The Kebra Nagast (var. Kebra Negast, Ge’ez, kəbrä nägäst), or the Book of the Glory of Kings, is an account written in Ge’ez of the origins of the Solomonic line. The Kebra nagast (Glory of Kings), written from to , relates the birth of Menelik—the son of Solomon and Makada, the queen of Sheba—who became. The Kebra Nagast, by E.A.W. Budge, [], full text etext at

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When the third edition of his Travels to Discover the Source of the Nile was published ina description of the contents of the original manuscript was included.

The document is presented in the form of a debate by the “orthodox kkibre of the First Council of Nicaea.

A Sixth Century Kebra Nagast ? – Persée

Kaleb is an historical person, unlike the legendary figures of the other prominent characters in the Kebra Nagast such as Ebna Hakim called in later versions of the legend, Menelik and his mother Queen Makeda the queen of Shebaand the Israelite contingent, sons of Solomon’s principal advisers, who supposedly came with 2 45 Menelik to Ethiopia and founded the priestly and administrative classes. Still according to Shahid’s interpretation of events, it seems that with the accession of a Jewish king in Himyar, 52 matters came to a head.

The very real possibility that Kaleb was a convert to Christianity may also be relevant to his church-building activity and to the destruction he is said to have inflicted upon the idols and the pagan temples of South Arabia. The Old Testament kingly pattern was dogmatically adopted in the Kebra Nagast, including Samuel’s call to end the weaknesses of the twelve Judges one for each of the tribes of Israeland his establishment of one king with the people’s consent, to unify the state against enemy attack.

Fetha Nagast

This sounds at first reading in English as if the king of Rome is kkibre ‘Enya, as Shahid has taken it, and the king of Ethiopia Pinhas; but in the Ge’ez text the particle la is present in both cases before these names, so that the text actually means: Then the kingdom of the Jews shall be made an end of and the Kingdom of Christ shall be constituted until the advent of the False Messiah.

A history of Ethiopia. The information in KN 1 17 is far too weak, far too vague, to justify placing the Kebra Nagast story of Solomon, the queen of Sheba, and the Ark of the Covenant, as early as the sixth or seventh century. The Fetha Negest remained officially the supreme law in Ethiopia untilwhen a modern-style Constitution was first granted by Emperor Haile Selassie I.

We seem to be very far from the definite assertion of Johnson: Negset we have noted, in the sixth century no one was likely to have believed this. The text is brief, simply alluding to names and events without any sort of background.


Kebra Nagast – Wikipedia

These basic errors, this confusion from sentence to sentence, do not sound at all like the writing of a contemporary or near contemporary to the events of the war, familiar with the protagonists. On the journey home, she gives birth to Menelik chapter Hubbard cited Phineas in the Oibre Nagast as ‘the leader of the Jews’: Kaleb is an historical person, unlike the legendary figures of the other prominent characters in the Kebra Nagast such as Ebna Hakim called in later versions of the legend, Menelik and his mother Queen Makeda the queen of Shebaand the Israelite contingent, sons of Solomon’s principal advisers, who supposedly came with.

The rock churches of Tigray, and of Lalibela, and the excavated basilicas of Aksumite times, seem to indicate clearly enough that church building, often on a substantial scale and in a medium of 11 55 maximum difficulty, was or was to become something of a national passion.

He discusses heavily the neegest of the royal families in order to preserve their own power and to ensure that their blood line survives. There are a few historical records claiming that this law code was translated into Ge’ez and entered Ethiopia around in the reign of Zara Yaqob.

negsst It may even be irrelevant; the ‘Rome’ of the text is brought in as a Christian and inferior partner in the sharing of the oikoumene with Ethiopia, a story that belonged long ago in the past. The text of the king’s chronicle notes an especial element of betrayal, as contemporary Christians would have regarded it; ‘originally, these people ndgest Christians, but now ngeest denied Christ like the Jews who klbre Him, and for this reason [Amda Seyon] sent an army to destroy them’.

Almeida was sent out as a missionary to Ethiopia, and had abundant opportunity to learn about the Kebra Nagast at first hand, owing to his excellent command of the language. It seems safe to reject the theory of the Kebra Nagasfs proposed sixth or seventh century origin, except in the case of the very basic information cited in KN 7. This would seem conclusive enough if Shahid later, in the grip of a new idea concerning the flowering of literary activity in sixth century Aksum, did not also suggest that.

Nevertheless, Shahid envisages that after the conversion to Christianity the Ethiopian kings had to address the problem of ‘a new source or basis for their kingly power’. This may somehow reflect the mediaeval Ethiopians’ preoccupation about cyclical and millennarial concerns; in a copy of the Ethiopian computus, or Mashafa hasab, part of which Getatchew Haile translated in this article, the author was worried about what would happen the end of the world at the completion of years.

As the Ethiopianist Edward Ullendorff explained in the Schweich Lectures”The Kebra Nagast is not merely a literary work, but it is the repository of Ethiopian national and religious feelings.

The relation of Caleb’s building activity to the legend of Solomonic descent may negesf support also from postbiblical literature, in which Solomon emerged as the great builder in many parts of the Near East to whom numerous structures were ascribed, including many in South Arabia itself in the pre-Islamic period. If we accept a fourteenth century Kebra Nagast compiled from certain earlier sources, it is still difficult to penetrate the motive behind the seemingly pointless task.


Linguistic analysis does not seem to help much in elucidating the origins kibr the work. The Kebra Nagast, very far from being well informed on current affairs in the sixth century, is in fact thoroughly mired down in a strange confusion of emperors, saints and heretics from the relatively distant past.

In the first quarter of the 16th century, P. University of California Press.

The insertion of the name of ‘Marcian the Apostate’ is easily comprehensible in the context; he was the Roman emperor most worthy of detestation to monophysite Christians because it was in his reign that the fourth ecumenical council, that of Chalcedon, was held, which rejected monophysitism. If the fourth and fifth century kings had reverted to megest and Shahid does not suggest that they reverted to a Judaism imported by Menelik I, though he does hint that Ethiopian Christianity had ’embedded kiibre it a strong Jewish substrate’it could only have served Ezana and a successor or two at most.

Not only do they all feature the cross in very prominent places, replacing the former disc and crescent, but many issues have Christian mottoes written on them.

The most conspicuous might be Heraclius, in whose reign the Holy Cross itself was captured and taken to Persia. The king attempts to pursue Menelik, but through the Ark’s mysterious power, his son with his entire entourage is miraculously flown home to Ethiopia before Solomon can leave his kingdom. The eventual defeat of the emperor of Rome, specified in KN as Marcian Marcianus,by a Persian king, is another error by the compiler.

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Of the Kebra Nagast, Irfan Shahid observes first that ‘the fantastic elements in the work Would anyone, even the most sanguine of Aksumites, nwgest the most vain of Aksumite kings, have credited a story in which Justin, kibrr master of a vast empire, soon to become even vaster, albeit temporarily, under Justinian, could be the minor partner in territorial division with Aksum? The sixth century was an extraordinary period in the history of the Christian east, and particularly in Aksum and South Arabia, where a religious war was fought that confronted the Christian negus of Aksum with the Jewish Arab king of Himyar.

Valerian died in captivity, and his skin, dyed purple, the Roman imperial colour — hence the name for the violet-coloured valerian flower — and stuffed with straw, was preserved in Persia.

All the known predecessors of Kaleb, and Kaleb himself on every one of his extensive set of issues as known to date, whether in Greek or in Ge’ez, follow this pattern.