Elliott A. Green
published on 08 January 2013
Josephus clearly identifies the queen who visited Solomon as “the woman who ruled Egypt and Ethiopia,” and tells us that her name was Nikaulis. Yet the Bible calls her the Queen of Sheba (I Kg. 10; II Chr. 9). However, elsewhere in Josephus’ Antiquities, he identifies Saba (Sheba) as the Ethiopian capital. He writes “Saba, that was the capital city of the Ethiopians — its name was subsequently changed to Meroë by Cambyses.” Ancient Meroë is a known location down the Nile from Khartoum. This identification further helps to confirm Josephus’ statement about the queen who visited Solomon, since we know of Egyptian conquests in Ethiopia.
At this point we should recall that the “Aethiopia” of ancient Greek and Latin writings – like Kush, its equivalent in biblical Hebrew, Egyptian, Assyrian, Persian and other languages.– was not the Ethiopia of today. Aethiopia/Kush was first of all the northern Sudan of today, as far north as Aswan (the biblical Sweneh), sometimes called Syene in English. This site, at the First Cataract of the Nile, marked the usual southern border of Egypt (see Ezek. 29:10). The geographic scope of Aethiopia/Kush was sometimes extended to all lands south of the Sahara or inhabited by black people, especially in East Africa. In Byzantine times, Aethiopia in the narrow sense was often called Nubia after a local tribe.