Marginal Notes on: BS 164 – the tribe of ʿād.

This belongs to a series of “marginal notes” I will post on recently published Safaitic inscriptions.

The inscription BS 164 was discovered by Michael Macdonald and Ali Al-Manaser on the “OCIANA Badia Survey” of 2015 and published on OCIANA as follows:

Photograph of BS 164 (courtesy OCIANA).

Transliteration
l ms¹k bn zmhr bn yzr bn tʾm w wgm ʿl- ʾb -h w ʿl- ʾḫ -h {ḏ} ʾlʿd

Translation
By Ms¹k son of Zmhr son of Yzr son of Tʾm and he grieved for his father and for his brother who ʾlʿd

The edition took the final four letters as a verb, but did not supply a translation. I could not find any root lʿd in Arabic or Northwest Semitic. I believe, however, that these final letters do not constitute a verb, but rather the words ʾl /ʾāl/ ‘lineage’, ‘people’ and the group name ʿd, which can be nothing other than ʿād, the ancient Arabian tribe mentioned in the Qur’an. I would suggest the following reading and translation:

Transliteration
l ms¹k bn zmhr bn yzr bn tʾm w wgm ʿl- ʾb -h w ʿl- ʾḫ -h {ḏ} ʾl ʿd

Translation
By Ms¹k son of Zmhr son of Yzr son of Tʾm and he grieved for his father and for his brother of the lineage of ʿd

This is the first attestation of this group name in Safaitic, but the tribe is known already in Hismaic. For example, TIJ 004 (King 1990: 650–651) contains a signature of a man from the lineage of ʿd:

Transliteration
l zhy bn ʿmr ḏ- ʾl ʿd

Translation
By Zhy son of ʿmr of the lineage of ʿd

Another Hismaic inscription published by Farès and Zayadine (1998) mentions the building of a temple for the Arabian goddess Allāt by the tribe of ʿād.

These attestations of ʿād in northwest Arabia and the southern Levant contradict the narrative of medieval Islamic historians, who put ʿād in southern Arabia, and underscores the unreliability of the “origin stories” found in such works. The attestation of ʿād in Northwest Arabia also supports its association with ʾiram, which is modern Wadi Rum. The toponym is attested as ʾrm /ʾiram/ in Nabataean as well (e.g. Savignac 1933).

References

Farès, S. and Zayadine, F. (1998) “Two North-Arabian inscriptions from the temple of Lât at Wady Iram”, Annual of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan (ADAJ) 42: 255-258.

King, G.M.H. Early North Arabian Thamudic E. A preliminary description based on a new corpus of inscriptions from the Ḥismā desert of southern Jordan and published material. Ph.D thesis, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, 1990. [Unpublished]. 1990. Pages: 650–651

Savignac, M. Raphael 1933. Le sanctuaire d’Allat à Iram (1). Revue Biblique, 42: 405-422, pl. 24.

[TIJ] Harding, G.L. & Littmann, E. Some Thamudic Inscriptions from the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Leiden: Brill, 1952. Pages: 9 Plates: II