🔼The name Ethiopia: Summary
- Fiery Eye, Keen Of Vision, Appearing As Fire
- From (1) the verb αιθω (aitho), to light up or kindle, and (2) the noun οψ (ops), eye.
🔼The name Ethiopia in the Bible
According to the archeological record, homo sapiens probably originated somewhere around modern Ethiopia, and according to Genesis, it marked the southernmost part of the garden of Eden (assuming that Havilah was situated to its north). The river Gihon was the second river of Eden, and flowed around the whole land of Cush (Genesis 2:13).
The name Ethiopia is very old and denoted such a distinguished classical culture that it occurs twice in Homer's Iliad and three times in the Odyssey. The word Αιθιοπια (Aithiopia) occurs only in the Septuagint but the noun Αιθιοψ (Aithiops) occurs twice in the New Testament, namely in the scene in which Philip converts the court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians (Acts 8:27).
🔼Etymology of the name Ethiopia
The name Ethiopia consists of two elements. The final part comes from the familiar Greek word ωψ (ops), or its genitive form ωπος (opos), meaning eye — hence our English words "optic" and "optician", the name Europe (means Wide-Eyed or Open-Minded) and the genus Cyclops, which means round-eyed and not one-eyed as per popular belief.
ειδω οραω οπτομαι
As English, the Greek language has several verbs for the act of seeing, looking, viewing, regarding and ultimately understanding, comprehending or even imagining, but much more so in Greek than in English, the webs that the links between these verbs weave span a majestic vault of information and insights:
The noun ιδεα (idea), idea, comes from the verb ειδω (eido), to see or comprehend, but so do αδης (hades), or Hades, and ειδωλον (eidolon), idol.
Seeing to something, or making something certain, is described by the verb οραω (orao). The derived noun οραμα (horama) denotes a vision. Thirdly, the verb οπτομαι (optomai) describes appearing, becoming visible (hence our word "optic"). Noun οφθαλμος (ophthalmos) refers to the eye, or rather that "part" of a person's mind where information is augmented to a person's forming core knowledge.
Obviously similar to the latter is the noun ωψ (ops), also meaning eye, but in this case the most personal and intimate part of a person's face.
The first part of our name Ethiopia is thought to derive from the verb αιθω (aitho), meaning to light up or kindle. This verb is fairly common but neither it nor the following words are used in the Bible. The related adjective αιθος (aithos) means shining or blazing, and αιθοψ (aithops; also containing ωψ, ops) means fiery-looking or sparkling. The latter word is also used metaphorically in the sense of fiery or keen (for instance by the ancient Greek poet Hesiod).
The ethnonym Ethiopian means Fiery Eye and implies Bright Eyed, Keen Of Vision, or perhaps even Appearing As Fire or They Look Very Bright, suggesting that once the wisdom tradition of Ethiopia shone like a blazing fire in the intellectual night.