History and Faith
Information about the introduction of Judaism into Ethiopia is found in the kebre Negest, (The Glory of the king). The visit of the Queen of Sheba to King Solomon in Jerusalem is recounted there. On her return to Ethiopia she had born him a son, whom she named Menelik. When Menelik grew up he visited his father in Jerusalem, and came home accompanied by many Israelites, the sons of Levites and bringing with him the Ark of the Covenant, which he had obtained by subterfuge. From then on, Judaism was practiced in Ethiopia. It is side by some authorities that the Falasha tribes of northern Ethiopia, who practice a form of Judaism to this day, are descendants of the Israelites. The form of Judaism professed in apparently a development of a pre-Talmudic type of worship.
The Ethiopian Orthodox Church, indigenous to Africa, is both one of the oldest churches in the world and a founding member of the World Council of Churches. The church was the creator of Ethiopia’s arts, crafts and literature, as well as the secular and theological educational institutions. Until the time of Emperor Menelik II, the church was responsible for educating the nation. Even the Fetha Nagast (“The Law of the Kings”), which comprises both canon and civil law, is the creation of the church.
For centuries, the Christian Ethiopians fought for the maintenance of the Christian faith against internal and external foes.
In 968, a Jewish persecution of Christians occurred under Yodit (Judith).
Later, there was constant hostility from the Moslems of the Red Sea coast. In 1528, Ahmed Gran, a Moslem, attacked the country with the aid of Turkish troops. For over a decade innumerable monasteries and churches were sacked and burned, and ancient manuscripts and other works of art were stolen.