A man who never was: Ṭālūt and the jew again

Translated title of the contribution: A man who never was: Ṭālūt and the jew again

David J. Wasserstein*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The story of Ṭālūt and the Jew (known from our sources for the Revolt of the Suburb, in the early third/ninth century), has been studied recently by Luis Molina (Al-Qanṭara, 32, 2011), who argues that the Jew is an invention. Here it is argued that the entire story, including also the character of Ṭālūt himself, is an invention, created probably in the fourth/tenth century. Our apparent evidence is extremely weak: the sources for Ṭālūt’s existence are shown to be thin and unreliable; severe chronological problems make it almost impossible for him to have existed; the story has all the character of invention. Its aim, far from being to say something about Jews in al-Andalus or about a participant – Ṭālūt or any other – in the revolt – seems to be to glorify the ruler, al-Ḥakam I.

Translated title of the contributionA man who never was: Ṭālūt and the jew again
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)563-574
Number of pages12
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Al-andalus
  • Arabic historiography
  • Ibn al-qūṭiyya
  • Jews
  • Ṭālūt


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