Cush [Place]—Isaiah 18

Cush/Kush had a critical role in the geopolitics of the ancient Near East. Its territory was initially south of Egypt and encompassed both sides of the Red Sea. Cush covered the areas of modern Sudan, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen. An Egyptian inscription tells how Mentuhotep II (2055–2004 BC) campaigned against the region of Cush. With the demise of the Egyptian New Kingdom (ca. 1050 BC), Cush flourished as an independent power in the region with easy access to gold-producing areas and controlling several caravan routes. During the second half of the eighth century BC, Cush took advantage of the fragmented state of Egypt and conquered it. For the first time, the Cushites unified Lower and Upper Egypt and ruled over an area extending from the Mediterranean Sea in the north to the city of Meroe in Sudan. The period of Cushite domination is also known as the twenty-fifth dynasty (747–664 BC), sometimes referred to as the Nubian dynasty. Its most important pharaoh was Taharqa (690–664 BC), the biblical “Tirhakah” of Isaiah 37:9.

Cushites and Assyrians fought for the control of Palestine from the time of Sennacherib in 701 BC onwards. The Assyrian king Esarhaddon conquered Egypt in 671 BC and took captives from the Cushite royal family with him back to Nineveh, including Taharqa’s crown-prince, Ushanhuru, as depicted in Esarhaddon’s Zincirli stela. A few years later, in 667 BC, Assurbanipal campaigned once again against Cush and destroyed the important Egyptian city of Thebes, mentioned in Nahum 3:8. It also marked the end of the Cushite rule over Egypt.