Glossary of Terms

Ethiopia or Cush or Nubia

Copyright 1996-2004 Robert Nguyen Cramer

Ethiopia, also known as Cush or Nubia, was situated geographically where northern Sudan is today. The Greek word Aithiopia (transliterated as Ethiopia) was used in classical Greek to identify what was known in the Hebrew scriptures as Cush. Cush or Nubia mythologically refer to any of the lands south of Egypt, lands that were for the most part unknown and uncharted by Hebrew writers.


Harper’s Bible Dictionary

edited by Paul J. Achtemier (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1985)

You are strongly recommended to add to your library the excellent revised edition of Harper's Bible Dictionary titled, The Harper Collins Bible Dictionary, Revised Edition [book review], edited by Paul J. Achtemeier, with the Society of Biblical Literature (NY: Harper Collins, 1996). It is currently the best one-volume Bible dictionary in English, and it is available at Border's Books, Christian Science Reading Rooms,, or

Ethiopia (or Nubia), the ancient name of the Nile valley region between the first and second cataracts south of Aswan. At the height of Ethiopian power, however, the name denoted an area reaching as far as the junction of the Blue Nile and White Nile at Khartoum (not to be confused with modern Ethiopia, i.e., Abyssinia). The Hebrew term is Cush, which the kjv keeps, but some translations use the Greek word Aithiopia (for ‘Cush’ in Gen. 2:13, see Gihon).

For two hundred years, from about 1971 to 1786 b.c., Egyptian control and trading ventures penetrated farther and farther up the Nile but were then forced to withdraw. After expelling the Hyksos invaders (ca. 1550) the Egyptian rulers once more controlled Nubia, but during the period of the Israelite monarchy Nubia became the independent kingdom of Nabatea, which dominated Egypt. The Nubian ruler Taharka (rsv: ‘Tirhaka’; 690-664 b.c.) appears in both Assyrian and Judean records (Isa. 37:9) as the ally of Hezekiah, despite protestations from the prophet Isaiah (Isa. 18:1-2; 20:1-6). Egypt fell to the Assyrians in 670, but Nubia remained independent until it became part of the Persian Empire in the sixth century b.c. In Acts 8:26-40 the Ethiopian eunuch was probably a high official in the court of ‘the Candace,’ i.e., the queen mother.


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Edited for by Robert Nguyen Cramer
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