610 AD to 630 AD, Psalm 78: The Hegira.

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uhud annote shutterstock_419369239(1)This generation is that of the 610s and 620s.

With regard to the Byzantine Empire, this generation begins with the reign of Heraclius (610-641) who comes to the rescue of the empire by landing in Constantinople, then dismisses and executes the former Emperor Phocas.
The situation is not encouraging:
  • In the west [1], Avars and Salves invaded the Balkans; to the east, the camp fires of the Persians are clearly visible in Chalcedon, on the other side of the Bosphorus. It is true that the wall of Theodosius (built to protect Constantinople) was in good condition and that the Persians did not have boats to cross the strait, but if the capital was safe, the provinces fell one after the other. During the year following the accession to the throne of Heraclius, General Perse Schahrbaraz took Antioch. In 613, he added Damascus to his conquests, and in 614 Jerusalem where he left almost no Christian alive.


However, Heraclius managed to reorganize his army and the finances of the Empire. In 622, after an agreement with the Avars, he went on the offensive against the Persians and won many successes until the abandonment by the Persians of the aborted siege of Constantinople. After a final offensive of Heraclius, the Persians release their king Chosroes while the Byzantine army returns home.


On the Persian side [2], the military success of the beginning of this generation did not last.

In addition to the military debacle, there is the political debacle. Khosro II who refuses to make peace with Heraclius is assassinated by the son he had of Maurice’s daughter, Maria / Maryam. In 590, it was the Emperor Maurice who had helped Khosro to regain power and who gave him his daughter in marriage, getting paid by annexing Armenia. Between the death of the king, in 628, and the advent of the last Sassanid Yasdegerd III, in 632, no less than a dozen sovereigns succeed each other on the throne. The empire is devastated and exhausted by the wars, the people crushed by the taxes and the levies of troops.
In appearance a new era of peace opens for the Byzantine Empire, however this last war has weakened once again the two protagonists of this war: the Byzantines and the Persians. This facilitates the arrival of a third force still unknown at the beginning of the conflict: the Muslim armies.
Indeed, while the two empires of the moment are destroying each other, this new force is emerging in the desert of the Arabian Peninsula. In 622, while Heraclius resumed hostilities against the Persians, Muhammad began his exile from Mecca to Medina, which initiated the Hegira and the beginning of the Muslim calendar.
Until that date, Muhammad tried to convert to Islam by persuasion. Faced with the refusal of Mecca polytheists to follow the new religion, or even to fight against it, Muhammad changes the mode of dissemination by allowing the war to win new followers. This was previously forbidden in the first precepts that Muhammad had announced.
For this a retreat was necessary, Medina is the ideal place, because Muhammad had previously sent many emissaries who had largely started the work of conversion of the inhabitants. Converts to Mecca were still rare at the time of exile.
It is this shift of Islam into conquering religion that its followers have retained as the beginning of the Islamic era.

siyer-i_nebi_-_imam_ali_und_hamza_bei_dem_vorgezogenen_einzelkampf_in_badr_gegen_die_gotzendienerFrom Medina, Muhammad seeks to face the Meccans. After a few missed appointments and skirmishes, the first battle took place two years after the Hegira at Bedr where Muhammad, planning to attack a caravan, finally routed, following the Muslim tradition, the Mecca army came to the aid of it.

Muhammad had at first tried to convert the Jews to Islam. Having failed, he concluded with them a peace agreement, they hold many fortresses around Medina.
This does not prevent him from attacking the Jewish tribe of Beni-Qainoqa, claiming a divine intervention:
  • The [3] Beni-Qainoqa were Jews who lived near Medina, with whom the Prophet had concluded a treaty. He was informed that they were taunting the Qoraysh (Meccans), saying: We should have been at Bedr’s fight, we should have given a lesson to Mohammed; the Qoraysh should have warned us, we would have helped them, because they are not good at making war. The Prophet was angry with them, and desired to attack them; but he was bound by his treaty. Finally Gabriel (the angel) brought him the following verse: “If you fear some treachery of certain people, return them their treaty, to establish equality.” The Prophet, happy with this revelation, went on his campaign, with himself, with a hundred of his companions.
After a siege of fifteen days, the Beni-Qainoqa surrender without a fight. They must abandon their property to Muslim troops and go into exile:
  • These [4] Jews (the Beni-Qainoqa) were seven hundred men, besides the infirm, the old, and the children. They did not have fields or date orchards (this is specified because the main oases of Medina were exploited by Jews) but they had a lot of cattle and weapons (this probably explains the expedition). They were artisans; all the industry of Medina, all the works of forging, shoemaking and jewelery, were in their hands. So they went to Syria, with their wives and children, and left all their possessions, which the Prophet confiscated. Then he destroyed their fortress.
Muhammad’s first attack on the Jews of Medina, with whom he had a peace treaty, allowed him to gain a first advantage over the Qoraysh. The booty collected, well and weapons allows him to consolidate his army and secondly the Qoraysh lose at the same time presumably their best supplier of weapons.
However, this is not yet enough for Mohammed to confront the Qoraysh frontally. He decides before attacking another Jewish tribe the Beni-Nadhir to disrupt them by assassinating their leader Ka’b, a powerful man and head of the tribe.


For this, he sends the foster brother of this one, converted to Islam and in which Ka’b has a blind trust:
  • Ka’b [5] was a Jew, one of the main Beni-Nadhir. He had arrogated to himself the command of the fortress of Beni Nadhir, and he himself possessed, in front of this fortress, a castle, containing plantations of date palms. He harvested every year a large quantity of wheat and dates, which he sold on credit, and he had acquired a considerable fortune. He had eloquence and was a poet, for his father was from the tribe of Tayy, while his mother belonged to the Beni-Nadhir. […] Silkân (foster brother of Ka’b sent by Muhammad) tells him (he tries to meet Ka’b with henchmen): I have to talk to you. – What can you have to tell me at this time (the meeting is in the middle of the night) ? Ka’b asked. “I came to consult you on one thing,” replied the other. If you can, go down; if you can not, I’ll go back. Ka’b got up to go down; but his wife (whom he had just married) seized the part of his dress and begged him not to go. Ka’b said to him, He is my foster brother, whose door is open to me at night and in the day; it would be wrong to shut up mine, since I never presented myself in vain at his home. The woman says again: Do not go, it’s dark, you do not know what can happen. “I am,” replied Ka’b, “more sure of himself than of myself”. (… The encounter is made and Silkân put Ka’b in confidence, then after a few hours …) When they arrived in the middle of the orchard, Silkan grabbed Ka’b by the hair (which he caressed long before) and says: “Charge!”. Mohammed, the son of Maslama, also hugged him, and ‘Harith the son of Aus came to their aid, and all three kept him like this. The others took their swords and struck him.

According to the version of Ibn’Ishâq [6], Ka’b was from the Tayy tribe, from the Banû Nabhân clan, and his mother was from Banû al-Nadir (Beni-Nadhir). The reason Mohammed decided to assassinate him was “that he composed erotic poems that targeted Muslim women, so as to harm them”.

But the text rather shows that it is his poems praising the dead Meccans of the battle of Bedr that decided Mohammad. While many Muslims rejoiced over Ka’b’s death, this murder begins to tarnish Mohammad’s image with Jews, like the Jewish poet Sammâk:
  • If you [7] boast of killing Ka’b al-‘Ashraf – since you consider it something that you can be proud of …
    The day you completed his murder. And yet he has neither betrayed nor acted in bad faith.
    Perhaps the time and vicissitudes of the spell would strike “The just and the equitable (Mohammad)” in turn.
    In revenge for the murder of (Banû) Al Nadhir and their allies
    And the uprooting of date palms that were not yet picked (the poem continues on promises of revenge).
After killing Ka’b, an expedition is successfully conducted to kill the chief of the Khaibar Jews:
  • Sallam [8], nicknamed Abou-Rafi, was the chief of the Jews of Khaibar, and resided in that city. He was a considerable man, very rich and good at speaking. […] Khaibar was such a stronghold that there was no stronger one in the world, it consisted of seven forts, one surrounding the other, and each fort had an iron gate .
Following his two assassinations, Mohammed obtains an overall peace agreement with all the Jewish tribes of Medina and can then turn to the Qoraysh.
These decided the counteroffensive at the battle of Bedr, that will give place to the battle of O’hod.
The army of Mahomet takes first the upper hand, the victory seems acquired.
The outcome of the battle, which is transformed into a defeat for Mohammed, showed that the majority of Mahomet’s troops were still at that time interested in the goods of this world. Much more than a quest for pure spirituality to attain the pleasures of the future world:
  • All [9] the Muslims at the same time charged the Qoraysh, who at first shock, were put to flight. The camel that bore the idol of Hobal was thrown to the ground, and the idol overturned. Abu Sofyan (commander of Qoraysh troops) was on the run. Women, who were behind the Qorayshite army and could not run, prepared to surrender as prisoners; they rolled up their skirts and climbed the mountain. To stay there until the fight was over and they were imprisoned. […] Then the Muslims stopped pursuing the Qoraysh and fighting, as it says in the Qur’an: “Surely God had already fulfilled the promise He had made to you; you had annihilated them by his permission, when you lost courage and quarreled on the orders of the Prophet. “
  • The Muslims killed the infidels and began to loot. The fifty archers whom the Prophet had placed at the entrance of the defile to guard him (a strategic defile held by the Muslims prevented the “infidels” from taking them by reverses), seeing this state of affairs, said among themselves: the enemy is on the run and Muslims take loot; we will have nothing; let’s go to loot too. Their leader says: Do not disobey the Prophet’s orders, stay here. Then they disputed among themselves: some said that it was necessary to remain, the others that it was necessary to take part in the pillage. Finally thirty of them went to loot, and twenty remained at the entrance of the defile. Khalid, son of Walid, turned the mountain, with about two hundred men, attacked these twenty archers and killed them on the spot. He went out by the defile and fell on the rear of the Muslim army, which he loaded with the sword. A horseman ran after Abu Sofyan and the Qorayshite army to warn them. Abu Sofyan brought back the Qoraysh, who recommenced the struggle, and charged with their sabers the Moslem army in front and behind.
In spite of the bravery of the faithful of Muhammad (according to the narrative of Tabari), this battle turns to the advantage of the Qorayshite and is the first defeat of Mohammed who was wounded (his followers at first believed that he was dead). Although the Muslim survivors were few and in poor condition, the Qorayshites gave up pursuing them and returned to Mecca thus leaving the possibility to Muhammad to rebuild an army.
In fact, if Muhammad suffered a defeat, it seems to be partly due to the defection of some of his Jewish allies.
Thus at the time of the battle, the Ansar, natural allies of the Jews before the arrival of Muhammad, asked the Prophet:
  • « O messenger of Allah [10]! Are we going to call our Jewish allies to our aid? He replied, “We do not need them.”
Ibn Ishâq indirectly indicates, further, the reason for this defection, which did not emanate from Muhammad’s desire to remove the Jews from combat but from the fact that the battle took place on a Shabbat day:
  • Ibn Ishaq said: Mukhayriq was among those killed in the battle of Uhud. He was from the Banû Thalabah clan b. Al Fityun. On the day of the battle of Uhud, he said to the Jews, “O Jews! You know that you have a duty to help Muhammad”. They replied, “Today is a Saturday”. He says, “There is no Shabbat for you”. He took his sword and his weapons and said, “If I am killed, my goods will be to Muhammad, he can dispose of them as he pleases”. Then he went out to join the Messenger of Allah; he fought until he was killed, beside the messenger of Allah. According to what is transmitted to us, the Messenger of Allaah says: “Mukhayriq is the best of the Jews”.
In addition, Ibn ‘Ishaq points out:
  • The Messenger of Allah [11] received the goods of Mukhayriq (after his death). The majority of the alms of the Messenger of Allah to Al Madinah came from these goods.

Illustration #005 Hands Giving & Receiving Money_black white

Thus one of the five pillars of Islam (alms) could be realized by the Prophet himself thanks to the spontaneous generosity of Jews of Medina.
In fact, Mohammed fights certain Jewish tribes for strategic reasons: to ensure through their wealth the power in Medina and Mecca and isolate the Meccans strong potential support, indeed the tribes fought were allied with the Meccans.
This fight does not mean opposition to the Jews as a whole. Many other Jewish tribes unrelated to the Quraish had allied with Mohammed, retaining their religion with a status similar to Muhammad’s Muslim fighters (subsequently many Christian commentators would equate Muslim troops with Jewish-controlled troops).
Thus we can cite the following pact that Mohammed signed with a certain number of Jewish tribes at the beginning of the Hegira which integrates them into the Ummah (the community):
  • In the Name of Allah [12], the All-Beneficent, the All-Merciful, it is written by Muhammad the Prophet (who establishes) the relations between the believers and the Muslims of Quraysh and Yathrib as well as those who have them. joined and struggled side by side with them. They are one community (Ummah) to the exclusion of all other men.
  • […]
  • Jews contribute to war costs as long as they fight alongside believers (Muslims). The Jews of the Banû ‘Awf form a single community with the believers – the Jews having their own religion and the Muslims having theirs – and their mawalis and their people, with the exception of those who commit injustice and crimes, because everyone of these ruins only himself and the people of his house. What applies to the Jews of Banû ‘Awf also applies to the Jews of Banû al-Najjâr and the Jews of Banû al-Harith, and to the Jews of Banû Tha’labah – with the exception of the one who commits an injustice and a crime, for he ruins only himself and the people of his house. Jafnah is a sub-clan of Tha’labah and are in the same situation as these: A Banû al-Shutaybah applies what applies to the Jews of Banû ‘Awf. Goodness is opposed to sin. The mawalis of Tha’labah are in the same situation as they; the Jews’ relatives are like themselves.
  • None (of the Jews) can go to war without Muhammad’s permission, but he will not be prevented if it is revenge for an injury. Whoever kills a man without warning him only kills himself and the people of his house, unless he is the one who has committed an injustice. God approves of that.
  • Jews have to pay their own expenses, and Muslims have to pay their own expenses. Both commit themselves to fight the one who makes the war with the people of this writing (the present pact), between them they exchange the councils, between them there is goodness and not the crime. Nobody is responsible for the crime committed by his ally. We must help the person who is wronged. Jews must pay with believers as long as the war lasts.
  • Yathrib (Medina) will be a sanctuary for people of this writing.
After the defeat of Uhud, If Muhammad wants to carry out his project, he must find new resources to prevent his men turn away from the fight at the appropriate time.
The solution is found among the Jewish tribes of Medina who are not loyal to him and who more or less directly support the Quraysh.
The first to pay for it is the Beni-Nadhir tribe:
  • The Beni-Nadhir  [13] were Jews who had a great fortress at the gates of Medina, a parasangue of the city, and separated this one by date palms plantations. They had made a treaty with the Prophet, as well as the Jews of the tribe of Qoraizha and Fadak, and all the other Jews who lived near Medina.
To break the treaty, Mohammed, or at least the chroniclers of the life of Muhammad, evoke a plot (the modern world has not invented anything !) unveiled by the angel Gabriel. Apart from this revelation, no material element supports this plot!
In response, Muhammad first proposed exile to Beni-Nadhir (which is particularly lenient, because the alleged plot was aimed at the assassination of the Prophet):
  • The Prophet charged Mohammed, son of Maslama, to convey to Beni-Nadhir the following message: You have betrayed me and you have broken the treaty which bound you to me; I am therefore clear to you. Take your possessions, your wives and your children, leave this country and go wherever you please. If you do not want to leave, get ready for war.
Following the refusal of the Beni-Nadhir, Muhammad prepares the siege (it is likely that contrary to the story that wants to illustrate some verses of the Koran that this siege took place without prior proposal of exile):
  • The Prophet [14], having established Ibn-Umm-Maktoum his lieutenant in Medina, came out of the city with his army and came to invest the fortress of Beni-Nadhir, who had locked themselves there. He ordered the date-palms to be cut, and when, after a whole day having cut down the trees, they arranged, at the order of the Prophet, to continue for several days. The Jews cried from the top of the fortress: “O Mohammed, if we are permitted to give an opinion, we will tell you that these trees belong to us, and if they belong to you, they will be useful to you; why cut them?” The Prophet replied: “It is God who commands it”. They replied: “God does not order crimes, and cutting trees is a crime”.
  • God revealed the following verse: “Whatever palm trees you cut down or left standing on their roots, it was by Allah’s will,” and so on. Then the Prophet forbade cutting the other palm trees.
  • The Prophet besieged the Beni Nadhir for eleven days. At last they capitulated and accepted the conditions which the Prophet imposed upon them, namely: that they would leave the country, with their wives and children, and abandon their property.
34_nahalat_shiva_mezuzah-scrolls_210412While they could only carry a small part of their wealth, the priority went to what touched their religious piety:
  • (the Beni Nadhir) prayed  [15] the Messenger of Allah to deport them, and to spare their blood, provided that they could take with them what the camels can carry of their property, with the exception weapons. The Messenger of Allah acceded to their request. So they took away their belongings, which the camels could carry. Then we saw some of them demolish the lintels of the gates and put them on the backs of their camels and leave.
The Beni Nadhir thus took with them the Mezuzas attached to the lintels of their doors.
The exile of the Beni Nadhir will not necessarily be unanimously felt as a positive thing by all Muslims. Some will not hesitate to express their regret and to praise them, thus Abbas b. Mirdas:
  • If  [16] lthe people of the house had not separated,
  • You would have seen inside the house of entertainment and play
  • By my life, will I show you women in litter
  • Who left for Shatat and Tay’ab
  • They had wide eyes like the gazelles of Tabâlah
  • Damsels who would delight the weighted and experienced man
  • When someone comes for hospitality, they suddenly tell him
  • With their faces that look like gold: “Be twice welcome!
  • The good you are looking for will not be denied
  • You will have nothing to fear from us “
Abbas b. Mirdas resumes his praise while he is contradicted by another Muslim defending the action against Beni-Nadhir:
  • You [17] have satirized the pure Cohenites (Cohen, name associated with Jewish priests), when they granted you
  • Long-standing benefits
  • These are more worthy of being cried by you
  • And by your people, if they want to fulfill their duty to the truth
  • Their duty of gratitude, indeed, gratitude is the act that produces the best results,
  • And is the most just and right way to act
  • You’re like the one who would cut his head
  • To get the power that lies in it!
  • Weep – rather Banû Hârûn (descendants of Aaron then the cohenites) and mentions their achievements
  • And how did they kill hunger when you were hungry
  • O Akhawwat (name of the one who opposes in poetry to Abbas)! Shed tears after crying on them 
  • And abstain from hurting them
  • Because if you meet them in their homes
  • You’ll find something to distract you from saying what you said
  • These are people who rush to perform high deeds, and who are generous at war
  • And who say to him who wills good, “You are welcome”
Due to the absence of combat, there was no division of the spoils, which Muhammad attributed himself fully.
Meanwhile, in the fifth year of the Hegira, the Qoraysh are reconstituted and are ready to attack Medina. Muhammad organizes the defense of the city by building a large ditch all around to mainly prevent the action of the riders. Qorayshites lift the siege almost without a fight.
Muhammad took advantage of the respite to fight the Beni-Qoraizha (whom he accused of having supported the Qoraysh) a new Jewish tribe:
  • The Prophet [18] tells them (to Beni-Qoraizha): “O you monkeys and pigs, how did you observe the will of God?” The Jews replied: “O Muhammad, you have never insulted us, why are you doing it today?”, “It is God who does it,” the Prophet replied. He besieged them for twenty-five days.
Banu_QurayzaThe Jews ended up surrendering well knowing the fate that Mohammed reserved for them:
  • Those [19] of the Jews who could flee gained the desert; the others remained; they were eight hundred men (four hundred according to Ibn Ishaq). The Prophet had them bind their hands and seized their property.
  • The Jews remained in bond for three days, until all their goods were transported to Medina. Then the Prophet had a pit dug in the market place, sat down on the edge, called Ali, son of Abu Talib, and Zobair. Son of Al-Awwam. He commanded them to take their swords and slaughter all the Jews successively, and throw them into the pit. He spared women and children, but he also had the boys who showed the signs of puberty killed.
The bravery of the Beni-Qoraizha astonished the Muslims as the only woman executed because she had killed one of the besiegers by throwing a stone from the wall:
  • A’ishah [20] was astonished at his case: “I will not forget the serenity of her soul and the frequency of her laugh knowing that she was going to be killed! “
Similarly, in the version of Ibn Ishâq, the fate reserved for the Beni Qoraizha is not easily admitted by the followers of Muhammad who must be convinced by arguments outside the rational framework:
  • Ibn Ishaq [21] said: Allah’s Messenger had said, “Kill every Jewish man you take hold of” Then, Muhayyisah b. Mas’ud jumped on Ibn Sunaynah, a Jewish trader who frequented and traded with him and killed him. Huwaysah b. Mas’ud (Muhayyisah’s brother) was not yet a Muslim, and he was older than Muhayyisah. When Muhayyisah killed Ibn Sunaynah. Huwaysah began beating Muhayyisah by saying, “O enemy of God! Did you kill him? Maybe there is fat in your belly that comes from his money! Then Muhayyisah replied, “I swear by God that the one who ordered me to kill him is someone who, if he orders me to kill you, I will cut your neck.”
According to the version of Ibn Ishâq, it was the Khajraz (which includes Huwaysah and Muhayyisah) who executed the Jews of the Beni-Qoraizha, although this tribe and the Jews were closely linked before the outbreak of Islam:
  • No [22] tribe knew about the mission of the Messenger of Allah, when it was mentioned and before it was mentioned; better than the Aws and Khajraz tribes, and it was because of what they had heard from the Jewish rabbis who were their allies and who lived with them in their own country.

The link [23] between Jews and Khajraz was so strong, before Islam, that the latter unleashed a war (Hatib’s war) against the Aws because they had killed a Jew who was their protege. If only now counts only the blind fight for Islam, it is not without leaving some bitterness to the Muslims who will from now on have to make abstraction of a happy past cohabitation with the Jews:

  • Greet  [24] the houses whose vestiges
  • Are erased by long wear and weather alteration
  • As if the Jews had written their remains
  • With the exception of the fence and rope piles
  • They have become so deserted as if you have not played
  • In happiness with damsels of the same age as you
  • But leave aside the reminder of past life
  • And the place that has become dilapidated and in ruins
In the sixth year of the Hegira, Mohammed concludes a truce with the Qoraysh, he takes the seventh year of the Hegira to attack the Jewish tribe Khaibar.
This expedition, which we have already mentioned (see Psalm 76), concludes with the surrender of the Jews of Khaibar who can remain to cultivate their plantations but pay half of them to the Prophet.

Egypte oasis de Siwa

Following the Khaibar expedition, the neighboring Jewish tribe of Fadak asks to conclude a similar agreement with the Prophet:
  • In the same week [25], the Prophet concluded a treaty with the inhabitants of Fadak, which was a fortress inhabited by Jews, and surrounded by date palm plantations. It was not far from Khaibar, but it was smaller; for there was no fortress as big and strong as Khaibar, and which contained so many inhabitants and so many riches. The inhabitants of Fadak, seeing what had just happened at Khaibar, hastened to send a message to the Prophet; they asked to be treated in the Ramadan traditional islam digital art painting from photo. Big strokes when zooming.same way as the inhabitants of Khaibar, and to keep their date palm plantations. They chose for intermediary a man of Beni ‘Haritha, named Mo’hayyiça, son of Mas’oud. The Prophet accepted their proposals; he left, without taking the army, for Fadak, in front of Khaibar, and concluded the treaty with the inhabitants.
  • He declared Fadak his personal property, and attributed none to anyone. While the product of the Khaibar plantations (the part conceded by the Khaibar tribe) belonged to the Muslims, that of Fadak belonged strictly to the Prophet, and was used for his own subsistence and that of his family; he disposed of it at will, in alms to the poor and in presents.
The surrender of Fadak was followed by that of Wâdî’l-Qora, another Jewish fortress, after a week’s siege. Rich in his conquests against the Jewish tribes of Medina, Muhammad can come to Mecca and perform the “visit of the achievement”, mainly ritual tours around the Kabba.
This “visit of fulfillment” marks the effective start of the Muslim conquest:
  • God [26] rrevealed the following verse: “Certainly Allah has fulfilled His Apostle’s vision in all truth: You will surely enter the Sacred Mosque,” etc. This verse was a response to the concerns of companions of the Companions of the Prophet, who had wondered in Medina why the Prophet’s dream had not come true. Now God had realized this year, and in the verse just quoted he added, “So He knew what you did not know, and He assigned [you] besides that a victory near at hand“, the conquest of Khaibar.
  • Indeed, there was an alliance between the Meccans and the inhabitants of Khaibar. If Hodaibiya had not been treated and the Prophet had to enter Mecca by force, the Meccans would have come with an army to help Khaibar, as they had rescued the Beni Qoraizha, during the Confederate war. . It is for this reason that God brought back the Muslims of Hodaibiya, in execution of the treaty, so that the Prophet could make the conquest of Khaibar, without the Meccans coming to the aid of this city. And so that the next year he could fulfill his visit of the holy places of Mecca. It is according to the commentators, during this visit to Mecca, that this verse of the Qur’an was revealed.
  • […] In the eighth year of the Hegira, from the beginning of the month of mo’harrem to the month of first jjoumâda, he (the Prophet) sent out eight corps of troops: some perished while fighting; others won, and others returned without fighting.
Mohammed will therefore have during this generation first challenged the Qoraysh. By harassing them on their caravans, without really threatening them militarily, he managed to obtain from them a pact that leaves him free to attack the real economic power of the region: the Jewish tribes of Medina.
These had organized their protection through fortresses but had not prepared to face alone an army, that of Mohammed, abandoned by their natural allies, the Arab tribes of Mecca. Faced with this threat, fate was cast and Mohammed could appropriate without much difficulty the wealth and power of the Jewish tribes, including their intellectual power.
For aside from the dramatic events we have just mentioned, many Jews followed Mohammed’s troops in their conquests without renouncing their faith.
On his return to Mecca, Mohammed naturally became the new strongman of the Arabian Peninsula. The polytheists of Mecca followed him easily, including on the religious level, the pre-existing idolatrous beliefs were not sufficiently anchored to resist the attraction of Islam which has just marked its first successes.
What marks, on the other hand, the reaction of the Jews of Medina to the new threat posed by the troops of Muhammad is their complete abnegation. They know that they will lose everything materially, or even that they will have to be sacrificed. In spite of this, they remain faithful to the law of Moses, whereas they would be enough of a sentence, the profession of faith of Islam, to take shelter.
Although the religion presented by Muhammad respects many points of the law of Moses, the Jews of Medina remain faithful to the entire law given on Mount Sinai. Thus the Jews remember that they will remain faithful to the religion of their fathers when Muhammad encourages them to convert to Islam:
  • The Messenger of Allah [27] invited the Jews, who are the people who have the writing, to embrace Islam and interested them and at the same time warned them of the torment of God and his punishment. So Rafi’b. Khāryjah and Malik b. Awf said to him, “No, Muhammad. We will follow what our fathers followed, because they were more learned and better than us. God has sent down, concerning their word, the following verse: “When they are told, ‘Follow what Allah has sent down,’ they say, ‘We will rather follow what we have found our fathers following.’ What, even if their fathers neither applied any reason nor were guided?!”
It is this fidelity of Jews to the precepts of the Torah transmitted from generation to generation, which shelters them from any attempt at conversion, that the psalm of this generation first of all reminds us of:

(extract of the psalm 78 associated to this generation, verses 1 to 7 )

  • A maskil of Asaph. Hearken, my people, to my instruction, extend your ear to the words of my mouth.
  • I shall open my mouth with a parable; I shall express riddles from time immemorial.
  • That we heard and we knew them, and our forefathers told us.
  • We shall not hide from their sons; to the last generation they will recite the praises of the Lord, and His might and His wonders, which He performed.
  • And He established testimony in Jacob, and He set down a Torah in Israel, which He commanded our forefathers to make them known to their sons.
  • In order that the last generation might know, sons who will be born should tell their sons.
  • And they should put their hope in God, and not forget the deeds of God, and keep His commandments.
Yet the Jews of Medina would have had the opportunity to fight against Muhammad or even defeat him if they had decided to break the fidelity with the law of Moses. Thus the Beni-Qoraizha Jews preferred defeat to the renunciation of their faith, even the violation of the Sabbath:
  • The Jews [28] (the Beni-Qoraizha) were headed by Ka’b, son of Asad, who spoke to them thus: there are three parties for you to take. The first is to go out and go tell Muhammad that you believe in him. You will save your lives, your property and your families. The Jews replied: We can not take this course: we do not want to give up the belief of the Pentateuch for another. Ka’b says: Take your swords and slaughter your wives and your children; burn your possessions and hide all you can, then throw yourself into battle; if you succumb, your wives and your children will not fall into the power of the enemy, and no one will enjoy your goods; if you are a winner, you will be able to acquire other goods. The Jews said, As long as we live, we will kill neither our wives nor our children; What would life matter to us after losing our wives, children, and property? Ka’b continued: This night is the night of the Sabbath: Mohammed believes himself safe, knowing that you do not fight on the Sabbath. Make this night, unexpectedly, an exit, fall on Mohammed and his soldiers, and massacre them. “We can not break the Sabbath,” said the Jews. “Now,” said Ka’b, “you are warned.
Likewise, the Jews of Khaibar agreed to surrender on the sole condition of keeping their religion:
  • The [29] fight lasted three days without result. Then the inhabitants of the two forts asked to surrender. They wanted the Prophet to give them life and be content to take their goods, and let them stay in the land, and keep the Jewish religion.
The Jews of Fadak contented themselves with the same conditions and surrendered without a fight.
The Jews of Medina were valiant warriors recognized and respected. When Mohammed appeared, the Jews were either in his ranks or opposed to him. In both cases, and whatever the consequences, the Jews of Medina did not deny their faith or the laws received through Moses.
In this, they show the maturity of the Jewish people who are armed to resist all the threats of exile within the nations. Maturity that failed their ancestors when they took possession of the promised land and were tempted by idolatry and ended up losing the land that God had dedicated to them.
It is this evolution that allows the Jewish people to get through the night that the sequel of the Psalm wishes to highlight by recalling the failure of the elders:

(extract of the psalm 78 associated to this generation, verses 8 to 10 )

  • And they should not be as their forefathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, who did not prepare its heart and whose spirit was not faithful to God.
  • The sons of Ephraim, armed archers, retreated on the day of battle.
  • They did not keep the covenant of God, and they refused to follow His Torah.
The Muslim religion wants to be unifying with previous monotheistic religions, so it considers the Torah and the Gospels among others as sacred books. It recognizes the prophets and patriarchs of both religions.
The Jews will remain attached to their religion and in particular to the law of Moses which is only partially covered by Islam, although the Koran in particular makes a great place to leave Egypt which is the founding element of the people of Israel.
Thus, if we limit ourselves to the main evocations (many other suras evoke this episode more or less briefly), especially in the most important sura of the Qur’an (at least by its length), the sura 2 (The Cow, al-Baqarah” ( البقرة )) :
  • And [30] when We delivered you (the children of Israel) from Pharaoh’s clan who inflicted a terrible torment on you, and slaughtered your sons and spared your women, and in that there was a great test from your Lord.
  • And when We parted the sea with you, and We delivered you and drowned Pharaoh’s clan as you looked on.
  • And when We made an appointment with Moses for forty nights, you took up the Calf [for worship] in his absence, and you were wrongdoers.
  • Then We excused you after that so that you might give thanks.
  • And when We gave Moses the Book and the Criterion so that you might be guided.
  • And [recall] when Moses said to his people, ‘O my people! You have indeed wronged yourselves by taking up the Calf [for worship]. Now turn penitently to your Maker, and slay [the guilty among] your folks. That will be better for you with your Maker.’ Then He turned to you clemently. Indeed He is the All-clement, the All-merciful.
  • And when you said, ‘O Moses, we will not believe you until we see Allah visibly.’ Thereupon a thunderbolt seized you as you looked on.
  • Then We raised you up after your death so that you might give thanks.
  • And We shaded you with clouds, and We sent down to you manna and quails: ‘Eat of the good things We have provided for you.’ And they did not wrong Us, but they used to wrong [only] themselves.
  • And when We said, ‘Enter this town and eat thereof freely whencesoever you wish, and enter prostrating at the gate, and say, “Relieve [us of the burden of our sins],” that We may forgive your iniquities, and soon We will enhance the virtuous.’
  • But the wrongdoers changed the saying with other than what they were told. So We sent down on those who were wrongdoers a plague from the sky because of the transgressions they used to commit.
  • And when Moses prayed for water for his people, We said, ‘Strike the rock with your staff.’ Thereat twelve fountains gushed forth from it; every tribe came to know its drinking-place. ‘Eat and drink of Allah’s provision, and do not act wickedly on the earth, causing corruption.’
  • And when you said, ‘O Moses, ‘We will not put up with one kind of food. So invoke your Lord for us, that He may bring forth for us of that which the earth grows —its greens and its cucumbers, its garlic, its lentils, and its onions.’ He said, ‘Do you seek to replace what is superior with that which is inferior? Go down to any town and you will indeed get what you ask for!’ So they were struck with abasement and poverty, and they earned Allah’s wrath. That, because they would defy the signs of Allah and kill the prophets unjustly. That, because they would disobey and used to commit transgression.
Also in Surah “The Elevations”, al-Aʿrāf ” ( الأعراف ) :
  • And [31] they (the Egyptians to Moses) said, ‘Whatever sign you may bring us to bewitch us, we are not going to believe you.’
  • So We sent against them a flood and locusts, lice, frogs and blood, as distinct signs. But they acted arrogantly, and they were a guilty lot.
  • Whenever a plague fell upon them, they would say, ‘O Moses, invoke your Lord for us by the covenant He has made with you. If you remove the plague from us, we will certainly believe in you and let the Children of Israel go along with you.’
  • But when We had removed the plague from them until a term that they should have completed, behold, they broke their promise.
  • So We took vengeance on them and drowned them in the sea, for they denied Our signs and were oblivious to them.
  • We made the people who were abased the heirs to the east and west of the land which We had blessed, and your Lord’s best word [of promise] was fulfilled for the Children of Israel because of their patience, and We destroyed what Pharaoh and his people had built and what they used to erect.
It is therefore in parallel with the stories of the Qur’an that the following of the psalm recalls in its turn the coming out of Egypt and the disappointing attitude of the Jews in the desert:

(extract of the psalm 78 associated to this generation, verses 11 to 29 )

  • They forgot His deeds and His wonders, which He showed them.
  • Before their forefathers He wrought wonders, in the land of Egypt, the field of Zoan.
  • He split the sea and took them across, He made the water stand as a heap.
  • He led them with a cloud by day, and all night with the light of fire.
  • He split rocks in the desert and gave them to drink as [from] great deeps.
  • He drew flowing water from a rock and brought down water like rivers.
  • But they continued further to sin against Him, to provoke the Most High in the desert.
  • They tried God in their heart by requesting food for their craving.
  • And they spoke against God; they said, « Can God set a table in the desert?
  • True, He struck a rock and water flowed, and streams flooded. Can He give meat too? Can He prepare flesh for His people? »
  • Therefore, God heard and was incensed; fire was kindled against Jacob, and also wrath ascended upon Israel.
  • Because they did not believe in God and did not trust in His salvation.
  • And He had commanded the skies from above, and He had opened the portals of heaven.
  • He had rained upon them manna to eat, and He had given them corn of heaven.
  • Men ate the bread of the mighty; He sent them provisions for satisfaction.
  • He caused the east wind to set forth in heaven, and He led the south wind with His might.
  • He rained down flesh upon them like dust, and, like the sand of the seas, winged fowl.
  • And He let it fall in the midst of their camp, around their dwellings.
  • They ate and were very satisfied, and He brought them their desire.

But the reminder of the way out of Egypt also allows the Qur’an to recall the Jewish people’s faults of trusting God. Thus in another sura of importance, the sura “The Table”, al-Māʾidah” ( المائدة ) :

  • O People of the Book (the Jews[32] ! Certainly Our Apostle has come to you, clarifying [the Divine teachings] for you after a gap in [the appearance of] the apostles, lest you should say, ‘There did not come to us any bearer of good news nor any warner.’ Certainly there has come to you a bearer of good news and a warner. And Allah has power over all things.
  • When Moses said to his people, ‘O my people, remember Allah’s blessing upon you when He appointed prophets among you, and made you kings, and gave you what none of the nations were given.
  • O my people, enter the Holy Land which Allah has ordained for you, and do not turn your backs or you will become losers.’
  • They said, ‘O Moses, there are a tyrannical people in it. We will not enter it until they leave it. But once they leave it, we will go in.’
  • Said two men from among those who were Godfearing and whom Allah had blessed: ‘Go at them by the gate! For once you have entered it, you will be victors. Put your trust in Allah, should you be faithful.’
  • They said, ‘O Moses, we will never enter it so long as they remain in it. Go ahead, you and your Lord, and fight! We will be sitting right here.’
  • He said, ‘My Lord! I have no power over [anyone] except myself and my brother, so part us from the transgressing lot.’
  • He said, ‘It shall be forbidden them for forty years: they shall wander about in the earth. So do not grieve for the transgressing lot.’

Thus, behind the talks in which the Qur’an recalls the privileged election of the Jewish people to the point of making Muslim commentators feel uncomfortable [33], the following of the Surahs tries to justify the revelation of the new religion (Islam) by the infidelity of the Jewish people, following on from the aforementioned verses of Sura 2 (The Cow) we find:

  • Indeed the faithful [34], , the Jews, the Christians, and the Sabaeans —those of them who have faith in Allah and the Last Day and act righteously— they shall have their reward near their Lord, and they will have no fear, nor will they grieve.
  • And when We took a pledge from you, and raised the Mount (Mount Sinai) above you [declaring], ‘Hold on with power to what We have given you, and remember that which is in it, so that you may be Godwary.’
  • Then after that you turned away; and were it not for Allah’s grace on you and His mercy, you would surely have been among the losers.
  • And certainly you know those of you who violated the Sabbath, whereupon We said to them, ‘Be you spurned apes.’
  • So We made it an exemplary punishment for the present and the succeeding [generations], and an advice to the Godwary.
  • And when Moses said to his people, ‘Indeed Allah commands you to slaughter a cow,’  ( – It is from this verse and from what follows that the name of the Surah is derived, the cow in question corresponds to the rite of the sacrifice of the red cow described in the Torah – ) they said, ‘Do you take us in derision?’ He said, ‘I seek Allah’s protection lest I should be one of the senseless!’
  • They said, ‘Invoke your Lord for us, that He may clarify for us what she may be.’ He said, ‘He says, She is a cow, neither old nor young, of a middle age. Now do what you are commanded.’
  • They said, ‘Invoke your Lord for us, that He may clarify for us what her colour may be.’ He said, ‘He says, She is a cow that is yellow, of a bright hue, pleasing to the onlookers.’
  • They said, ‘Invoke your Lord for us, that He may clarify for us what she may be. Indeed all cows are much alike to us, and, if Allah wishes, we will surely be guided.’
  • He said, ‘He says, She is a cow not broken to till the earth or to water the tillage, sound and without blemish.’ They said, ‘Now have you come up with the truth!’ And they slaughtered it, though they were about not to do it.
  • And when you killed a soul, and accused one another about it —and Allah was to expose whatever you were concealing—
  • We said, ‘Strike him with a piece of it:’ thus does Allah revive the dead, and He shows you His signs so that you may apply reason.
  • Then your hearts hardened after that; so they are like stones, or even harder. For indeed there are some stones from which streams gush forth, and indeed there are some of them that split, and water issues from them, and indeed there are some of them that fall for the fear of Allah. And Allah is not oblivious of what you do.
  • Are you then eager that they should believe you,1 though a part of them would hear the word of Allah and then they would distort it after they had understood it, and they knew [what they were doing]?
  • When they meet the faithful, they say, ‘We believe,’ and when they are alone with one another, they say, ‘Do you recount to them what Allah has revealed to you, so that they may argue with you therewith before your Lord? Do you not apply reason?’
The fall from grace of Jews for the benefit of Muslims is confirmed elsewhere in a sura with the main theme of Christianity:
fall from grace
  • You [35] are the best nation [ever] brought forth for mankind: you bid what is right and forbid what is wrong, and have faith in Allah. And if the People of the Book (The Jews) had believed (to the revelation of the Koran), it would have been better for them. Among them [some] are faithful, but most of them are transgressors (do not adhere to Islam).
  • They will never do you any harm, except for some hurt (by language); and if they fight you, they will turn their backs [to flee], then they will not be helped.
  • Abasement has been stamped upon them wherever they are confronted, except for an asylum from Allah and an asylum from the people; and they earned the wrath of Allah, and poverty was stamped upon them. That, because they would defy the signs of Allah and kill the prophets unjustly. That, because they would disobey and used to commit transgression

Also :

  • Certainly [36], We settled the Children of Israel in a worthy settlement and We provided them with all the good things, and they did not differ until [after] the knowledge had come to them. Your Lord will indeed judge between them on the Day of Resurrection concerning that about which they used to differ.
  • So if you are in doubt about what We have sent down to you, ask those who read the Book [revealed] before you. The truth has certainly come to you from your Lord; so do not be among the skeptics.
  • And do not be of those who deny the signs of Allah, [for] then you shall be among the losers.
And also, in Surah: The Table, “al-Māʾidah” ( المائدة ) (already quoted):
  • Certainly [37] Allah took a pledge from the Children of Israel, and We raised among them twelve chiefs. And Allah said, ‘I am with you! Surely, if you maintain the prayer and give the zakāt (alms) and have faith in My apostles (this includes Muhammad) and support them and lend Allah a good loan, I will surely absolve you of your misdeeds, and I will surely admit you into gardens with streams running in them (heaven). But whoever of you disbelieves after that has certainly strayed from the right way.’
  • Then, because of their breaking their covenant We cursed them and made their hearts hard: they pervert words from their meanings, and have forgotten a part of what they were reminded. You will not cease to learn of some of their treachery, excepting a few of them. Yet excuse them and forbear. Indeed Allah loves the virtuous.
To echo this statement, the rest of the psalm recalls again the events of the exit of Egypt by not omitting to quote the rebuffs of the people of Israel but concluding, contrary to what might suggest the extracts previous, that the divine wrath on his people is in no way final:

(extract of the psalm 78 associated to this generation, verses 30 to 39 )

  • They were not estranged from their desire; while their food was still in their mouth,
  • The wrath of God ascended upon them and slew [some] of their stoutest and caused the chosen of Israel to fall.
  • Despite all this, they sinned again and did not believe despite His wonders.
  • And He ended their days in vanity and their years in terror.
  • When He slew them, they would seek Him, and they would repent and pray to God.
  • And they remembered that God is their rock and the Most High God is their Redeemer.
  • They beguiled Him with their mouth, and with their tongue they lied to Him.
  • Their heart was not sincere with Him; they were not faithful in His covenant.
  • But He is merciful, He expiates iniquity and does not destroy; many times He takes back His wrath and does not arouse all His anger.
  • He remembers that they are flesh, a spirit that goes away and does not return.
But the continuation of the psalm will go further than the Koran by evoking the infidelities of the people of Israel after the exit from Egypt, once established in the promised land, a period that is evoked only briefly in the Koran.
The Qur’an is mainly limited to the biblical story of the Pentateuch and then to the main characters who followed such as Solomon and David.
Thus the rest of the psalm remembers the link between infidelity in the desert and infidelity in the land of Israel:

(extract of the psalm 78 associated to this generation, verses 40 to 58 )

  • How often they provoked Him in the desert, vexed Him in the wasteland!
  • They returned and tried God, and they sought a sign from the Holy One of Israel.
  • They did not remember His hand, the day that He redeemed them from distress.
  • Who placed His signs in Egypt and His wonders in the field of Zoan.
  • He turned their canals into blood, and their flowing waters they could not drink.
  • He incited against them a mixture of wild beasts, which devoured them, and frogs, which mutilated them.
  • He gave their produce to the finishing locusts and their toil to the increasing locusts.
  • He killed their vines with hail and their sycamore trees with locusts.
  • He gave over their animals to the hail and their cattle to the fiery bolts.
  • He dispatched against them the kindling of His anger-wrath, fury, and trouble, a delegation of evil messengers.
  • He leveled a path for His anger; He did not withhold their soul from death, and He delivered their body to pestilence.
  • He smote every firstborn in Egypt, the first fruit of their strength in the tents of Ham.
  • Then He caused His people to journey like sheep, and He led them as a flock in the desert.
  • He led them securely and they were not afraid, and the sea covered their enemies.
  • He brought them to the border of His sanctuary, this mountain that His right hand had acquired.
  • He drove out nations from before them, and allotted them an inheritance by line, and He caused the tribes of Israel to dwell in their tents.
  • Yet they tried and provoked the Most High God, and did not keep His testimonies.
  • They turned back and dealt treacherously as their forefathers; they turned around like a deceitful bow.
  • They provoked Him with their high places, and with their graven images they angered Him.
This infidelity brings divine wrath to his people.
Now we are still in the heart of the night, the Jews are in exile the prey of the nations. What the Jews of this generation are once again experiencing is a new illustration of this divine wrath.
Thus this one, which is described in the rest of the psalm, illustrates at the same time what the Jews of Medina suffered during the generation of this psalm:

(extract of the psalm 78 associated to this generation, verses 59 to 64 )

  • God heard and became incensed, and He utterly rejected Israel.
  • And He abandoned the Tabernacle of Shiloh, the tent that He had stationed among men.
  • He delivered His might into captivity, and His glory into the hand of the adversary.  
    • The Jewish tribes of Medina had to submit to Muhammad. While these dominated the Hijab, they had to give up their power to the new master of the place and for some of them accept a new exile. This was the case especially for the first tribe attacked by Muhammad: the Beni-Qainoqa. Then it was the same for the Beni-Nadhir.
  • And He delivered His people to the sword, and He became incensed with His inheritance.
    • After the exile of Beni-Qainoqa. The following attacks of Muhammad on the Jewish tribes became more violent. Thus Ka’b, one of the chiefs of Beni Nadhir and then Sallâm chief of the Jews of Khaibar were executed. And this was the fate reserved for the men of the Beni-Qoraizha.
  • Fire consumed his youths and his virgins were not married. 
    • Among the Beni-Qoraizha among others, the young men (as soon as he had a sign of puberty) were executed. The image of fire given here is to be associated with their young age rather than the way they were executed. The girls were part of the booty, abandoning any plans to marry missing fiancés and resigned themselves to those who had besieged them.
  • His priests fell by the sword, but his widows did not weep.
For this last verse of the psalm that we take back, we have already seen that Abbas b. Mirdas in his poems at the eulogy of Beni-Nadhir evokes “Cohenites” (lineage of priests for the Jews). We can also illustrate this verse with another poem (from Jabal b. Jawwal al-Thalabi) to the praise of Beni Nadhir and Beni Qoraizha, who refers to the “Cohen” (lineage of priests) for the Jewsamong the victims:
  • Woe [38] to Sa’d, Sa’d b. Muad!
  • The one to whom Muhammad gave the power to decide the fate of the Beni Qoraizha and who decided to execute all men.
  • Because of what Qoraizha and Al Nadhir suffered
  • By your life, Sa’d b. MUAD
  • The day of their departure was the real sufferer
  • When to Abu Hubab al Khazrajy
  • He had said to Qainoqa: do not leave!
  • The allies of Hudayr and Usayd were changed
  • And it happens that the towers are exchanged
  • Al Buwayrah is desert, of Salam
  • of Sa’yah and Ibn ‘Akhtab
  • They were, in their city, great weight
  • As heavy as the rocks in Mîtân mountain
  • If Abu Hakam Salam is killed,
  • He was not badly armed or lazy
  • And all the Cohen – and he was one of them
  • Are generous and hawks, but with tenderness 
  • We saw that they persevered in glory
  • A glory that times have not tarnished
  • Stay there, O Notables of the Aws 
  • As if you were deprived of (this) shame,
  • You have abandoned your empty pot
  • When the pot of people was hot and bubbling.
The psalm of this generation quotes twice the fields of Çoân which are not mentioned during the narrative of the exit of Egypt in the Pentateuch.
On the other hand, this region is quoted twice also in the prophecies of Isaiah.
The account of this psalm thus makes it possible to draw a parallel with the text of Isaiah which presents many more similarities than the simple reminder of a region of Egypt, and in particular the following passage:
  • “Woe to rebellious children,”  [39] says the Lord, “to take counsel but not from Me, and to appoint a ruler but not of My spirit, in order to add sin upon sin.
  • Those who go to descend to Egypt, and they have not asked of My mouth, to strengthen themselves with the strength of Pharaoh and to take shelter in the shade of Egypt.
  • And the strength of Pharaoh shall be to you for shame, and the shelter in the shade of Egypt for disgrace.
  • For his princes were in Zoan and his emissaries reached Hanes.
  • They all disgraced themselves because of a people that will not avail them, neither for aid nor for avail, but for shame and also for disgrace.
  • The burden of the beasts of the southland, in a land of trouble and anguish, the awesome lion and the crushing lion among them, the viper and the flying serpent; they carry their wealth on the shoulders of young donkeys and their treasures on the humps of camels, to a people that will not avail.
  • And the Egyptians help in vain and to no purpose, therefore, I called this, “They are haughty, idlers.”
  • Now, come write it on a tablet with them, and on a book engrave it, and it shall be for the last day, forever to eternity.
  • For a rebellious people are they, lying children, children who would not hearken to the Lord’s instruction.
  • Who said to the seers, “You shall not see,” and to the prophets, “You shall not prophesy for us true things. Speak to us with smooth talk; prophesy mockery.
  • Turn away from the road, turn away from the path, cease from before us the Holy One of Israel.”
  • Therefore, so said the Holy One of Israel, “Because you have despised this matter, and you have put your trust in oppression and a perverse one, and you have relied upon it.
  • Therefore, this iniquity shall be to you as a breach of a falling [wall], revealed in a fortified wall, whose breach will come suddenly.”
  • And He shall break it like the breaking of a potter’s jug, crushed without pity, and in its crushing shall not be found a shard, to scoop fire from a hearth, or to scoop water from a cistern.
  • For so said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel; “With tranquility and restfulness shall you be saved, with quietude and trust shall be your might; but you did not want.
  • And you said, ‘No, but on horses will we flee.’ Therefore, you shall flee. ‘And on swift [steeds] will we ride.’ Therefore, your pursuers shall be swift.
  • One thousand, because of the shout of one, because of the shout of five, shall you flee, until you remain like a mast on a mountaintop and like a flagpole on a hill.”
  • Therefore, the Lord shall wait to be gracious to you, and therefore, He shall withdraw to have mercy upon you, for the Lord is a God of justice; fortunate are all who wait for Him.
  • For a nation shall dwell in Zion, in Jerusalem; you shall not weep; He shall be gracious to you at the sound of your cry; when He hears you, He shall respond to you.
  • And the Lord shall give you scant bread and water of oppression, and your Teacher shall no longer be concealed from you, and your eyes shall see your Teacher.
  • And your ears shall hear from behind you, saying, “This is the way; go on it,” whether you will go right or whether you will go left.
  • And you shall contaminate the plate of your silver graven images and the adornment of your golden molten image; scatter them afar like a menstruant; ‘Go out,’ say to it.
  • And He shall give the rain of your seed, with which you shall sow the soil, and bread of the grain of the soil, and it shall be plenteous and fat; your livestock shall graze, [each one becoming] on that day a fattened lamb.
  • And the oxen and the young donkeys who work the soil shall eat enriched provender, which was winnowed with the shovel and with the fan.
  • And there shall be on every high mountain and on every raised hill, canals, rivulets of water, on the day of the great slaying, when the great ones fall.
  • And the light of the moon shall be like the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold as the light of the seven days, on the day the Lord shall bind the fracture of His people, and the stroke of their wound He shall heal.
This text is relative to the reign of King Hezekiah who could not avoid the divine wrath but who by the greatness of his actions obtained a remission in the application of it.
In the same way for the generation that interests us, it can not prevent new tragic acts for the Jews taking place because we are still in the heart of the night. To this generation, like Ezechias, Jews have an exemplary attitude to adversity. They confirm their fidelity to the covenant made with God, while by denying it they could easily have avoided the misfortunes that afflict them. This attitude allows the psalmist to recall a new faith, as Isaiah does, that God also did not forget his covenant with the people of Israel, and that the night will eventually end and then the promises of dawn will come true.
This is recalled by the end of the psalm:

(extract of the psalm 78 associated to this generation, verses 65 to 72 )

  • And the Lord awoke as one asleep, as a mighty man, shouting from wine.
  • And He smote His adversaries from the rear; He gave them perpetual disgrace.
  • He rejected the tent of Joseph and did not choose the tribe of Ephraim.
  • He chose the tribe of Judah, Mount Zion, which He loved.
  • And He built His Sanctuary like the high heavens, like the earth He established it forever.
  • And He chose His servant David and took him from the sheepcotes.
  • From behind the nursing ewes He brought him, to shepherd Jacob His people and Israel His heritage.
  • And He shepherded them according to the integrity of his heart, and with the skill of his hands he led them.
Recall that the Qur’an does not really question this alliance and even recognizes in a certain way the definitive attribution of the promised land to the children of Israel:
  • He (Pharaoh) desired [40] to exterminate them from the land, so We drowned him and all those who were with him.
  • After him We said to the Children of Israel, ‘Take up residence in the land, and when the occasion of the other [promise] comes,a We shall gather you in mixed company.’b
    • a: Or when the promise of the Hereafter comes.’
    • b: Or ‘We shall bring you all together.’ Or ‘We shall bring you from all places.’
Although the night is not yet over for the people of Israel, the Jews recover during this generation and for a relatively limited time the sovereignty over Jerusalem thus illustrating in another way the end of the psalm of this generation.
So while Muhammad is laying the foundations of the Muslim conquest, Persians and Byzantines are still fighting each other and weakening each other. Among the Persian conquests of the beginning of this generation is Jerusalem in 614.
Important relics (including an alleged fragment of the true cross) are taken to Persia. This capture of Jerusalem by the Persians, for a time allied Jews, creates a hope of resurrection among the Jews that quickly gives way to disillusionment:
  • At the beginning of 614 [41], leaving from Damascus, the Persians seized a single burst of Tiberias, Sephoris, Caesarea, Lod, and Jerusalem. The events in Jerusalem are uncertain because the two main sources do not give a clear idea. It seems that the city began to surrender (as before, Caesarea) to revolt shortly after (early May?). At the end of May 614, the Persians took Jerusalem again, this time destroying many churches, plundering the city and organizing a bloodbath among the Christian population. Then they handed over the city to the Jews who, hoping for a restoration similar to that of King Persia Cyrus in 538 BC, began to form an autonomous Jewish administration. […]
  • The radical Messianic government of the Jews in Jerusalem, however, was short-lived. After the conquest of Jerusalem, the Persians considered attacks against Egypt and against Constantinople that they besieged in vain for nearly ten years (from 615). In Palestine, they managed to seize Acco, with the help of the Jewish population of the city. On the other hand, they failed before Tire, another important coastal city. Among other things, because the local authorities had had their Jewish fellow citizens interned. This missed seat (617?) Seems to have made a turnaround in the policy of the Persians. They realized that the Jews were not able to provide them with adequate military assistance in their subsequent war against Byzantium. And that they would not manage either to hold Palestine against the overwhelming Christian majority of the population by relying only on the Jews. So they took away Jerusalem, probably in the same year, to give it back to the Christians. It is possible that the passage of the Zerubbabel apocalypse alludes to this:
    • In the fifth year (of the government) of Nehemiah ben Chushiel and the gathering of the people of the saints, Schiroi (Chosroes?) The king of the Persians, will rise up against Nehemiah and against Israel and he will reign great distress in Israel […] Schiroi pourfendra Nehemiah ben Chushiel […] and Israel will be scattered in the desert.



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[1] John Julius Norwich: “History of Byzantium” / Chapter: “The first centuries / Heraclius goes to war” (French: « Histoire de Byzance » / Chapitre : « Les premiers siècles/Héraclius part en guerre » (p. 112) ).

[2] According to Yves Porter: “The Iranians” (French: « Les Iraniens » (p.98 à 100) ).

[3] TABARI: “The Chronicle / Mohammed, seal of the prophets” / Chapter: “Expedition against the Beni-Qainoqa” (Volume II, 178). The passage quotes: Qur’an / The Spoilsal-Anfāl ( الأنفال ), verse 60. (French:  « La Chronique/Mohammed, sceau des prophètes » / Chapitre : « Expédition contre les Béni-Qainoqa » (Volume II, p. 178). Le passage cite : CORAN/Sourate 8 (Al-Anfal – Le butin) ).

[4] TABARI: “The Chronicle / Mohammed, Seal of the Prophets” / Chapter: “Expedition against the Beni-Qainoqa”. (French: « La Chronique/Mohammed, sceau des prophètes » / Chapitre : « Expédition contre les Béni-Qainoqa » (Volume II, p. 179) ).

[5] TABARI: “The Chronicle / Muhammad, Seal of the Prophets” / Chapter: “Murder of Ka’b, son of Ashraf”. (French: « La Chronique/Mohammed, sceau des prophètes » / Chapitre : « Meurtre de Ka’b, fils d’Ashraf » (Volume II, p. 181 à 184) ).

[6] Ibn Ishâq: “Muhammad” (French Translation of Abdurrahmân Badawî), chapter: “The murder of Ka’b b. Al’Ashraf. (French: « Muhammad » (Traduction de Abdurrahmân Badawî), chapitre : « Le meurtre de Ka’b b. al-‘Ashraf. (T. II, p. 18 à 25) ).

[7] Ibn Ishâq: “Muhammad” (French Translation of Abdurrahmân Badawî), chapter: “Poems composed about the case of Banû al-Nadhir”. (French: « Muhammad » (Traduction de Abdurrahmân Badawî), chapitre : « Poèmes composés au sujet de l’affaire des Banû al-Nadhir ». (T. II, p. 154) ).

[8] TABARI: “The Chronicle / Mohammed, seal of the prophets” / Chapter: “Murder of Sallam, son of Abu’l-‘Hoqaiq” (French: « La Chronique/Mohammed, sceau des prophètes » / Chapitre : « Meurtre de Sallâm, fils d’Abou’l-‘Hoqaiq » (Volume II, p. 186 et 187) ).

[9] TABARI: “The Chronicle / Mohammed, seal of the prophets” / Chapter: “Combat of O’hod” (French:  « La Chronique/Mohammed, sceau des prophètes » / Chapitre : « Combat d’O’hod » (Volume II, p. 189 à 187) ).

[10] Ibn Ishâq: “Muhammad” (French Translation of Abdurrahmân Badawî), chapter: “The Battle of ‘Uhud”.  (French: « Muhammad » (Traduction de Abdurrahmân Badawî), chapitre : « La bataille de ‘Uhud » (T.II, p.32) ).

[11] Ibn Ishâq: “Muhammad” (French Translation of Abdurrahmân Badawî), chapter: “The case of Mukhayriq”. (French: « Muhammad » (Traduction de Abdurrahmân Badawî), chapitre : « Le cas de Mukhayriq» (T.I, p.422) ).

[12] Ibn Ishâq: “Muhammad” (Translation of Abdurrahmân Badawî), chapter: “The pact between the immigrants and the Ansârs and the reconciliation with the Jews”.  (French: Ibn Ishâq : « Muhammad » (Traduction de Abdurrahmân Badawî), chapitre : « Le pacte entre les immigrés et les Ansârs et la réconciliation avec les Juifs » (T.I, p.406 à 410) ).

[13] TABARI: “The Chronicle / Mohammed, Seal of the Prophets” / Chapter: “Expedition against the Beni-Nadhir”.  (French: « La Chronique/Mohammed, sceau des prophètes » / Chapitre : « Expédition contre les Béni-Nadhir» (Volume II, p. 214) ).

[14] TABARI: “The Chronicle / Mohammed, Seal of the Prophets” / Chapter: “Expedition against the Beni-Nadhir” (French:  « La Chronique/Mohammed, sceau des prophètes » / Chapitre : « Expédition contre les Béni-Nadhir» (Volume II, p. 218) ).

[15] Ibn Ishâq: “Muhammad” (French Translation of Abdurrahmân Badawî), chapter: “The deportation of Banû al-Nadir in year IV (of the Hegira)”. (French: Ibn Ishâq : « Muhammad » (Traduction de Abdurrahmân Badawî), chapitre : « La déportation de Banû al-Nadir en l’an IV (de l’Hégire) » (T.II, p.148) ).

[16] Ibn Ishâq: “Muhammad” (French Translation of Abdurrahmân Badawî), chapter: “Poems composed about the case of Banû al-Nadhir”. (French: Ibn Ishâq : « Muhammad » (Traduction de Abdurrahmân Badawî), chapitre : « Poèmes composés au sujet de l’affaire des Banû al-Nadhir ». (T. II, p. 156/157) )

[17] Ibn Ishâq: “Muhammad” (French Translation of Abdurrahmân Badawî), chapter: “Poems composed about the case of Banû al-Nadhir”. (French: Ibn Ishâq : « Muhammad » (Traduction de Abdurrahmân Badawî), chapitre : « Poèmes composés au sujet de l’affaire des Banû al-Nadhir ». (T. II, p. 158) )

[18] TABARI: “The Chronicle / Mohammed, seal of the prophets” / Chapter: “Expedition against the Beni-Qoraizha” (French: TABARI : « La Chronique/Mohammed, sceau des prophètes » / Chapitre : « Expédition contre les Béni-Qoraizha» (Volume II, p. 230) )

[19] TABARI: “The Chronicle / Mohammed, seal of the prophets” / Chapter: “Expedition against the Beni-Qoraizha” (French: TABARI : « La Chronique/Mohammed, sceau des prophètes » / Chapitre : « Expédition contre les Béni-Qoraizha» (Volume II, p.  231/232) ).

[20] Ibn Ishâq: “Muhammad” (Translation of Abdurrahmân Badawî), chapter: “The massacre of Banû Qoraizha”. (French: Ibn Ishâq : « Muhammad » (Traduction de Abdurrahmân Badawî), chapitre : «Le massacre des Banû Qoraizha ». (T. II, p. 193) ).

[21] Ibn Ishâq: “Muhammad” (French Translation of Abdurrahmân Badawî), chapter: “The case of Muhayyisah and (his brother) Huwaysah”. (French: Ibn Ishâq : « Muhammad » (Traduction de Abdurrahmân Badawî), chapitre : « L’affaire de Muhayyisah et de (son frère) Huwaysah ». (T.II, p. 25) ).

[22] Ibn Ishâq: “Muhammad” (French Translation of Abdurrahmân Badawî), chapter: “Al Walid b. al-Mughirah: his hatred for the envoy of Allah and his opinion on the Koran “. (French: Ibn Ishâq : « Muhammad » (Traduction de Abdurrahmân Badawî), chapitre : « Al Walid b. al-Mughirah : sa haine pour l’envoyé d’Allah et son avis sur le Coran ». (T.I, p. 215) ).

[23] According to: Ibn Ishâq: “Muhammad” (French Translation of Abdurrahmân Badawî), chapter: “The war of Hâtib”. (French: Voir Ibn Ishâq : « Muhammad » (Traduction de Abdurrahmân Badawî), chapitre : « La guerre de Hâtib». (T.I, p. 220) )

[24] Ibn Ishâq: “Muhammad” (Translation of Abdurrahmân Badawî), chapter: “The poems composed about the battle of the ditch and the campaign against Banû Qoraizha”. (French: Ibn Ishâq : « Muhammad » (Traduction de Abdurrahmân Badawî), chapitre : «Les poèmes composés au sujet de la bataille du fossé et de la campagne contre Banû Qoraizha ». (T. II, p. 208) ).

[25] TABARI: “The Chronicle / Mohammed, Seal of the Prophets” / Chapter: “Fadak Expedition”. (French: TABARI : « La Chronique/Mohammed, sceau des prophètes » / Chapitre : « Expédition de Fadak» (Volume II, p. 258) ).

[26] TABARI: “The Chronicle / Muhammad, Seal of the Prophets” / Chapter: “Visit to Achievement”, this passage quotes the following verse from the Quran: Sura 48, Victory, “al-Fatḥ” ( الفتح ), verse 27.  (French: TABARI : « La Chronique/Mohammed, sceau des prophètes » / Chapitre : « Visite de l’Accomplissement» (Volume II, p. 258), ce passage cite le verset suivant du Coran : Sourate 48, verset 27 ).

[27] Ibn Ishâq: “Muhammad” (French Translation of Abdurrahmân Badawî), chapter: “Their response (of the Jews) when the Prophet called them to Islam” , which quotes the Qur’an / Surah 2,The Cow, “al-Baqarah” ( البقرة ) ). (French: Ibn Ishâq : « Muhammad » (Traduction de Abdurrahmân Badawî), chapitre : « Leur réponse (des Juifs) quand le Prophète les appela à l’Islam » (T.I, p.457), qui cite le Coran /Sourate 2, verse 170 ).

[28] TABARI: “The Chronicle / Mohammed, seal of the prophets” / Chapter: “Expedition against the Beni-Qoraizha” (French: TABARI : « La Chronique/Mohammed, sceau des prophètes » / Chapitre : « Expédition contre les Béni-Qoraizha» (Volume II, p. 230) ).

[29] TABARI: “The Chronicle / Mohammed, Seal of the Prophets” / Chapter: “Khaibar Expedition”. (French: TABARI : « La Chronique/Mohammed, sceau des prophètes » / Chapitre : « Expédition de Khaibar» (Volume II, p. 256) ).

[30] The Koran, surah 2 (“The Cow”, “al-Baqarah” ( البقرة )) , verses 49 to 61

[31] The Koran, surah 7 (“The Elevations”, “al-Aʿrāf ” ( الأعراف ) ), verses 132 to 137

[32] The Koran, surah 5 (The Table”, “al-Māʾidah” ( المائدة ) ), verses 19 to 26

[33] Thus, in Surah 2, when verse 47 indicates, when God speaks to the people of Israel, “I gave you an advantage over all the nations.” the official translator of the French version feels compelled to add to the Qur’an the words: “Of the time”, thus reassuring the faithful Muslims by limiting the scope of this preference.

[34] The Koran, surah 2 (“The Cow”, “al-Baqarah” ( البقرة )), verses 62 to 76. For the precepts of the Torah on the red cow, which is referred to in the title of Sura 2, see Bamidbar – Numbers – Chapter 19.

[35] The Koran, surah 3 (The Family of Imran, “Āl ʿImrān” ( آل عمران )), verses 110 to 112

[36] The Koran, surah 10 (Jonah, “Yūnus” ( يونس )), verses 93 to 95

[37] The Koran, surah 5 (The Table, “al-Māʾidah” ( المائدة )), verses 12 and 13

[38] Ibn Ishâq: “Muhammad” (Translation of Abdurrahmân Badawî), chapter: “The poems composed about the battle of the ditch and the campaign against Banû Qoraizha” (French: Ibn Ishâq : « Muhammad » (Traduction de Abdurrahmân Badawî), chapitre : « Les poèmes composés au sujet de la bataille du fossé et de la campagne contre Banû Qoraizha » (T.II, p.222) ).

[39] Yeshayahu – Isaiah – Chapter 30,verses 1 to 26

[40] The Koran, surah 17 (The Night Journey, “al-Isrāʾ” ( الإسراء ) (The surah is also known as: Glory, The Children of Israel.) ), verses 103 and 104

[41] Peter Schäfer: “History of the Jews in Antiquity” / Chapter “The Bar Kokheba Uprising”. (French: « Histoire des juifs dans l’antiquité » / Chapitre « Du soulèvement de Bar Kokheba » (p. 220 à 223) ).