The History of al-Ṭabarī Vol. 4

The Ancient Kingdoms

Translated by Moshe Perlmann

Subjects: Islam
Series: SUNY series in Near Eastern Studies
Paperback : 9780887061820, 224 pages, August 1987
Hardcover : 9780887061813, 224 pages, August 1987

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Table of contents



Translator's Foreword

An Account of the Persian kings who ruled the region at Babylonia and the East after Kayqubadh


The Children of Israel after Solomon the son of David

The Story of Asa b. Abijah and Zerah the Indian

The story of Isaiah's friend; the kings of the Children of Israel and Sennacherib

Account of Luhrasb and his son Bishtasb; the expedition of Nebuchadnezzar against the Israelites and how he destroyed Jerusalem

The Reason why Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem

The story of Nebuchadnezzar's raid against the Arabs

Returning to the story of Bishtab, his reign and its events, initiated by him as well as others, such as his governors; also the deeds of Nebuchadnezzar

The kings of the Yaman in the days of Qabus and after him to the Age of Bahman b. Isfandiyar

Ardashir Bahman and his daughter Khumani

The history of the Israelites and the synchronization of their chronological data with those of the Persian kings

The account of Darius (Dara) the Elder and his son Darius the Younger. The account of Alexander (Dhu al-Qarnayn)

The Persians after Alexander

The Arsacid (Ashaghan) kings

The events that occurred during the rule of these regional princes

The story of Jesus son of Mary and his mother

The Roman rulers

Hirah and Anbar

'Amr b. Zarib


Tasm and Jadis

The Story of the Men of the Cave

Jonah son of Amittai

The sending by God of His three envoys

The story of Samson

The story of Jirjis

Bibliography of Cited Works



In this volume Ṭabarī takes up the history of the ancient world, focusing on the Iranians and the Israelites after the time of Solomon. He establishes a comparative chronology between the two nations; viewing Bahman, the Persian king, as the son of Esther, and his daughter, Khumani, the mother of Darius. Ṭabarī's synchronization also leads him into a discussion of North and South Arabia, in which stories about King Jadhimah, Queen Zabba, and the tribes of Ṭabarī and Jadis appear.

Falling outside the general scheme of the volume, are other details. These are concentrated in five chapters on the biblical stories of Samson and Delilah, and on Jonah, commentary on a Quranic passage concerning three divine envoys, and on two stories of Christian antiquity, the Seven Sleepers and the martyr Jirjis.

Ṭabarī presents a mass of Iranian, Jewish, Christian, and Arabian lore in order to create a unified view of the material. His treatment of the mythical Iranian kings, as they battle Turanians and other foes, extends beyond the time of Alexander and his successors to the era of the Gospels, John the Baptist, and Jesus. Tales of the Israelites include the story of Asa and Zerah the Indian, remarkable for its development of the Biblical nucleus and variants of the history of the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar.