🔼The name Candace: Summary
- From kdke, the Nubian word for queen.
🔼The name Candace in the Bible
Originally, Candace was not really a personal name but rather a Nubian (= Cushite or Ethiopian) authoritative title, not unlike Pharaoh or Caesar. This name occurs once in the Bible: in Acts 8:27, God sends Philip the Evangelist on the road between Jerusalem and Gaza, to meet with an unnamed court official of Candace, queen of Ethiopia. While in his chariot the man is reading from a scroll of Isaiah (which by itself is highly remarkable as those scrolls were very rare) and allows Philip to explain it to him. The official desires to be baptized and, we may assume, takes his new found convictions home to his monarch.
🔼Etymology of the name Candace
There are no words in Greek that look like this name Κανδακη, so any Greek audience would have recognized this name as foreign. The Greek name Candace is a Hellenized transliteration of the Nubian word kdke, and in The Daily Life of the Nubians, Robert Steven Bianchi reports that the word kdke is a compound of the root kd, meaning woman, and ke assumed to be either a title or index of status.
The ruling elite of oligarchic Nubia was arranged around two male members called qore and pqr, and a female member called kdke. Bianchi writes, "It has been suggested that one might regard these three titles in the English sense of "king," "queen," and "prince"."
When the title Candace was entered into the book of Acts, many early commentators had never heard of a Nubian root kdke, and understandably interpreted Candace as a name. And that's where the present name Candace comes from. Some sources may claim that it comes from a Greek word meaning glittering, but no, it comes from the Nubian word for queen.