Friday, December 11, 2009

It's always Dark before the Dawn

Ethiopia (Cush of the Bible), the name given to the countries south of Egypt and Libya, on the upper Nile. It included the modern Nubia, Sennaar, Kordofan and Abyssinia. The name Ethiopian was originally given to all the nations inhabiting the southern part of the globe, or rather, to all people of a dark-brown or black color. The word is supposed to come from two Greek words meaning "sun-burned." The part of Ethiopia of which we have the most ancient knowledge, is the kingdom of Meroe, an island formed by rivers tributary to the Nile. Its capital was Napata.

The island was very fertile, with an abundance of animals and metals. It was also the site of an oracle of Jupiter Ammon. This made it a great place of resort, and a trading place for India, Arabia, Egypt, Libya and Carthage, so that it grew rapidly and became, about 1000 B.C., one of the most powerful kingdoms of the ancient world. It threw off the yoke of Egypt about 760, and, in turn, ruled Egypt for sixty years.

At one time 240,000 Egyptians settled in Meroe, and being artisans and traders, added to its prosperity. It was conquered by Cambyses about 530 B.C. The Ethiopians sent to Darius every third year four pints of gold dust, 200 logs of ebony, five negro slaves and twenty tusks of ivory. Augustus conquered Meroe and we find Queen Candace of Ethiopia mentioned among his vassels.

The remains of the ancient civilization of Ethiopia are the ruins of large buildings covered with sculpture representing battles and religious ceremonies, rows of broken sphinxes, temples hewn in the rocks and several pyramids, which are higher in proportion to their base than those of Egypt. The names of thirty kings and queens have been found, the first one named Meneliheh, being said to be the son of Solomon and the queen of Sheba. The modern history of the country belongs to Abyssinia. In the Books of Kings and Chronicles we are told that "when the Queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the Lord she came to prove him with hard questions." Sheba, or Saba, is supposed to have been a province of Arabia Felix, situated to the south of Jerusalem. The queen, whose visit is thus described, is spoken of nowhere else in Scripture. But the Jews and the Arabs, who gave her the name of Balkis, recite many traditions concerning her.

Ab.y.ssin.ia is a country of eastern Africa, southwest of the Red Sea. It is a tableland, from which rise flat-topped mountains, intersected by deep valleys and gorges. The population is about three million, made up of Copts, Jews and Mohammedans. The royal house which reigned for centuries traced back its lineage to the Queen of Sheba. In 1850 Theodorus, a military adventurer, revolted and was crowned emperor. He first sent embassies to England and France and received a British consul at his court.

It was his imprisonment of the consul and of an embassy sent to inquire into the matter that caused the English government to send Sir Robert Napier from Bombay with a relief expedition. The capital, Magdala, was stormed and captured, Theodorus shooting himself when told the city gates had given way. This occurred in 1868, and for some time after the English forces withdrew lawlessness prevailed. In 1871 John II was crowned emperor.

Nubia is the modern name of a large African region, formerly part of Ethiopia, and extending on both sides of the Nile from Egypt to Abyssinia and from the Red Sea on to the east to the desert on the west. Of late Nubia has been called the Egyptian Soudan. It was under the rule of the Pharaohs, but under the 20th dynasty was recovered by native rulers who adopted Egyptian civilization and later became Christianized.

The country is now occupied by mixed races, probably descendants from the pure negro stock mixed with the Hamatic and Semitic Arabs who invaded the land in the 7th century, and conquered it in the 14th. Until 1820 it was ruled by native Muslim chiefs, but in that year it was made a part by Ismail Pasha and so remained until 1881. The greater part of the country is arid desert waste, with small cases here and there on the route of caravans. The most fertile region is near Dongola.