In Zephaniah 3:10, the prophet proclaims:

From beyond the rivers of Cush
    my worshipers, my scattered people,
    will bring me offerings

I can read this in one of two ways:

  1. That God will bring back Israelites who have been scattered beyond the rivers of Cush and bring them back to Jerusalem or to the land where they will again worship him.
  2. That God will gather in people from all the nations— for example, the Cushites— calling them his scattered people, and they will be his worshipers.

Does one of these interpretations fit better to the context? Or perhaps there is some third way to read this that fits even better?

  • The translation is doubtful and therefore the question is moot. The translation should read, "To beyond the rivers of the [Hindu] Kush my supplicants, my dispersion, [they] will be led, my [mincha, (cereal)] offering [i.e. to the nations]. The imagery of dispersion ties in with the mincha cereal offering which is dispersed on the altar. This verse ties in with verse 12, "My remainder [people] will be in you [Zion], impoverished and weak, but will trust in the name of YHVH.
    – user17080
    Jan 9, 2017 at 17:15
  • @AbuMunirIbnIbrahim Wrong. He is not referring to the Hindu Cush. That's a forced interpretation. These "Rivers" of Cush are also mentioned in Isaiah 18. And they are the rivers on which the cushites moved swiftly in papyrus boats. So these are the rivers of Africa he is referring to. The white and the blue Nile which originate in Ethiopia and Uganda. This passage gives us insight into the source of the River of Egypt. This River was of prophetic significance since it formed the boundaries of the promised land. So there's no scriptural evidence that he was referring to a Hindu Cush!!
    – user20490
    Jan 26, 2018 at 18:27

4 Answers 4


Zephaniah is a prophetic text in the vein of Jeremiah, with a strong emphasis on judgement and reformation. Chapter 2 lists the coming destruction of all the surrounding nations, including the Cushites (2:12). As you've identified, the curious thing is that then Cush are the only specific nation remarked upon in the following chapter.

Verses 8 and 9 help put your verse into its intended context:

v8 “Therefore wait for me,” declares the Lord, “for the day when I rise up to seize the prey. For my decision is to gather nations, to assemble kingdoms, to pour out upon them my indignation, all my burning anger; for in the fire of my jealousy all the earth shall be consumed.

v9 “For at that time I will change the speech of the peoples to a pure speech, that all of them may call upon the name of the Lord and serve him with one accord.

v10 From beyond the rivers of Cush my worshippers, the daughter of my dispersed ones, shall bring my offering.

As far as Zephaniah is concerned, there is insufficient evidence to suggest that there's a picture of salvation for the nations in scope here (except possibly here). As chapter 3 draws to its conclusion, there is no solid reference given for nations being within the realm of salvation - it's all about the restoration of Zion and Jerusalem.

Therefore in the text's given context, it seems most likely that the phrase 'from beyond the rivers of Cush' is primarily a reference to the scope of the drawing-together of the people of Judah. This argument is strengthened by the following clause, 'the daughter of my dispersed ones', and so seems the most natural conclusion to draw.


I would propose that the people in Zephaniah 3:10 may be those mentioned in Isaiah 18:

Ah, land of whirring wings 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...

The matching reference to the people beyond the rivers of Cush seems significant since further confirmation of the prophetic relationship is found later in Isaiah 18 (v7):

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.

If the (somewhat mysterious) people beyond the rivers of Cush referenced in Zephaniah 3:10 are those referenced in Isaiah 18, more insight into the unnamed nation may be found in Isaiah's oracle.

There is some debate regarding whether the unnamed oracle (for the other oracles in context are associated with named nations) involves one, two, or three separate entities comprising:

  • "a nation tall and smooth, to a people feared near and far, a nation mighty and conquering, whose land the rivers divide"
  • "land of whirring wings that is beyond the rivers of Cush"
  • "you swift messengers"

While I tend to believe that the nation... whose land the rivers divide is the land of whirring wings that is beyond the rivers of Cush, there are far more eloquent discussions to that end I would encourage you to look into :)


God is speaking of gathering His lost sheep back to Him. Beyond the rivers of Ethiopia - which is East Africa - lies West Africa. After the destruction of Jerusalem by Rome in 70 a.d. the Israelites, or the Kingdom of Judah, were forced to flee away from Roman Empire and the areas they controlled, which included Assyria to the north. Over 1,000,000 Jews were slaughtered. Many were probably taken into captivity. The remnant most likely fled into the lands of Cush, which back then most of Africa was called Cush, divided into lower and upper Cush. And the Hebrews of the Bible looked enough like the Cushite people to be mistaken for them.

Interestingly enough, 17th-century maps of West Africa label the areas now known as Benin and Togo as the Kingdom of Judah. Also in those areas, you may find names highly similar to Issachar, and Jacob, or Yakoba. The letter J wasn't even invented until around the 1600's. Just as Jesus' actual name was Yahushua, Judah was properly called Yahudah, and the Kingdom of Judah in West Africa was also called Whydah, or Ouidah.

Even more interesting is the fact that the Kingdom of Judah was conquered by the Akan peoples sometime in the 1600's, and the land became a major slave trading post for the Europeans, so much so, that the area came to be known as the Slave Coast. These people, these Jews, or "Yews" went on to be shipped off and dispersed all around the world though most notably to the United States of America, where they endured and continue to endure to this day the worst holocaust the world has ever seen.

Even more interesting is that the curses of the Book of Deuteronomy appear to be written on their foreheads for all to see. Out of all the people on the face of this planet, only they fit all of the curses, and they fit them like a glove. This makes you wonder about the people walled up in Israel today who say they are Judah but their DNA testing concludes they actually descend from European Turkish people from Khazaria and Ashkenazi.

Prophesy upon prophecy in the Bible warns the world of imposter Jews:

  • Zechariah 2 blatantly calls out the people who live in a walled up Jerusalem frauds, and warns that God is not with them, and that they are actually Babylon. It urges folks to escape it at all cost.

  • Genesis 9:27 notifies us that the descendants of Japheth would become conquerers, and live in the tents, or land of the Shemites.

  • Luke 21:24 declared that Israel would be conquered, and taken as slaves all over the world, and that Gentiles would stomp in the land of Jerusalem until the time of the Gentiles is done away with.

  • Revelation 3:9 Yahushua Himself said that He would force the Synagogue of Satan, those who say they are Jews but are not to worship at the feet of the true Jews.

To top it all off, the very same Jewish people in Israel today are descendants of the very same people that funded and became exceedingly rich from the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

So yes, the daughter of God's dispersed are lost, but as God has said in Zephaniah, He will bring them back, and restore them.

As is said in Jeremiah, "O LORD, my strength, and my fortress, and my refuge in the day of affliction, the Gentiles shall come unto thee from the ends of the earth, and shall say, Surely our fathers have inherited lies, vanity, and things wherein there is no profit."

  • 2
    Welcome to the Biblical Hermeneutics Stack Exchange. We are glad you are here! Please take a moment to take the site tour and review some of our guidelines for participants and our FAQs. Some of the information contained in this post requires additional references. Please edit to add citations to reliable sources that support the assertions made here. Unsourced material may be disputed or deleted. - From Review Aug 31, 2017 at 3:51

God will gather people from all nations

John Gill commentary

Zephaniah 3:10

From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia,. Either the African Ethiopia, or Arabia Chusea, which lay between Judea and Egypt: here some particular places and people are mentioned, in whom the preceding prophecy would be fulfilled. If these rivers of Ethiopia are such as ran in the midst of the country, and so point at some parts of it, though on the other side of them, then this prophecy might have its accomplishment, at least when the Evangelist Matthew went thither, and preached the Gospel, and very likely the Apostle Paul; as also when the Ethiopian eunuch was converted, who doubtless did what in him lay to promote the interest of Christ in those parts. Ben Melech makes this parallel with and illustrates it by Isaiah 18:1; see Gill on Isaiah 18:1, Isaiah 18:7; but if these design rivers on the furthermost borders of the country, which divided it from others, then Egypt, which lay beyond it, seems to be intended; and so the prophecy, in connection with the foregoing verse Zephaniah 3:9, is the same with Isaiah 19:18 "in that day shall five cities in the land of Egypt speak the language of Canaan"; of these rivers of Ethiopia, whether in Africa or Arabia Chusea; see Gill on Isaiah 18:1.

The Targum renders it "beyond the rivers of India:' my suppliants, even the daughter of my dispersed: Aben Ezra, Kimchi, Abarbinel, and Ben Melech, take the words "Atharai Bathpusai" to be the proper name of a nation or family beyond the rivers of EthiopiaF12So Menasseh ben Israel. Spes Israelis, p 57 ; whereas they are characters which describe persons there, who should have the pure language turned to them, and call on the name of the Lord; even such, who, being made sensible of sin, and of their danger, would be humble supplicants at the throne of grace, and pray to the Lord for the discovery and application of pardoning grace and mercy to them, agreeably to the prophecy in Psalms 68:31 "princes shall come out of Egypt; Ethiopia shall soon stretch out her hands unto God"; that is, in prayer: and these are the sons and daughters of the Almighty, who are scattered abroad in the several parts of the world, and among the rest here; but as they are gathered together by Christ in redemption, so they are found out and reached by efficacious grace in calling, whether Jews or Gentiles.

Some think the Jews are here meant, even the elect of God among them, who were dispersed in several nations, and particularly in Egypt and Ethiopia; who were met with by the Gospel, and converted in the first times of it; to these Peter and James direct their epistles: and of whom, being called by grace, it is said, they shall bring mine offering; themselves as an offering to the Lord, souls and bodies, with all other spiritual sacrifices of prayer, praise, and well doing; and likewise such persons they may be the instruments of the conversion of, called the offering of the Gentiles, Romans 15:16.

  • Whoa! Please break this up into some paragraphs please.
    – curiousdannii
    Jan 6, 2017 at 8:19
  • 1
    Please try to avoid answers that only consist of commentary. Put an answer into your own thoughts and use the commentary to reinforce your answer and to demonstrate that your own thoughts are historically supported by others (rather than being novel).
    – user862
    Jan 6, 2017 at 18:04

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.