Ethiopian Books of Maccabees

The Ethiopian Orthodox canon of the Bible (see here for a list of the OT books) includes several works unknown to other traditions, including three Books of Maccabees. They lack translations of each of the four books of Maccabees known to other traditions. An email correspondent, John Plummer, has found online translations of these Ethiopian Maccabees books in the Rastafarian dialect called Iyaric, done by someone named Ras Feqade Tebbaqiw:

1 Meqabyan

2 Meqabyan

3 Meqabyan

A list of all the translations into Iyaric that he has done directly from the Amharic Bible of 1948 EC (1955 AD), promulgated by the late Emperor Haile Selassie, is available here.

I might take a swing at bringing these into standard English, but don’t hold your breath. I don’t know Iyaric, and the glossary is not extensive enough to cover all the unusual words I’ve already seen. Perhaps reading them with some Bob Marley playing will help set the mood, and make the Iyaric more easily understood. Focus on Marley’s accent, and most of the rest will follow.

The very important thing to note is that this translation of these books is the first ever published in a modern language. Though the books have been summarized and described before, they have never been translated in full.

I do believe I’m equally as excited to read these as I am the last Harry Potter book, being released at midnight tonight. (I have a copy reserved at our local science fiction/fantasy/mystery bookstore, The Other Change of Hobbit. ALWAYS support your local booksellers!)

Thank you Ras Feqade Tebbaqiw!


  1. Oh dear, it appears that several of those links are bad. That said, I tried to read some of the good links and found it rather hard slogging, so I doubt that I would have made much progress with the ones whose links are bad anyway.

    Incidentally, I had no idea that the Ethiopians used a different calendar than the rest of us. Does anyone know, what is year Zero for them? That is, why is their 1948 our 1955?

  2. Thanks, Greg, I fixed the links.

    It’s not easy reading, is it?

    I found the answer as to why they’re 7 or 8 years ahead depending on the time of the year: the calendar is based on the birth of our Lord in 7 BC!

  3. Ras Feqade, I am compiling an edition of the Bible for Rasta use. Could I utilize your Iyaric translation of Meqabyans and Lamantations 6-7, for the project? Thank you and Jah bless.
    – Henry

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