Bani Hamida

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The Bani Hamida were a pastoral-nomadic clan that controlled a land East of the Dead Sea before the establishment of the emirate of Transjordan. They were clients of the Beni Sakhr.

In 1869 members of the Bani Hamadi shattered the recently discovered Moabite Stone into pieces by lighting a fire under it and then pouring cold water over it. The stele had been found on Bani Hamadi land and in the dispute over ownership several Bani Hamadi were killed. Though many of the fragments were later retrieved, the full text, one of the earliest Hebrew related scripts, is only preserved through a hurried copy made under difficult conditions.[1]

At this time the Bani Hamadi had a reputation for breeding horses: "the best blood horses in Moab" according to explorer Charles M. Doughty, 1876.[2]

In 1891 there was fighting between the Beni Sakhr and the Bani Hamida.[3]

F.J. Bliss who visited in March 1895 writes that "the sheikhs of the Hamideh were very civil and anxious to show us all the torn stones which is their phrase covering inscriptions and ornamentation." He was travelling with permission from the Ottoman authorities who in December 1893 had installed a Governor in Kerak improving security for travellers.[4]

Gray Hill Esq and his wife, also travelling in 1895, met the Hameideh south of Madeba. This was his fourth attempt to visit Petra. Five year's earlier the tribe had "harassed" and tried to stop them. This time their guide Abu Seyne could not continue due to a blood feud. Hill describes travelling in beautiful spring weather through country green with young corn. At Wadi Waleh they found a "sweet little stream amongst the oleanders" from which their cook caught fish by throwing something into the water which "made them insensible for a brief period". One day's travel from Madeba brought them to Dhiban where there was a military camp. Here the Sheikh of the Hameideh, "who had troubled us in 1890", offered to show an inscription "up a winding valley". After walking "a long way in the hot sun" Hill was shown a flat stone "on which three or four Greek (?) letters appeared". The following night while camped halfway on their journey to Kerak their tents were fired on by members of the Mujelli tribe. About twenty shots were fired but no-one was hurt. Hill speculates that the attack was to deter them from making claims against the Mujelli for compensation for "their robbery and detention of us in 1890".[5]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Doughtey, Charles M. (1888), Travels in Arabia Deserta. Cambridge University Press. Jonathan Cape edition (1936) Volume I, pages 65,66.
  2. ^ Doughty, Vol II page 51.
  3. ^ Forder, A. (1902) With the Arabs in Tent and Town. An account of Missionary Work, Life and Experience in Moab and Edom and the First Missionary Journey into Arabia from the North. Marshal Brothers. Third Edition. Page 27. "Hameidah".
  4. ^ Palestine Exploration Fund (1895) Quarterly Statement. Pages 203 & 214.
  5. ^ Palestine Exploration Fund Magazine (1896). Quarterly Statement, January, 1896. Pages 38-40.