The Lord said to St.Moses, 'Come up to me on the mountain, and wait there; and I will give you the tablets of stone, with the law and commandment, which I have written for their instruction.'
Moses then introduced the Ark of the Covenant to his followers in the Sinai Mountains.
The historical setting for this landmark event is believed to be between 1350 and 1200 B.C., and St. Moses, whose Ethiopian wife's name is Zipporah, is the Biblical personage who was called to be the agent and the interpreter of God's redemptive work.
St. Moses was chosen to be the mediator of the Covenant. God's action here is, believed to be, to deliver the people from bondage as was witnessed, and bind them to Himself in covenant.
Every Ehtiopian Orthodox has a replica of that Ark of the Covenant. Only seen by priests it is beleoved to contain replicas of the ten Commanners plus inscriptions with the words 'Alpha' and 'Omega'.
Put differently, Inside The Tabot dwells God's Testimony. Ex.25:8
"And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst."
It's the medium with which God communicates. Ex.25:22
"… There I will meet with you … upon the ark of the testimony; I will speak with you of all that I will give you in commandment for the people of Israel."
The Tabot is an Eternal Time Machine. Therefore, it is a testimony to the presence of God always being among us. Ex.40:20
"And he took the testimony and put it into the ark, and put the poles on the ark, and set the mercy seat above on the ark."
Both in the Old Testament as well as present day EOTC's tradition, the Tabot symbolizes the Throne of God, the housing of the "tablet", the Sacred Writing of God and His Will. "And Moses turned, and went down from the mountain with the two tablets… and the tablets were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, graven upon the tables." Ex.32:15-16.
Every Ethiopian Orthodox Church has one. Indeed Kidasse cannot be held without it. Made of wood - from thr accadicia tree- or stone it is a constant reminder that God is in the midst of His Church.
Always kept in ornate coverings to hide it from public view; in an elaborate procession, which has often reminds onlookers of the sixth chapter of 2 Samuel where King David leads the people dancing before the Ark, the Tabot is carried around the church courtyard on the patronal feast day, and also on the great Feast of Timket (known as Epiphany)
In 2002 the BBC covered the return of the Tabot by Scotland to the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.
A delegation of religious leaders from Ethiopia has travelled to Edinburgh to collect a sacred carving which was unearthed in a church cupboard.
The holy wooden tabot, or tablet, is thought to be more than 400 years old.
It is believed that it was taken from Ethiopia by British soldiers trying to free hostages from the home of Emperor Theodore the Second in 1868.
The tablet can only be seen by priests
Some 200 mules and 15 elephants were loaded with plunder after victorious British forces stormed the mountain fortress at Maqdala.
The treasure - which included solid gold crowns - was bought up by many respected UK institutions, including the British Museum.
The tabot was brought to the Princes Street church in Edinburgh by a soldier returning from the campaign.
It was discovered by the Rev John McLuckie in a battered leather box while he was looking for a communion set in a cupboard at St John's last October.
Mr McLuckie recognised the carved piece of wood as he had worked in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, and he recognised its religious significance.
The tabot - a 6" square carved with an Ethiopian inscription - represents the ark of the covenant and is sacred to Ethiopia's Orthodox Christians.
Mr McLuckie said: "It was very exciting because I knew it was an object of great significance and holiness.
"I was also slightly surprised that we had one and slightly shocked that we should be keeping it in a cupboard when it is something of such significance to Ethiopian Christians."
Ephrem Mehret-ab, a spokesman for the delegation, praised the church for returning the artefact.
The Scottish Episcopal Church has called on all other artefacts stolen from Africa to be returned.
The country has been campaigning to get back hundreds of precious manuscripts, crowns and other sacred items ever since.
The Tabot is part of our history and tradition and it's rightfully ours.
Ephrem Mehret-ab said: "No-one can underestimate just how significant and joyful this hand-over is.
"The people of my country, a number of whom travelled here to see this, are simply delighted.
"The Tabot is part of our history and tradition and it's rightfully ours.
"What this event in Edinburgh symbolises is a beginning and we hope others take note and wake up to the fact that they have property, very secret and irreplaceable property, which does not belong."
Judy Holland spokeswoman for Afromet (Association For The Return Of The Magdala Ethiopian Treasures) said: "We were surprised but thrilled when we heard this Tabot had been found here and that it was being given back.
"This is as significant to Ethiopia as The Elgin Marbles are to Scotland, so we think Scots understand exactly what this gesture means."
Another plundered Tabot
Another Tabot was returned in 2003 after Dr. Ian McLennan recognised the ancient tabot at an auction in London. He bought it and donated it to the government of Ethiopia.