The Baptism of the Eunuch, Rembrandt [Image: Wikimedia Commons]

Cush  is the Hebrew word for old Ethiopia, from Aswan south to Khartoum, which is essentially the Islamic nation of North Sudan. (Without exception, the word Ethiopia in the English Bible is always a translation of the Hebrew word Cush). Josephus rendered the name as Chus, and says that the Ethiopians ‘are even at this day, both by themselves and by all men in Asia, called Chusites’.  —Harold Hunt and Russell Grigg

One of the more settled questions of antiquity is that Cush (Nubia) is biblical Ethiopia and that it refers, essentially, to modern-day Sudan (the Republic of Sudan also known as North Sudan). To more fully appreciate this, start with a basic concept of Ancient Kush before moving to a somewhat more detailed interpretation. Look for the division between Lower (northern) and Upper (southern) Egypt and the land of Cush. A more complete understanding involves recognising the distinction at the level of the course of the Nile River and its cataracts and dams. Obviously language distribution in an area can offer the greatest clue to a region’s human habitation.

Semitic belonged to the Afrasian super language family that spread out from east Africa to adjacent middle east sometime around 5000yrs B.C

Wikimedia Commons

The Cushitic languages are a branch of the Afro-Asiatic language family spoken primarily in the Horn of Africa (Somalia, Eritrea, Djibouti, and Ethiopia), as well as the Nile Valley (Sudan and Egypt), and parts of the African Great Lakes region (Tanzania and Kenya). The branch is named after the Biblical character Cush, who is identified as an ancestor of the speakers of these specific languages as early as 947 CE (in Al-Masudi‘s Arabic history Meadows of Gold). The most populous Cushitic language is Oromo (including all its variations) with about 35 million speakers, followed by Somali with about 18 million speakers, and Sidamo with about 3 million speakers. Other Cushitic languages with more than one million speakers are Afar (1.5 million) and Beja (1.2 million). Somali, one of the official languages of Somalia, is the only Cushitic language accorded official status in any country. Along with Afar, it is also one of the recognized national languages of Djibouti. Additionally, the languages spoken in the ancient Kerma Culture in present-day southern Egypt and northern Sudan and in the Savanna Pastoral Neolithic culture in the Great Lakes area are believed to have belonged to the Cushitic branch of the Afro-Asiatic family. —Wikipedia

And from the Web Bible Encyclopedia:

Cush, meaning “black”, refers to two biblical men and a land:

  1. A son, likely the eldest, of Ham, and the father of Nimrod. From him the land of Cush seems to have derived its name. —Gen. 10:8, 1 Chr. 1:10.
  2. Land of Cush — The term Cush is in the Old Testament generally applied to the countries south of the Israelites. It was the southern limit of Egypt (Ezek. 29:10, Authorized Version “Ethiopia,” Hebrew: Cush), with which it is generally associated (Ps. 68:31; Isa. 18:1; Jer. 46:9, etc.). It stands also associated with Elam (Isa. 11:11), with Persia (Ezek. 38:5), and with the Sabeans (Isa. 45:14), suggesting that Cush included Arabia and the country on the west coast of the Red Sea. (Rawlinson says it includes Khuzi-stan, on the east side of the Lower Tigris, but there are intimations that there was also a Cush in Africa, the Ethiopia (so called by the Greeks) of Africa. Ezekiel speaks (29:10; compare 30:4-6) of it as lying south of Egypt. It was the country now known to us as Nubia and Abyssinia (Isa. 18:1; Zeph. 3:10, Hebrew: Cush). In ancient Egyptian inscriptions Ethiopia is termed Kesh. The Cushites spread along extensive tracts, stretching from the Upper Nile to the Euphrates and Tigris, including an early stream of migration back “from Ethiopia through Arabia, Babylonia, and Persia, to Western India.” The Hamite races, soon after their arrival in Africa, began to spread north, east, and west. Three branches of the Cushite or Ethiopian stock, moving from Western Asia, settled in the regions contiguous to the Persian Gulf. One branch, called the Cossaeans, settled in the mountainous district on the east of the Tigris, known afterwards as Susiana; another occupied the lower regions of the Euphrates and the Tigris; while a third colonized the southern shores and islands of the gulf, whence they afterwards emigrated to the Mediterranean and settled on the coast of Israel as the Phoenicians. Nimrod was a great Cushite chief who conquered the Accadians, a Tauranian race, already settled in Mesopotamia, and founded his kingdom, the Cushites mingling with the Accads, and so forming the Chaldean nation.
  3. A Benjamite named Cush is mentioned in the title of Ps. 7, probably a follower of Saul, the head of his tribe, and had sought the friendship of David for the purpose of ‘rewarding evil to him that was at peace with him.’”

At the risk of belabouring the point, but valuable nonetheless, are further images of the kingdom of Cush and its relationship to Egypt and Punt. Note should be made that some images offer the land of Cush extension into Lower Egypt and still others not only into south-western Egypt but also as far as north-east Libya.

Born in north Africa, Nimrod emigrates to Babylon and takes over Erech, Calneh, and Akkad before invading Asshur. He then finds Reheboth-Ir, Calah and Resen, and Nineveh. Some of his descendants go east (Hindu Kush), some south into Arabia (Havilah and Seba) and some return to north Africa (Getuli, Sabtah, Cush and Dedan).


Sudan is number 101 in Global Firepowers ranking.


South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in July 2011. Most of the oil production capacity is now in South Sudan, but the country is landlocked and remains dependent on Sudan because it must use Sudan’s export pipelines and port. Disagreements over oil revenue sharing and armed conflict have curtailed oil production from both countries over the past few years.”


Featured Image: National Flag of the Republic of Sudan [Image: Wikimedia Commons]

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