The Kingdom of Cush was known as a mighty kingdom and ruled over a vast territory along the Nile River in what is now known as Sudan. Almost all that is known historically about Cush comes from Egyptian sources, which indicate that Cush was an economic epicenter that operated a lucrative market in ivory, incense, iron and gold. The kingdom was both a trading partner and a military rival of Egypt—it even ruled Egypt as the 25th Dynasty. Cush adopted many Egyptian customs, including worshiping some Egyptian gods and idols, mummifying their dead, and building their own type of pyramids (From <>). In terms of physical representation, Egyptian iconographic evidence consistently depicted Cushites with dark skin pigmentation, and the Greeks referred to the southerners as Aithiops, or Ethiopians, meaning “burnt of face” (From <>).

The Old Testament is filled with references to Cush and appears about 57 times in the Old Testament. In the Bible, Cushites were also characterized as having dark skin. Jeremiah 13:23 is notable for its reference to the Cushite skin. And Isaiah 18:2 describes the Cushites as “tall and smooth”—with smooth believed to describe their shiny black skin. Cush is described geographically (Ezekiel 29:10, Isaiah 45:14, Job 28:19) and as a militaristic people (2 Chronicles 14:9-15, Isaiah 20:3–4, Jeremiah 46:9 and Ezekiel 30:4–5, 38:5). Isaiah 18:2, for example, characterizes the Cushites as a people “feared near and far” and a “nation mighty and conquering.”  They were known for their wealth (Job 28:19), their strength (Nahum 3:9), for being handlers of the shield (Jeremiah 46:9 ) and for being archers and warriors (Genesis 10:8-12, 2 Samuel 18:19-33Isaiah 18:2). Cushites/Ethiopians were kings and rulers (Isaiah 37:9, II Kings 19:92, Chronicles 14:9-15), and they were major geopolitical players during King Hezekiah’s reign (2 Kings 18-20, Isaiah 36-39, and 2 Kings 19:9). The Cushites became the hope of Judah for deliverance from the Assyrians (2 Chronicles 12:3-9, 32:9-15, 3:8, Isaiah 18:2, 1 Kings 18:19-21). And they were also faithful servants and served as a source of blessings (Exodus Jeremiah 38:7-13, 39:15-18). From <> and <

Cushites also served to represent God’s judgment symbolically. This is most evident in Amos 9:7. This verse compares Israel to Cush because both nations had idolatrous practices. Israel, like Cush, was a “sinful nation” that was prophesized to be uprooted by God (Amos 9:8). This judgment against Cush is echoed in passages such as Isaiah 20:4-5 and Zephaniah 2:12. 

But God, in His great mercy, also extended His salvation to the people of Cush. “From beyond the rivers of Cush, my worshippers, my dispersed ones shall bring my offering”(Zephaniah 3:10); “Cush shall make haste to stretch out his hands [in offering] to God” (Psalm 68:31); “And at that time gifts shall be brought to the Lord of Hosts from a tall and smooth people, a people feared near and far, a mighty and subjugating nation, whose land the rivers divide” (Isaiah 18:7); and “It shall come to pass I that day that the Lord will set His hand again the second time to recover the remnant of His people who are left from Assyria and Egypt, from Pathros and Cush… (Isaiah 11:11)”. Texts such as these demonstrate that God’s salvation was not exclusively for Israel but also extended to all people and nations who acknowledged the sovereign rule of God (From <>).