Adonis Diaries

Archive for August 9th, 2009

Jerusalem: Ur Salam (City of Peace) (May 2, 2009)

As biased history dust settles down, people will realize that it was the people of Canaan who hired as mercenary nomadic Jewish tribes coming from the desert to ward off the incursions of the “sea people” who settled in Gaza in the 18th century BC.

Recent archeological works by Kathleen Kenyon discovered a wall surrounding the city of Jerusalem dating from the 18th century BC; water was diverted through underground canals from the fresh source of Guihon to Siloe cisterns inside the walls.

The sea people called Philistines had devastated the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea, settled for a while in coastal Egypt, destroyed the nascent Greek fleet and settled in Gaza and the southern coastline of Palestine around the 12th century.

The entire eastern coastline from north Syria to Sinai was dominated by the Canaanites.  Thus, in southern Palestine the Canaanites had to flee northward and retreat inside toward Jerusalem, one of their inland 25 City-States.

Jerusalem was then inhabited by over 10,000 urban dwellers, a huge number for the period.

Around 11th century BC, Moses arrived with his nomadic tribes and his successors endeavored to settle in part of Palestine and battled with the Philistines.  The Canaanites aristocracy aided David to enter Jerusalem and who became their administrative supporters.

David had two high priests (Ebyatar and Sadoq), two military leaders (Joab and Benayahou), and two heirs apparent (Adoniyyahou and Solomon).

David had also two formal sanctuaries for the Jews and the Canaanites.  David adopted the God of the Land El and the two demy-Gods of the Sun (Shahar) and the Moon (Shalem) were worshiped.

The Jewish Yahweh (God of thunders) was relegated to the background and played a support function in times of urgent need, particularly in military excursions.

The Jews had no such concept of “throne” and the Canaanite aristocracy provided a throne to David. David’s solar God was Justice personified and a divinity of the order “sadeq”; thus, Milki Sadeq was the King of Jerusalem when Abraham came to Canaan and paid the tenth (one tenth) tribute to Melki Sadeq.

Solomon’s supporters for acceding to the throne were the Canaanites and they assassinated Adoniyyahou and Joab.  Ebyatar fled and was in pursuit.

Solomon relied on the King of Tyr to building his Temple for the Sun God facing east.  The dedication read: “The divinity of the Sun has announced: Yahweh has decided to live in the shadow. A house has been renovated for his dwelling”.

The God Sun sent two messengers of Right and Justice to destroy Sodom.  In this event as in others, Yahweh shares the responsibility as a subordinate to the Sun God.  Slowly but surely, Yahweh acquired a convincing divinity by the period that preceded the exile to Babylon.

In 587 BC, the Babylonian King Nabukhodonosor destroys part of the Temple.  The Persian King Cyrus repatriates the Jews in 538 and restores the temple.

Alexander enters Jerusalem in 332 and Judea falls under the Ptolemy dynasty.

The Seleucid dynasty dominates Jerusalem from 200 to 142.

Judas Maccabees revolted in 164 and enters Jerusalem which falls to the Hasmonide dynasty until the Roman Pompeii takes Jerusalem in 63 BC.

The zealot Jews take over Jerusalem for two years in 66 AC.

The Roman General Titus enters Jerusalem in the year 70 and burns the Temple.  Jerusalem is named Aelia Capitolina.

Bar Kokheba recaptures Jerusalem in 131.  Emperor Hadrian enters Jerusalem and the Jews are definitely dispersed and forbidden to enter Jerusalem.

Emperor Constantine consecrates the Anastasis (The Saint Sepulcher).

The Persian King Chosroe destroys Jerusalem in 614.

Emperor Heracles re-takes the city in 628.

The Caliph of Islam Omar enters Jerusalem in 638. The Dome of the Rock is built in 691.  The mosque Al Aqsa is built in 705.

The crusaders enter the city in 1099.

The Sultan Sallah el Din enters the city in 1187 and chased out the crusaders.

The Turkish Sultan Selim II enters the city in 1244 and gives Jerusalem a religious function and dots it with many religious schools (madrassa).

The Ottoman Empire captures the city in 1516.  Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent rebuilds the walls and enlarges the city with newer walls.

In 1967 the Zionist State of Israel enters Jerusalem. Menahim Begin PM declares that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel in 1980.

The State of Israel is flaunting all UN resolutions to stop destroying Palestinian houses in East Jerusalem that is proposed to be the Capital of the Palestinian State.

Panting for a miracle (August 8, 2009)


            Samara was barely 16 when Soraya Angela was born.  Samara got pregnant and she never divulged the name of the father; she may have not known his name.  As her pregnancy was evident then her parents confined her to her bedroom till she gave birth. Samara had to stay confined for another year in her bedroom for shaming the family honor.  Her three other brothers forgot that there were two persons in a bedroom; her father was invisible to Samara, especially for the new born.

            By the age of two Soraya’s world extended to a tiny court with a water fountain and four stone angels. Soraya lay on her back and focused her attention on the palm of a specific angel at the exclusion of everything else.  Soraya Angela could look at the stony palm for hours; Samara would take the opportunity to carry Soraya inside as the attention broke for less than seconds.  The bedroom of the two creatures was quiet most of the time. I could hear Samara softly crying at night since my bedroom was the closest to her.

            By the age of three, a three years old relative tried to talk to Soraya and then he broke in tears. The kid asked the adults around “I talk to her. Why she does not talk to me?”  It finally dawned on Samara that Soraya is mute and deaf and she had to accept this new reality.  Soraya Angela realized that she is different from other kids: kids could move their lips to express their dislike for dishes while she had to slide then on the side.  Kids adored Soraya and followed her in the garden and did anything she did. Soraya was best getting on all four and approaching toddler, cajoling them, and mimicking them and make them laugh again.

            I once tried to approach Soraya and she growled with wild large black eyes; there was no perceptible distance between her eyes which made her face look smaller; Soraya Angela looked stunned when I instantly retreated, wondering about by crowdedness.

            Samara didn’t allow anyone to approach Soraya so that by the age of four Soraya had only seen her mother and grandmother Emilie.  All the while, Samara tried hard to find common physical traits with her child; she only managed to learn to focus on objects as Soraya did.  Soraya grabbed the attention of the household solely by fidgeting on objects for hours, acts that could never leave anyone indifferent; thus Soraya got larger than the entire household and filled the house with her presence. I am confident that later on Soraya learned to increase these fidgeting just to attract attention.

            By the age of six Soraya enjoyed the entire garden.  She would drive the chicken crazy, ride on the back of sheep and goats, tie the monkey’s tail, and harass all animals around until she was exhausted. Soraya would then state at me with wild large eyes panting for a miracle; like something must happen now, shouldn’t it? Nothing new would take place.  Soraya would follow the ants’ trials to their holes and then burry her face inside the sand; she would then run like the devil to the fountain and dip her face.  Soraya would emerge from the fountain all puffed up and her eyes swollen and grinning broadly; kind of hysteric laugh; a movie paused on mute.

            By the by I managed to surreptitiously take Soraya to walking trips to the market; Samara knew but faked ignorance.  At dinner Soraya would mimic every one she saw on the trip and people laughed recognizing the individuals.  Granddad got fond of Soraya who brought him his slippers and tried to cajole him “She is not that bad after all” he would say to his wife.

            Samara took Soraya out once; they walked hand in hand and hidden by a red umbrella; Samara refused to look up or around in order not to answer to people. That was the only and last trip for Soraya: she was overrun by a vehicle. Soraya died at age of eight.




Note: This topic was extracted from “Recit d’un certain Orient” by Milton Hatoum; the book was translated from Portuguese to French in 1993 by Edition du Seuil.  As usual, I use the first person for effect.




August 2009

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