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ethiopian history

Pre-Historic Ethiopia

The history of Ethiopia begins with Lucy. Lucy was a female hominoid that lived in what is now called the Awash Valley in Hadar some 3.2 million years ago. When her skeletons were discovered in 1974, Ethiopia then claimed that it was the first dwelling of mankind. But recent finds in Kenya, such as the discovery of Kenyanthropus platyops in 1998, have come to challenge Lucy as to who really is the direct ancestor of humankind. But what this discovery does more than anything is add to the confusion about the human evolutionary tree. This recent discovery in Kenya is among a series of fossil finds over the past two decades that have doubled the number of recognized human-like species.

Lucy's scientific name is Australopithecus afarensis. The first word means "Southern Ape" and the second word signifies she was discovered in the Afar region. Ethiopians refer to her as "Dinqnesh." She is also classified in Hadar as AL 288-1. When she was discovered, only a little over half of her skeletons were found. She probably did not live more than 20 years and weighed around 60 pounds and stood three and a half feet. Lucy is kept fully preserved at the national Museum in Addis Abeba; an exact plaster replica is also displayed next to her. (Pankhurst 1-2)

But why was she called Lucy? Donald Johanson, the anthropologist from Chicago University who discovered her, tells us why: "Surely such a noble little fossil lady deserved a name. As we [his expedition crew] sat around one evening listening to Beatles' songs, someone said, ‘Why don't we call her Lucy? You know, after "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds. "' So she became Lucy."


As early as 4500 BCE, wheat and barley could have entered northern Ethiopia from the northern Sudan/southern Egypt region. Some other seeds such as Teff (Eragrostis tef) and Enset (Ensete edulis, Ensete ventricosum), which are today still very important today in Ethiopia, originated in Ethiopia. The Pre-Aksumites probably started herding cattle "around the beginning of the second millennium BCE." Horses entered Ethiopia from the Nile Valley, camels from the Middle East, and sheep and goats entered Ethiopia from the Nile and the Middle East. (Henze 11-14)

The earliest black inhabitants of the Ethiopian region have very few of their descent exist today. These indigene were joined by immigrants from Egypt and the later from south Arabia (Doresse 20). However, the arrival of the immigrants does not mark the beginning of civilization. For much time before, 'peoples had been interacting through population movement, warfare, trade, and intermarriage in the Ethiopian region, resulting in a predominance of peoples speaking languages of the Afro-Asiatic family. The main branches represented were the Cushitic and the Semitic.' (Munro-Hay 62)

By mid first millennium BCE, clear evidence of close contact between the Ethiopians and the south Arabians has been found. The immigrants, though probably not entirely, mostly came from a region of western Yemen associated with Sabean culture. It has become a rather difficult task in assessing why the Arabians originally left their homes to an entirely new culture, which had very little connection to their own. Perhaps, conditions were extremely harsh in their homelands such that the only means of escape is a direct route across the Red Sea into Eritrea. Over time, as their social and perhaps economical connections in the Ethiopian region became vast, it was safe to assume that migrating from the harsh desert would only be in their best interest. When the south Arabians crossed the Red Sea, they found the tribes of the Beja, Agaw, and Sidama, to name a few of the major groups (Tamrat 5-6). The south Arabians brought with them a writing system, from which Ge’ez takes its origin.

As early as the third millennium BCE, the pre-Aksumites had begun trading along the Red Sea. They mainly traded with Egypt. Earlier trade expeditions were taken by foot along the Nile Valley. The Egyptians main object in the trade from the Ethiopian region (which they may have called Punt) was the acquire myrrh, which the Ethiopian region had much of.

Land of Punt

Egypt is the source of the earliest written descriptions of the people that resided in the areas that is Ethiopia and Eritrea today. This area was known to the Egyptians as Punt. As early as the third millennium BCE, the Egyptian inscriptions indicate that they traded with people from the land of Punt, which sometimes they also called ‘Gods’ Land’.

The actual place of Punt is not known but the Egyptians did sail south along the Red Sea to trade with people from Punt. Punt, to the Egyptians, could have meant the entire Red Sea region including Somalia. But if one observes Egypt’s exports, gold, ivory, exotic animals, and incense, one can surmise that, at the least, Ethiopia was a part of Punt.

The earliest of these expeditions were probably taken by foot along the Nile. One of the earliest recorded sailing expedition was taken by King Sahure in the Fifth Dynasty (2465 – 2325 BCE). But trade with the two peoples could have started "as early as the First Dynasty (3100 – 2890 BCE) for the pharos of the time were in position of myrrh. (Breasted 127)" Myrrh is an aromatic gum-resin plant used by the Egyptians to "honor the gods and in embalming the dead.” It was also used "for medicinal and cosmetic purposed. (Nibbi 56)” There was plenty of myrrh to be found in Ethiopia.


The most famous expedition dispatched to Punt was by Queen Hatshepsut in the Eighteenth Dynasty (1540 – 1304 BCE). In her funerary temple at Deir el-Bahri, detailed descriptions of trade between Punt and the Egyptians are carved on the wall (picture above). On one of the reliefs, the boats from Egypt have arrived at Punt and are stopped on the beaches. The Egyptians offer "strings of beads, axes, and weapons" and the people of Punt in exchange have "gold, ivory … and precious myrrh-tress." (Aldred 135-6)



Ge’ez is to Ethiopia as Latin is to the west. Ge’ez, like Latin, was not used as a spoken language for a very long time. But like Latin, Ge’ez is the precursor of Ethiopia’s three major Semitic languages:

"In order to convey an idea of the relationship of Amharic, Tigrinya and Tigré towards each other and towards Ge’ez, we might enlist the helpful parallel of the Romance languages. If Ge’ez is compared to Latin, Tigrinya takes the place of Italian (both because it is most closely akin to the ‘parent’ tongue and also on account of its continuance in the original home). Tigré would then be likened to Spanish and Amharic to French.’’ (Edward Ullendorff qtd. in Buxton 31).

Amharic is the official language of Ethiopia and it is spoken most widely in the northwest and central part of the country. Tigrinya is mostly spoken in northern and northeastern Ethiopia. Tigré is spoken in the independent nation of Eritrea, formerly part of Ethiopia (Pankhurst 7-8).

The south Arabian immigrants brought with them the Sabean language into Ethiopia sometime early in the first millennium BCE, possibly by the Aguezat settlers (Doresse 23). By early in the next millennium, a distinctive Ethiopian version, influenced by the indigenous Cushitic peoples, was being used in stone inscriptions (Hetzron 242).

The Sabean writing system. (Asher 1149)

Ge’ez took 24 symbols from the Sabean writing system. The early form of Ge’ez was written in boustrophedon, which is writing in alternate lines in opposite directions, as from left to right and then from right to left on the next line, and then left to right on the next line, and so on. (Asher 1149).

The evolution of Sabean into Ge'ez. (Asher 1149)

Before the fourth century, Ge’ez had not made use of vowels. But the usage of vowels was incorporated into Ge’ez when the Aksumites converted to Christianity, which occurred sometime in the fourth century. Pankhurst suggests that the reason that the alphabet was modified at the time could have been due to "the wish to make Biblical texts more intelligible to newly literate.” (25). The bible was translated into Ge’ez from Greek. Greek influence is also seen in the organization of the Ge’ez letters, which is very similar to Greek alphabet organization (Asher 1149).

Ge’ez ceased to be used as a spoken language most likely a short time before the tenth century CE. Nonetheless, it is being used today as the "liturgical language of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, and was the only official written language of Ethiopia practically up to the end of the nineteenth century.” (Hetzron 242).

Coming of Judaism

Traditions in the early churches of Ethiopia maintain that much of the country once held Jewish beliefs and culture as part of its religious legacy. It is possible that Judaism may have entered (modern-day) Ethiopia as early as the 8th century BCE. Although these speculations are based on just a few somewhat controversial material pieces of evidence, there has not been any good counter-explanation regarding their presence or appearance into Ethiopian history, which substantially increases the possibility of the Jewish Pre-settlement Theory.

What we call the Jewish Pre-settlement Theory essentially states that starting around the 8th century BCE until about the 5th century BCE, there was an influx of Jewish settlers both from Egypt and Sudan in the north, and southern Arabia in the east. Whether these settlers arrived in great numbers is yet a matter of debate. What is certain, however, is that these settlers must have preceded the arrival of Christianity. Evidence for their presence exists not only in historical books, but also material artifacts quite depicting ancient Jewish ceremony. For instance the Temple at Yeha (in Tigray province), which is said to have been erected in the 6th century BCE, is believed to an architectural copy of other Jewish temples found in Israel and Egypt during the pre-Babylonian era (before 606 BCE). Another example is found on the monastery islands of Lake Tana (northern Gojjam), where several archaic stone altars, fashioned in the manner of Jewish sacrificial alters of pre-8th century BCE Israel, have been found not only preserved in good condition but also containing blood residue. The manner of the blood placed on the stone altars was found to be typical to a culture that strongly adhered to Mosaic Law.

Although not written until the early medieval era, it is around this time that paramythical stories such as the affair of King Solomon with Makeda Queen of Saba, or Queen of Sheba, and the coming of the Ark of the Covenant take place. Although the subject matter is highly controversial, it is said that Queen Makeda—who supposedly ruled over a very small area in modern-day southern Eritrea—made a long distance pilgrimage to Jerusalem as a result of her fascination with his famed wisdom. During her stay, King Solomon was so much entranced with her beauty and her fidelity, that he felt that he had to have her. So one evening, he ordered his royal cooks to increase the amount of pepper in the meal which would be served for dinner. However, he also ordered the water bearers not to give anyone any water unless specifically authorized by him and to also place a jug of water in his bedchamber. Queen Makeda, realizing his trickery, played along with him thinking that she could easily go without water for the evening. Her self-confidence unfortunately proved to be quite too high when she, unable to cope with her dehydration, finally gave in to his desire and slept with him for a drink of water. This affair was what led to the birth of King Menelik I. The legend further says that at age twenty-five, Menelik returned to Jerusalem and covertly stole the Arc of the Covenant.


Aksum’s foundation is suggested to be as early as 300 BCE. Very little is known of the time period between the mid-first millennium BCE to the beginning of Aksum’s flourish, thought to be around the first century CE. There is little in common between the Aksumites and the earlier pre-Aksumite civilizations (Munro-Hay 1991, 4).

The Aksumite kingdom was located in the northern province of Tigray and there it remained the capital of Ethiopia until the seventh century CE. Aksum owes its prosperity to its location. The Blue Nile basin and the Afar depression are both within a close proximity of Aksum. The former is rich of gold and the latter of salt: both materials having a highly important use to the Aksumites. Aksum was also within an accessible distance to the port of Adulis, on the coast of the Red Sea, hence maintaining trade relations with other nations, such as Egypt, India, and Arabia. Aksum’s ‘fertile’ and ‘well-watered’ location produced enough food for its population as well as its exotic animals, such as elephants and rhinoceros (Pankhurst 1998, 22-3).

Aksum inherited a culture highly influenced by South Arabia. The Aksumites' language, Ge'ez, was a modified version of the South Arabian rudiments, with admixtures of Greek and Cushitic tongues already present in the region. Their architectural art was inherited from their South Arabian counters. Some Aksumite artwork contained combinations of Middle Eastern deities.

Aksum today is famous for its tall stone cut towers known as obelisks. The largest one measures 33 meters (108 feet). These obelisks were monolithic, meaning they were carved out of a single stone. It is assumed that they were built before Aksum adopted Christianity because there is no Christian inscription to be found on them. These obelisks were essentially tomb stones, built to mark graves and underground burial chambers. (Henze 2000, 34-5)

The Aksumite court officially converted to Christianity in early 4th century AD by a Greek named Frumentius. After converting the court to Christianity, he traveled to Alexandria and returned consecrated a bishop. The Coptic Church of Egypt continued to supply Ethiopia with bishops until the 1950s. In all, Egypt sent 111 bishops during the nearly two millennium relationship (Erlich, H 2000, 24).

From its capital on the Tigray Plateau, Aksum was in command of the trade of ivory with Sudan. It also dominated the trade route leading south and the port of Adulis on the Gulf of Zola. Its success depended on resourceful techniques, production of coins, steady migrations of Greco-Roman merchants and ships landing on the port of Adulis. In exchange for Aksum’s goods, traders bid many kinds of cloth, jewelry, metals and steel for weapons. Aksum reached its highest power in the 3rd century AD when the Roman empire began to decline. Up to that time, the Roman empire was a major player in the trade economy of the Red Sea. Starting in the 3rd century AD, Aksum became the dominate force on both coasts of the Red Sea (Phillips, J. 1997, 451).

At its peak, Aksum controlled territories as far as southern Egypt, east to the Gulf of Aden, south to the Omo River, and west to the Cushite Kingdom of Meroe. The South Arabian kingdom of the Himyarites was also under the power of Aksum.

Zagwe Dynasty

Near the end of the tenth century CE an Agew (Agau) leader called Yodit (Gudit or Judith) brought the thousand–year predominance of the Aksumite kingship to a conclusion. She conquered their last king and attempted to exterminate the Christian religion. In Abyssinian traditional tales, she is known to be a great annihilator of churches contested only by Ahmed Gran (Grañ) some six centuries later.

By this time, the nation of Aksum (Axum) had seized to control the seaborne commercial network in response to Islamic growth and starting from mid-seventh century the ruling power had migrated down south and by late tenth century had been established south of Tigray in such Agew districts as Lasta, Wag, Angot, and eventually Amhara. The movement included the creation of military territories, which contributed as a central part of the population from which Aksumite ways, Semitic dialect, and Christianity, diffused to the Agew peoples. By the tenth century, a post-aksumite Christian kingship had appeared that ruled the northern highlands from current Eritrea to Shewa (Shoa) and the coast from old Adulis and Zeila in modern Somalia. Military territories were also formed with the Sidama population of the central highlands and they may have been the ancestors of Semitic-speaking such as the Argobba, Gafat, Gurage, and Hareri, although separate settlements of Semitics from south east Arabia is also likely. Amhara in Shewa, during the eleventh and twelfth centuries, appears to be the site of the restoration of Christian expanse. In the long term, this movement can be viewed as a crucial advance in the amalgamation of Abyssinia because the indigenous Agew people, up to this time under the a Semitic serfage, now acquired the upper hand and classes between the rulers and the ruled began to cease.

The Stronghold of the Zagwé era, which occurred from about 1137 to 1270 CE, is one of the most ambiguous in the history of Ethiopia, for there was disappointingly few records found. Archaeology, so abundant for the Aksumite period, has very little to furnish for that of the Zagwé dynasty. Unlike their Aksumite forefathers, they did not produce coins, or create epigraphs, and, due to their distant allocation from the coast, made far less use of imported, dateable, articles.


Lalibela (c.1185-1225) is the most well known and marveled of all the Zagwe kings. He is credited for building the eleven famous rock-hewn churches in his capital city, known originally as Roha but renamed as Lalibela after his death (Prouty and Eugene 115-6). However, it should be stressed that Lalibela wasn’t the first to build rock-hewn churches; churches that date two centuries earlier were constructed in Tigray (Pankhurst 49).

Lalibela’s life is full of legends. It is believed that upon his birth, he was surrounded by a cloud of bees. Hence, his mother gave him the name Lalibela, which means, “the bees recognizes his sovereignty.” Also according to legend, he was commanded by God “to build ten monolithic churches (Henze 51).”

Numerous sites in Lalibela were given biblical names such as a stream called Jordanos and graves called Adam and Jesus Christ. This was an effort by the king to recreate Jerusalem, the Holy City, in his city, for Jerusalem had been captured by Muslims and pilgrimage for Ethiopian Christians had become difficult (Pankhurst 52-3).

The eleven rock-hewn churches are: Madhané Alam, Maryam, Denagel, Sellasé, Golgotha, Mika’él, Amanu’él, Marquréwos, Abba Libanos, Gabr’él-Rufa’él, and Giyorgis. Lalibela was buried in Golgotha (Pankhurst 49-52).

The Nine Saints

In 451 AD, the Council of Chalcedon declared Monophysitism heretical. Those that fled the Byzantine Empire to escape anti-Monophysitism prosecution settled in Egypt, Arabia, and Ethiopia (Ullendorff 1960, 101). Those Christians were known as Tsadkan (the Righteous Ones) in Ethiopian. The most famous escapees to take refuge in Ethiopia were known as the Nine Saints.

A late 17th century picture from a Life of Aregawi, written and painted at Dabra Damo, showing the Nine Saints (Munro-Hay 1991, 207).

The Aksum royal court had converted to Christianity over a century earlier, but much of the country, outside of Aksum, had yet to hear about the Gospel. The Nine Saints established missionaries in areas outside of Aksum. They built churches, translated the Bible from Greek to Ge'ez, and created Christian centers in various places (Henze 2000, 38).

The Nine Saints came from many areas of the Byzantine Empire. Their backgrounds included Syria, Constantinople, Cilicia, Cappadocia, and Rome (Henze 2000, 38). Their names were Abba Aregawi (Ze-Mikael), Abba Pantelewon, Abba Gerima (Issac, or Yeshaq), Abba Aftse, Abba Guba, Abba Alef, Abba Yem’ata, Abba Liqanos, and Abba Sehma (Prouty and Rosenfeld 1982, 141).

Each of these men has a saint’s day on the Ethiopian religious calendar (Prouty and Rosenfeld 1982, 141). These men are not only important to the Ethiopian church but also to biblical studies because they helped translate books such as the Book of Jubilees and the Book of Enoch (both are part of the Apocrypha), which had been lost to the outside world until the late eighteenth century (Pankhurst 1998, 37). The Ethiopian Bible contains the Apocrypha which Jewish and Protestant canons of the Old Testament exclude.

Solomonic Dynasty

The Solomonic Dynasty (or Solomonic Restoration) is a period of history in Ethiopia between 1270 to 1636. It is so called because, in 1270 when Emperor Yekuno Amlak became emperor and he declared to be the lineal descent of Menelik I, son of King Solomon and Queen Sheba, he ended the short lived rule of the Zagwes off of Ethiopia, whom did not claim descent to Menelik I.

Emperors in the Solomonic period did not utilize capital cities like preceding empires. They instead had what were termed as instant or moving capitals. The emperor, his army, nobles, and other members of the monarchy lived in tents and huts. They often did not stay in one place no more than four months at a time, moving only when they had exhausted the land or the residents, which were required to supply cattle or food or any other thing that was demanded.

During the Solomonic period of Ethiopian history, the Christian highland and the Muslim coast were in constant fighting, often for the right to control trade routes. (Pankhurst 1998, 72) During the 14th century emperor Amda Seion and his successor, his son Sayfa Ar’ad, fought consistently with the rulers of Ifat. In the mid-16th century, the campaigns of Ahmad Gragn, nearly wiped out the Christian empire. It was only with the help of the Portuguese army that the monarchy was able to defeat Ahmad Gragn. By the end of the 16th century, the Christian monarchy had been greatly weakened.

In the 17th century, Ethiopia flirted with Catholicism. After the Portuguese had helped the monarchy defeat Ahmad, they had stayed put and they started preaching their religion. (Pankhurst 1998, 93-4) This was a problem for the emperors of the late 16th and early 17th century but upon Susneyons taking the throne in 1607, with the influence of the Jesuits and under the illusion that it will lead to further Portuguese military support, he slowly began to attack Orthodox Christianity and eventually made Roman Catholicism the official religion of the state. Susneyons instituted forced conversions but it only lead to wide spread rebellion and the Portuguese weren't forthcoming with military assistance. Eventually the emperor gave way to the demands of the masses and reinstituted Orthodox Christianity in 1632. (Pankhurst 1998, 103-7)

List of Rulers of the Solomonic restoration

1270-85Yekuno Amlak

1285-94Yigba Tseyon

1299-1314Widim Ra'ad

1314-44Amda Tseyon

1344-72Sayfa Arad

1372-82Newaya Maryam

1382-1411Dawit I



1434-68Zara Ya'qob

1468-78Baeda Maryam



1508-40Lebna Dengel



1563-97Sarsa Dengel


1603-04Za Dengel




1667-82Yohannes I

1682-1706Iyasu I, the Great

1706-08Takla Haymanot I



1716-21Dawit III


1730-55Iyasu II


Amda Seyon

Amda Seyon was a ruthless Emperor who conquered many lands and people during his rule in the 14th century. While it is unknown exactly how or when he came to power, it is believed he may have had a role in overthrowing his father. That is, if Wedem Arad was Amda’s father. While many believe, there is enough evidence to show they are of the same lineage, Amda himself has been said to claim otherwise.

Of one thing in the history of Amda Seyon there can be no doubt, Amda was ruthless in his dealing with dissidents, detractors, and conquered nations. He was even ruthless with his own family. Historical records indicate his campaign against the Muslim began in 1309 against the kingdoms of Damot and Hadiya and after integrating them into his kingdom, he began to enlist soldiers increasing the size of his army.

Over the next 30 year, Amda pushed his influence via his armies and extended his rule north to Gojjam, Inderta, and the northern provinces of Semien, Wogera, Tselemt, and Tsegede. Setting up his relatives, including his wife, in charge of many of the conquered governments did not help in securing peace in the occupied territory. When dissidents rebelled, the response was swift and harsh with death to conspirators in the rebellion and the division of their land and titles to those faithful to the Emperor.

One such example is the King of Hadiya who after 32 years of being ruled by Amda, refused to pay tribute to the Emperor and for his insolence he was killed, his descendants banished out of the country, and his land and wealth divided amongst the new leadership.

Perhaps the first crusader, Amda stood up to the sultan of Egypt when word of the persecution of Egyptian Christians reached his court. Threatening to retaliate against Muslims in his Empire if the attacks on the Copts did not stop, Amda also threatened to divert the Nile, which was of great concern to the Egyptians. After the Egyptians captured and killed a member of the Amda’s envoy sent to relay his message to Cairo, he went on a rampage against Muslims and attacked Ifat with his army pillaging and plundering the city. This persecution against the Muslims continued by Amda and his loyalists and touched off a religious war as the Muslims began to attack Christians where they were stronger in numbers. Much like the middle ages and the European Crusades, this holy war enveloped the region.

It is reported by historians of the period that trade flourished under the Emperor Amda Seyon. Archeological digs into the vaults of Ethiopian churches and monasteries have recovered coins, textiles, and other treasures that prove the existence of trade with the Byzantine Empire. Many important books and manuscripts including some of the earliest recorded Ethiopian manuscripts were written during the period of his reign. He donated material to the Ethiopian library at Jerusalem and is said to have had a royal historian with him to record his exploits.

While the dates are disputed to this day, whether it was in 1329 or 1332, The Glorious Victories, as they are called, were the defining moments for Emperor Amda Seyon as he ruled the region with an iron fist and defeated 10 kings in the period.

It began with 2 religious leaders in the Muslim community who waged a public relations campaign against the Emperor and attempted to influence leaders and common people to rebel against Emperor Seyon. The influence of these zealots led the governor of Ifat to defy the Emperor and a jihad was declared with other provinces and countries in the region joining forces against Amda.

In much the same fashion as would be seen for centuries to come, Amda would put down a rebellion in one city only to have to martial his troops to the next city that would attempt to defect. It was difficult for the Emperor to find loyal rulers to govern. Attempting to put people of lineage into power, he would be continually disappointed in his choices for governor of Ifat as several in a row turned against him and rebelled. Caught by Muslim extremists one night in battle, Amda was nearly killed as his battle uniform was cut but his armor held true.

One example of Emperor Amda Seyon’s compassion was the governor of Ifat, Sabr ad-Din, who was the brother and successor of Haq ad-Din. Amda put Sabr in power and was shocked and disappointed to have him attempt to become the Emperor of Muslim Ethiopia. The Emperor dealt with the rebellion in the usual fashion by invading and putting down the rebellion. Curiously though he did not have Sabr put to death when he surrendered but imprisoned him and put his brother Jamal ad-Din into power as the governor. No surprise, Jamal rebelled against the Emperor and declared himself a Muslim King and after mustering his forces once again, Amda Seyon invaded Ifat and defeated the rebelling forces.

His men weary from years of battle, the Emperor had to deal with troop morale issues in addition to breakaway rebels. He rewarded his men handsomely for their loyalty with the spoils of war as well as with money, land, and titles. With the expanse and length of his reign, he clearly demanded and received the loyalty necessary to continue to hold onto his Empire.

Imam Ahmad ibn Ibrahim al Ghazi

After he ordered the Muslim town of Adal not to pay its tribute to the Christian emperor of Ethiopia, Ahmad ibn Ibrahim al-Ghazi defeated the emperor’s army at the battle of ad-Dir in 1527. In 1529, Ahmad won a key battle against Emperor Lebna Dengel at Shembera Kure and by 1535 he had invaded Dewaro, Shewa, Amhara, Lasta, and Tigray. Emperor Lebna Dengel became nothing but a fugitive running from one hiding place to another. His son, Galawdewos, took over after his father’s death in 1540, but he inherited a small disconcerted army (Prouty and Rosenfeld, 101-2).

Before Lebna Dengel’s death, he had requested military assistance from the king of Portugal. In February 1541, 400 well-equipped musketeers led by Dom Christovao de Gama arrived in Massawa. He joined his forces with Empress Sebla Wangel and the Tigrean army in April of 1542, where they were able to force Ahmad to surrender the lake Tana area. But with the aid of 700 Turkish troops, Ahmad returned in August and defeated the Ethiopian force. Dom Christovao was captured and beheaded in that battle (Pankhusrt 92-93).

After the success of this battle, many of the Turkish troops returned to Zebid (Yemen). Later that year, Emperor Galawdewos joined wtih his mother along with the remaining Portuguese army. On February 21, 1543, the Ethiopian force led by Emperor Galawdewos invaded Ahmad’s army in Lake Tana. The outnumbered Portuguese and Ethiopian forces shot and killed Ahmad in the battle. His troops, upon the loss of their leader, scattered and fled (Henze 88).

The Ethiopians were dully wounded from the 14-year of warfare. The Muslims didn’t reestablish a new resurgence large enough to threaten the Ethiopian empire. Although the Christian empire was once again restored, the Ethiopians were unable to prevent the Turks from taking Massawa (Hess 46).

Gondar Period

Gondar became the capital of the Ethiopian empire when emperor Fasiladas decided to move to it in 1636. Gondar remained the capital of the Ethiopian empire for the next two centuries. Gondar possessed a route to the exotic regions south of the Blue Nile and to the then northern and western trade routes, which led to Massawa and Sudan. Gondar had by 1630 become the catalyst of growth and production in Ethiopia. It was a great religious center and flourished immensely in the arts. (Pankhurst, R. 1998, 109)

Emperors of Gondar were great palace and church builders. The most famous of the Gondar palaces was built by emperor Fasiladas, known as Fasil Gemb. Ensuing rulers continued to build palaces, which still stand to the day. (Pankhurst, R. 1998, 109-110) Gondar rulers also built many churches in the city. The church of Debra Berhan Sellasie, a favorite tourist attraction, was built by emperor Iyasu I late in the 17th century. (Pankhurst, R. 1998, 116) Approximately a third of Gondar’s population was Muslim. Muslim merchants controlled most of the trade to and from Gondar. (Pankhurst, R. 1998, 117)

The influence of the Gondar monarchy began to weaken at the dawn of the 18th century. Military campaigns to crush provincial opponents became less effective and acquiring additional firearms more difficult. Within Gondar, many did not like the increasing number of Oromos in government. (Pankhurst, R. 1998, 126-7) In 1757, the city was occupied by Ras Mikael Sehul of Tigray. When he had taken the city, Emperor Iyoas was an infant. Ras Mikael himself had no intention of becoming emperor but he was the real leader of Gondar during the time he occupied it. In 1769, which marks the end of what is known as the Gondar Period in Ethiopian history, Ras Mikael had Iyoas killed and another noble appointed emperor. From there upon, the Ethiopian empire fell into a time of disunity. Even though emperors continued to be chosen and sat in Gondar, their power was virtually nonexistent. Each region of the country became ruled by local governors. (Pankhurst, R. 1998, 128-130).

Era of the Princes

The Era of the Princes, also called Zamana Masafent, was a brief period of history in Ethiopia that lasted from 1769 to 1855. By 1708, the central government was destroyed and the country had split up into three different provinces: Amhara, Shoa, and Tigray. The Amhara region was continually in internal faction and contributed poorly to defending Ethiopia against external enemies. Tigray, on the other had, played a major role in reinstating an imperial government and hosted a decisive battle at Adwa. On the other had, Shoa, for the most part, stayed out of the political situations that dealt with the Amhara and Tigray regions. However, Shoan kings did expand their territories southwards and established trade that produce an abundance of coffee and slaves. Ethiopia survived this era in its history because of Tigray and Shoa’s gaining steady power.

Most of Africa was not yet a colonial hotspot at this time. Ethiopia’s biggest foe was Egypt. Egypt had freed itself from Ottoman control and was now pursuing to expand southwards. The Egyptians attacked and seized lands in northern Tigray but French and British intervenes helped diminish Egypt’s attempts to expand south.

Europeans gained even more interest in Ethiopia for the duration of this period. Trade rejuvenated and tribal lords gained more access to firearms. In the north, Tigraen rulers were able to get hold of guns from the Turks by means of two-way transactions and used them to seize power. Europeans of many trades and profession visited the kingdom with more regularity. Missionaries sponsored by the Swiss, German, and English governments attempted to convert Ethiopians to protestantism. Most of the missionaries were met with dismayed attitudes and they, more often then not, fell in awkward positions with civilians and the church. Most Ethiopian rulers were more concerned with the prospective support and firearms the country would receive rather than the missionaries’ religious endeavors. The missionaries’ attempts failed but they did bring about awareness of the potential of technological advancement.

List of Rulers of the Zamana Masafent


1769Yohannes II

1769Takla Haymanot II

1769-79Solomon II

1779-84Tekle Giyorgis

1784-88Iyasu III

1788-89Tekle Giyorgis


1795Tekla Giyorgis

1795Baeda Maryam II

1796-97Solomon III


1799Solomon III

1799Tekla Giyorgis


1800Tekle Giyorgis


1801-18Egwala Tseyon

1818-21Iyoas II


1826Baeda Maryam III


1830-32Iyasu IV

1832Gabra Krestos

1832-40Sahela Dengel

1840-41Yohannes III

1841-55Sahela Dengel


Ewostatewos (Eustathius) was a Tigrean monastic evangelist who lived from 1273 to 1352. In his missionary, he attempted to abolish pagan animistic religions and ceremonial observances. He is well known for having uprooted twelve sanctified groves of trees devoted to pagan gods (Heze 62).

Said to be a nephew of Abba Daniel of Geralta, Ewostatewos founded a vibrant monastic community in Serae (Seraye). In his teachings, he urged his followers to make their own food. He forbad them from taking donations from nobles. He condemned Christian rulers who were involved with the slave trade and he advocated the teaching of Christ.

At the time, the Ethiopian church as well as the representative of the Alexandrian Patriarch were opposed to observing the Sabbath on Saturday. Ewostatewos and most Tigreans, however, preferred to observe the Sabbath on Saturday and Sunday. The conflicting view between Ewostatewos and the church lead him to leave the country around 1338. He went to Cyprus, Jerusalem, Egypt, and finally settled in Armenia until his death (Prouty and Rosenfeld 64).

Ewostatewos’ followers, upon their return to Ethiopia, were forced to settle in distant border regions to avoid the wrath of the main church. His followers built Debre Bizen in Hamasien and Gunda Gunde in northeast Tigary (Henze 62).

Ewostatewan followers were persecuted and secluded until the reign of Dawit in 1404. Emperor Zara Yakob in 1450 supervised the Council of Debre Mitmak in Shewa and finally resolved the conflict by accepting to observe Sabbath on Saturday and Sunday (Prouty and Rosenfeld 64).

Modern Ethiopia

The Abyssinian empire started to fall apart in the eighteenth century as the Gondar kings began to weaken. The last Gondar King, Yoas, was killed in 1769 and along with him went the importance of the monarch. The empire belonged to the Ras who manned the Gondar region. The country remained in a chaotic state, suffering from dissention and civil war, until the mid-nineteenth century.

The reunification of Ethiopia began with the rule of Emperor Téwodros (1855-68). He tried to abolish the feudal system and bring the fidelity of the Ethiopian church under the government. Even though Tewodros never accomplished his goals, his successors continued to lead with his precedent.

Yohannes IV claimed the Ethiopian throne on 21 January 1872. Yohannes spent most of his reign establishing his kingdom and opposing adversaries. Menelik II, who would eventually succeed him, pressured Yohannes from the south. He battled again the Egyptians from the north, the Italians from the east and the Mahdist Muslims from the west.

Menelik II (1844-1913) was the one monarch who accomplished the dreams Tewodros had for his country. Menelik took over as king of Ethiopia in 1889 after the death of Yohannes in the Battle of Matamma. Most European powers in the late 19th century were determined to secure territories in Africa. Italy was focusing its desires on particularly Ethiopia. The Treaty of Uccialli was negotiated between Ethiopia and Italy in 1890. Two copies, one in Amharic and one in Italian, were prepared. On the Italian version of the treaty, Francesco Crispi, prime minister of Italy, announced to all European nations that Ethiopia had become a territory belonging to Italy. On the Amharic version, it gave Menelik II the right to ask Italy for help in times of need, but it did not say anything about Ethiopia becoming a territory of Italy. When Menelik II discovered the misunderstanding, he immediately wrote to Britain's Queen Victoria, to the ruler of Germany, and to the president of France insisting that Ethiopia was still an independent nation. In 1893, Menelik II denounced the treaty and by 1895 Ethiopia and Italy were at war. On March 1896 Menelik's troops crushed the Italian army at Adwa, Ethiopia. Later, Italy did recognize Ethiopia as an independent nation.

After Menelik defeated the Italians at the Battle of Adwa, he expanded Ethiopia by conquest. Turmoil led to Menelik’s death, which brought his daughter, Empress Zauditu, to power in 1917. Tafari Makonnen was regent and heir apparent. Upon Empress Zauditu’s death in 1930, Tafari Makonnen was crowned Haile Selassie I as he became the 225th successor of the Solomonic dynasty. The name Haile Selassie means 'the Power of the Trinity' in Amharic, and his official titles also included 'King of Kings' and the ‘Lion of Judah.' In 1931, Haile Sellasie decreed the nation's first written constitution. Through his efforts, Ethiopia became a member of the international organization called the League of Nations (now United Nations) in 1932.

In May of 1936 Haile Selassie fled to England in exile after the Italians invaded his country half a year ago. Italy had previously controlled Eritrea, part of Somalia and with the addition of Ethiopia, it formed the Italian East Africa. With the aide of British troops, Haile Selassie was able to repossess Ethiopia in 1941.

The Provisional Military Administrative Council, or Derg, under the rule of Lt. Col. Mengistu Haile Mariam, took hold of the country in 1977. From 1977 to 1991, this government fought against Eritrea, Somali rebels, and its own people. Mengistu’s government was uphelded by the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front in 1991. Eritrea gained its independence from Ethiopia in 1993. Another war ignited between Ethiopia and Eritrea in 1998 over a border dispute. The matter has yet to be settled but fighting has seized for the moment.

Tewodros II

Tewodros II was born Kassa Hailu sometime around 1818. His father, Hailu Welde Giyorigis, was the ruler of Qwara district, located on the Ethiopian-Sudanese border. His military experience started when he served in his half brother’s army (Prouty and Rosenfeld 1982, 71). His half brother died in 1839 and Qwara was lost to the family and claimed by Empress Menen of Gondar. Kassa Hailu resorted to become a shifta, one who refuses to recognize his feudal lord. Kassa Hailu organized his own army in the plains of Qwara. When he became too powerful to ignore, as a way to deal with him with out using force, he was named dajazmach of Qwara and given the hand of Tawabach, the daughter of Ras Ali of Begemder, in 1845. (Zewde 2001, 28)

Kassa was very close to Tawabach and devoted to his marriage but his submission to Empress Menen was short-lived. In October 1846, he attacked and plundered Dembea, a city located due south of Gondar, and in January 1847 he went on to occupy Gondar. When Kassa unoccupied Gondar later that year, Empress Menen sent an army after him into north of Lake Tana. Kassa easily defeated the army and took the Empress as prisoner (Marcus 2002, 60). Her son, Ras Ali of Begemder, chose to negotiate with Kassa; he gave Kassa all lands west and north of Lake Tana and Kassa in return released his mother (Prouty and Rosenfeld 1982, 60). The reconciled relationship with Empress Menen led him to join up with Ras Ali and Ras Goshu Zewde of Gojam. However, when conflict reemerged yet again in 1852, Kassa retreated back to Qwara to re-strengthen his troops (Henze 2001, 134-5).

Seal of Tewodros II (Pankhurst 1998, 145).

From that point on, Kassa never looked back. On 27 November 1852, he defeated Ras Goshu’s Gojami army. On 12 April 1853, Kassa defeated four armies from Wallo, Yajju, Tigray, and Gojam that were formed by Ras Ali. On 29 June 1853 he defeated Ras Ali’s troops but Ras Ali and Empress Menen were able to escape into the Yajju territory. On 9 February 1855, Kassa defeated the last important ruler of the Zamana Masafent, Dajazmach Webe Hayle Mariam of Tigray (Zewde 2001, 29-30) Two days later, Kassa Hailu was crowned king of kings of Ethiopia as Tewodros II at Webe’s church Deresge Mariam, by the Coptic Metropolitan, Abuna Salama. (Marcus 2002, 64)

When he became emperor, he set out to reunify and modernize Ethiopia. However, his ideals never materialized because he spent most of his time on military expeditions. After he established Dabara Tabor as his capital, located 60 miles south-east of Gondar, he went on to concur Tigray, Wallo, and Shawa, but only for a short time. The appointed leaders of those regions were either too weak or disloyal. When unable to bring all of Ethiopia under his control, and fearing a threat of an attack by the Egyptians from the north and Turks from the Red Sea, Tewodros attempted to ally himself with England. In October 1862, he sent a letter to Queen Victoria asking her to aide him oust the Turks form the Red Sea. The letter was answered nearly two years later only after Tewodros in anger had priosoned English subjects (Pankhusrt 1998, 154). By 1868, the British were in Ethiopia with an army of 32,000 content on destroying Tewodros. They got cooperation from Dejazmach Kassa Mercha of Tigray. Tewodros was well ahead prepared for the British in Magdala, where the British subjects were being held. The British began their assault on 10 April 1868. The next day, Tewodros released the prisoners, but it was not enough to save Tewodros. On 13 April, the British unleashed their final attack. That evening, Tewodros committed suicide. Soon afterwards, the British burned Magdala and duly left the country (Henze 2001, 139-142).

A painting depicting Tewodros's suicide. (Pankhurst 1998, 159)

When the British first entered Ethiopia, they had received cooperation from Kassa Mercha and had promised that they would leave as soon as they dealt with Tewodros. When they left, they rewarded "Kassa for his cooperation by presenting him with six mortars, six howitzers, as well as 850 muskets, and a goodly supply of ammunition." (Pankhurst 2001, 160-1). This surprising gift from the British helped him to overcome Wag Shum Gobaze of Lasta and Menelik of Shewa to become the next emperor of Ethiopia. Upon his coronation, he became Yohannes IV (Marcus 2002, 42).

Yohannes IV

When Tewodros (emperor from 1855 to 1868) died in 1868, three men emerged hoping to become the next emperor: Wagshum Gobaze Gebre Medhen of Lasta, King Menelik II of Shewa, and Dajazmach Kassa Mercha of Tigray. Wagshum Gobaze was the ruler of Amhara, Wag, and Lasta (Pankhurst, R. 1998, 162). When Tewodros was killed, Gobaze occupied Gondar and crowned himself Emperor Tekle Giyorgis II. No one took his coronation seriously because there was no abun (Prouty, C. and Rosenfeld, E. 1982, 169). The second aspiring man, Menelik, became prominent once he escaped from Tewodros’ imprisonment in 1865. After his escape, with the support of family and friends, he became the ruler of the province of Shewa. But it was the third man, the one who wanted the title the least, who became the next true leader of Ethiopia.

Yohannes IV (Henze 2000, 146)

In early 1868, the British force seeking Tewodros’ surrender, after he refused to release imprisoned British subjects, arrived on the coast of Massawa. The British and Dajazmach Kassa came to an agreement in which Kassa would let the British pass through Tigray (the British were going to Magdala which Tewodros had made his capital) in exchange for money and weapons. Surely enough, when the British completed their mission and were leaving the country, they rewarded Kassa for his cooperation with artillery, muskets, rifles, and munitions, all in all worth approximately £500,000 (Marcus 2002, 71-72). This formidable gift came in handy when in July 1871 the current emperor, Emperor Tekle Giyorgis II, attacked Kassa at his capital in Adwa, for Kassa had refused to be named a ras or pay tribute (Marcus, H. 2002, 72). Although Kassa’s army was outnumbered 12,000 to the emperor’s 60,000, Kassa’s army was equipped with more modern weapons and better trained. At battle’s end, forty percent of the emperor’s men had been captured. The emperor was imprisoned and would die a year later. Six months later on 21 January 1872, Kassa became the new emperor under the name Yohannes IV (Zewde, B. 2001, 43).

The first major opposition the emperor faced was the expansionist Egyptians, who were highly interested in spreading their territory further south. The Sultan of the Ottoman Empire had ceded Massawa to the Egyptians in 1867. The Egyptians also had control of most of northern Sudan (Henze, P. 2000, 146-7). In 1874, an Egyptian army captured the Ethiopian cities of Bogos and Keren, both near the Sudanese border. The Egyptians had also occupied the port of Zula and all ports south of the Massawa, establishing an embargo preventing import of weapons into Ethiopia (Marcus 2002, 73-4). In 1875, the Egyptians took Harar. Yohannes had tried to appeal to European leaders but was completely ignored because Egypt was economically superior (Henze, P. 2000, 147).

Seal of Emperor Yohannes IV (Pankhurst, R. 1998, 163)

After Yohannes' peaceful attempts to resolve the situation failed, he declared war on the Egyptians on 23 October 1875. In November 1875, the Egyptian army met Yohannes’ well-prepared troops at Gundat. The Egyptian army lost one-third of its men, including their commander. The Egyptians returned 4 months latter with a better-equipped army, numbering 15,000 – 20,000 (Henze, P. 2000, 147-8). The three-day battle in March of 1876 in Gura left all but 500 Egyptians dead, wounded, or captured. Yohannes was also able to confiscate “12,000-13,000 Remington rifles, sixteen cannons, munitions, and other … booty.” (Marcus, H 2002, 75).

In the following years, both countries attempted to come to a diplomatic solution. Nothing came out of it for Ethiopia’s demands, that Egypt unoccupy land belonging to Ethiopia, was unacceptable to the Egyptians. At the same time, Egypt was breaking apart internally and in northern Sudan, which had been part of Egyptian territory, a Muslim Mahdist movement had broken out and replaced Egyptian authority as well as emerge as a threat to Ethiopia. The British came to Egypt’s defense in 1884 and made an arrangement between the three countries and a treaty was arranged, know as the Adwa (or Hewett) Peace Treaty. According to the treaty, Egypt would give back Ethiopian lands if Ethiopia assisted in the evacuation of Egyptian troops out of Sudan. After Ethiopia had carried out its part, Ethiopia was able to regain all former land except for its ports. (Zewde, B. 2001, 54-5).

With Egypt being in a such a weak position and Ethiopia not yet being strong enough to face a European power in war, the British were very concerned of French intentions in the Horn of Africa, for the French were already settled nearby in Tajura (in modern day Djibouti). The British figured that the best way to keep the French in check was to have a large presence in Ethiopia (Marcus, H. 2002, 82-3). So in early 1885, the British had convinced the Italians, a British alley, to take over Massawa. In doing so, it will soon be shown what the British had done towards Ethiopia was to take ‘one weak enemy [Egypt] for two strong ones, the Mahdist state and Italy.’ (Sven Rubenson qtd in Zewde, B. 2001, 55)

One of the first things that the Italians did in Massawa was to stop the import of weapons into Ethiopia from the Red Sea. By 1886, they were starting to penetrate into Ethiopian territory. They occupied two cities near Massawa, Saati and Wia, which according to the Adwa Peace Treaty, had been decided was part of Ethiopian territory. The following year, Ras Alula, the emperor’s chief commander, attacked the Italians and chased them away from the two cities (Pankhurst, R. 1998, 171-2). The Italians did not take this blow served by the Ethiopians lightly:

“The call for revenge was heard in the streets [of Italy] as well as in the government chambers. [The Italian] Parliament voted for an appropriation of 20 million lire for the defense of Massawa and its environs. A special force of 5,000 men was organized to reinforce the existing troops. Roads and bridges were built and repaired in an effort to strengthen the infrastructure for the future military action. Simultaneously, the policy of instigating Menelik to act against Yohannes was intensified.” (Zewde, B. 2001, 57)

Both countries called upon Britain as an arbitrator, both believing they were in the right. The British needed Italy to counter French threat and thus proposed that Italy be allowed to occupy Saati and Wia. The British also proposed that Yohannes should publicly apologize to the Italians. A very angry Yohannes took some 80,000 men to Saati for once and all to finish the issue with the Italians. However, the Italians refused to come out of their fort to fight. Yohannes had no choice but to retreat because he was running out of food and supplies (Pankhurst, R. 1998, 172-3).

Both countries called upon Britain as an arbitrator, both believing they were in the right. The British needed Italy to counter French threat and thus proposed that Italy be allowed to occupy Saati and Wia. The British also proposed that Yohannes should publicly apologize to the Italians. A very angry Yohannes took some 80,000 men to Saati for once and all to finish the issue with the Italians. However, the Italians refused to come out of their fort to fight. Yohannes had no choice but to retreat because he was running out of food and supplies (Pankhurst, R. 1998, 172-3).

When Yohannes has signed the Adwa Peace Treaty to take back his land, the price to pay seemed small: assist in the evacuation of Egyptian troops out of Mahdist Muslim dominated area of Sudan. But now that Egypt did not have control of Sudan, the Mahdist Muslims were prepared to make Ethiopia punish for her interference. They began by attacking the western frontiers of Gojjam and Begemder. At the time, the emperor was preoccupied with the Italians at Saati and couldn’t be of any assistance. So it fell upon Tekle Haymanot, the ruler of Gojjam, to lead Ethiopia without the assistance of the emperor. Unfortunately, he was no match against the Mahdist Muslims and they inflicted heavy loses upon his army. He could not do anything as they marched on Gondar in 1888 and burned the city down. The Mahdist Muslim threat was temporarily suspended only once the emperor had called upon Menelik to defend Gojjam and Begemder. When Menelik was returning to Shewa after his campaigns in Begemder and Gojjam, him and Tekle Haymanot, who had been rivals beforehand, forged an agreement to work together against the emperor.

Yohannes with royal crown and staff (Pankhurst, R. 1998, 167).

When Yohannes returned from his unsuccessful campaign in Saati, he invaded and ravaged Gojjam for Tekle Haymanot’s rebellious intentions (Henze, P. 2000, 158-9). After the ravage of Gojjam, Yohannes won back Tekle Haymanot’s loyalty and was preparing to attack Menelik in Shewa. Meanwhile, Menelik has made an arrangement with the Italians for a double attack on Yohannes. The Italians were going to attack from Massawa and Menelik from Shewa. The Italians has supplied Menelik with enough weapons to assure victory. But as it happened, the match between Yohannes and Menelik never occurred for once again when the Mahdist Muslims began to attack Begemder, the emperor abandoned his plans on attacking Menelik and ran off to face the Mahdist Muslims (Marcus, H. 2002, 86-7). This combat with the Mahdist Muslims, know as the Battle of Matamma, was to be Yohannes’ last:

“..on 9 March [1889] when the battle opened, it appeared as if God favored the Ethiopians. The emperor and his command breached the center of the Mahdist lines and surged forward toward victory until Yohannes was shot, first in the right hand, and then, as he again advanced, by a bullet that lodged mortally in his chest. The Christians wavered and then broke, giving an undeserved triumph to the Muslims. With his dying breaths, Yohannes declared his natural son, Dej. Mengesha, heir…On 25 March 1889, when Menelik learned about the tragedy at Metema, he immediately proclaimed himself negus negast, king of kings.” (Marcus, H. 2002, 87-9).


Menelik was born in August 1844. His father Haile Menekot, was king of Shewa from 1847 to 1855. Haile Menekot died in 1855 after losing a battle to emperor Tewodros (Prouty, C. and Rosenfeld, E. 1982, 129). Menelik was set to be the next ruler of Shewa but was taken away by Tewodros to Magdala. In his place, Tewodros had made Ato Bezabeh governor of Shewa (Gabre-Sellassie, Z. 1975, 19). At Magdala, Menelik was treated like a prince. He was raised alongside Tewodros' own sons and was given education and training befitting a child of a ruler. Menelik said of Tewodros: "he always loved me as a son" (Marcus 1995, 23).

Ten years later, in 1865, Menelik escaped Tewodros' imprisonment and, with the help of family and friends, became the ruler of Shewa. He would remain the ruler of Shewa for another 24 years before he became emperor upon Yohannes' death in 1889 (Pankhurst, R. 1998, 176).

Ato Bezabeh fled upon the return of Menelik to Shewa in 1865. Menelik was officially recognized king of Shewa in August of that year. In April 1868, when the British came to dethrone Tewodros in Magdala, Menelik sent an army to Magdala hoping to claim the imperial throne upon Tewodros' fall. Menelik had asked the British to help him in his plan, but the British did not really care who became the next emperor so they denied him of any assistance. At the last minute, Menelik changed his mind and had his army back off, making the excuse that he would not have his men do battle on Easter. After the British left Magdala, Wagshum Gobaze, the ruler of Amhara, Wag, and Lasta, took Magdala and proclaimed himself emperor. Menelik had lost his first chance at the imperial throne to Gobaze and will still have to wait until Yohannes' death to become emperor (Gabre-Sellassie, Z. 1975, 19-21).

Wagshum Gobaze, now calling himself Emperor Tekle Giyorgis II, remained emperor for only a short three years, from 1868 to 1871. When the British had stormed Magdala in 1868, they had done it with the cooperation of a certain Kassa Marcha of Tigray. After the British finished their campaign, they awarded Kassa Marcha for his cooperation by giving him a number of weapons. When the current emperor, Tekle Giyorgis, attacked Tigray because Kassa had refused to submit, Kassa was able to crush the imperial army because his troops, although outnumbered, were better equipped. Kassa went on to become the next emperor in 1872 with the name Yohannes IV.

During Yohannes' nearly two decade rule, Menelik was mostly faithful. Menelik would respond when Yohannes asked him to suppress a revolt and he respected territorial boundaries carved out for him by Yohannes. However, Menelik's ambition to become emperor was too great and was always looking for a way to dethrone Yohannes. In 1875 Menelik started communication with the khedive of Egypt hoping he could make them an alley. Through Egypt, Menelik hoped he could obtain access to the seacoast and a supply of firearms. Later that same year, the Egyptians tried to make Menelik part of their plot against Yohannes, but before real measures were taken, the Egyptian's plan failed by their own undoing (Gabre-Sellassie, Z. 1975, 57-59). In 1876, Menelik had his aspirations on the French. He wanted to open a trade route to Obock, a French-ruled seaport located in what is today Djibouti. Menelik sent a draft treaty to France and he made it know a substantial amount of land in Shewa would be available for a French settlement (Gabre-Sellassie, Z. 1975, 85-86). Nothing came out of this attempt either but Menelik's most daring move was still ahead of him.

While Yohannes was preoccupied with defending the country against the Egyptians, Menelik saw it as a perfect opportunity to expand his territory north. Menelik started in the summer of 1876 by invading Wallo. Early the following year, Menelik was in Begemdir. During this ordeal, Yohannes was camped at Adwa. It wasn't until March of 1877 that Yohannes finally left Adwa. Yohannes slowly advanced south and Menelik retreated back to Shewa. When Yohannes reached Shewa, Menelik was contemplating whether to do battle with the emperor or to submit. Yohannes was willing not to fight as long as Menelik submitted. Finally Menelik submitted to Yohannes on 10 March 1878. Menelik promised to pay annual tribute, to cease trade routes to European ruled territories, and to be faithful to the emperor. In exchange, Menelik got to keep his land and was anointed by the emperor as king of Shewa (Gabre-Sellassie, Z. 1975, 89-93).

Upon emperor Yohannes' suggestion, Menelik married Taitu Betul. Her brothers were imprisoned with Menelik in Magdala during Tewodros' rule. The wedding took place in the Church of Medhane Alem in Ankober in the spring of 1883. Paul Henze describes her as being "bright, energetic, patriotic, a devout Christian and unusually well educated for her time." (2000, 151).

For much of the 1880s, Menelik's expansion campaigning towards the south greatly increased the size of Shewa. Eastern Gurage was concurred without much resistance where as the western side required heavy fighting measures. Heavy fighting was also necessary to concur Arsi. After defeating King Tekle Haymanot of Gojjam in 1882, Menelik was able to occupy Leqa Naqamté, Leqa Qellem, Jemma, the Gibé states, and Illubabor. Later on, Menelik "took control of Kulo and Konta in 1889. He began the occupation of Kambata in 1890, occupied Ogaden, Balé and Sidamo in 1891, and gained control of Gofa and conquered Walamo . . . in 1894, and took Kafa three years later." One of his last great concur as king of Shewa was Harar. Paul Henze writes that "Menelik consciously extended his borders to include all the territories that had formed part of the medieval empire of Amde Tseyon." (2000, 152).

When the Egyptians evacuated Harar in May 1885, it was taken over by Emir Abdullahi. He was a Muslim fundamentalist who persecuted Christians. When Italian Christians were killed in Ogaden in April 1886, supposedly ordered by the emir, Menelik saw it as an excuse to interpose. Before Menelik attacked, he offered the emir autonomy. The emir refused the offer and opened attack on Menelik on 6 January 1887. Menelik's troops were far superior and the emir was defeated. The emir fled to the Somali desert to hide. Menelik appointed his cousin Makonnen as governor of Hara. The city would go on to become an economic center allowing Shewa a better access to the French Gulf of Tadjoura (Marcus 2002, 83-4).

Yohannes was unexpectedly killed at the Battle of Matamma on 9 March 1889. The heir apparent was Yohannes' son, Megesha, but neither he or any one else could match Menelik's power. Menelik quickly began touring north receiving submission from local officials. Shortly afterwards, Menelik began negotiating with the Italians because he wanted them to officially recognize him as emperor of Ethiopia. On 2 May 1889, the Italians and Menelik signed the infamous Treaty of Wichale (Marcus 2002, 87-9). There were two versions made; the Amharic version gave Menelik the choice of "using Italy's good offices for contacts with other countries. The Italian version obligated Menelik to make all such contacts through Italy, thus making Ethiopian an Italian protectorate." (Henze, P. 2000, 161). When Menelik II discovered the misunderstanding, he immediately wrote to Britain's Queen Victoria, to the ruler of Germany, and to the president of France insisting that Ethiopia was still an independent nation. In 1893, Menelik II denounced the treaty and by 1895 Ethiopia and Italy were at war. On March 1896 Menelik's troops crushed the Italian army at Adwa, Ethiopia. Later, Italy did recognize Ethiopia as an independent nation.

After the Battle of Adwa, Menelik refocused his attention to expanding Ethiopia's territory further south and west. One of the first major acquirement was of Kefa in 1897. One major obstacle was the British; they were in control of regions that are today Kenya and Sudan. The threat was not going to hinder Menelik; he continued expanding into territories the Europeans believed were theirs. As well as expanding Ethiopia's frontiers, Menelik did much to modernize the country. During his reign, electricity, the telephone, and indoor plumping where introduced. Advancements in health and education were made and Ethiopia become a member of the International Postal Union. His most outreaching achievement was the construction of the railway from Addis Abeba to Djibouti. It was instrumental in connecting the country to the outside world as well as increasing trade commerce (Marcus 2002, 104-8).

In 1906, Menelik had a stroke related to a disease which would eventually take his life. In 1907 he institutionalized a ministerial system to the government. The ministry would later become vital when Menelik fell seriously ill. In May 1909, Menelik named his grandson, Iyasu, his successor. Because Iyasu was a minor at the time, Ras Tasamma Nadaw was named regent. However, the most powerful person in Ethiopia at the time was Taytu, Menelik's wife. Her reign was short-lived for she had far more opponents than supporters. Her opponents, includeing the regent, used the imperial army, the church, and other political means to bring Taytu down. In 1910, Taytu was forced out of power. She fled to Saint Maryam at Entotto, where she retired until her death (Zewde, B. 2001, 111-120).

Iyasu took over power in 1911 when regent Ras Tasamma Nadew passed away. Thus began the short reign of Iyasu, which ended in 1916. Menelik died in December of 1913 and the country fell into a period of uncertainty. The next true leader, Haile Selassie, was not crowned until 1930.





Gabre-Sellassie, Zewde. Yohannes IV of Ethiopia: A Political Biography. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1975.

Henze, Paul B. , Layers of Time: A History of Ethiopia. New York: St. Martin's Press, 2000.

Marcus, Harold G. The Life and Times of Menelik II: Ethiopia 1844-1913. The Red Sea Press, 1995.

Marcus, Harold G. A History of Ethiopia: Updated Edition. Berkeley : University of California Press, 2002.

Pankurst, Richard. The Ethiopians. Oxford: Blackwell, 1998.

Prouty, Chris and Rosenfeld, Eugene. Historical Dictionary of Ethiopia. London: Scarecrow Press, Inc., 1982.

Zewde, Bahru. History of Modern Ethiopia 1855 - 1991. Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press., 2001

Battle of Adwa

In 1896, Ethiopia fought a desperate battle against a stronger European nation attempting to invade, conquer, and colonize the smaller nation and more importantly, be able to exploit its natural resources. After a long siege in the mountains betweens Ethiopia and the bordering nation of Eritrea, a series of brutal battles were fought between the army of King Menelik II of Ethiopia and the Italian Army under the command of the Italian governor of Eritrea, General Oreste Baratieri.

The mistrust between the two nations had begun 7 years before during the signing of the Treaty of Wichale (or Uccialli) agreed to in principle in May of 1889. Menelik II agreed to provide to Italy land in the Tigray province in exchange for support in the form of weapons the Italians had been supplying him for some time. The Italians wanted more.

There were two versions of the treaty to be signed, one in Italian, and one written in Amharic. Unbeknownst to the conquering King was the fact that the version in Italian had been altered by the translators to give Rome more power over Menelik II and his kingdom of Ethiopia.

The Italians believed they had tricked Menelik II into giving his allegiance to Rome in the treaty. Mistakenly, they believed him to be unsophisticated in the way the Europeans believed themselves to be. To the Italians surprise, the treaty was rejected despite their attempt to influence the king with 2 million round of ammunition. He would have none of it and denounced them as liars who had attempted to cheat himself and Ethiopia.

When bribery failed Italy did what so many nations have tried throughout history. They attempted to set up Ras Mangasha of Tigray as rival by promising to support him with money and weapons, and hoped he would overthrow Menelik II who had denounced Italy. When that failed, the Italians turned to Baratieri, who had shown some promise in his handling of government affairs in Eritrea.

Baratieri was no stranger to battle and devised a good strategy to lure the Ethiopians into an ambush. There were three main problems with his strategy.

First, he had drastically underestimated the strength and will of the army facing him. Although aware he was outnumbered, the Governor of Eritrea believed the Ethiopians to be undisciplined and unskilled at the art of war negating the advantage in numbers. Certain he would have an advantage over the ‘savages’, he dug in his 20,000 troops and 56 guns at Adawa awaiting the King and his men.

In the meantime, Menelik II had trapped a thousand or so of the Italian army and besieged them. He agreed to allow them safe passage if Italy would reopen negotiations with him concerning a peace treaty. The Italian government refused and in fact did the opposite, authorizing more dollars to pursue the war in Ethiopia. Their Nations’ pride had been hurt by the African King and they sought to restore their ego and influence.

The second error Baratieri made was the assumption he could lure the Ethiopians out into an ambush. He did not think they had the tactics or knowledge of battle he possessed as an important leader in a civilized European nation. After a 3 month standoff his troops were out of basic supplies and he had to move forward or retreat. After a message came from higher up in the government calling him out as ineffective and unsure, he was pushed ahead to attack.

Baratieri’s third mistake of not understanding how poor his battle intelligence was became the most costly of his errors. The strategy he employed was to outflank the Ethiopian army under the cover of darkness and move in on them from the mountains above their camp. While Sun Tzu would have approved, the Italian commander did not account for the extremely harsh terrain nor the lack of direction and difficulty in communicating with his men would have out in the wild country.

After setting out confident in their battle strategy, the officers in charge of implementing the attack learned how poor the rough sketches they had were. It was dark and cold in a high mountain pass in February and it was doomed. Divisions of Italian soldiers became confused, lost, and disorganized. Through the confusion a two mile gap in their battle line was opened and the Ethiopians rushed in cutting the Italian attack in two. Baratieri had failed to claim the high ground and Menelik II hastily moved his artillery in above the attacking soldiers. Able to lob shells down upon the invaders, the Ethiopians raced to seize the advantage but the Italians held their ground and at mid morning it looked as if they may be able to win in spite of all the difficulty they had encountered.

Considering retreat, Menelik II was persuaded by his advisors to commit to the battle an additional 25,000 soldiers he had been holding in reserve. Those additional troops proved to be the difference in the outcome of the ferocious melee. Having fought hundreds of battles to protect their homeland, Menelik’s warriors attacked with a ferocity the Italians couldn’t have imagined. Taking hardly any prisoners, the victors of Battle of Adwa killed 289 Italian officers, 2,918 European soldiers and about 2,000 askari. A further 954 European troops were missing, while 470 Italians and 958 askari were wounded. Some 700 Italians and 1,800 askari fell into the hands of the Ethiopian troops.

With the victory at the Battle of Adwa in hand and the Italian colonial army destroyed, Eritrea was King Menelik’s for the taking but no order to occupy was given. It seems that Menelik II was wiser than the Europeans had given him credit for. Realizing they would bring all their force to bear on his country if he attacked, he instead sought to restore the peace that had been broken by the Italians and their treaty manipulation seven years before. In signing the treaty, Menelik II again proved his adeptness at politics as he promised each nation something for what they gave and made sure each would benefit his country and not a rival nation.

Haile Selassie

Haile Selassie reviewing troops (Marcus, H. 2002, 141).

Upon the death of Menelik in 1913, the country was being run by his 16-year old grandson Lij Iyasu. Menelik had named him his successor and thus the council of ministers couldn't prevent the minor from taking over. When Menelik passed away, Iyasu tried to keep the news a secret. He had Menelik's wife and daughter removed from the capital and was "disrespectful to Menelik's old nobles." Iyasu wasn't anti-muslim like the preceding rulers (his father used to be muslim). He tried to accommodate both followers of Christianity and Islam. He married into families of both religions. He founded churches and built mosques. However, his toleration towards Muslims was resented by the church and the ministers would, in 1916, use it as one of the reasons to oust him out of power. Menelik's daughter, Zawditu, succeeded him. At the same time, Dajazmach Tafari was named Heir to the Throne (Pankhurst, R. 1998, 203-8).

Tafari was born in Ejersa Goro near Harar on 23 July 1892. He was the last of 10 children and the only one to grow to an adult age. Tafari's father, Ras Makonnen, had high aspirations for his son's future. He made him dejazmach at the age of 13. He had a French tutor as well as "attended a traditional Orthodox school, learning Ge'ez and religious traditions." (Henze, P. 2000, 189-190) After his father's death in 1906, Tafari went to Addis Ababa and "Menelik insisted he stay as a palace page and gave him two successive appointments as titular governor of small Shoan region." For one year, he was governor of Sidamo before returning to Addis. Quickly afterwards, in 1910 he was assigned governorship of Harar. A year later he wedded Menen Asfaw, whom would stay by her husband's side until her death. He would govern Harar until l916 and was reassigned by Iyasu to Kaffa in the same year. A few months later, however, Iyasu would be ousted out of power and Tafari would be named heir to the throne. Soon after finding out he had been overthrown, Iyasu was forced into hiding. His father, Ras Mikael of Wollo, was not quite ready to give up. He marched down south towards Addis Ababa with 80,000 men. The imperial army, on the other side, built its front with 120,000 men. Before too much damage was done Mikael was captured and his army dismantled. At a victory parade a month later, an observer described Mikael:

"He came on foot and in chains, an old, fine-looking man dressed in the usual black silk cloak with a white cloth wound round his head, stern and very dignified, to bow before the Empress before being led away. One felt sorry for him; he had fought like a man, leading the charge of his troops, for a worthless son who had not even the courage to risk death in the supporting the father who had thrown everything for his sake." (Thesiger, W. qtd in Henze, P. 2000, 197)

Iyasu would eventually be captured and be held in confinement at Garamulata until his death in 1936.

Family and experience were the two main reasons that Tafari was able to reach such a high place as heir to the throne. His father, Ras Makonnen, was Menelik's cousin. Tafari was also the great-grandson of Negus Sahle-Sellasie, who ruled Shewa from 1813-1847. Tafari's experience to leadership came at an early age when his father made him dejazmach at the age of 13. From that on, he would continue on to govern Sidamo, Harar, and Kaffa. Through this service, he picked up valuable leadership skills. He had also gained favor with Emperor Menelik at a young age and attended one of the best schools at the time, Menelik II School. (Zewde, B. 2001, 128-130)

Although Tafari was named only heir to the throne in 1916, he worked as if he was regent. He kept Zawditu “informed of his actions, but took the reins of administration into his own hands. He took charge of military and civil appointments, judicial matters, and foreign relations.” (Henze, P. 2000, 198) One of his first moves in establishing his power was to do away with the council of ministers in 1918. In 1923, he got Ethiopia admitted into the League of Nations. On the progressive front, he opened more schools and sent promising students overseas. He established printing presses and opened a modern hospital (Pankhurst, R. 1998, 208-12). Although there was not much of a power struggle between Tafari and Zawditu, he faced much opposition from other men who were unhappy with Tafari acquiring more power. In 1927, Dajjach Balcha Safo, leader of Sidamo, resentful of Tafari, marched with an army towards the capital to confront Tafari. Howerver, his army was dismantled once they found out Balcha had been striped of his governorship of Sidamo. Tafari was also challenged by Ras Gugsa Wale of Bagemder, former husband of Zawditu. Gugsa was defeated and killed at the Battle of Anchem (Zewde, B. 2001, 133-7). A few days later, Zawditu died after lying “deathly ill of typhoid complicated with diabetes in her palace … with Tafari at her bed side.” The following day Tafari was pronounced emperor (Henze, P. 2000, 205).

The empress died unexpectedly on 2 April 1930. Tafari was crowned emperor on 2 November of that same year. After Haile Selassie became emperor, Ethiopia became more known to the world. In Jamaica, the emperor's coronation ceremonies

'were seen as no less than the realization of the biblical prophesy that "Kings would come out of Africa". Identifying themselves passionately with the new Ethiopian monarch, as well as with Ethiopia's status as an independent African state they rejected traditional European missionary-based Christianity, and created a new religion of their own. In it they accorded the emperor the rank of divinity, the Messiah of African redemption. This gave birth to the Ras Tafarian movement' (Pankhurst, R. 1998, 215-6)

In the years 1930-35 the construction of the government and modernization followed before the Italians attacked. In 1931, Haile Selassie introduced Ethiopia's first constitution. Ministries, such as education and public works, were established. More hospitals and schools, including the first for girls, were opened. The emperor acquired more airplanes, built more roads and established a radio station (Pankhurst, R. 1998, 216-8).

Italians never forgot the loss they were dealt by the hands of Ethiopians at the Battle of Adwa 4 decades ago. Mussolini was determined to get revenge. He used a 'skirmish' at Wal Wal in late 1934 to begin his massive buildup for an attack. Haile Selassie attempted to diffuse the situation by appealing to the League of Nations and to major European powers but his plea fell on deaf ears. Five years into his rule, he was in exile after Italy invaded and occupied Ethiopia. The emperor fled by ways of Djibouti to Jerusalem. He remained in exile in England until 1941.

With the help of the British, Haile Selassie was back in control of Ethiopia in 1941. In 1951, Eritrea became a federated state of Ethiopia. In 1955, the emperor introduced an amended constitution.

In 1960, while the emperor was away on a foreign visit, a coup was attempted on the state. The emperor's eldest son was to be the new emperor (he later said the players in the coup forced him). The coup was easily dismantled and order was restored soon afterwards. However, political unrest became common place through out Ethiopia. By 1975, a new political system, the Derg, was in power and the emperor was dead.

Ethiopia in the Bible

Queen of Sheba's Visit to King Solomon

Sheba is believed to have been Queen of Ethiopia and it is through her Ethiopian rulers claim royalty. The verses below refer to Sheba's visit to King Solomon in Isreal. The tale is retold in The Second Book of Chronicles, 8:18 (Pankhurst 16):

1 Kings 10, 1-13

[1] And when the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the LORD, she came to prove him with hard questions.

[2] And she came to Jerusalem with a very great train, with camels that bare spices, and very much gold, and precious stones: and when she was come to Solomon, she communed with him of all that was in her heart.

[3] And Solomon told her all her questions: there was not any thing hid from the king, which he told her not.

[4] And when the queen of Sheba had seen all Solomon's wisdom, and the house that he had built,

[5] And the meat of his table, and the sitting of his servants, and the attendance of his ministers, and their apparel, and his cupbearers, and his ascent by which he went up unto the house of the LORD; there was no more spirit in her.

[6] And she said to the king, It was a true report that I heard in mine own land of thy acts and of thy wisdom.

[7] Howbeit I believed not the words, until I came, and mine eyes had seen it: and, behold, the half was not told me: thy wisdom and prosperity exceedeth the fame which I heard.

[8] Happy are thy men, happy are these thy servants, which stand continually before thee, and that hear thy wisdom.

[9] Blessed be the LORD thy God, which delighted in thee, to set thee on the throne of Israel: because the LORD loved Israel for ever, therefore made he thee king, to do judgment and justice.

[10] And she gave the king an hundred and twenty talents of gold, and of spices very great store, and precious stones: there came no more such abundance of spices as these which the queen of Sheba gave to king Solomon.

[11] And the navy also of Hiram, that brought gold from Ophir, brought in from Ophir great plenty of almug trees, and precious stones.

[12] And the king made of the almug trees pillars for the house of the LORD, and for the king's house, harps also and psalteries for singers: there came no such almug trees, nor were seen unto this day.

[13] And king Solomon gave unto the queen of Sheba all her desire, whatsoever she asked, beside that which Solomon gave her of his royal bounty. So she turned and went to her own country, she and her servants.

The Word 'Ethiopia' in the Bible

The word Ethiopia appears in the King James Bible version 45 times. When the word Ethiopia is used in the bible, it most of the time refers to all the land south of Egypt:


[13] And the name of the second river is Gihon: the same is it that compasseth the whole land of Ethiopia.


[1] And Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married: for he had married an Ethiopian woman.

2 Kgs.19

[9] And when he heard say of Tirhakah king of Ethiopia, Behold, he is come out to fight against thee: he sent messengers again unto Hezekiah, saying,


[3] With twelve hundred chariots, and threescore thousand horsemen: and the people were without number that came with him out of Egypt; the Lubims, the Sukkiims, and the Ethiopians.


[9] And there came out against them Zerah the Ethiopian with an host of a thousand thousand, and three hundred chariots; and came unto Mareshah.

[12] So the LORD smote the Ethiopians before Asa and before Judah; and the Ethiopians fled.

[13] And Asa and the people that were with him pursued them unto Gerar: and the Ethiopians were overthrown, that they could not recover themselves; for they were destroyed before the LORD, and before his host; and they carried away very much spoil.


[8] Were not the Ethiopians and the Lubims a huge host, with very many chariots and horsemen? yet, because thou didst rely on the LORD, he delivered them into thine hand.


[16] Moreover the LORD stirred up against Jehoram the spirit of the Philistines, and of the Arabians, that were near the Ethiopians:


[1] Now it came to pass in the days of Ahasuerus, (this is Ahasuerus which reigned, from India even unto Ethiopia, over an hundred and seven and twenty provinces:)


[9] Then were the king's scribes called at that time in the third month, that is, the month Sivan, on the three and twentieth day thereof; and it was written according to all that Mordecai commanded unto the Jews, and to the lieutenants, and the deputies and rulers of the provinces which are from India unto Ethiopia, an hundred twenty and seven provinces, unto every province according to the writing thereof, and unto every people after their language, and to the Jews according to their writing, and according to their language.


[19] The topaz of Ethiopia shall not equal it, neither shall it be valued with pure gold.


[31] Princes shall come out of Egypt; Ethiopia shall soon stretch out her hands unto God.


[4] I will make mention of Rahab and Babylon to them that know me: behold Philistia, and Tyre, with Ethiopia; this man was born there.


[1] Woe to the land shadowing with wings, which is beyond the rivers of Ethiopia:


[3] And the LORD said, Like as my servant Isaiah hath walked naked and barefoot three years for a sign and wonder upon Egypt and upon Ethiopia;

[4] So shall the king of Assyria lead away the Egyptians prisoners, and the Ethiopians captives, young and old, naked and barefoot, even with their buttocks uncovered, to the shame of Egypt.

[5] And they shall be afraid and ashamed of Ethiopia their expectation, and of Egypt their glory.


[9] And he heard say concerning Tirhakah king of Ethiopia, He is come forth to make war with thee. And when he heard it, he sent messengers to Hezekiah, saying,


[3] For I am the LORD thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour: I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee.


[14] Thus saith the LORD, The labour of Egypt, and merchandise of Ethiopia and of the Sabeans, men of stature, shall come over unto thee, and they shall be thine: they shall come after thee; in chains they shall come over, and they shall fall down unto thee, they shall make supplication unto thee, saying, Surely God is in thee; and there is none else, there is no God.


[23] Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil.


[7] Now when Ebed-melech the Ethiopian, one of the eunuchs which was in the king's house, heard that they had put Jeremiah in the dungeon; the king then sitting in the gate of Benjamin;

[10] Then the king commanded Ebed-melech the Ethiopian, saying, Take from hence thirty men with thee, and take up Jeremiah the prophet out of the dungeon, before he die.

[12] And Ebed-melech the Ethiopian said unto Jeremiah, Put now these old cast clouts and rotten rags under thine armholes under the cords. And Jeremiah did so.


[16] Go and speak to Ebed-melech the Ethiopian, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will bring my words upon this city for evil, and not for good; and they shall be accomplished in that day before thee.


[9] Come up, ye horses; and rage, ye chariots; and let the mighty men come forth; the Ethiopians and the Libyans, that handle the shield; and the Lydians, that handle and bend the bow.


[10] Behold, therefore I am against thee, and against thy rivers, and I will make the land of Egypt utterly waste and desolate, from the tower of Syene even unto the border of Ethiopia.


[4] And the sword shall come upon Egypt, and great pain shall be in Ethiopia, when the slain shall fall in Egypt, and they shall take away her multitude, and her foundations shall be broken down.

[5] Ethiopia, and Libya, and Lydia, and all the mingled people, and Chub, and the men of the land that is in league, shall fall with them by the sword.

[9] In that day shall messengers go forth from me in ships to make the careless Ethiopians afraid, and great pain shall come upon them, as in the day of Egypt: for, lo, it cometh.


[5] Persia, Ethiopia, and Libya with them; all of them with shield and helmet:


[43] But he shall have power over the treasures of gold and of silver, and over all the precious things of Egypt: and the Libyans and the Ethiopians shall be at his steps.


[7] Are ye not as children of the Ethiopians unto me, O children of Israel? saith the LORD. Have not I brought up Israel out of the land of Egypt? and the Philistines from Caphtor, and the Syrians from Kir?


[9] Ethiopia and Egypt were her strength, and it was infinite; Put and Lubim were thy helpers.


[12] Ye Ethiopians also, ye shall be slain by my sword.


[10] From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia my suppliants, even the daughter of my dispersed, shall bring mine offering.


[2] And to all the governors and captains and lieutenants that were under him, from India unto Ethiopia, of an hundred twenty and seven provinces.


[10] Until ye come beyond Tanis and Memphis, and to all the inhabitants of Egypt, until ye come to the borders of Ethiopia.


[1] The copy of the letters was this: The great king Artexerxes writeth these things to the princes and governours that are under him from India unto Ethiopia in an hundred and seven and twenty provinces.


[1] The great king Artexerxes unto the princes and governors of an hundred and seven and twenty provinces from India unto Ethiopia, and unto all our faithful subjects, greeting.


[27] And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship,

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