2102.) Isaiah 18

I love the description of the Ethiopian people: "a nation tall and smooth."

I love the description of the Ethiopian people: “a nation tall and smooth.”

Isaiah 18   (ESV)

An Oracle Concerning Cush

In the days of Isaiah, Ethiopia (Cush/the greater Nile Valley, including present day Egypt, Ethiopia, and Somalia) was a major world power, ruling Egypt and a chief rival to Assyria. Since Judah was caught in the geographical middle of this conflict, it might make sense for Judah to align herself with Ethiopia against Assyria. But no — King Hezekiah was explicitly warned against looking to Egypt for help.

Ah, land of whirring wings

Oh, the many flying bugs of the Nile!

that is beyond the rivers of Cush,
which sends ambassadors by the sea,
in vessels of papyrus on the waters!
Go, you swift messengers,
to a nation tall and smooth,
to a people feared near and far,
a nation mighty and conquering,
whose land the rivers divide.

Ambassadors from Cush ask for news:  that Judah would align with them against Assyria.

All you inhabitants of the world,
you who dwell on the earth,
when a signal is raised on the mountains, look!
When a trumpet is blown, hear!
For thus the Lord said to me:
“I will quietly look from my dwelling
like clear heat in sunshine,
like a cloud of dew in the heat of harvest.”

The Lord refuses the offer from Africa; he is perfectly able to defend Jerusalem without their help.

For before the harvest, when the blossom is over,
and the flower becomes a ripening grape,
he cuts off the shoots with pruning hooks,
and the spreading branches he lops off and clears away.
They shall all of them be left
to the birds of prey of the mountains
and to the beasts of the earth.
And the birds of prey will summer on them,
and all the beasts of the earth will winter on them.

At that time tribute will be brought to the Lord of hosts

from a people tall and smooth,
from a people feared near and far,
a nation mighty and conquering,
whose land the rivers divide,

to Mount Zion, the place of the name of the Lord of hosts.

Dormition Abbey on Mount Zion in Jerusalem

Dormition Abbey on Mount Zion in Jerusalem

Instead of Israelite messengers bringing news to Ethiopia of an alliance against the Assyria, the day will come when Ethiopians will come and worship at Mount Zion.

This may have been fulfilled in some way close to Isaiah’s time. But we know it was fulfilled in Acts 8:26-40, when an Ethiopian came to worship the Lord at Jerusalem, and then trusted in Jesus at the preaching of Philip. It was also fulfilled in the strong Ethiopian church the first few centuries, and the enduring Ethiopian church today.

–David Guzik

Ethiopian processional cross. Ethiopian crosses are unique among Christian art for their variety of form. If you click  HERE  to see Google images for “Ethiopian processional crosses,” you will marvel at the loveliness I am referring to!



Since we are talking about Ethiopians coming to Jerusalem, I thought of Psalm 122 (“Our feet have stood within thy gates, O Jerusalem!”) — and found it as a song with an African inspiration!  Click  HERE  to enjoy Bill Monaghan’s version of Psalm 122, “inspired by the people of Ibanda, Uganda at St. Charles Lwanga Bubaare Parish and their joyful version of “Mkate Wetu, ” even down to the echos and hand claps!”

Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord — may this be how we live our lives!


English Standard Version (ESV)   The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.
Images courtesy of:
Ethiopian people.    http://www.hotelclub.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2008/05/ethiopian-people.jpg
map of Cush.    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/14/Africa_in_400_BC.jpg
Mount Zion.    http://www.veredgo.com/ckfiles/images/Dormition%20Abbey.jpg
cross.   https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/30/Ethiopian_-_Processional_Cross_-_Walters_542942_-_Side_A.jpg

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