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African Rewritings Of The Jewish And Islamic Solomonic Tradition: The Triumph Of The Queen Of Sheba In The Ethiopian Fourteenth-Century Text Kebrä Nägäst

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Chapter Summary

In the fourteenth century, scribes from what is now the modern East African nation of Ethiopia recorded their national narrative in the holy text of the Kɘbrä Nägäst. Expanding on an anecdote found in the Tanakh about the Queen of Sheba's visit to tenth-century BCE King Solomon, the Kɘbrä Nägäst devotes forty chapters to reimagining the brief diplomatic encounter. The mythical history of the Kɘbrä Nägäst probably arises from Ethiopia's actual history as the ruler of a succession of trade-based African empires in close contact with Jewish South Arabians starting in the first millennium BCE and as a Christian African nation since the fourth century CE. This chapter addresses how the Kɘbrä Nägäst narrative varies from the biblical, qurʾanic, and midrashic versions of the queen's visit, particularly in its placement of a powerful and wise African woman at the center of the tale.

Keywords: African rewritings; biblical version; diplomatic encounter; Ethiopia; Jewish South Arabians; Kɘbrä Nägäst; King Solomon; midrashic version; Queen of Sheba; qurʾan



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