Frontmatter

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Contents

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p. vii

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-xi

This book, which marks the culmination of almost a decade's research on the history of the Beta Israel, could never have been written without the support and assistance of countless individuals and institutions. While it is impossible to list all of those on four continents who have in one way or another helped me ...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-12

Despite the existence of a vast and ever-expanding literature on the Beta Israel (Falasha) of Ethiopia, no book-length scholarly study of their history has yet been published. Major works on their literature and religion have generally offered only brief surveys of their history, and most of the standard books in Ethiopian ...

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1. Ethiopian Jews: Obscure Beginnings

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pp. 13-32

Anyone with even a passing interest in the Beta Israel will have noted the extent to which the question of their origins has dominated the study of this people. Although much of their modern history remains shrouded in obscurity and a first-rate ethnography of the group has yet to be published, almost everyone who has written ...

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2. Speculation and Legend

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pp. 33-52

Given the success and influence Hebraic elements enjoyed in the Aksum region, a Judaized faith may eventually have had a chance of becoming the dominant religion in the region. Certainly, this is what happened briefly in parts of South Arabia during the sixth century. However, while Aksumite culture was still in its infancy, ...

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3. From Ayhud to Falasha: The Invention of a Tradition

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pp. 53-78

The Zagwe dynasty ruled Ethiopia for nearly one hundred fifty years from 1137 to 1270. Almost from the outset their rule was a troubled one, as various problems served to weaken and eventually to completely undermine them. Although the Zagwe rulers were apparently devout Christians and presided over a major revival ...

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4. Resistance and Defeat: 1468 - 1632

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pp. 79-96

During the period from 1468 to 1632 the Beta Israel displayed their most sophisticated political-military organization, were involved in some of their most dramatic conflicts with the Ethiopian emperors, and suffered some of their most serious defeats. Although most aspects of their cultural, economic, and social development ...

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5. Glory and Decline: 1632 - 1855

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pp. 97-115

Susenyos' final victory over the Beta Israel of Semien was unquestionably one of the major landmarks in the history of their people. In retrospect, however, it appears to have been less a radical turning-point than the culmination of more than two centuries of conflict. From the time of Yeshaq in the fifteenth century onward, ...

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6. A Mission to the Jews

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pp. 116-142

Throughout the Zamane Masafent individual local rulers sought to rise above their peers and assert dominant control over the Ethiopian highlands. Only in the middle of the nineteenth century, however, was one of them successful. During the period from November 1852 to February 1855, Dejjazmach Kasa of Qwara ...

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7. Kifu-qem: The Great Famine of 1888 - 92

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pp. 143-154

Despite the growth of Jewish interest in the Beta Israel, almost forty years were to pass between Halevy's visit to Ethiopia and the journey of his student and follower Jacques (Ya'acov) Faitlovitch. In the meantime, events in Ethiopia continued to shape the fortunes of the Beta Israel in a dramatic fashion. ...

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Conclusions: Before Faitlovitch

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pp. 155-166

The arrival in Ethiopia of Jacques Faitlovitch in 1904 marks a turning point in the history of the Beta Israel. Faitlovitch, who dedicated his life to the cause of Ethiopian Jewry, was responsible more than any other single person for their entry into Jewish history and consciousness. Indeed, the processes ...

Notes

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pp. 167-210

Bibliography

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pp. 211-224

Index

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pp. 225-231