The Birth of Jesus Christ (Christmas)

January 15, 2016
By Kassa Ngus
The Feast of the Birth of Jesus Christ is one of the most joyful days of the Ethiopian Orthodox  Tewahodo Church that has been celebrated  on Tahisas 29 E.C  in the three evangelical year (Matthew, Mark  and Luke) (January 7) and on Tahisas 28 (January 6) in a fourth year cycle (in the year of John). 

The Feast of the Birth of Jesus which is parallel to “Lidet” in the Ethiopian Church is also known as the "Incarnation of Christ." This means that Jesus became a man and came into the world to save us. We also refer to this joyous feast as Christmas. The story of the Birth of Christ is superbly told in the Holy Scriptures. The story is mainly found in (Matthew 1:18-25 and in Luke 2:1-20).

The reason why Jesus was born
God created Adam and Eve and placed them in a beautiful environment that supplied their every need. In the Garden of Eden our original human parents found food plentiful, animals tame and a loving teacher—God Himself—accompanying them and teaching them everything they needed to know.

If Adam and Eve had obeyed God, they could have bridged the gap between mortality and immortality; they had access to the tree of life. They had every advantage, so what went wrong? Adam and Eve did what every other human being has done: They sinned. They disobeyed God.

God gave our original human parents the gift of free choice. He gave them the ability to decide whether they would obey Him, and they missed the mark. Satan, in the form of a serpent, attempted to subvert God’s will for mankind (Genesis: 3:1-4). The devil appealed to Eve’s vanity, convincing her she could be as God Himself, "knowing good and evil" (Genesis: 3: 5).

Satan, in a blatant lie, told Eve she didn’t have to depend on God for anything. Satan posed as the liberator, offering Eve instant gratification. Eve was willingly deceived by this appeal to her vanity, so she ate the forbidden fruit and presented the same fruit to her husband. Adam then also ate the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis: 3: 6). Though Adam was created in the likeness of his Lord, man transgressed; hence demons ruled over him instead of the gracious will of the Lord.

The power of the demon over man made his body to decay in the grave and his soul to languish in hell. Therefore, man was living in Condemnation due to the Sin man committed which threw him into hell where he lived in utter disgrace for five and half millennia. Jesus had to be born because God wanted to remove the sins of humankind through a perfect sacrifice by revealing His own character to humanity.
He has given us in His birth the life we have lost for ages. Man and angels have together borne witness of this restoration of heavenly peace in their welcoming song. He himself has also later in His Ministry had said that His peace is not like the one the world might offer. His peace is eternal while that of the world is only ephemeral. (Jn.14:2)

By and large this Birth has completely changed man’s history. Man is indeed transformed to his original grace due to this Divine Birth; and eternal salvation is delivered.

Human being and Angles sung together

Angles chased man out of Garden of Eden when he sinned and they also guarded it with swords of flame. Hence, Adam never returned to Eden. When Christ was born, the two reconciled and sung together. They together praised the incarnate God. This demonstrated the true reconciliation between heaven and earth. (Luke 2:8-20)

The church teaches actively for the last 2006 years about the grand nature of this Holy day. How about us? How we celebrate the day? Are we to sing with angles or spend the night in Night clubs? When the shepherds were told in the night about the news of His birth, what they said was, "Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us." (Luke 2:15)  There, they went and found Christ in a manger with His mother. We have to always find ourselves at Bethlehem, the Church, if we want to find the Holy Savior with His mother.
The Holy Bible: The King James Version (1769).

Saint Takla Himanot the Ethiopian

Updated January 1, 2016
By Kassa Nigus 
The Family of the Saint
In the 13th century, a Christian family lived in Ethiopia; the husband who was a priest and loved Jesus very much was called "Tsega Ze’ab" (= the gift of father), and the wife who was very rich and loved the poor was called “Egzi’e Hareya " (= the chosen of Lord). Their patron saint was the Archangel "Michael", and they used to make a feast for him on the 12th of every Ethiopian month by having a mass and after that a banquet for the poor.

In every 12th of the Ethiopian month which is named by the Arch Angel Michael, they prepared a feast and fed the poor. However they were both sadden and unhappy with the fact that they could not have a child. “Egzi’e Hareya "  used to go to church and prayed beneath the icon of our mother Virgin Mary to God to give her a child that would love and serve Him, live in righteousness other wise to never let give her and keep her sterile.

One day, Tsega Ze’ab and “Egzi’e Hareya” discussed who inherit their wealth since they didn’t have a child. They decided to give their money and all wealth to the poor and liberating their slaves who happily served them.They told their servants they no longer have to live serving them and are free to go to but the slaves loved them so much that they said let us ask for forgiveness if we have disappointed you but please do not let us leave you, let us rather stay with you.

The capture of Egzi’e Hareya

After many years of peace, a pagan called "Motolomy" ruled the land of "Damoot" and "Shawa". He closed many churches and tried to revive the worship of idols.

One day "Tsilalsh" (the place where "Tsega ze’ab" and " Egzi’e Hareya " lived) was attacked by Motolomy. When the soldiers entered the country, " Egzi’e Hareya " "  was caught and taken to Damot by the soldiers who wanted to give her as a gift to their king "Motolomy".

 "Tsega ze’ab" took a route to hide and was followed by a soldier who wanted to kill him, until they reached a nearby lake, so "Tsega ze’ab" threw himself in the lake to hide from the soldier asking the Archangel Michael to help him through this. At once he felt the water over him as if it’s a tent sheltering him, and the Archangel appeared to strengthen him.

  The Archangel told "Tsega ze’ab" that the soldier went away and hence he got out of the lake. At that time the Archangel Michael told "Tsega ze’ab" that he was saved because of his child to be. He told him of great secrets about the child and carried him back to the town.

Then, when Egzi’e Hareya was caught and taken to Damot by the soldiers, she was presented to the king "Motolomy".

When the king saw the face of the saint "Egzi’e hareya", he ordered for the richest clothes and precious jewels for her, and to be kept in the city of gods until their wedding.But when all the soldiers went to sleep, she used to pray in the night to God for His great work in her life. King Motolomy gather his royals, pagan priests and brought Tsega ze’ab forward, she was told to bow down to the idol for worship but refused saying I will not bow for this made idol with human hands and when they came forward to punish her but her beloved St. Michael took her away back to her place Tslalsh.

"Tsega ze’ab" was in great misery and sadness for what happened to his wife whom he loved very much, and was afraid of the evil king, but he went to the house of God at once. He went into the church and kneeled before the Holy Alter and cried and sobbed a lot while he prayed to God to save his wife.

"Egzi’e Hareya" and the angel

One day while he was in the church he saw a woman in expensive precious clothes praying and awe to God. When he finished he went to talk and asked her where she was from saying, “you seem to be from a royal family what have brought you here?”, she told him that she had heard of a man called "Tsega ze’ab"  whose wife was taken and kidnapped and hence she came to be his wife! Then the priest crossed and told her that priests do not remarry, and that God would protect his wife and would return her safely to him.

 "Egzi’e Hareya" smiled happily for her husband’s faith and told him she was his wife and took off the veil that covered his face. Her husband was surprised and asked her how she had come. She told him that the Angel had saved her and got her to the church. The two kneeled before God in the church and thanked Him for his protection. In the evening all the congregation came when they heard of the return of "Egzi’e Hareya" and they all prayed glorifying God for his great love.

Then, she told him that she prayed for her safety, and Michael, the Archangel came to her to tell her that she would return for the sake of her son. When the wedding ceremony started and finished, and the people congratulated the king, there was lightning and thunder. The king got mad and the angel saved her and got her to the church.At night "Tsega ze’ab" had a dream where he saw the sun and a lot of stars in their bedroom and the next day the Archangel told them of the coming of their son.

The Birth of the Saint

At the night Tsega Zeab saw a dream as did Egzi’e Hareya and St. Michael was revealed and told them they will bear a blessed child chosen by God and who will be the light of the world.

Then our beloved father was born on 24th December in 1215 and called him "The happiness of “Tseyon", or “The happiness of the churches". There were many miracles done by him; like when he talked when he was only 3 days old. He was baptized on his 40th day.

  During his childhood, there was a terrible famine that his parents could not make the feast of St. Michaeal the Archangle. Then, St. Tekle Haymanot indicated his mother to the basket with his hand where there was a little pan and oil in a pot. He put his hand on the basket that it poured too much that his mother gathered every container she had in the house.

St. Abune Tekle Haymanot begun to preach the Gospel over the whole of Ethiopia he traveled to and abandoned the pagan and idol worship. People became very faithfully to God, strong in their religion after he baptized them.He established churches; assigned priests and deacons that would serve the people with the Holy Communion. Throughout his life, St.Tekle Haymanot increased his fasting and prayer for the change he was going to face a head.

Eventually he exerted plenty effort in praying and fasting before God for the forgiveness of all the world and its sin in the monastery of Debere Libanos which was established by him, there he live every day remembering the torture and pain Jesus received from his own peoples in order to save the world.

He was chosen not to live in comfort where there were too much worldly pleasures and he even prayed standing on one foot until his leg fell off. He remained in his cave until his death. Many people from all over Ethiopia come to the monastery of Dabere Libanos in search of his blessing, many cured of illnesses, and to hear the word and the true teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ.

    May the Grace and blessing of our Father be up on us Amen!

Source: Gadle Tekle Haymanot,1989.

The Feast of St. Gabriel

December 29, 2015
According to his homily, St Gabriel is one of the archangels who strongly contended for the honor and wisdom of God when the fraud angle wished to be the highest in heaven, even above God. During that time of mystification, St. Gabriel heartened his fellow angles saying, "we shall persist till we realize our Creator”.
All heaven fell in commotion as Satan attempted to conquer the Son of God and those who were submissive to his will. But the good angels prevailed, and Satan, with his followers, was driven from heaven. (Isaiah 14:12-20; Ezekiel 28:1-19; Revelation 12:7-9)

St Gabriel is also the angel who announced to Zacharias the priest that his sterile wife will give birth to a son who will be called John (Luke 1:13). He mentioned some prophecies about that son, which shows that angels are capable of knowing what will happen in the future as revealed to them by God. Gabriel is also the one who was sent to the Holy Virgin and said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God" (Luke 1:35).

Gabriel also clarifies visions when ordered by God. This appears in the vision of the prophet Daniel. When Daniel was perplexed with the vision, the Lord sent Gabriel to clarify the meaning of the vision to Daniel. (Dan. 8:16) In the subsequent chapter, the angel said, “O Daniel, I now come forth to give you skill and understanding.” (Dan.9: 22)

The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church celebrates colorfully the Feast of St. Gabriel on 19th day of each month of which two are  great annual  feasts – on Tahisas 19 (December 28) and Hamle 19 (July 26). Tahisas 19, in the Church, is dedicated to commemorate the deliverance of the three youths (Sidraq, Misaq and Abdenago) from the burning fire of Nebuchadnezzar through the help of St Gabriel (Daniel 3).

Berhan (Light)

December 28, 2015
Berhan (Light): it covers the period between December 14 and 20. The prophets throughout the Old Testament have foretold the incarnation of God who is symbolized by light. The week named Berhan shows our God as the Sun of Justice redeeming His people with His Divine Light.  The readings and hymns for the period are taken from Isaiah 42:6, 49:6, John 8:12, Rom13:11-14, 1Jn1:1-10, Ac 26:12-18-18, Ps 43(42):3 etc. 

Beata: The Entrance of Saint Mary into the Temple

December 12, 2015
By Kassa Nigus

The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church celebrates the Entrance of Saint Mary into the Temple at Jerusalem on Tahisas 3 (December 12) as one of the thirty three feasts of St. Mary in the year. The Feast recognized in the Ethiopian Church as “Be’ata” in Ge’ez language to mean “her entry” to the Temple.

The entrance of our holy Lady the Virgin, Saint Mary into the Temple took place when she was three years old, for she was dedicated to God. Her mother, Hannah, was childless. The women who were in the Temple kept themselves away from her, and she was exceedingly sorry about this and Joachim her husband was an old man.   

 Hannah prayed to God fervently and with a repentant heart saying, "If You give me a fruit, I will devote the child to Your Holy Temple." God answered her prayers and she brought forth this pure saint and called her Mary. She reared her for three years, after which she took her in to the Temple and given to the chief priest of the time, Zacharias to live with the virgins in the Temple. 

At this time, the chief priest Zacharias received her and thought critically what to do in respect of her sustenance so that he gathered the priests to talk about her sustenance.   At a moment the archangel Phanuel appeared to them descending on the space holding of heavenly foods. Then, Zacharias and other priests being prepared one after another to partake the food from the angle supposed as it was to them but the angle ascended back and has not approached to one of them. Later on, when the Child had left alone, the angle descended and fed her covering of his wings.  

Then, she received her sustenance from the hands of the angels, until the time when our Lord Christ came into the world, and was incarnated through her, the elect of all women. Saint Mary dwelt in the sanctuary for 12 years learning the doctrines, commandments and sacred rites.When she had completed 12 years in the sanctuary, the priests took counsel together concerning her, because at this age, they believed that she reached puberty, so that she had to depart from the temple. So that they might entrust her to someone who would protect her, for she was consecrated to God and they were not allowed to keep her in the temple after this age.

Then, Zachariah prayed to God concerning Mary. And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him and said, “Zachariah, go forth and gather together all the men and old men, and take their staffs, and write the name of each man upon his staff. Then gather together all the staffs into the Sanctuary, and pray to God; and after this go forth and give unto each man his staff. And the man on whose staff the Lord God shall make a sign to appear is he who is worthy that Mary shall be given unto him to protect.”


In view of that, he gathered 12 righteous men from the house of David of the Tribe of Juda so he might place her with one of them. He took their staffs inside the Sanctuary, and a dove flew up and stood on the staff belonging to Joseph the carpenter who was a righteous man. They knew that this was God’s will.

Accordingly, the priests decided that she was assigned to Joseph as guardian and could take care of her and who would look after her. Joseph took the holy Virgin St. Mary, and she dwelt with him until Gabriel, the Angel of the Lord, came to her and announced to her that the Son of God was to be incarnated from her, for the salvation of Adam and his posterity.

                         May Her intercession be with us!


• The Ethiopic Synaxarium (Translation of Sir E. A. Wallis Budge) pp.181-2.

• Hiruy Ermiyas 2006 E.C. Mezgebe Tarik part 1.pp.85-86.

The Feast of the Ark of the Covenant

December 1, 2015 
By staff members
This is a feast colorfully celebrated every year on Hidar 21 (November 30) at every church dedicated to St. Mary. The day is observed with special fervor particularly in Axum where the Arc of the Covenant is housed safely in a chapel.  The occasion is attended by tens of thousands of people from all over Ethiopia and also foreign visitors making it one of the most joyous annual pilgrimages in Axum, the sacred city of Ethiopians.

The Feast of Tabote Tsion is held in commemoration of different historical events including the coming of the Ark of the Covenant to Ethiopia and the construction in Axum of the first church dedicated to St. Mary. The day also marks the destruction of Dagon by the power of the ark of God, as recorded in the Bible, and the return of the arc to Israel after seven months of exile at the Dagon`s house in Philistine. (1 Samuel 4; 6)

In those days, Israelites were rendered slaves to Egyptian pharaohs who abused and tortured them cruelly. The plight of the Israelites continued until the great prophet Moses was sent by God to liberate them from the brutal suppression.

Moses`s mother brought up her son in the palace of the Pharaoh teaching him secretly about the identity and tradition of her forefathers. After Moses was old enough to be a ruler in the house of the pharaoh, he abandoned the comfort of the palace to partake in the suffering of his people as he led them to freedom in line with God`s plan.

After the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt, God gave them the tablet of the Ten Commandments (Tabote Tsion) through Mosses in the mount of Sanai so they use it as a sacred instrument to worship God. The Ark was carried by the Israelites during their 40 years of journey to the land of hope. Whenever they camped, the Ark was placed in a special and sacred tent called the Tabernacle.

  The Captivity of the Ark of God and the Death of Eli  

In the course of time, during the reign of Elli, unusual events took place among Palestinians and Israelites. The story recounted in the 1st Book of Samuel goes as follows. The old priest Eli had two children (Hophni and Phinehas) who were behaving wickedly, taking for themselves all the prime cuts of meat from sacrifices and committing adultery with women who served at the sanctuary`s entrance.

Eli was aware of their behavior but he rebuked them too lightly and was unable to make them give up their bad deeds. He used to tell them, “my children what I heard of you is wrong; if a man does wrong to a man to God is prayed for, but how could you do wrong to God?“ but he refrained from punishing them because they were his sons.  

 Eli`s sons kept on doing sinful acts, and so, Samuel the Prophets was sent to Eli to tell him that he and his family will be punished for their wrongdoing:  “God has sworn unto the house of Eli, that the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be purged with sacrifice nor offering forever …In that day I will perform against Eli all things which I have spoken concerning his house. When I begin, I will also make an end. For I have told him that I will judge his house for ever for the iniquity which he knoweth; because his sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not.” (1 Samuel 3:12-14)

As a result, the Philistines attacked Israel.  “And the Philistines put themselves in array against Israelites; and when they joined battle, Israel was smitten before the Philistines, and they slew of the army in the field about four thousand men eventually capturing the Ark of the Covenant from the Israelites and killing Eli’s sons, who accompanied the Ark to the battle as priests. (1 Samuel 4:2)

Israelites were always victorious in their battles whenever they had Tabote Tsion amidst them. But because God`s wrath was on them due to the sins of Eli`s sons, they lost the battle and many thousands died in the war filled. Tabote Tsion was captured in the battle and both of Eli`s sons were killed.  

Eli, who was nearly blind, was unaware of the event until he asked about all the commotion. Sitting in a chair, he was told what had happened by a soldier who had fled the battle.  The soldier said to Eli "I am one who has barely escaped from the war to tell you that the ark has been captured by our enemies and both of your sons died on the war" 

Upon hearing the shocking news, Eli fell backwards out of his chair and died from a broken neck. He was a Judge of Israel for a total of 40 years, and died at the age of 98. His daughter-in-law, the wife of Phinehas, was pregnant and near the time of delivery. When she heard the news that the Ark of God had been captured and that her father-in-law and husband were dead. She went into labour and gave birth, but was overcome by labour pains. As she was dying, the women attending to her said "Don’t despair; you have given birth to a son."  But she did not respond or pay any attention. She named the boy Ichabod, to mean The Glory has departed from Israel – because of the capture of the Ark of God and the deaths of her father-in-law and her husband.

After their victory at Ebenezer, the Philistines took Tabote Tsion to their country but misfortune fell on them. When in Ashdom, it was placed in the temple of Dagon under the idol. The next morning Dagon was found prostrate, bowing down before Tabote Tsion. They again restored the idol to its original place but yet again on the following morning Dagon was found broken into pieces.

The Philistines were also plagued by diseases and an outbreak of mice. They then sent Tabote Tsion to the land of Ashdon. But the same tragedy occurred among the people of Gath and Ekron to whom Tabote Tsion was moved. After the Ark had been among them for seven months, the Philistines, on the advice of their diviners, returned it to the Israelites, accompanying its return with an offering consisting of golden images of the tumors and mice with which they had been afflicted. The Ark was then set in the field of Joshua (1 Sam. 6:1-15).

Based on these miraculous events, the Ethiopian Church celebrates the feast of the Ark of the Covenant locally known as Tabote Tsion.

The Fast of the Prophets (Tsome Nebiyat) Begins on November 25

November 24, 2015

The Fast of the Prophets begins every year on Hidar 15 (November 25) and ends on Christmas Eve 29th of Tahsas (January 08) while in the evangelical year of John (it rotates in a four-year cycle) ends on Christmas Eve 28th of Tahisas (January 09).

It is one of the seven canonically acknowledged fasts of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church kept by the faithful. The Orthodox Church has observed the Feast of the Nativity of Jesus Christ with 43 days fast in preparation for the feast.  The fast is known by different names but it has been recognized officially as the Fast of the Prophets because the prophecy about the coming of Christ was fulfilled.  Sometimes it is called Yelidet Tsome or Christmas Fast because Christ was born at the end of the fast.

The Church, recognized the necessity for her children to “chastise the body and bring it under subjection”, as St. Paul advises. The body is ever striving for mastery over the spirit; besides the external sources of temptation, “the world”, we have always another source with us which are a part of our nature. This is the reason for mortification. Self denial is in lawful things enables us to turn with great earnestness to spiritual things.

Fasting is not only prayer and abstinence from eating meat, fat, eggs and dairy products  neither are it only to abstain until Noon or 9:00 local time (3 PM). The practice of fasting is not regarded as an end in itself, as something having intrinsic value, but only as a means, as a necessary condition for the spiritual life. When we fast we should also refrain from all wrongdoings, and evil things such as vanity, violence, jealousy, hatred, and all works of Satan. 

Rather, it is a time of confession and it should be done with the object of seeking to know God in a deeper prayer, charity, alms given to the poor and the needy, and gifts brought to the church, without these charities fasting could not be complete.  

The pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night (Exodus 13:21-22)

November 20, 2015

                                                       By   Kassa Nigus           

According to the Christian Orthodox Church, Saint Michael is one of the seven primary Arch angels, who is always standing besides God’s throne and is honored for defeating Devil in the war in heaven at God’s command (Rev.12:7-9). His powerful and fastest aid has always been invoked by the Church in time of emergency and unusual danger. He is the guardian of the souls and fighter against evil. He is often painted in the walls of every Ethiopian Church with a flaming sword and spear, which pierces the devil.

The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church celebrates the Feast of St. Michael on 12th day of each month of which two of them are great annual  feasts of the saint – on Hidar 12 (November 21) and Senie 12 (June 19).
As such, this day (Hidar 12) in the Ethiopian Church is dedicated to “the Exodus of Israel from Egypt " through the help of the Arch angle Michael as stated in (Ex. 14:19) “And the angel of God, who went before the camp of Israel, moved and went behind them; and the pillar of the cloud went from before their face, and stood behind them”.

The Exodus is that the Israelites were delivered from bondage of slavery by the Lord God miraculously guiding by the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night during their exodus from Egyptian bondage. This allowed them to travel by day and by night as God gave them the pillar of cloud by day to lead them in the way He wanted them to go and the pillar of fire by night to give light(Exodus 13:21–22). 

Then, Israelites were delivered from bondage of slavery by the Lord God and therefore belong to him through the covenant as stated in (Deuteronomy 26:5-9) “the one who brought you up from the land of Egypt out of the house of bondage”.  It tells of the slavery of the Israelites in Egypt following the death of Joseph, their departure under the leadership of Moses, the revelations at Sinai, and their wanderings in the wilderness up to the borders of the Promised Land, Canaan.

The history of Exodus trace back to Joseph. Joseph was sold by his jealous brothers to a caravan of Ishmaelite (Gen37:3). Then Joseph was taken to Egypt where he became a trusted slave in the house of Potiphar, an official of the Pharaoh, the second in his command.

In the course of time, a great famine occurred, so that persons from other countries came to Egypt to buy food, including Joseph’s brothers. Thus, under Joseph’s patronage Jacob moved into Egypt (Gen.46:1-47). Since then, the Israelites dwelt there and had grown to be a large people; the Egyptian Pharaoh of the time (who didn’t know Joseph ) feared their power. To control them he launched an official policy of oppression against them (Ex.1:22).

Thus, the Israelites lived in Egypt for 430 years under the ruthless oppression of Pharaohs’ reign (Exodus 12:40-41) as it was foretold to Abraham in a dream that his descendants would serve as slaves in a foreign land for 400 years (or 4 generations of priests (Genesis 15:12-16). It was recorded that the Israelites were forced to make mud bricks that were reinforced with straw.

Latter on God heard the lamentation of Israel and allow them to liberate. It surely was an awesome spectacle as thousands of Hebrews made their way from the land of Egypt toward the Red Sea, with Pharaoh’s army in hot pursuit. When the Israelites reached at Red sea, Moses, at God’s command, stretched out his rod over the sea as stated in (Ex 14:16) “But lift thou up thy rod, and stretch out your hand over the sea, and divide it and the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea.”

By an amazing miracle, the waters parted and the multitude crossed on dry ground. When the Egyptians attempted to follow the Israelites, they were drowned as the walls of waters rushed back into their bed. In commenting upon this event, Moses wrote: “Thus the Lord saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead upon the sea shore.” (Ex. 14:30).

According to (Exodus 12:37 – 38), during their departure, the Israelites numbered about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides women and children, plus many non-Israelites and livestock. Moses was 80 years old when he led the Israelites out of Egypt around 1446 B.C.
The exodus from Egypt was truly a landmark event in Old Testament history. It taught us much about God and his interest in humanity. As the Exodus in Old Testament was to Israel, the death and resurrection of Christ was to Christians of the New Testament.  The significance of this event becomes more vivid when one compares it with a New Testament commentary regarding the incident.
St.Paul observes that the Hebrews “Brethren … all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; and were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea” (1 Cor. 10:1-4); Rom. 6:3-4, 17; Gal. 3:27). Moreover, we have been learnt from Israel’s passage through the sea that “typifies our deliverance from the bondage of sin and of death through Christ by means of Christian baptism”.
• Holy Bible: The King James Version (1769).
• Holman Bible Dictionary, (1991, pp.451-7).                   

Liturgical Texts used in the Season of Flower

October 15, 2015
By Kassa Nigus
The spiritual music of the Ethiopian church is tailored in diverse ways to suit specific services and situations. The hymns are tailored to match the season of the ecclesiastical year and to the solemnity of the feast, making it grand and exultant on festivals of joy, and mournful in seasons of penance and in services for the dead.

Adoration, thanksgiving, supplication, sorrow, joys and triumph are found in the zema (tone) of church music (Aymero W and Joachim M.(ed), 1970). The notable features of Ethiopian Orthodox church music which is used for day to day church services in different modes of tones include: Zema, Akuakuam, Ge’ez poems (Qine), zemmarie and Mewas’et.  

All these church services are coined and prepared by indigenous Ethiopian church scholars, who have investigated scriptural commentaries along with their mysteries accompanied with melodic chants. Among the few Ethiopian church scholars are: 

  • St Yared – the 5th century composer of the hymn of the Ethiopian church; 
  • Abba Giyorgis of Zegasicha – a distinguished 15th century scholar and composer of Se’atat (the Horologium) 
  • Abba Tsigie Dingil who was an intimate friend and contemporary of Abba Giorgis of Zegasicha; he also authored and composed ‘Mahilete Tsigie’ which is purely incredible Ethiopic work as St Ephraim and St Hiriaqos wrote St Mary’s praise and liturgy respectively. 

  “Mahilete Tsigie”, literally meaning ‘the chant of the flower’, is a collection of compositions which primarily focuses on the flight of the Holy Family and their hardship in the wilderness of Egypt. The work is used for church services throughout the season starting from Meskerem 26 up to Hidar 5 E.C (October 6 – November 14 G.C), and particularly on Sundays within the period. During this season, the earth blooms flowers and the crops of the grain harvest becomes ripened. 

The work is about 150 poetic compositions consisting of numerous stanzas mostly with five and rarely six verses. These strophes of hymns are composed in memory of the hardship of the Holy Family, using fruit and flower as metaphorical symbols to describe Our Lord Jesus Christ and His Mother St Mary, respectively, just as Isaiah the Prophet did: “And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots.” (Isaiah 11:1).  Due to the above stated reasons, this liturgical work named as Mahilete Tsigie (the chant of the flower). 

Though “Mahilete Tsigie” is mostly used for prayers and teaching believers, as Deacon Yaregal Abegaz analyzed in an article (Hammer Magazine No.3 &4, 1993 E.C), it also consists of multiple historical, cultural and scriptural mysteries.

During Zemene Tsigie (the commemorative season of the flight of the Holy Family), some selected compositions from “Mahilete Tsigie” are sung in each overnight service in a seven year cycle. Of these compositions, two are sung every Sunday and monthly feasts throughout the circular system of services:

A. እንዘ ተሐቅፊዮ ለሕፃንኪ ጽጌ ፀዓዳ ወቀይሕ፣

አመ ቤተ መቅደስ ቦእኪ በዕለተ ተአምር ወንጽሕ፣

ንዒ ርግብየ ትናዝዝኒ እምላህ ፡፡

ወንዒ ሠናይትየ ምስለ ገብረኤል ፍሡሕ፣

ወሚካኤል ከማኪ ርኅሩኅ፡፡

The notion of the poem might be recapped as follows: 

Oh my dove (symbolic representation for St. Mary), 

Please come here to alleviate me from sadness embracing of your child, the lovely. 

And also you shall come with the blissful angle, Gebrial and the merciful angle, Michael.

B. ክበበ ጌራ ወርቅ ጽሩይ እምዕንቈ ባሕርይ ዘየሐቱ፣

ዘተጽሕፈ ብኪ ትእምርተ ስሙ ወተዝካረ ሞቱ፣

አክሊለ ጽጌ ማርያም ለጊዮርጊስ ቀጸላ መንግሥቱ ፣

አንቲ ኵሎ ታሰግዲ ሎቱ፣

ወለኪኒ ይሰግድ ውእቱ፡፡

The above composition describes the help of St Mary to St George, being the glory of his crown during his struggle with nonbeliever kings, which finally made him victorious over all saw his enemies kneel down to him through St Mary’s aid. The verse symbolizes St Mary with the spotless crown of remedy which is purer than the precious stone, and the crown of the flower.    

The other poetic composition which is used for this season next to “Mahilete Tsigie” is known as “Seqoqawe Dingil” which literally means the lamentation of the Virgin. It consists of about 55 poetic compositions with five and sometimes with six verses. Seqoqawe Dingil describes the sufferings, lamentation, sorrow and trouble of the Holy Family with greater depth and intensity.    


• Deacon Yaregal Abegaz, 1993 E.C. in (Hammer Magazine No.3 & 4), monthly Magazine published by Mahibere Kidusan.

• The book of “Mahilete Tsigie”.

• Aymero W and Joachim M. (edited), 1970.The Ethiopian Orthodox Church, published by the Ethiopian Orthodox mission, Addis Ababa. (

Zemene Tsigie (The Season of Flower)

 October 8, 2015
By Kassa Nigus
Zemene Tsigie፡ is the period that ranges from Meskerem 26 – Hidar 5 E.C (October 6 –November 14 G.C). During this time, the Ethiopian faithful devotes in praying, fasting and other generous activities in memory of the flight of the Holy Family and their hardship in the wilderness of Egypt. 

 The fasting is performed on one’s free will for it is out of the seven official fasting periods for abundant blessings he/she expects from God through the intercession of St. Mary.

The flight into Egypt has a biblical base as stated in the Gospel of Matthew :  “And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring you word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.” (Matthew 2:13-23). Joseph fled to Egypt with St. Mary and infant Son Jesus after a visit by Magi because they informed that King Herod intends to kill the infants of that area. When the Magi came in search of Jesus, they went to Herod the Great in Jerusalem and asked where to find the newborn "King of the Jews". Herod became paranoid that the child will threaten his throne, and sought to kill him (Matthew 2:1-8). Herod ordered the Massacre of the Innocents in hope of killing the child (Matthew 2:16-18). But an angel appeared to Joseph and told Joseph to take Jesus and his mother into Egypt (Matthew 2:13).
During this season of flight, the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church offers special hymns, the so called Mahilete Tsige (The Hymn of the Flower) and Seqoqawe Dingil (The Lamentation of the Virgin) along with the hymn of St Yared (Digua). These strophes of hymns composed in memory of the hardship of the Holy Family comparing Jesus and His Mother Mary by fruit and flower accompanied with many historical and religious facts as the Prophet Isaiah has compared Jesus by fruit and His Mother Mary by flower as stated: “And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots.” (Isaiah 11:1).      

 On Sundays and other holidays, the clergy, often joined  by a large number of people, gather around mid night for the divine office  and sung up to the time of Mass. After the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy, the believers especially in rural areas prepared a banquet (wine and food) in every Sundays of Zemene Tsigie in the name of St Mary and celebrate the season in such charitable activities. According to the Ethiopian church tradition, it is to remember the coming of St Mary to Ethiopia and the hospitality of Ethiopians to the holy family. 


May her prayer and intercession be up on us all!