Affinity with the Holy Land, and especially with Jerusalem, is a common theme in the sacred geography of Abrahamic religions, expressed in prayer houses and holy sites. This theme was especially prominent in Solomonic Ethiopia, both among Ethiopian Orthodox Christians and among the Betä Ǝsraʾel (Ethiopian Jews). This article will examine expressions of affinity with Jerusalem and the Holy Land in Betä Ǝsraʾel holy sites and religious architecture, and shed light on the interreligious discourse related to such expressions, as well as other forms of interreligious discourse expressed by these two communities in sacred geography. This will demonstrate that in Solomonic Ethiopia, affinity with the Holy Land was a core element in expressing an Israelite identity. Both the Betä Ǝsraʾel and the Ethiopian Orthodox Christians saw themselves as the biological and spiritual heirs of the biblical Israelites, and this concept played a key role in shaping their sacred geography to allude to biblical sites and events. This will also demonstrate that, building upon a vocabulary with common features, the sacred geography and religious architecture of each community was a means to express its unique identity. As such, it provides insight regarding differences in religious concepts.
- Betä Ǝsraʾel (Beta Israel; Ethiopian Jews)
- Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity
- Jerusalem Temple
- Jewish–Christian relations
- holy sites
- religious architecture
- sacred geography