Welcome, Guest: Join Nairaland / LOGIN! / Trending / Recent / New
Stats: 2,759,170 members, 6,559,449 topics. Date: Wednesday, 27 October 2021 at 08:55 PM

The History Of Bete Israel (ethiopian Jews) - Culture - Nairaland

Nairaland Forum / Nairaland / General / Culture / The History Of Bete Israel (ethiopian Jews) (1163 Views)

How To Understand The History Of Yoruba And The Caliphate Of Sokoto / Olufon Of Ifon, Israel Adeusi Killed In Ondo State / Ethiopian Women Beaten Before They Marry (Photos) (2) (3) (4)

(1) (Reply) (Go Down)

The History Of Bete Israel (ethiopian Jews) by Nobody: 1:35am On Oct 03, 2017
Bete Israel (House of Israel)

Bete Israel are Ethiopian Jews who lived for many centuries in the Axumite Kingdom of Ethiopia and Ethiopian Empire. Most of these peoples have emigrated to Israel since the late 20th century AD, but very few still lives in NW Ethiopia and USA.

Their origin is a mystery, but it's seems that they were a probably Cushite ppl (probably Agew ppl) who practiced Judaism as early as late 1st millennium BC.

According to the Beta Israel tradition, the Jewish kingdom of Beta Israel, later called the kingdom of Gondar, was initially established after Ezana was crowned as the Emperor of Axum (in 325 CE). Ezana, who was educated in his childhood by the missionary Frumentius, declared Christianity as the religion of the Ethiopian empire after he was crowned. The inhabitants who practiced Judaism and refused to convert to Christianity began revolting – this group was referred to as "Beta Israel" by the emperor. Following civil war between the Jewish population and the Christian population the Beta Israel appear to have forged an independent state, either in northern western Ethiopia or the eastern region of Northern Sudan. By the 13th century, the Beta Israel have already moved to the more easily defensible mountains to the northwest of the Christianized region of the plains. The kingdom was located in the Semien Mountains region and the Dembia region – situated to the north of Lake Tana and south of the Tekezé River. They made their main city at Gondar, crowned their first king, Phineas, a descendent of the Jewish High Priest Zadok, and started a period of territorial expansion eastward and southward.

During the mid-9th century, the empire of Aksum began a new expansion, which led to an armed conflict between the Empire forces and the Beta Israel forces. The Beta Israel kingdom under King Gideon the fourth managed to defeat the Axum forces. During the battle king Gideon was killed. As a result, Gideon's daughter Judith inherited the kingdom from her father and took command.

Queen Judith signed a pact with the Agaw tribes which were pagans. Around 960, The large tribal confederation led by Queen Judith, which included both forces of the Agaw tribes and the Beta Israel forces, invaded the capital of Axum and conquered and destroyed the city of Axum (including many churches and monasteries which were burned and destroyed) and imposed the Jewish rule over Axum. In addition, the Axumite throne was snatched and the forces of Queen Judith sacked and burned the Debre Damo monastery which at the time was a treasury and a prison for the male relatives of the emperor of Ethiopia, killing all of the potential heirs of the emperor.

The Golden Age of the Beta Israel kingdom took place, according to the Ethiopian tradition, between the years 858–1270, in which the Jewish kingdom flourished. During that period the world Jewry heard for the first time the stories of Eldad ha-Dani who either visited the kingdom or heard many accounts of it in his own Jewish kingdom of pastoralists, which may have been located in the Sudan (since he speaks of the Mosaic kingdom lying on "the other side of the rivers of Ethiopia" in remote mountains). Even Marco Polo and Benjamin of Tudela mention an independent Ethiopian Jewish kingdom in the writings from that period. This period ends with the rise of the Christian Solomonic dynasty – In 1270 the Christian Solomonic dynasty was "restored" after the crowning of a monarch who claimed descent from the single royal prince who managed to escape Queen Judith's uprising. For the next three centuries, the Solomonic dynasty emperors conducted several long ongoing series of armed confrontations with the Jewish kingdom.

In 1329, Emperor Amda Seyon campaigned in the northwest provinces of Semien, Wegera, Tselemt, and Tsegede, in which many had been converting to Judaism and where the Beta Israel had been gaining prominence. He sent troops there to fight people "like Jews" (Ge'ez ከመ:አይሁድ kama ayhūd).

During the reign of Emperor Yeshaq (1414–1429) who invaded the Jewish kingdom, annexed it and began to exert religious pressure. Yeshaq divided the occupied territories of the Jewish kingdom into three provinces which were controlled by commissioners appointed by him. He reduced the Jews' social status below that of Christians and forced the Jews to convert or lose their land. It would be given away as rist, a type of land qualification that rendered it forever inheritable by the recipient and not transferable by the Emperor. Yeshaq decreed, "He who is baptized in the Christian religion may inherit the land of his father, otherwise let him be a Falāsī." This may have been the origin for the term "Falasha" (falāšā, "wanderer," or "landless person"wink. This term is considered derogatory to Ethiopian Jews.

By 1450 the Jewish kingdom managed to annex back the territories it lost beforehand and began preparing to fight the armies of the emperor. The Beta Israel forces invaded the Ethiopian Empire in 1462 but lost the campaign and many of its military forces were killed. Later on the forces of the Ethiopian emperor invaded the kingdom in the region of Begemder and massacred many of the Jews in that region throughout a period of seven years. The Emperor Yacob Zara (reigned 1434–1468) even proudly added the title "Exterminator of the Jews" to his name. Although the area of the kingdom became significantly smaller afterwards, the Jews were able to eventually restore their mountain kingdom.

Between the years 1529 until 1543 the Muslim Adal Sultanate armies with the assistance of forces from the Ottoman Empire invaded and fought the Ethiopian Empire and came close to extinguishing the ancient realm of Ethiopia, and converting all of its subjects to Islam. During that time period the Jews made a pact with the Ethiopian Empire. The leaders of the Kingdom of Beta Israel changed their alliance during the war and began supporting the Muslim Adal Sultanate armies. However, the Adal Sultanate armies felt strong enough to ignore this offer of support and killed many of its members. As a result, the leaders of the Beta Israel kingdom turned to the Ethiopian empire and their allies, and continued the fight against them. They conquered different regions of the Jewish kingdom, severely damaged its economy and requested their assistance in winning back the regions lost to the Adal Sultanate. The forces of the Ethiopian empire did succeed eventually in conquering the Muslims and freed Ethiopia from Ahmed Gragn. Nevertheless, the Ethiopian Christian empire decided to declare war against the Jewish Kingdom, giving as their justification the Jewish leaders' change of positions during the Ethiopian–Adal War. With the assistance of Portuguese forces from the Order of the Jesuits, the Ethiopian empire under the rule of Emperor Gelawdewos invaded the Jewish kingdom and executed the Jewish king Joram. As a result of this battle, the areas of the kingdom became significantly smaller and included now only the region of the Semien Mountains.

In the 16th century, the Chief Rabbi of Egypt, Rabbi David ben Solomon ibn Abi Zimra (Radbaz) proclaimed that in terms of halakha (Jewish legal code), the Ethiopian community was certainly Jewish.

After the execution of King Joram, King Radi became the leader of the Beta Israel kingdom. King Radi also fought against the Ethiopian Empire which at that period of time was ruled by Emperor Menas. The forces of the Jewish kingdom managed to conquer the area south of the kingdom and strengthened their defenses in the Semien Mountains. The battles against the forces of emperor Menas were successful as the Ethiopian empire forces were eventually defeated.

During the reign of emperor Sarsa Dengel the Jewish kingdom was invaded and the forces of the Ethiopian empire besieged the kingdom. The Jews survived the siege, but at the end of the siege the King Goshen was executed and many of his soldiers as well as many other Beta Israel members committed mass suicides.

During the reign of Susenyos I the Ethiopian empire waged war against the Jewish kingdom and managed to conquer the entire kingdom and annex it to the Ethiopian empire by 1627.

Gondar period (1632–1855 AD)

After the Beta Israel autonomy in Ethiopia ended in the 1620s, Emperor Susenyos I confiscated their lands, sold many people into slavery and forcibly baptized others. In addition, Jewish writings and religious books were burned and the practice of any form of Jewish religion was forbidden in Ethiopia.[citation needed] As a result of this period of oppression, much traditional Jewish culture and practice was lost or changed.

Nonetheless, the Beta Israel community appears to have continued to flourish during this period. The capital of Ethiopia, Gondar, in Dembiya, was surrounded by Beta Israel lands. The Beta Israel served as craftsmen, masons, and carpenters for the Emperors from the 16th century onwards. Such roles had been shunned by Ethiopians as lowly and less honorable than farming. According to contemporary accounts by European visitors: Portuguese merchants and diplomats, French, British and other travellers, the Beta Israel numbered about one million persons in the 17th century.[citation needed] These accounts also recounted that some knowledge of Hebrew persisted among the people in the 17th century. For example, Manoel de Almeida, a Portuguese diplomat and traveller of the day, wrote that:
There were Jews in Ethiopia from the first. Some of them were converted to the law of Christ Our Lord; others persisted in their blindness and formerly possessed many wide territories, almost the whole Kingdom of Dambea and the provinces of Ogara and Seman. This was when the [Christian] empire was much larger, but since the [pagan and Muslim] Gallas have been pressing in upon them [from the east and south], the Emperors have pressed in upon them [i.e., the Jews to the west?] much more and took Dambea and Ogara from them by force of arms many years ago. In Seman, however, they defended themselves with great determination, helped by the position and the ruggedness of their mountains. Many rebels ran away and joined them till the present Emperor Setan Sequed [throne name of Susneyos], who in his 9th year fought and conquered the King Gideon and in his 19th year attacked Samen and killed Gideon. ... The majority and the flower of them were killed in various attacks and the remainder surrendered or dispersed in different directions. Many of them received holy baptism but nearly all were still as much Jews as they had been before. There are many of the latter in Dambea and in various regions; they live by weaving cloth and by making zargunchos [spears], ploughs and other iron articles, for they are great smiths. Between the Emperor’s kingdoms and the Cafres [Negroes] who live next to the Nile outside imperial territory, mingled together with each other are many more of these Jews who are called Falashas here. The Falashas or Jews are ... of [Arabic] race [and speak] Hebrew, though it is very corrupt. They have their Hebrew Bibles and sing the psalms in their synagogues.

The sources of De Almeida's knowledge are not spelled out, but they at least reflect contemporary views. His comments regarding the Hebrew knowledge of the Beta Israel of that time is very significant: it could not have come from recent intercourse with Jews elsewhere, so it indicates deep antiquity to Beta Israel traditions, at least at that time, before their literature was taken away from them and demolished by the later conquering Christians. (The more sceptical school of historians, whose views are discussed above, deny that the Ethiopian Jews ever knew Hebrew; they certainly have no Hebrew texts remaining, and have been forced in recent centuries to use the Christian "Old Testament" in Ge'ez after their own literature was destroyed.) It is also of interest that he mentions more Jewish communities dwelling beyond Ethiopia in the Sudan. As so often in such medieval hearsay accounts, however, loose claims are made that may not be accurate. The Beta Israel were not predominantly of the Arabic race, for instance, but he may have meant the term loosely or meant that they also knew Arabic.

The isolation of the Beta Israel community in Ethiopia, and their continuing use of some Hebrew, was also reported by the Scottish explorer James Bruce who published his travelogue Travels to Discover the Source of the Nile in Edinburgh in 1790.

The Beta Israel lost their relative economic advantage in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, during the Zemene Mesafint, a period of recurring civil strife. Although the capital was nominally in Gondar during this time period, the decentralization of government and dominance by regional capitals resulted in a decline and exploitation of Beta Israel by local rulers. No longer was there a strong central government interested in and capable of protecting them. During this period, the Jewish religion was effectively lost for some forty years, before being restored in the 1840s by Abba Widdaye, the preeminent monk of Qwara.

For more, check:-
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beta_Israel

1 Like

Re: The History Of Bete Israel (ethiopian Jews) by potent5(m): 3:54am On Oct 03, 2017
.
Re: The History Of Bete Israel (ethiopian Jews) by abdelrahman: 6:40am On Oct 03, 2017
The beta israeli are marginalised.
Re: The History Of Bete Israel (ethiopian Jews) by Nobody: 11:10am On Oct 03, 2017
abdelrahman:
The beta israeli are marginalised.
Yeah but most of them had migrated to Israel and the few that are left here in Ethiopia are slowly migrating there.
Re: The History Of Bete Israel (ethiopian Jews) by PabloAfricanus(m): 1:04pm On Oct 03, 2017
Interesting read.

OP, do you mind elaborating on what is the actual relationship between the Europeans who emigrated to Palestine in 1914...and their historical claim to be the Biblical Hebrews or Jews?

I think the closest people's with that claim are the Sephardic Jews of Spain and Portugal...
The Jews historically cannot be white people.
Just like the Egyptians are now mistaken for the Arabs, Turks, Mongols and descendants of Europeans who conquered their land.

Why is so much about African and black history suppressed or at best obfuscated.
Even the black moors who came from Yemen, inter married into white Europe and forgot or rather did away with their black roots.
What happened?
Do you care to discuss?

2 Likes

Re: The History Of Bete Israel (ethiopian Jews) by Nobody: 2:22pm On Oct 03, 2017
PabloAfricanus:
Interesting read.

OP, do you mind elaborating on what is the actual relationship between the Europeans who emigrated to Palestine in 1914...and their historical claim to be the Biblical Hebrews or Jews?

I think the closest people's with that claim are the Sephardic Jews of Spain and Portugal...
The Jews historically cannot be white people.
Just like the Egyptians are now mistaken for the Arabs, Turks, Mongols and descendants of Europeans who conquered their land.

Why is so much about African and black history suppressed or at best obfuscated.
Even the black moors who came from Yemen, inter married into white Europe and forgot or rather did away with their black roots.
What happened?
Do you care to discuss?
I don't really know that much about the History of Hebrews. Me hearing from you about the 1914 European Jews migrant to Palestine is actually news for me.

I believe that the Moors were North African Berbers. Some scholars say that the Berber ppl descended from the Horn of Africa (the origin of Afro-Asiatic is in this place). They were Black at first and related with their sisters Cushite, but extensively mixing with light skinned ppl resulted in them being light skin. The Berber Moors during the conquest of Iberia seems relatively darker than the current day Berbers. But this is still a theory and your claim that they were originally Black from Yemen may also be right. Can you tell me a little detail about this claim?

I think the confusion above Black History is mainly the negative intentional works of White ppl. They are the one who is ruling the world now, so they can censor the real History, Whitewash it and present it. But some Black and neutral White Historians are slowly exposing the true History of Blacks.
Re: The History Of Bete Israel (ethiopian Jews) by Nobody: 6:42pm On Oct 03, 2017
Ethiopia has seen war!!!!

Is this what awaits the post American dominated world that is fast approaching? undecided
Re: The History Of Bete Israel (ethiopian Jews) by Nobody: 7:49pm On Oct 03, 2017
Muafrika2:
Ethiopia has seen war!!!!

Is this what awaits the post American dominated world that is fast approaching? undecided
I think so
I personally want to see a war devastated USA. smiley

What about you?

1 Like

Re: The History Of Bete Israel (ethiopian Jews) by DanZubair(m): 11:23pm On Oct 03, 2017
Ethiopians has fought wars....!!! In the olden days its either you act like man or end up slaves or captives..

1 Like

Re: The History Of Bete Israel (ethiopian Jews) by DanZubair(m): 11:26pm On Oct 03, 2017
Hati13:

I think so
I personally want to see a war devastated USA. smiley

What about you?
They won't because they know all are against their imperialism...

1 Like

Re: The History Of Bete Israel (ethiopian Jews) by Nobody: 1:02am On Oct 04, 2017
DanZubair:
Ethiopians has fought wars....!!! In the olden days its either you act like man or end up slaves or captives..
There was a destructive war between Christian Ethiopia (Abysinnia) and Muslim Adal sultanate from 1527/29 until 1543 AD.

Hundreds of thousands of ppl were slaughtered. Many historical and beautiful churches, monasteries, Christian texts, Christian Arks, and mosques were destroyed. The Ark of the Covenant but was saved. Huge amounts of the Christian Ethiopian empire treasures were looted.

Christianity in Ethiopia was on the point of being erased, but the Portuguese help prevented it.

Ethiopians, Adals and foreigners had recorded it. Among those was a Yemeni eyewitness who recorded the Battle under the service of Adal and later published a book named "Futuh al Habasha". It means the "Conquest of Abysinnia".

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abyssinian%E2%80%93Adal_war

- Emperor Lebne Dengel (Dawit II) of Christian Ethiopia empire
- Inman Ahmad ibn Ibrahim al-Ghazi (Ahmed Gragn) of Adal sultanate

1 Like

Re: The History Of Bete Israel (ethiopian Jews) by Nobody: 10:18am On Oct 04, 2017
Hati13:

I think so
I personally want to see a war devastated USA. smiley

What about you?

Trump will ban Ethiopians from travelling to US if he sees this grin


Unfortunately that is what the US has given the world. When her enemies arise, they will do the same thing to her. They should pray that the Arab world especially does not rise again. I don't think North Korea is able to accomplish that despite the public threats.
Re: The History Of Bete Israel (ethiopian Jews) by Nobody: 6:25pm On Oct 04, 2017
Muafrika2:


Trump will ban Ethiopians from travelling to US if he sees this grin


Unfortunately that is what the US has given the world. When her enemies arise, they will do the same thing to her. They should pray that the Arab world especially does not rise again. I don't think North Korea is able to accomplish that despite the public threats.

grin

Everything has an end, so the end of USA is just a matter of time. I'm sure the end won't look pretty.

(1) (Reply)

Best Capital Of Ala Igbo / The Osogbo War Of 1840 / Left Hand Taboo

(Go Up)

Sections: politics (1) business autos (1) jobs (1) career education (1) romance computers phones travel sports fashion health
religion celebs tv-movies music-radio literature webmasters programming techmarket

Links: (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) (9) (10)

Nairaland - Copyright © 2005 - 2021 Oluwaseun Osewa. All rights reserved. See How To Advertise. 174
Disclaimer: Every Nairaland member is solely responsible for anything that he/she posts or uploads on Nairaland.