Makeda Breaks an Oath

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(Amhara, Ge'ez, Tigre/Ethiopia)

The kings of Ethiopia trace the origin of their line to King Solomon.

Tamrin, the merchant of Makeda, Queen of Ethiopia, bringing red gold, sapphires, and black wood to Solomon, was stunned by the splendor of Solomon's kingdom and the wisdom of Solomon. Makeda decided to visit him, and she was entertained lavishly and impressed by his erudition. When she prepared to return to Ethiopia, Solomon was determined to have a child by her. He invited her to sleep in his palace, and she agreed but only if he would swear not to take her by force. He agreed, in return for an oath from her that she would take nothing by force that was in his palace. In the night, she was thirsty, saw a jar of water that Solomon had placed in the center of the room, and crept out of bed to get a drink. Solomon caught her, said she had broken her oath, and so worked his will on her: they slept together. He gave her a ring when she left, telling her that if she had a son to give the ring to him and send him to Solomon. A son was born, Solomon's firstborn son; his name was Menelik, and when he was a man the queen sent him to Solomon. But Solomon did not need the ring: the youth resembled the king in every way. Solomon tried to persuade Menelik to remain and reign in Israel, but Menelik would not. So the king anointed Menelik with the holy oil of kingship so that none but the male issue of Menelik would rule in Ethiopia. The queen had asked for a piece of the fringe of the covering of the Ark of the Covenant, and Solomon agreed. But when Menelik returned with an entourage including Azariah, the son of the high priest, that person smuggled the Ark of the Covenant out of Jerusalem. When Menelik discovered this, he was joyful. When Solomon learned of the loss of the Ark, he set forth with an army, but was comforted when he learned that his firstborn son had it. He kept the loss of the Ark a secret from the people of Israel. So the kings of Ethiopia are the descendants of the firstborn son of Solomon, the heirs of the promise that the kings of the seed of David and Solomon should rule over all the world.

Subjects: Religion.

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