A passage in the book of Acts tells the story of how Philip the evangelist had the opportunity to witness to an Ethiopian eunuch and lead him to faith in Jesus the Christ. This eunuch was under the authority of the queen of the Ethiopians. Tradition has it that when the eunuch returned from Jerusalem, he witnessed to his queen, and she too came to believe in Jesus. As the ruler of a country, no doubt her Christian faith impacted hundreds of people for years to come.
Acts 8:27-28 reads:
And he (Philip) arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship, was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet.
The name of the queen of the Ethiopians was not Candace. Candace (also written as Kandake or Kentake) was the term that Nubian people groups used for “queen” or “queen-mother”. According to John McClintock and James Strong, the female sovereigns of Ethiopia Proper all bore the appellation of “Candace,” which was not so much a proper name as a distinctive title, common to every successive queen, like “Pharaoh” and “Ptolemy” to the kings of Egypt, and “Caesar” to the emperors of Rome. Many believe that the queen mentioned in the Acts 8 account was a woman called Amanitore, but we don’t know for certain.
There is much historical information about Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, but what can we glean from the bit of information that the Bible gives on her?
1. Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, heard the Gospel of Jesus the Christ and believed. With all her wealth and power, Candace recognized that there was something more to life. She had hundreds, if not thousands, of people under her rule, yet she realized that there was still Someone greater than she.
Several of the Ethiopian female rulers are described as “warrior queens” and perhaps this Candace was one of them. Despite the wars she might have waged and despite the kingdoms she probably conquered, Candace surrendered her heart to the Righteous Warrior who died on the cross for her sins.
Nothing this world offers can bring us eternal joy, peace, and life. Our thirsty souls will only be satisfied with living water. Only when we find Christ, do we find all that we need.
Times have changed since Candace ruled, but perhaps the early faith of this queen and her eunuch caused the Gospel to spread in Ethiopia and made the African nation an island of Christianity in a sea of Islam.