A man of many tongues
real and definite meaning, since it implies that Judah shall rule till death comes.
“ That illustrates how the discovery of fresh and earlier copies of a biblical book, such as the Ethiopic copy of Ecclesiastes, which I came on in Abyssinia [Ethiopia], may help in a revision that will bring the book a degree of several shades closer to the language and phrasing of the original writer or writers.
“But that is a very different thing from a complete scrapping of Ecclesiastes!”
Abyssinia, as you know, is a country, an empire, in northeast Africa, inhabited by a fine, warlike people who are black but Christian.
“ The people in Abyssinia, whom we call Ethiopians,” explained Dr. Mercer, “came from South Arabia as early as the tenth century B.C. And they spoke Ethiopic until the seventeenth century A.D. Then, out of this sprang a new language, as Italian derived from Latin, called Amharic. That is the modern tongue of Abyssinia, although Ethiopic remains the language of the church, just as Latin is of the Roman Catholic Church.”
“And Ethiopic, in which Old Testament books are found written in Abyssinia, is really a Semitic language?”
“ Yes, and in Abyssinia you find Falasha Jews who are black. . ., but who are Jews in race and religion, with the Jewish cast of countenance, only black from generations under the burning African sun; and worshiping in synagogues according to ancient Jewish custom. They went to Abyssinia probably after the fall of Jerusalem.
“ The Ethiopians themselves, as I said, were originally Arabs. They were light bronze in countenance. And among the better classes you can still see the Arab traces.”
The world renowned Egyptologist, Orientalist, clergyman and writer, Samuel Alfred Browne Mercer ( 18791969), was born in Bay Roberts East. For reasons unknown, he denied his Newfoundland roots. This article first appeared in the Star Weekly, Toronto. It is being reprinted here in four parts. Editorial comments have been added in brackets.
To be continued.