- ETHIOPIA (Abyssinia), Christian kingdom in N.E. Africa. Under Egyptian rule from 2000 B.C.E. to about 1000 B.C.E., Ethiopia (Heb. Kush) appears alongside Egypt in the Bible, sharing its prophesied doom (e.g., Isa. 20:3); Tirhakah, the pharaoh, is mentioned as king of Ethiopia during the Assyrian conquest of the Northern kingdom (II Kings 19:9 and Isa. 37:9). The wealth of Ethiopia and Seba are also cited (Isa. 43:3; 45:14). However, Ethiopia figures most prominently as an example of a remote place, cf. Amos 9:7, where God rebukes Israel saying, "Are you not like the Ethiopians to me, O people of Israel?" Independent of Egypt, Ethiopia was ruled by a dynasty of Arabian origin which invaded the country in the second century B.C.E., ruled from the city of Axum, and determined the Semitic quality of the customs and language of the Hamitic people. The kings at Axum called themselves negus-nagast ("king of kings"). They traced their descent to Menelik whom they claimed to have been the son of King Solomon and the queen of Sheba. This legend finds expression in the classic Ethiopian chronicle of the 14th century C.E., the Kebra Negast ("Glory of Kings"). Among other stories, the latter describes Solomon's seduction of and contract with the queen of Sheba, whose son brought Judaic customs and civil law to Ethiopia. The Holy Ark was also conveyed to Ethiopia to be returned to Zion only when Christ would reappear in Jerusalem and the Ethiopian Christians would reign triumphant in the Holy City. Indeed, the Coptic Monophysite Christianity accepted by the Ethiopians, probably in the fifth century, retained certain Jewish elements derived from the contact and influence of local Jews or from early Christianity itself. It is also possible that they were influenced by South Arabian Jews in pre-Islamic times. In the eighth century, the capital of the kingdom was moved from Axum as a result of Muslim expansion into Ethiopia. The Christian kings of the Zague dynasty who strove to restore their hegemony from the 13th century claimed descent from Solomon and maintained that the Ethiopian aristocracy was taken from Jerusalem to Axum. The lion of Judah has remained the symbol of the emperor of Ethiopia. The literary language of Ethiopia is Ge'ez, a Semitic tongue, which was replaced by Amharic. All holy works are written in Ge'ez, including the Bible (probably translated from Greek or Syriac) and the only complete extant versions of the apocryphal books of Enoch and Jubilees, which were translated from the lost Greek and included in the canon. During the Middle Ages, most works were translated from Arabic, including the major Jewish history, Josippon, called in Ge'ez, Zena Ayhud ("History of the Jews"), and other Jewish chronicles and religious works gleaned from Arabic sources. -Ethiopian Church in Jerusalem The Ethiopian Church is one of the oldest churches in the Holy Land. An Ethiopian convert is mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles (8:27–28) and Ethiopian monks and pilgrims are referred to in early pilgrim records. In 1172, in the crusader kingdom of Jerusalem, they possessed altars in the holy places, in the vicinity of which they had established monasteries. Under the Muslim rulers, after the downfall of the crusader kingdom, the Ethiopians obtained more extensive rights. They are mentioned in connection with the Church of the Tomb of the Virgin, and the chapel of St. Mary of Egypt (14th century), and as having chapels in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher (15th century). Toward the end of the 17th century, however, unable to meet the exactions of the Turkish pashas, they lost most of their holdings in the Holy Sepulcher. From an early date until the beginning of the 19th century, the Ethiopians had important rights in the Deir el-Sultan Monastery near the Holy Sepulcher, which have since been claimed by the Coptic Church. The Ethiopians were left with hovels on the roof of the chapel of St. Helena which is part of the church of the Holy Sepulcher. In the New City of Jerusalem there is an Ethiopian church with an adjoining monastery. There are also two monasteries in the Old City and one on the western bank of the Jordan River. -Relations with Israel Direct contacts between Ethiopia and the yishuv started in 1936, when Emperor Haile Selassie, his family, and officers found refuge in Jerusalem after the Italian conquest of Ethiopia. The emperor lived there for about one year, but numerous Ethiopian notables spent the whole period of their exile in Palestine. During World War II, a number of Jewish soldiers from Palestine served with the British forces in the reconquest of Ethiopia, both under the command of orde wingate , whose personal ADC during the Ethiopian campaign was a Palestinian Jewish officer, and in the regular East-African Command, particularly in the commando units that fought in Eritrea. After his return to Addis Ababa the emperor called a number of Palestinian Jews to serve in various capacities within the Ethiopian government. The first beginnings of economic ties between the two countries also developed at that time. Palestinian-manufactured goods reached Ethiopia, and some Jewish experts worked in Ethiopia. -From 1948 Ethiopia abstained in the crucial UN vote on Nov. 29, 1947 on the partition of Palestine, in view of her cautious line of neutrality in most of her dealings with the problems of the Middle East. In 1948 Ethiopia extended only de facto recognition to Israel; however, it continued to maintain its consulate general in West Jerusalem, thereby maintaining close contacts with Israel. In 1955, when an Israeli mission took part in Haile Selassie's Silver Jubilee celebrations in Addis Ababa, an agreement was reached to establish an Israeli consulate general in Addis Ababa, which began to function in the summer of 1956. In September 1961 Ethiopia extended de jure recognition to Israel and diplomatic relations at ambassadorial level were established. In international forums, Ethiopia maintained her traditional neutrality in the Arab-Israel conflict; repeatedly refused to join anti-Israel initiatives; and tried to urge reconciliation, negotiations, and peace, often in the face of an opposite stand adopted by the Afro-Asian and nonaligned groups in which Ethiopia became an ever more active member. The formal relations between the two countries steadily normalized and bilateral relations began to reflect the relatively close geographical proximity of the two countries. Numerous personalities of both countries paid mutual official and semi-official visits. In 1960 the Empress Menem went on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. In the same year the Israel minister of agriculture, moshe dayan , paid an official visit to Ethiopia. Israel's foreign minister, Golda Meir, visited Addis Ababa in 1962, and her successor abba eban visited there. It was particularly in economic and technical cooperation, however, that mutual ties found expression. With the opening of the Straits of Tiran to unhampered Israel shipping and the recognition of the Gulf of Akaba as an international waterway following the Sinai Campaign of 1956, Eilat and Massawa, and later on also Assab and Djibouti, became major ports of call for the ships of both nations. With the introduction of more modern ships, the time required for the trip from Eilat to Massawa steadily decreased, so that by 1970 this run was made in just over 48 hours. In 1970 a regular air link between Lydda and Addis Ababa was inaugurated by El Al Airlines, cutting flying time between Israel and Ethiopia to just over three hours. Commerce between the two countries developed steadily, with Israel selling mainly manufactured goods and buying primary products from Ethiopia. Economic cooperation between the two countries started early in the 1950s with the establishment of an Israeli meat-packing plant in Asmara, but it received particular impetus in the 1960s. A large Ethiopian-Israel cotton farm exists in the Awash Valley, an Ethiopian-Israel pharmaceutical plant in Addis Ababa, and a number of other enterprises. During the 1960s Israeli experts served in various fields in Ethiopia, from public transportation through fishing and agriculture to Ethiopian geological surveys. Numerous Ethiopian students studied in various institutions in Israel in widely diverse fields, e.g., agriculture and communications. Cultural ties occupy a special place in the relations between the two countries, particularly those between the institutions of higher learning. In 1959 the Haifa Technion entered into close relations with the Engineering College in Addis Ababa, which later became part of the Haile Selassie I University, in which Israeli professors subsequently served. In 1970 an agreement was reached between the Haile Selassie I University and the Hebrew University for the joint development of a microbiology institute in Addis Ababa. Close collaboration existed also in medicine, town planning, water development, and related fields. (Hanan Bar-On) Starting in the 1960s Israel was a major supplier of military aid to Ethiopia, which continued even after Ethiopia broke off diplomatic relations with Israel in 1973 in the wake of the Yom Kippur War and also after the Marxist Mengistru regime replaced Haile Selassie in 1974. From the 1980s such assistance was linked to Ethiopia's agreement to allow Ethiopian Jews, the so-called Falashas (see beta israel ), to immigrate to Israel, a condition that was fulfilled in two dramatic airlifts in 1984 and 1991. Diplomatic relations were renewed in 1989 at embassy level. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: I. Ben-Zvi, The Exiled and the Redeemed (1967); index, also S.V. Falashas; A.Z. Aescoly, in: Tarbiz, 5 (1934), 341–9; E.W. Budge (tr.), Kebra Negast, Queen of Sheba and Her Only Son … (1932); idem, A History of Ethiopia, Nubia and Abyssinia (1938); E. Littmann, Legend of the Queen of Sheba in the Tradition of Axum (Bibliotheca Abbisinica no. 1, 1904); R. Pankhurst, An Introduction to the Ethiopian Economic History (1961); J. Harden, An Introduction to Ethiopic Christian Literature (1926); Colbi, Christianity in the Holy Land (1969), 107–108, 139, 156–57.
Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.
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