(ee' thi oh' pi uh) The region of Nubia just south of Egypt, from the first cataract of the Nile into the Sudan. Confusion has arisen between the names Ethiopia and Cush. The Old Testament Hebrew (and Egyptian) name for the region was Cush. The ancient Greek translation of the Old Testament, the Septuagint, rendered Cush by the Greek word Ethiopia, except where it could be taken as a personal name. English translations have generally followed the Septuagint in designating the land as Ethiopia and its inhabitants as Ethiopians. In some passages such as
Genesis 2:13 and
Isaiah 11:11, various English versions alternate between Cush and Ethiopia. See Cush.
The biblical Ethiopia should not be confused with the modern nation of the same name somewhat further to the southeast. In biblical times, Ethiopia was equivalent to Nubia, the region beyond the first cataract of the Nile south, or upstream, of Egypt. This region, with an abundance of natural resources, was known to the Egyptians as Cush and was occupied by them during periods of Egyptian strength. During the New Kingdom (1550-1070 B.C.), Ethiopia was totally incorporated into the Egyptian Empire and ruled through an official called the “viceroy of Cush.”
When Egyptian power waned, Nubia became independent under a line of rulers who imitated Egyptian culture. When Egypt fell into a period of chaos about 725 B.C., Nubian kings extended their influence northward. In 715 B.C., they succeeded in establishing control over all of Egypt and ruled as pharaohs of the Twenty-fifth Dynasty. The most influential of these Ethiopian pharaohs was Taharqa (biblical Tirhakah), who rendered aid to Hezekiah of Judah during the Assyrian invasion of Sennacherib in 701 B.C. (2 Kings 19:9;
The Assyrian Empire invaded Egypt in 671 B.C., driving the Ethiopian pharaohs southward and eventually sacking the Egyptian capital Thebes (biblical No-Amon;
Nahum 3:8) in 664 B.C. Thereafter, the realm of Ethiopian kings was confined to Nubia, which they ruled from Napata. Ethiopia continued to be an important political force and center of trade (Isaiah 45:14). Some time after 300 B.C., Napata was abandoned and the capital moved further south to Meroe, where the kingdom continued for another six hundred years. Excavations in Nubia have revealed numerous pyramid tombs at Napata and Meroe as well as several temples to the Egyptian god Amun.
In New Testament times, several queens of the kingdom of Meroe bore the title Candace. The Ethiopian eunuch to whom Philip explained the gospel was a minister of “the Candace, queen of the Ethiopians” (Acts 8:27 RSV). Candace should be understood as a title rather than a personal name.
Daniel C. Browning, Jr.