Book review: The Hidden and Untold History of the Jewish People and Ethiopians

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By T, De Birhan Media Staffer
08-03-2012

·          Title: The Hidden and Untold History of the Jewish People and Ethiopians       
·         Author: Dr. Fikre Tolossa 
·         Pages: 53 pages
·         First Published: (2010)
·         Language: English
·         ISBN: 978-1-4583-7701-2
·         Price: $13.75
·         Key themes : Jewish, Ethiopia, Melchitsedek
·         Volume: I
When reading about the stories of Ethiopian Jews (Felasha) who reside in today’s Israel, I weep. Ethiopian Israelites have been protesting against racism, prejudice and discrimination especially in housing and other public services (facilities). This book attempts to touch upon issues of the Origin of Ethiopia, Ethiopians, Jewish people and their brotherhood. When I was going to buy the book, I went with a big bag for the cumbersome 200 to 300 pages book but when it touched my hands, it was just 52 pages book.

Discussion: 
The book is essential for those who are interested to know the long history of Ethiopia and Jewish people.  Albeit, there are still some questions in the plausibility of the argument, evidences and records that the writer uses to claim the facts.  Dr. Fikre heavily dwells on Meri Ras Aman Belay’s book titled Metsehafe Djan Shewa(the books of the wars of the Lord), an ancient Ethiopian manuscript in Geez discovered by Ethiopian religious writer Meri Ras Aman Belay, in the ruins of an Ethiopian church in Nubia that was part of the Ethiopian Empire, which has been, translated into Amharic, abridged and published as Metsehafe Subae by the discoverer himself. Metsehafe Djan Shewa was written some 350 years ago and the parchment speaks of a then Emperor, Adyam-sged Iyassu. Similar book ostensibly is available in the Ethiopian National Museum in Addis Abeba, taken to U.S.A. with $5 million insurance paid for it like Lucy. Dr. Fikre writes in the preamble, Ethiopian sources about the history of Jews have been hidden making the history incomplete and all were found in ancient books in Ethiopia absent elsewhere.
The writer says the history of Ethiopians or Ethiopia begins not 3000 years ago but over 4000 years ago in the times of Melchitsedek, King of Salem (Jerusalem), builder, high priest, the father of Ethiop. He and Abraham, the forefather of the Jews, were friends as far back as 4000. Melchitsedek is a direct descendent of Noah who begot Ham, who begot Cush, who begot Sheba, who begot Nuba the high priest… and finally “us” today’s Ethiopians. “Ethel, the son of Melchitsedek and his wife Salem, commanded by God, headed for Ethiopia and became a king and father of millions of Ethiopians over a period of 4000 years” Dr. Fikre states. As instructed, Ethel went to the source of Blue Nile River, rich with yellow gold called “iop” finally bearing the name to Ethiop, his own next name and Ethiopia’s name.  Ethiop’s two daughters married the sons of Abraham and Lot and bore children.
The author puts the next strong and remarkable ties between the Ethiopians and Jews in the events that came after  when Moses fled from Egypt and links of Jethro and his brother-in-law, Aba Beher. Essie (Jessie) who was the grandson of Ethiopis is and son of Elkano, was the first genetic engineer, botanist, limiter of term of Kings to 10 years, and wrote a constitution in Ethiopia before the birth of Jesus Christ. regarded by the author as “the greatest Emperor in Earth”. Dr. Fikre say,“From there, Jessie who was renamed as “Asia-el” by the God of Israel headed for Asia, conquered it”. Asia was named after him.
The book also discusses about the history of queen of Sheba and Menelik I, son of King Solomon and Queen Sheba. According to the book Menelik I outraged by the Ethiopian tribes that fought him back while he was returning to Ethiopia after visiting his father, changed most of the existing Melchitsedekian (Ethiopian customs) with Jewish customs some of which exit until today only in Ethiopia; Menelik refused to be concerted in Ghion River but by Jewish custom in Axum, banned Suba language and replaced it with Ge’ez spoken by people from Gaza (Gazians- Agazi) and demolished books, changed throne star. Menelik I destroyed the Ethiopic Dynasty and replaced it with Solomonic Dynasty. He also appointed Jewish men as his priests and kings all over Ethiopia. He protected and welcomed Jews.
The author says the new Jewish settlers were called Felasha (refugees) by the old settlers while the newcomers called the old settlers Abeshas (Abesa/troubles) giving the name Abesha. The writer also states the Ethiopian queen; Ruth designed and created the famous “Star of David”, which is the emblem of the Jewish people.

Summation:
The book brings new records and information that have not been published elsewhere in English language.  One of the limitations of the book is that although the title seemed to suggest that it would bring the commonalities of Jewish people and Ethiopians from multidimensional perspectives such as culture, custom, worship, religion, language, Levites and Ark of Covenant, it was chiefly about  Melchitsedek  and his siblings. Secondly, in terms of references and bibliography, the author lists 12 publications in the bibliography although the book could be inferred as a translation of Meri Ras Aman Belay’s book titled Metsehafe Djan Shewa.
The arguments and cross referencing made against the “facts” of Aman Belay’s book (parchment translation) were uncritical.  Similarly, Dr. Fikre uses the phrase “our records” in a couple of places eg. Page 36, this type of reverencing is vague and should have been further explained.
The Hidden and Untold History of the Jewish People and Ethiopians
has no blurb; this is one aspect of the book to be critiqued. Ethiopian scholars or historians should have added their fare in the preamble or blurb of the book.   Dr. Fikre Tolossa, is a poet-playwright, critic, essayist and educator. He is not a historian by profession but had contributed a good deal in the history of books of Ethiopia as much us some historians did; admirable. This should be appreciated while the integration of the say and comments of some historians should be advised.  One important lesson that I have got from the book was that there is yet unstudied “historical linkage between the two people and Ethiopia’s history as the writer stated maybe as old as 4000 years”. The other lesson is that there still are many publciations and records in various parts of Ethiopia yet unexplored and need to be studied and translated.
In a recent article, Dr. Fikre states “Ethel went to Ethiopia and settled in what is today known as Gojjam”. Most importantly, the book conveys originality in pronouncing that Ethiopia’s history begins during Melchitsedek’s time 4000 years ago. Jewish customs and practices that are not practiced anywhere in the world, have been practiced in many parts of Ethiopia until today such as Gonder and Smien Shewa (Jeru, Merhabte).
I recommend you to inform yourself and enjoy the rest of the history by reading the book.

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