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Zara Yaqob & Wolde-Hiwot

July 1, 2011

I feel that something is missing for us.

Other wise how can we ignore a Great Philosopher like Zara Yaqob ( literally it means the seed of Jacob ) in the academia ?

How many of us are aware of our own minds like Zara Yaqob & Wolde-Hiwot ( littraly it means the child of life ) ?

I was in a Hot Pursuit to find the online version of their treatises in Amharic or in English ,but my search is in vain ! I got only some excerpt in English here & their like that of  Theodoros Kiros’s “The Meditation of Zara Yaquob” . Forget the Amharic one .

To share something I post the following excerpt that is taken from  Zara Yaqob’s Hateta  :

 

Treatise of Zera Yacob, Chapter I

In the name of God who alone is just. I shall describe the life, the wisdom and the investigation of Zera Yacob who said: “Come and listen, all you who fear God, while I tell you what he has done for me.” Behold, I begin.

In the name of God, who is the creator of all things, the beginning and the end, the possessor of all, the source of all life and of all wisdom, I shall write of some of the things that I have encountered during my long life. Let my soul be blessed in the sight of God and let the meek rejoice. I sought God and he answered me. And now you approach him and he will enlighten you; let not your face be ashamed. Join me in proclaiming the greatness of God and together let us extol his name.

I was born in the land of the priests of Aksum. But I am the son of a poor farmer in the district of Aksum; the day of my birth is 25th of Nahasye 1592 AD, the third year of [King] Yacob. By Christian baptism I was named Zera Yacob, but people called me Warqye. When I grew up, my father sent me to school in view of my instruction. And after I had read the Psalms of David my teacher said to my father: “This young son of yours is clever and has the patience to learn; if you send him to a [higher] school, he will be a master and a doctor.” After hearing this, my father sent me to study zemya. But my voice was course and my throat was grating; so my schoolmaster used to laugh at me and tease me. I stayed there for three months, until I overcame my sadness and went to another master who taught me qenye and seweseya. God gave me the talent to learn faster that my companions and this compensated for my previous disappointment; I stayed there four years. During those days, God as it were snatched me from the claws of death: for as I was playing with my friends I fell into a ravine, and I do not know how I was saved except by a miracle from God. After I was saved I measured the depth of the ravine with a long rope and found it to be twenty-five fathoms and one palm [deep]. Thanking God for saving me, I went to the house of my master. After this I left for another school to study the interpretation of the Holy Scriptures. I remained ten years in this type of study; I learned the interpretations both of the Frang and of our own scholars. Oftentimes their interpretations did not agree with my reason; but I withheld my opinion and hid in my heart all the thoughts of my mind. Having returned to my native Aksum, I taught for four years. But this period was not peaceful: for in the XIX year of King Susenyos, while Afwons, a Frang, was Abuna, two years [after his arrival] a great persecution spread all over Ethiopia. The king accepted the faith of the Frang, and from that time on persecuted all those who did not accept it. and from that time on persecuted all those who did not accept it.

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Treatise of Zera Yacob, Chapter III

After prayer, when I was not engaged in any kind of work, I used to meditate for whole days on conflicts between men and their depravity and on the wisdom of their creator who is silent while men do evil in His name and persecute their fellow men and kill their brothers. For in those days the Frang prevailed. And not only the Frang [were strong in their persecutions] but my own people were even worse than they. Those who had accepted the faith of the Frang would say: “The Copts have denied the rightful see of Peter, and are therefore the enemies of God;” and so they persecuted them. The Copts did the same in defence of their faith.

I said to myself: “If God is the guardian of men, how is it that their nature is thus deeply corrupted?” and I said: “How does God know, or is there anyone in heaven who knows? Or if there is one who knows, why does he remain silent on men’s depravity while they corrupt his name and act with iniquity in his holy name?” I said in my prayer: “O my Lord and my creator, who endowed me with reason, make me intelligent, reveal to me your hidden wisdom. Keep my eyes open lest they slumber until the moment of death. Your hands made me and moulded me; render me intelligent that I may know your precepts. My feet have nearly stumbled and the ground [under them] has nearly given way; and the labour stands before me.” While I was praying in such and similar ways, one day I said to myself in my own thought: “Whom am I praying to or is there a God who listens to me?” At this thought I was invaded by a dreadful sadness and I said: “In vain have I kept my own heart pure”

Later on I thought of the words of the same David, “Is the inventor of the ear unable to hear?” and I said: “Who is it that provided me with an ear to hear, who created me as a rational [being] and how have I come into this world? Where do I come from? Had I lived before the creator of the world, I would have known the beginning of my life and of the consciousness [of myself]. Who created me? Was I created by my own hands? But I did not exist before I was created. If I say that my father and my mother created me then I must search for the creator of my parents and of the parents of my parents until they arrive at the first who were not created as we [are], but who came into this world in some other way without being generated. For if they themselves have been created, I know nothing of their origin unless I say, ‘He who created them from nothing must be an uncreated essence who is and will be for all centuries [to come], the Lord and master of all things, without beginning or end, immutable, whose years cannot be numbered.’” And I said “Therefore there is a creator, else there would have been no creation. This creator who endowed us with the gifts of intelligence and reason, can he himself be without them? For he created us as intelligent beings from the abundance of his intelligence and the same one being comprehends all, creates all, is almighty.” And I used to say: “My creator will hear me if I pray to him,” and because of this thought I felt very happy. “I would pray to my creator with great hope and love, and with all my heart I would say: “You, Lord, know the thought of my heart from afar. Indeed you know all that was and all that will be; and all my paths you know beforehand.” Hence it is said: “You know from afar. For God read my thoughts before I was born” and I said: “O my creator, make me intelligent.”

If u wants to Download  the Geez version of their treatise follow the following links :

ሀተታ ዘርአ፡ ያዕቆብ

ሀተታ ወልደ፡ ሕይወት

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