Why Is the Beta Israel Term for God Different from the Hebrew Terms for God?

The answer might help uncover the origins of Ethiopian Jewry.

An Ethiopian Jew celebrating the holiday of Seged. Wikipedia.

An Ethiopian Jew celebrating the holiday of Seged. Wikipedia.

Observation
Nov. 11 2015
About the author

Philologos, the renowned Jewish-language columnist, appears twice a month in Mosaic. Questions for him may be sent to his email address by clicking here.


Yoske runs a small and popular hummus place in our town. He’s a Ḥabad ḥasid and keeps a shelf near the door with religious literature for customers to browse in while waiting. A few days ago, I was surprised to come across there, among the tracts of advice and inspirational treatises, a slim paperbound volume identified by its cover as Volume III, No. 1 (1980-81), of the Journal of the American Society for Jewish Music. “Yoske,” I asked, showing it to him, “what is this doing here?” Yoske had no idea. “Someone must have donated it,” he said. “But if you found it, God wanted you to have it, so take it.” His term for God was the traditional ha-kadosh barukh hu, “the Holy One Blessed Be He.”

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More about: Beta Israel, Ethiopian Jews, Hebrew, Jewish World, Religion & Holidays