Menelik I, also known as Bayna-Lehkem and David, was son of Queen Makeda of Sheba and King Solomon of Israel and the progenitor of the Solomonic dynasty, which ruled Axum and Ethiopia. According to the 1933 and 1955 constitutions of Ethiopia, the legitimacy of the Emperor is derived from his descent from Menelik.
The law determines that the imperial dignity shall remain perpetually attached to the line of His Majesty Haile Selassie I, descendant of King Sahle Selassie, whose line descends without interruption from the dynasty of Menelik I, son of King Solomon of Jerusalem and the Queen of Ethiopia, known as the Queen of Sheba.— 1931 Constitution of Ethiopia, Chapter I, Article 3
The Imperial dignity shall remain perpetually attached to the line of Haile Selassie I, descendant of King Sahle Selassie, whose line descends without interruption from the dynasty of Menelik I, son of the Queen of Ethiopia, the Queen of Sheba, and King Solomon of Jerusalem.— 1955 Constitution of Ethiopia, Chapter I, Article 2
Conception and birth
The Queen of Sheba visited Solomon in order to witness his wisdom, and Solomon used his cleverness in order to have intercourse with the Queen. Solomon pledged not to force himself on the Queen, and the Queen pledged not to take anything from Solomon in return. Yet Solomon had made the Queen extremely thirty in advance, and she tried to take a bowl of water from Solomon while Solomon supposedly slept, but Solomon only pretended to sleep and caught her. He said that he would free her from her vow to not take anything from her and drink the water from his bowl if she freed him from his vow in return.
Being extremely thirsty, the Queen agreed and drank. They then had sex and conceived Menelik.
After the sex, Solomon had a prophetic dream where the light of the Lord, representing the Ark of the Covenant, moved from Israel to Sheba (Ethiopia). Solomon waited to see if the light would return to Israel but it remained in Sheba. Then a new, stronger light, representing the Messiah, descended upon Judah.
Solomon awoke, unsettled by the dream.
The Queen of Sheba asked for permission to return to Sheba (Ethiopia), and Solomon permitted it and bestowed many gifts upon her. As the Queen was setting off, Solomon gave her a ring as a token and so that he would recognize any child from their union as his. He also advise the Queen to follow God and not stray from Him.
As she journeyed home, The Queen of Sheba gave birth to Solomon's son and named him Bayna-Lehkem (Menelik). She arrived home and brought the way of God into Sheba (Ethiopia). The Queen also changed the law of Sheba. Previously, only maidens may reign, but now only men shall reign.
Now there was a law in the country of ETHIOPIA that [only] a woman should reign, and that she must be a virgin who had never known man, but the Queen said [unto SOLOMON],Henceforward a man who is of thy seed shall reign, and a woman shall nevermore reign; only seed of thine shall reign and his seed after him from generation to generation.— The Kebra Nagast (E.A. Wallis Budge)
Thus, the legitimacy of Ethiopian monarchs is based upon their descent from Solomon.
Seeking his father
When Menelik was twelve years old, he inquired about his origins, and the Queen told him that King Solomon was his father. Menelik then asked to meet his father, but the queen feared for Menelik's health and sought to discourage him. Menelik repeated the request several times, but the Queen still sought to dissuade him.
Menelik grew and greatly resembled Solomon. By age 22, he had become a great warrior and hunter. He announced that he would visit his father.
I will go and look upon the face of my father, and I will come back here by the Will of God, the Lord of ISRAEL.— The Kebra Nagast (E.A. Wallis Budge)
And the Queen finally relented. She order Tamri to prepare for Menelik's journey, and she gathered gifts for Solomon. The Queen then gave Menelik Solomon's ring, and she made him promise to return as quickly as possible.
Menelik journeyed to Israel and was greet with great fanfare upon entering Gaza. Menelik resembled Solomon so much that the people of Gaza confused him with his father. They bowed and offered him gifts and offerings.
Due to confusions over whether Solomon was in Gaza or Jerusalem, the people sent messengers to Jerusalem to see if Solomon was there. The messengers arrived, greeted Solomon, and told him about the man who resembled him. They told Solomon that Menelik's caravan was from Sheba. Solomon was pleased, since despite his plans, he did not have many children.
It happened to SOLOMON even as Paul stateth, saying,God hath made foolishness the wisdom of this world,for SOLOMON had made a plan in his wisdom and said,By one thousand women I shall beget one thousand men children, and I shall inherit the countries of the enemy, and I will overthrow [their] idols.But [God] only gave him three children. His eldest son was the King of ETHIOPIA, the son of the Queen of ETHIOPIA, and was the firstborn of whom [God] spake prophetically[.]— The Kebra Nagast (E.A. Wallis Budge)
Solomon then sent his commander Benaiah to greet Menelik with gifts, tell him how many he was pleased with his upcoming visit, and to and invite him to see the king right away. Benaiah did this, and Menelik thanked God for the warm welcome.
Benaiah brought Menelik to Solomon, and the people of the palace confused Menelik with Solomon. Solomon embraced Menelik and noted that Menelik resembled David more than him. Solomon then granted Menelik gold-embroidered clothes and regalia, sat him upon his throne, and announced that Menelik was his son.
O ye who treat me with contumely among yourselves and say that I have no son, look ye, this is my son, the fruit that hath gone forth from my body, whom God, the Lord of ISRAEL, hath given me, when I expected it not.— The Kebra Nagast (E.A. Wallis Budge)
Menelik then showed Solomon the ring Solomon has given his mother, but Solomon saw that Menelik's appearance was proof enough.
Tamri then told Solomon that the Queen of Sheba seeks to have Menelik anointed the King of Ethiopia.
Hearken, O King, unto the message which thy handmaiden, the Queen my mistress, sent by me:Take this young man, anoint him, consecrate him, and bless him, and make him king over our country, and give him the command that a woman shall never again reign [in this country], and send him back in peace.— The Kebra Nagast (E.A. Wallis Budge)
However, Solomon sought to have Menelik remain and eventually reign in Israel.
Besides travailing with him and suckling him, what else hath a woman to do with a son? A daughter belongeth to the mother, and a boy to the father. God cursed EVE, saying,Bring forth children in anguish and with sorrow of heart, and [after] thy bringing forth shall take place thy return to thy husband; with an oath He said,Bring forth,and having sworn, thy return to thy husband [shall follow]. As for this my son, I will not give him to the Queen, but I will make him king over ISRAEL. For this is my firstborn, the first of my race whom God hath given me.— The Kebra Nagast (E.A. Wallis Budge)
Nevertheless, Menelik sought to return to Sheba and asked only for a portion of the fabric covering Ark to return home with, yet David continued to try to persuade Menelik to stay. Menelik then told Solomon of his promise to his mother.
Solomon realized that he could not keep Menelik there so he had his nobles send their firstborn sons to Menelik so that they can settle in Ethiopia and become Menelik's nobles and advisors.
Solomon then had his priest Zadok and his commander Benaiah anoint Menelik as King of Ethiopia. They called Menelik David due to the resemblance, and the people cheered. Solomon then had Menelik blessed and had Zadok instruct him about God and His law, and Zadok instructed Menelik on the consequences of being sinful, the consequences of being righteous, and the Ten Commandments.
Azariah and the Ark
The people of Jerusalem celebrated the anointing of Menelik as King of Ethiopia, but they also wept over the upcoming departure of their firstborn sons.
The firstborn sons committed to Menelik were also sad to be leaving their homeland. Among them was Azariah, the son of the priest Zadok. Azariah had a plan to build a piece of their home with them to Ethiopia, but before sharing the plan, he demanded that the others form a pact with him and not disclose what he was about to share. They did this, and he shared his plan with them. Azariah gathered money from the others and used it to pay a carpenter to build a wooden vessel to carry the Ark in.
When Azariah slept, an angel appeared to him in order to provide help in securing the Ark. David was going to order Azariah to make a sacrifice to God. When this was done, Azariah was to take the Ark with the angel's help. The angel told Azariah that God was angry at Israel and commanded that the Ark be taken from Israel as punishment.
Azariah told his comrades about what he saw. Then they asked Menelik to make a sacrifice to God. Menelik asked Solomon for permission to make a sacrifice. Solomon permitted this and made preparations. Menelik then had Azariah make the sacrifice on his behalf.
Azariah made the sacrifices and went to bed, along with the people of the city. The angel appeared again and instructed Azariah on how to move the Ark. Azariah got three of his comrades and pieces of wood and brought them back to the Temple. Then the doors of the Temple miraculously opened, and they miraculously carried off the Ark in a blink of an eye and placed it in Azariah's house. They placed pieces of wood in the Ark's place and covered it in order to hide the fact that they had taken the Ark. Azariah then completed the sacrifices.
Departure from Israel
Menelik was now ready to begin the journey home and asked for his father's blessing before he leaves. Solomon embraced his son and blessed him, asking God to give Menelik many descendants and to ensure that Menelik was virtuous and was guided by God. Menelik bowed, and they said their farewells.
Menelik an his party departed, and the city wept as their firstborn sons left. Solomon also cried. Solomon then ordered Zadok to switch the fabric covering the Ark and to give it to Menelik to take back to Ethiopia, along with tokens of Israel's past. Zadok did this, and Menelik was thankful. There were three covering on top of the Ark, so Zadok did not notice that the Ark was missing.
Zadok and Menelik then formed a covenant with each other at Zadok's request. Menelik agreed to have Zadok's son Azariah and Azariah's descendants be Ethiopia's priests.
Menelik then depart with the help of the Archangel Michael. The caravan marched across the sea and levitated above the land.
In Egypt, Azariah's party revealed to Menelik that they had, by the will of God, the Ark of the Covenant. Menelik was shocked, then happy. He danced and jumped, and others joined in. Then they bowed and thanked God. Menelik was then inspired gave a speech thanking God and speaking of God.
Solomon discovers the Ark missing
Solomon was haunted by the dream he had on the night he had intercourse with the Queen of Sheba and had Zadok check on the Ark. Zadok went to examine what he thought was the Ark and discovered that it was missing. Zadok was shocked and fainted. When Zadok did not return, Solomon had Benaiah check on him. Benaiah discovered Zadok tried to revive Zadok but could not (Zadok would not recover for a season).
Benaiah then saw that the Ark was gone, dropped to the ground, placed dust on his head, and cried out. Solomon learned of what happened, became displeased, and set off with his men to recover the Ark and his son and to slay the persons responsible for taking the Ark. The people of Israel also cried out due to the loss of the Ark.
Solomon pursued Menelik into Egypt but could not caught up to him. Solomon prayed to God and lamented. Then Solomon heard God. God said that the taking of the Ark was God's will and that Solomon should not be sad since the Ark was in the care of Solomon's firstborn and not a strange foreigner. Solomon was comforted by what he heard and accepted what transpired. The the angel said that Solomon should continue building his Temple and that if Solomon remains faithful, God will live him like his father before him.
Solomon returned home and wept with the priests and the nobles. Then Solomon told the priests to stop weeping to pretend that the Ark was still in Israel so that their enemies would not take advantage of the situation. They then constructed a replica of the Ark. Solomon then said that if they remain faithful, God will help them.
Menelik returned to Ethiopia and was greeted with great fanfare. The Queen of Sheba thanked God. They then placed the Ark in the city of Dabra Makeda. The Queen then gave her son gifts had the nobility pledge themselves to Menelik:
Speak ye now, and swear ye by the heavenly ZION that ye will not make women queens or set them upon the throne of the kingdom of ETHIOPIA, and that no one except the male seed of DAVID, the son of SOLOMON the King, shall ever reign over ETHIOPIA, and that ye will never make women queens.— The Kebra Nagast (E.A. Wallis Budge)
She then made Elmeyas and Azariah the head priests of the kingdom. The Queen then handed command of the kingdom to Menelik.
Take [the kingdom]. I have given [it] unto thee. I have made King him whom God hath made King, and I have chosen him whom God hath chosen as the keeper of His Pavilion. I am well pleased with him whom God hath been Pleased to make the envoy of the Tabernacle of His Covenant and His Law. I have magnified him whom God hath magnified [as] the director of His widows, and I have honoured him whom God hath honoured [as] the giver of food to orphans.— The Kebra Nagast (E.A. Wallis Budge)
Menelik said that he would still respect her. The Queen then had Elmeyas and Azariah promise to teach Menelik the way of God, and she had Menelik promise to learn from them.
After reciting the laws of God, Azariah anointed Menelik King of Ethiopia.
The Ethiopians used the Ark in war like the Israelites before them, and the Queen was with them. Ethiopia defeated its enemies, and Menelik received gifts from Egypt, Midian, and India.