Dhu Nuwas

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Yusuf Dhu Nuwas (also called Yusuf Asar Dhu Nuwas, Masruq, and Dunas Zhidovin) was the last king of the Himyarite kingdom of Yemen.

Some sources state that he was the successor of Rabiah, a member of the same dynasty; the archeologist Alessandro de Maigret believes he was a usurper.1 According to a number of medieval historians, who depend on the account of John of Ephesus, Dhu Nuwas, who was a Jew, announced that he would persecute the Christians living in his kingdom because Christian states persecuted his fellow co-religionists in their realms; a letter survives written by Simon, the bishop of Beth Arsham in AD 524, recounts Dhu Nuwas' (where he is called Dimnon) persecution in Najran (modern al-Ukhdud in Saudi Arabia)).2 The persecution is described and condemned in the Qur'an (al-Buruj:4).

De Maigret reports that in 1951, three inscriptions were found just north of al-Ukhdud, which refer to a military campaign led by Dhu Nuwas (where he is called Yusuf As'ar Yath'ar), and are dated to the year 633 of the Himyarite era, equivalent to AD 523.3

He also slaughtered a number of Ethiopians living in Zafar, which provoked a response from Kaleb, the current king of Axum. Procopius reports that Kaleb (whom he calls Hellestheaeus) collected a fleet and crossed from Africa to Yemen, where he defeated Dhu Nuwas about the year 525 (1.20). Kaleb then appointed his Christian follower Sumuafa' Ashawa' to rule Yemen as his viceroy.

Arab tradition states that Dhu Nuwas committed suicide by riding his horse into the sea. De Maigret reports that another South Arabian inscription from Husn al-Ghurab may indicate that he was killed in battle fighting against Kaleb's army.4

Notes

  1. Alessandro de Maigret, Arabia Felix, translated by Rebecca Thompson (London: Stacey International, 2002), p. 251.
  2. Simon's letter is part of Part III of The Chronicle of Zuqnin, translated by Amir Harrack (Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies, 1999), pp. 78-84.
  3. de Maigret, Arabia Felix, p. 234.
  4. de Maigret, Arabia Felix, p. 251.de:Du Nuwas

he:יוסף ד'ו נואס

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