Ancient Sources

Places of Ascalon, Gaza, Negev, Sinai


109. Elusa - (al-Khalasa)

ORIGINAL TEXTS

Et inde venimus in civitate Elusa in capite heremi, qui vadit ad Syna monte.
(Anonymus Placentinus 34,1)


De Hierusalem in Elusath mansiones III, de Elusath in Aila mansiones VII.
(Theodosius, De situ, 27)


ENGLISH TRANSLATION

Anonymus Placentinus, Itinerarium 34,1 (ca. 570 A.D.)
From there we went to the city of Elusa, which is the beginning of the desert which stretches to Sinai.

Theodosius, De situ Terrae Sanctae 27
(ca. 530 A.D.)
It is three stops from Jerusalem to Elusa and seven from Elusa to Aila.

BIBLICAL BACKGROUND

Judith 1:7-10 The campain of Nebuchadnezzar king of the Assyrians
Then Nebuchadnezzar, king of the Assyrians, sent messengers to all who lived in Persia and to all who lived in the west, those who lived in Cilicia and Damascus, Lebanon and Antilebanon, and all who lived along the seacoast, and those among the nations of Carmel and Gilead, and Upper Galilee and the great plain of Esdraelon, and all who were in Samaria and its towns, and beyond the Jordan as far as Jerusalem and Bethany and
Chelous and Kadesh and the river of Egypt, and Tahpanhes and Raamses and the whole land of Goshen, even beyond Tanis and Memphis, and all who lived in Egypt as far as the borders of Ethiopia.

MORE ANCIENT SOURCES

Josephus, Antiquities 14.1.4 (1st cent. A.D.)
(16) So Antipater having received such assurances, returned to Hyrcanus to Jerusalem. A while afterward he took Hyrcanus, and stole out of the city by night, and went a great journey, and came and brought him to the city called Petra, where the palace of Aretas was; (17) and as he was a very familiar friend of that king, he persuaded him to bring back Hyrcanus into Judea; and this persuasion he continued every day without any intermission. He also proposed to make him presents on that account. At length he prevailed with Aretas in his suit. (18) Moreover, Hyrcanus promised him, that when he had been brought thither, and had received his kingdom, he would restore that country, and those twelve cities which his father Alexander had taken from the Arabians; which were these, Medaba, Naballo, Libyas, Tharabasa, Agala, Athone, Zoar, Orone, Marissa, Rudda, Lussa, and Oruba.

Anonymus Placentinus, Itinerarium 34-36 (ca. 570 A.D.)
From there we went to the city of Elusa, which is the beginning of the desert which stretches to Sinai. In that city, according to what the bishop told us, was a noble girl called Mary, and when she was married, her husband died on the very night of the wedding. She bore it with courage, and within a week she had set all his slaves free and given away his property to the poor and to monasteries. Till she had observed the seventh day, she stayed at home, but that night her husband's coat was gone, and she was nowhere to be found. It is said that she is in the desert across the Jordan, and moves about in the region of Segor by the Salt Sea among the reedy places and the palm groves...
Leaving the city of Elusa we entered the desert. Twenty miles on is a fort, the guest-house of Saint George which provides something of a refuge for passers-by and gives food for hermits. Leaving that we went into the heart of the desert to the place of which the Bible says: " A land transformed into a salty waste because of the wickedness of its inhabitants". (Ps 107: 34). We saw there a few men on camels (indeed we also saw some of them in Jerusalem) but they fled from us.They came from Ethiopia and had their nostrils split, their ears cut, boots on their feet, and rings on their toes. We asked them why, and they said: "This is our mark. It was granted us by the Emperor Trajan".
For five or six days we travelled on through the desert. Our camels carried our water, and each person was given a pint in the morning and a pint in the evening. When the water in the skins had turned bitter like gall we put sand in it, and this made it sweet. Some of the servants and wives of the Saracens came from the desert and sat weeping by the road. They spread a mantle out in front of them and asked the passers-by for bread, and their husbands came too. They brought skins of cool water from the remotest parts of the desert and gave us some. They accepted bread, and gave us garlic and radishes, whose sweet taste was better than the finest spices, and would take nothing for them. They were preserved from doing so since they were celebrating a season of festival. Teh people which travelled through the utter desert numbered twelve thousand six hundred.

Theodosius, De situ Terrae Sanctae, 23 (ca. 530 A.D.)
It is three staging-posts from Elusa to Jerusalem, and seven from Elusa to Aila, a city constructed by Alexander the Great, the Macedonian. It is a eight staging-posts from Ailla to mount Sinai, if you choose the short way across the desert, but twenty five if you go through Egypt.


BYZANTINE ADMINISTRATIVE LISTS

Hierocles, Synecdemos 717:8-719:11 (7th cent. A.D.)
Province of Palaestina Tertia, 10 cities under a praeses: Petra, Augustopolis, Arindela, Charachmuba, Areo-polis, Zoara, Mampsis, Bitarous, Elusa, Salton.

Georgius Cyprius, 1043-1057 (7th cent. A.D.)
Province of Palaestina Tertia: Petra, Augustopolis, Arindela, Charachmoba, Areopolis, Mampsis, Elusa, Zoora, Salton, Berosaba (Beersheba), Aila, Pentakomia, Mampsara, Metrokomia, Salton Hieratikon.


EPISCOPAL CITY

Bishops' list
Stratophilus ? (A.D. 325)
? (IV-V cent. A.D.)
Abdellas (A.D. 431)
Aretas (A.D. 451)
Peter (A.D. 518)
Zenobius (A.D. 536)


ICONOGRAPHIC PARALLELS

Tabula Peutingeriana
(4th cent. A.D.)
Elusa


Map Section 8 Place Discussion

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Created Saturday, December 16, 2000 at 13:39:36
by Eugenio Alliata ofm in collaboration with Stefano de Luca ofm
Webmaster: John Abela ofm - Space by courtesy of Christus Rex
copyright - Studium Biblicum Franciscanum - Jerusalem 2000