Mount Zion and the Ark of the Covenant are the very figure of Holy Virgin Mariam. Based on this biblical background the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church has built the Church dedicated to Saint Mariam named as Zion Mariam. The Ark of the Covenant is the place of the presence of God, being kept therein the tablets of the Law given to the Prophet Moses. In comparison, the Blessed Virgin Mariam is the living Ark who bears in herself the very Word of God, made flesh, become her son; who carries in herself the very Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of the Eucharist Christ.
Originally, Mount Zion is a hill in Jerusalem just outside the walls of the Old City on which David built his palace and where he also brought the Ark of the Covenant (2 Samuel 5:7, 1 Chronicles 11:5)
Why we celebrate Zion Mariam on November 30 or Hedar 21 st ?
1. The return of the Ark of the covenant from Felesteme: The ark of God was taken; to the land of Felesteme after the two Decons, Hophni and Phinehas (sons of Eli), were slain because there father priest Eli didn't stop them when they were sinning against God. As the bible said “For I have told him that I will judge his house for ever for the iniquity which he knoweth; because his sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not.”. The ark of the Lord stayed in Philistine territory seven months. And there were a deadly destruction throughout all the Felesteme city; the hand of God was very heavy on them. When Felesteme realizes the power of the Ark of the covenant they send it back to city of Zion on Nov 30 or Hedar 21st with lots of offerings and respect. 1st Samuel ch 4 to ch 6.
2. The ark of the covenant entered into the temple of King Solomon: The ark of the covenant came out of the city of Zion and moved to city of Jerusalem and entered into the temple built by King Solomon, 1st king ch 8 v 1-66
3. The ark of the covenant reached to Ethiopia: The ark of the covenant reached to Ethiopia for the first time at the time of King Menelik the 1st. King Menelik the 1st is the son of the Queen of Sheba (her family name has been Makida). The ark of the covenant is now housed in Axum Zion church.
4. Ethiopian Orthodox religion was officially became the religion of the country: for the 1st time at the time of King Abreha wa Atsbeha Ethiopian Orthodox religion was officially became the religion of the country or the state.
5. The ark of the covenant returned back to Axum Zion church: The ark of the covenant was kept hidden in Zeway Monastery for 72 years after Queen Yodit Gudit threatened to burn it and returned safely back to Axum Zion on Nov 30th or Hedar 21st.
May the prayer and intersession of Holy Virgin Mariam be up on us all!
The Fast of the Prophets (Tsome Nebiyat)
Fast of the Prophets (Tsome Nebiyat) is one of the seven official fasting seasons ordained in the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church that starts on 15th Hedar (November 24) and ends on Lidet (Christmas, gena) eve 28th of Tahsas (January 06). The Orthodox Church observes the Feast of the Nativity of Eyesus Kristos with 44 days of fast, which culminates in the feast.
It is called the Fast of the Prophets because the prophecy about the coming of Eyesus Kristos was fulfilled. Sometimes it is called Yelidet Tsome or Christmas Fast to commemorate the Birth of Eyesus Kristos. The Prophets foretold the birth of Eyesus Kristos from the Virgin, Salvation of mankind, and yearned His coming using different creatures to symbolize Eyesus Kristos. Nowadays, when we fast it not by expecting the birth of Eyesus Kristos but to celebrate the gift we acquired consequent upon His Birth and to take part in the blessings of our forefathers, prophets and apostles.
Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church recognizes the necessity for her children to “chastise the body and bring it under subjection”, as St. Paul advises 1 Corinthians 9:27. The body is ever striving for mastery over the spirit. Self-denial in lawful things enables us to turn with great earnestness to spiritual things. We have to overcome our earthly desire and stay away from those who advise quoting, “… let us eat and drink; for tomorrow we die.” (1 Corinthians 15:32) It is on these grounds that the Ethiopian Church has strict fasting days for all members of the church above the age of 7.
Fasting is not only prayer and abstinence from eating meat, fat, eggs and dairy products but we should also refrain from all wrongdoings, and evil deeds such as vanity, violence, jealousy, hatred, and all works of Satan. Rather, it is a time of deeper repentance and it should be done with the object of seeking to know God in a deeper prayer and experiencing spiritual contemplation. We should also show mercy to the poor and the needy.
When we follow in the footsteps of the prophets and apostles, we give our witness that Eyesus Kristos is our foundation. Therefore it is not enough to know and speak about fasting; we have to live it and benefit from the fruits it brings forth.
Let it be His will to allow us to reach the graceful day of His Birth!!
Let it be His will to allow us to reach the blessed day of His Birth!!