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Meqabyan (Amharic: መቃብያን), also called called Ethiopic Maccabees or Ethiopian Maccabees, are three books in the Ethiopian Orthodox Old Testament Biblical canon. These books are very different in content from the books of Maccabees in Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Bibles. The Maccabees described in these books are not those of the Hasmonean dynasty, and the "Five Holy Maccabean Martyrs" here do not match "Woman with seven sons", who were also called "Maccabees" and are revered throughout Orthodoxy as the "Holy Maccabean Martyrs".[1]

These books were only written in Ethiopian languages for a long time, but have recently been translated into English.

1st Book of Ethiopian Maccabees[change | change source]

According to this book, a certain man from the territory of Benjamin called Meqabis had three sons Abya (Amharic: አብያ- Abijah), Seela (Amharic: ሴላ- Shelah), and Pantos (Pantera), who opposed the tyrannical policies of the king and refused to worship his idols. Their account consumes only a short section of the book, spanning chapters 2 through chapter 5.  A second group of brothers are later introduced in Chapter 15. They are called: Yihuda (Amharic: ይሁዳ- Judah), Meqabis and Mebikyas, and they are said to have lead a successful revolt against the ruthless King Akrandis of Midian. This appears to be a historical allusion to the king Alexander I Balas, who ruled the Seleucid Empire after the death of Antiochius IV, and who supported the legitimacy of the Maccabees cause. However, in this folk rendering of history, Mebikyas enters the king's military camp and decapitates him at his dinner table, while his food was still in his mouth. The remainder of the book, chapters 16 to 36, have no dealing with the Maccabees (disambiguation) revolt and offer no further historical narrative. Their purpose is unknown, as they recount significant events from the Old Testament.

2nd Book of Ethiopian Maccabees[change | change source]

  • The Book of Second Meqabyan has 21 chapters. It starts: "After he found the Jews in Syrian Mesopotamia". The story says that a king of Moab named Meqabis made war against Israel as a punishment on them. Later he felt bad for his sins and taught the people living in Israel God's law. After his death, Tsirutsaydan introduced idolatry and burnt the sons of Meqabis.

3rd Book of Ethiopian Maccabees[change | change source]

  • The Book of Third Meqabyan has 10 chapters. It starts: "And the islands of Egypt shall rejoice". It tells about salvation and punishment, as seen in the lives of Adam, Job, David and others.

English Translations[change | change source]

    Selassie, Feqade. Ethiopian Books of Meqabyan 1–3, in Standard English. 2008; Lulu Press Inc, Raleigh, NC

    Curtin, D.P. The 1st Book of Ethiopian Maccabees. 2017; Dalcassian Publishing, Philadelphia, PA

References[change | change source]

  1. Mertens' Encyclopedia

Other websites[change | change source]