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I, II, and III Meqabyan (Ge'ez: መቃብያን, sometimes spelled Makabian) are three books in the Ethiopian Orthodox Old Testament Biblical canon.

Although these books are totally different in content from the books of Maccabees in Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Bibles, they are sometimes referred to as Ethiopic Maccabees or Ethiopian Maccabees. The "Maccabees" described in these books are not those of the Hasmonean dynasty, but apparently correspond to the martyred "Woman with seven sons", who were also referred to as "Maccabees" and are revered throughout Orthodoxy as the "Maccabean Martyrs".

These three books long existed only in Ethiopic, but have recently been translated into standard English by Ras Feqade Selassie and published by Lulu (2008). He previously published online an edition in Iyaric, the liturgical dialect of the Rastafari Movement.

  • The Book of First Meqabyan has 36 chapters. It begins: "In the days of the Moabites and Medes". It says that there was an idol-worshipping king of Media and Midian, named '"Tsirutsaydan". This was an actual nickname of the historical Seleucid king Antiochus IV Epiphanes, who sometimes held court at Tyre, after he began minting coins with the names "Tyre and Sidon" (Tsur u Tsaydan) stamped in Hebrew alongside his image. [1] According to this book, a Benjamite called Meqabis taught that men should worship the true God, and his 5 sons and others were burnt by the king.
  • The Book of Second Meqabyan has 21 chapters. It begins: "After he found the Jews in Syrian Mesopotamia". It says that a king of Moab named Meqabis made war against Israel as a punishment on them. Later he repented of his sins and taught the Israelites God's law. After his death, Tsirutsaydan introduced idolatry and burnt the sons of Makabis.
  • The Book of Third Meqabyan has 10 chapters. It begins: "And the islands of Egypt shall rejoice". It is a diffuse account of salvation and punishment, illustrated from the lives of Adam, Job, David and others.


  1. ^ John Mason Harden, An Introduction to Ethiopic Christian Literature, 1926, p. 38; Ernst Hammerschmidt, Äthiopien: Christliches Reich zwischen gestern und morgen, 1967, p. 105.


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