Lay it to Heart

Where is the Land of Cush?

Is Cush Really Ethiopia as most scholars think? I disagree. The "scholars" used to question the existence of the Hittites. The "scholars" also question whether Jesus really did miracles, too. Think twice about what the scholars say and research it for yourself. While scholars think Cush is Ethiopia, the scriptures do not use the word Ethiopia in the Old Testament. The actual boundaries and make up of the land of Cush are not clear. Ethiopia shows up 19 times in translations of the Old Testament and one in the New Testament (Acts 8:27). The Greek is clear in Acts. The reference is to a country called Ethiopia. The word in Greek is Aithiopia. Cush is not the same word as Aithiopia. The occurrences in the Old Testament should not be translated as Ethiopia. The real word used here is "Kuwsh" or "Cush" in English. Cush was the son of Ham the son of Noah. The name "Cush" is found eight times in the Bible. Six places refer to Cush the son of Ham. One reference in Psalm 7:1 refers to Cush the Benjamite. Isaiah 11:11 uses Cush to refer to a land. The land of Cush may have ended up as Ethiopia, but even if it did, it certainly did not always refer to Ethiopia. The Bible suggests the land of Cush isn't Ethiopia but instead an area somewhere in the region of southern Iraq or Saudi Arabia.

Genesis 2 Describes a River Around Cush

Genesis 2:
10 And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads.
11 The name of the first is Pison: that is it which compasseth the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold;
12 And the gold of that land is good: there is bdellium and the onyx stone.
13 And the name of the second river is Gihon: the same is it that compasseth the whole land of Ethiopia.
14 And the name of the third river is Hiddekel: that is it which goeth toward the east of Assyria. And the fourth river is Euphrates.

Daniel 10:4 references the river Hiddekel. Daniel was in the city of Babylon. Two major rivers were in this area; the Tigris and Euphrates . Since the Euphrates is also mentioned with the Hiddekel, the Hiddekel must have been the Tigris. The rivers that fed the garden of Eden were joined together at the garden area. A hard point to understand is that when Adam and Even were in the garden the world centered around them. The heads refers to the source of the rivers and not the point where it fed into anything. From a social sense the rivers went out of the garden because the focus was in the garden. Freeways go out of a city from someone's focus who is in the city but from the person living outside they would refer to the freeways as going in. From a hydraulic standpoint the rivers went into the garden. Their stated purpose was to water it. From a cartographic viewpoint the rivers went out of the garden. This passage refers to a river associated with Cush. The translators of the King James Version of the Bible used Ethiopia for the land of Cush. If Cush were Ethiopia then that would mean when Moses wrote this down, the river would have to flow around Ethiopia, cross the Great Rift Valley, cross over the Blue Nile, flow northward along the Nile without joining it, cross the Sinai Peninsula, cross the Arabian Peninsula and meet up with the Euphrates in Iraq at the north end of the Persian Gulf. It would have to go uphill and downhill. It would have to cross other bodies of water. It would have to flow thousands of miles. Such a theory is not well thought out. It is just plain and simply wrong.

Map showing an impossible river course if Cush is Ethiopia

This is not a viable option. There is no historical or geological evidence to support this. No scientific model has been published to show how the earth would have been different to provide the drop in elevation to support this long flow of water and what could have possibly changed the geography to its present impossible route. Water will not flow along this route. Something would have to be drastically different. In fact, because the Jews did not cross the Gihon to get to or from the Red Sea we know that it did not exist in this location.

Notice the word "compasseth" is present tense, not past tense. In the day God had Moses write Genesis, the Gihon River compassed the whole land of Cush. The river was not destroyed by the great flood. It survived it. The Tigris and the Euphrates rivers come together at the Persian Gulf in Iraq. A river did not feed into this system from Ethiopia. Also, note that Genesis 10:1 and 6 tell us Cush was the grandson of Noah. The nation of Cush did not exist until after the great flood. Assyria is also mentioned in verse 14 which is not recorded in pre-flood times. The reference would have to be valid to regions before and after the great flood. Cush is the correct translation and refers to land in Asia, not Africa.

Cush Began in Asia

Genesis 10:
6 And the sons of Ham; Cush, and Mizraim, and Phut, and Canaan.
7 And the sons of Cush; Seba, and Havilah, and Sabtah, and Raamah, and Sabtechah: and the sons of Raamah; Sheba, and Dedan.
8 And Cush begat Nimrod: he began to be a mighty one in the earth.
9 He was a mighty hunter before the LORD: wherefore it is said, Even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before the LORD.
10 And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar.
11 Out of that land went forth Asshur, and builded Nineveh, and the city Rehoboth, and Calah,
12 And Resen between Nineveh and Calah: the same is a great city.
13 And Mizraim begat Ludim, and Anamim, and Lehabim, and Naphtuhim,
14 And Pathrusim, and Casluhim, (out of whom came Philistim,) and Caphtorim.
15 And Canaan begat Sidon his firstborn, and Heth,
16 And the Jebusite, and the Amorite, and the Girgasite,
17 And the Hivite, and the Arkite, and the Sinite,
18 And the Arvadite, and the Zemarite, and the Hamathite: and afterward were the families of the Canaanites spread abroad.
19 And the border of the Canaanites was from Sidon, as thou comest to Gerar, unto Gaza; as thou goest, unto Sodom, and Gomorrah, and Admah, and Zeboim, even unto Lasha.
20 These are the sons of Ham, after their families, after their tongues, in their countries, and in their nations.

Notice that Cush's son founded Babylon which is in Iraq, not Ethiopia. The sons settled in Asia, not Ethiopia. The cities, such as Nineveh, were in Asia. Canaan was the Promised Land. Josephus, in Antiquities Book 1 Chapter 6.2 tells us, "For of the four sons of Ham, time has not at all hurt the name of Chus; for the Ethiopians, over whom he reigned, are even at this day, both by themselves and by all men in Asia, called Chusites." First of all, note that the works of Josephus that we have recorded and available to us today are inaccurate and unreliable. See Can the Historian Josephus be Trusted? Josephus, in Antiquities Book 1 Chapter 3. 5 says, "After this, the ark rested on the top of a certain mountain in Armenia; which, when Noah understood, he opened it; and seeing a small piece of land about it, he continued quiet, and conceived some cheerful hopes of deliverance." The ark did not come to rest in Armenia. Look what the Bible says:

Genesis 11:
1 And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech.
2 And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there.

Noah and his descendents journeyed from the east to the plain in the land of Shinar. Josephus locates Mount Ararat in Turkey northwest of Babylon. After Babylon was settled and began to built the people of the world spread out and formed the many nations. Josephus has the ark in the wrong country and he has the people of the earth separating before Babylon. In Book 1 Chapter 6.1, Josephus also tried to tell us that the sons of Japheth spread out from Turkey rather than Babylon. Josephus' reference is not valid.

Moses's Wife Was From Cush

Numbers 12:1-3
1 And Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married: for he had married an Ethiopian woman.
2 And they said, Hath the LORD indeed spoken only by Moses? hath he not spoken also by us? And the LORD heard it .
3 Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.)

Exodus 2:16-22 says, "Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters: and they came and drew water, and filled the troughs to water their father’s flock. And the shepherds came and drove them away: but Moses stood up and helped them, and watered their flock. And when they came to Reuel their father, he said, How is it that ye are come so soon to day? And they said, An Egyptian delivered us out of the hand of the shepherds, and also drew water enough for us, and watered the flock. And he said unto his daughters, And where is he? why is it that ye have left the man? call him, that he may eat bread. And Moses was content to dwell with the man: and he gave Moses Zipporah his daughter. And she bare him a son, and he called his name Gershom: for he said, I have been a stranger in a strange land." Reuel was another name Jethro. Cush, not Ethiopia was associated with Midian. Exodus 3:1 says, "Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb." Here Cush is associated with Midian in the northern Arabian Peninsula. Mount Horeb is associated with Midian as well. Moses was married to a woman named Zipporah from this area, not a woman from Africa in Ethiopia. Exodus 4:18-19 says, "And Moses went and returned to Jethro his father in law, and said unto him, Let me go, I pray thee, and return unto my brethren which are in Egypt, and see whether they be yet alive. And Jethro said to Moses, Go in peace. And the LORD said unto Moses in Midian, Go, return into Egypt: for all the men are dead which sought thy life." Chapter 4 shows Moses dwelling in Midian where he met his Cushite wife. Exodus chapter 18 also mentions Jethro seven times and shows it in the context of a Midian priest and not a person from Ethiopia.

Cush Included Mesopotamia

In another location in the Bible, Judges 3:8 says, "Therefore the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel, and he sold them into the hand of Chushanrishathaim king of Mesopotamia: and the children of Israel served Chushanrishathaim eight years." Chushanrishathaim means "Chushan of double wickedness". Chushan or "Kuwshan" comes from "Kuwsh" which is translated "Cush". The king was the king of the Cush and he was the king of Mesopotamia. Mesopotamia means the land between the rivers and refers to the land between the Tigris and the Euphrates. It was in Iraq. The actual Hebrew says aram naharayim. This means the Aram of the two rivers. Now how can Cush be in Ethiopia if Cush is in Mesopotamia or the land of the Tigris and Euphrates?

Israel's Heritage Was Born in Cush

Psalm 87
A Psalm or Song for the sons of Korah.
1 His foundation is in the holy mountains.
2 The LORD loveth the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob.
3 Glorious things are spoken of thee, O city of God. Selah.
4 I will make mention of Rahab and Babylon to them that know me: behold Philistia, and Tyre, with Ethiopia; this man was born there.
5 And of Zion it shall be said, This and that man was born in her: and the highest himself shall establish her.
6 The LORD shall count, when he writeth up the people, that this man was born there. Selah.
7 As well the singers as the players on instruments shall be there: all my springs are in thee.

A single man could not be born in three different places; Philistia, and Tyre, with Ethiopia. It must instead refer to the heritage of the Psalmist. The Jews came from Canaan where Philistia and Tyre are found but not Ethiopia. In this passage the real world is Cush. Israel came from Jacob whose grandfather was Abram.

Genesis 11
27 Now these are the generations of Terah: Terah begat Abram, Nahor, and Haran; and Haran begat Lot.
28 And Haran died before his father Terah in the land of his nativity, in Ur of the Chaldees.
29 And Abram and Nahor took them wives: the name of Abram's wife was Sarai; and the name of Nahor's wife, Milcah, the daughter of Haran, the father of Milcah, and the father of Iscah.
30 But Sarai was barren; she had no child.
31 And Terah took Abram his son, and Lot the son of Haran his son's son, and Sarai his daughter in law, his son Abram's wife; and they went forth with them from Ur of the Chaldees, to go into the land of Canaan; and they came unto Haran, and dwelt there.
32 And the days of Terah were two hundred and five years: and Terah died in Haran.

In Genesis 17:5 God changed Abram's name to Abraham. Abraham came from Ur in southern Iraq which is in the lower in end of Mesopotamia. Psalm 87 makes sense when you understand that Cush included Ur at one time. It does not make sense if you believe Ethiopia is Cush. Again, we find Cush is not of Africa but really in Asia.

Cush Was Next to Egypt

Through the prophet Ezekiel God said he would destroy Egypt.

Ezekiel 29:
8 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will bring a sword upon thee, and cut off man and beast out of thee.
9 And the land of Egypt shall be desolate and waste; and they shall know that I am the LORD: because he hath said, The river is mine, and I have made it.
10 Behold, therefore I am against thee, and against thy rivers, and I will make the land of Egypt utterly waste and desolate, from the tower of Syene even unto the border of Ethiopia.
11 No foot of man shall pass through it, nor foot of beast shall pass through it, neither shall it be inhabited forty years.
12 And I will make the land of Egypt desolate in the midst of the countries that are desolate, and her cities among the cities that are laid waste shall be desolate forty years: and I will scatter the Egyptians among the nations, and will disperse them through the countries.

Aswan is the current name for Syene. It represented the southern end of Egypt. If Cush were Ethiopia it would not make sense to say Egypt would be destroyed from the tower of Syene even unto the border of Ethiopia or from the southern end of Egypt to a nation even farther south. This would be like saying America will be destroyed from Texas to Guatemala. That would not represent America. If Egypt were only partially destroyed they really would not be scattered. For the passage in Ezekiel to make sense Cush would have to meet up with Egypt somewhere in the northern part of the country. Again, Ethiopia cannot be Cush. Cush had to be a country between the Nile and the Euphrates. Iraq and/or Saudi Arabia make up this are now.

The yellow area shown in the picture represents the land between Aswan or Syene and the top of Eritrea that has been associated with Ethiopia in the past. The orange zone shows an area that would extend to the current limits of northern Ethiopia. If you believe that Ethiopia is Cush, Ezekiel would then be saying that Egypt would be destroyed from the top of the yellow area to the top or the bottom of the orange area depending on what border you use for Ethiopia. These areas are approximate and do not include the gratuitous squiggles that most maps have. The actual limits are not important. What is important to note is that Ethiopia cannot be Cush according to Ezekiel 29.

Map showing the land south of Syene and north of Ethiopia which would be called Egypt if Cush were Ethiopia.

Cush Was Near the Philistines and Arabians

2 Chronicles 21:16 says, "Moreover the LORD stirred up against Jehoram the spirit of the Philistines, and of the Arabians, that were near the Ethiopians:" "Ethiopians" is an incorrect translation. The real people here were from Cush. From Ezekiel 29 we know that Cush was not at the southern end of Egypt but instead the northern border as shown above. This places them in the northern Sinai and Arabian Peninsulas and not Ethiopia.

Name Association is Not Legitimate Logic

Cush cannot be said to be next to another country because its name is next to the country in the text. In the section above Philistines and Arabians are mentioned in the same verse and are also identified as being near each other physically. In some cases the names are mentioned together in the text but are not together physically. Genesis 10:6 lists sons of Ham as Cush, and Mizraim, and Phut, and Canaan. Mizraim is Egypt in Africa. Cush's sons were in Asia and his grandson, Nimrod, was in Babylon. Isaiah 11:11 lists multiple countries together, "And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea." Here we see nations spread over a large range in the same verse. Cush is mentioned with Midian. Habakkuk 3:7 says, "I saw the tents of Cushan in affliction: and the curtains of the land of Midian did tremble." Here a derivative name of Cush is associated with Midian in the northern Arabian Peninsula and not Ethiopia. It sounds like they are close together but can we say for sure based on this? No. Other verses translate Cush as Ethiopia and mention it with other countries but do not express any certain physical connection between them. They are Psalms 68:31, Isaiah 20:3-5, 43:3, 45:14, Ezekiel 30:4, 30:5, 38:5, Nahum 3:9, 2 Chronicles 12:3, Jeremiah 46:9, Ezekiel 30:9, Daniel 11:43 and Amos 9:7. There is a similarity in ancient Egypt between the name Kash and Cush but it does not mean they were the same. The name Hindu Kush today refers to areas in India, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Tajikistan. Based on name similarity, Cush would be far away from Ethiopia.

Cush Also Refers to a Person's Name

Psalms 7:1 starts, "Shiggaion of David, which he sang unto the LORD, concerning the words of Cush the Benjamite." Here Cush is a name of a Hebrew and does not refer to a land. 2 Samuel 18:21 says, "Then said Joab to Cushi, Go tell the king what thou hast seen. And Cushi bowed himself unto Joab, and ran." Cushi is a derivative of Cush, and again, refers to a person. He is also mentioned in 2 Samuel 18:22, 23, 31 and 32. Another use of the name is in Jeremiah 36:14, "Therefore all the princes sent Jehudi the son of Nethaniah, the son of Shelemiah, the son of Cushi, unto Baruch, saying, Take in thine hand the roll wherein thou hast read in the ears of the people, and come. So Baruch the son of Neriah took the roll in his hand, and came unto them." Zephaniah adds another, "The word of the LORD which came unto Zephaniah the son of Cushi, the son of Gedaliah, the son of Amariah, the son of Hizkiah, in the days of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah."

The Septuagint is Wrong About Cush

An attempted translation of the Old Testament into Greek called the Septuagint translates Cush as Aithiopias or Ethiopia. This is incorrect. The Septuagint is not a valid translation. Hebrew cannot really be preserved in Greek. The acrostic in Psalm 119 is lost in translation. The full set of multiple meanings in Hebrew words is not preserved in Greek when translated and new meanings are added in Greek. The Septuagint is included the Apocrypha which contains errors and it introduces errors in the main text starting in Genesis. For more information see Is the Septuagint Accurate?.

Ethiopian Legends Are Not True

Today, Ethiopians claim to be Cushites because the Queen of Sheba supposedly had an affair with King Solomon. Their account disagrees with scripture saying Solomon had 400 wives and 600 concubines. 1 Kings 11:3 tells us that Solomon had "seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines:" In the Ethiopian legend Solomon tricked the Queen of Sheba, seduced her, got her pregnant and then let her go. In 1 Kings chapter 10 we have the account of the Queen of Sheba. Following her visit to King Solomon, 1 Kings 10:23 says, "So king Solomon exceeded all the kings of the earth for riches and for wisdom." Wise kings do not have a wild night and then abandon their kids. The Ethiopian story disagrees with the Bible. It is false. Also notice that Cush and Sheba are different nations. If you belong to the nation of Sheba you cannot belong to the nation of Cush. Even in Ezekiel 38 and 39 the nations are mentioned separately. To claim that Ethiopians are the nation of Cush because they are from Sheba, which they are not, is bogus.

Cush's Identity Helps Us Understand the Future

The issue of Cush is not just academic. Cush plays a part of Ezekiel 38 and 39. It is also used for a reference in Isaiah 18 which may be more important to us than Ezekiel 38. The Cush empire might have been large and migrated with the residual being left in Ethiopia, but Cush cannot, and should not, be translated as Ethiopia. The United States borders, for example, have changed in location. The people came from Europe and started with only 13 colonies. The country spread westward. Finally, in 1959 it came to include Hawaii and Alaska. If the east fell, and we hope not, the United States would still be in the west. The boundaries for countries do change. Given the reliable information we have today, we cannot clearly define or limit Cush. We should view Cush based on evidence from the Bible and not from the world. Since we do not have a clear English translation for the name Cush, we should leave the word as "Cush", and avoid the mistake of using "Ethiopia".. The best evidence, however, shows it to be in the Iraq and/or Saudi Arabian area.

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