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Many have thought this queen was an Arab. But Saba was a separate ftate, and the Sabeans a distinct people from the Ethiopians and the Arabs, and have continued fo till very lately. We know, from hiftory, that it was a custom among these Sabeans, to have women for their fovereigns in preference to men, a custom which still fubfifts among their defcendants. Her name, the Arabs fay, was Belkis; the Abyffinians Maqueda. Our Saviour calls her Queen of the South, without mentioning any other name, but gives his fanction to the truth of the voyage. "The queen of the South (or Saba, "or Azab) fhall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and fhall condemn it; for he came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, "behold, a greater than Solomon is here." No other particulars, however, are mentioned about her in fcripture. The gold, the myrrh, caffia, and frankincenfe, were all the produce of her own country; and the many reafons Pineda gives to fhew fhe was an Arab, more than convince Mr. Bruce that fhe was an Ethiopian or Cufhite shepherd.
Whether he was a Jewefs or a Pagan is uncertain; Sabaism was the religion of all the East. It was the conftant attendant and stumbling block of the Jews; but confidering the multitude of that people then trading from Jerufalem, and the long time it continued, it is not improbable fhe was a Jewels. She likewife appears to have been a person of learning, and that fort of learning which was then almoft peculiar to Paleftine, not to Ethiopia. For we fee that one of the reasons of her coming, was to examine whether Solomon was really the learned man he was faid to be. She came to try him in allegories, or parables, in which Nathan inftructed Solomon.
The annals of Abyffinia fay fhe was, a Pagan when the left Azab, but being full of admiration at the fight of Solomon's works, fhe was converted to Judaism in Jerufalem, and 'bore him a fon, whom he called Menilek, and who was their first king.
She returned with her fon Menilek to Saba, or Azab, whom, after keeping him fome years, fhe fent back to his father to be inftructed. Solomon did not neglect his charge,
and he was anointed and crowned king of Ethiopia, in the temple of Jerufalem, and at his inauguration took the name of David. After this he returned to Azab, and brought with him a colony of Jews, among whom were many doctors of the law of Mofes, particularly one of each tribe, to make judges in his kingdom, from whom the present Umbares (or Supreme judges, three of whom always attend the king) are said and believed to be defcended. With these came alfo Azarias, the fon of Zadok the priest, and brought with him a Hebrew tranfcript of the law, which was delivered into his custody, as he bore the title of Nebrit, orHigh Priest; and this charge, though the book itself was burnt with the church of Axum in the Moorish war of Adel, is ftill continued, as it is faid, în the lineage of Azarias, who are Nebrits, or keepers of the church of Axum, at this day. All Abyffinia was thereupon converted, and the government of the church and state modelled according to what was then in ufe at Jerufalem.
The Queen of Saba having made laws irrevocable to all her pofterity, died, after a long reign of 40 years, in 986 before Chrift, placing her fon Menilek upon the throne, whose pofterity, the annals of Abyffinia would teach us to believe have ever fince reigned. So far we must indeed bear witnefs to them, that this is no new doctrine, but has been stedfastly and uniformly maintained from their earliest account of time; first, when Jews, then in later days after they had embraced Christianity.
Mr. Bruce then obferves, that as we are about to take our leave of the Jewish religion and government in the line of Solomon, it is here the proper place that he should add what he has to fay of the Falafha. The account they give of themfelves, which is fupported only by tradition among them, is, that they came with Menilek from Jerufalem, fo that they agree perfectly with the Abyffinians in the story of the queen of Saba, who, they fay, was a Jewefs, and her nation Jews before the time of Solomon; that fhe lived at Saba, or Azaba, the myrrh and frankincenfe country upon the Arabian Gulf. They fay further, that she went to Jerufalem, under protection of Hiram king of Tyre, whofe daughter is faid in the xlvth Pfalm
xlvth Pfalm to have attended her thither; that he went not in fhips, nor through Arabia, for fear of the Ifmaelites, but from Azab round Mafuah and Suakem, and was escorted by the Shepherds, her own fubjects, to Jerufalem, and back again, making ufe of her own country vehicle, the camel, and that hers was a white one, of prodigious fize and exquifite beauty. They agree alfo, in every particular, with the Abyffinians, about the remaining part of the flory, the birth and inauguration of Menilek, who was their first king; alfo the coming of Azarias, and twelve elders from the twelve tribes, and other doctors of the law, whose posterity they deny to have ever apoftatifed to Chriftianity, as the Aby flinians pretend they did at the converfion. They, fay, that, when the trade of the Red Sea fell into, the hands of frangers, and all communication was fhut up between them and Jerufalem, the cities were abandoned, and the inhabitants relinquished the coast that they were the inhabitants of these cities, by trade moftly brick and tile-makers, potters, thatchers of houses, and fuch like mechanics, employed in them ; and finding the low country of Dembea afforded materials for exercising thefe trades, they carried the article of pottery in that province to a degree of perfection scarcely to be imagined.
These people, being very industrious, multiplied exceedingly, and were very powerful at the time of the converfion to Christianity, or, as they term it, the Apoftacy under Abreha and Atzbeha. At this time they declared a prince of the tribe of Judah, and of the race of Solomon and Menilek, to be their fovereign. The name of this prince was Phineas, who refused to abandon the religion of his forefathers, and - from him their fovereigns are linealy defcended: fo they have ftill a prince of the house of Judah, although the Abyffinians, by way of reproach, have called this family Bet Ifrael, intimating that they were rebels, and revolted from the family of Solomon and tribe of Judah.
An attempt was made, about the year 960, by this family to mount the throne of Abyffinia, when the princes of the haufe of Solomon were nearly extirpated upon the rock Da
mo. This, it is probable, produced more animofity and bloodfhed. At last the power of the Fala fha was fo weakened, that they were obliged to leave the flat country of Dembea, having no cavalry to maintain themselves there, and to take poffeffion of the rugged, and almost inacceffible rocks, in that high ridge called the mountains of Samen. A great overthrow, which they received in the year 1600, brought them to the very brink of ruin. In that battle Gideon and Judith, their king and queen, were flain. They have fince adopted a more peaceable and dutiful behaviour, pay taxes, and are fuffered to enjoy their own government.
The only copy of the Old Teftament which they have, is in Geez, the fame made ufe of by the Abyffinian Christians, who are the only fcribes, and fell these copies to the Jews; and, it is very fingular that no controverfy, or difpute about the text, has ever yet arifen between the profeffors of the two religions.
Tudolf, the most learned man that has written upon the subject, fays, that it is apparent the Ethiopic Old Testament, at least the Pentateuch, was copied from the Septuagint, because of the many Grecifms to be found in it; and the names of birds and precious ftones, and fome other paffages that appear literally to be tranflated from the Greek. He imagines alfo, that the prefent Abyffinian verfion is the work of Frumentius their first bishop, when Abyffinia was converted to Chriftianity under Abreha and Atzbeha, about the year 330 after Chrift, or a few years later.
As the Abyffinian copy of the Holy Scriptures, in Mr. Ludolf's opinion, was tranflated by Frumentius above '330 after Christ, and the Septuagint verfion, in the days of Philadelphus, or Ptolemy II. above 160 years before Christ, it will follow, that, if the prefent Jews use the copy tranflated by Frumentius, and, if that was taken from the Septuagint, the Jews must have been above 400 years without any books whatsoever at the time of the converfion by Frumentius: So they must have had all the Jewish law, which is in perfect vigour and force among them, all their Levitical obfervances,
their purifications, atonements, abstinences, and facrifices, all depending upon their memory, without writing, at least for that long space of 400 years. This, though not abfolutely impoffible, is furely very nearly so. We know, that at Jerufalem itself, the feat of Jewish law and learning, idolatry happening to prevail, during the fhort reigns of only four kings, the law, in that interval, became fo perfectly forgot. ten and unknown, that a copy of it being accidentally found and read by Jofiah, that prince, upon his first learning its contents, was so astonished at the deviations from it, that he apprehended the immediate destruction of the whole city and people.
The Abyffinians have the whole fcriptures entirely as we have, and count the fame number of books; but they divide them in another manner, at least in private hands, few of them, from extreme poverty, being able to purchase the whole, either of the hiftorical or prophetical books of the Old Teftament. The fame may be faid of the New, for copies containing the whole of it are very fcarce. Indeed no where, unless in churches, do you see more than the Gospels, or the Acts of the Apoflles, in one perfon's poffeffion, and it must not be an ordinary man that poffeffes even these. Many books of the Old Teftament are forgotten, fo that it is the fame trouble to procure them, even in churches, for the purpofe of copying, as to confult old records long covered with duft and rubbish. The Revelation of St. John is a piece of favourite reading among them. There is no fuch thing as diftinctions between canonical and apocryphal books. Bell and the Dragon, and the Acts of the Apostles, are read with equal devotion, and, for the most part, with equal edification. The Song of Solomon, is a favourite piece of reading among the old priests, but forbidden to the young ones, to the deacons, laymen, and women. The Abyffinians believe, that this Long was made by Solomon in praise of Pharaohr's daughter; and do not think, as fome of our divines are disposed to do, that there is in it any myftery or allegory refpeting Chrift and the Church.
Next to the New Testament they place the constitutions of the Apostles, which they call Synnodos, which, as far as