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The Manuscripts of the KEBRA NAGAST and their Arrival in Europe. The Labours of BRUCE, DILLMANN, PRÆTORIUS, WRIGHT, ZOTENBERG, and BEZOLD. King JOHN'S Letter to Lord GRANVILLE. Date of Compilation of the KEBRA NAGAST. The Ethiopian Work Based on Coptic and Arabic Sources, &c.
The KEBRA NAGAST, or the Book of the Glory of the Kings [of ETHIOPIA], has been held in the highest esteem and honour throughout the length and breadth of ABYSSINIA for a thousand years at least, and even to-day it is believed by every educated man in that country to contain the true history of the origin of the Solomonic line of kings in ETHIOPIA, and is regarded as the final authority on the history of the conversion of the ETHIOPIANS from the worship of the sun, moon, and stars to that of the Lord God of ISRAEL.
The existence of the KEBRA NAGAST appears to have been unknown in Europe until the second quarter of the sixteenth century, when scholars began to take an interest in the country of "PRESTER JOHN" through the writings of FRANCISCO ALVAREZ, chaplain to the Embassy which EMMANUEL, King of PORTUGAL, sent to DAVID, King of ETHIOPIA, under the leadership of DON RODERIGO DE LIMA (1520-1527). In the collection of documents concerning this Embassy, ALVAREZ included an account of the King of ETHIOPIA, and of the manners and customs of his subjects, and a description in Portuguese of the habits of the ETHIOPIANS (alcuni costumi di esso Serenissimo DAVID, e del suo paese e genti, tradotta di lingua ethiopica in Portogalese);1 and in his Ho Preste Joam das Indias (COIMBRA, 1540), and his Historia de las cosas d'Etiopia (ANVERS 1557, SARAGOSSE 1561 and TOLEDO 1588) this account was greatly amplified.2
In the first quarter of the sixteenth century, P. N. GODINHO published some traditions about King SOLOMON and his son MĔNYĔLĔK or MĔNYĔLÎK, derived from the KEBRA NAGAST,1 and further information on the subject was included by the Jesuit priest MANOEL ALMEIDA (1580-1646) in his Historia ger̄al de Ethiopia, which does not appear to have been published in its entirety. MANOEL ALMEIDA was sent out as a missionary to ETHIOPIA, and had abundant means of learning about the KEBRA NAGAST at first hand, and his manuscript Historia is a valuable work. His brother, APOLLINARE, also went out to the country as a missionary, and was, with his two companions, stoned to death in TIGRÉ.
Still fuller information about the contents of the KEBRA NAGAST was supplied by F. BALTHAZAR TELLEZ (1595-1675), the author of the Historia general de Ethiopia Alta ov Preste Joã e do que nella obraram os Padres da Companhia de JESUS composta na mesma Ethiopia pelo Padre Manoel d'Almeyda. Abreviada com nova releçam e methodo pelo Padre Balthezar Tellez, COIMBRA, 1660, folio. The sources of his work were the histories of MANOEL ALMEIDA, ALFONZO MENDEZ, JERONINO LOBO, and Father PAYS. The Historia of TELLEZ was well known to JOB LUDOLF, and he refers to it several times in his Historia Æthiopica, which was published at FRANKFORT in 1681, but it is pretty certain that he had no first-hand knowledge of the KEBRA NAGAST as a whole. Though he regarded much of its contents as fabulous, he was prepared to accept the statement of TELLEZ as to the great reputation and popularity which the book enjoyed in ABYSSINIA.
Little, apparently, was heard in Europe about the KEBRA NAGAST until the close of the eighteenth century when JAMES BRUCE of KINNAIRD (1730-1794), the famous African traveller, published an account of his travels in search of the sources of the NILE. When he was leaving p. xxxiii GONDAR, RÂS MICHAEL, the all-powerful Wazîr of King TAKLA HAYMÂNÔT, gave him several most valuable Ethiopic manuscripts, and among them was a copy of the KEBRA NAGAST to which he attached great importance. During the years that BRUCE lived in ABYSSINIA he learned how highly this work was esteemed among all classes of ABYSSINIANS, and in the third edition of his Travels1 (vol. iii, pp. 411-416) there appeared a description of its contents, the first to be published in any European language. Not content with this manuscript BRUCE brought away with him a copy of the KEBRA NAGAST which he had made for himself, and in due course he gave both manuscripts to the Bodleian Library, where they are known as "Bruce 93" and "Bruce 87" respectively. The former, which is the "Liber Axumea" of BRUCE'S Travels, was described at great length by DILLMANN,2 who to his brief description of the latter added a transcript of its important colophon.3 Thanks to DILLMANN, who printed the headings of all the chapters of the Fĕtha Nagasti in the original Ethiopic, there was no longer any doubt about the exact nature and contents of the work, though there was nothing in it to show exactly when and by whom the work was compiled.
In 1870 (?) FRANCIS PRÆTORIUS published,4 with a Latin translation, the Ethiopic text of Chapters xix to xxxii of the KEBRA NAGAST edited from the manuscript at Berlin (Orient. 395), which LEPSIUS acquired from DOMINGO LORDA, and sent to the KÖNIGLICHE BIBLIOTHEK in 1843. To the Berlin text he added the variant readings supplied from the MSS. Orient. 818 and 819 in the p. xxxiv BRITISH MUSEUM by Professor W. WRIGHT of CAMBRIDGE. In 1877 WRIGHT published a full description of the MS. of the KEBRA NAGAST in the MAḲDALÂ Collection in the BRITISH MUSEUM. The work of Praetorius made known for the first time the exact form of the Ethiopian legend that makes the King of ETHIOPIA to be a descendant of SOLOMON, King of ISRAEL, by MÂKĔDÂ, the Queen of ’AZÊB, who is better known as the "Queen of SHEBA".
In August, 1868, the great collection of Ethiopic manuscripts, which the British Army brought away from MAḲDALÂ after the defeat and suicide of King THEODORE, was brought to the BRITISH MUSEUM, and among them were two fine copies of the KEBRA NAGAST. Later these were numbered Oriental 818 and Oriental 819 respectively, and were described very fully and carefully by Wright in his Catalogue of the Ethiopic MSS. in the British Museum, London, 1877,1 No. cccxci, p. 297, and in the Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft, Bd. xxiv, pp. 614-615. It was the fate of Oriental 819, a fine manuscript which was written in the reign of ’ÎYÂSÛ I, A.D. 1682-1706, to return to ABYSSINIA, and this came about in the following manner. On 10 Aug., 1872, Prince KASA, who was subsequently crowned as King JOHN IV, wrote to Earl GRANVILLE thus:
"And now again I have another thing to explain to you: that there was a Picture called QURATA REZOO, which is a Picture of our Lord and Saviour JESUS CHRIST, and was found with many books at MAGDALA by the English. This Picture King THEODORE took from GONDAR to MAGDALA, and it is now in England; all round the Picture is gold, and the midst of it coloured.
"Again there is a book called KIVERA NEGUST (i.e. KEBRA NAGAST), which contains the Law of the whole of ETHIOPIA, and the names of the SHUMS (i.e. Chiefs), p. xxxv Churches, and Provinces are in this book. I pray you will find out who has got this book, and send it to me, for in my Country my people will not obey my orders without it".
When a copy of this letter was sent to the BRITISH MUSEUM the Trustees decided to grant King JOHN'S request, and the manuscript was restored to him on 14 December, 1872. King JOHN'S letter proves that very great importance was attached to the KEBRA NAGAST by the Ethiopian peoples, even in the second half of the nineteenth century. M. HUGUES LE ROUX, a French envoy from the President of the French Republic to MENYELEK II, King of ETHIOPIA, went to ADDIS ALEM where the king was staying, in order to see this manuscript and to obtain his permission to translate it into French. Having made his request to MENYELEK II personally the king made a reply, which M. LE ROUX translates thus:
"Je suis d'avis qu'un peuple ne se défend pas seulement avec ses armes, mais avec ses livres. Celui dont vous parlez est la fierté de ce Royaume. Depuis moi, l'Empereur, jusqu'au plus pauvre soldat qui marche dans les chemins, tous les Éthiopiens seront heureux que ce livre soit traduit dans la langue française et porté à la connaissance des amis que nous avons dans le monde. Ainsi l'on verra clairement quels liens nous unissent avec le peuple de Dieu, quels trésors ont été confiés à notre garde. On comprendra mieux pourquoi le secours de Dieu ne nous a jamais manqué contre les ennemis qui nous attaquaient".
The king then gave orders that the manuscript was to be fetched from ADDIS ABEBA, where the monks tried to keep it on the pretext of copying the text, and in less than a week it was placed in the hands of M. LE ROUX, who could hardly believe his eyes. Having described the manuscript and noted on the last folio the words, "This volume was returned to the King of ETHIOPIA by order of the Trustees of the BRITISH MUSEUM, Dec. 14th, 1872. J. WINTER JONES, Principal p. xxxvi Librarian". M. LE ROUX says:
"Il n'y avait plus de doute possible: le livre que je tenais dans mes mains était bien cette version de l'histoire de la Reine de Saba et de Salomon, que Négus et Prêtres d'Éthiopie considèrent comme le plus authentique de toutes celles qui circulent dans les bibliothèques européennes et dans les monastètes abyssins. C'était le livre que Théodoros avait caché sous son oreiller, la nuit où il se suicida, celui que les soldats anglais avaient emporté à Londres, qu'un ambassadeur rendit à l'Empereur Jean, que ce même Jean feuilleta dans sa tente, le matin du jour où il tomba sous les cimeterres des Mahdistes, celui que les moines avaient dérobé".1
With the help of a friend M. LE ROUX translated several of the Chapters of the KEBRA NAGAST, and in due course published his translation.2
The catalogues of the Ethiopic MSS. in OXFORD, LONDON and PARIS, which had been published by DILLMANN, WRIGHT and ZOTENBERG, supplied a good deal of information about the contents of the KEBRA NAGAST in general, but scholars felt that it was impossible to judge of the literary and historical value of the work by transcription and translations of the headings of the chapters only. In 1882 under the auspices of the Bavarian Government, DR. C. BEZOLD undertook to prepare an edition of the Ethiopic text edited from the best MSS., with a German translation, which the ROYAL BAVARIAN ACADEMY made arrangements to publish. After much unavoidable delay this work appeared in 1909, and is entitled Kebra Nagast. Die Herrlichkeit der Könige (Abhandlungen der Königlich Bayerischen Akademie, Band XXIII, Abth. 1, Munich, 1909 [Band LXXVII of the Denkschriften]). The text is prefaced by a learned introduction, which was greatly appreciated by Orientalists to whom the edition was specially addressed. The p. xxxvii chief authority for the Ethiopic text in BEZOLD'S edition is the now famous manuscript which was sent as a gift to LOUIS PHILIPPE by SÂHLA (or SÂHLÛ) DĔNGĔL, King of ETHIOPIA, who died early in 1855. According to ZOTENBERG (Catalogue des manuscrits Éthiopiens, p. 6) this manuscript must belong to the thirteenth century; if this be so it is probably the oldest Ethiopic manuscript in existence. Though there seems to be no really good reason for assigning this very early date to the manuscript, there can be no doubt as to its being the oldest known Codex of the KEBRA NAGAST, and therefore BEZOLD was fully justified in making its text the base of his edition of that work. I have collated the greater part of the BRITISH MUSEUM Codex, Oriental 818, with his printed text, and though the variants are numerous they are not of great importance, in fact, as is the case in several other Codices of the KEBRA NAGAST, they are due chiefly to the haste or carelessness or fatigue of the scribe. As BEZOLD'S text represents the KEBRA NAGAST in the form that the Ethiopian priests and scribes have considered authoritative, I have made the English translation which is printed in the following pages from it.
Unfortunately, none of the Codices of the KEBRA NAGAST gives us any definite information about the compiler of the work—for it certainly is a compilation—or the time when he wrote, or the circumstances under which it was compiled. DILLMANN, the first European scholar who had read the whole book in the original Ethiopic, contented himself with saying in 1848, "de vero compositionis tempore nihil liquet" (Catalogus, p. 72), but later he thought it might be as old as the fourteenth century. ZOTENBERG (Catalogue, p. 222) was inclined to think that "it was composed soon after the restoration of the so-called Solomonic line of kings", that is to say, soon after the throne of ETHIOPIA was occupied by TASFÂ ’ÎYASÛS,or YĔKÛNÔ ’AMLÂK, who reigned from A.M. 6762-77, i.e. A.D. 1270-1285. A Colophon, p. xxxviii (see pp. 228, 229)which is found in several of the Codices of the KEBRA NAGAST in OXFORD, LONDON and PARIS, states that the Ethiopic text was translated from the Arabic version, which, in turn, was translated from the Coptic. The Arabic translation was, it continues, made by ’ABU ’L-‛IZZ and ’ABU ’L-FARAJ, in the "year of mercy" 409, during the reign of GABRA MASḲAL (’AMDA SEYÔN I), i.e. between A.D. 1314 and 1344, when GEORGE was Patriarch of ALEXANDRIA.
These statements are clear enough and definite enough, yet DILLMANN did not believe them, but thought that the whole Colophon was the result of the imagination of some idle scribe (ab otioso quodam librario inventa). The statements about the Ethiopic version being made from the Coptic through the Arabic, he treated as obvious fictions (plane fictitia esse), and he condemned the phrasing of the Colophon because he considered its literary style inferior to that used in the narrative of the KEBRA NAGAST itself (dictio hujus subscriptionis pessima est, et ab oratione eleganti libri ipsius quam maxime differt). ZOTENBERG (Catalogue, p. 223, col. 1) a very competent scholar, saw no reason for doubting the truth of the statements in the Colophon generally, but thought it possible that an Arab author might have supplied the fundamental facts of the narrative, and that the author or authors of the Ethiopic version stated that the original source of their work was a Coptic archetype in order to give it an authority and importance which it would not otherwise possess. On the other hand, WRIGHT merely regarded the KEBRA NAGAST as an "apocryphal work", and judging from the list of kings at the end of the work in Oriental 818, fol. 46B,which ends with YĔKWĔNÔ ’AMLÂK, who died in 1344, concluded that it was a product of the fourteenth century (Catalogue, p. 301, col. 2).
A careful study of the KEBRA NAGAST, made whilst translating the work into English, has convinced me that p. xxxix the opening statements in the Colophon are substantially correct, and that it is quite possible that in its original form the Arabic version of the book was translated from Coptic MSS. belonging to the Patriarchal Library at ALEXANDRIA, and copies of this Arabic translation, probably enlarged and greatly supplemented by the scribes in the various monasteries of EGYPT, would soon find their way into ETHIOPIA or ABYSSINIA, viâ the BLUE NILE. The principal theme of the KEBRA NAGAST, i.e. the descent of the Kings of ETHIOPIA from SOLOMON, King of ISRAEL, and the "Queen of the South, or the "Queen of SHEBA", was certainly well known in ETHIOPIA for centuries before the KEBRA NAGAST was compiled, but the general treatment of it in this work was undoubtedly greatly influenced by supplementary legends and additions, which in their simplest forms seem to me to have been derived from Coptic and even Syrian writers.
It is well known that the Solomonic line of kings continued to rule over ETHIOPIA until that somewhat mythical woman ESTHER, or JUDITH as some call her, succeeded in dethroning DELNA’AD and placing on the throne MARÂ TAKLA HÂYMÂNÔT, the first of the eleven ZÂGUÊ kings, who dispossessed the Solomonic kings for three hundred and fifty-four years (A.D. 914-1268) and reigned at AKSÛM. Written accounts of the descent of the kings of ETHIOPIA from SOLOMON must have existed in ETHIOPIA before the close of the ninth century A.D. and these were, no doubt, drawn up in Ethiopic and in Arabic. During the persecution of the Christians in EGYPT and ETHIOPIA by the MUḤAMMADANS in the tenth, eleventh, and twelfth centuries, many churches and their libraries of manuscripts perished. We may, however, be sure that the Solomonic kings, who settled in the province of SHOA during the period of the ZÂGUÊ domination, managed to preserve chronological lists and other historical documents that contained the Annals of their predecessors.
The second part of the Colophon mentions ’ABU ’L-‛IZZ and ’ABU ’L-FARAJ as being concerned with translating the book into Arabic, and makes one ISAAC (?), who was apparently the Ethiopian translator, ask why they did not translate it into Ethiopic. In answer to this question he says that the KEBRA NAGAST appeared during the period of the ZÂGUÊ rule, when it is obvious that the publication of any work that supported the claims of the Solomonic kings would meet with a very unfavourable reception, and cause the death of its editors and translators. Therefore it is fairly certain that the KEBRA NAGAST existed in Arabic in some form during the three and a half centuries of the ZÂGUÊ rule, and that no attempt was made to multiply copies of it in Ethiopic until the restoration of the line of Solomonic kings in the days of YĔKÛNÔ ’AMLÂK (A.D. 1270-1285). The Ethiopic work as we know it now is probably in much the same state as it was in the days of GABRA MASḲAL. (‛AMDA ṢĔYÔN) in the first half of the fourteenth century of our era. Of ISAAC we unfortunately know nothing, but there seem to be no good grounds for attributing the complete authorship of the KEBRA NAGAST to him. Yet he was evidently not merely a scribe or copyist, and when he speaks of the greatness of the toil which he undertook for the sake of the glory of the heavenly ZION, and ETHIOPIA and her king, he seems to suggest that he was the general redactor or editor who directed the work of his devoted companions YAMHARANA-’AB, ḤEZBA- KRESTÔS, ANDREW, PHILIP, and MAḤÂRÎ-’AB.
Now, however important the KEBRA NAGAST may have been considered by the Ethiopians in bygone centuries, and notwithstanding the almost superstitious awe with which the book is still regarded in ABYSSINIA, we are hardly justified in accepting it as a connected historical document. But it is undoubtedly a very fine work, and many sections of it merit careful consideration p. xli and study. For many of the statements in it there are historical foundations, and the greater part of the narrative is based upon legends and sayings and traditions, many of which are exceedingly ancient. The legends and traditions are derived from many sources, and can be traced to the Old Testament and Chaldean TARGÛMS, to Syriac works like the "Book of the Bee", to Coptic lives of saints, to ancient Ḳur’ânic stories and commentaries, to apocryphal books like the "Book of ADAM and EVE", the "Book of ENOCH", "KÛFÂLÊ", the "Instructions of ST. PETER to his disciple CLEMENT" ( i.e. the ḲALÊMĔNṬÔS), the Life of ḤANNÂ, the Mother of the Virgin Mary", the "Book of the Pearl", and the "Ascension of ISAIAH", &c. Side by side with the extracts from these works we have long sections in which works attributed to GREGORY THAUMATURGUS, to TIMOTHEUS (?), Patriarch of CONSTANTINOPLE, and to CYRIL are quoted at great length.
The object of the author, or compiler, and the later editors of the KEBRA NAGAST (no matter what its original form may have been), was to glorify ETHIOPIA by narrating the history of the coming of the "spiritual and heavenly ZION", the Tabernacle of the Law of the God of ISRAEL, of her own free will from JERUSALEM to ETHIOPIA, and to make it quite clear that the King of ETHIOPIA was descended from SOLOMON, the son of DAVID, King of ISRAEL, and through him from Abraham and the early Patriarchs. But CHRIST also was descended from SOLOMON and the early Patriarchs, and he was the Son of God, so the King of ETHIOPIA being a kinsman of CHRIST was also a son of God, and he was therefore both God and king to his people.
The KEBRA NAGAST was intended to make the people of ETHIOPIA believe that their country was specially chosen by God to be the new home of the spiritual and heavenly ZION, of which His chosen people the JEWS had become unworthy. This ZION existed originally in an immaterial form in heaven, where it p. xlii was the habitation of God. MOSES made, under Divine directions, a copy of it in wood and gold, and placed in it the Two Tables of the Law, the pot of manna, the rod of AARON; and the SHECHINAH dwelt on it and in it. This material copy was called "ZION, the Tabernacle of the Law of God". When SOLOMON finished building his Temple ZION was established therein in the Holy of Holies, and from it God made known His commands when He visited the Temple. It was at all times held to be the visible emblem of God Almighty and the material duplicate of the immaterial ZION in heaven.
The fame of the wisdom of SOLOMON reached the ends of the earth, chiefly because he traded with merchants from the sea coast and from the countries to the south of PALESTINE on each side of the RED SEA. These merchants brought the precious woods and stones, and the scents, and the spices, and the rich stuffs and other objects with which he decorated the Temple and his own palace, and when their caravans returned home their servants described to eager listeners the great works that the King of ISRAEL was carrying out in JERUSALEM. Among the masters, or leaders, of these caravans was one TÂMRÎN, who managed the business affairs of a "Queen of the South", whom Arab writers call "BALKÎS", and Ethiopian writers "MÂKĔDÂ"; but neither of these names is ancient, and it is very doubtful if either represents in any way the true name of the southern queen. It is doubtful also if she was an Ethiopian, and it is far more probable that her home was SHĔBHÂ, or SABA, or SHEBA, in the south-west of ARABIA.
As she was a worshipper of the sun she was probably a princess among the SABAEANS. On the other hand, her ancestors may have been merely settlers in ARABIA, and some of them of Ethiopian origin. The KEBRA NAGAST says that she was a very beautiful, bright, and intelligent woman, but tells us nothing about her family. A manuscript at OXFORD (see DILLMANN, p. xliii Catalogus Bibl. Bodl., p. 26), says that five kings reigned in ETHIOPIA before MÂKĔDÂ, viz. ARÂWÎ 400 years, ANGÂBÔ 200 years, GIEDUR 100 years, SIEBADÔ 50 years, and KAWNÂSYÂ 1 year. If these kings were indeed her ancestors she was probably a native of some country on the western shore of the RED SEA. Be this as it may, she must have been a woman of great enterprise and intelligence, for having heard what TÂMRÎN, the captain of her caravans, had told her about SOLOMON'S wisdom, she determined to go to JERUSALEM and to put to him a series of difficult questions that were puzzling her.
When MÂKĔDÂ arrived in JERUSALEM, she lodged in the splendid quarters which SOLOMON prepared for her, and she had frequent opportunities of conversing with the King. The more she saw him the more she was impressed with the handsomeness of his person, and with piety and wisdom, and with the eloquence of his speech, which he uttered in a low, musical and sympathetic voice. She spent several months in JERUSALEM as the King's guest, and one night after a great and splendid banquet which SOLOMON gave to the notables of his kingdom, in her honour, he took her to wife. When MÂKĔDÂ knew that she was with child, she bade farewell to SOLOMON, and having received from him a ring as a token, she returned to her own country, where her son MĔNYĔLĔK, or MĔNYĔLÎK, was born.
In Ethiopic literature this son is often called WALDA-TABBÎB, i.e. "son of the wise man" (SOLOMON), or ’ĔBNA ḤAKÎM, or BAYNA-LEḤKĔM, i.e. IBN AL-ḤAKÎM, or "the son of the wise man". When the boy reached early manhood he pressed MÂKĔDÂ to allow him to go to see his father SOLOMON in JERUSALEM, and his importunity was so great that at length she gave him the ring which SOLOMON had given her, and sent him thither under the care of TÂMRÎN. On his arrival at GÂZÂ the people in the city and everywhere in the district recognized his striking likeness to SOLOMON, and almost royal honours were paid to him by p. xliv them. The same thing happened in JERUSALEM, and when the officials of SOLOMON'S palace were leading him to the presence chamber all the household knew without telling that a son was being taken in to his father. Father and son fell into each other's arms when they met, and the son had no need to prove his identity by producing the ring which his father had given to his beloved MÂKĔDÂ, for SOLOMON proclaimed straightway the young man's parentage, and made him to occupy the royal throne with him, after he had arrayed him in royal apparel.
SOLOMON spared no pains in providing both instruction and amusement for BAYNA-LĔHKĔM (BIN ’L-ḤAKÎM) whilst he was in JERUSALEM, for he hoped to keep him with him; but after a few months the young man was eager to get back to his mother and to his own country, and TÂMRÎN, the leader of MÂKĔDÂ'S caravans, wanted to be gone. BAYNA-LĔHKĔM, or MENYELEK, as we may now call him, saw that REHOBOAM must succeed SOLOMON on the throne of ISRAEL, and had no wish to occupy the subordinate position of a second son in JERUSALEM, and he therefore pressed SOLOMON to give him leave to depart. When the King had arranged that the elder sons of his nobles should accompany MENYELEK on his return to his mother's capital, DABRA MÂKĔDÂ, and had arranged with MENYELEK for the establishment of a duplicate Jewish kingdom in ETHIOPIA, he permitted him to depart. When MÂKĔDÂ was in JERUSALEM she learned that the Tabernacle ZION in the Temple of JERUSALEM was the abode of the God of ISRAEL, and the place where God Almighty was pleased to dwell, and in her letter to SOLOMON she begged him to send her, as a holy talisman, a portion of the fringe of the covering of the Tabernacle.
SOLOMON told MENYELEK that he would grant MÂKĔDÂ'S request, but this satisfied neither MENYELEK nor his nobles, and, to speak briefly, MENYELEK and TÂMRÎN and the eldest sons of the Jewish notables who p. xlv were destined to help MENYELEK to found his kingdom in ETHIOPIA, entered into a conspiracy together to steal the Tabernacle ZION and to carry it off to ETHIOPIA. Their object was to keep the God of ISRAEL with them, and this they expected to be able to effect by stealing the Tabernacle made of gold and wood (according to the pattern of the original Spirit-Tabernacle in heaven) which contained the Two Tables of the Law, the pot of manna, AARON'S rod, &c. One of the conspirators who had access to the chamber in which the Tabernacle ZION rested, removed it from under its curtain, and substituted a construction in wood of exactly the same size and shape, which he had caused to be made for the purpose. The theft was not discovered until MENYELEK, and TÂMRÎN, and their company of young JEWS and ETHIOPIANS were well on their road to the RED SEA, and though SOLOMON sent out swift horsemen to overtake them and cut them off, and himself followed with all the speed possible, the thieves made good their escape, and the King of ISRAEL returned to JERUSALEM in great grief. In due course MENYELEK reached his mother's capital, and he and the Tabernacle ZION were received with frantic rejoicings, and MÂKĔDÂ having abdicated in favour of her son, MENYELEK established in ETHIOPIA a kingdom modelled on that of ISRAEL, and introduced into his country the Laws of God and the admonitions of MOSES and the social rules and regulations with which the name of the great Lawgiver was associated in those days.
The KEBRA NAGAST tells us nothing about MENYELEK after his coronation, except that he carried on one or two campaigns against the enemies of his country, and the book is silent in respect of Queen MÂKĔDÂ'S history after her voluntary abdication. The author seems to expect his readers to assume that ETHIOPIA was ruled over by descendants of SOLOMON and Queen MÂKĔDÂ from the tenth century before CHRIST to about the tenth century p. xlvi A.D., i.e. for about two thousand years, and that the religion, laws, social customs, &c., of the ETHIOPIANS were substantially those of the Hebrews in PALESTINE under the kings of ISRAEL. In connection with this assumption reference may be made here briefly to a series of chapters which now form part of the KEBRA NAGAST, in which the author endeavours to prove that the kings of the MOABITES, PHILISTINES, EGYPTIANS, PERSIANS, BABYLONIANS and the BYZANTINES, are of Semitic origin. The fantastic legends which he invented or reproduced contain much falsified history and bad philology, but it would be interesting to know their source and their author; these chapters seem to suggest that he was a Semite, probably a Jew.
In another group of chapters, which can hardly have formed a part of the oldest version of the KEBRA NAGAST, the author summarizes the prophecies in the Old Testament that concern the Coming of the Messiah, and applies them to JESUS CHRIST with very considerable skill. And he devotes much space to the VIRGIN MARY, and quotes numerous passages from the Old Testament, with the view of identifying her symbolically with the Tabernacle of the Covenant.
English Translation of the Arabic Text Describing How the Kingdom of DAVID was Transferred from JERUSALEM to ETHIOPIA.1
[Here is] The Explanation of the Reason for the Transfer of the Kingdom of DAVID from his Son SOLOMON, King of ISRAEL, to the Country of the Negus, that is to say, to ABYSSINIA.
When the Lord, praise be unto Him! wished SOLOMON to build the House of the Lord in JERUSALEM, after the death of his father DAVID, the son of JESSE, who had p. xlvii reigned over the children of ISRAEL, and SOLOMON, in accordance with his most excellent desire, began to build the House of the Lord, praise be unto Him! SOLOMON the King gave the command that the stones for the building should be hewn in immense sizes. But the workmen were unable to hew such large blocks of stone, and their tools broke when they attempted the work, and they cried out to SOLOMON the King and besought him to think out in his wisdom some plan for lightening their labour. And SOLOMON entreated God, the bestower of wisdom, to suggest some means to him. And behold, SOLOMON summoned the hunters and commanded them to bring a young Rukh bird, and in accordance with his orders they brought a young Rukh bird. And he commanded them likewise to bring a brass pot with a space inside it sufficiently large to contain the Rukh bird; and the pot had three legs, each one cubit in height, and it stood upon the ground. Then SOLOMON commanded them to set down the Rukh bird in the palace and to put the brass pot over it, but the wings of the Rukh bird protruded from under the aforementioned pot, and raised it above the ground. Now when the [mother] Rukh bird returned to her nest in the high mountains, and did not find her young one there, she was disturbed, and she flew round and round over the earth seeking for it. And she flew over JERUSALEM and saw her young one under the aforementioned pot, but had not the power to seize it. And she mounted up into the heights and went towards the Paradise of God, in the eastern part of Eden, and she found below Paradise a piece of wood which had been cast down there as if for her to carry away. And then she seized it, and by reason of her great sorrow for her young one she took no rest until she had brought it to JERUSALEM, and hurled it down upon the brass pot. And by the might of God a miracle took place forthwith, for the pot split into two halves, and the mother Rukh saw her young, and caught it up and p. xlviii bore it off to her nest. And when SOLOMON and all the children of ISRAEL saw this miracle, with a loud voice they praised the Almighty (or, the Governor of the Universe), Who had bestowed upon a bird that was not endowed with reasoning powers the instinct to do that which human beings could not do. And straightway King SOLOMON commanded the stone-masons to take that piece of holy and blessed wood, and, when they had marked out and measured the stone which they wished to split, to lay the afore-mentioned piece of wood on the place marked. And when they had done this, by the might of God the stone split wheresoever they wished it to split, and they found their work easy. Then SOLOMON became certain in his mind that the Governor of the Universe regarded the building of the Holy Temple with favour. And when the construction of the Temple was finished, the afore-mentioned piece of wood remained in the entrance chamber of the forecourt of the porch, and as the building of the Temple had stopped the operative power of the afore-mentioned piece of wood came to an end, but it was still held in respect.
Now God, praise be unto Him! having willed that the kingdom of DAVID and his son SOLOMON should be transferred to the blessed land of ABYSSINIA, stirred up the Queen of that country to make a journey to JERUSALEM to hear some of the wisdom of SOLOMON, even as the Holy Gospel saith, "The Queen of the South shall rise up in the judgement and shall judge this generation, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear SOLOMON".1 And behold, from the earliest times, the kingdom of ABYSSINIA was ruled over by royal princesses. And when the mother of this Queen was with child of her she saw a fat and handsome-looking goat, and she looked upon him with greedy desire, and said, "How handsome the beast is! And how handsome its p. xlix feet are!" And she longed for it after the manner of women who are with child. And when the afore-mentioned daughter was fashioned completely in the womb of her mother, she had one foot like the foot of a man and another like the foot of a goat. Great and exalted be the Creator of the Universe, Who is to be praised! And when the mother of the Queen had brought forth this extraordinary being, and had reared her, and the maiden was ready for marriage, she (i.e. the maiden) did not want to marry any man because of her malformed foot; and she continued in her virginity until she began to reign. And when the thought to visit SOLOMON to hear his wisdom rose in her mind—as has already been mentioned—this had already been ordained in the wisdom of God, praise be unto Him! so that the kingdom of DAVID might last to the end of the world according to the word of DAVID by the Holy Ghost, "The Lord hath sworn a true oath to DAVID from which He will never turn aside: Of the fruit of thy loins I will seat upon thy throne. If they will keep the allegiance of My Covenant and of My testimony which I shall teach them, their children shall sit upon thy throne for ever".1 And besides this passage there are many other passages in the Psalms and in the other Books that refer to this [oath]. This passage nevertheless showeth also that the kingdom was to be rent from the children of ISRAEL; and since they changed [the Covenant], and did not observe the truth, and ceased to believe in Him Who was expected, God rent from them Prophecy, Priesthood, and Sovereignty.
And when the afore-mentioned Queen arrived in JERUSALEM, and SOLOMON the King had heard of it, and was quite certain from the information, which he had received from his spies, that one of her feet was the foot of a goat, he planned a cunning plan in his wisdom, whereby he might be able to see her foot without asking p. l [her to show it to him]. He placed his throne by the side of the courtyard of the Temple, and he ordered his servants to open the sluices so that the courtyard of the Temple might be filled with water. This was done, and the aforementioned piece of wood that was in the courtyard, having been brought there by the eagle (sic) from below Paradise, was submerged by the water, but no one noticed this thing which had been decreed aforetime by the wisdom of God. And behold when the Queen arrived at the gate of the Temple—now she was riding—she found the water there, and she determined to ride into the presence of King SOLOMON on her beast, but they made her to know that this was the door of the House of God, and that no one whatsoever might enter it riding on a beast. And they caused her to dismount from her beast, and her servants who were in attendance upon her supported her; and she stretched out her hand and drew up the lower parts of her cloak and her garments beneath it so that she might step into the water. Thus SOLOMON saw her feet without asking her [to show them to him]. And behold, she stepped into the water in the courtyard, and her foot touched that afore-mentioned piece of wood, and as the foot that was fashioned like the foot of a goat touched the wood, the Might of God made itself manifest, and the goat's foot became exactly like its fellow foot which was that of a man. And immediately she understood that mighty Power that had seized her great fear and trembling came upon her, but she [straightway] rejoiced and stepped further into the water, and at length she came into the presence of King SOLOMON. And SOLOMON welcomed her with gladness, and brought her up on his throne, and paid her honour, and permitted her to sit by his side. And the Queen informed him that she had come from the ends of the earth solely to worship in JERUSALEM and to hear his wisdom. Then she asked him questions, saying, "When I came to thy honourable p. li kingdom and dipped my foot in to the water, that foot being the foot of a goat, my foot touched something that was submerged in the water, whereupon it became straightway like its fellow foot. Thereupon great fear and trembling came upon me, and then joy, because of that which had happened unto me through the compassion of the Governor of the Universe". And then she showed him both her feet. Then SOLOMON praised and glorified God, Who alone worketh mighty and wonderful things, and he testified to her that he had only made the water in order to cause her to lift her cloak so that he might see her foot, that is to say, the goat's foot. Then straightway he commanded that the water be made to go back to its place, and the courtyard became visible, and the piece of wood which she had touched with her foot stood out clearly. And SOLOMON related to her the story of the piece of wood. And when the Queen understood the matter truly she commanded that honour should be paid to the wood, and she decorated it with a collar of silver, and when SOLOMON saw her do this he also decorated the piece of wood with another collar of silver and assigned unto it a place in the Temple, in the Temple of the Lord. And it came to pass that each and every one of SOLOMON'S successors, who came to the Temple of God to pray, as soon as they heard the story of the piece of wood decorated it with silver rings. And from the days of SOLOMON to the coming of CHRIST this piece of wood was decorated with thirty collars of silver.
And it came to pass that, when the Lord, praise be unto Him! wished to complete His Dispensation, and to effect the deliverance of ADAM and his posterity from out of the hand of the accursed Enemy—whom may God put to everlasting shame—JUDAS made a covenant with the high priests and with the cunning folk among the JEWS to deliver CHRIST unto them, so that they might be able to condemn Him to death. And the high p. lii priests undertook to give JUDAS the afore-mentioned collars of silver on the wood, and they sent and had the piece of wood brought by night to the place where the high priests were, and they stripped off from it the afore-mentioned collars of silver, and delivered them over to JUDAS. And JUDAS took them and delivered the LORD CHRIST over to them, even as the Gospel saith. And when the morning of the fifth day of the week had come, on which they condemned the LORD CHRIST to death on the cross, they took the piece of wood afore-mentioned, and they commanded a carpenter to make a cross out of it, and they crucified the Redeemer upon it. And this is a clear proof, even as the Tongue of gold (i.e. CHRYSOSTOM) said that our father ADAM was led astray when he ate of the fruit of the tree in Paradise, and it was because of this that he was stripped of his glory and driven out from Paradise, and Satan reigned over him and over his race. And ADAM'S deliverance also took place by the Dispensation of God through the coming of this piece of wood from the region of Paradise. And it became an honoured thing to kings, and at length the King of Kings came and was crucified upon it. And He redeemed ADAM and his descendants from the hand of the Accursed One by means of a piece of wood, even as the fruit of a piece of wood had led him into error. And concerning this, DAVID the Prophet said in the Psalm,1 "Declare ye among the nations that God reigneth from the wood". And this piece of wood became most honourable because the Body of our Lord was raised up on it, and at length when they laid it upon a dead body that body rose up again. And the similitude [of the Cross] became a protection to kings and a strengthening of the remainder of the Christians for evermore. And as for the thirty collars of silver aforementioned JUDAS cast them, back to the accursed p. liii JEWS, and after this he hanged himself and departed this life by reason of his love of money. And the JEWS took them and bought with them the field of the potter, and it is a place of burial for strangers unto this day. This is what happened through the piece of wood.
And now we will return to the subject with which we began, namely, how the kingdom of DAVID was removed to the country of ABYSSINIA, and will relate the conclusion of the story. Behold, SOLOMON the King paid honour to the Queen, and he made her and her retinue and her soldiers to alight by the side of his palace, and every day she visited him in order to hear his wisdom. And SOLOMON loved women passionately, and it came to pass that, when her visits to him multiplied, he longed for her greatly and entreated her to yield herself to him. But she would not surrender herself to him, and she said unto him, "I came to thee a maiden, a virgin; shall I go back despoiled of my virginity, and suffer disgrace in my kingdom?" And SOLOMON said unto her, "I will only take thee to myself in lawful marriage—I am the King, and thou shalt be the Queen." And she answered him never a word. And he said unto her. "Strike a covenant with me that I am only to take thee to wife of thine own free will—this shall be the condition between us: when thou shalt come to me by night as I am lying on the cushions of my bed, thou shalt become my wife by the Law of Kings." And behold she struck this covenant with him determining within herself that she would preserve her virginity from him; and this [happened] through the dispensation of God, the Most High, to Whom be praise! And SOLOMON by his wisdom instructed her for a number of days, and he did not again demand from her the surrender of her person, and the matter was good in her sight, because she thought that he had driven her out of his mind.
And after these things SOLOMON summoned the p. liv cooks and commanded them to prepare and cook food for all those who were in the palace, for himself and for the Queen, dainty and highly seasoned dishes, and he gave them pungent and aromatic and strong-smelling herbs and spices for this purpose, and the cooks did even as he had commanded them. Now when the Queen had eaten of these meats that were filled with spice and pepper and pungent herbs, she craved for cold water which she drank in large quantities by day and by night, but this did not help her to [quench her thirst]. And when the third night had come SOLOMON secretly gave the order to all those who were about the palace, both those who were inside it and those who were outside it, that none of them was to leave with the afore-mentioned Queen the smallest quantity of water to drink, and [he swore] that any one of them who showed her where water was or gave her any of the water which was his own should be put to death forthwith and without trial. And he commanded that, if any of them were to be asked for water by her during the night, they were to say unto her, "Thou wilt find no water except by the couch of the king." And it came to pass that when the night had come, a great and fiery heat rose up in the heart of the Queen because of the highly spiced food [that she had eaten], and she sought for water to drink, but found none, and she was sorely agitated and was smitten with death. Then she cried out with a loud voice to her servants, but they were unable to find any water to give her to drink. Then by reason of the consuming thirst that had seized upon her, she wandered into the palace and went round about to every one who had water therein to find some water to drink, and every person whom she asked said unto her, "Verily, by thy kingdom, thou wilt only find water to quench the flame of thy thirst by the bedside of the King." Then the Queen went back to her couch, but she could not control herself and keep still, and her spirit p. lv was about to depart from her body, and she was swooning. Then she made haste and went to the place where SOLOMON was, so that she might drink some water there. Now SOLOMON was in truth wide-awake, nevertheless he pretended to be asleep, and the Queen drank a very large quantity of water and assuaged her thirst, and she recovered her spirit, and she felt that her strength was restored after having [nearly] died. And when the Queen wanted to return to her couch, King SOLOMON started up hurriedly, and seized her, and said unto her, "Verily thou hast now become my wife according to the Law of Kings." And she remembered the covenant that existed between him and her. And she gave herself into his embrace willingly and yielded to his desire, according to that which she had covenanted with him.
And it came to pass that after these things she became with child by him, and she said unto him, "I am going to return to my country and to my kingdom, and what shall I do with thy child if it be that God shall desire to give him life?" And SOLOMON said unto her, "If God doth will this thing and thou dost bear to me a man child, so soon as he hath reached man's estate send him to me, and I will make him king, and thy kingdom shall be his; but if thou dost bear a woman child let her stay with thee." And the Queen said unto him, "If I send thee thy son how wilt thou be certain that he is thy son?" And SOLOMON gave her his ring, and said unto her, "Guard carefully this ring, and covenant with me that thou wilt not in the smallest degree break the conditions of the true and righteous covenant that existeth between us, and God, the Governor of the Universe, the God of Abraham, and ISAAC, and Jacob, the God of my father DAVID, shall be the witness between me and between thee. And when thou dost send my son to me, give him my ring, and let him wear it on his own hand, and I shall know that in very truth he is my son, and I will make him king p. lvi and send him back to thee." And she accepted from SOLOMON this just covenant, and he and the Queen took farewell of each other, and she set out with her retinue to go to her own country, surrounded by the peace of God.
And behold, on her arrival in her own country the Queen fulfilled the number of her days, and she brought forth a man child, and she rejoiced with an exceedingly great joy, and she called him DAVID, according to the name of his grandfather, and she had him reared in great state and splendour. And when he had arrived at manhood's estate, he was hale, and strong, and wise, and understanding like his father. And it fell out on a day that he spake unto his mother and said unto her, "O my mother, who is my father? Did he, peradventure, die during my childhood?" Then the Queen answered and said unto him, "My son, thy father is alive, and he is SOLOMON, the son of DAVID, the Prophet of God and King of ISRAEL, and his Kingdom is in JERUSALEM. And behold, the seal of the kingdom of thy father is in my possession, and it is laid up ready for thee so that thou mayest become thereby king over the country of ABYSSINIA. And this is God's Will, and it is not due to me; the kingdom is no longer mine but thine, and thou, the King's son, art King." And this pleased the young man greatly, and he gave thanks to the Queen. And the Queen said unto him, "O my darling son, gather together for thy use gifts and soldiers, and get thee to JERUSALEM that thou mayest pray there, and see thy father and his kingdom, [and hear] his great wisdom, and that he may make thee king according to the covenant that existeth between him and me, the Governor of the Universe being witness between us." And thus saying, straightway she put his father's ring on his right hand. And by the Will of God—praise be unto Him!—he gathered together soldiers, and with them and the royal gifts he set out on p. lvii his journey, and in due course he arrived in JERUSALEM. And when SOLOMON knew that a king was coming to him he commanded soldiers to meet him. And when the young man arrived at the gate of the palace of his father SOLOMON, the king was not certain that he was his son. And behold, when the young man came closer and saw the riding beast of his father standing there with his saddle on his back and his bridle in his mouth, straightway he leaped up and mounted him and pranced about, and unsheathed his sword with his hand. And when SOLOMON saw this the matter was grievous to him, but he hid his displeasure. And when they met [later] SOLOMON spoke openly what he had in his mind about the matter of the riding beast, and how the young man had mounted him and snatched the sword with his hand. And the young man said unto him, "The owner of this ring made me king of his kingdom when I was in my mother's womb, and this hath happened by the Will of God." And when SOLOMON had looked at the ring, and was certain about the matters connected with it, he was overcome with joy, and he stood up by his throne and threw his arms round the young man's neck, and he cried out, saying, "Welcome, my darling boy, [thou] son of DAVID." And straightway he put the crown of his father DAVID on his head, and made him to sit upon the throne of DAVID his father, and the trumpeters sounded their horns, and the proclaimers of tidings cried out, saying, "This is DAVID, the son of SOLOMON, the son of DAVID, the King of ISRAEL." And the matter was noised abroad, and the rumour spread about among all the tribes of the children of ISRAEL that the son of SOLOMON, the son of the Queen of the South, had come to his father SOLOMON, and that SOLOMON had made him ruler over the kingdom of his father DAVID, and had crowned him king, and had seated him upon his throne.
Now in the House of the Lord which SOLOMON had p. lviii built and consecrated was the Tabernacle of the Covenant of God, and inside it were the two Tablets of stone that had been written by the Finger of God, and the rod of AARON, and the pot (or, chest) of manna. And this Tabernacle was covered with plates of gold and was draped with draperies of cloth woven with gold. And [in connection with the Tabernacle] a miracle which was seen by all the people of ISRAEL was wrought. Whensoever the priests prayed, and the supplications of themselves [and of the people] were presented before the Governor of the Universe, and they had made an end of their prostrations, the Tabernacle of the Covenant of God used to raise itself up from off the ground, and they [and the people] knew that in very truth their supplications had been accepted. And when they had made an end of their prostrations and the Tabernacle did not raise itself from off the ground, the priests knew of a certainty that some sin had been committed by themselves or by the people. Then they continued to make their supplications unto the Lord, and at the same time they searched out him that had done wrong, and they punished the guilty one, and when the Tabernacle raised itself up from off the ground they knew that God had removed His displeasure from them.
And it came to pass that the afore-mentioned king, the son of SOLOMON, went into the House of the Lord to pray, and he saw the Tabernacle of the Covenant of God raising itself up—a matter which it is impossible for the human mind to understand—and this was pleasing in his sight, and he determined to carry off the Tabernacle of the Covenant of God to his own country. And he broke the matter to his begetter SOLOMON, the King of ISRAEL, and he said unto him, "I am going to carry off the Tabernacle of the Covenant of God to my country." And SOLOMON said unto him, "O my darling son, thou canst not do this. Behold, there is no one p. lix except a priest who can carry the Tabernacle, and whosoever toucheth the Tabernacle except the priests, his soul departeth from him immediately. Moreover the children of ISRAEL have no protection whatsoever against their enemies except the Tabernacle of the Covenant of God." But these words did not satisfy him, and he said unto SOLOMON, "I ask of thee neither gold nor silver, for in my country men gather in heaps gold from its earth. I ask from thee nothing but the Tabernacle of the Covenant of God, so that it may protect me on my journey, and may be a support for my kingdom and for my soldiers in my country." And SOLOMON said unto his son, "O my son, if it be the Will of God, the Governor of the Universe, that thou shalt take away the Tabernacle with thee, it will be an easy thing for thee to do so. But when thou carriest away the Tabernacle do not let me know about it, and when thou goest away with it do not bid me farewell. For, behold, without doubt, the priests and the elders of the fortress of ISRAEL will make me to swear an oath by the Name of God concerning this matter, and when I have to swear an oath by the Name of God I must swear what is true."
Then the young man summoned to himself secretly a workman, who made a wooden case of the same length and breadth and depth and shape as the Tabernacle, and then the young man killed him by night. Then he brought in other artificers, and they overlaid the wooden case with plates of gold similar to those that covered the Tabernacle, and he treated those men even as he had treated the carpenter, and then the young man covered the case with draperies into which gold had been woven. Now whilst he was making his preparations for his departure SOLOMON the King knew nothing whatsoever about them. Then the young man summoned to him four of the priests who could be trusted, and he made them believe that he had done so p. lx in order to ask them to pray for him before his departure, and he gave them much gold to pray for him, and he bribed them to assist him whensoever he needed them. And when the night of his departure had arrived, these priests came to him in order to bid him farewell, and he took them into his own apartment, so that they might pray for him. And when they had entered and were in the apartment with him, he bound them in iron fetters for the night, and commanded his soldiers to mount and depart without sounding the trumpets. Then he took with him a company of his servants who were carrying spears in their hands, and he took those priests whom he had bound with iron fetters for the night so that they might not escape, and he went into the House of God. And he commanded the priests who were with him to carry away the Tabernacle of the Covenant of God, and then he deposited the case which he had had made to resemble it in the place thereof. And he went forth by night having with him the Tabernacle, which was carried by the priests, and he neither bade his father farewell nor allowed him to know of his departure. And this happened by the Dispensation of God the Most High, praise be unto Him! for the protection of the holy Tabernacle of His Covenant, so that it might abide for ever even as the Davidic kingdom, for even so did God make the promise to DAVID that the offspring of his loins should sit upon his throne for ever. And in this manner, enveloped in the protection of God, did the young man set out on his journey.
And it came to pass that, when the morning had come, the children of ISRAEL and the priests went into the House of God according to their wont to pray. And it came to pass that, when the priests had made an end of their prostrations and had presented their supplications unto the Governor of the Universe, the Tabernacle did not rise up into the air, and it did not p. lxi stir from its place. And they said, "Behold, some folk have sinned"; and they ordered fasting and prayer for three days, and they searched among the people to find out who had committed sin and folly, but they found no [guilty] person. And after this the priests went up to the Tabernacle, and O what calamity, and terror, and grief were there for them when they did not find the Tabernacle of the Covenant of God and its holy things, but only an empty case resting upon the place where the Tabernacle had stood! Then they knew that of a certainty the son of King SOLOMON had taken it away. And they searched and made an examination into the number of the priests who were among the tribes of ISRAEL, but they were not able to find those priests whom the young man had taken with him, and thus it became clear to them that the sin lay with them (i.e. the four priests).
And behold, the priests and the elders of ISRAEL went to SOLOMON the King, and they were weeping and sorrowing because of the absence of the Tabernacle of the Covenant of God from its Holy Shrine, and they said unto SOLOMON, "It is thou who hast commanded thy son to take the Tabernacle." And SOLOMON wept and cried out in pain, and displayed exceedingly great sorrow, and he swore an oath to them, saying that he had not given his son permission to do this thing, and that he had not bidden him farewell, and that he knew nothing whatsoever about his departure or when it took place. And the priests and elders answered, saying, "May the King live! If this thing hath taken place without thy wish and without thy permission, despatch thou with us armed soldiers that we may pursue him and take from him the holy Tabernacle of the Covenant of God, so that we may bring it back to His sacred House." And SOLOMON gave them soldiers, and money, and provisions, and they set out in quest of the young man, and they rode on their way continuously p. lxii for forty days. And they found merchants riding towards them on their return journey, and they enquired of them concerning the Tabernacle, and whether they had seen it. And the merchants answered them, saying, "We have seen a great king and his numerous soldiers, and the Box of the Covenant of God was with them. And they were travelling along like the clouds when they are driven before the attack of mighty winds for a very long distance at a time, and the natives of the villages through which we have passed informed us that they travelled each day the distance of a forty days' journey." And they returned defeated and disheartened, and weeping and regretting; but regret in no way helped them. And behold, the young man arrived in his country safe and sound, and his mother met him, and she abdicated in his favour, and he rose up as king on the throne of DAVID his father, and the kingdom of ABYSSINIA belonged to the throne of DAVID for ever and ever, and the Tabernacle of the Covenant of God remained therein.
This is what happened in respect of the Tabernacle of the Lord, and this is the reason why it was transferred to the country of the NĔGÛS; and this state of affairs continued until the birth of our Lord JESUS CHRIST of the pure MARY. And He completed His Dispensation upon earth and set free ADAM and his posterity. And after His Ascension into heaven the Disciples preached the Gospel in His Name in all the earth. And concerning the story of the eunuch, the Deputy of ḲANDÂḲES, it is related that the cause of his visit to JERUSALEM was to pray [there]. And on his return journey the Holy Spirit sent to him the Apostle PHILIP, and the eunuch believed and was baptized; and when he went back to his native land he preached CHRIST therein, and all the people believed through him. And after this PÂRMENÂS, one of the Seven, went to them, and he baptized them, and consecrated for them priests and deacons, and he p. lxiii ordained that their Father should be of the throne of MARK the Evangelist. And the orthodox Faith was established in the country of ABYSSINIA, and the sovereignty of [the house of] DAVID remained fixed therein for ever and ever. Glory, and praise, and majesty, and honour, and supplication be unto the Holy Trinity for ever and ever! Amen. This is what is found [written] in the Histories of the ancient Fathers of the Coptic Church. Praise be unto the Giver of understanding and wisdom to His creatures; may His mercy be upon us for ever!
Legends of SOLOMON and the Queen of SHEBA in the ḲUR’ÂN and in Muhammadan literature
The author, or editor, of the ḲUR’ÂN devoted a considerable section of Surah XXVII to the correspondence that passed between the Queen of SHEBA and King SOLOMON, and to their interviews. Among the many gifts that God bestowed upon SOLOMON were the understanding of the speech of birds, and knowledge of every kind. He was the lord of men, genii and birds. When he travelled through the air on his magical carpet of green silk, which was borne aloft by the wind according to the King's direction, the men stood on the right of it, and the spirits on the left, and a vast army of birds of every kind kept flying over the carpet to protect its occupants from the heat of the sun. One day when he was reviewing the birds he perceived that the lapwing was absent, and he asked why she was absent, and threatened to punish her for not making her appearance with the other birds. Very soon after he had spoken the lapwing appeared, and she excused herself for her absence by saying that she had been looking upon a country that the king had never seen, and that she had seen SÂBA, which was ruled over by a queen called "BALḲÎS", who was very rich, and who sat upon a throne made of gold and silver and set with precious stones, p. lxiv eighty cubits long, forty cubits broad, and thirty cubits high. The queen and her people were idolaters and worshipped the sun, and they were under the influence of SATAN, who had turned them from the right way. Thereupon SOLOMON wrote the following letter to the Queen of SHEBA: "From the servant of God, SOLOMON, the son of DAVID, unto BALḲÎS (###) Queen of SHEBA. In the Name of the most merciful God. Peace be unto him who followeth the true direction. Rise not up against me, but come and render yourselves unto me." Having perfumed this letter with musk and sealed it with his wonderful seal, SOLOMON gave it to the lapwing and told the bird to go and drop it in SÂBA, and to turn aside afterwards and wait for the Queen's answer. The lapwing departed and delivered the letter, some saying that she flew into the Queen's private apartment through the window, and others that she dropped the letter into the Queen's bosom1 as she was standing surrounded by her army. Having read the letter the Queen called upon her nobles to advise her what to do, but they reminded her that they were soldiers, who were ready to march against SOLOMON if she ordered them to do so, and that the letter was addressed to her and she must make the decision. Wishing to avoid invasion and the evils that would follow in its train, the Queen decided to send gifts to SOLOMON, and she despatched forthwith five hundred male and five hundred female slaves, five hundred ingots of gold, a crown studded with precious stones, and a large quantity of musk, amber, spices, precious woods, etc. The lapwing returned quickly to SOLOMON and told him what had happened, and that an embassy from the Queen bearing gifts was on its way. When the men of SÂBA arrived they were received by SOLOMON in a large square surrounded by a wall, the p. lxv bricks of which were made of gold and silver. SOLOMON spoke slightingly of the Queen's gifts and sent the embassy back, bidding them tell their mistress that he would send invincible troops against her city, and that they would capture it and expel its inhabitants in disgrace. When BALḲÎS received this message, she determined to go to SOLOMON and to tender her submission to him, and having locked up her throne in a certain strong fortress, and set a guard over it to protect it, she set out for JERUSALEM, accompanied by a large army. Whilst she was on her way SOLOMON said one day to his nobles, "Which of you will bring the Queen's throne here to me before she and her company arrive?" And an ‛IFRÎT, one of the genii, whose aspect was most terrible, and who was called DHAKWÂN ### or ṢAKHR, ### , said, "I will bring it to thee before thou hast finished thy session. Now SOLOMON used to sit in judgment until noon daily.1 Some one who had knowledge of books and who was present seemed to think that the ‛IFRÎT was demanding too much time in which to fulfil the King's urgent wish, and he said, I will bring thee the throne before thou canst cast thine eyes on an object and remove them again." The commentators are in doubt about the identity of the person who made this offer to SOLOMON, for some say he was ÂṢAF, the son of BARKHÎYÂ, the wazîr of SOLOMON, and others that he was KHIDHR (ELIJAH), or GABRIEL, or some other angel, or even SOLOMON himself.2 It is generally thought that the person was ÂṢAF, for he knew the ineffable Name of God. Be this as it may, SOLOMON accepted the offer, and raising his eyes to heaven brought them down quickly to earth again, and when his eyes rested on the earth he saw the throne of BALḲÎS standing before him. Then SOLOMON had the throne altered, with the view of preventing her knowing her own throne when she p. lxvi arrived. When BALḲÎS came into his presence, he pointed to the throne, saying, "Is thy throne like unto this?" And she replied, "It is all one with this." Then BALḲÎS was invited to go into the palace which SOLOMON had built specially for her reception. The walls were made of blocks of white glass, and the floor was made also of glass, over which water flowed, and in the running water fishes swam. When BALḲÎS turned to enter the palace and saw the water, thinking that it was deep, she drew up the skirts of her garments before attempting to walk through it. By this act she uncovered her legs, and SOLOMON had proof that the rumour that the feet and legs of BALḲÎS were covered with hair like the coat of an ass, was true. The sight of the glass building with its floor of glass amazed BALḲÎS, who said, "O Lord, verily I have dealt unjustly with my own soul, and I resign myself, together with SOLOMON, unto God, the Lord of all creatures." Some commentators think that the Queen uttered these words partly in repentance for having worshipped the sun, and partly through fear of being drowned in the water which she saw before her. JALÂL AD-DÎN says that SOLOMON thought of marrying BALḲÎS, but could not bring himself to do so because of the hair on her feet and legs. The devils who were always in attendance on SOLOMON removed the hair by the use of some infernal depilatory,1 but it is doubtful if even then SOLOMON married her. AL-BEIDHAWÎ says that it is very doubtful who married BALḲÎS, but is inclined to think that it was one of the chiefs of the Hamdân tribe.2
Modern Legends of SOLOMON and the Queen of SHEBA
A curious and interesting legend of the way in which King SOLOMON became the father of MENYELEK is found in a number of slightly varying versions among many of p. lxvii the tribes of Northern ABYSSINIA.1 According to this the mother of MENYELEK was a Tigrê girl called ĔTĔYÊ AZÊB (i.e. Queen of the South), and her people worshipped a dragon or serpent, to which each man in turn had to present as an offering his eldest daughter, and large quantities of sweet beer and milk. When the turn of her parents came they tied her to a tree where the dragon used to come for his food, and soon after this seven saints came and seated themselves under the tree for the sake of the shade it gave. As they sat a tear dropped from the maiden above them, and when they looked up and saw her bound to the tree they asked her if she was a human being or a spirit, and she told them that she was a human being and, in answer to a further question, she told them that she was bound to the tree so that she might become food for the dragon. When the seven saints saw the dragon, one of them, Abbâ TCHÊḤAMÂ, plucked at his own beard, another, Abbâ GARÎMÂ exclaimed "He hath frightened me", and a third, Abbâ MENṬELÎT, cried out, "Let us seize him"; and he forthwith attacked the monster, and aided by his companions they killed him by smiting him with a cross. As they were killing him some blood spurted out from him and fell on the heel of ĔTĔYÊ AZÊB, and from that moment her heel became like the heel of an ass. The saints untied her fetters and sent her to her village, but the people drove her away, thinking that she had escaped from the dragon, and she climbed up into a tree and passed the night there. On the following day she fetched some people from the village and showed them the dead dragon, and they straightway made her their chieftainess, and she chose for her chief officer a maiden like herself. Soon after this ĔTĔYÊ AZÊB heard a report of the medical skill of King SOLOMON, and she determined p. lxviii to go to him so that he might restore her deformed heel to its original shape. She and her chief officer dressed their hair after the manner of men, and girded on swords, and departed to the Court of SOLOMON at JERUSALEM. Her arrival was announced to SOLOMON, who ordered his servants to bring the King of ABYSSINIA into his presence, and as soon as her deformed foot touched the threshold it recovered its natural form. SOLOMON had bread, meat, and beer brought in and set before the two women who were disguised as men, but they ate and drank so little that SOLOMON suspected that his guests were women. When night fell he caused two beds to be made for his guests in his own bedroom, and he hung up in the room a skin with honey[comb] in it, and he pierced the skin and the honey dropped down into a bowl set there to catch it, and SOLOMON and his guests betook themselves to their beds. At night the king was accustomed to keep vigil with his eyes closed, and to sleep with them half-open, and thus when the two women, who were longing to get off their beds and to go and drink honey from the bowl, saw him with his eyes half-open they thought that the king was awake, and they curbed their desire for the honey and lay still. After a time the king woke up and closed his eyes, but the women, thinking he was asleep, rose from their beds and went to the bowl of honey and began to eat. By this SOLOMON knew that his two guests were women, and he got up and went with them to their beds and lay with both of them. When he left them he gave to each woman a silver staff and a ring, and he said, "If the child be a girl let her take this staff and come to me, and if it be a boy let him take the ring and come to me"; and each woman being with child returned to her own country. In due course each woman gave birth to a son, and each told her child that SOLOMON was his father. When the boys grew up their mothers sent them to JERUSALEM, and the Queen of SHEBA gave her son, who p. lxix resembled SOLOMON in every way, a mirror which she had brought when she visited SOLOMON, and told him to go with it to the king, who would hide from him, and not to speak to any other man who might be sitting on his throne. When the two youths arrived in JERUSALEM and SOLOMON knew that they claimed to be his sons, he gave orders for them to wait for an interview, and kept them waiting for three years. At the close of the third year he arrayed a friend in his royal robes, and seated him upon his throne, whilst he dressed himself in rags and went and sat in a stable, and then ordered the two young men to be admitted to the presence. When the young men entered the throne room the son of the Queen of SHEBA'S minister grasped the hand of the man on the throne, who personified SOLOMON, thinking that he was the king, but the son of the Queen of SHEBA, who was called "MENYELEK", stood upright and made no obeisance, and when he looked in the mirror which his mother had given him, and saw that the features of the occupant of the throne were entirely different from his own, he knew that he was not standing in the presence of SOLOMON. Then he turned about in all directions and looked at all the faces that were round about him, and found none resembling his own; after a time he looked up and saw SOLOMON gazing at him from the stable, and he knew him at once, and went to the stable and did homage to him as king. And SOLOMON said, "My true son! The other is also my son, but he is a fool." MENYELEK then took up his abode in JERUSALEM and assisted SOLOMON in ruling the kingdom, but after a time the people found that father and son did not always agree in their judicial decisions, and they became dissatisfied. On one occasion in the case of a trespass of cattle the king decided that the owner of the field might confiscate the cattle which had trespassed, but MENYELEK ordered him to accept six measures of grain instead of confiscating the cattle. p. lxx Thereupon the people told the king that they would not be ruled by two chiefs, and that he must send his son back to his native country. When SOLOMON told his son of the people's complaint MENYELEK advised his father to say to them, "Is not MENYELEK my first-born son? I will send him away if you will send your first-born sons with him"; and the people agreed to send their first-born sons to ABYSSINIA with MENYELEK. When SOLOMON was arranging for MENYELEK'S departure he told him to take the Ark of MICHAEL with him, but MENYELEK, believing the Ark of MARY to be of greater importance, changed the covers of the two Arks, and took with him the Ark of MARY. A few days after the departure of MENYELEK a storm visited JERUSALEM, and SOLOMON told his servants to find out if the Ark of MARY was in its place, presumably with the idea of securing its protection against the storm. His servants went and looked and, seeing an Ark with the cover of MARY'S Ark upon it, assumed that it was the Ark of MARY, and reported to SOLOMON that the Ark of MARY was in its place. He then told them to take off the cover, and when they had done so they found that the Ark was MICHAEL'S, and though SOLOMON sent a messenger after MENYELEK to bring back the Ark of MARY, his son refused to give it up. Meanwhile MENYELEK and his party went on their way, and when they arrived at ḲAYĔḤ KÔR, a deacon who was carrying the Ark of MARY died, and was buried there. After the burial they wished to resume their journey, but the Ark of MARY refused to move. They then dug up the deacon's body, and laid it in a coffin, and buried it again, but still the Ark refused to move, and when MENYELEK again ordered them to dig up the body, they found a finger of the deacon outside the coffin. When they had placed the deacon's finger in the coffin with the rest of his body, the Ark of MARY allowed itself to be moved, and MENYELEK and his companions went on their way. In due course they came to TEGRÂY and p. lxxi arrived in AKSÛM, where they found SATAN building a house to fight against God. When they told him that the Ark of MARY had come he stopped building, threw down what he had built, and went away; and the stones which he had collected were used by MENYELEK in building a church to hold the Ark of MARY. One very large stone, which SATAN was carrying to his building when the news came of the arrival of the Ark of MARY, was dropped by him at once, and at the present day that stone stands on the same spot on which he dropped it.
The Contents of the KEBRA NAGAST Described
The book opens with an interpretation and explanation of the Three Hundred and Eighteen Orthodox Fathers concerning the children of ADAM, and the statement that the Trinity lived in ZION, the Tabernacle of the Law of God, which God made in the fortress of His holiness before He made anything else. The Trinity agreed to make man in God's image, and the Son agreed to put on the flesh of ADAM; man was made to take the place of SATAN and to praise God. In due course CHRIST, the second ADAM, was born of the flesh of MARY the Virgin, the Second ZION (Chap. 1).
In Chap. 2 ISAAC, the translator of the Ethiopic text, next quotes GREGORY the Illuminator, the son of ANAG, a native of BALKH, who was born about 257 A.D. and died about 330. Whilst GREGORY was suffering the tortures inflicted upon him by TIRIDATES III he pondered on the question, Of what doth the glory of kings consist? In the end he came to the conclusion that ADAM'S kingship bestowed upon him by God was greater than that of any of the Kings of ARMENIA.
Chaps. 3-6 deal with the birth of CAIN and ABEL; the face of CAIN was sullen and that of ABEL good tempered, and ADAM made ABEL his heir because of his pleasing countenance. CAIN and ABEL had twin sisters. CAIN'S p. lxxii sister LĔBHÛDHÂ had a good- tempered face, and ADAM gave her in marriage to ABEL; ABEL'S sister ḲALÎMATH had a sullen face like CAIN, and ADAM gave her in marriage to CAIN.1 Moved by SATAN to envy, and filled with wrath against ADAM for taking his twin sister from him, CAIN rose up and slew ABEL. ADAM was consoled for ABEL'S death by the birth of Seth. The descendants of CAIN were wicked men, and neglected God, and passed their time in singing lewd songs to stringed instruments and pipes and they lived lawless and abominable lives. ISAAC credits them with having produced the mule, and condemns the crossing of mares with asses. In the tenth generation from ADAM NOAH lived, and he refused to deal in any way with the children of CAIN, whose arrogance, pride, fraud, deceit, and uncleanness cried aloud to heaven. At length God sent the Flood, which destroyed everything on the earth except Eight Souls, and seven of every clean beast, and two of every unclean beast (Chap. 8). God made a covenant with NOAH not to destroy the earth again by a flood, and when NOAH died SHEM succeeded him (Chaps. 9 and 10). In Chap. 11 we have another declaration by the 318 Orthodox Fathers that: 1. The Tabernacle of the Law (i.e. the Ark of the Covenant) was created before the heavens, the earth and its pillars, the sea, and men and angels; 2. It was made by God for His own abode; 3. It is on the earth. The ZION wherein God dwelt in heaven before the creation was the type and similitude of the VIRGIN MARY.
The seven sons of CANAAN, who were the sons of HAM, seized seven cities that belonged to SHEM'S children, but eventually had to relinquish them. The nations seized by CANAAN'S sons were the CANAANITES, the PERIZZITES, the HIVITES, the HITTITES, the AMORITES, the JEBUSITES, the GIRGASITES. In the days of TERAH men made p. lxxiii magical images, and placed on the tombs of their fathers statues, out of which devils spake and commanded them to offer up their sons and daughters as sacrifices to "filthy devils" (Chap. 12). TERAH'S son ABRAHAM, having proved for himself the powerlessness of idols, smashed the idols which his father sent him to sell, and then called upon the Creator of the Universe to be his God. A chariot of fire appeared (Chap. 13) and with it God, Who made a covenant with him, and told him to depart to another country. ABRAHAM took his wife, and departed to SALEM, where he reigned in righteousness according to God's command. He had a bodyguard of eighteen1 stalwart men who wore crowns and belts of gold, and gold-embroidered tunics.
ISAAC and JACOB pleased God in their lives (Chap. 15), but REUBEN transgressed and the succession passed from him (Chap. 16); under the curse of JACOB, with whose concubine BILHAH REUBEN had lain, the children of REUBEN became leprous and scabby.
Chap. 17 describes the glory of ZION, i.e. the Tabernacle of the Law of God which God brought down from heaven to earth, and showed MOSES, and ordered him to make a copy of it. MOSES therefore made a box of acacia wood two and a half cubits long, one and a half cubits broad and one and a half cubits deep, i.e. a portable shrine measuring 3 ft. 9 in. by 2 ft. 3 in. by 2 ft. 3 in. or 4 ft. 2 in. by 2 ft. 6 in. by 2 ft. 6 in. In this shrine he placed the Two Tables of the Covenant, a gold pot containing one omer of manna, and the wonderful rod of AARON, which put forth buds when it was withered. This rod had been broken in two places and was in three pieces, and each piece became a separate and complete rod (see p. 13 and Exod. xvi. 33, 34; Hebrews ix. 2; Numbers xvii. 10). We may note that in 2 Chron. v. 10, it is said that there was nothing in the Ark except p. lxxiv the Two Tables which MOSES put therein in HOREB. MOSES covered the Ark with gold, inside and outside, and made all the vessels, hangings, &c., according to the patterns given to him by God. But there was something else in the Ark made by MOSES. By God's orders he made a case, presumably of gold, in the shape of the "belly of a ship" (p. 15), and in this the Two Tables were to rest. As the VIRGIN MARY is called the "new ship who carried the wealth of the world", this "belly of a ship" was a type of her. The case for the Two Tables symbolized her womb, the case carried the Word cut on stone, and MARY carried the Living Word incarnate. And the Ark made by MOSES was the abode of God, Who dwelt with the Two Tables.
With Chap 19 ISAAC, the translator of the KEBRA NAGAST, begins a long extract from an apocryphal work which "DOMITIUS, Archbishop of CONSTANTINOPLE", says he found among the manuscripts in the library of Saint SOPHIA. I have failed to identify either DOMITIUS or the work he quotes. According to this work the Emperor of ETHIOPIA and the Emperor of RÔMÊ (i.e. BYZANTIUM) are the sons of SHEM, and they divide the world between them (Chap. 20). From the same work we have a description of MÂKĔDÂ the "Queen of the South" (Matt. xii. 42), who was shrewd, intelligent in mind, beautiful in face and form, and exceedingly rich. She carried on a large business on land by means of caravans, and on sea by means of ships, and she traded with the merchants of INDIA and NUBIA and ASWÂN (SYENE). As the Queen came from the south her home was probably in Southern ARABIA, and she is far more likely to have been of ARAB than ETHIOPIAN origin. The head of her trading caravans was TÂMRÎN, a clever man of affairs who directed the operations of 520 camels and 73 ships (Chap. 22). At this time SOLOMON wanted gold, ebony and sapphires for the building of the Temple of God in JERUSALEM, and he opened negotiations p. lxxv with TÂMRÎN for the supply of the same. TÂMRÎN loaded his camels and took his goods to SOLOMON, who proved to be a generous customer, and his wisdom and handsome appearance and riches greatly impressed the merchant from the South. TÂMRÎN saw with amazement that SOLOMON was employing 700 carpenters and 800 masons on the building of the Temple (Chaps. 22, 23). When TÂMRÎN returned to his mistress he told the Queen all that he had seen at JERUSALEM, and day by day he described to her SOLOMON'S power and wisdom and the magnificence of the state in which he lived. Little by little, desire to see this wonderful man and to imbibe his wisdom grew in the Queen's mind, and at length she (Chap. 24) decided to go to JERUSALEM. Thereupon 797 camels and mules and asses innumerable were loaded, and she left her kingdom, and made her way direct to JERUSALEM.
When the Queen met SOLOMON she gave him rich presents, (Chap. 25), and he established her in a lodging, and supplied her with food and servants and rich apparel. The Queen was fascinated as much by his wisdom as by his physical perfections, and she marvelled at the extent and variety of his knowledge. When she saw him instructing the mason, the carpenter, the blacksmith, and directing all the workmen, and at the same time acting as judge and ruler of his people and household, her astonishment was unbounded.
During her stay in JERUSALEM MÂKĔDÂ conversed daily (Chaps. 26, 27) with SOLOMON, and she learned from him about the God of the Hebrews, the Creator of the heavens and the earth. She herself worshipped the sun, moon and stars, and trees, and idols of gold and silver, but under the influence of SOLOMON'S beautiful voice and eloquent words she renounced ṢÂBÂISM, and worshipped not the sun but the sun's Creator, the God of ISRAEL (Chap. 28). And she vowed that her seed after her should adore the Tabernacle of the God of ISRAEL, p. lxxvi the abode of God upon earth. MÂKĔDÂ and SOLOMON exchanged visits frequently and the more she saw of him the more she appreciated his wisdom. The birds and the beasts also came to hear his wisdom, and SOLOMON talked to them, each in his own language, and they went back to their native lands and told their fellow creatures what they had seen and heard.
At length MÂKĔDÂ sent a message to SOLOMON, saying that the time had arrived for her to return to her own country. When SOLOMON heard this he pondered deeply and determined to company with her, for he loved her physical beauty and her shrewd native intelligence, and he wished to beget a son by her. SOLOMON had 400 wives and 600 concubines,1 and among them were women from SYRIA, PALESTINE, the DELTA, UPPER EGYPT and NUBIA. Our translator, ISAAC, excuses SOLOMON for his excessive love of women, and says that he was not addicted to fornication, but only took these thousand women to wife that he might get sons by each of them. These children were to inherit the countries of his enemies and destroy idolaters. Moreover, SOLOMON lived under the Law of the Flesh, for the Holy Spirit was not given to men in his time. In answer to MÂKĔDÂ'S message SOLOMON sent her an invitation to a splendid banquet, which the Queen accepted, and she went to a place which he had prepared specially for her in the great tent (Chap. 29). The courses were ten in number, and the dishes were dainty, highly seasoned, and abundant, and the Queen was satisfied with their smell only. The tent was furnished with truly Oriental magnificence, scented oils had been sprinkled about with a lavish hand, the air was heavy with the perfumes of burning myrrh and cassia, and the Queen ate and drank heartily. When all the other guests had departed and SOLOMON and MÂKĔDÂ were alone, the King showed her a couch and invited her to sleep p. lxxvii there. MÂKĔDÂ agreed on the condition that he did not attempt to take her by force, and in reply SOLOMON said that he would not touch her provided that she did not attempt to take anything that was in his house. Thereupon each vowed to respect the property of the other, and the Queen lay down to sleep. After a short time the highly-spiced meats began to have their effect, and the Queen was seized with violent thirst (Chap. 30). She got up and searched for water but found none. At length she saw a vessel of water by the King's bed, and thinking that he was asleep, she went and took up the vessel and was about to drink when SOLOMON jumped up, and stopped her, and accused her of breaking her oath not to steal anything of his. The agony of thirst was so great that the Queen retracted her oath, and SOLOMON allowed her to drink her fill, and then she retired with him to his couch and slept there. MÂKĔDÂ was a virgin Queen and had reigned over her country six years, when SOLOMON took her to wife. That same night SOLOMON saw a dream in which the sun came down from heaven, and shone brilliantly over ISRAEL, and then departed to ETHIOPIA to shine there for ever. Then a Sun far more brilliant came down and shone over ISRAEL, and the ISRAELITES rejected that Sun and destroyed it, and buried it; but that Sun rose again and ascended into heaven, and paid no further heed to ISRAEL. When SOLOMON understood the meaning of that vision he was greatly disturbed and troubled in his mind, for he knew that the departure of the sun from ISRAEL typified the departure of God.
At length MÂKĔDÂ departed from JERUSALEM, but before she left, SOLOMON gave her six thousand wagonloads of beautiful things, two specially constructed vehicles, one in which to travel over the sea, and one in which to travel through the air. Thus SOLOMON anticipated the motor boat and the airship. Besides all these things SOLOMON gave her the ring that was on his p. lxxviii little finger (Chap. 31), as a token whereby she might remember him.
Nine months and five days after MÂKĔDÂ bade SOLOMON farewell she brought forth a man child, and in due course she arrived in her own country, where she was received with great joy and delight. She called her son BAYNA-LEḤKEM, i.e. IBN AL-ḤAKÎM, "the son of the wise man", and he grew into a strong and handsome young man. At the age of twelve he questioned his mother as to his parentage, and in spite of rebuffs by her he continued to do so until she told him; ten years later no power could keep him in his own country, and MÂKĔDÂ sent him to JERUSALEM, accompanied by her old chief of caravans, TÂMRÎN (Chaps. 32, 33). With him she sent a letter to SOLOMON, telling him that in future a king should reign over her country, and not a virgin queen, and that her people should adopt the religion of ISRAEL. Finally she sent salutations to the Tabernacle of the Law of God, and begged SOLOMON to send her a portion of the fringe from the Covering of ZION, so that it might be treasured by her as a holy possession for ever. In saying farewell to her son, MÂKĔDÂ gave him the ring which SOLOMON had given her, so that if necessary he might use it as a proof that he was the son of MÂKĔDÂ by SOLOMON.
When the young man arrived at GÂZÂ, a district which SOLOMON had given to the Queen of SHEBA (Chap. 34), all the people were astonished at his close resemblance to SOLOMON, and some of them went so far so to declare that he was SOLOMON in person. The minds of the people were much exercised about the matter, and messengers were sent to SOLOMON from GÂZÂ announcing the arrival of a merchant who resembled him in face and features, and in form and stature, and in manners and carriage and behaviour. At that time SOLOMON was depressed, by reason of the miscarriage of his plans in respect of obtaining a large posterity, like "the stars p. lxxix of heaven and the sands on the seashore." He had married one thousand women, meaning to beget by them one thousand sons, but God only gave him three children! Therefore, when he heard of the arrival of the young merchant who resembled himself, he knew at once that it was his son by the Queen of SHEBA who had come to see him, and he sent out BENAIAH, the son of JEHOIADA, to meet him and to bring him to JERUSALEM (Chap. 35). In due course BENAIAH met BAYNA-LEḤKEM, and he and his fifty guards escorted him into the presence of SOLOMON, who acknowledged him straightway, and embraced him, and kissed him on his forehead and eyes and mouth (Chap. 36). He then took him into his chamber and arrayed him in gorgeous apparel, and gave him a belt of gold and a gold crown, and set a ring upon his finger, and when he presented him to the nobles of ISRAEL, they accepted him as SOLOMON'S son and brought gifts to him. Then BAYNA-LEḤKEM produced the ring which he had brought from his mother and gave it to SOLOMON, who said that it was unnecessary, for his face and stature proclaimed that he was his son.
Soon after this TÂMRÎN had an audience of SOLOMON, and he asked him to anoint BAYNA-LEḤKEM king, to consecrate and to bless him and then to send him back to his mother as soon as possible, for such was her desire. This old and faithful servant was afraid that the luxurious living of SOLOMON'S house would have an ill effect upon his future king, and he was anxious to get him away from JERUSALEM as soon as possible. To this SOLOMON replied that after a woman had brought forth her son and suckled him she had nothing more to do with him, for a boy belongs to his father and a girl to her mother. And SOLOMON refused to give up his first-born son. But BAYNA-LEḤKEM himself was anxious to leave JERUSALEM (Chap. 36), and he begged SOLOMON to give him a portion of the fringe of the Tabernacle of the Law of God, and to let him depart. He had no wish to live p. lxxx as SOLOMON'S second son in JERUSALEM, for he knew that SOLOMON had another son, REHOBOAM, who was six years old at that time and had been begotten in lawful marriage, whilst he himself was the son of an unmarried mother. SOLOMON promised to give him the kingdom of ISRAEL, and wives and concubines, and argued and pleaded with him long and earnestly, but to no purpose (Chap. 37); BAYNA-LEḤKEM said that he had sworn by his mother's breasts to return to her quickly, and not to marry a wife in ISRAEL. To swear by a woman's breasts was a serious matter, and we have an echo of a somewhat similar ceremony in the Annals of the Nubian NASTASEN, King of NUBIA after 500 B.C. (?). This king paid a visit to the goddess BAST of TERT, his good mother, and he says that she gave him life, great old age, happiness, [and] her two breasts [on] the left (?) side, and placed him in her living, beautiful bosom."1 We may be certain that NASTASEN swore to do something in return for the gracious kindness of the goddess BAST.
When SOLOMON saw that it was impossible to keep BAYNA-LEḤKEM in JERUSALEM, he summoned the elders of ISRAEL (Chap. 38) and declared to them his intention of making the young man King of ETHIOPIA, and asked them to send their eldest sons with him to that far country to found a Jewish colony and kingdom there. The elders of course agreed to the king's request, and then ZADOK the priest and BENAIAH, the son of JEHOIADA, anointed BAYNA-LEḤKEM king in the Holy of Holies (Chap. 39); the name which he received at his anointing was DAVID [II], the name of his grandfather. Then SOLOMON commanded ZADOK to describe to the young King of ETHIOPIA the curses that would fall upon him if p. lxxxi he failed to obey God's commands (Chap. 40), and the blessings that would accrue to him if he performed the Will of God (Chap. 41). ZADOK did so, and then recited the Ten Commandments (Chap. 42) as given by MOSES, and a number of Hebrew laws concerning marriage, adultery, fornication, incest, sodomy, &c. The anointing of SOLOMON'S son to be king over ETHIOPIA was pleasing to the people, but all those whose first-born sons were to leave JERUSALEM with him sorrowed and cursed SOLOMON secretly in their hearts. In Chap. 43 we have a list of the names of those who were to hold positions of honour under DAVID II in ETHIOPIA, and Chap. 44 contains a series of warnings against abusing and reviling kings.
Now the children of ISRAEL who were to go to ETHIOPIA sorrowed greatly at the thought of leaving their country, but the matter that troubled them most was leaving the Tabernacle of the Law of God behind them (Chap. 45). At length AZARYAS suggested that they should take ZION with them, and having sworn his fellow sufferers to secrecy he declared to them the plan which he had devised. This was simple enough, for he determined to have a box made of the same size and shape as the Tabernacle, and when he had taken the Tabernacle out of the Holy of Holies, to set it in its place. He collected 140 double drachmas and employed a carpenter to construct the box he required. In the Arabic version of the story it is SOLOMON'S son who has the box made, and he puts the carpenter to death as soon as he had made it, knowing that dead men tell no tales. One night whilst these things were being carried out AZARYAS had a dream in which God told him to make BAYNA-LEḤKEM offer up a sacrifice before he departed to ETHIOPIA, and during the performance of the ceremony to bring the Tabernacle out from the Holy of Holies into the fore part of the Temple (Chap. 46). SOLOMON agreed to the offering being made, and provided animals for sacrifice (Chap. 47). When the offering had been made, the Angel of p. lxxxii the Lord appeared to AZARYAS (Chap. 48), and having opened the doors of the Holy of Holies with the keys which he had in his hand, he told him to go and bring in the box that had been made to replace the Tabernacle. When he had done this AZARYAS, and ELMEYAS, and ABESA, and MAKARI brought out the Tabernacle and carried it into the house of AZARYAS, and then they returned to the Temple and put together the box that was to replace the Tabernacle, and locked the doors, and came out. BAYNA-LEḤKEM, who was well acquainted with all that had been done, then went and bade SOLOMON farewell, and received his father's blessing (Chap. 49). Then AZARYAS set the Tabernacle ZION upon a wagon and covered it over with baggage of all kinds (Chap. 50), and accompanied by the cries of men, the wailings of women, the howlings of dogs, and the screams of asses, it was driven out of JERUSALEM. Both SOLOMON and his people knew instinctively that the glory of ISRAEL had departed with it. Then SOLOMON told ZADOK the priest to go into the Holy of Holies and bring out the covering of the Tabernacle, and to spread over the Tabernacle in its stead the new covering which he had had specially made for the purpose (Chap. 51); and thus saying he placed the new covering in the bands of the high priest. The Queen of SHEBA had asked him for a piece of the fringe of the covering of the Tabernacle, and she had repeated her request by the mouth of her son, and SOLOMON determined to send the complete covering to her. The text mentions the "five mice and ten emerods" which were given to ZION, but it is not clear whether SOLOMON meant them to be given to the Queen with the covering of the Tabernacle. Acting on SOLOMON'S instructions, ZADOK went and fetched the covering of the Tabernacle (Chap. 52), and gave it to BAYNA-LEḤKEM, or DAVID, together with a chain of gold.
Then the wagons were loaded, and BAYNA-LEḤKEM p. lxxxiii and his companions set out on their journey. The Archangel MICHAEL led the way, and he cut a path for them, and sheltered them from the heat. Neither man nor beast touched the ground with their feet, but were carried along above the ground with the speed of the bat and the eagle, and even the wagons were borne along without touching the earth (Chap. 52).
MICHAEL halted the company at GÂZÂ, which city SOLOMON had given to the Queen of SHEBA, and another day's march brought them to the frontier of EGYPT, and they encamped by "the River" (TAKKAZI), i.e. the NILE. Thus they had performed in one day a journey that generally took the caravans thirteen days to complete (Chap. 53). Whilst they were here his companions took the opportunity of revealing to DAVID the fact that they had carried off the Tabernacle ZION, and that it was there with them. AZARYAS told ELMEYAS to "beautify and dress our Lady", and when DAVID II saw her he rose up and skipped like a young sheep, and danced before the Tabernacle even as did his grandfather DAVID I (2 Sam. vi. 14). Then he stood up before ZION and made the address to her which is given in Chap. 54. When the natives heard that the Tabernacle of the Law of God was in their midst, they beat drums and played upon flutes and pipes, and the people shouted, and the pylons of the temples, and the idols that were in the forms of men, and dogs, and cats, fell down and were broken in pieces (Chaps. 54, 55). And AZARYAS dressed ZION, and spread their gifts before her, and he set her on a wagon with draperies of purple about her. On the following morning DAVID and his company resumed their journey, and men and beasts and wagons were all raised above the ground to the height of one cubit as before. They passed through the air like shadows, and the people ran alongside ZION and worshipped her. When they came to the RED SEA ZION passed over its waters, and the whole company were raised above p. lxxxiv them to a height of three cubits. The waves leaped up to welcome ZION, and the billows thundered forth praise of her, and the breakers roared their acclamations, and all the creatures in the sea worshipped her as she passed over them. In due course the company arrived at a place opposite Mount SINAI and encamped in KÂDÊS, and then passing through MEDYÂM and BÊLÔNTÔS they came to ETHIOPIA, where they were received with great rejoicings. The description of the route followed by DAVID II is very vague, and it is clear that ISAAC'S geographical knowledge was incomplete.
Meanwhile ZADOK had returned from the Temple in JERUSALEM to SOLOMON'S palace and found the king very sorrowful, for he had been thinking over the dream which he had twenty-two years before, and feared that the glory of ISRAEL had either departed or was about to depart. ZADOK was greatly troubled when he heard what the king's dream was, and prophesied woe to ISRAEL if the Tabernacle had been carried off by DAVID. SOLOMON asked him if he had made sure that the Tabernacle was in the Holy of Holies the day before when he removed the outside covering to give it to DAVID, and ZADOK said he had not done so (Chap. 56). Then SOLOMON told him to go at once and see, and when he had gone into the Holy of Holies he found there nothing but the box which AZARYAS had had made to take the place of the Tabernacle. When ZADOK saw that ZION had departed he fainted, and BENAIAH found him lying there like a dead man. When ZADOK revived he cast ashes on his head, and went to the doors of the Temple and in a loud voice bewailed the loss of the glory and protection of ISRAEL. When SOLOMON heard the news he commanded men to make ready to pursue those who had stolen ZION, and to slay them when they found them (Chap. 57). When the soldiers were ready SOLOMON set himself at their head, and his mounted scouts rode in all p. lxxxv haste to EGYPT, where they learned that the fugitives had left the place nine days before (Chap. 58). When SOLOMON himself arrived at GÂZÂ he found that the report which his scouts had made to him was true, and his heart sank. Near EGYPT he met envoys of PHARAOH who had been sent to him with presents, and he asked one of them for news of the thieves. This man told him that he had seen the company of DAVID II in CAIRO travelling through the air, and that all the statues of kings and gods in EGYPT had fallen down in the presence of the Tabernacle of ZION, and were dashed in pieces (Chap. 59). When SOLOMON heard this he returned to his tent and wept bitterly, and gave vent to the lamentations that form (Chap. 60).
When SOLOMON returned to JERUSALEM he went with the elders into the House of God, and he and ZADOK embraced each other and wept bitterly. Then they dried their tears and the elders made a long speech to SOLOMON in which they sketched the past history of the Ark of the Covenant, i.e. the Tabernacle ZION. They reminded him how the PHILISTINES captured it and carried it into the house of DAGON, and how they sent it away with sixty gold figures of mice, and sixty phalli, and how, when it came to JUDAH, the men of DAN slew the camels that drew the wagon on which it travelled, and cut up and burnt the wagon, and how it withdrew to its place and was ministered to by SAMUEL, and how it refused to be carried to the Valley of GILBOA, and how DAVID, the father of SOLOMON, brought it from SAMARIA to JERUSALEM. They proved to the king that the Tabernacle ZION could not have been carried off against God's will, and that if it was God's will it would return to JERUSALEM, and if it was not then it would not. Of one thing they were quite certain: the Tabernacle was able to take care of itself (Chap. 61).
When SOLOMON had heard all they had to say he agreed with them that the Will of God was irresistible, and p. lxxxvi called upon them to kneel down with him in the Holy of Holies (Chap. 62). When they had poured out prayer and supplication and dried their tears, SOLOMON advised them to keep the matter of the theft a secret among themselves, so that the uncircumcised might not boast over their misfortune. At his suggestion the elders set up the box which AZARYAS had made, and covered the boards over with gold, and decorated the box with coverings, and placed a copy of the Book of the Law inside it in lieu of the Two Tables. They remembered that JERUSALEM the free was as the heavens, and that their own earthly JERUSALEM was the Gate of Heaven, and they determined to do God's Will so that He Himself might be ever with them to watch over ISRAEL and to protect His people. The suggestion is that God would be a better protector than even the Tabernacle ZION.
But the loss of the Tabernacle ZION had a sad effect upon SOLOMON, for his love for God waned, and his wisdom forsook him, and he devoted himself to women during the last eleven years of his life. He married MÂḲSHÂRÂ, an Egyptian princess, who first seduced his household into worshipping her idols, and then worked upon him with her beauty in such a way that he tolerated all she said and did (Chap. 63). When she knew that DAVID II had stolen the Tabernacle ZION, she reminded SOLOMON that his Lady ZION had been carried off, and that it would be better for him now to worship the gods of her fathers; but for a time he refused to forsake the God of ISRAEL. One day, however, overcome by her beauty he promised to do whatsoever she wished. Thereupon she tied a scarlet thread across the door of her gods, and she placed three locusts in the house of her gods. Then she called upon SOLOMON to enter without breaking the thread, and to kill the locusts and "pull out their necks." In some way, which I cannot explain, in doing this SOLOMON performed an act p. lxxxvii of worship of the Egyptian gods, and MÂḲSHÂRÂ was content; besides this, to enter into an Egyptian temple was an offence against the God of ISRAEL (Chaps. 64, 65). In spite of his weakness and sin, SOLOMON is regarded in some respects as a type of CHRIST, and as he committed no sin like that of his father DAVID in the matter of the murder of URIAH, he is enumerated with the Patriarchs (Chap. 66).
When SOLOMON was sixty years of age he fell sick, and the Angel of Death drew nigh to him, and he wept and prayed for mercy (Chap. 67). And the Angel of God came to him and rebuked him for his excessive love of women and for marrying alien women. In a long speech the Angel refers to SOLOMON'S three sons, i.e. DAVID and REHOBOAM and ’ADRÂMÎ, his son by a Greek slave, and then he shows him how JOSEPH, and MOSES, and JOSHUA, were types of CHRIST, and how CHRIST should spring from SOLOMON'S seed and redeem mankind. In Chap. 68 the Angel prophesies concerning the VIRGIN MARY, and narrates to SOLOMON the history of the Pearl which passed from the body of ADAM to ABRAHAM, ISAAC, JACOB, PEREZ, JESSE, DAVID, SOLOMON, REHOBOAM, and JOACHIM, who passed it into the body of ḤANNA, the mother of the VIRGIN MARY. Finally, the Angel told SOLOMON that MICHAEL would remain with the Tabernacle in ETHIOPIA, and he (GABRIEL) with REHOBOAM, and URIEL with ’ADRÂMÎ. And SOLOMON gave thanks to God, and asked the Angel when the Saviour would come (Chap. 69), and the Angel replied, "After three and thirty generations." When the Angel told him that the ISRAELITES would crucify the Saviour, and be scattered over the face of the earth, SOLOMON wept, and the words of his lamentations fill the rest of Chap. 69.
SOLOMON died, and ZADOK anointed REHOBOAM king, and when he had laid a wooden tablet,1 with SOLOMON'S
p. lxxxviii name inserted upon it, upon the Tabernacle, the people set him on the royal mule and cried, Hail! Long live the royal father (Chap. 70). Owing to REHOBOAM'S arrogant behaviour the people revolted, and they armed themselves and went to BÊTH EFRÂTÂ, and made JEROBOAM, the son of NEBAT, king over them. From REHOBOAM to JOACHIM, the grandfather of CHRIST, were forty-one generations. The VIRGIN MARY and JOSEPH the carpenter were akin, each being descended from DAVID, King of ISRAEL (Chap. 71).
According to traditions which ISAAC has grouped in Chap. 72, RÔM, RÔMÊ, or RÛM, i.e. BYZANTIUM, was originally the inheritance of JAPHET, the son of NOAH. He attributes the building of ANTIOCH, TYRE, PARTHIA (?) and CONSTANTINOPLE (?) to DARIUS, and says that from DARIUS to SOLOMON there were eighteen generations. One of his descendants, an astrologer and clockmaker called ZANBARÊS, prophesied that BYZANTIUM would pass into the possession of the sons of SHEM. His daughter married SOLOMON, who begot by her a son called ’ADRÂMÎ, and this son married ’ADLÔNYÂ, the daughter of BALṬASÔR, the King of BYZANTIUM. When ’ADRÂMÎ was living in BYZANTIUM with his wife, his father-in-law, wishing to test his ability as a judge, set him to try a difficult case of trespass on the part of a flock of sheep on the one side and unlawful detention of property on the other (Chap. 72). He decided the case in such a way as to gain the approval of BALṬASÔR, and in due course he reigned in his stead (Chap. 73). ISAAC further proves that the King of MEDYÂM (Chap. 74) and the King of BABYLON were SEMITES (Chap. 75). The narrative of KARMÎN and the false swearing of ZARYÔS and KÂRMÊLÔS, the flight of KARMÎN to BABYLON, the infidelity of the merchant's wife, and the exchange of children by the nurses, together make up a story more suitable for the "One Thousand Nights and a Night" than the KEBRA NAGAST. According to it NEBUCHADNEZZAR II p. lxxxix was the son of KARMÎN, and therefore a SEMITE; the etymology given of the name is, of course, wholly wrong (Chap. 76). In Chap. 77 ISAAC tries to show that the King of PERSIA was a SEMITE, and that he was descended from PEREZ, a son of TAMAR. The incestuous origin of the MOABITES and AMALEKITES, as described in GENESIS, is repeated in Chaps. 78 and 79.
In Chap. 80 is the history of SAMSON with details of an apocryphal character. According to this, SAMSON married a woman of the PHILISTINES, and so transgressed the Will of God. The PHILISTINES made him act the buffoon, and in revenge he pulled the roof down upon them and slew 700,000 of them, and 700,000 more with iron and stone, and wood and the jaw-bone of an ass. When SAMSON died he left DELILAH, the sister of MAKSÂBÂ, wife of ḲWÔLÂSÔN, King of the PHILISTINES, with child. After SAMSON had slain ḲWÔLÂSÔN the two sisters lived together, and in due course each brought forth a man child. The boys grew up together, and their mothers dressed them in rich apparel, and hung chains round their necks, and gave them daggers to wear. One day AKAMḤÊL, SAMSON'S son, asked his mother why he was not reigning over the city, and told her that he intended to reign over PHILISTIA. A little time later the two boys were eating with their mothers, and AKAMḤÊL took from the dish a piece of meat as large as his two hands, and began to eat it. ṬEBRÊLÊS, the son of MAKSÂBÂ, snatched a piece of the meat from him, whereupon AKAMḤÊL drew his dagger and cut off the head of ṬEBRÊLÊS, which fell into the dish. DELILAH seized the sword from the body of ṬEBRÊLÊS and tried to kill AKAMḤÊL, but he hid behind a pillar and in turn tried to kill her. When MAKSÂBÂ strove to pacify him he turned on the two women like a wild bear and drove them from the apartment. Before she left MAKSÂBÂ gave him purple cloths from her couch, and promised p. xc him the throne of PHILISTIA, and that evening AKAMḤÊL took possession of it and was acclaimed king. In Chaps. 82 and 83 the well-known story of ABRAHAM'S visit to EGYPT with SARAH is told, and a description of ISHMAEL'S kingdom is added.
ISAAC'S narrative now returns to MENYELEK. He and his company and ZION travelled from JERUSALEM to WAḲÊRÔ in one day, and he sent messengers to MÂKĔDÂ, his mother, to announce their arrival (Chap. 84). In due course he arrived at DABRA MÂKĔDÂ (AXUM ?), the seat of his mother's Government, where the Queen was waiting to receive him. He pitched his tent in the plain at the foot of the mountain, and 32,000 stalled oxen and bulls were killed and a great feast was made. Seven hundred swordsmen were appointed to watch over ZION (Chap. 85), and the Queen and all her people rejoiced. On the third day MÂKĔDÂ abdicated in favour of her son MENYELEK, and she handed over to him 17,700 fine horses and 7,700 mares, 1,700 mules, robes of honour, and a large quantity of gold and silver (Chap. 86). Further, she made the nobles swear that henceforth no woman should rule over ETHIOPIA (Chap. 87), and that only the male offspring of her son DAVID should be kings of that country. At the coming of ZION to ETHIOPIA the people cast away their idols, and abandoned divination, and sorcery, and magic, and omens, and repented with tears, and adopted the religion of the HEBREWS. MENYELEK swore to render obedience to his mother, and AZARYAS was to be high priest and ALMEYAS Keeper of ZION, the Ark of the Covenant. MENYELEK then related to MÂKĔDÂ the story of his anointing by ZADOK in JERUSALEM, and when she heard it she admonished him to observe the Will of God, and to put his trust in ZION; and she called upon AZARYAS and ALMEYAS to help him to follow the path of righteousness (Chap. 88). She then addressed a long speech to her nobles (Chap. 89) and the new ISRAELITES, and p. xci prayed to God for wisdom and understanding. Her prayer was followed by an edict ordering every man to forsake the religion and manners and customs which he had formerly observed, and to adopt the new religion under penalty of the confiscation of his property and separation from his wife and children. In Chaps. 90 and 91, AZARYAS makes an address to MÂKĔDÂ and praises her for her wisdom. He compares favourably the country of ETHIOPIA with JUDAH, and says that, although the ETHIOPIANS are black of face, nothing can do them any harm provided that God lighteth their hearts. He then proclaims a number of laws, derived for the most part from the Pentateuch, and appends a list of clean and unclean animals. Curiously enough, a short paragraph is devoted to the explanation of the Queen's name MÂKĔDÂ (page 161). When AZARYAS had finished his exhortations he made preparations to "renew the Kingdom of DAVID", King of ISRAEL, in ETHIOPIA (Chap. 92), and with the blowing of the jubilee trumpets and music and singing and dancing and games of all kinds, MENYELEK, or DAVID II, was formally proclaimed King of ETHIOPIA. The boundaries of his kingdom are carefully described. After the three months that followed the proclamation of MENYELEK'S sovereignty, the Law of the Kingdom and the Creed of the ETHIOPIANS were written, presumably upon skins, and deposited in the Ark of the Covenant as a "memorial for the later days" (Chap. 93). ISAAC says that the belief of the Kings of RÔMÊ (RÛMÎ) and that of the Kings of ETHIOPIA was identical for 130 years, but that after that period the former corrupted the Faith of CHRIST by introducing into it the heresies of NESTORIUS, ARIUS and others.
Soon after MENYELEK had established his kingdom, he set out, accompanied by the Ark of the Covenant and MÂKĔDÂ (Chap. 94), to wage war against his enemies. He attacked the peoples to the west, south, and east of his country, and invaded the lands of the NUBIANS, p. xcii EGYPTIANS, ARABIANS, and INDIANS; and many kings sent him tribute and did homage to him. The Ark of the Covenant went at the head of his army, and made the ETHIOPIANS victorious everywhere; many peoples were blotted out and whole districts laid waste. In Chap. 95 ISAAC couples the King of RÔMÊ with the King of ETHIOPIA, and condemns the JEWS for their ill-treatment of CHRIST, Who was born of the Pearl that was hidden in ADAM'S body when he was created. And ISAAC proclaims what the KEBRA NAGAST was written to prove, namely, that "the King of ETHIOPIA is more exalted and more honourable than any other king upon the earth, because of the glory and greatness of the heavenly ZION." Following several remarks, in which the JEWS are compared unfavourably with the ETHIOPIANS, comes a long extract from the writings of GREGORY, the "worker of wonders" (THAUMATURGUS), in which it is shown that the coming of CHRIST was known to the Prophets of ISRAEL, and passages from their books are quoted in support of this view. The beginning of all things was the Law which proclaimed CHRIST, and the Holy Spirit existed at the Creation. The brazen serpent was a symbol of CHRIST (Chap. 96). ABRAHAM was a type of God the Father, and ISAAC a symbol of CHRIST, the ram of sacrifice. EVE slew mankind, but the VIRGIN MARY gave them life. MARY was the "door", and that it was closed symbolized her virginity, which was God's seal upon her. She was the burning bush described by MOSES; she was the censer used by MOSES, the coals were CHRIST, and the perfume of the incense was His perfume (Chap. 97), on which prayer ascended to heaven. The chains of the censer were JACOB'S ladder. AARON'S rod was MARY, and the bud thereof was CHRIST (Chap. 98). The Ark made by MOSES was the abode of God on earth; it symbolized MARY, and the indestructible wood of which it was made symbolized the indestructible CHRIST. The pot that held the manna was MARY, and the manna was p. xciii the body of CHRIST; the Words of the Law also were CHRIST. The Pearl in MARY'S body was CHRIST. The rock smitten by MOSES was CHRIST, and MOSES smote it lengthwise and breadthwise to symbolize the Cross of CHRIST. MOSES' ROD was the Cross, the water that flowed from the rock was the teaching of the Apostles. The darkness brought upon EGYPT for three days symbolized the darkness of the Crucifixion. The AMALEKITES symbolized the devils, and AARON and HÔR, who held up MOSES' hands, symbolized the two thieves who were crucified with CHRIST. In a parable given in Chap. 99 a king symbolizes CHRIST, and SATAN an arrogant servant and ADAM a humble servant.
The history of the angels who rebelled is given in Chap. 100. These angels were wroth with God for creating ADAM, and they reviled God and ADAM because of his transgression. God reminded them that ADAM was only a creature made of dust and water and wind and fire, whilst they were made of air and fire. They were made specially to praise God, whilst ADAM could be influenced by SATAN; had they been made of water and dust they would have sinned more than ADAM. In answer the angels said, "Make us even as ADAM, and put us to the test "; and God gave them flesh and blood and a heart like that of the children of men. Thereupon they came down to earth, mingled with the children of CAIN, and gave themselves up to singing, dancing, and fornication. The daughters of CAIN scented themselves to please the men who had been angels, and were debauched by any and every man who cared to take them. And they conceived, but were unable to bring forth their children in the natural way, and the children split open their mothers' bodies and came forth. These children grew up into giants, and their "height reached unto the clouds." God bore with them for 120 years, and then the waters of the Flood destroyed them. He p. xciv told NOAH to build an Ark, and it was the wood of that Ark that saved him, as the wood of the Cross saved mankind when CHRIST died upon it.
In Chap. 101 God is made to declare by the mouth of MOSES that He is everywhere and in everything, and that everything supports itself on Him; He is the Master of everything, He fills everything, He is above the Seven Heavens and everything, He is beneath the deepest deep and the thickest darkness, and balances all creation. In Chap. 102 is a series of extracts from the Old and New Testaments which are to show that CHRIST was the Beginning, and that all things were made in and by Him. He was the Maker and Creator, the Light of Light, the God of God, the Refuge, the Feeder, and the Director. The Ark, or Tabernacle, symbolizes the horns of the altar and the tomb of CHRIST. The offering on the altar symbolizes and is the Body of CHRIST (Chap. 103). Returning to the Ark of NOAH (Chap. 104), the writer says that NOAH was saved by wood, ABRAHAM held converse with God in the wood of MANBAR, the thicket that caught the ram saved ISAAC, and the rods of wood that JACOB laid in running water saved him. The wood of the Ark made by MOSES was a means of salvation, even as was the wood of the Cross. The greater part of this Chapter appears to be a translation of a part of a homily by CYRIL, Archbishop of ALEXANDRIA, and it is possible that Chap. 105 is merely a continuation of Chap. 104. It deals with ABRAHAM'S visit to MELCHIZEDEK, who gave him the mystery of bread and wine, which is also celebrated in "our Passover." Prophecies concerning the Coming of CHRIST, collected from the Books of the Old Testament, are given in Chap. 106, but ISAAC or the copyists have made many mistakes as to their authorship, especially in the case of some of the Minor Prophets. Many appear to have been written down from memory. Another series of prophecies concerning CHRIST'S triumphal entry into p. xcv JERUSALEM is given in Chap. 107, and CHRIST is identified with the unicorn. Prophecies dealing with the wickedness of the JEWS are given in Chap. 108, Chap. 109 consists of prophecies concerning the Crucifixion; in Chaps. 110 and 111 many prophecies foretelling the Resurrection and Ascension of CHRIST and His Second Coming are enumerated. The Patriarchs and Prophets were forerunners and symbols of CHRIST (Chap. 112), especially ISAAC, JACOB, MOSES, JOSEPH, and JONAH.
The chariot containing ZION, i.e. the vehicle on which the Tabernacle of the Law was borne, was in ETHIOPIA, and the Cross, which was discovered by Queen Helena, was in RÔMÊ (RÛMÎ), and the Archbishops asked GREGORY how long the chariot of ZION and the Cross were to remain where they were (Chap. 113). GREGORY replied that the Persians would attack the King of RÔMÊ, and defeat him, and make him a prisoner, together with the horse of the Cross, which would go mad, and rush into the sea and perish. But the nails of the Cross would shine in the sea until the Second Coming of CHRIST. On the other hand, the chariot of ZION would remain in ETHIOPIA, and the ETHIOPIANS would continue to be orthodox to the end of the world. At the Second Coming of CHRIST the Tabernacle of the Law shall return to Mount ZION in JERUSALEM (Chap. 114), and it shall be opened, and the JEWS shall be made to look upon the Words of the Law that they have despised, the pot of manna, and the rod of AARON. Chap. 115 described the judgement which shall fall upon the JEWS, who shall repent when it is too late and shall be cast into hell. Of the CHRISTIANS those who have sinned shall be punished according to the degree of their sins. One day with God is as a thousand years; some shall be punished for a whole day, some for twelve hours, some for three, and some for one hour. Others shall be tried and acquitted. In answer to a further question of the Archbishops GREGORY repeats (Chap. 116) that the p. xcvi chariot of ZION shall remain in ETHIOPIA until the Second Coming of CHRIST, and prophesies the war which the King of RÔMÊ will wage in ARMENIA, and the war which the ETHIOPIANS will make on the JEWS of NÂGRÂN.1 The last Chapter (117) deals with the extermination of the JEWS and the ARMENIANS by the joint efforts of JUSTINUS, King of RÔMÊ, and KÂLÊB, King of ETHIOPIA, who are to meet in JERUSALEM, and exchange titles. The war of the ETHIOPIANS against the JEWS of NÂGRÂN is to be continued by GABRA MASḲAL or LÂLÎBALÂ, after his father KÂLÊB has adopted the monastic life in the Monastery of Abbâ PANTALERN, and their defeat by him is declared to be a certainty. Parts of the text of this Chapter are difficult to understand.
1 Printed about 1533.
2 A French translation from the Spanish version of this work appeared in Paris in 1558, folio.
1 De Abassinorum rebus deque Æthiopiae Patriarchis, Libri I-III, Leyden, 1615, 8vo, p. 35.
1 Travels to Discover the Source of the Nile in the years 1768-1773, containing a Journey through Egypt, the three Arabias and Ethiopia. First edition in five vols., 1790; second edition in six vols., in 1805; 3rd edition in seven vols., 1813.
2 Cat. Codd. MSS. Bibliothecae Bodleianae, Oxford, 1848, No. xxvi, p. 68.
3 Ibid., p. 74 (No. xxvii).
4 Fabula de Regina Sabaea apud Æthiopes. Dissertatio inauguralis. Halle (No date).
1 A description of the very ancient copy of the KEBRA NAGAST in the Bibliothèque Nationale, which Zotenberg assigned to the thirteenth century, was published by him in his Catalogue des MSS. Éthiopiens, Paris, 1877, No. 5, p. 6.
1 Chez la Reine de Saba, Paris, 1914, pp. 110-121.
2 Ibid., pp. 125-227; see also a rendering of the French into English by Mrs. J. Van Vorst, entitled Magda, Queen of Sheba, New York and London, 1907, 8vo.
1 Translated from the Arabic text printed by Bezold, op. cit., p. xliv ff. A French paraphrase of the Arabic was printed by Amélineau in his Contes et Romans, Paris, 1888, tom. I, pp. 144 ff.
1 Luke xi. 31; see also 1 Kings x. 1; 2 Chron. ix. 1.
1 Psalm cxxxii. 11 f.
1 Psalm xcv (xcvi). 10. See the Douay Version, vol. ii, p. 176, and Swete, Old Test. in Greek, vol. ii, p. 342.
1 Ali Beidhawî's Commentary on the Ḳur’ân (ed. Fleischer, pt. 3, p. 67).
1 Al-Beidhawî, op. cit., p. 68.
2 Ibid., p. 69.
1 Commentary of Jalâl ad-Dîn Muḥammad bin Aḥmad, Cairo edit. A.H. 1311, pt. 2, p. 60.
2 Ibid., p. 70.
1 See Littmann, Dr. E., The Legend of the Queen of Sheba in the Tradition of Axum, Leyden, 1904; Conti Rossini, Ricordi di un Soggiorno in Eritrea, Asmara, 1903.
1 See Malan, Book of Adam and Eve, London, 1882, p. 92 ff., and Bezold, Schatzöhle, Leipzig, 1883, p. 8.
1 In Genesis xiv. 14, ABRAHAM'S home-born armed servants numbered 318.
1 1 Kings xi. 3, says 700 wives, princesses, and 300 concubines.
. Budge, Annals of Nubian Kings, p. 153.
1 Several examples of such wooden tablets are exhibited among the Christian Antiquities in the White Wing of the British Museum.
1 See Pereira, Historia dos Martyres de Nagran, Lisbon, 1889.