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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The compiler of the Kebra Nagast evidently had some source-books at hand, perhaps an ecclesiastical history or the work of John of Nikiu, but he seems to have confused the different events and the time scale.

Foreigners too sometimes used the name ‘Ethiopia’ for the Aksumite realm, and it became common in Ethiopian literature and hagiographies of Solomonid times, but an Aksumite contemporary negesh King Kaleb, writing about oibre monarchy of his time, would almost certainly have mentioned Aksum in one way or another. Lack of reaction to Queen Gudit in the Kebra Nagast, which Shahid supposes to be a supporting indication that the Kebra Nagast was written before her advent, is therefore not relevant.

It was compiled from the Bible, writings of early Church fathers including St.

Based on the testimony of this colophon, “Conti Rossini, Littmann, and Cerulliinter alioshave marked off the period to for the composition of the book. This lack we can partially remedy today through study of the coinage.

Why not add monophysite Syria and Armenia as well?

The Kebra Nagast

The Gadla Aregawi and Gadla Yafqeranna Egzi ‘ similarly belong among the late Ge’ez hagiographies, written a millennium or so after the events they purport to relate.

It is not necessary to revert to the sixth century, to a recent or relatively recent encounter with a Jewish king, to justify inimical references to Jews in a book hegest the nature of the Kebra Nagast.

He goes on to postulate the potential source of hostile dialogue between Yusuf and Kaleb; Yusuf the Jewish king of Himyar who scoffs at the claims of one who was for him only a Cushite pretender, not a genuine Israelite; Caleb who claims descent from Israel in the flesh, as the lineal descendant of Solomon’s first-born and also from Israel in the spirit, as the Christian king of the New Zion.

His brother, Apollinare, also went out to the country as a missionary and was, along negeat his two companions, stoned to death in Tigray. Views Read Edit View history. Medici Society, 1st edition, ; Oxford University Press, 2nd edition, Scholars have stated that the first section the Ecclesiastical law was already in use in Ethiopia before this time as part of the Senodosand that the title Fetha NegestLaws of the Kings, referred to the second lay part, that was new to Ethiopia.


Shahid’s mention of Queen Judith that is, Gudit, a legendary queen who in the tenth century almost destroyed the Ethiopian kingdom seems to hint that he supposes her to have been negfst Jew. The sons of Raamah — Sheba and Dedan’ as bestowing legitimate Cushite i.

The Kebra Nagast Index

Thus, building sanctuaries was an activity with negesr Solomon and Menelik were associated, and, if Caleb was involved deeply in the negesh of Solomonic descent, as is likely, it is possible to explain his passion for building as kibrw derivative of his belief that he was the lineal descendant of those great builders whose traditions he wanted to maintain.

Many scholars doubt that a Coptic version ever existed, and that the history of the text goes back no further than the Arabic vorlage. He does this by using each chapter to describe a specific family line, such as chapter 72 and 73 discussing the family tree of Ngest or chapters 74 and 75 to describe two separate seeds of Shem.

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 negesy, sons of Solomon’s principal advisers, who supposedly came with 2 45 Menelik to Ethiopia and founded the priestly and administrative classes.

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.

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.

If a contemporary or near- contemporary had been writing about the defeat of a Roman emperor at the hands of a Persian king, surely he would have known the name of the two protagonists, instead of offering Klbre and ‘Harenewos’.

He succeeded Emperor Anastasius in ‘after his rise to military and 7 50 patrician status. Caleb’s ancestor, Menelik, Solomon’s son and the first Israelite king of Ethiopia, brought the Ark to Axum where it was housed in a sanctuary which superseded that of Jerusalem.

It is easy to agree with Shahid’s suggestion offered in his Appendix I, that the Kebra Nagast was recast in the form of an apocalypse in late mediaeval times. A forthcoming sequel to R. Several of these are available, written in response to the Muslim conquest of Egypt, and they include such features as ‘the Christian reconquest of Egypt by the emperors of Ethiopa and Rome’ in the apocalypse of Samuel of Calamun.


The text of the king’s chronicle notes an especial element of betrayal, as contemporary Christians would have regarded it; ‘originally, these people were Christians, but now they denied Christ like the Jews who crucified Him, and for this reason [Amda Seyon] sent an army to destroy them’. Still according to Shahid’s interpretation of events, it seems that with the accession of a Jewish king in Himyar. It may not even be relevant to search so specifically for any particular moment of hostile dialogue between Jews and Christians as an inspiration for the anti- Jewish tendencies of the book.

The Ark of the Lord went only where it, or God, willed. This would have supplied the victorious negus and conqueror of South Arabia with an added incentive to emulate the example of his renowned ancestor in the very same country that had given birth to the Queen of Sheba, whose liaison with Solomon made possible Caleb’s Israelite descent. Such material could have been employed by the writers of the Kebra Nagast, in later times, to add the final drama to their great work4.

Indeed, given the book’s theme — the proving of the passing of the heritage from old Israel to the new Israel, in all its aspects — it would be extraordinary to encounter restraint towards the Jews.

Godinho published some traditions about King Solomon nsgest his son Menelekderived from the Kebra Nagast.

They appear to emerge from the confusion of information from ill- understood sources. Why, if this Solomonic claim were indeed made, and of such keystone importance to their theory of kingship, did they not add, as did their Amhara successors, ‘son of Solomon, son of David’ or similar?

However, neges is more to this, a Marcion-Irenaeus parallel which Shahid has missed.

Kebra Nagast

We may well — kubre with due caution — take this as an inscription of Kaleb, one of several Ethiopian conquerors in the Yemen, but possibly the most likely candidate for its creation considering its style. Archaeology certainly indicates that many Aksumites, some of negezt may have been the kings, built large, splendid, and finely constructed mansions or palaces in the capital city, as well as elsewhere, and Kosmas does indeed.

His manuscript is a valuable work.