This is an astonishing story. In an old, locked and rusty trunk in the attic I found a pile of manuscripts, most of them in strange tongues, some in ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs. Thinking it was a hoax, and expected to find that the documents were written in modern ink, on modern papyrus, I nevertheless contacted historians, linguists, biblical scholars and Egyptologists. The documents are genuinely old. I would like to share with you my findings.
We are working, of course, at the boundaries of verifiable history, even with carbon dating, but it would seem that my direct ancestors lived for countless generations in what is now Palestine. They were of Egypto-Canaanite origin, of the Jebusite tribe, which is part of the larger Amorite people who lived to the east, around modern Amman. Their home town was none other than Urusalim, now called Jerusalem. “City of Peace” was the name given to the city by its ancient inhabitants, and peaceful it was, until that peace was forever ruined.
As is well known, when Joshua led the Israelites into the “Promised Land”, God ordered the peace-loving Amorites, Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, and Hivites to be driven from their homelands. Joshua smote the Amorites with his rod of iron, rustling the cattle, killing the sheep, hijacking the goats, and kidnapping virgins. Five Amorite kings were defeated with great slaughter and their army was again defeated at the waters of Merom (Josh. 11:8). However, despite his blitzkrieg, Joshua was unable to subdue the Jebusites, who, it is thought, simply disappeared into the mountain wilderness and conducted a guerilla war against the Israelite invaders. They maintained their independence, and the Hebrew bible says that in the days of Samuel, there was peace between them and the Israelites (1 Sam. 7:14).
However, the Israelite God was none too happy that Jebus, as it was called by the Israelites, had remained independent. This might have been because the Jebusite God was very attractive and popular, and some people thought he had been the one connected with the Creation (everyone thought their god created the world at that time. Only later were we told the real truth). In any case, taking Jebus was precisely what King David wanted to do. Sometime between 1005 and 993 B.C David marched upon the Jebusite king, Araunah, who, in reply told him that even the blind and lame could defeat an Israelite army. Araunah was the vassal of the Pharoah, Psusennes I, (1039-991), and had lived in Egypt before becoming king. He could have expected Pharoah to come to his assistance against a violent and unprovoked attack by the volatile Israelite tribes, but at the time Psusennes had a political crisis on his hands and could not help his ally.
Israelite scriptures say Joab, David´s nephew, conducted a sneak attack through the water supply tunnels of Urusalim, but Jebusite oral history talks about the Israelites asking for a truce, then drawing their daggers and killing King Araunah at a great feast. Araunah, believed in traditional civilised hospitality towards guests (adopted later by the Arabs), and discussing difficult issues with one´s opponents (still a new concept in that part of the world).
The king of the Jebusites was both king of Jerusalem and high priest of the cult of Zion, which held that kingship represented the presence of God on Earth, and that therefore he held his position directly at the behest of God, and had done so since the ancient tribe had come out of Africa eons before. The Israelites had not thought of this creative idea. The Jews claimed to take their orders from their God, but they had a problem. They had to go up a mountain to talk to God. While someone (Moses, for instance) was doing that, the Israelites, always impatient, had a habit of turning to Baal or a graven image to worship. In the case of Moses, three thousand Israelites were slaughtered for playing around with the golden calf, and many others were killed by the plague in revenge. The relationship between Yaweh and Israel was always roiled in death, jealousy and suspicion. The Jebusite God, however, spoke directly to the king. In fact, it is thought that the Jebusite king, by 1000 B.C had persuaded his people that he was, in fact, God. Subsequent kings have tried to pull this trick, but with middling success. The only problem the Jebusites had was that God enjoined them to love their neighbours. That was their first, and last, mistake.
Araunah´s brother and successor, Ttornah, is our ancestor. He was a sophisticated man, blonde, handsome, cultured, a poet, writer, water-colourist and musician, singer, and historian, indeed a master of arts from the university of life. He was educated at the Egyptian Court. He seemed to have disapproved of the violence and religious extremism of his neighbours, even though he was a godly man and tried hard to love them. He much appreciated the artists among them, and employed them as Court storytellers and comedians, for they told good jokes.
Ttornah survived the Israelite attack, and with his family escaped from Urusalim. Those Jebusites who remained in the city were forced into serfdom and were sorely abused. But Ttornah conducted a brilliant resistance in the hills, harrying the Israelites, carrying off their donkeys and the women, burning their store houses and seizing their slaves.
This is the translated extant text of the Proclamation Ttornah issued, justifying his actions and explaining the point of view of the Jebusites. It is pieced together from remaining fragments:
“Ttornah, King of the Jebusites, son of Selrahc, chosen of God, vassal to
the Great King, greetings! Thus it is accomplished that the righteous
useth brute (?) force against the unrighteous, but only ... as long
as the unrighteous hold the land,the .., goats, mules, donkeys,
threshing ..., slaves and wives that God gave us. For God ... wisdom
abjureth ... the sword and desireth peace, love and prosperity.
And lo, He loveth all men..., including the children of Israel,
and prays that they forego their ... ways, and ...chastises
them, like children, and brings them under discipline.For
land is our land, this land is...., from coasts of the Great Sea
to deserts of Babylonia. And hear ye this prophesy: those who
have taken our ancestralrights by the sword shall be cast
from the land for two thousand years. The true God hath spoken”.
Once in control of the city, David, it is said (2 Samuel 24:16-25),
bought the threshing floor on Mount Moriah from Ornan the Jebusite,
(Chronicles 21:22-25), and built the temple of Mount Zion on the spot
(Jos.os 15:8,63; Jud 1:21; 19:11). However,Ornan never ownwed the land,
which was in fact consecrated to the wife of the God of the
Jebusites, called Cereal.None, says the Jebusite law,"shall ever build
upon, alienate or defile Mount Moriah, that is the home and living place
of the great spirit, Cereal, sister of the God-King.”
Ornan´s deed appears to be fairly typical of some Jebusite
behaviour,and it took the later arrival of the Arabs for land transactions
to become truly legal and honest (see * below). Nevertheless, Ornan was
regarded as a renegade. He was seized secretly by agents of Ttornah, and
his wives wailed and gnashed their teeth when they discovered on his
return what had been done unto him.
In due course, Ttornah died, and his descendants, spotting a money-
making opportunity, moved to Tyre, where they became Phoenician
traders. Much later a branch office was started in Marsilia
(Marseilles), and by the 14 Century A.D they lived in Northern France,
moving from Sedan to England in the 1670s.
This is the history, but it is not the point. The point is:
* Source: the Palestinian Authority