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The Biblical Ethiopians

Often, those who attempt to establish the table of nations do not provide a direct account, but rather use a religious, metaphorical or cryptic language, while focusing solely on modern societies and cultures. The problem with such an approach is that it creates contradictions because it fails to take account of ancient history, and, to some extent renders a misleading account of God's Word. But The Lord urges people to examine their past in order to build a collective memory that will help guide us into the future and strengthen our relationship with Him. The preservation, study and teaching of ancient historical sources and evidence are biblical prescriptions.

  • Isaiah 46:8-9 "Remember this and be brave; take it to heart, you transgressors! Remember what happened long ago..."

  • Job 8:8 "Please inquire of past generations and consider the discoveries of their fathers."


The following is intended to help you understand and realize that if you keep reading the Bible from the perspective of modern migratory societies, not taking into account ancient history, your understanding of God's Word may be entirely flawed. 

To start off, the term "Ethiopian" is derived from the Greek name Αἰθιοπία (Aithiopia) which comes from Αἰθίοψ (Aithíops) that is a composition of two Greek words: αἴθω (aíthō,) "burned" + ψ (ṓps) "face"; and is correctly translated into a noun as "burned faced" and into an adjective as "red-brown". From Homer's time, the exonym was used to refer to the dark-skinned people living in regions below the Sahara and in what was then known as Nubia.

Some facts about King David

The verse below describes David as having a ruddy or light complexion and a handsome face. The controversy surrounding his appearance is such that his biblical description is inconsistent, for, he is sometimes described as having a red complexion, sometimes being black or of a beautiful countenance.

  • 1 Samuel 16:12 "And he sent, and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and withal of a beautiful countenance, and goodly to look to. And the LORD said, Arise, anoint him: for this is he” King James Bible

  • 1 Samuel 16:12 "And he sent and brought him in. And he was reddish brown, and had beautiful eyes, and was handsome. And the LORD said, "Arise, anoint him, for he is the one." New Heart English Bible

  • 1 Samuel 16:12 "So Jesse sent for him. He had beautiful eyes and a healthy, handsome appearance. Then the LORD said, “Anoint him, for he is the one.” Holman Christian Standard Bible

  • 1 Samuel 16:12 So Jesse sent for him. He was dark and handsome, with beautiful eyes. And the LORD said, “This is the one; anoint him." New Living Translation

Indeed, after taking Tamar for a prostitute, Judah slept with her. From this union Pharez was born, whose lineage would give birth to King David and Christ. The Bible does not mention the ancestry of Tamar. Some apocryphal books indicate that she was Semite from Mesopotamia; whereas some scholars believe she was Hamite of the Canaanite lineage, which would reinforce the idea that Jews were people of color, born of mixed marriages between Hamites and Semites. Furthermore, the expression "red-haired, brown or light-skinned" perfectly describes people of black descent.

Kush, son of Ham, is the ancestor of the Kushites or Ethiopians. In biblical times, however, the terms "Kush", "Kushite" or "Ethiopian" used in the Hebrew Bible did not refer to the inhabitants of the modern-day country called Ethiopia, but rather sometimes referred to black skin, sometimes to black Africans, more precisely to those in the Sub-Saharan and Southern parts of Africa.

  • Jeremiah 13:23 "Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots?"

Flavius Josephus, a Jewish priest, scholar and historian born in 37 A.D., made the following statements, claiming that some historical names had been altered. This reinforces the hypothesis that the narrative may have changed in an earlier version of human history, and that certain truths had been suppressed since the first century:

The children of Ham possessed the land from Syria and Amanus, and the mountains of Libanus; seizing upon all that was on its sea-coasts, and as far as the ocean, and keeping it as their own. Some indeed of its names are utterly vanished away; others of them being changed, and another sound given them, are hardly to be discovered; yet a few there are which have kept their denominations entire. For of the four sons of Ham, time has not at all hurt the name of Chus; for the Ethiopians, over whom he reigned, are even at this day, both by themselves and by all men in Asia, called Chusites. The memory also of the Mesraites is preserved in their name; for all we who inhabit this country [of Judea] called Egypt Mestre, and the Egyptians Mestreans. Phut also was the founder of Libya, and called the inhabitants Phutites, from himself: there is also a river in the country of Moors which bears that name; whence it is that we may see the greatest part of the Grecian historiographers mention that river and the adjoining country by the apellation of Phut: but the name it has now has been by change given it from one of the sons of Mesraim, who was called Lybyos. We will inform you presently what has been the occasion why it has been called Africa also. |Flavius Josephus of the Antiquities of the Jews — Book I, Chap. 6:2|


How then will the average reader be able to discern the true identity of the Ethiopians and the meaning of the words Kush and Kushite?

Kush begat Seba, Havilah, Sabtah, Raamah, Sabtecha and Nimrod.  The official account from contemporary theologians is that his descendants settled east of the Red Sea: in Arabia and Yemen.

Seba: father of the Sabaeans, who lived in Meroe or the present Sudan, located on the upper eastern bank of the Nile.

Havilah: father of the Havilites, who lived in Abyssinia and Ethiopia. It is possible that his descendants intermingled with the descendants of Havilah, the Joktanite, thus forming the people occupying Khawlan, a fertile region located in the northwestern part of Yemen or Saudi Arabia.

Sabtah: father of the Sabatha or Astabari, his descendants settled along the Red Sea, near the Persian Gulf.

Raamah: His descendants settled in southwestern Arabia or modern Yemen. 

Sabtecha: father of the Sabatheans, established in South Arabia/now Yemen.


However, common belief prior to the 19th century was not consistent with the aforementioned official account, and rather aligned with the writings of books classified as Apocrypha, such as the Book Of Jubilees, which states, in chapters 8 and 9, that Ham divided the portion of his land among his sons throughout Africa and not in Arabia. Indeed, According to historical facts, the descendants of Cusch settled for the most part to the west (and not to the east) of the Red Sea, in almost all of sub-Saharan Africa, namely:

► Guinea and Nigritie or Sudan territory,

► Nubia and Abissinia,

► Upper and Lower Ethiopia, Southern Africa and Madagascar.


Only his first son Saba, father of the Sabians or modern day Sabii-Arabs, occupied Arabia Petra and Arabia Felix southeast of the Red Sea, namely present-day Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Yemen and Oman.


Here's a map published by cartographer Rob Wilkinson on April 11, 1818, where he placed:

  • Havilah in West Africa, 

  • Sabtah, Raamah and Sabtecha in sub-Saharan Africa, and,

  • Seba in Arabia.


Furthermore, the ancient map below, made by the famous cartographer Edward Wells and dating from 1667, indicates that the Territory of Cush or Ethiopia extended southeast of the Red Sea, and was later renamed Arabia. This would imply that southern Middle East is also the rightful land of Ham.

So the Arab population, which is a mixture of Hamites and Semites, includes:

► Cushites,

► Ishmaelites descendants of Ishmael (first son of Abraham and the Egyptian Hagar);

► Midianites descendants of Midian (son of Abraham and Keturah),

► Amalekites (Descendants of Amalek, grandson of Esau).

  • 2 Chronicles 21:16 "The LORD put it into the mind of the Philistines and the Arabs who live near the Cushites to attack Jehoram."

Below are examples of ancient geographical maps produced between the years 1500 - 1800. And as previously mentioned, you'll notice that most of sub-Saharan Africa including the Congo Basin, East Africa and Southern Africa was then called Ethiopia.

All these geographical maps reveal that the biblical Ethiopians are not alluding to those occupying the country that now bears the name Ethiopia, but rather to those who predominantly inhabited the following regions:

  • Congo Basin, South Africa, Angola, Botswana, Burundi, Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia, Uganda, Central African Republic, Rwanda, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Note that on other maps, the whole of Sub-Saharan Africa and West Africa also designate Ethiopia.

Here's a very interesting excerpt from the stories of Cornelius Tacitus (56 - 120 A.D.), a Roman orator and politician, considered the greatest Roman historian, which he wrote about the Ethiopians in his work entitled "The Histories, Book 5 Chap. 2: The Jews".


Il convient d'informer le lecteur de ses origines. Les Juifs sont dits avoir été des réfugiés de l'île de Crète qui se sont installés dans le coin le plus reculé de la Libye à l'époque où, selon l'histoire, Saturne fut chassé de son trône par l'agression de Jupiter. C'est ce qui ressort du nom de "Judaei" sous lequel ils furent connus: ce mot doit être considéré comme une extension barbare de " Idaei ", le nom du peuple qui habitait autour du célèbre mont Ida en Crète. Quelques autorités soutiennent que, sous le règne d'Isis, le surplus de la population égyptienne fut évacué vers les terres voisines, sous la direction de Hirosolymus et de Judas. Un grand nombre de personnes nous assurent que les Juifs descendent de ces Éthiopiens qui furent contraints par la peur et la haine d'émigrer de leur pays natal lorsque Céphée était roi


This reinforces the hypothesis that the Jews who lived in Judea (Judaei), a province of ancient Rome that included the regions of Samaria and Idumaea, were of the black race. It was they who accused Jesus Christ to the Roman authorities and played a criminal role in his crucifixion. As a consequence of their actions, they were relegated to the status of slaves. Indeed, all was well in the Roman Empire, and the Jews were allowed to practice their religion until 66 AD, when a revolt broke out in Judea (Judaei). The Romans massacred thousands of Jews. Of those who escaped death, many were deported to Egypt to work in the mines, while others were dispersed to the arenas of the Empire to be put to death for the pleasure of the public. The sacred relics of the Temple were transported to Rome and put on display in celebration of the victory.

A few facts and verses about the biblical Ethiopians

Sephora wife of Moses and mother of Gershom and Eliezer, was an Ethiopian woman. 

  • Numbers 12:1 "Then Miriam and Aaron criticized Moses because of the Cushite woman he had married, for he had taken a Cushite wife."


The eunuch to whom Philip preached the Lord Jesus Christ and baptized between Jerusalem and Gaza was an Ethiopian.

  • Acts 8:27 "So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official in charge of the entire treasury of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians. He had gone to Jerusalem to worship"

The Ethiopians are just like the Isräelites.

  • Amos 9:7 "Behold, you are to me as children of the Kushites, children of Israel, says LORD"

  • Amos 9:7 "Are not ye to me as the sons of the Ethiopians, O children of Israel? saith the Lord."


The people of ELOHIM are scattered in many regions in the world including the vast territory of Ethiopia.

  • Isaiah 11:11 "On that day the Lord will extend His hand a second time to recover the remnant of His people from Assyria, from Egypt, from Pathros, from Cush, from Elam, from Shinar, from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea."

Like the Israelites, the Ethiopians and Egyptians were enslaved and scattered around the world.

  • Isaiah 20:4-5 "So the king of Assyria will lead away the captives of Egypt and the exiles of Cush, young and old alike, naked and barefoot, with bared buttocks—to Egypt’s shame. Those who made Cush their hope and Egypt their boast will be dismayed and ashamed."

  • Ezekiel 30:4-5 "LA sword will come against Egypt, and there will be anguish in Cush when the slain fall in Egypt, its wealth is taken away, and its foundations are torn down. Cush, Put, and Lud, and all the various peoples, as well as Libya and the men of the covenant land, will fall with Egypt by the sword. For this is what the LORD says: The allies of Egypt will fall, and her proud strength will collapse. From Migdol to Syene they will fall by the sword within her, declares the Lord GOD. They will be desolate among desolate lands, and their cities will lie among ruined cities. Then they will know that I am the LORD when I set fire to Egypt and all her helpers are shattered. . On that day messengers will go out from Me in ships to frighten Cush out of complacency. Anguish will come upon them on the day of Egypt’s doom. For it is indeed coming."

Similar to the Egyptians and Philistines, the Ethiopians were born in Zion.

  • Psalm 87:4 "Egypt, Babylonia, Philistia, Phoenicia, and Ethiopia are some of those nations that know you, and their people all say, "I was born in Zion."

You be the judge.

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