Often translated “Ethiopia,” Cush refers principally to the land of Nubia, south of Egypt (Map 7:F6). Cush's political apex came when the Nubians conquered and ruled Egypt as its Dynasty XXV (716–656 BCE). According to 2 Kings 19.9, the Cushites saved King Hezekiah of Judah from the Assyrians in 701 BCE. In Genesis 2.13, Cush probably refers to Babylon, which was occupied by Kassites in the second half of the first millennium BCE, and in Genesis 10.6–14 Cush (Babylon) has been confused with Cush (Nubia).

If Moses' Cushite wife (Num. 12.1) was Zipporah (Exod. 2.15–22), there may have been another Cush in Midian (whose poetic parallel is Cushan in Hab. 3.7). But Miriam's becoming “as white as snow” with leprosy (Num. 12.10) seems appropriately ironic punishment for her criticism of Moses' marriage to a black woman. Jeremiah 13.23 contends that Judah can no more change its penchant to sin than a Cushite can change skin color. Amos 9.7 mentions the Cushites as an example of God's universal concern. The name of Phinehas, Aaron's grandson, is Egyptian for “the Nubian.”

See also Africa


Steven L. McKenzie