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"Kebra Negast" ("The Glory of Kings") tells the story of how the Ark of the Covenant -- the resting place for the Ten Commandments -- came to Ethiopia. A myth of epic proportions, it is also the tale of the Queen of Sheba, believed to have lived in southern Arabia or Ethiopia, and the biblical King Solomon of Israel. The child that resulted from this love match, known to Ethiopians as Menelik, is revered as the founder of the Solomonic dynasty that ruled Ethiopia until 1976.

The Ark of the Covenant

Makeda, queen of Sheba, was a beautiful woman who valued wisdom above gold or silver. From traveling merchants she heard of the extraordinary brilliance of King Solomon of Judah and decided to visit him in his capital, Jerusalem. There, King Solomon told her that his wisdom came not from man, but from the God of Israel. Impressed, she swore allegiance to this god and tried to learn every detail about how Solomon ruled his land. Judah had fallen afoul of God and during this time, King Solomon dreamed that the sun of Zion moved to shine over Ethiopia. When the queen finally returned home, she bore King Solomon a son. As a young man, this son, Menelik, traveled to Jerusalem to visit his father. There, all the treasures of Judah were shown to him and he was named King of Ethiopia. When King Menelik left for Ethiopia, he took the Ark of the Covenant with him. The armies of King Solomon gave chase, but God lifted Menelik up over the Red Sea and set him down in Ethiopia with the Ark. Thus, as it is written in the Book of Psalms, "Ethiopia shall stretch out her hands to God and He shall receive her with honor . . ."



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