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Medina, the Jewish City

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Sarah
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« on: May 12, 2007, 05:41:20 am »

History

Pre-Islamic times

Jewish tribes


The oasis of Yathrib was first settled by three Jewish tribes: the Banu Qaynuqa, the Banu Qurayza, and Banu Nadir [2]. Ibn Khordadbeh later reported that during the Persian domination in Hijaz, the Banu Qurayza served as tax collectors for the shah.

Banu Aws and Banu Khazraj

The situation changed after the arrival from Yemen of two Arab tribes named Banu Aws and Banu Khazraj. At first, these tribes were clients of the Jews, but later they revolted and became independent.[4] Toward the end of the fifth century [5], the Jews lost control of the city to Banu Aws and Banu Khazraj. Jewish Encyclopedia states that they did so "By calling in outside assistance and treacherously massacring at a banquet the principal Jews" Banu Aus and Banu Khazraj finally gained the upper hand at Medina [2].

Most modern historians accept the claim of the Muslim sources that after the revolt, the Jewish tribes became clients of the Aws and the Khazraj.[6] According to William Montgomery Watt, the clientship of the Jewish tribes is not borne out by the historical accounts of the period prior to 627, and maintained that the Jews retained a measure of political independence.[4]

Ibn Ishaq tells of a conflict between the last Yemenite Himyar king[7] and the residents of Yathrib. When the king was passing by the oasis, the residents killed his son, and the Yemenite ruler threatened to exterminate the people and cut down the palms. According to ibn Ishaq, he was stopped from doing so by two rabbis from the Banu Qurayza, who implored the king to spare the oasis because it was the place "to which a prophet of the Quraysh would migrate in time to come, and it would be his home and resting-place". The Yemenite king thus did not destroy the town and converted to Judaism. He took the rabbis with him, and in Mecca, they reportedly recognized Kaaba as a temple built by Abraham and advised the king "to do what the people of Mecca did: to circumambulate the temple, to venerate and honor it, to shave his head and to behave with all humility until he had left its precincts." On approaching Yemen, tells ibn Ishaq, the rabbis demonstrated to the local people a miracle by coming out of a fire unscathed and the Yemenites accepted Judaism.
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