1. The Ancestor of Many Nations:
(1) The first of the sons of Ham, from whom sprang Seba, Havilah, Sabtah, Raamah and Sabtecah. He was also the father of Nimrod, who rounded Babel (Babylon) and the other great states of Shinar or Babylonia (Ge 10:6-8). The meaning of the name is uncertain.
(2) The name of the country around which the Gihon flowed (Ge 2:13), rendered "Ethiopia" in the King James Version, but in view of the distance of that country from the other rivers mentioned, this seems to be an unlikely identification.
2. A District of the Garden of Eden:
Fried. Delitzsch has suggested (Wo lag das Paradies? 74 ff) that the watercourse in question is the canal Gu-hande or Arahtu, which, coming from the South, entered Babylon a little to the East of the Euphrates, and, flowing alongside the Festival-Street, entered the Euphrates to the North of Nebuchadrezzar's palace. Koldewey (Tempel von Babylon und Borsippa, 38) regards the Gu-hande as the section of the Euphrates itself at this point. There is no indication, however, that the district which it enclosed was ever called Kusu or Cush, and the suppression of the final syllable of Gu-hande would remain unexplained. Moreover, the identification of Cush with a possible Cas, for Kasdu, "Chaldea," seems likewise improbable, especially as that name could only have been applied, in early times, to the district bordering on the Persian Gulf (see CHALDEA).
3. Probably not in Asia Minor:
Another theory is, that the Cush of Ge 2:13 is the Kusu of certain Assyrian letters, where it seems to designate a district in the neighborhood of Cappadocia. This identification apparently leads us back to an ancient tradition at one time current in the East, but later forgotten, which caused the Pyramus river to assume the name of Jihun (i.e. Gihon). This stream rises in the mountains Northeast of the Gulf of Alexandretta, and, taking a southwesterly course, flows into the Mediterranean near Karatash. Though nearer than the Ethiopian Cush, this is still too far West, and therefore unsatisfactory as an identification--all the streams or waterways of the Garden of Eden ought to flow through the same district.
4. The Ethiopian Cush:
(3) The well-known country of Cush or Ethiopia, from Syene (Eze 29:10) southward--Egyptian Kos, Babylonian Kusu, Assyrian Kusu. This name sometimes denotes the land (Isa 11:11; 18:1; Zep 3:10; Eze 29:10; Job 28:19; Es 1:1; 8:9); sometimes the peopl (Isa 20:4; Jer 46:9; Eze 38:5); but is in many passages uncertain. Notwithstanding that the descendants of Ham are always regarded as non-Semites, the Ethiopians, Ge`ez, as they called themselves, spoke a Semitic language of special interest on account of its likeness to Himyaritic, and its illustration of certain forms in Assyro-Babylonian. These Cushites were in all probability migrants from another (more northerly) district, and akin to the Canaanites--like them, dark, but by no means black, and certainly not Negroes. W. Max Muller (Asien und Europa, 113 note) states that it cannot be proved whether the Egyptians had quite black neighbors (on the South). In earlier times they are represented as brown, and later as brown mingled with black, implying that negroes only came to their knowledge as a distinct and extensive race in comparatively late times. Moses' (first?) wife (Nu 12:1) was certainly therefore not a Negress, but simply a Cushite woman, probably speaking a Semitic language--prehistoric Ge`ez or Ethiopian (see CUSHITE WOMAN). In all probability Semitic tribes were classed as Hamitic simply because they acknowledged the supremacy of the Hamitic Egyptians, just as the non-Sem Elamites were set down as Semites (Ge 10:22) on account of their acknowledging Babylonian supremacy. It is doubtful whether the Hebrews, in ancient times, knew of the Negro race--they probably became acquainted with them long after the Egyptians.
5. Negroes Probably not Included:
In the opinion of W. Max Mailer (A, und East, 112), the Egyptians, when they became acquainted with the Negroes, having no word to express this race, classed them with the nechese, which thereafter included the Negroes. If the Hebrew name Phinehas (Pi-nechas) be really Egyptian and mean "the black," there is still no need to suppose that this meant "the Negro," for no Israelite would have borne a name with such a signification. The treasurer of Candace queen of Meroe (Ac 8:27-39)--the Ethiopian eunuch--was an Abyssinian, not a Negro; and being an educated man, was able to read the Hebrew Scriptures in the Greek (Septuagint) version. Cush (mat Kusi, pr. Kushi) is frequently mentioned in the Assyrian inscriptions in company with Melubha (Merohha) to indicate Ethiopia and Meroe.
T. G. Pinches