Haymanot (Ge'ez: ሃይማኖት) is the branch of Judaism practiced by the Beta Israel, also known as Ethiopian Jews.

Haymanot in both Ge'ez and Amharic means 'religion' or 'faith'. Thus in modern Amharic, it is common to speak of the Christian haymanot, the Jewish haymanot or the Muslim haymanot. It is only in Israel that the term is associated with a particular religion.

Blessed be God the Lord of Israe
yətbaräk 'əgzi'abəher 'amlakä 'əsra'el ("Blessed be God the Lord of Israel") is a main religious sentence.

Religious leaders

  • Nabiyy (Prophet), related to the Arabic word nabīyīn, which is used in Islamic writing to refer to prophets.
  • Monkosa (Monk), related to the Greek word monakhós, which means "alone, solitary."
  • Kahen or Kes (Priest) – spiritual leader, similar to a Kohen and analogous to a Rabbi.
  • Liqa Kahnet (High Priest)
  • Debtera
  • Shmagle (elder) –


Mäṣḥafä Kedus (Holy Scriptures) is the name for the religious literature. The language of the writings is Ge'ez. The holiest book is the Orit (from Aramaic "Oraita" – "Torah") which consists of the Five Books of Moses and the books Joshua, Judges and Ruth. The rest of the Bible has secondary importance. Sources are lacking on whether the Book of Lamentations is excluded from the canon, or whether it forms part of the Book of Jeremiah as it does in the Orthodox Tewahedo biblical canon.

Also in the canon are: Sirach, Judith, Esdras 1 and 2, Meqabyan, Jubilees, Baruch 1 and 4, Tobit, Enoch and the testaments of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; most of these are also found among the Deuterocanonical books or the Biblical apocrypha.

Non-Biblical writings include: Nagara Muse (The Conversation of Moses), Mota Aaron (Death of Aharon), Mota Muse (Death of Moses), Te'ezaza Sanbat (Precepts of Sabbath), Arde'et (Students), Gorgorios, Mäṣḥafä Sa'atat (Book of Hours), Abba Elias (Father Elija), Mäṣḥafä Mäla'əkt (Book of Angels), Mäṣḥafä Kahan (Book of the Priest), Dərsanä Abrəham Wäsara Bägabs (Homily on Abraham and Sarah in Egypt), Gadla Sosna (The Acts of Susanna) and Baqadāmi Gabra Egzi'abḥēr (In the Beginning God Created). Zëna Ayhud (Jews’ Story) and fālasfā (Philosophers) are two books that are not holy but still have a great influence.

Prayer house

The Synagogue is called masgid (place of worship) also bet maqds (Holy house) or ṣalot bet (Prayer house).


Synagogue in the village of Wolleka in Ethiopia.

PikiWiki Israel 10703 Architecture of Israel

Modern Synagogue in the city of Netivot in Israel.

The sigd holiday14-benny voodoo

Kahen reading from the Orit.


A Kahen celebrating the holiday of Sigd in Jerusalem, 2008.

Dietary laws

Dietary laws are based mainly on Leviticus, Deuteronomy and Jubilees. Permitted and forbidden animals and their signs appear on Leviticus 11:3–8 and Deuteronomy 14:4–8. Forbidden birds are listed on Leviticus 11:13–23 and Deuteronomy 14:12–20. Signs of permitted fish are written on Leviticus 11:9–12 and Deuteronomy 14:9–10. Insects and larvae are forbidden according to Leviticus 11:41–42. Birds of prey are forbidden according to Leviticus 11:13–19. Gid hanasheh is forbidden per Genesis 32:33. Mixtures of milk and meat are not prepared or eaten but are not banned either: Haymanot interpreted the verses Exodus 23:19, Exodus 34:26 and Deuteronomy 14:21 literally "shalt not seethe a kid in its mother's milk" (like the Karaites). Nowadays, under Rabbinic influence, mixing dairy products with meat is banned.

Ethiopian Jews were forbidden to eat the food of non-Jews. A Kes only eats meat he has slaughtered himself, which his hosts then prepare both for him and themselves. Beta Israel who broke these taboos were ostracized and had to undergo a purification process. Purification included fasting for one or more days, eating only uncooked chickpeas provided by the Kes, and ritual purification before entering the village. Unlike other Ethiopians, the Beta Israel do not eat raw meat dishes like kitfo or gored gored.[1]

Calendar and holidays

The Beta Israel calendar is a lunar calendar of 12 months, each 29 or 30 days alternately. Every four years there has been a leap year which added a full month (30 days). The calendar is a combination of the ancient calendar of Alexandria Jewry, Book of Jubilees, Book of Enoch, Abu Shaker and the Ge'ez calendar.[2] The years are counted according to the Counting of Kushta "1571 to Jesus Christ, 7071 to the Gyptians and 6642 to the Hebrews",[3] according to this counting the year 5771 (Hebrew: ה'תשע"א‎) in the Rabbinical Hebrew calendar is the year 7082 in this calendar.

Holidays in the Haymanot [4] divided into daily, monthly and annually. The annual holiday by month are:

  • Nisan: ba'āl lisan (Nisan holiday – New Year) on 1, ṣomä fāsikā (Passover fast) on 14, fāsikā (Passover) between 15 – 21 and gadfat (grow fat) or buho (fermented dough) on 22.
  • Iyar: another fāsikā (Second Passover – Pesach Sheni) between 15 – 21.
  • Sivan: ṣomä mã'rar (Harvest fast) on 11 and mã'rar (Harvest – Shavuot) on 12.
  • Tammuz: ṣomä tomos (Tammuz fast) between 1 – 10.
  • Av: ṣomä ab (Av fast) between 1 – 17.
  • Elul: awd amet (Year rotate) on 1, ṣomä lul (Elul fast) between 1 – 9, anākel astar'i (our atonement) on 10 and asartu wasamantu (eighteenth) on 28.
  • Tishrei: ba'āl Matqe (blowing holiday – Zikhron Trua) on 1, astasreyo (Day of Atonement – Yom Kippur) on 10 and ba'āla maṣallat (Tabernacles holiday – Sukkot) between 15 – 21.
  • Cheshvan: holiday for the day Moses saw the face of God on 1, holiday for the reception of Moses by the Israelites on 10, fast on 12 and měhlělla (Supplication – Sigd) on 29.
  • Kislev: another ṣomä mã'rar and mã'rar on 11 and 12 respectively.
  • Tevet: ṣomä tibt (Tevet fast) between 1 – 10.
  • Shevat: wamashi brobu on 1.
  • Adar: ṣomä astēr (Fast of Esther – Ta'anit Ester) between 11 – 13.

Monthly holidays are mainly memorial days to the annual holiday, these are yačaraqā ba'āl ("new moon festival") [5] on the first day of every month, asärt ("ten") on the tenth day to commemorate Yom Kippur, 'asrã hulat ("twelve") on the twelfth day to commemorate Shavuot, asrã ammest ("fifteen") on the fifteenth day to commemorate Passover and Sukkot, and ṣomä mälěya a fast on the last day of every month.[6] Daily holidays include the ṣomä säňňo (Monday fast), ṣomä amus (Thursday fast), ṣomä 'arb (Friday fast) and the very holy Sanbat (Sabbath).


  1. ^ Shelemay, Music, page 42
  2. ^ Quirun, 1992, p. 71
  3. ^ Aešcoly, Book of the Falashas, p. 56
  4. ^ Aešcoly, Book of the Falashas, p. 62-70 (Hebrew); Shelemay, Music, Ritual, and Falasha History, p. 44-57; Leslau, Falasha Anthology, p. xxviii–xxxvi; Quirun, The Evolution of the Ethiopian Jews, p. 146-150
  5. ^ see Rosh Chodesh
  6. ^ see also Yom Kippur Katan
Abuna Takla Haymanot

Abuna Takla Haymanot or Abune Takla Haymanot (died May 1988) was the third Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church.

Battle of Embabo

The Battle of Embabo was fought 6 June 1882, between the Shewan forces of Negus Menelik II and the Gojjame forces of Negus Tekle Haymanot. The forces fought to gain control over the Oromo areas south of the Gibe River. The Gojjame forces under Tekle Haymanot were defeated. This is one of the three battles (along with Chelenqo and Adwa) which Donald Donham lists that led to Shewan supremacy over the rest of Ethiopia.

Emperor of Ethiopia

The Emperor of Ethiopia (Ge'ez: ንጉሠ ነገሥት, nəgusä nägäst, "King of Kings") was the hereditary ruler of the Ethiopian Empire, until the abolition of the monarchy in 1975. The Emperor was the head of state and head of government, with ultimate executive, judicial and legislative power in that country. A National Geographic article called imperial Ethiopia "nominally a constitutional monarchy; in fact [it was] a benevolent autocracy".

Germa Seyum

Germa Seyum was a King (negus) of Ethiopia, and a member of the Zagwe dynasty. Taddesse Tamrat states that he was a son of Mara Takla Haymanot, the younger brother of King Tatadim, and the father of Kedus Harbe and Gebre Mesqel Lalibela. His name does not appear in the longer king lists.

Giustino de Jacobis

Saint Giustino de Jacobis (9 October 1800 – 31 July 1860) was an Italian Roman Catholic bishop and professed member of the Congregation of the Mission who became a Vicar Apostolic in Ethiopia and the Titular Bishop of Nilopolis. He is also known as Justin de Jacobis.

Hailu Tekle Haymanot

Hailu Tekle Haymanot, KBE (1868–1950), also named Hailu II of Gojjam, was an army commander and a member of the nobility of the Ethiopian Empire. He represented a provincial ruling elite who were often at odds with the Ethiopian central government. Hailu Tekle Haymanot was an independent-minded potentate who, throughout his life, was mistrustful of and mistrusted by the Emperor.

Jan Seyum

Jan Seyum was a King (negus) of Ethiopia, and a member of the Zagwe dynasty. Taddesse Tamrat states that he was a son of Mara Takla Haymanot, a younger brother of King Tatadim, and the father of Yemrehana Krestos. His name does not appear in the longer king lists.


Kahen (Ge'ez: ካሀን kahən "priest", plural ካሀንት kahənat) is a religious role in Beta Israel second only to the monk or falasyan. Their duty is to maintain and preserve the Haymanot among the people. This has become more difficult by the people's encounter with the modernity of Israel, where most of the Ethiopian Jewish people now live.The high priest (ሊቀ ካሀንት liqa kahən, plural ሊቃነ ካህናት liqanä kahhənat) is the leader of the priests in a certain area.

An aspiring kahen must spend time studying as a debtera before being ordained. As a debtera, he will be closer to the laypeople and serve as an intermediary between them and the clergy. Upon becoming a kahen, he will no longer perform the services of a debtera, though he may take them up again if he gives up his position or is deposed.The term qäsis (Ge'ez: ቀሲሰ, Amharic: ቀሰ qəs; Tigrinya: ቀሺ qäši), which refers to married priest in the Ethiopian and Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Churches, is a synonym for kahen, an unmarried priest, among the Beta Israel. With the aliyah of Beta Israel to Israel the Amharic "qəs" Hebraized was translated as kes (Hebrew: קס‎ or קייס, plural קסים or קייסים kesim).

List of Emperors of Ethiopia

This article lists the Emperors of Ethiopia, from the founding of the Zagwe dynasty in the 9th/10th century until 1974, when the last Emperor from the Solomonic dynasty was deposed.

Kings of Aksum and Dʿmt are listed separately due to numerous gaps and large flexibility in chronology.

Mara Takla Haymanot

Mara Takla Haymanot was Emperor (Nəgusä nägäst) of Ethiopia, and the founder of the Zagwe dynasty. Some King Lists give his name simply as "Mararah", and other King Lists as "Takla Haymanot".

Salomon III

Salomon III or Solomon III was the Emperor of Ethiopia (20 May 1796 – 15 July 1797 and 16 June – 25 July 1799) and a member of the Solomonic dynasty. He was the son of Tekle Haymanot II. He may be identical with the Emperor Solomon whom the traveler Henry Salt lists as one of the Emperors still alive at the time of his visit in 1809/1810. E. A. Wallis Budge notes some authorities believe he was the same person as Baeda Maryam II.

Susenyos II

Susenyos II (Amharic: ሱስንዮስ) (or Greek Sissinios; died circa 1771) was nəgusä nägäst (reigned August 1770 – December 1770) of Ethiopia. His name at birth was Wolde Giyorgis; he was the son of a noble woman who had lost her fortune and made her living by carrying jars of water, while it was rumored that he was the illegitimate son of the deceased ruler Iyasu II. The Scottish traveller James Bruce, who was living in the capital city of Gondar at the time, described him as "a drunkard, a ruffian, and a profligate".


Tatadim was a King (negus) of Ethiopia, and a member of the Zagwe dynasty.

Tekle Haymanot

Tekle Haymanot or Takla Haymanot (Ge'ez ተክለ ሃይማኖት takla hāymānōt, modern tekle hāymānōt, "Plant of Faith"; known in the Coptic Church as Saint Takla Haymanot of Ethiopia) (c. 1215 – c. 1313) was an Ethiopian Hermit who founded a major monastery in his native province of Shewa. He is significant for being the only Ethiopian saint popular both amongst Ethiopians and outside that country. Tekle Haymanot "is the only Ethiopian saint celebrated officially in foreign churches such as Rome and Egypt." His feast day is August 17, and the 24th day of every month in the Ethiopian calendar is dedicated to Tekle Haymanot.

Tekle Haymanot I

Tekle Haymanot I (Ge'ez: ተክለ ሃይማኖት, "Plant of religion," throne name Le`al Sagad Ge'ez: ለዓለ ሰገድ, "to whom the exalted bows"), (28 March 1684 – 30 June 1708) was nəgusä nägäst (27 March 1706 - 30 June 1708) of Ethiopia, and a member of the Solomonic dynasty. He was the son of Iyasu I and Empress Malakotawit. He is often referred to as "Irgum Tekle Haymanot" or "Tekle Haymanot the Cursed"

Tekle Haymanot became Emperor following Iyasus' retirement to an island in Lake Tana. With the support of his mother Empress Malakotawit, some of the officials argued, after the precedent of king Kaleb, that Iyasu had abdicated, and crowned Tekle Haymanot nəgusä nägäst in Gondar. This act was not embraced by the entire state, and the resulting civil strife led to Iyasu's murder at the order of his son Tekle Haymanot.

In September, 1707, a rebel in Gojjam declared himself nəgusä nägäst under the name Amda Seyon, and made his way to the capital city, where he had himself crowned. Tekle Haymanot quickly returned to Gondar, despite the difficulty of travel during the rainy season, forced the usurper to flee, and celebrated his triumph. Amda Seyon was later killed in battle in Maitsa. However his unpopularity for having ordered the murder of his widely revered father was profound and he never overcame it. The involvement of his mother Melekotawit, and the acceptance of his position by other members of the dynasty did irreparable harm to the image of the monarchy. His own courtiers plotted against him, and discussions abounded about whether it was worthy to keep such a corrupt dynasty in power.

While travelling in the provinces, Tekle Haymanot was stabbed to death by some of his late father's courtiers.Some historians date the beginning of the Ethiopian Zemene Mesafint or "Era of the Princes" (a time of disorder when the power of the monarchy was eclipsed by the power of local warlords) the murder of Iyasu the Great by his son Tekle Haymanot, and the resultant decline in the prestige of the dynasty.

Tekle Haymanot II

Tekle Haymanot II (Ge'ez ተክለ ሃይማኖት, "Anchor of the faith"; 1754 – 7 September 1777) was nəgusä nägäst as Admas Sagad III (Ge'ez አድማስ ሰገድ "to whom the horizon bows"; 18 October 1769 – 13 April 1777) of Ethiopia, and a member of the Solomonic dynasty. He was the son of Yohannes II by Woizero Sancheviyar, at the Imperial prison of Mount Wehni.

The Scots explorer James Bruce (who was in Ethiopia from September 1769 to November 1771) described his appearance as follows:

He was a prince of a most graceful figure, tall for his age, rather thin, and of the whitest shade of Abyssinian colour, for such are all those princes that are born in the mountain. He was not so dark in complexion as a Neapolitan or Portugueze, had a remarkably fine forehead, large black eyes, but which had something very stern in them, a straight nose, rather of the largest, thin lips, and small mouth, very white teeth and long hair. His features, even in Europe, would have been thought fine. he was particularly careful of his hair, which he dressed in a hundred different ways. ... he had an excellent understanding, and prudence beyond his years. He was said to be naturally of a very warm temper, but this he had so perfectly subdued, as scarcely ever to have given an instance of it in public. He entred into Ras Michael's views entirely, and was as forward to march out against Fasil, as his father had been averse to it.

Tekle Haymanot of Gojjam

Tekle Haymanot Tessemma, also Adal Tessemma, Tekle Haymanot of Gojjam, and Tekle Haimanot of Gojjam, (1847 – 10 January 1901) was King of Gojjam, a member of the Solomonic dynasty of the Ethiopian Empire. He later was an army commander and a member of the nobility of the Ethiopian Empire.


Tewoflos or Theophilus (Ge'ez: ቴዎፍሎስ, throne name Walda Ambasa, Ge'ez: ወልደ አምበሳ, "son of the lion"), (? – 14 October 1711) was nəgusä nägäst of Ethiopia (1 July 1708 – 14 October 1711) and a member of the Solomonic dynasty. He was the brother of Iyasu I, and one of four sons of Fasilides.

Following the murder of his nephew Tekle Haymanot I, Tewoflos was brought out of captivity at Mount Wehni and made Emperor. At first he faced a rival in the person of the four-year-old son of his nephew, who was supported by the Master of Horse Yohannes and Empress Malakotawit. However, Tewoflos moved quickly by having Yohannes, and several other non-royals accused of aiding in the murder of Tekle Haymanot, arrested then sent into exile.According to James Bruce, at first he behaved as if he would not seek vengeance on those thought responsible for the death of his brother Iyasu; but this was a deception, and once this party relaxed their guard he acted. He accused his late nephew Emperor Tekle Haymanot of regicide and patricide, and Tekle Haymanot has been known as Irgum ("Cursed") ever since. Empress Malakotawit was publicly hanged, while her two brothers were speared to death; Bruce states that in one afternoon a total of 37 persons were executed. Not long afterwards he decided to move against all regicides, and ordered that all who had taken part in the plot that led to the death of his brother Iyasu I be found and executed.Tewoflos also initiated the canonization of his brother Iyasu I.His reign was an unquiet one. In 1709, Nebahne Yohannes was proclaimed nəgusä nägäst in a revolt that lasted until July 1710. Tewoflos also found himself compelled to support the doctrine known as Wold Qib; when the monks of Debre Libanos asked the Emperor why he embraced the belief they opposed, he reportedly told them, "It is not because I hate you, but so that Gojjam will be subject to me."Tewflos died under suspicious circumstances. He was buried at Teda.

Yohannes II

Yohannes II or John II (Ge'ez ዮሓንስ), (1699 – 18 October 1769) was nəgusä nägäst of Ethiopia, and a member of the Solomonic dynasty. He was the son of Iyasu I, and brother of Emperors Tekle Haymanot I, Dawit III and Bakaffa.

According to James Bruce, during the reign of his brother Bakaffa (1721-1730), the Emperor had vanished from view and a rumor circulated that Bakaffa had died. Qegnazmach Giyorgis acted on this by bringing Yohannes down from the royal prison on Wehni to rule, but before Yohannes could be proclaimed emperor, Bakaffa revealed himself and ordered the two men punished for their presumption, Giyorgis with death and Yohannes by having his hand cut off. However, in his edition of Bruce's work Alexander Murray replaced Bruce's words with a summary of the Royal Chronicle, which records Yohannes had lost his hand for escaping from Wehni prior to this event, and instead, along with the other royal prisoners of Wehni, had refused to descend and be made Emperor. In either case, Yohannes did not become emperor during the 1720s or 1730s.

Then, later, following the murder of Iyoas I in 1769, Ras Mikael Sehul summoned the late Emperor's great-uncle, Yohannes, from Wehni, although Yohannes must then have been in his seventies at least, and presented him to the royal council as his choice for Emperor. When one of the council pointed out that Yohannes lacked one of his hands (it had been cut off in punishment for attempting to escape from Wehni), Mikael replied that if Yohannes needed help mounting his horse, he himself would help Yohannes.

Mikael married Yohannes to Mikael's own young granddaughter, Waletta Selassie.

Yohannes' reign is succinctly recounted by E. A. Wallis Budge:

John hated all military matters, and refused to march with the army, and after hiding himself begged Michael to send him back to Wahni. Michael was bound to march with his troops, but seeing it would be fatal for his plans to leave a king like John in Gondar, he had him poisoned one morning at breakfast time.

Other Abrahamic faiths

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