Kebra Negast:Ethiopia as a holy land. (week 6)

The Kebra Negast dictates how God shifted the holy land of Israel to Ethiopia. The story follows the Queen of Sheba’s (N.B. Sheba is considered to have been either Ethiopia or Eritrea) conversion from sun worshipper into monotheism in the form of following the Abrahamic God and her son bringing the Ark of the Covenant to Ethiopia. Akin to many other religious texts the Kebra Negast sets a code of ethics and morals and links the Judean line of kings to the Ethiopian line. However, it links them through the defamation of King Solomon of Judea. In the story Solomon desires the virginal Sheba and to lure her into fornication he ‘poisons’ her curry. Although the story shows that Solomon essential date-rapes the Queen of Sheba he is depicted as a learned and wise man showing the ways of the God of Judea to the Queen. Perhaps his cunning is a reason why God chooses to favor Ethiopia as the new Israel.

One of the many intriguing aspects of the text is how it legitimizes Ethiopia as a holy land and how it reaches out to the Ethiopian people. The text is said to have been written around 1300 AD but the story takes place around 900 BC, Christianity was not one of the main African religions at this point as there had been very little European influence in the area at the time especially considering that Christianity had a very Eurocentric background. The text becomes more akin to propaganda for the African people to follow and gives a sense of meaning to an impoverished state.

Ethiopia as the holy land creates unity for its people, a link to great kings of old, and an aura of factuality as Geertz would state. This aura would prove a catalyst to future movements such as Rastafarianism whose holy land is also Ethiopia.


About mikecrusoe

I am an international student at Lawrence University. I grew up in London, England and I rather enjoy tea and crumpets but that is for another forum.
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