Mlikh: A Preliminary Historical Study[1]

By Rev. Dr. Shafiq Abouzayd[2]

(University of Oxford)

Aarid Shumar BouRkeb and Aarid Zinnar mountains

I- Ancient History of Mlikh


Mlikh, a Lebanese village in the Jabal Rihan in south Lebanon, is a subject still unknown in the academic world. No scientific research has been undertaken on this topic to date[3]. No survey has yet been written either of a geographical, historical or archaeological nature and this lack of any reference point has made our task much more difficult. The result of the work presented here can only be a preliminary study of a general nature, highlighting the importance of the site. Of course, there are evident lacunae, but the aim of this article is precisely to arouse interest in this fascinating historical area and encourage researchers to complete the work begun here. This is but a first step, which will doubtless be followed soon by more thorough studies and the complete excavation of the area.

Names of Historic Sites at Mlikh

Our research will not be finalised until the complete archaeological dig in the region of Jabal Rihan is finished. We are only making some suggestions here for deeper and more searching lines of inquiry in future.

1. The Name Mlikh

The name Mlikh is from a Semitic root formed from the three letters mlk meaning “king” or “to reign.”[4] The current pronunciation of the name Mlikh[5] is based on the emphatic form mlkh from the Semitic root mlk.[6] The Semitic name Mlikh may have points in common with Moloch,[7] a name found variously in Phoenician and Carthaginian sources.[8]

The village of Mlikh is surrounded by a range of mountains, which has contributed to its historic identity, particularly before the beginning of the pre-Islamic and Arab period in the Middle East.

2. The Mountain of Jabal Safi/Saphi[9]

Jabal Safi lies to the south west of Mlikh at an altitude of about 1300 metres. The word Safi/Saphi is of Semitic origin, derived from spn, the name of mount Sapanu,[10] (Saphon/Zaphon),[11] which is, according to the Ugaritic texts, “the mountain of Saphon, seat of Baal.”[12] Besides, the form SPN, SAPONI, is found in the name SAPONI-BA‘AL and BA‘ALSAPHON (Lord of Saphon) used in people’s names.[13] “BA‘ALSAPHON is, in origin, the storm god who appears on Mount Saphon…His Semitic name spn may in fact be derived from the root sph meaning ‘to observe…’”[14] Therefore, the mountain of Safi (Saphon) to the south west of Mlikh was probably named after BA‘ALSAPHON and may be that named in the Bible as lying to the north of Israel.[15]

3. Jabal Rihan                                                                         Aarid Zinnar

The term is given to several villages. Mlikh is one of them. Its area is about 113 square kilometres.[16] Jabal Rihan (or Jabal al’Rihan) is surrounded by several mountains and hills. The highest peak is about 1400 metres or so and is found to the east of Mlikh. It separates the village of Mlikh from that of ‘Aramta, which seems to have had an important role in history.[17] This high mountain is called ‘Arid Zannar by the inhabitants of Mlikh.

The word Jabal means “mountain” in Arabic and the word Rihan means “basil” (Ocimum or Ocymum basilicum), an aromatic herb. However, this Arabic reference to the name “Jabal Rihan” is far from definitive, as the region is very ancient, being known before the Arab period. Consequently, the name Rihan may have a Semitic meaning beyond the Arabic one.

4. The Bir Kallab MountainEl Mered

This is found to the south, at 1360 metres’ altitude at the highest point of ‘Arid Zannar. The meaning of the name in Arabic is very vague; apart from its first part Bir, whose root is Semitic, meaning well, tank. But the word Kallab is meaningless in Arabic. It is preferable to trace the word to another Semitic root to reveal its mystery. The letter kll in the Punic language mean a kind of religious offering included in an expiatory sacrifice.[18] The suffix ab means “father” in Semitic languages. The root b’r in Punic, as in Arabic, language means a water-well, but also a tomb. So the name Bir Kallab could mean “the tomb of the sacrifice offered to the father.”[19]

Bir Kallab is an important site: it is considered as a natural extension of the Tanas site.[20] It is possible to make out, even today, remains of ancient, possibly Phoenician settlement. However, it is forbidden to visit it today because it was mined by the Israeli army during its occupation of southern Lebanon.

5. The mountain of Burkab                                                     Bourkeb

It is situated to the northeast of Mlikh at an altitude of about 1300 metres. The word Burkab is of Semitic origin, deriving from Be-’-li-ra-kab-bi “Ba’al of the chariot” of the Sam’al.[21] In origin, it was linked to the name of the divine dynasty RKB’L, known at Sam’al.[22] The Ugaritic Texts tell us “Barrakab of Y’D-SAM’L is the son of Panamu, the king of Sam’al, servant of Tiglath-pileser, lord of the four quarters of the earth.”[23]

Barrakab lived in the eighth century before Christ at Sam’al in the north of Syria, at the foot of mount Amanous.[24] So it is possible that the mountain of “Burkab-Barrakab” at Mlikh was dedicated to this dynastic deity.

On the peak of this mountain to the east of Mlikh there is a temple[25] dedicated to Burkab, treated by the people of Mlikh, both Muslim and Christian, as that of a great prophet of antiquity. In fact, people venerate “Prophet Burkab” knowing him to belong neither to Muslim nor to Christian tradition.

Burkab is a clear sign of the survival of old, pagan Semitic religion, despite the Christian and Muslim presence in the region of Jabal Rihan.

6. Tanas

Tanas is to the south of Mlikh in a little valley called by the inhabitants the Tanas valley. The name of Tanas is rather difficult to trace, but is perhaps named after the Phoenician King of Sidon, Tennes.[26]

The other probability is that the word tanas or tana is in Latin the name of a river: the river of Numidia.[27] This Latin name corresponds to our Tanas crossed by a river, the river of Mlikh.[28] But this hypothesis is very weak because our Tanas at Mlikh existed before the Roman period in the Middle East.

7. Jabal SujudSujud Mountain

This forms an important part of the sierra of Jabal Rihan to the south of Mlikh. It is also the name of the village of Sujud, situated at the summit of this mountain at an altitude of about 1200 metres. The Semitic root of the word is sgd meaning “to bow down or prostrate oneself.” The inhabitants of the Jabal Rihan region, as well as some historic documents, call this mountain after a Jewish man. There exists at Sujud a little temple with a tomb that the inhabitants call “the tomb of the prophet Sujud,” in Arabic nabi Sujud. The villagers living around “nabi Sujud” assert that the person buried in this shrine is a “Jewish prophet” revered by the Jews of Saida until the creation of the State of Israel in 1948. Dr. Estee Dvorjetski informs us that late Jewish tradition considers the tomb of the “prophet” of Sujud as that of Oholiab, son of Ahisamach, of the Jewish tribe of Dan. It was chosen to help Bezalel build a sanctuary during the wandering of the people of Israel in the desert.[29] Dvorjetski recounts how the Jewish tribe of Dan settled to the north of Israel. The tomb of Oholiab could well be that of the “prophet Sujud” at the summit of Mount Sujud.[30]


II. Modern History of Mlikh

The modern history of Mlikh starts in the eighteenth century with the arrival of the families Aboumelhem (or Abou-Melhem) and Abouzayd (or the different spellings of this name: Abou-Zaid, AbouZeid and Abi-Zeid, Abi-Zaid). Before beginning this modern history, we shall first study the story of Mlikh from the beginning of the Christian era to the end of the seventeenth century.

1. Christianity in Mlikh during the Roman and Byzantine periods

The first archaeological research[31] carried out at Mlikh shows us that it was occupied during the Roman and Byzantine periods. This research has also brought to light two fish carvings in the Mlikh rock. One is on the inner road of the village, not far from the Church of St. Elijah. The other is in the historic region of Tanas, near the entrance to the Wadi (the Mlikh Valley).[32] The carving of these two fish is original and was probably sculpted in Christian antiquity. Christian history tells us that the fish was a Christian symbol during times of persecution and was often used by early Christians to mark places of assembly and prayer. There are at least three indicators that confirm Christian presence in Mlikh before the Byzantine era:

-         the earliest historical and archaeological sources provide evidence of continuous human occupation in Mlikh during the Roman and Byzantine periods.

-         the Mlikh Valley (Wadi) and the rest of the village have provided refuge for those fleeing persecution, right up to the present.

-         sculpted fish are found in areas with a wealth of natural caves suitable for small gatherings.

There is no known historic or archaeological information available about the presence of Christians in Mlikh from Arab to Ottoman times. However, there is plenty of evidence for Shi’ite presence in Jabal Rihan in the Fatimid period.


2. The Shi’ites of Jabal Rihan and Jezzin

The history of Lebanon shows us that Shi’ites have lived in Jezzin and in Jabal ‘Amil (including Jabal Rihan) since Fatimid times.[33] The Muslims of Jabal ‘Amil were converted to Shi’ism in the ninth century by the Abbasids.[34]

Jezzin became a very important Shi’ite centre during the Mameluke period. The fourteenth century represents its golden age. After the Shi’ite revolution against the Mamelukes at Kisrawan between 1305 and 1307 A.D., a large number of Shi’ites sought refuge in Jezzin,[35] which became along with Jabal ‘Amil (including Jabal Rihan) a major centre of Shi’ism in the Lebanon.  The first Shi’ite school of fiqh was founded in Jezzin during the second half of the fourteenth century by Imam Shams al’Din Muhammad B. Makki al’Jezzini, assassinated by Mamelukes in 1384.[36] The history of bloody conflicts between Shi’ites and Sunnis on the one hand and Shi’ites and Druzes on the other ended with the extermination of Shi’ism in several regions of the Lebanon, especially at Kisrawan and Jezzin.[37] The end of Shi’ism in Jezzin began in the fifteenth century with the Druze influence of the Shuf, which attempted for two centuries to wipe out any Shi’ite presence in the region.[38] The situation became worse during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries with the Emirs (Princes) of the Shuf, supported by the Sunni governors of the country.[39] In 1711, Jabal ‘Amil and Jezzin came under the authority of the Sunni Emir Haidar Shehab. The Druze family Jumblatt, which later extended its authority over the Iqlim Toffah region, exercised their feudal power over Jezzin and Jabal Rihan.[40] The Druzes of the Shuf and the Sunni governors, especially at Iqlim Toffah, gradually expelled the Shi’ites of Jezzin and several villages round about, from their lands during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.[41] At the same time, from the end of the seventeenth century, Druzes facilitated the emigration of Maronites from the North of Lebanon to Jezzin and the Shuf region in order to cultivate the land instead of the Shi’ites. So the town of Jezzin and the villages of the surrounding area became Christian from the beginning of the eighteenth century. From that time on, the region of Jezzin has always remained predominantly Christian and mainly Maronite. The whole region of Jezzin and Jabal Rihan used to be under the authority of the Emir Bashir al’Kabir II (1788-1840) and since the eighteenth century, they have been an integral part of the geography and history of Mount Lebanon.[42]


3. The Aboumelhem/Abou-Melhem Family

It is certain that the Shi’ites of Mlikh already lived there and indeed in the whole region of Jezzin and Jabal ‘Amil, by at least the beginning of the second millennium.[43] Given the atrocities committed against the Shi’ites, it seems that the Shi’ites of Mlikh were in all probability expelled towards the south, because Mlikh no longer had any Shi’ite inhabitants before the arrival of the Aboumelhem family.[44] Our forebears are unanimous in claiming that Shi’ites were already present in Mlikh before the arrival of Christians.

The first Shi’ite family is that of Aboumelhem, seemingly composed of agricultural workers. Mr. Ibrahim Khalil Aboumelhem from the village of Rihan[45] supplied the outline of the oral tradition coming down from the Aboumelhem family to me in July 2001, when I met him in Mlikh in the house of his daughter, Joumana Aboumelhem.[46] I compared his story with others and it proved identical with them on a number of points.[47] I decided to outline it as follows as it appeared more coherent. So Ibrahim Khalil Aboumelhem told the following:

“The Aboumelhem family of Mlikh originated from the Arab tribe of ‘Inzah (or ‘Inzi)[48] from the town of Najed in the Hijaz country.[49] This family emigrated to eastern Syria. Another branch continued to Homs and Aleppo in Syria.[50] The Homs branch took the name of Melhem. One of its members emigrated towards Hermel to the north of the Lebanese and converted to Shi’ism in order to be able to marry a young Shi’ite girl. This man’s first name was Aboumelhem, which explains how the Melhem family is called Aboumelhem. In fact, according to Arab tradition, it is customary to rename father and mother by the first name of the eldest son.

In the course of the first years of marriage, Aboumelhem killed a man in Hermel. He was obliged to flee the region to escape reprisals. He took refuge in the feudal Christian family Skaff at Zahlé. They advised him to hide in Mlikh as part of the village belonged to them and he would be safe there. So Aboumelhem settled in the village as a farmer in the middle of the eighteenth century. His brother came to visit him and decided to settle there too. The latter married a young Shi’ite girl in the neighbouring village of Jarjouh. He settled with his family in his wife’s village. This brother was educated in the Arabic language, which explains his name: Mokalled because he taught the children of Jarjuh. People at that time called the village schoolmaster mokalled because he did similar work to that of a learned man. The family of the brother at Jarjuh has kept the name of “Mokalled” to the present day."

In 2005 I discovered another manuscript, kept by Mr. ‘Izzat Suleiman Aboumelhem from Mlikh. It is a hand-written text which was copied by Mr. Ne‘aman al-Mukkadem on 23rd of May 1952 from a book called in Arabic Amal al-Amal fi Qab’el Jabal ‘Amel, which was written by Sheikh Muhammad Bin al-Hasan al-Hurr al-Jub‘ii al-‘Ameli. The book was in 1952 the property of Sheikh Kamel ‘Amru al-Wa’ili from al-Soluqi near Shmestar in the area of Baalbek. The text of the manuscript says:

“The first martyr says: there was a man living in Jabal ‘Amel called Melhem Ibn Makhzum Ibn Hani al-Hamadani al-Taghlibi al-Wa’ili, and his progeny was called Aboumelhem.

And the historian Sheikh Ali Ibn ‘Abd al-‘Al al-Maysi says: when the Shiites of Mount Lebanon were massacred during the Mamlukes period, a man from Aboumelhem family called ‘Ammar Ibn ‘Uday emigrated to the region of Baalbek and he was a perfume and spice seller, so his progeny was called after his profession al-‘Attar (the family of the perfumer or the spice dealer).

And the second historian and martyr Sheikh Ali Ibn Ahmad, who was nicknamed Zayn ad-Din and known under the name of Ibn al-Hijjah al-Juba‘ii al-‘Ameli, says that family Ghoson is an offshoot of the al-‘Attar family.”

I was unable to check the original book of the manuscript and the authenticity of the text. However, it is a very brief and vague description of the family Aboumelhem, so I would conclude that the Aboumelhem family in Mlikh had come originally from the region of Baalbek in the Beqa‘a valley of the Lebanon.

Most Shi’ites of Mlikh belong to the Aboumelhem family. The others belong to the families Halawi, Soleiman, Mantash, Hammoud, Jadallah, Mukaddem, and Jarawani.


4. The Abouzayd/Abou-Zaid/AbouZeid/Abi-Zeid/Abi-Zaid Family

Since 1970, I have collected a great deal of information about them. There remain nevertheless areas of uncertainty, particularly as far as the transmission of oral tradition is concerned. The following account is the only one known concerning the arrival of the Abouzayd family in Mlikh.

At the beginning of the eighteenth century, in the village of Rash’in, to the east of the town of Zghorta in the north of Lebanon, four brothers of the Abdulmassih family lived with their parents, working the land. An officer of the Turkish army controlling the region had raped their sister. This traumatic event was considered at that period a real disgrace for the family and this incited the brothers to avenge their sister. So they killed the officer and his men. This act brought about a particularly violent reaction on the part of the local Turkish army. They invaded the village of Rash’in with the aim of capturing “the four brothers.” The latter fled and headed south before the army arrived. They chose Jezzin as their meeting place. From Jezzin onward, the four brothers separated again and took on a new identity. The first went to Mlikh and took the name of Maroun, but there is no evidence at all that that was his original name. Later he became known as Abouzayd, because he was considered as a local hero. The second went to Hasbayah to the southeast of south Lebanon and became known under the name of al’Bawwab (the porter) because he was the porter of the palace of the Emir of Hasbayah. The third took refuge at Job-Jannin in the Beqa‘a and took the name of Rizq.[51] The fourth called Tannous stayed at Jezzin, but he was known under the name of Aswad (the Black) because he used to black up his face during the festival of St. Barbara.

We are more particularly concerned by the story of Maroun. It is from him that the name of Abouzayd of Mlikh comes. Our grandparents inform us that their ancestor Maroun was the most wanted of the four brothers as he was considered to be the strongest and most dangerous of all. For that reason, our forebears always refused to talk about their origins while the Turkish army was resident in Lebanon. The secret, kept for more than two centuries was only revealed after the Second World War. Our forebears were in fact afraid of reprisals from the Turkish army: that is why they waited more than forty years after the departure of the Turks from Lebanon in 1918 to begin to talk about it.

Maroun was then called Abouzayd because he had killed a black bandit who used to terrorise and attack people on the Khardaly bridge over the Litani river in south Lebanon. The Khardaly bridge was on the road leading from Jezzin to Hasbaya and to Marje‘yun. All those wishing to cross the bridge were attacked and sometimes killed by a strong, black bandit. Maroun wanted to visit his brother, Al’Bawwab at Hasbaya. As soon as he arrived at the Khardaly bridge, he was attacked by the black bandit. After a fierce struggle, Maroun succeeded in killing him and throwing his body in the Litani river. On his arrival at Hasbaya, the inhabitants asked him how he had managed to cross the bridge and escape the black bandit. Abouzayd replied that he had killed him and that henceforth they would be free from his clutches and his violence. The inhabitants were overjoyed at this extraordinary news and shouted their joy and thanks, “Long live Abouzayd al’Hilali!” From then on his original name, Maroun Abdulmassih, was replaced by that of Abouzayd.[52]

Abouzayd had married before his arrival in Mlikh a young Maronite woman from Jezzin of the feudal family Nassif,[53] which governed Jezzin and Jabal Rihan. The Nassif family had asked Abouzayd, some time between 1770 and 1780,[54] to come and settle with his family in Mlikh to direct and manage the agricultural work on the family properties.[55] Abouzayd had obviously cut a sufficiently aristocratic figure for his in-laws. Our forebears recall that their grandfather Abouzayd was of average height, strong and self-assured, the owner of a horse and weapons. It seems that the Nassif family had delegated to him some of their authority over their lands at Jabal Rihan so that he could restore order there and bring about the submission of rebels. The village elders told us that the Nassif family’s fields at Mlikh belonged to the inheritance of the daughter who married Abouzayd.

Most Christians in Mlikh are members of the Abouzayd family. Other Christian families used to live alongside them, some of whom came to settle there in the latter half of the nineteenth century, such as the Matta family[56] and the Costantine and Nasr families from the first half of the twentieth century.

[1]This article was written first in French and published in the ARAM Periodical, volume 15 (Oxford, 2003), Chapter A, pp.275-286.

[2] I would like to thank Ms. Valerie Chamberlain who kindly and enthusiastically translated this article from French into English.

[3] After the publication of this paper by Rev. Dr. Shafiq Abouzayd and Dr. Hasan Badawi in the ARAM Periodical, volume 15 (Oxford, 2003), pp. 275-376, a new research study was published by Dr. George and Dr. Henriette Tohme, “Jabal Rihane Reserve”, ARAM Periodical vol. 17 (Oxford, 2005), pp. 285-356. This scientific and academic research about the natural reserve of Jabal Rihan (including Mlikh) is already on the website:

[4] See Dennis Pardee, Les Textes Rituels. Fascicule 2: Chapitres 54-83, Appendices et Figures, (Ras Shamra-Ougarit XII, Paris, 2000) p.1180. See also Guy Bunnens, L’expansion phénicienne en Méditerrannée, (Études de philologie, d’archéologie et d’histoire ancienne, Rome, 1979) pp. 35-36.

[5] The name of Mlikh could be written Mlich, because ch or kh is the accepted transliteration of the seventh letter of the Arabic alphabet ḥ.

[6] See J. Hoftijzer and K. Jongenling, Dictionary of the North-West Semitic Inscriptions, (Brill, Leiden, 1995) p.635.

[7] See John Day, Yahweh and the Gods and Goddesses of Canaan, (Oxford, 2000) p. 213 and see also pp. 214-215.

[8] “In Carthage, people chiefly sought kinship with Mlk by choosing the two components >‘brother’ and  >ḥt ‘sister.’ Attestations including these represent more than forty per cent of personal names formed with Mlk.” Ahmad Ferjaoui, Recherches sur les relations entre l’Orient phénicien et Carthage, (Editions Universitaires, Fribourg, Suisse) p.467. See also Donald Harden, The Phoenicians, (London) pp.85-95.

[9] Dr. Yussef Hurani thinks that the word Safi derives from the word Safun, the Egyptian god worshipped in Memphis, Egypt. He explains that the word safon is composed of the word saf and the word on. The latter means in Semitic languages “a house” or “a refuge.” Hurani sees a direct relationship between the god Safun in Memphis and the temple of the “Prophet Safi” near the village of Berta to the east of Saida (Sidon) in south Lebanon. The same expression “Prophet Safi” is given to the temple on the summit of the mountain to the south west of Mlikh. See Yussef Hurani, Known and Unknown in the History of South Lebanon (in Arabic), (Beirut, 1999) p. 119.

[10] See Dennis Pardee, Les Textes Rituels, p.1200.

[11] See Charles R. Krahmalkov, Phoenician-Punic Dictionary, (Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta, Leuven, 2000) pp. 419-420. See also John Day, Yahweh and the Gods and Goddesses of Canaan, (Oxford, 2000) p.107.

[12] See John Gray, Near Eastern Mythology, Mesopotamia, Syria, Palestine, (London, 1969) pp. 42 and 101. See also James B. Pritchard, Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament, (Princeton, 1969) pp. 129-142 and 147-148.

[13] See Day, Yahweh and the Gods and Goddesses of Canaan, p.107. See also Krahmalkov, Phoenician-Punic Dictionary, pp.419-420.

[14] See Edward Lipiński (Editor), Dictionnaire de la Civilisation Phénicienne et Punique, (Brepols, 1992) p.60.

[15] See Day, Yahweh and the Gods and Goddesses of Canaan, pp. 107-116 and 170-184. See also Mark Smith, The Origins of Biblical Monotheism, Israel’s Polytheistic Background and the Ugaritic Texts (Oxford, 2001) pp. 130 and 168.

[16] « The study zone extends over an area of 113 km2 ranging between altitudes of 270 metres in the south, where the Liatni River constitutes a natural boundary, and 1700 metres to the north, near Jezzine and Niha villages. It is composed of 24 cadastral areas, including eight inhabited villages (Kfar Houne, Mlikh, Louaize, ‘Aramta, Rihane, Srairi, ‘Aichyeh and Sejoud), and 16 farms (Roummane, Jabal Toura, Mazra‘at el Rohbane, Daraya, Qotrani, Qrouh, Khallet Khazen, Chbail, Zaghrine, Mazra‘at Louzid, Jarmaq, ‘Aarqub, Mahmoudiye, Dimachqiye and Tamra). » Extract from the Green Line report which exists in English on our website:

[17] Dr. Hurani in his book, Hurani, Known and Unknown in the History of South Lebanon (in Arabic) pp. 40, 79 and 118, believes that ‘Aramta is the same as Yarmuta or Yarmt mentioned in hieroglyphic writings during the combat of the Egyptian Pharaoh Rameses II against the Canaanites.

[18] See also J. Hoftijzer and K. Jongenling, Dictionary of the North-West Semitic Inscriptions, (Brill, Leiden, 1995) p.513.

[19] The word “father” here could signify the god Ba‘al who was worshipped, very probably, at Mlikh. See above, section 1-2 and further, section 1-5. See Krahlmalkov, Phoenician-Punic Dictionary, p.28.

[20] See H. Badawi, ARAM, 15 (Oxford, 2003) Chapter B, pp.291-4.

[21] See Johannes C. de Moor, The Seasonal Pattern in the Ugaritic Myth of Ba‘lu. According to the Version of Ilimilku (Alter Orient und Altes Testament 16; Neukirchener Verlag des Erziehungsvereins Neukirchen-Vluyn, 1971) p. 98.

[22] “RAKAB-‘IL, dynastic god (b‘l bt) of the House of Mops(os) of the 9th. century B.C. state of Sam‘al,” Khrahmalkov, Phoenician-Punic Dictionary, p. 444.

[23] James B. Pritchard (ed.), The Ancient Near East, vol. I: An Anthology of Texts and Pictures, (Princeton, 1973) p.238, ANET, 501, “I am Barrakab, the son of Panamu, king of Sam‘al, servant of Tiglath-pileser, the lord of the (four) quarters of the earth. Because of the righteousness of my father and my own righteousness, I was seated by my Lord Rakabel and my Lord Tiglath-pileser upon the throne of my father. The house of my father has profited more than anybody else, and I have been running at the wheel of my Lord, the king of Assyria, in the midst of mighty kings, possessors of silver and possessors of gold. I took over the house of my father and made it more prosperous than the house of one of the mighty kings. My brethren, the kings, are envious because of all the prosperity of my house. My fathers, the kings of Sam‘al, had no good house. They had the house of Kilamu, which was their winter house and also their summerhouse. But I have built this house.”

[24] Yussef Hurani has found linguistic connexions between Sam‘al and several regions of south Lebanon. He has also found that some gods of Sam‘al were venerated in south Lebanon. Further, he indicates that Sam‘al’s royal family name has a parallel in south Lebanon. See Hurani, Known and Unknown in the History of South Lebanon (in Arabic) pp.126-127.

[25] The present temple building, according to local oral sources, dates from the 19th century. I have been unable to visit the site because the mountain is full of mines.

[26] “In 346 B.C. there was a fresh revolt by the king of Sidon, which was the signal for a general revolt. Artaxerxes III Ochus, king of Persia, marched against Phoenicia, burnt Sidon, of whose population it is said that more than 40,000 perished and put to death Tennes, although the latter had from the start betrayed his people to the profit of the king of Persia. Straton II succeeded him.”              G. Centenay, La civilisation phénicienne. (Paris, 1926) p. 82.

[27] See Charlton T. Lewis, Latin Dictionary, (Oxford, 1980) p. 1893, “Tana or Tanas, a river of Numidia, between Lares and Capsa, Sall. J. 90 fin.” There is also the word Tanais in Latin, which was the name of a river today called the Don. See Lewis, Latin Dictionary, (1893) p.1839.

[28] Archaeological data confirm that there was a growing population during the Roman period at Tanas, but there is no evidence to confirm that the Tanas region at Mlikh was named in Latin after its river.

[29] “This is the sum of the things for the Tabernacle – the Tabernacle of the Testimony – as they were counted at the commandment of Moses, for the work of the Levites under the direction of Ithamar the son of Aaron the priest. Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, made all that the LORD commanded Moses; and with him was Oholiab, son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan, a craftsman and designer and embroiderer in blue and purple and scarlet stuff and fine twined linen.” (Exodus 38: 21-23) See also Exodus 35:34; 36:1-2.

[30] Dr. Estee Dvorjetski submitted this information to Dr.Shafiq Abouzayd in a personal note with all available historical references.

[31] See the archaeological analysis of Dr. Hassan Badawi ARAM 15 (Oxford, 2003) Chapter B, pp.286-297.

[32] I took a photo of this fish, which is very like the one near St. Elijah church, but the film was damaged and I was unable to save the only photo of this historic fish. I will try to take a new photo of the fish sculpted in the rock in the near future.

[33] See Muhammad Ali Makki, Lebanon 635-1516 A.D. (in Arabic), (Dar AnNahar, Beirut, 1979) pp. 105, 124, 153, 170, 223, 227, 229, 253, 268. See also Elias Kattar “Géographie de la population et relations entre les groupes du Liban à l’époque des mameloukes.” ARAM 9 (Oxford, 1997) pp.67-71.

[34] See Kamal Salibi The Beginning of the History of Lebanon (in Arabic), (Beirut, 1979) pp. 60, 73. See also Muhammad Ali Makki, Lebanon 635-1516 A.D., pp. 75, 82 on the Shi’ite presence in south Lebanon during the Abbasid period. There is a late Shi’ite tradition, which affirms that Shi’ism began in the Lebanon during the reign of the Ummayyads with Abu Zer al’Gafari. See Muhammad Ali Makki, Lebanon 635-1516 A.D. (in Arabic) p. 56.

[35] “The third expedition (of the Mamelukes) was that of 1305 A.D. The Mameluke governor of Damascus, al-Afram left Damascus for ‘the region of Kisrawan and Jurd’ He had the mountain completely surrounded. The expedition ended with the destruction of Kisrawan: trees were felled, houses destroyed, the majority of the (Shi’ite) population massacred and the remainder either conscripted into the troops of the Tripoli (Jund al-Halqa) or forced to emigrate to the region of Jezzin and the Beqa‘a,”Ibn ad-Dawadari, Kinz ad-Durar, T. 9, p. 40. The quotation is made following Ahmad Hoteit, “Les expéditions mameloukes de Kisrawan: critique de la Lettre d’Ibn Taimiya au Sultan An-Nasir Muhammad bin Qalawun.ARAM 9 (Oxford, 1997) p. 78. See also Kamal Salibi, The Beginning of the History of Lebanon, pp.135-138.

[36] See Muhammad Jaber Al Safa History of Jabal ‘Amel, (in Arabic), (Dar AnNahar, Beirut, 1981) pp. 234-235.

[37] See Muhammad Jaber al Safa, History of Jabal ‘Amel (in Arabic) pp.81-134.

[38] See Muhammad Makki, Lebanon 635-1516 A.D. (in Arabic) p.268.

[39] See Salibi, The Beginning of the History of Lebanon (in Arabic) pp. 151-153.

[40] See Kamal Salibi, Modern History of the Lebanon (in Arabic), (Dar AnNahar, Beirut, 1978) pp.37-39.

[41] See Muhammad Jaber al Safa, History of Jabal ‘Amel (in Arabic) pp. 81-87, 108-115, 122-134.

[42] See Kamal Salibi, Modern History of the Lebanon (in Arabic), pp. 11-22.

[43] See our research above on the Shi’ite presence in Jezzin and Jabal ‘Amel, section 2, ARAM 15 pp. 281-282.

[44] My calculation of the number of Shi’ites in Mlikh at that period is based on the present number of Shi’ites. At the beginning of the seventeenth century it would not have exceeded the average of twenty persons for two or three families or the average of fifteen persons for a large family.

[45] The Aboumelhem family in Rihan originally came from Mlikh.

[46] She is the wife of Mr. Muhammad Ali al’Hajje Aboumelhem.

[47] The other accounts are also oral and contain the same details as those recalled by Mr. Ibrahim Khalil Aboumelhem.

[48] ‘Inzi is the local pronunciation in Mlikh of the name ‘Inzah.

[49] Philip Hitti, History of the Arabs, (in Arabic), (Beirut, 1965), p.54 says that the ‘Inzah tribe lived in the northern Hijaz. He adds that the Arab ascetic and poet Abou-al ‘Atahiya (748-828A.D.) belonged to the ‘Inzah tribe. See Hitti, History of the Arabs, p. 493.

[50] Philip Hitti History of Syria, Lebanon and Palestine vol. 2 (in Arabic), (Beirut, 1972) p.95, says that the ‘Inzah tribe only settled in Badiyat al’Sham in Syria at the beginning of the second half of the seventeenth century. It followed the emigration of the Arab tribe Shommar from the town of Najed in the Hijaz. Hitti suggests that the well-known Rula tribe was a branch of the ‘Inzah.

[51] Rizq is an Arab personal name, which comes from the word razaqa: “procure a living for someone.” Rizq also means “means of living; resource; livelihood.”

[52] The name Abouzayd is the name of an Arab hero who lived in the Arabian Peninsula at the beginning of the Middle Ages. His heroic story has become almost legendary in folk memory.

[53] The Nassif family is a Maronite feudal family from north Lebanon. Its chief bore the title of Emir (Prince) and Mukkadam (Duke). It first appears in Maronite history in the twelfth century with al’Mukkadam (Duke) Nassif Shkaiban (1146-1212) who lived in Wadi Qadisha. He also governed the regions of Jbail (Byblos) and Batroun between 1182 and 1195. His brother Ibrahim was the governor /duke (Mukkadam) of Jounieh between 1185-1192. His brother Farah governed the region of Wadi al’Qarn and Borj al’Kashraf between 1192 and 1200. Al’Mukkadam Nassif Yussef bin Habib Nassif of the family of Emir (Prince) Nassif Shkaiban settled in Jezzin in 1598. He was given the responsibility of governing the region of Jezzin and Jabal Rihan by the Emir of Lebanon Bashir Al’Kabir II (1788-1840). He was similarly chosen for the office of personal secretary to Bashir Al’Kabir II. See George Kallas, “Al’am Al Nassif fi Jezzin,” AnNahar Journal, 26 October (1992), p.12 (in Arabic).

[54] I was able to get a fairly clear idea of the arrival of Abouzayd in Mlikh from the parish church register of St. Elijah there. The earliest sources date from the end of the nineteenth century. The register records the death of a well-known nephew of Abouzayd, Mr. Dib Yussef Abouzayd on 31 December 1915 at the age of 115. The date confirms the birth of Dib Yussef Abouzayd in 1800. He was Yussef’s eldest. We may suppose that the father of Dib, Yussef, was born in about 1780. Yussef was not Abouzayd’s eldest, but Elias was. He was born between 1770 and 1780. We conclude that Abouzayd was married between 1760 and 1770 at about twenty years old and more probably, at the age of 22. We may suppose that Abouzayd was born in Rash‘in between 1740 and 1750 and that he was in Mlikh around 1770.

[55] Mlikh was the property of the feudal families Nassif of Jezzin and Skaf of Zahlé during the seventeenth century. The wife of Abouzayd, whose first name is unknown, had inherited part of the Nassif family property at Mlikh and her children had been allowed to buy some of the fields as recompense for their work for the uncles of the Nassif family. The other part of the Nassif family property had been given to the monastery of the Maronite monastic order of St. Antony of Jezzin. The Aboumelhem and Matta families had had the possibility of buying up the property of the Skaf family in the course of the nineteenth century. Muslims and Christians continued to buy land from the Monastery of St. Antony of Jezzin up until the beginning of the second half of the twentieth century. Today, Mlikh belongs entirely to its inhabitants.

[56] The Matta family has the same origin as the Skaf family of Zahlé. The first descendent of this family to inhabit Mlikh was called Matta Skaf. Later, the whole family called itself after his first name Matta (Matthew). Matta Skaf was sent by his family, the feudal family originating from the Beqa‘a, as labourer in the fields of Mlikh.