“Ethiopia land of contrast and extremes”
Ethiopia is sole in many ways! It has its own alphabet, its own calendar, and a landscape that is unparalleled. The first civilization that we know much about was based in Axum and traded on the Red Sea with the Pharaohs of Egypt and later with the Romans and other Mediterranean powers. In the 4th century Christianity came to Ethiopia and an amazing period of church construction began which culminated in the incredible series of monolithic rock-hewn churches in Lalibela.
Ethiopia is truly a land of contrasts and extremes; a land of remote and wild places. Some of the highest and most stunning places on the African continent are found here, such as the rugged and carved Simien Mountains at 4,620 meters, one of the nine UNESCO’s registered World Heritage Sites for Ethiopia – and one of the lowest, driest and hottest but fascinating Danakil Depression at 116 meters below sea level, with its sulfur fumaroles and lunar-like landscape. The Rift Valley cuts Ethiopia in half forming several lakes which Ethiopia’s national parks are centered. The varying habitats from mountains, lakes, deserts, savannahs and everything in between host a vast array of wildlife; many of which are endemic; unique to Ethiopia. You will come face to face with monuments and ruins, thatched roof and rock-hewn churches and monolithic stele, a vast array of landscape, more than 80 ethnic groups, mighty rivers and waterfalls, chain of rift valley lakes, unique flora and fauna all which leave you enchanted by Ethiopia.
Ethiopia is old; old beyond all imaginations. As Abyssinia, its culture and traditions date back over 3,000 years. And far earlier than that lived 3.4 million years old “Lucy” or Dinkenesh, meaning ‘Wonderful’, as she is known to the Ethiopians, whose remains were found in a corner of this country of mystery and contrasts.
Religion in this country is unique as well. Many visitors know Ethiopia for its rock hewn churches and colorful ceremonies symbolic of Ethiopia’s Orthodox churches. Perhaps, best known are the Lalibella rock hewn churches often referred to as one of the Eight Wonders of the World.
Islam also is, strong with centuries old roots in the country. The religion is especially epitomized in the romantic walled city of Harar. One can see beautiful Mosques throughout most of the country.
Many people visit Ethiopia – or hope to do so one day – because of the remarkable manner in which ancient historical traditions have been preserved. And, indeed, the ceremonies and rituals of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church open a window on the genuine world of the Old Testament. In no other country is it possible to find you so dramatically transported back in time or to participate with such freedom in the sacred rituals of an antique faith.
the first reference to Ethiopia in the Bible appears in the early chapters of Genesis
Modern book cover of Kebra Nagast: The Glory of the Kings The state of Sheba mentioned in the Old Testament According to the Ethiopian legend, best represented in the Kebra Negest, the Queen of Sheba was tricked by King Solomon a child, named Ebn Melek (later Emperor Menelik I). When he was of age, Menelik returned to Israel to see his father, who sent with him the son of Zadok to accompany him with a replica of the Ark of the Covenant tabot. On his return with some of the Israelite priests, however, he found that Zadok’s son had stolen the real Ark of the Covenant. Some believe the Ark is still being preserved today at the Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion in Axum, Ethiopia
A great example of this is the story of the Ethiopian Eunuch as written in Acts, Chapter 8, verse 27: “Then the angel of the Lord said to Philip, Start out and go south to the road that leads down from Jerusalem to Gaza. So he set out and was on his way when he caught sight of an Ethiopian. This man was a eunuch, a high official of the Kandake (Candace) Queen of Ethiopia in charge of all her treasure.” After the Ethiopian received an explanation of the passage and came to believe in Jesus as the “Son of God”, he requested that Philip baptize him, which Philip obliged.