04 August 2006

Ibn Bint Jbeil is Arabic for ...

Many have asked about the name of this blog-- Ibn Bint Jbeil. It is my adopted title, constructed of three Arabic words:

  • "ibn" is Arabic for "son"
  • "bint" is Arabic for "daughter"
  • "jbeil" is Arabic for "mountains".

Therefor "Ibn Bint Jbeil" means Son of Bint Jbeil, "Bint Jbeil" (بنت جبيل‎) being the Southern Lebanese town from where I originate. Hence Ibn Bint Jbeil could ultimately translate as "Son of the Daughter of Jbeil." But where does the name of the town of "Bint Jbeil" come from? The town's name could literally translate as "Daughter of the Mountains," as it sits on a hilltop which itself is nestled in a valley surrounded by mountains.

But it could also be a reference to the Northern Lebanese city of Jbeil. Historians claim that the founders of Bint Jbeil were the Phoenecians who came from the Northern Lebanese town of Jbeil (جبيل Jubayl), which is also known by its Greek name "Byblos" (βύβλος). Bint Jbeil could literally mean 'Daughter of Byblos.' The Greeks apparently called Jbeil "Byblos" because it was through that city that bublos (βύβλος "Egyptian papyrus") was imported into Greece. Although it is still referred to as Byblos by scholars, the city is now known by the Arabic name Jubayl or Jbeil (جبيل), a direct derivation of the Canaanite name Gubal, who was king of the city.

According to other historians, the name of the town of Bint Jbeil is derived from a Yemeni name. It could be linked to Yemeni tribes that migrated and settled in the region of South Lebanon thousands of years ago from Yemeni towns such as Jibla, Jabalan Al Ardaba, and Jabalan Al Raymah, or the two territories of the Jubail lowland and Jubail highland in Yemen. This is a possibility because South Lebanon itself is referred to today as "Jabal Amil" (جبل عامل), which means "Mount Amil," a reference to the Yemeni tribe Banu Amila that migrated and settled South Lebanon in ancient times.

8 comments:

Doghouse said...

Great blog you got here! Thanks a lot for the linkage...I figured out who you are, I'm an old student of yours...my name is Hassan Abraham...in any case, I've added a link to you on my blog...and I hope you can attend the teach-in happening in Detroit on Friday...Tarek Dika will be speaking...hope to see you there!

rachel said...

Hello :)
i re uploaded the photos on my blog. It's something i've been wanting to do for a long time now, but i hardly feel like going back to that journal. thank you :) and i just hope i won't have to put up any new photos during this summer...

alzaher said...

well, thanks for the information but i think after 2006 war, bent jbeil also stand s for "dignity"
:)

Ms Levantine said...

It is doubtful that Bint Jbeil had anything to do with Byblos, being in Tyre's hinterland.

Before being Jabal 'Amil, the area was Jeebal Bshara, following the name of the local dominant tribe. BTW, Jeebal is a better approximation than Jbeil for the plural of Jabal.

I think you have the explanation when you say that BJ sits on a hilltop.

Jbeil (Jubeyl) is the diminutive of Jabal, a small mountain meaning a Hill. The Tasgheer form is very popular in Lebanon. Eg. asfar/sfeir, jameel/gemayyel, thani/tueini...

BJ is just the "Daughter of the Hill", with all due respect to Yemenites, Phoenicians, Crusaders, Babylonians, UNIFIL... of course.

MM.

Ibn Bint Jbeil said...

Ms. Levantine, excellent!
(but personally i still like the yemen story.. it's so ancient.)

poshlemon said...

Ibn Bint Jbeil,

why do I have a feeling that the Yemen story may have been mainly supported by the historian Kamal Salibi? I don't know if you're familiar with his work (somewhat controversial, novel in approach& aim) but if you've read his work, you'd know what I am saying. And for that only, you have to be careful with Salibi's historical "findings". In several of his works, he tends to use the etymology of place names as his primary source, but not only source, for his results. But I am just speculating. I don't remember if Phillip Hitti equally supports the validity of both the stories. Maybe you could illuminate.

Ibn Bint Jbeil said...

Well my dear Posh, as you know my primary sources come from Vincent Van Gogh and Mahmoud Darwish, so the above analysis of "Bint Jbeil" is for folk than academia. I am familiar with Salibi and Hitti in name, not deeply in any way; keep in mind that I am educated in the U.S. (including most of primary school) and lack much in terms of populist culture as well as the culture of the educational institutions of the watan. Mine is a bastardized lamlami of remnant shards and patchwork quilts. So as always, inti illuminate us! But I am told, again second hand info, that our family descends from the hijaz, from bani Makhzoom or something.

Anonymous said...

Let's get some things straight. And you may want to reference local historians about this. Bent Jebail used to be known in its Aramaiac name as KAFAR SHAMS. Anyone who has been there would know why. At 800m above sea, the sun hits the town enjoys strong and bright sunshine throughought the year.

The story actually goes that the Emirah of Byblos during OTTOMAN TIMES used to vacation in Kafar Shams for this reason and would do so often. In her honor, the town's name was then changed to Bent Jebail--in direct reference to Byblos.