Ethiopia and Sudan in Biblical Prophecy

Joel Richardson WND

Open up nearly any English translation of the Bible and you will find numerous references to “Ethiopia.” Many of these references place Ethiopia in a negative light. In the book of the prophet Ezekiel for example, we find a prophetic oracle against Ethiopia, Egypt, Arabia, Libya, and Turkey (Lud):

A sword will come upon Egypt, and anguish will be in Ethiopia; when the slain fall in Egypt, they take away her wealth, And her foundations are torn down. Ethiopia, Put, Lud, all Arabia, Libya and the people of the land that is in league will fall with them by the sword. —Ezekiel 30: 4-5

Later in the infamous Gog of Magog oracle of Ezekiel 38 & 39, Ethiopia is included among the alliance of nations that are prophesied to invade the Nation of Israel:

Thus says the Lord GOD, “Behold, I am against you, O Gog, chief prince of Meshech and Tubal. “I will turn you about and put hooks into your jaws, and I will bring you out, and all your army, horses and horsemen, all of them splendidly attired, a great company with buckler and shield, all of them wielding swords; Persia, Ethiopia and Put with them, all of them with shield and helmet. —Ezekiel 38:3-5

All of the nations of Ezekiel’s Gog oracle are destroyed. Is Ethiopia thus destined to be decimated by God?

Far from it. The truth is that the modern day nation of Ethiopia is largely unrelated to the Ethiopia mentioned by Ezekiel. The translation of “Cush” as “Ethiopia” is actually quite misleading. Yet as a result of this widely used, but faulty translation, the poor Ethiopian people today, one of the most ancient, noble and largely Christian cultures in the earth, have gotten a seriously bad rap.

How did this confusion come about? The Hebrew word translated as Ethiopia is “Cush.” Cush was the son of Ham, and grandson of Noah. Many of Cush’s descendants settled in the region of southern Egypt, from Aswan to the place where the Nile River meets the Blue and White Nile rivers. The confusion comes from the historical name swap between Ethiopia and Abyssinia. The region that the Bible refers to as Cush became known as Nubia, which the Greeks called Aithiopia. But today this region is southern Egypt and Northern Sudan. On the other hand, the ancient region of Abyssinia was much more southeast. This is where modern Ethiopia is now located. In others words, ancient Abyssinia is modern Ethiopia and ancient Aithiopia is modern day North Sudan.

Because of this confusion, many students of prophecy are awaiting the Christian majority nation of Ethiopia to join with the Islamic alliance described in Ezekiel 38-39. But a correct understanding of the name Cush points us to North Sudan, not Ethiopia.

Modern Day North Sudan, South Sudan, Ethiopia & surrounding nations. The grey oval around the three Nile rivers represents ancient Cush, which most Bibles translate as “Ethiopia.” The Green nations of Ethiopia and Eritrea were called Abyssinia in ancient times and do not correlate to the Biblical Cush.

But the judgment prophecies of Ezekiel concerning Cush/Ethiopia do not merely point us to the Sudan in general, but specifically North Sudan. From the perspective of Biblical prophecy, this is all very significant. The recent cessation of South Sudan, is a significant development, bringing greater clarity to Ezekiel’s prophecies. The Biblical region of Cush was centered at Meroe where the Nile river meets the White Nile and the Blue Nile roughly 75 miles northeast of the city of Khartoum, the capital city of North Sudan. Today, an ideological and military Islamist alliance is already forming against Israel, which includes the Islamic nation of North Sudan and Libya. These two nations represent the southern branch of Ezekiel’s Gog alliance.

But while North Sudan is well known as an Islamist stronghold, South Sudan has a significant Christian population. And beyond having a large Christian population, like Ethiopia, South Sudan also has a large number of believers whose faith has many distinctly Messianic-Jewish characteristics. Many of these Christian groups trace their roots back to the early Messianic Jewish communities. And many of these Messianic believers are also supporters of the Nation of Israel who would have no part in an invasion of Israel.

While this may seem a bit academic, there are actually a few essential lessons here. First, it is imperative to accurately understand what nations and regions the ancient names in Scripture are pointing us to. In my new book, Mideast Beast: The Scriptural Case For An Islamic Antichrist, I bring the reader up to date with the consensus among modern scholarship concerning many of the ancient names found throughout the prophetic Scriptures, equipping students of the Bible with an accurate understanding of which nations they correlate to today. Beyond this, an accurate understanding of what the prophets are actually saying helps the Church as we seek to join with the LORD’s purposes. Understanding these prophecies will help Christians determine where to allocate their time, resources, energy and money. Where we direct our intercessory prayers and which missionaries and ministries we choose to support should all be influenced by what we believe the LORD is doing today in the earth. It is imperative that the Church aligns its purposes with what the LORD is doing in the earth now.

Today the new nation of South Sudan is deeply in need of prayer, rebuilding and overcoming the effects of war. Beyond this, the ravaging effects of decades of United Nations miseducation has devastated families and actually ruined the faith of tens of thousands. Meanwhile, both South Sudan and Ethiopia are at the front-lines of the radical Islamic agenda to exterminate the ancient African Christian communities. While some students of prophecy today, due to the outdated and misleading translations found in most Bibles, are simply sitting back waiting for Ethiopia and South Sudan to join a forthcoming anti-Zionist, Islamist invasion of Israel, those who know the truth will understand that now is the moment for the global Church to rise up and stand with these beautiful shining gems that are the Christian communities of South Sudan and Ethiopia.

  • Patrick Hutton
    Posted at 18:17h, 09 August

    Excellent article, as always, and enjoying second read of Mideast Beast.


  • Perry Brown
    Posted at 19:09h, 25 August


    It seems that Put and Cush, Libya and Sudan (north), respectively, have very prophetic importance in the end-times. In Daniel 11:43, we read about them following the steps of the King of the North (Antichrist), we read about them joining Gog’s (Antichrist) coalition invading Israel (Ezek 38), but we also read about them being in coalition together with Egypt (Ezek 30:4-5; Nahum 3:8-10) and other northern African and Arabic nations. How do you understand the flow or sequence of events related to Libya and Sudan regarding these passages?

    Perry Brown

  • Joel
    Posted at 20:04h, 25 August


    I try to avoid answering questions online. As soon as I begin, it can quickly consume far too much time. I made a brief exception only in the hope of sowing peace among those other brothers. But sadly, my efforts did not bear the fruit I had hoped.

    That said, I’ll answer this briefly and then try to bow out of any further conversation. I hope you understand.

    Daniel 11:43 speaks of the early period of the AC’s conquest of the region. He conquers Egypt, (The KIng of the South) and immediately Libya and Sudan submit seemingly willingly. Later in Ezekiel 38, they are seen to be part of the Antichrist’s coalition of the willing in the invasion of Israel.

    This is a good observation to make however, for it is also problematic for the popular view. From the perspective of the popular view, Libya and Sudan are annihilated in the Gog and Magog battle, but somehow they soon magically pop up again as key players in the AC’s coalition in Daniel 11. Which doesn’t make any sense, of course.

    Bless you Perry!

  • Perry Brown
    Posted at 20:18h, 25 August

    OK. I understand. Thanks


  • DTTO eNews
    Posted at 12:30h, 12 July

    Just to follow up on this article I wanted to share this current Headline >

    South Sudan: Ethiopia Says Ties With South Sudan Continuing to Improve

    “He further said the birth of Africa’s newest nation has laid a foundation to address peace and security problems in the volatile East African region and in the continent at large.”

    Ethiopia Deputy PM Attends South Sudan’s Independence Day

    Fresh round of ethnic clashes erupt in South Sudan’s Jonglei state, death toll not known

    South Sudan News: Turabi Urges Jihadists to “Reunite” with South Sudan

    Christians grow anxious in “100 percent” Islamic Sudan

  • nagddyuooon
    Posted at 11:46h, 13 July

    Try to study more—prophecy is going to happen via God.
    We do not need to do such interpertations on current nations. It is difficult to say what is ancient Ethiopia & where is this land or people. be behind peace for all nations irrespective of thier religion

  • jok wieu
    Posted at 14:45h, 28 August

    I believed that south Sudan is the real fish prophesied in the bible

  • jok wieu
    Posted at 14:49h, 28 August

    I believed that south Sudan is the real cush prophesied in the bible,we should have faith in Our Lord Jesus Christ and put our trust in him

  • Thomas
    Posted at 23:19h, 17 January

    The best way to know which nation is old and new is to look at old map and see if the people moved from that land because if they do then they ant the one but the people who stayed behind. Its really obsess as nation of Christianity is less likely to attack Israel as they lesson to Jesus who said forgiveness them and bless them.

  • Nyathak Rambang
    Posted at 19:56h, 21 June

    I will just say the People of Sudan (both North and South) were a Nomadic people during the rule of the kingdom of Cush. But after the expanding of the Sahara tribes and tribes stayed put and made a home in their respective lands. The people know this through word of mouth passed from generation to generation. Though since that is not ‘archaeologically’ sufficient evidence we still do not know enough to say whether the North or South of Sudan are Cushites. But I agree with Jok Wieu in saying that the South Sudanese are the ‘biblical’ Cushites or at least most of them are.

  • Joel
    Posted at 20:03h, 21 June

    While the people of South Sudan may be the physical descendants of the Cushites, quite frequently in Scripture when it describes end time judgments, it uses the ancient names and regions to point to modern regions. Thus in many of the end times judgments that are negative, it points to be biblical Cush where the Nile River splits. Thus this would be northern Sudan. Obviously the northern Sudanese are many Arab mixture who came from Arabia. The point is not that the Lord doesn’t love particular ethnic peoples etc. Of course He loves all people. The point is that where there is concentration of hatred for His people, His judgments will come.

  • Joseph
    Posted at 21:06h, 29 August

    I found this article interesting, but what exactly makes North Sudan ancient Ethiopia?

  • Joel
    Posted at 22:51h, 29 August


  • Marvin Kajese
    Posted at 17:52h, 21 September

    Praise the Lord for that insight and word of wisdom. God bless you for being diligent in presenting Gospel truth, yes it is for this is good news indeed in that as you said it helps us focus or prayers and resources in the right places. Zephaniah 3:10 I think is also lines up with what you explained about where these nations stand in scripture thank you and blessed be His Holy Name. Amen.

  • denise allen
    Posted at 00:51h, 07 November

    Dr. Bernard Leeman is one of the foremost experts on CUSH-ETHIOPIA. Also what has been left out about the Ethiopians is that THE ALMIGHTY says in Zephaniah 3:11 Ethiopia, my suppliants, something positive about HIS peoples Ethiopia. Ethiopia shall soon stretch out Her Hands to HER YAH; Ethiopia,CUSH is a location mentioned in THE TORAH, Genesis, Chapter 2. The Queen of the South, Sheba a Cushite will be given the privilege and honor by MESSIAH YESHUA to condemn the Unbelieving Religious Rulers in the Judgment. There’s more. Dr. Bernard Leeman’s work can be found on Shalom

  • Joel
    Posted at 01:13h, 07 November

    Thank you. In some cases, I would suppose “Cush” is a term used to describe the peoples from the region, while in other passages it is more likely referring to an eschatological region.

  • Temesgen T. Mariam
    Posted at 17:54h, 26 February

    Write your comment here…Dear Joel, what do you say that Psalms 68:31 which says Ethiopia will soon stretch her hands unto God is written under the statue of Kwame Nikurmsh in AU compound in Addis Ababa, the cspital city of Ethiopia? I believe that the time has come for the fulfilment of this verse. Temesgen

  • Temesgen T. Mariam
    Posted at 22:12h, 26 February

    Dear Joel, What do you say that Psalms 68:31 iwhich says Ethiopia will stretch her hands unto God is written under the statue of the late Kwame Nijkurumah in the compond of Africa Union , In Addis Ababa, Ethiopia? I believe that the fulfilment of this verse is at hand.

  • Yoel Natan
    Posted at 10:57h, 02 May

    Joel, which one of your books best covers the argument of who God and Magog are? Is there more than one book that deals with this issue? I have two or three of your books but haven’t read them yet.

  • Joel
    Posted at 16:21h, 02 May


    Mideast Beast. Also, there are some additional articles in the resources section.

    Many Blessings!

  • Jennifer Robinson
    Posted at 17:06h, 19 February

    Hello –

    What did you mean by miseducation by the United Nations? You didn’t explain or back that statement up at all. From my experience working in South Sudan, the UN provides food, funds teachers to facilitate the national curriculum, provides shelter, etc. They also facilitate conflict resolution workshops etc. Thanks in advance for clarifying.

  • Zephaniah Cruz
    Posted at 20:05h, 16 July

    Put (Libya Somalia), Cush (North Sudan, Djibouti, Eritrea), and Egypt

  • Clues
    Posted at 23:05h, 04 August

    If I recall correctly, Ethiopia/Cush did stretch out her hands to God in either the 3rd or 4th century after the Ascension of Christ. Furthermore, the Ethiopian Eunuch was baptized by Phillip the Evangelist. We are further down in the timeline. Lastly, there are still numerous of Israelite tribes scattered throughout Africa some having migrated as early as the Babylonian and Assryian invasions.

  • Aaron Hawaz
    Posted at 09:52h, 11 March

    There are divisions in ethiopia that the other worlds don’t know match ezekiel’s prophecy it doesnt mean sudan he is trully saying it is the current ethiopia but there is a region called TIGRAY which is the region where the arc of covenant is found where the name zion came from it is an opposing state against ethiopian goverment and a state in conflict with other ethiopian states and now it is currently being supported by the state of israeli because the goverment of abiy ahmed is with the in my view ethiopians except TIGRAY region will rise againest israeli.

  • Dr. Charles A. Neal Th.D.
    Posted at 20:11h, 14 March

    Joel, excellent brief article and interesting comments by the readers. However, I noticed you mentioned you do not like to answer questions in the comment section of which I fully agree, but I can’t seem to find a way to contact you. Yet I have some questions for you concerning Eze. 38. as I too believe the coming Islamic “Mahdi” could very well be “Gog”. I agree that modern Ethiopia is not the Ethiopia mentioned in the last days. Abyssinia is not remembered by modern students. I have left you my email if you would like to answer some of my inquisitive thoughts as I am trying to prepare a “whitepaper” on the coming war. I really like many of your thoughts and need you to expound on a few of them to satisfy curiosity. I do not consider myself an “academic” but a “student” of the Word of which I share through out the world as a missionary.
    Kind Regards,
    Dr. Charles A. Neal Th.D.

  • Joel
    Posted at 15:54h, 15 March
  • Richard Goodall
    Posted at 05:55h, 04 July

    Dear Bro Joel. Forgive my arrogance but near the beginning of your writing above you use the word session. (Maybe you spelt it cession.) I’m pretty sure that should be secession meaning a split off. But I’m glad of your efforts. I had misgivings about the connection between Cush and modern Ethiopia. Mind you I’ve worked in Japan for 59 years so can’t be dogmatic having not had the soaking in English that you boys have had.

  • Abdulkadir Hamed
    Posted at 04:54h, 07 August

    Great article and oh, how relevant it is today in Sudan. I’m currently in Sudan, which was dominated by Saudi and friends for 30 years but recently we won our freedom through peaceful demonstrations. Many died but everything was a blessing in disguise and to my amazement when researching the bible, I just kept recognizing things. As you know, Sudan was considered a Muslim Nation but after the revolution, Sudan was left with a bad taste in its mouth from Islam because of the blatan disrespect, killing, rape and haughtiness displayed by the wahhabi backed regime and their Sudanese preachers when they thought they were in control during the revolution but now are exposed because of their miscalculations. Saudi and their friends and what they give out as religion has no place in Sudan anymore but we did’nt throw out the baby with the bath water because the baby is the Quran. Quran was given a bad rep because attached to it is Hadith that Quran even STRONGLY condemns. I think a comparative study of the Bible and Quran needs to take place because I believe the Quran is that book called the Torah. But it’s never understood by the west because of the things attached to it and that it’s written in Gurshani aka Arabic in syriac languge and Vocabulary. Anyway, I notice that article has been written in 2012 and just like biblical prophecy suggests, I’m writing you from Sudan 7 years later to let our Christian brothers and Sisters Kush is freed by the Almighty’s help. BTW, I believe in the Torah, Bible and Quran because Sura 5:71:
    “Say, O People of the Book! You are not (founded) on anything UNTIL you PERFORM the TORAH and the GOSPEL, and what was revealed to you from your Lord.”..

  • Joel
    Posted at 09:10h, 07 August

    The most important thing is to do a careful study comparing the life of Jesus and Muhammad. This has caused many Muslims to come to the conclusion that Christianity is true and Islam is not what it claims to be. I would highly suggest any of Nabeel Qureishi’s books. Many Blessings.

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