Jesus the Migrant: the hope of Migrants

November 9, 2015
By ZeYared Zarema (
 Part Two

 In the last part, I presented to you my readers the introduction of the parts and treated what happens in the “Season of Flower” every year in the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church and the economic implications ofmigration.  In this part, I am going to deal with the history of migration and its features. Bear with me esteemed readers. May God reveal His wisdom to us all.

   The History and life of Migration

  1.1.The History of Migration

The “New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia”, as religious document, states the wandering over the face of the earth of the people of Shinar, later was named Babel for the Lord did there confound the language of all the earth, as the earliest migration recorded in the Bible (Gen11:1-9) in man’s history. ( On the other hand, the online secular document, “Wikipedia- the free encyclopedia” states that, “Historical migration of human populations begins with the movement of Homo erectus out of Africa across Eurasia many centuries ago.” ( 

But, I disagree at all. The definitions tell all about the movement from original place to another, without showing the difference between physical migration and spiritual migration. When I send my mind to the Holy Scripture that it gathers an emigrational history and in a very fast speed it took me to the first book, the book of Genesis and to its third, line 8.  

The scripture reads “And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever: Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken” (Gen3:22f). For me, this is a very crucial evidence of physical migration as a consequence of the spiritual. Our ancestors, Adam and Eve, withdrawn from the Garden of Eden, their original dwelling place and moved to the earth, another temporary residence, though with a hope of return.

In addition to this, we encounter several personal, family and communal migrations in the scripture. The patriarch Abraham made three known migrations. He, answering the call of God, physically left Ur to Canaan, spiritually migrated from worshipping idols to worshipping God (Gen12), then from Canaan first to Egypt and later to Gerar, but returned, with wealth and grace, to Canaan, the land of honey and milk. The other patriarchs Isaac and Jacob too made family and personal migration to Gerar and Syria, in search of food and security respectively. (Gen26 and

 The most common and most referable migration in the Old Testament is of Jacob and his children and grand children; the 12 tribes of Israel and their children counted to seventy. (Gen42 to 46)  In the era of Christianity, we read an account of migration of the Christian community in the Acts of the Apostles right after the martyrdom of Archdeacon and first martyr St. Stephen and when the persecution of the Disciples of Christ increased. But, fortunately, it was useful for the spread of the gospel of truth all over the then empires.

Apparent from these physical migrations, there is, to my mind, another migration, mental or spiritual migration. Our spirit has no problem of moving up-down and east-west or vice versa. Some physically migrated individuals/community can have non migrated mentality or spirit. And contrarily  others  may  migrate  mentally  or  spiritually  while  their  physic  is  at  home,  or  or contrarily may physically migrate while their mental or spirit never left home. We may also face with both physically and mentally or spiritually migrated people or physically and mentally or spiritually non-migrants.

Prior to their physical withdrawal from  heaven to earth, by the wrath like goodness of God, Adam and eve moved mentally and/or spiritually from following God to following Satan; this is the fatal Adamic migration resulted to the rest of all other migrations. In the course of the time of the prophets the proclaimed to the people that God called upon them to return to Him (Jer3:14, 22, 18:11, 25:5, Ezk14:6, Joe2:12, Zech1:3f). Why? Because they were spiritually far from their origin of spirituality; they were worshiping idols and committing sin. The call of God for the return of His people continued even in the time of New Testament (Act3:19f, Rom12:1f, Eph4:22-32). The spiritual call of the apostles for spiritual return clearly shows the spiritual departure of the respective addressees.

The above short history show that migration, whether carnal or spiritual, exists to our present time. Do all have any hope at their migration time? If do not believe they have any hope, let them know the only primary hope of migrants. If they really hope, let them know the true hope of migrants. Wait please to the next parts of this little work of your little brother in Christ.

1.2.The Life of Migration
Not all, if I cannot generalize, those who did not test the life of migration conceive the very self of emigrational life. I strongly believe, experience matters. But through imagination and information, almost all know what migration and its life are, if not feel. It is, to my imagination, a life of divorce; a divorce from a country (or a very first origin of place), earthly speaking, and from  godliness spiritually. Chronologically, divorce comes, if happens,  after marriage.  Non official divorces resulted from non official marriages get no attention traditionally, apart from being rebuked as adultery.

A divorced woman/man, known for her/his marriage, feels unworthy of a first marriage, and truly is unworthy, except searching of another divorced partner. This feeling of unworthiness of the divorced life allegorizes, if it is not worthy the actual, the life of migration. S/he can compromise, but the happiness of the second marriage cannot reach the quality of the happiness of the first. In a like manner, the migrants cannot sense what they feel when at home though in a better life style. As the prophet Haggai symbolized dramatically, though in his case are the spiritual migrants, helpful to conceptualize the bad life of migration; the migrants can eat, but may not satisfied; can drink, but may not get quenched; can wear, but may not comforted; can lie on a comfort bed, but may not sleep (Hagg1:5f). Why?

The very entity that makes all work, being in home, is missed. Here, I remember the sayings of Tigringa languge, spoken in the  northern parts of Ethiopian told as, “ዐድማትካያ ጃኖስ ዳርጋ ዲኖ”, which translates approximately as, “Wearing royal attire when you are a migrant in a foreign land is not better than wearing hide (sheepskin)."   What makes the preferred royal wear downed to the raw leather is the feeling of being a migrant.

Let’s see the life of migrants taking Adam and the Israelites as an example. What happened to Adam when he started living as a migrant on earth? Has he led an easy and comfort life like that of his origin, the paradise? No, according to genesis account of God’s words to the fallen Adam, he lived a cursed life in a cursed earth. The account shows the life of migrants and is read: And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return. (Gen3:17-19)

Adam’s life was full of sorrow, with the thought of his sinfulness. For this reason, it is witnessed in the introduction of the Ethiopian New Testament exegesis that “he had no other mind other mourning for his sin አልቦቱ ካልዕ ኅሊና ዘእንበለ ብካይ ላዕለ ኃጢአቱ” (ተስፋ ገብረ ሥላሴ 1988:20). For Adam the life on earth was a life of hardship, a life of sadness, a life of cry, a life of fear and so on. The same introduction more clarifies the migration of Adam and its life in the following manner: “ወተሰዱ እምድረ ገነት ኀበ ምድረ ሕማም፣ ከገነት ወደ ምድረ ፋይድ ወረዱ፣ (ሐተታ) ምድረ ፋይድ ማለት ምድረ ኃሣር ወመርገም ምድረ ድንጋፄ ወረዓድ ማለት ነው and they migrated from the land of Garden [heaven] to the land of pain; land of pain means land of humiliation and curse, land of fear and anxiety.” (Ibid: 19) But contrary to this unspeakable bad life of migration, hope was with him. What was that hope? It will be dealt with the coming part.

In the case of the Israelites, the life of migration was not less than that of Adam’s, if not harder. They unfortunately shared all the curses of Adam, and added their own surplus curses. Though for the mercifulness of God and the righteousness of their brother got rest for some times as gusted immigrants , but after a pharaoh who did not know [the honor of] Joseph, they suffered to the level of being killed at their birth day. (Exo1) But still within the heart of Israelites, hope prevailed; the hope of exodus and freedom.

The hardship of the life of migration is highly highlighted in the “Lamentation of the Virgin” (ሰቆቃወ ድንግል), in the life migration of the holy family from the persecution of the then crueler emperor. One of the hymns is read as follows:

እፎ ቇቍዐ በሐዊረ ፍኖት መከየደ እግርኪ ወርኀ ዘይሤዓን፣ ለባሲተ ፀሐይ ማርያም ወለተ ብርሃን፣

አመ አጉየይኪ ወልደኪ በጕጕዓ እምገጸ ሄሮድስ ተመን፣ ዘበጽሑኪ ምንዳቤያተ ሶበ ይሰምዕ በዕዝን፣

ሰብእ አኮ እምበከየ እብን።


How much! Your feet, that wear the moon, burst due to the [distant] way, Mary, she who wears the sun and is the daughter of light,The tribulation you faced, when you fleet in harry from the sight of Herod the anaconda, Had it heard by ear, A stone would have been cried, not only man. (ገብረ ሥላሴ ብርሃኑ 2000: 685)

Today even, our world is suffering from the bad life of migration and its results. The racism and its consequences all over the world, from America to Arabia and from North Europe to South Africa, are in one way or the other the results of migration. It is reported by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) that 232 millions of the population of our world are migrants (World Migration Report 2015, 2015: 17); this much people of our day lead a life of fear and discomfort. What and who could be their hope?

I took the number of migrant from the IOM report, but whom shall I ask the number of spiritual migrants? I do not know how a census for the spiritual migrants could be done. But, whatever the data could be, the life of spiritual migration is incomparably worrying than that of physical migration. The hardship of carnal migration may be ended when the migrant dies, but what could be the end of that of the spiritual migrant! The next parts will show us more on what and whom to hope.
May our Lord, the migrant Jesus grant us all to see, write and read the next part which is going to focus on the hope of all migrants. Amen!

•  Holy Bible, King James Version
• International Organization for Migration (2015), World Migration Report 2015 Migrants and Cities: New Partnerships to Manage Mobility, Imprimerie Courand et Associes, France
• መጽሐፍ ቅዱስ፣ የብሉይና የአዲስ ኪዲን መጻሕፍት፣ 1962 ዓ/ም፡፡
• ተስፋ ገብረ ሥላሴ(1988)፣ ወንጌል  ቅዱስ  ዘእግዚእነ  ወመድኃኒነ  ኢየሱስ         ክርስቶስ              ንባቡና    ትርጓሜው  
• ገብረ ሥላሴ ብርሃኑ (2000)፣ መጽሐፈ ሰዓታት ከነምልክቱ ምስለ ኵሉ ጸዋትዊሁ ወባሕረ ሐሳብ፣ አዲስ አበባ፡፡