David Menyelek and the Ark of the Covenant
(Thirteenth Century Ethiopian)
Chapter 17

Document is probably from an early manuscript, as the events described would have taken place around the time of Solomon, circa. 1000 B.C.E1. It is a legitimization of the Solomonic dynasty. (Note that the Davidic line ruled in Ethiopia until the 1970s.) As you read, look for references to fertility rites, traditional pagan religions, and matriarchy. With what are these traditional practices replaced?
48. The Ethiopians carried away the Ark of the Covenant. And behold the Angel of the Lord appeared again to Azaryas (Azariah, "the priest," 1 Kings 4:2) and he stood up above him like a pillar of fire, and he filled the house with his light. And he raised up Azaryas and said unto him, "Stand up, be strong, and rouse up thy brother Elmeyas, and Abesa, and Mikari, and take the pieces of wood and I will open for thee the doors of the sanctuary [of Solomon's Temple]. And take thou the Tabernacle of the Law of God [i.e. The Ark of the Covenant], and thou shalt carry it without trouble and discomfort. And I, inasmuch as I have been commanded by God to be with it forever, will be thy guide when thou shalt carry it away."

And Azaryas rose up straightway, and woke up the three men his brethren, and they took the pieces of wood, and went into the house of God--now they found all the doors open, both those that were outside and those that were inside--to the actual place where Azaryas found Zion, the Tabernacle of the Law of God; and it was taken away by them forthwith, in the twinkling of an eye, the Angel of the Lord being present and directing. And had it not been that God willed it Zion could not have been taken away forthwith. And the four of them carried Zion away, and they brought it into the house of Azaryas, and they went back into the house of God, and they set the pieces of wood on the place where Zion had been, and they covered them over with the covering of Zion, and they shut the doors, and went back to their houses. And they took lamps and set them in the place where [Zion] was hidden, and they sacrificed the sheep thereto, and burned offerings of incense thereto, and they spread purple cloths over it and set it in a secret place for seven days and seven nights.

[Azaryas and the other priests join David Menyelek, son of Solomon and the Queen of Sheba [i.e. The Queen of Ethiopia], and bring the Ark of the covenant to Egypt, up the Nile, and ultimately to Ethiopia.]

87. How the Nobles of Ethiopia took the Oath. And the Queen [of Sheba = Queen of Ethiopia] said unto her nobles: "Speak ye now, and swear ye, by the heavenly Zion that ye will not make women queens or set them upon the throne of the kingdom of Ethiopia, and that no one except the male seed of David [Menyelek, my son and], the son of Solomon the King, shall ever reign over Ethiopia, and that ye will never make women queens." And all the nobles of the king's house swore, and the governors, and the councilors, and the administrators.

And she made Elmeyas and Azaryas (Azariah) the chief of the priests and the chief of the deacons, and they made the kingdom anew, and the sons of the mighty men of Israel performed the Law, together with their King David, in the Tabernacle of Witness, and the kingdom was made anew. And the hearts of the people shone at the sight of Zion, the Tabernacle of the Law of God, and the people of Ethiopia cast aside their idols, and they worshipped their Creator, the God Who had made them. And the men of Ethiopia forsook their [evil] works, and loved the righteousness and justice that God loveth. They forsook their former fornications, and chose purity in the camp that was in the sight of the heavenly Zion. They forsook divination and magic, and chose repentance and tears for God's sake. They forsook augury by means of birds and the use of omens, and they returned to hearken unto God and to make sacrifice unto Him.

92. Hour they renewed the Kingdom of David Menyelek. And Azariah said, "Bring hither the jubilee trumpets, and let us go to Zion, and there we will make new the kingdom of our lord David." And he took the oil of sovereignty and filled the horn [therewith], and he anointed David with the unguent, that is to say, with the oil of sovereignty. And they blew horns and pipes and trumpets, and beat drums, and sounded all musical instruments, and there were singing and dancing and games, and [displays] with horses and shield[-men], and all the men and women of the people of the country of Ethiopia were present, small and great, and the little Blacks [Pygmies=Khosian], six thousand in number, and virgin women whom Azariah had chosen for the women of Zion by the law, whom David the King had destined for [the service of] the table and banquets in the royal fortress when he should go up thereto [clad in raiment of fine gold. And in this wise was renewed the kingdom of David [Menyelek], the son of Solomon the king of Israel, in the capital city, in Mount Makeda, in the House of Zion, when the Law of God was established for the first time by the King of Ethiopia. And then when he had completed the stablishing of the Law, they made, according to what they had seen in Jerusalem, the Law in the House of Zion for the nobles of the kingdom, and for those who were inside, and for those that were outside, and for the people, and for the islands, and for the cities, and for the provinces; and for all the inhabitants and for all their tribal kinsfolk: they made ordinances in the same manner.

From E. Budge, The Queen of Sheba and her Son Menyelek, (London: British Museum, 1922), pp.71-72, 14, 162-163.

  1. Bruce M. Metzger and Michael D. Coogan, eds, The Oxford Companion to the Bible, (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993), p. 331.

Thanks to William Hamblin, Ph.D., at Brigham Young University for this excerpt.


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