African Ethiopia, Guardian of the Lost Ark

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African Ethiopia, Guardian of the Lost Ark

“They shall make an ark of acacia wood,” God commanded Moses in the Book of Exodus, after delivering the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. And so the Israelites built an ark, or chest, gilding it inside and out. And into this chest Moses placed stone tablets inscribed with the Ten Commandments, as given to him on Mount Sinai.


“I’m the guardian of the ark.  I have no other name.” – Ethiopian Guardian Monk of the Ark

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  1. Nov. 24, 2008

    Written By Dana Reynolds-Marniche

    “… there are black tribes among the Arabs, such as the Banu Soleym bin Mansur, and that all the peoples settled in the Harra, besides the Banu Soleym are black…. they take their concubines from among the Byzantines; and yet it takes less than three generations of living in the Harra for the original complexion of Banu Soleym to return.” Al Jahiz.9th century Iraqi writer.

    “Others again find a famous ancestry for the Jews in the Solymi who are mentioned with respect in the epics of this tribe is supposed have founded Jerusalem and named it after themselves.” Tacitus 1st c. A.D.

    “The Solymi would appear to be connected with the people mentioned by the 5th century B.C.E. epic poet Choerilus (ap. Jos, Ap. 1. 173) who lived in the Solymian hills near a broad lake and spoke a Phoenician language. The identification of the Solymi with the Jews is found even tin the anti-Jewish account of Manetho (ap. Jos. Ap. 1.248).” from p. 400 Studies in Hellenistic Judaism by Louis H. Feldman, Brill, 1996.

    We have shown in the first parts of this text that the Banu Sulaym bin Mansur were the same as the tribes of Manasseh descendants of Joseph and his descendants. According to most early Arab genealogical traditions and documents, from the Banu Sulaim ibn Mansur otherwise named today Mansir, Manassir or Manasse’ir (Manasseh son of Joseph) came the names of the early and modern tribes of Ra’l also called Rukhayla or Rahil (who was Rachel), Zakwan (who was Za’avan), ‘Asiyyah (who was Asenath) ibn Khufaf (Hobab?) ibn Imri’ Al- Qais ibn Buhthah (Potiphera priest of On of the Misraim) the son of Soleym or Sulaim (Shelamiah or Shallum). Most written tradition, including that of the Bible refer to such peoples as Israelites and Midianites. Before speaking of the Solymi and related tribes of the Manassir who had settled along the Mediterranean coast before the time of Christ, it is important to know who they are today.

    Like al-Jahiz in the statement above, the Kurdish Muslim, Ibn Athir of the 11th century, also makes mention of the “blackness” of the Soleym (variously written Solaymi, Sulaym, Salim, Selim, Suleim and Solaym in texts) whom he refers to as “of the pure Arabs”. As mentioned by Jahiz, not just the Banu Sulaym, but all of the tribes of the volcanic region of al-Harra, originally stretching from Jordan and southern Syria to the far southwest in Saudi Arabia was home to dozens of related tribes and sub-clans, were black. Many of them were also fervent slave trading peoples and bandits who in those days as Jahiz states took their concubines from the Greco- Romans (Byzantines).

    Before Jahiz made the statement above, he tellingly states that “the Arabs” in the various countries tended to take on the appearance of those they settled among – as in Ferghana (Central Asia) where he’s says there they had thick necks, reddish skins and chestnut brown moustaches like the natives. In other words, mixing with the women of other countries inevitably made them look like the natives of those countries.

    The impact of the fair skinned concubines on the appearance of the Arab ruling classes has been especially well documented, as by a Leslie Pierce who wrote on the Abbasid dynasties ruling from Central Asia to North Africa from the 8th to 13th centuries, “While the caliphs of the Umayyad dynasty had prided themselves on the purity of their Arab lineage through marriage with noble Arab women, by the second century of Islamic history many of the caliphs of the Abbasid dynasty were sons of slave concubines.” From the Imperial Harem, by Leslie P. Pierce. (The Capital of the Abbasids was originally established in Baghdad.) The same phenomenon occurred among the Moorish ruling class in Spain and North Africa.

    As mentioned in the previous chapters, according to Al Tabari and others, the Sulaym ibn Mansur are a section of the Auf (sometimes written Awafh). While the Auf come from the group known as Masruh. Today, both fall under a larger name category called Banu Harb and comprise dozens of tribes.

    The modern descendants of the original occupants of the Harrah and Hejaz known as Sulaym, Manassir and Khazraj, are the bedouin of Syria and north Arabia now range from very concubine fair to near black tint that history informs us was their original coloring. The explorer Ludovic Bartema in the 16th century described the color of the populations of Hejaz’s as ranging from dark chocolate “to deep leonine of certain inhabitants of Spain”. According to E.J. Brills First Encyclopedia of Islam, 1913-1936 See p. 265). and Sir Richard Francis Burtonin the early 1900s, the Salim or Sulaym had many subdivisions. Among them the the Ahamidah or Hamida, whose principle sub clans are the Hadar, Other tribes of Sulaym include the Sobh or Subh, the Sulaymah or Aulad Salimi, the Sa’adan or Sa’idi, the Mahamid and the Ruqal, Ruhaylah or Rukhalah also spoken of in the previous Chapter (see previous blog on “Rachel”) and Tamim or Tamim. The Encyclopedia mentions that most of these tribes as still “bandits” in the early 20th century.

    The other major Awf or Auf tribal confederation are called Masruh. The Auf are in fact in some writers considered a branch of the Masruh who today include the Khazarah (spoken of in the previous chapter of this blog), Zubayd, Lahabah, and the Beni Amr clans of Himran, Jabir, Bishar, Jarajirah, Utur (Watar or Watrah), Muwalik Murabitah, Hissar, Rubayka, Hisnan, Bazan, Biladi, Jaham, Surad or Shawarid,and Shatayrah. Richard Burton refers to 10 clans of the Auf including the Sihliyah (Sihli) or Sahli about 2000 in number Sawaid or Sa’idi, Rukhasah, Kassan or Gassan, Ruba’a or Rabai, Khazarah or Khazaras, Lahabah, Faradah or Faridah, Ali or Alawi and Zubayd or Zebid.

    Other Sulaym sections include Maimouna, Fadhal , Dhikara and Seraha or Surayqa and Mukhaleef. The Hutaym or Hawatim are sometimes considered part of the Banu Ali or Alawi.
    The lands of all the above mentioned in Arabia extend from the Red Sea Coast in Hijaz to the heart of Najd in the central region of Saudi Arabia, and from North to the Harbi or Harub lands extending from Madinah to the port city Qunfudhah far to the southwest.
    (It should be understood from here onward that most of the tribes mentioned in this article are not just found in Arabia but also located in Africa today between southern Egypt, Northern Sudan, Eritrea and parts of the Sahara.)

    ORIGINS: Biblical References to Soleym ibn Mansur, who was Manasseh son of Joseph whose brother was Levi.

    “And unto Joseph in the land of Misraim were born Manasseh and Ephraim, which Asenath the daughter of Potipherah priest of On bare unto him.” Genesis 46:20 of the Bible

    “From Banu Sulaim ibn Mansoor were descended Ra’l, Zakwan, ‘Asiyyah ibn Khuyfaf ibn Imri’ Al- Qais ibn Buhthah ibn Sulaim and Za’b ibn Malik ibn Khufaf ibn Imri’ Al- Qais ibn Buhthah ibn Sulaim …” from Mukhta?ar S?rat Al-Ras?l ( Biography of the Prophet ) attributed to Abdul Wahab born 1703.

    The above passage mentions Rachel, Za’avan, Asenath (Asiyyeh – “the Israelite woman” of Al-Tabari’s writings), Hobab (or Khufaf) and Potiphera (or Bodhi). As mentioned in a previous Part in this blog the genealogy of the famous Banu Sulaym is the same as that of the Mazin and Hawazin sons of Mansour. Mansur, we have said was the name of a tribe and is today pronounced Manase’ir or Manasir in Sudan and eastern Arabia. Sulaym tribes came of Manas’ir (Manasseh) son of Ikrima (Kirama, Ezra or Esdras 2:26) son of Khasafa (Chasupha Ezra 2:43) son of Kais ibn Ailan (Elah son of Jephunneh) which was the tribe known as El Nas (the Nasi of Codex Vaticanus and Nasi, King James Version or Neziah – Ezra 2:54, Neh 7:56), who was brother of El Yas (Elias). Both El Yas and El Nas are in Arabian tradition the sons of Mudar or Muzar (Mitzraim or Mizrah, which came to name Egypt) son of Nizar (Nasirah) son of Ma’ad or Mo’ad (Ma’adei Nehemiah 12), almost all of them Levites. Mizra or Misraim is called the child of Kush, son of Ham by the Armenian writer St Moses of Chorene (5th c. A.D.).

    Hazim or Hawazim bin Mansur (Hashum – Ezra 10:33 )

    Ezra 10:33 Of the sons of Hashum: Mattenai, Mattattah, Zabad, Eliphelet, Jeremai, Manasseh, Shimei.

    Nehemiah 8:4 – Ezra the scribe stood on a pulpit of wood…and beside him stood Mattithiah, and Shema, and Anaiah, and Uriah, and Hilkiah, and Maaseiah, on his right hand; and on his left hand, … and Hashum, and Hashbaddanah, Zechariah, and Meshullam.

    Nehemiah 10:18 – Hodiah, Hashum, Bezai

    The Hawazin bin Mansur of northwest Arabia or Hejaz (spoken described in the previous Chapters of this blog) – a sister tribe of the Sulaym divides into the Muzayna and Zahiri or Zawahir . Hawazin is plural for Hazim. The Ateibah (see modern description below) a major section of the Hawazin are divided into Huteim, Ruqal or Rukhalah, Abud or Abdah, Quraysh, Barqah. The Barqah include the Dawasir, Khawatir, Nuweirah and Khanafir (formerly called Hanifah) .

    Banu Hamida (or Mehida Ezra 2:52)

    Ezra 2:52 the children of Bazluth, the children of Mehida, the children of Harsha,

    Circa 1879 – Describing some of the Hamida as a large clan of the Banu Salim of Hejaz, Sir Richard Francis Burton says they were, “small chocolate colored beings, stunted and thin… mops of bushy hair… straggling beards , vicious eyes, frowning brows … armed with scabbards slung over the shoulder and Janbiyyah daggers…” a people “of the great Hejazi tribe that has kept his blood pure for the last 13 centuries…” Burton in Personal Narrative of a Pilgrimage to el Medina and Mecca .p. 173 3rd edition William Mullen and Son.

    The name Hamida is related by Kamal Salibi to Mehida mentioned in Ezra 2:52. They were a family of the Nethinim ( a term first applied to the Levites) along with the other descendants of Sulaym and Mansour. Of the tribe of Hadar it is found to be the name of several kings of Edom as well as the eighth son of Ismail and often written Hadad.

    Ezra 2:42 mentions the Banu Salim tribes of Salimi, Utur or Watar, Huwaytat, Uqba and Sobh living in 20th century Transjordan together as the people from whom Nebudchadnezzar had taken “the children of Israel”. They are called the sons of Shallum, the sons of Ater, the sons of Akkub, the sons of Hatita, the sons of Shobai.” Meshellam was the same as Shallum or Shelamiah a Korahite Levite (called Meshelemiah in I Chr 26:1) who was a gatekeeper at the East Gate of the Temple in the time of King David. His son was in charge of the North Gate. Musalimah (Biblical Meshellam and Shellamiah ) the name of the Uqub or Akab tribe now occupying the Transjordanian area of Hejaz. Salibi found many of the gates far to the South in the region of Asir (southern Hejaz).

    Banu Uqba (or Akkub – Ezra 2:42)

    Ezra 2:42 The children of the porters: the children of Shallum, the children of
    Ater, the children of Talmon, the children of Akkub, the children of Hatita

    1 Chronicles 9:17 And the door-keepers: Shallum and Akkub and Talmon and
    Ahiman and their brothers: Shallum was the chief.

    On the Ukbah it was said by Burton, “They preserve the memory of their ancestor ‘Ukbah, and declare that they come from the south…. they are borne out by the written genealogies, who derive them from “Ukbah, the son of Maghrabah, son of Heram,” of the Kahtániyyah (Joctanite) Arabs, some of the noblest of Bedawi blood. At first called ‘El-Musalimah, ‘ they were lords of all the broad lands extending southward between Shamah (Syria) and the Wady Damah below the port of Ziba. From Chapter 5 of Land of Midian. (see the Haram bin Sammal below or Harim)

    Banu Ateibe or Ateybah (Tabba’oth Ezra 2:42)

    Ezra 2:43 – The Nethinim: the children of Ziha, the children of Hasupha, the children
    of Tabbaoth, …

    Kamal Salibi connects the name of the Ateibe or Ateiyyib with the Biblical Tabba’oth. The Ateibah or Otaiba (see modern description below) a major section of the Hawazim are divided into Huteim, Ruqal or Rukhalah, Abud or Abdah, Quraysh, Barqah. The Barqah include the Dawasir, Khawatir, Nuweirah and Khanafir (formerly called Hanifah) .

    Of the Otaiba also written (Ateyba, Utaiba, Ateibe, etc.) a century ago by James Hamilton, “they wore their hair in long curly plaits” and their skin was “a dark brown”. See pp. 129-130, Wanderings Around the Birthplace of Mohammed, published by R. Bentley, 1857.

    Banu Haram (Harim – Ezra 10:21)

    “The Uqba claim at the start of Islam the tribe was divided into Musalimah and Beni Amr…” Al Hamdany stated Uqbah was the son of Moghrabi son of Haram. These were the Banu Haram bin Sammal, who according to Tabari were a branch of the Sulaym. (See The History of Al Tabari, by Michael Fishbein, Vol. 8 State Univ. of New York Press, 1997.) or the translation by Khalid Yaya Blankinship vol. 25.
    How now is it that all of the names of the modern these modern Sulaym tribes are mentioned within the space of a few passages of Ezra. Banu Haram or Harim from which came the banu Uqbah (or Akab) are named by the 14th century Syrian Ibn Kathir, a clan of Banu Salim (who is Shallum of Ezra 2:42)). Ezra 2:39 The children of Harim, a thousand and seventeen. Ezra 2:41 The singers: the children of Asaph, an hundred twenty and eight. Ezra 2:42 The children of the porters: the children of Shallum, the children of Ater, the children of Talmon, the children of Akkub, the children of Hatita, the children of Shobai, in all an hundred thirty and nine. Ezra 2:43 The Nethinims: the children of Ziha, the children of Chasupha, the children of Tabbaoth…” This description in Ezra is about the tribes of Sulaym taken from the ancient Judaean area (the tribal land Wahid which comes from the name Awudh or Awadh the Lion deity) of southern Hejaz. Judah is called “the lions whelp” in the Genesis 49:9.
    Banu Salim or Sulaym (Shallum or Shelamiah – Ezra 2:42) and Musalimah (Meshallum or Meshalamiah)

    1 Chronicles 9:17 The porters: Shallum, and Akkub, and Talmon, and
    Ahiman, and their brothers (Shallum was the chief)

    “A Levite and temple-warder of the Korahites, the son of Asaph. He was father
    of Shallum and Meshelemiah, temple-porters” (1 Chronicles 9:19; 26:1)

    We have seen above that the Banu Uqba were known as Musalimah. According to the Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. 2001-07 the Biblical Meshellam, Meshalamiah, Shallum and Shellamiah are alternate names for the same person whose descendants were the gatekeepers, doorkeepers or porters of the temple. A family of porters descendants of Meshullam (Nehemiah 12:25) He who is also called Meshelemiah ( 1 Chron 26:1 ) Shelemiah 1 Chron 26:14 and Shallum in Nehimiah 7:45. “Meshullam was the same as Shallum who was high priest in the reign of Amon and father of Hilkiah see 1 Chronicls 9:11 and Nehemiah 11.11. He is ancestor of Ma’asiai or Amashai in 1Chron. 9:12 a son of Meshelimath. The record for David’s time supports and supplements this. It says that the doorkeepers, according to the arrangements made by David, included a Korahites contingent, its leading men being Meshelemiah and his son Zechariah (1Ch 26:1,2,9,14), and that Meshelemiah was “the son of Kore, of the sons of Asaph.”

    “These are the divisions of the gatekeepers: From the Korahites, there was Meshelemiah son of Kore, of the family of Asaph.” – 1 Chronicles 26:1 “The first lot fell to Joseph of the Asaph clan and twelve of his sons and relatives. The second lot fell to Gedaliah and twelve of his sons and relatives. 1 Chronicles 25:9 From the sons of Asaph, there were Zaccur, Joseph, Nethaniah, and Asarelah. They worked under the direction of their father, Asaph, who proclaimed God’s messages by the king’s orders. – 1 Chronicles 25:2”
    Banu Kara or Gara (Korah? grandson of Kohath son of Levi)
    Shallum is called the son of Kore , son of Abiasaph son of Korah. (Chron. 9:19)iThe Korahites it has been suggested were probably mentioned anciently as the Carrhae or Gerrhae. The Greek Agatharchides (200 – 131 BC) mentions, “… Petra and Palestine where the Gerrhaeans and Minaeans and all the Arabs who live in the region bring incense from the highlands, it is said, and their aromatic products.” Strabo also mentions them in the Persian Gulf. The tribes called Gara or Kara still live in the Persian Gulf. They claim descent from the Kindites sprung from the Azd.
    2004 On the Qara of Oman, “European observers have made much of their physical resemblance to Somalis and Ethiopians, but there is no historical evidence of any connections.” P. 261 J. E. Peterson Oman’s Diverse Society: Southern Oman Middle East Journal Vol. 38, No. 2 Spring 2004.
    For more on Kohath or Qahit who was apparently Kudha’a pr Kuth see the first Parts of this article on other sections of the blog.
    The Haweitat or Huwayt’at (or see Hatita Ezra 2:42)

    Ezra 2:42 The children of the porters: the children of Shallum, the children of
    Ater, the children of Talmon, the children of Akkub, the children of Hatita

    “Hatita: Bene-Hatita (i.e. sons of Hatita) were among the “porters” (i.e. the gate-keepers)” Smith’s Bible Dictionary.

    One European traveler as late as 1887 wrote of a sheikh of the Haweitat tribes in the region of northwest Arabia: “The sheikh soon afterwards appeared. He was a dirty, truculent looking fellow, with very black eyes and very white teeth, a sinister expression, and complexion scarcely less dark than that of a negro.” P. Austen Henry Layard, Early Adventures in Persia, Susiana, and Babylonia: Including … pg. 32. Published by J. Murray.

    As mentioned by Salibi, Huwayt is the plural in Arabic for Hatita. Speaking of the Wadi Damah in Jordan Burton talks of, “its present Huwayti owners, the Sulaymiyyin, the Sulaymat, the Jerafin, …” in Volume 2 of the Land of Midian.

    See also Journal of the Royal Geographic Society. In 1879 the Huwayt’at are described as “an aggressive element in the Midianite family of Bedouin” by Richard Burton. Among the Howeitat clans in The Gold Mines of Midian and the Ruined Midianite Cities… also by Burton, were the Rakabiyyeh, Amirat, Ureinat, Jawahir or Zawahir, Kur’an, Ziyabin and Imran.

    Banu Rakabiyyeh or Rikab (See Rechab the Kenite 1Chronicles 2:55)

    The Rechabites were descended from Hobab the Kenite (See Khufaf) who had come from the family of Hammath who is elsewhere called Hammon. (1 Chron. 6:76).

    Banu Utur or Watar (See Ater in Ezra or Ezdra 2:40, 2:42, 5:15)

    He is called Ater of Hezekiah who was one of the greatest kings of Judah (Ezdras 5:15). He fathered 98 persons mentioned in the Bible.

    Banu Sobh or Subh (Shobai Ezra 2:40, 2:42)

    “Descendants of Shallum, Ater, Talmon, Akkub, Hatita, and Shobai from the temple guards…” Ezra 2:40.

    “To the B. Salem belong amongst other clans, al-Hamda, al-Subh, ‘Amr, Mu’ara…,” E. J. Brill’s Encyclopedia, 1936

    Shobai is written Sabi or Sabei in Ezra 5:28.

    Banu Amr bin Auf of the Masruh (Misra)

    Once living in the upper part of the city of Medinah in the Harrah. They are not to be confused with the Amr bin Tamim who descended from El Yas, nor Amr bin Amir.

    Beni Amr clans of Marabitah, Himran, Jabir, Rabaykah, Hisnan, Bizan, Badarin, Biladiyah, Jaham and Shatarah are mentioned by Burton in Personal Narrative of a Pilgrimmage to Al Madinah and Mecca Vol. 11 1906 p. 121 Some of these clans are listed below.

    Banu Rabaykah (Rebekah Genesis 22-27) of the Banu Amr

    She was mother of Jacob (Israel) and Esau (Edom) and Isaac’s wife. Jacob was father of Joseph who fathered Manasseh.

    Banu Hisnan or Hasuni (Hasena’ah or Hasenuah the Benjamite 1 Chronicles 9:7)

    1 Chronicles 9:7 And of the sons of Benjamin; Sallu the son of Meshullam, the son of Hodaviah, the son of Hasenuah

    Belonging according to Burton to Beni Amr branch of the Masruh in Jordan. Hasenuah’s children built the Gate of the Fish in the wall of early Jerusalem of the original Israel (ancient Asir). In the Bible he is Grandfather of Meshullam in (1 Chron. 9:7) See Meshallum and the Banu Musalimah above.

    So far we have spoken of the living sons of Shem, after their families, after their tongues, in their lands… In the coming sections will be discussed the Banu Ozra or Uzdra (Ezdras or Ezra), Banu Sama’al (Shumul), Banu Hilal (Hillel) Banu Zakri (Zaccur), Banu Bayza (or Bezai), Banu Barqah (Berachiah), Banu Harish ibn Ka’b (Harsha), Harb (Horeb), Masruh (Misrah), Nazir (Nazarenes), Maimoun (Miamin), Ma’an (Me’unim) and many other early Afro-Arabians documented through the Bible. We will also show the direct link between these “black-skinned” Soleym -related tribes and the ancient Eastern Ethiopians known earlier in the ancient records as Solymi, Hyksos and Phoenicians.

    To be continued

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