Apologetics, Archaeology, Bible, Main
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Did archaeology discover a reference to Cush, the son of Ham?


The archaeological remains of Babylon in modern Iraq.
Credit US Navy Mate 1st Class Arlo K. Abrahamson/Wikipedia/Public Domain

The recent sale of an ancient small clay tablet by a Norwegian collector confirms the Biblical record that Ham, one of the sons of Noah, had a son named Cush.

The table discovered in the ancient city of Sumeria dates to 3000 BC sold for $235,000 at auction.

The seven-centimetre square tablet not only talks about beer making, but has on its top left-hand corner what many believe is the oldest reference to a person’s name — Kushim. Some have even referred to it as the first signature ever discovered. The person’s name has been found on other tablets where he is referred to as a temple administrator.

Many believe there is a connection between this name and the Biblical reference to Cush, that was the name given the oldest son of Ham, one of Noah’s three sons who survived the flood (Genesis 10:6).

We are told that Cush moved onto the plains of Shinar (Genesis 11:2) that can also be translated Shumer, which is the location of what today is referred to as the kingdom of Sumer, that is considered one of the earliest civilizations in human history.

Cush was the father of Nimrod, who founded what would become the Sumerian nation (Genesis 10:6-9). In Genesis 10:10, the Bible lists some key cities of Nimrod’s reign. Three of the cities Babel (Babylon), Akkad and Erech (Uruk) have actually been discovered through archaeological digs.

Though we can’t conclusively prove Cush and Kushim listed on the tablet is a reference to the same group of people, the Hebrews also referred to the descendants of Cush as Cushims (Habakkuk 3:7).

The Hebrew word Kûsh literally means black and some believe this indicates that Cush and his descendants were the start of the black race. This corresponds with descriptions of the Cush in ancient Sumerian texts where they are referred to as the “black headed ones.”

There is also a connection between the Cush and the Ethiopians who according to the ancient Jewish Historian, Josephus, referred to themselves as both Ethiopians and Cushites. Many translations use the word Ethiopia instead of Cush when translating Kûsh.

There are other interesting references to the Cush in the Bible. We know that Moses’s wife was Cushite or Ethiopian (Numbers 12:1). Yes, this suggests his wife was probably black.

There is also Biblical evidence that the Midianites were an offshoot of the Cush or perhaps just a different name used to describe the same group of people (Habakkuk 3:7). The Hebrew poetry used in this verse indicates the name Cush and Midian are synonymous.

Though there is a reference to God judging the Cush (Ezekiel 30:4), the Psalmist talks of a time when people of Cush “will quickly stretch out her hands to God” (Psalm 68:31).

READ: A small clay tablet, history’s ‘earliest signature,’ beer and a fierce auction fight AND 5,000-year-old stone tablet containing the ‘first ever signature’ sells for £175,000 

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