Does the Beta Israel community have Kohens? Are Kahens equivalent? If so, are they descended from Aaron?

  • It seems the Kahen is an appointed position, whereas proper Kehunah is genealogical (by birth).
    – Double AA
    Commented Dec 25, 2012 at 22:33
  • @יהודה rather than significantly changing one user's question, wouldn't it have been better to ask your own?
    – Harel13
    Commented Apr 26, 2021 at 20:19
  • @Harel13 Shalom, what I notice from my time spent on this particular Stack Exchange is that if you have a question that is similar in nature, it can be more prone to being closed. So instead of just asking a new question and hoping that someone would answer this question (no one answered the questions in 8 Years), I respectfully kept the essence of the question and only added made a slight addition (if they are recognized as being Priest) and explained not only why I, but also how I came to make that addition.
    – יהודה
    Commented Apr 26, 2021 at 20:30
  • 1
    Today’s edit is dishonest. An editor has put works into mouth of another person. Commented Apr 26, 2021 at 22:38
  • 1
    @יהודה the edits are not my words and do not reflect my intent: I was aware at the time of the asking of the question that Ethiopian Jews view Kebra Negast as a fabrication. And I am not as familiar with the narrative of Kebra Negast as your edits would make me seem. Though now I am very much more curious. Additionally it certainly wouldn't make sense for me to say that "I came across" a question which I myself would ask ~3 years later as that would necessitate time travel or something like that. So that goes beyond lacking evidence but is presumably impossible @ BSteinhurst 🙂
    – הראל
    Commented Apr 28, 2021 at 6:44

1 Answer 1


The following website writes as follows:

Although the Beta Israel — the Ethiopian Jews, a minority of today’s Israeli population, who mostly came to the country in two waves in the 1980s and early 1990s—maintain the priesthood tradition, they are unique in that they do not consider it to be hereditary. Instead, the Beta Israel priest, called as Kes or Kahin (Cohen), is elected by his community. Traditionally, Keses, as Ken Blady explains, “were for the most part drawn from the general population, and each was selected based on his own merits” (p. 363).

So it would seem that unlike the Kohanim as we know it, which one is born into, their equivalent is something that is an appointed title.

  • Todah Rabbah for your response. Have you come across any information about the Monk and others who are commissioned to protect and guard The Ark (In Ethiopia)? Such as their lineage, how they are chosen, the training they may go through to become said protectors/guardians?
    – יהודה
    Commented Apr 26, 2021 at 17:25
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    @יהודה - have a look at this link which gives a very comprehensive academic overview: core.ac.uk/download/pdf/41125331.pdf
    – Dov
    Commented Apr 27, 2021 at 19:30

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