Classic DACB Collection

All articles created or submitted in the first twenty years of the project, from 1995 to 2015.

Asbeha (‘Asbeha)

Ancient Christian Church

‘Asbeha, Emperor, brother of Emperor ‘Abreha, is said in the Synaxarium to have ruled Ethiopia at the time when Athanasius consecrated Frumentius and sent him back to Aksum as the first Bishop of Ethiopia. The introduction of Christianity to Ethiopia is traditionally placed in the reign of ‘Abreha and ‘Asbeha, but it is historically clear that it occurred in the reign of Emperor ‘Ézana (fl. early 4th century A. D.). ‘Ézana is known to have had a brother Se’azana, who evidently played a role in the government of the Empire. It seems likely that, when the two brothers embraced Christianity, they received new baptismal names in accordance with Ethiopian custom. Thus, ‘Ézana may have received the name ‘Abreha (He illuminated) and Se’azana the name ‘Asbeha (He brought the dawn).

A. K. Irvine


E. A. Wallis Budge, The Book of the Saints of the Ethiopian Church (Cambridge, 1928). Vol. I, 112; Vol. IV. 1165.

C. Conti Rossini, “Les Listes des Rois d’Aksoum” Journal Asiatique (1909), Listes A, B, C, D, E, F, and G.

This article is reproduced, with permission, from The Dictionary of Ethiopian Biography, Vol. 1 ‘From Early Times to the End of the Zagwé Dynasty c. 1270 A.D.,’ copyright © 1975, edited by Belaynesh Michael, S. Chojnacki and Richard Pankhurst, Institute of Ethiopian Studies, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. All rights reserved.