "More unlucky than the Slayer of the She-camel," became proverbs. The people of Thamûd (—who are mentioned* by Diodorus Siculus and Ptolemy, and as late as 450 A. D. in the Notitia dignitatum utriusque imperii: see C. de Perceval, Essai i., p. 27—) dwelt in Hijr, a valley on the road Northwards from the Ḥijâz into Syria. The race of 'Âd, on the contrary, were settled in the South of Arabia, in the Aḥquƒ, now a vast desert of sand: Ibn Quteybeh (Ma'ârif, p. 15) places them “in ed-Daww, and ed-Dahnâ, and 'Âlij, and Yebrîn, and Webbâr, from ‘Omân to Hadramaut and el-Yemen.” To them was sent Hûd (Qur. vii. 63 and xi). They were thus separated by the whole distance of Arabia from Thamûd, and, it is probable, also by a vast space of time, if the Thamudeni of the Notilia dignitatum are the same as the latter people. The commentators give two reasons to explain why Zuheyr said, “Aḥmar of 'Âd" instead of "Ahmar of Thamûd": the first is the necessity of the rhythm, which would not permit him to say Thamûd; the second is that some of the genealogists say that Thamûd was a cousin of ‘Âd, and after the destruction of the
* In Mr. George Smith's "Assyria" ("Ancient History from the Monuments" Series), p. 100, Sargon, in 715 B. C., is related to have led an expedition into Arabia, "where he conquered the Thamudites and several other tribes, carrying them captive and placing them in the cities of Samaria."