SAMUEL IBN 'ADIYA (Arabic, Samau'al ibn, Jarid ibn 'Adiya'):

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Poet and warrior; lived in Arabia in the first half of the sixth century. His mother was of the royal tribe of Ghassan, while his father, according to some, was descended from Aaron, or, according to others, from Kahin, son of Harun and progenitor of the Jewish tribes of Ḳuraiẓa and Naḍir. Samuel owned a castle near Taima (eight hours north of Medina), built by his grandfather 'Adiya and called, from its mixed color, Al-Ablaḳ. It was situated on a high hill and was a halting-place for travelers to and from Syria.

"More Faithful than Samuel."

More than for his poetic talents Samuel ibn 'Adiya is famous for his connection with the warrior-poet and prince Amru al-Ḳais, which won for him the epithet "faithful," and gave rise to the saying, still common among the Arabs, "more faithful than Samuel." This came about in the following manner: Amru al-Ḳais, being abandoned by his followers in his fight with the Banu Asad to avenge the death of his father, and being pursued by Manẓur ibn Ma'assama', wandered about from tribe to tribe seeking protection as well as support in his endeavor to regain his inheritance. When he came to the Banu Fazarah their chief advised him to seek out the Jew Samau'al ibn 'Adiya' in his castle Al-Ablaḳ, saying that although he had seen the emperor of the Greeks and visited the kingdom of Ḥira, he had never found a place better fitted for assuring safety to those in need, nor known a more faithful protector than its owner. Amru al-Ḳais, who was accompanied by his daughter Hind, and his cousin, and had with him five suits of mail besides other weapons, immediately set out for the castle, and on the way he and his guide composed a poem in praise of their prospective host. Samuel received the poet hospitably, erected a tent of skins for Hind, and received the men into his own hall. After they had been there "as long as God willed," Amru al-Ḳais, wishing to secure the assistance of the emperor Justinian, asked Samuel to give him a letter to the Ghassanid prince Ḥarith ibn Abi Shamir, who might further him on his way. The poet then departed, leaving Hind, his cousin, and his armor in Samuel's keeping, and he never came to reclaim them. According to Arabian tradition, while on his homeward journey from Constantinople, he was poisoned by order of Justinian, who had listened to treacherous accusations against him.

Prefers Death of Son to Loss of Honor.

After Amru al-Ḳais had left Al-Ablaḳ, Prince Manẓur—it is not known whether before or after Amru's death—sent Ḥarith to Samuel ordering him to deliver up the articles deposited with him. Samuel refusing to do so, Ḥarith laid siege to the castle. The besiegers met with no success until one day Ḥarith captured Samuel's son, who, according to the story in the "Kitab al-Aghani," was returning from the chase. Ḥarith then called upon the father to choose between giving up the property and witnessing his son's death. Samuel answered that his son had brothers, but that his honor once lost could not be recovered. Ḥarith at once struck off the boy's head before the unhappy father's eyes and then withdrew, perceiving that hecould accomplish nothing in the face of such stead-fastness. There are a few verses handed down by different Arabian writers in which Samuel ibn 'Adiya refers to this deed.

A description of the castle Al-Ablaḳ is given by the poet A'sha (Yaḳut, i. 96), who confuses it with Solomon's Temple. It is related of this poet that, being captured together with other Arabs, he was taken as a prisoner to the castle at Taima, at that time belonging to Samuel's son Shuraiḥ, without his captor's knowing that he was in the company. Waiting until Shuraiḥ was within hearing, A'sha began to recite a poem extolling the deed of his father, and calling on the son to emulate his example by rescuing him (A'sha). Shuraiḥ procured the poet's release, and allowed him to depart, first presenting him with a swift camel. Shuraiḥ himself, his brother Jarid, and Samuel's grandson Sa'ba were all poets.

His Poems.

Samuel ibn 'Adiya's reputation as a poet rests upon one of the first poems in the collection called the "Ḥamasa." It is full of warlike vigor and courage, and manifests a high ideal of honor. There is nothing in it to distinguish it from the work of any other Arabian poet; and it has been doubted whether Samuel was really its author, as the verse (6), upon which the compiler of the "Ḥamasa" bases his ascription to Samuel, is not wholly convincing. Since, however, old, reliable authorities attribute parts of the poem, at any rate, to him, it is probable that most of it was written by Samuel. Another poem attributed to him has been published in Arabic and Hebrew, with an English translation, by H. Hirschfeld ("J. Q. R." xvii. 431-440).

  • Caussin de Perceval, Essai sur l'Histoire des Arabes Avant l'Islamisme, ii. 319 et seq., Paris, 1847;
  • Franz Delitzsch, Jüdisch-Arabische Poesien aus Vormuhammedischer Zeit, Leipsic, 1874;
  • Grätz, Gesch. 3d ed., v. 83-86;
  • Ḥamasa, ed. Freytag, pp. 49 et seq.;
  • Kitab al-Aghani, Index;
  • Nöldeke, Beiträge zur Kenntniss der Poesie der Alten Araber, pp. 57-72, Hanover, 1864;
  • Rasmusen, Additamenta ad Historiam Arabum (from Ibn Nubata), p. 14;
  • R. E. J. vii. 176;
  • Baron MacGuckin de Slane, Diwan des Amru'l Kais, Introduction.
J. M. W. M.
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