Falashas, the Jewish population of Abyssinia, numbering about 250,000, who have inhabited that country from time immemorial. Their name signifies exiles or wanderers, and they profess to have come originally from Palestine and to have belonged to the tribe of Levi. They are Jewish in their modes of life, though not in their appearance, and differ from their co-religionists in regarding commerce as incompatible with the Mosaic law. They cultivate the soil, and excel in various trades, especially as architects. They are laborious and well behaved, but unable or unwilling to perform military duty, from which they are consequently exempt. They are so rigid in the observance of the sabbath that they abstain even from dressing themselves on that day. They constituted in the higher regions of the country an independent tribe under the rule of their own kings and queens until the beginning of the 17th century, when they were driven from their mountain homes and compelled to reside among their enemies the Amharas. They live at present in the provinces of Dembea, Godjam, Quara, Tchelga, and Woggera; and their villages are easily recognized by the red clay pots at the top of their synagogues.

They have the Old Testament in the Geez language, and the apocryphal books which are accepted by the Abyssinian church. -See articles by Joseph Halevy in the Bulletin of the French geographical society, March and April, 1869.