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Bible Encyclopedias

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature


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Cush, the eldest son of Ham (; ), from whom seems to have been derived the name of the land of Cush.

The locality of the land of Cush is a question upon which eminent authorities have been divided: for while Bochart maintained that it was exclusively in Arabia, Gesenius held with no less pertinacity that it is to be sought for nowhere but in Africa. Others again, such as Michaelis and Rosenmüller, have supposed that the name Cush was applied to tracts of country both in Arabia and Africa—a circumstance which would easily be accounted for, on the very probable supposition that the descendants of the primitive Cushite tribes, who had settled in the former country, emigrated across the Red Sea to the latter region of the earth, carrying with them the name of Cush, their remote progenitor.

The existence of an African Cush cannot reasonably be questioned, though the term is employed in Scripture with great latitude, sometimes denoting an extensive but undefined country (Ethiopia), and at other times one particular kingdom (Meroe). It is expressly described by Ezekiel as lying to the south of Egypt beyond Syene (; comp. ). Hence we find Mizraim and Cush (i.e. Egypt and Ethiopia) so often classed together by the prophets, e.g.; ; ; ; ; . The inhabitants are elsewhere spoken of in connection with the Lubim and Sukkiim (; ; ; ), supposed to be the Libyans and Ethiopic Troglodytes, and certainly nations of Africa, for they belonged to the vast army with which Shishak, king of Egypt, 'came out' of that country, against Rehoboam, king of Judah. In these, and indeed in most other passages where 'Cush' occurs, Arabia is not to be thought of; the Ethiopia of Africa is beyond all doubt exclusively intended, and to the article Ethiopia we refer the reader for the Scriptural notices regarding it.

Though there is a great lack of evidence to show that the name of Cush was ever applied to any part of Arabia, there seems no reason to doubt that a portion of the Cushite race did early settle there. By referring to the relative geographical positions of the south-west coast of Arabia and the east coast of Africa, it will be seen that nothing separates them but the Red Sea, and it is not unlikely that while a part of the Cushite population immigrated to Africa, others remained behind, and were occasionally called by the same name. Thus in , among those who were stirred up against the Hebrews are mentioned the Philistines, and 'the Arabs that were near the Cushites,' and the expression 'near' in this connection can scarcely apply to any but dwellers in the Arabian Peninsula.





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Kitto, John, ed. Entry for 'Cush'. "Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature".

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