Marginal Notes on: “Safaitic inscriptions from the Eastern Part of Mafraq Governorate/ Jordan”. By Sultan al-Maani and Fardous al-Ajlouny, in Adumatu 8 (July 2003), pp. 33-49

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

This article publishes a relatively long Safaitic inscription (no. 4), which the editors read and translate as follows:

[l] s²qq bn s²hyt bn ʾs¹ bn ḥg bn s²bḥr bn grmʾl bn ʿbṭ bn ʿzhm bn mrʾ bn ʿrs¹ bn rġm bn s²hr bn rṭḫ bn ʿwḏ bn whbʾl w byt b- ʾbl w wrd l- ġdf f h bʿls¹mn rwḥ w s¹lm w mḥlt l- ḏ yʿwr h- s¹fr

‘By PN. He lodged his camels for the night and came to the water (the filthy water or he came to the water at night). I pray for Baʿalsamīn for relief and peace. God may bring sterility to those who defect this inscription’.

Photograph of MH4 (
Photograph of the inscription (from original article)

Suggested reading and translation:

The reading is sound with the exception of the name rġm, which should be read instead as rġs¹. The initial lām auctoris is clear and need not be in brackets.

New translation: ‘By PN and he camped the night with camels (or among camels) and went to water seeking abundance so, O Bʿls¹mn, send the winds so that he may be secure; and may he who would efface this writing experience a dearth of pasture.’

wrd l-ġdf: The edition took ġdf as meaning ‘night’, based on the example ġadafa l-laylu ‘the night was lowered’ in Ibn Manẓūr. The meaning ‘night’, however, is not part of the verb. It seems better to take it as a noun related to Classical Arabic ġadafun ‘abundance, ease’, and the preposition l- here indicating purpose. The verb wrd does not take a locative goal with the preposition l-, for example wrd h-bʾr b-h-nmrt ‘he went to water at the well near Namārah’ (Al-Jallad 2015: 227; RSIS 339).

mḥlt: This common noun is better translated as ‘dearth of pasture’; (Al-Jallad 2015: 327)

 

The inscription is a prayer for rain written by a man seeking pasture for his camels. It seems that the rains were poor and there was not sufficient herbage in the expected areas.  Therefore, the writer was returning to a place with permanent or seasonal water (wrd). His prayer to the storm god, Bʿls¹mn, for rain (rwḥ) and the curse of dearth (mlḥt) upon those who efface fit this theme as well.

References:

Al-Jallad, A. 2015. An Outline of the Grammar of the Safaitic Inscriptions. (SSLL 80). Leiden: Brill.