Sunday, May 06, 2007

'Jewish-Christians' from Yemen founded Ramallah

Discussion of the current tribulations besetting Jews in Yemen on Dhimmiwatch spawned the following comment. The erudite Provoslavni draws on several sources - notably John of Ephesus' Eccclesiastical History - for his assertion that Christians of Jewish origin founded, in the 16th century, what is today the (predominantly Muslim) Palestinian Authority's administrative capital.

"Yemen was Jewish long before it was Muslim. The first Jews there probably arrived during the time of Solomon. After the Romans destroyed the temple in 70CE, thousands of Jews fled south to Yemen. Soon afterward a Christian community of Jewish origin also arose in Yemen. By the 5th Century, a Jewish dynasty ruled the Himyarite Kingdom of Yemen. Some of the more prominent Jewish kings were Rabiah ibn Mudhar and Yūsuf Asar Dhū Nuwas.

"In the early 6th Century, there were power struggles between the Rabbinical Jewish community and the much smaller Jewish-Christian community. The Jewish kings were supported by the Persians as well as by the Zoroastrian Arabs of the Lakhmid kingdom in norther Arabia. The Jewish-Christians, who controlled Najran, were supported by Axum (Ethiopia) and Byzantium. This war weakened Himyarite Yemen so much that it was easy pickings for the Arab Muslims.

"After this, both the Jews and the Jewish-Christians suffered under extreme dhimmitude but still maintained contacts with their co-religionists abroad. Sages such as Maimonides corresponded extensively with the Rabbis of Yemen and Byzantine patriarchs corresponded with the bishops of Najran.

"After several attempts a liberation by a number of Yemenite self-proclaimed messiahs, the Jewish community turned inward for survival. When Muslim persecution became unbearable for the much-smaller Jewish-Christian community in Najran they moved back to Palestine. This Christian Tribe of Jewish origin, known as the Haddadeen, are the founders of the city of Ramallah. This city, now the administrative center of the PA, was until 1948 an almost completely Christian city, populated by Haddadeen descendants as well as indigenous Christians from Judea and Samaria.

"Thus the historical links between Yemen and Israel are far more longlasting than Yemen's links with Islam. We should add Yemen to the list of nations conquered and colonized by Arab Muslim outsiders."

Posted by: Provoslavni at May 3, 2007 10:10 AM


Eliyahu m'Tsiyon said...

The New York Times magazine ran a feature story on Ramallah about 1971. According to this account, Ramallah was founded about the same time as you --or Pravoslavni-- stated, but by Arabic-speaking Christians from Shubak in Transjordan.
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You have an interesting site.
Kol haKavod

Anonymous said...

Many Christian tribes left Yemen when the dam ar Najran failed in I believe the sixth century. They migrated north to the area now of Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. The Hadaddeen I have read were part of that group. However I would like to know if anybody can point to a source which infers they we're a Jewish tribe converted to Christianity. The surname Haddad does exist today in both Arab and Jewish communities so does not sound too remote.