December 20, 2016
4. They ignored the guidance of their father
Priest Eli heard all the sins of his children and he said unto them, “Why do ye such things? For I hear of your evil dealings by all this people. Nay, my sons; for it is no good report that I hear: ye make the Lord’s people to transgress. If one man sin against another, the judge shall judge him: but if a man sin against the Lord, who shall entreat for him? Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto the voice of their father, because the Lord would slay them”. (1Sam 2: 23-25)
There are many things that one can learn from the Biblical story in the first book of Samuel chapter 4 to 7. The story teaches us about famous examples of neglectful parenting, the power and mercy of God, the repulsiveness of sin, the eventual fall of the haughty, the blessing of the righteous, the demise of the impudent, etc. Moreover, it is the symbolic depiction of the salvation presented in New Testament teachings. The following is the breakdown of this story.
The captivity of the Ark of the Covenant (1Sam.4:1-22)
However, Biblically ‘Zion’ symbolizes St. Mary. The prophets foretold the fulfillment of God’s Promise to save mankind through the Incarnation of the Son of God from the Virgin Mary and they personified St. Mary by ‘Zion’. Some among the prophets who foretold about St. Mary symbolically are cited below:
The prophet David
• “And of Zion it shall be said, this and that man was born in her: and the highest himself shall establish her” (Psalm 87: 5). St. David has forecasted about the birth of man (the Son of God) Jesus Christ from St. Mary; symbolizing Mary by Zion.
• “For the LORD hath chosen Zion; he hath desired it for his habitation. This is my rest for ever: here will I dwell; for I have desired it.” (Psalm 132: 13-14) This refers to St. Mary because God has chosen her for motherhood. As God is eternal, St. Mary as a mother of God is also called the Mother of God for eternity.
• “But chose the tribe of Judah, the mount Zion which he loved and he built his sanctuary like high palaces, like the earth which he hath established forever” (Ps 78: 68-69). In his work known as Anketse Berhan, St. Yared, the great Ethiopian composer of hymnography said of the Mother of God, “You become the city of God on earth in place of the highest city in heaven – wherein God resides”. From this we understand that St. David used ‘Mount Zion’ to describe St. Mary. God built His sanctuary (Mary) through spotlessness and holiness and in ultimate wisdom. Similar verse, “I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple” (Is. 6:1).
The prophet Zephaniah
He joyfully foretells that Mary is “the exalted Daughter of Zion: Sing, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel; be glad and rejoice with all the heart, O daughter of Jerusalem.” (Zeph 3:14)
The Prophet Zechariah
“… I have looked, and behold a candlestick all of gold, with a bowl upon the top of it, and his seven lamps thereon, and seven pipes to the seven lamps, which are upon the top thereof: And two olive trees by it, one upon the right side of the bowl, and the other upon the left side thereof.” (Zech 4: 2-3). From this we can understand that the Prophet Zechariah has seen St. Mary in the form of candlestick beautified by gold.
The prophet Isaiah
In regard to her perpetual virginity, it is central to the teachings of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church and in accordance with which the Prophet Isaiah‘s prophesy, “Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Isa 7:14).
The Prophet Ezekiel
The Church very frequently refer to St. Mary as "eternal virgin” and a three-fold virgin – before, during and after birth as the prophet Ezekiel prophesized, “Then he brought me back the way of the gate of the outward sanctuary which looketh toward the east; and it was shut. Then said the Lord unto me; this gate shall be shut, it shall not be opened, and no man shall enter in by it; because the Lord, the God of Israel, hath entered in by it, therefore it shall be shut”. (Ezekiel 44:2).
The Ethiopian church commentaries analysis shows us the threefold virginity of St. Mary symbolizing it thus: Saint Mary by ‘The East’; her womb by ‘the Sanctuary’; while the phrases ‘this gate shall be shut, it shall not be opened’ refers to the perpetual (three fold) virginity of St. Mary.
The Ark of the Covenant
The other known symbols of St. Mary are the Ark of Zion as well as the Ark of Noah. The Ark of the Covenant is the place of the presence of God, being kept therein the tablets of the Law given to the Prophet Moses. In comparison, the Blessed Virgin Mary is the living Ark who bears in herself not the word of God written ‘on stone’, but the very Word of God, the Logos, made flesh, become her son; who carries in herself; who carries in herself the very Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of the Eucharist Christ.
Generally, Mount Zion and the Ark of the Covenant are the very figure of St. Mary as the above prophets foretold her symbolically. Based on this biblical background the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church has built the Church dedicated to Saint Mary named as Zion Mary wherein commemorates the Consecration of Ark of the covenant associated with miracles done during Old Testament times.
May the prayer and intersession of Saint Mary be up on us all!
• መዝሙረ ዳዊት ንባቡና ትርጓሜው ፡ 1950 ዓ.ም አርቲስቲክ ማተሚያ ቤት፡፡
• መጽሐፈ ዚቅ ዘሕዳር ጽዮን፡፡
• The Holy Bible: King James Version.
The Holy Bible tells us that Almighty God created man in His image and likeness. (Genesis 1:26) and because He wanted the humans to reproduce and fill the earth, He gave them holy matrimony. Since then, marriage has been the source of new lives in this world. The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church teaches that matrimony is God-given sacrament by which a man and a woman live in unison and harmony to give birth to children. In other words, marriage is the field where the seed of life is sowed.
The command God gave us to ‘multiply and fill the earth’ is fulfilled through lawful holy matrimony. Every person is made of the blood of his/her parents. Job the tolerant says “Hast thou not poured me out as milk, and curdled me like cheese? Thou hast clothed me with skin and flesh, and hast fenced me with bones and sinews. Thou hast granted me life and favour, and thy visitation hath preserved my spirit.” (Job 10:8-12). This shows that the semen from the father is sent to the mother’s womb to give out new life.
St. Athanasius of Alexandria, one of the church scholars of the fourth century AD, taught the following:
“O You, Who takes a child from his father’s waist to the woman’s womb,
Who clots him after he is formed as fluid,
You breathe out the breath of life into him
On the fortieth day, you designate him for wealth or poverty, for honour or condemnation
You then take him out of there
You open his eyes and show him his grave
You open his throat and let him cry
You move his hands and feet so that he reaches out to his mother’s breast
O You, Who brings him up to adulthood and old age.”
(Liturgy of Athanasius, No. 113-115)
These words show us the means God created for humans to reproduce and perpetuate their race. St. David restates this fact saying “Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is He that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people, and the sheep of His pasture.” (Psalms 100:3)
St. Athanasius’s words are explained in our church as follows:
Athanasius makes reference to the forty days after fertilization not to mean that God determines whether the individual becomes rich or poor, righteous or wicked. Rather, it means that until the fortieth day, the embryo remains in a fluid state, almost invisible. On the fortieth day, the embryo takes the shape of a tail and acquires all its organs. After birth, the individual will enjoy wealth and righteousness or suffer poverty and condemnation depending on how he uses his body which is created on the fortieth day. That’s why St. Athanasius mentioned the forty days.
Church fathers further elaborate the matter saying that after the baby is born it opens its eyes and throat; an angel reveals to it its burial ground and let it test the soil from the grave; the baby then cries bitterly without shedding any tears. It will later shed tears at its death.
According to the teaching of our church, man is made of both body and soul. The church believes that both the body and the soul are created simultaneously; none is created before the other. (Genesis 1:26) This implies that children acquire both body and soul concurrently from their parents.
Just as fire ignites when two stones collide, the human soul also comes into existence through sexual intercourse between parents. And just as butter resides in milk, the human soul is also embedded in the body.
Termination of Pregnancy (Abortion)
Abortion is practiced in different parts of the world and there are different viewpoints regarding the practice. Let’s now discuss the stance of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church regarding abortion.
According to the teachings of our church, termination of pregnancy (abortion) is totally prohibited. The church condemns any attempt to hinder pregnancy (fertilization) during sexual intercourse let alone abortion of a living foetus. Based on the story of (Awnan) Onan recorded in the Holy Bible, the church teaches that abortion is punishable by God. (Genesis 38:8-10)
Our church elaborates the story of Onan as follows:
Judah took a wife named Tamar for his firstborn son. But Judah’s son was unhappy because Tamar was a Canaanite, from gentiles with no prophesy told for them. He, therefore, stayed away from her and was unwilling to have sexual intercourse with her. God slew the first born for his arrogance and jealousy. Judah then told Onan to marry his brother’s wife. However, Onan knew that a child born from Tamar will not be regarded as his own son. So, when he slept with Tamar, he spilled his semen outside her womb. God also slew Onan for his envy and evil act.
As we discussed earlier, if fertilization takes place after sexual intercourse, new life is conceived in the woman’s womb. Specially, on the fortieth day, as the foetus takes a human form, its right for life are supposed to be recognized. The church teaches that couples should suspend sexual intercourse since the time when the mother knows that she has conceived a baby.
As the foetus takes the human form on the fortieth day, its rights are recognized by the church. Our church believes that the foetus will rise from its grave at the end of the world just as its parents do. In the interpretation of the Gospel, the church teaches that our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ fasted for forty days and nights to atone for the sins of all who took the human form on the fortieth day of their conception.
Our church also teaches that God visits humans even when they are in their mothers’ wombs. When St. John the Baptist was visited by the Holy Spirit before his birth, he prostrated for St. Virgin Mary and Our Lord Jesus Christ Who was in the virgin’s womb. (Luke 1:41-45) God also said to Jeremiah " Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations." (Jeremiah 1:5)
Therefore, the church condemns abortion because it believes that the foetus is a living human being though it is not born yet because it has not completed its period in the womb. It considers any attempt to abort the embryo as an act of killing a human being. In Exodus 20:13, God commanded us not to kill: "Thou shalt not kill." This applies to the unborn foetus as well.
The issue of tampering with pregnancy is further elaborated in Fitiha Negest. In chapter 24, it explains that couples who are interested in sexual intercourse alone try to abort the foetus using different tools and drugs. It also mentions that people might want to avoid pregnancy to keep the woman’s posture intact or due to fear that they might not have the resources to raise a child (children). However, all these are un-Christian assumptions and acts.
The book goes on to explain that killing a foetus could be worse than killing a born person. Unlike those of us living in this world, foetuses are pure and have never had sinful experiences. Besides, no one knows their destinies. They can end up being popes or leaders.
Fiteha Negest also issues a verdict on anyone who terminates a woman’s conception through witchcraft. It says “If a man terminates a woman’s conception through witchcraft and engages in sexual misconduct with her, let him repent throughout his life. When he is sick or he is on the verge of death, let him partake from the Holy Communion for he has committed three grave sins: sexual misconduct, murder and witchcraft."
The book also adds a related verdict of church fathers: "If women abort children conceived through sexual misconduct and conceal their sins let them depart from their fellow believers throughout their lives." But then it rules that the time be shortened to ten years for the sake of God’s love for us.
Abortion as a ‘ Right’
In some countries, terminating pregnancy is viewed in light of women’s rights. However, the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church does not accept this point of view. People who are tied together in holy matrimony are unified into one being and hence are supposed to have one will. (Mathew 19:6) The man has power over his wife’s body, and vice versa. (1 Corinthians 7:4) Both are responsible for what happens in their marriage. Hence, the church encourages consensus and tolerance between couples. It teaches that both parents share the same rights and obligations in giving birth to children and raising them.
Plus, the church firmly teaches that children, though not born yet, have the right to life once they are conceived. None of the parents should consider abortion as their rights. The church never accepts abortion even if the parents might be in favour of it. And in any discussion on such matters, father confessors always rule out the option of abortion and reflect the church’s stance as they are its ambassadors.
As the church has a firm stance on the right of the unborn child to life, the only option couples are left with to avoid pregnancy is abstinence. If couples decide not to engage in any sexual intercourse, they have the right to do so.
However, it is highly likely that married couples engage in sexual intercourse though they might not give serious thought to the prospect of giving birth to children. They usually engage in such intercourse to satisfy their bodily desires. None of us can analyse how God uses this intercourse to bring out new life out of it.
In Psalms 27 verse 10, St. David says "When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up." This shows that parents engage in sexual intercourse primarily to satisfy their sexual appetite, and that God, in His boundless wisdom, makes life out of that. St. David also mentions that God protects children starting from their days in their mothers ‘wombs. (Psalms 116:6)
Source: This article appeared in one of the editions of ‘Hamer’ magazine published monthly by Mahibere Kidusan. The content of the article is taken from a study conducted by Deacon Zena Birhanu and presented at a symposium Mahibere Kidusan convened in 1995 E.C /2002 G.C at the Postgraduate Hall of Addis Ababa University.
Note: Fetha Nagast translated as "Law of the Kings") is a book of law that has been in use in Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido church since at least the l6th. cent. The first part of Fetha Nagast deals with mostly ecclesiastic affairs. The second part, concerning issues pertaining to the laity, such as family law, debt, civil administration etc. It was compiled from the Bible, writings of early Church fathers including St. Basil and St. Hippolytus, and various canons adopted at the Council of Nicaea, the Council of Antioch, and others.
Translation: Tsegaye Girma & Kassa Nigus
The Holy Bible tells us that Almighty God created man in His image and likeness. (Genesis 1:26) and because He wanted the humans to reproduce and fill the earth, He gave them holy matrimony. Since then, marriage has been the source of new lives in this world.
- Translation: Tsegaye Girma & Kassa Nigus
which cannot be seen in flesh but can be contemplated, and those Christians who received persecution as bearer of the Cross having faith of the only Son of God Jesus Christ.
Literally, the Cross is a means for the proclamation of everlasting peace, the throne of love, a sign of peace, and our pride to resist the evil one.
Based on these, indigenous Ethiopian scholars taught and wrote about the glory of the Holy Cross. St. Yared and the golden age figure Abba Giorgis of Gasicha are among the Ethiopian scholars who witnessed the glory of the Holy Cross. Hence, it is better to present their thought in the following subtitles for Christians when we celebrate the finding of the True Cross.
The Holy Cross is the power and wisdom of God that made devil to be ashamed and flee
“If Satan knew his defeat by the Cross of the Son, he wouldn’t urge Jews to crucify and kill Christ the Nazareth, who is the redeemer.” Satan was defeated by the Cross he implanted with mischief and felt ashamed by his own false advice to the Jews.
“He made a pit and dug it and is fallen in to the ditch which he made” (Ps7; 15)
St Yared relate his hymn with this psalm of David and amplified the value of the cross for us to be purified from the evil mind and a means to have the sprinkling precious blood of Christ on the Cross which pushed Satan out from believers’ heart. (ICor1; 18) Zemare (a hymn of St.yared.p136)
In relation to this, when he explained about what was hidden to us before the ages “How amazing is his deed about the Cross-which ashamed Satan, destroyed the consequence of sin on Soul and flesh, avoided corruption of the human body. The power and wisdom of the Cross is amazing and wonderful. “(I Cor 2:7 Haymanote Abew Ze Kidus Athnatewos, The book of Ziq and Mezmur: p.21)
The Cross is the accomplishment of love by which Satan tied up, the love of God for us is revealed. Condemning Satan, we believed in Christ and saved by his Cross. We have seen the love of God for us by means of the Cross.
“By the power of the Cross Satan was arrested. Today the Cross is glorified, the world is saved, God is praised, and man achieved freedom” (Degua-ze Meskel).
The Cross is an altar on which the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world, is crucified (Jn. 1:29), a means of joy for those who were saddened, as sung by St. Yared.
“He was crucified on the Cross by His own will like a meek lamb he followed the slaughterers to be slaughtered. By this the world became bleached, the sad for 5500 years rejoiced, first person Adam who became poor by losing his grace is saved from his poverty.”
By this he meant that the Cross is the way, God revealed His love for us on it, a means that changed the word in our Sinner ears “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousness is as filthy rages…” (Isa.64:6/, and enabled us to hear the voice of mercy, accomplishment of love and unchangeable testament. St. Yared praised the Holy Cross in the above hymns that beautified Ethiopia and prospers the human bones. /Rev 13:18, Degua-Zemesekal/ Really the altar of our salivation, the Cross is a shield of body and soul, a real rest for broken heart, and a state of conciliation for disturbed minds, /Zemare: p.82/
The Cross is a charter of reconciliation in which we heard the merciful voice of God and a means of our restoration from migration. “While He was on the Cross, the Son of God, Christ cried to His Father and said “forgive your hand’s work, do not destroy your own creature, do not leave the creature of your right hand as wandering or disappearing.”
“Adam disobeyed the law and ate the fruit of the tree. But, O Father look at the Cross on which they crucified me as a sinner” Saying this on behalf of Christ, St. Yared tells us that the Cross destroyed our transgression, and brought complete peace to our conscious. The Cross is a means to attain the mercy of God when we sinned against God. /Heb. 9:29/ and a means of restoration from our miserable life. /Gen. 3:22, Zemare Ze-Fasika: p.86, Luke 23:34/
The Holy Cross is an altar on which Christ, the arch priest of the Father, presented Himself as a chosen sacrifice to restore our original state, and to reconcile us with His Father, the Holy Spirit and with Himself. It is a permanent charter or reconciliation according to St. Yared’s hymn in the fifth part of Zemare called Mestir, which is specifically dedicated to the mystery of the Eucharist. (p.163)
Of course, being a man of sorrows, surely He has borne our grief and carried our sorrows, and crucified in order to free us from the bondage of sin. /Gen. 3:6, Isa 53:3, Saint Yared/
As it is written in the book called “Metshafe Kidan”, “our reliance is on the cross to praise it.” Because of the first Adam everybody was dead, but, by the Cross of the second Adam all became alive. “We are ransomed by the blood of the Cross and sin will not rule on our body again.” /Rom. 6:8, Icor.15:2/ We are also heard that He opened the paradise by His Cross. (Saint Yared)
After St. Yared, who always remembers the cross in his entire life saying, “how sweet are the words of the cross to my throat” Abba Giorgis of Gasicha, the great scholar of the 14th century, explains the theology of the Cross in a very deep mystery as the following.
The Cross is a vessel which contains the bread of life, and in it the Christ’s mystery of salvation is fulfilled.” The Lamb of God was slaughtered on the Cross by the hands of the crucifiers and a dining table of blessing is prepared for the believers.”
“Truly, pure sacrifice is Jesus of Nazareth, the son of holy calf.” By saying this elaborated the role of the Holy Cross in our salvation in his detail and deep taught. /Eph.1:7, Metshafe Mestir p.140, Monday’s Arganon/ The one who eats from this meal of blessing will not be hungry again and will have an everlasting life. For this purpose, Christ Himself was the lamb for the sacrifice, the priest who presented the sacrifice and the Cross was an altar. With these circumstances our salvation is accomplished and He proclaimed His love by mercy./Jn.6:51/
The one who has no any blame, our paschal lamb, Christ was slaughtered on the Cross, Because, of this, the meal of life is prepared for believers./1Cor.5:7/ And again, Abba Giorgis, who is called the pillar of religion, when he explained about the perfect salvation acquired by the Cross, said, “the Cross, which is the redeemer of all humanity, deserves salutation” By saying this, praise with contemplation, he translated Christ’s mystery of salvation by interrelating with the word of the Apostle. /2Cor.5:19, Teameho Egzi’e Zezeweter/
The Cross is the Foundation of Faith and the pillar of Religion
“Your Cross is the foundation of faith and a pillar of religion for those who believe and relay on you. Having said this he witnessed that the Cross is a pillar which cannot be shaken by demons, a means to mortify those who stood on us, and a sign which is given to skip from the face of the arrow.” Ps 59:4, Wedasie Meskel (Prasise of the Cross) by Abba Giorgis/ In addition, when he explained the glory of the Cross, he said: “Christ is the light which daily shines on His saints and His Cross is the stand of the light in the church. And the blood of Christ for the redemption of the world is shaded upon it.”
In general, though it is difficult to summarize the theology of the cross in this short article, as mentioned in the introduction, the Cross transmits a message of reconciliation and agreement, a means for the salvation of Adam, who was given for destruction, a tree of life which restored Adam to his original state. A tree for the remission of sin, a source of life, foundation of our salvation, above all things the prophecy of prophets, Apostle’s sermon, paradise of the saint’s joy, rest for sinners, and retreat for Satan. Having the inspiration of the Holy Spirit both these indigenous scholars taught the theology of the Cross as mentioned above./2pet, 1:21,Zemare P.155/
The church, who follows the footsteps of the apostles, on the bases of the patristic taught, witnesses saying “we received grace and we have gained life by the power of the Cross of Jesus Christ. Because of this witness, members of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, who washed their clothe by the blood of the lamb, have special place in their heart for the love of the Cross./ Rev.17;14/ They say, “Our hope in the heaven and on Earth is this Cross.” With this song of victory, they have celebrated the anniversary of the True Cross for centuries and it will be continued without having lost its special place of honor until the end of the world.
Praise be to the Cross of Christ, the tree of medicine, which is our power and strength!
Source: Taken from “Bulletin” prepared by Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church Publication Committee for 2008/2016 anniversary of the True Cross.
This is the time when the soil becomes less moist; the volume of water decreases; the clean earth, the clear sky and the clean water appear; and the earth gets decorated with flowers.
The end of the rainy season is divided into two parts;
The first part covers from August 22 – August 29 and is recognized by the following names:
A. Egule Qu’at (The fowl of crow): This is nominated after the teachings of St. Yared in his hymn saying “… the fowl of crow praise God….”, and the church associates it to the fact that when the eagle has incubated her egg, the fowl appears in the form of flames devoid of tresses. So, being afraid of the color of her little fowl, the mother crow runs away from her fowl.
During this time, the fowl feels hungry and opens its mouth so that pests and other insects flow towards its mouth, and then it satisfies itself by eating the flying insects through the generosity of God as it is stated in the following readings: “Who provides for the raven his food? when his young ones cry unto God, they wander for lack of meat” (Job 38 :41) ; “Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are ye not much better than they?” (Matthew 6:26).
The fowl of crow symbolizes all flying creatures in the teachings of the genesis. Among the common readings of these days are sited from the verse “who executes judgment for the oppressed: who gives food to the hungry. The Lord looses the prisoners” (Psalms 146:7).
B. Desseyat (Islands): This is also nominated after the teachings of St. Yared in his hymn saying “The islands are delighted in times of winter.” Even if the islands are surrounded by water bodies, God saves them and all the creatures living in the islands from the calamities of winter, so they provide praise to their Lord. The church prays for the comfort of all creatures of islands as God saves Naoh, his family, and a remnant of all the world’s animals from the flood through the ark, which is the symbol of the church.
C. Ayne Kulu (The Eyes of All): Farmers patiently wait enduring all the temptations of winter to reap their harvest that is sown in pain (cold weather) of the winter, Christian farmers trust in Lord Jesus Christ that their hope of harvest will be fulfilled. So, the eyes of all wait upon the Lord Jesus Christ. During this week, the church praises God with different recitals from Psalms:
“The eyes of all wait upon thee; and thou gives them their meat in due season. Thou open thine hand, and satisfy the desire of every living thing.” (Psalms 145:15-16)
“Who gives food to all flesh: for his mercy endures forever. O gives thanks unto the God of heaven: for his mercy endures forever.” (Psalms 136:25-26); (Psalms 104:21-27),
The second part covers from August 30 to September 25 which is termed as:
A. ‘Dawn’, ‘Daybreak’ and ‘Light’: it is because the season when dark clouds begin to move away and the sun resurfaces and shines in the sky.
B. ‘Fruit’ : it is because the seed that was sown early blooms to flower, evolves to budding and ripens to be ready for harvest.
Source: በሙሉ አስፋው 2001 E.C. ማኅቶተ ዘመን ፡ ገጽ 214-221
Note: the rainy season in Ethiopia covers the period from Senie 25 to Meskerem 26 in Ethiopian Calendar (July 2 to October 6).