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Cush or Kush (kŭsh, ko͝osh). 1 Son of Ham and father of the Asian nation of the same name, perhaps the same nation as one of similar name in E Mesopotamia. Gen. 10.8; 1 Chron. 1.10. 2 Benjamite opposed to David. Ps. 7, title.

3 Ancient kingdom of Nubia, in the present Sudan, which flourished from the 11th cent. B.C. to the 4th cent. A.D. The rulers of Cush overran Upper Egypt (mid-8th cent. B.C.) as far as Thebes. Piankhi conquered the rest of Egypt (Lower Egypt) from Tefnakhte. Taharka was defeated in the Delta by the Assyrians, and the Cushites lost control of Egypt. The Cushite capital was transferred from Napata to Meroë; Meroë was a prosperous state until the 4th cent. A.D., when it fell to the Ethiopians and was abandoned.


See A. J. Arkell, A History of the Sudan to A.D. 1821 (1955, repr. 1974).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(Kush), in antiquity, a country between the First and Sixth cataracts of the Nile and southward and eastward along the White Nile and Blue Nile, between the Red Sea and the Libyan Desert (in what is now the Sudan and part of Egypt). The indigenous population of Cush consisted of disunified Semitic-Hamitic and Cushitic tribes, which were related to the ancient Egyptians and which in the fourth and third millennia B.C. were primarily engaged in stock raising. Negroid elements from the south penetrated into these tribes, particularly beginning in the second millennium B.C.

During the Old Kingdom (third millennium B.C.), the Egyptian pharaohs sent both trading and plundering expeditions to Cush for slaves, livestock, ebony, ivory, and other valuables. The first Egyptian trading posts were established in northern Cush.

The settlement of Kerma arose in the beginning of the second millennium B.C., in the vicinity of the Third Cataract of the Nile. Excavations there have revealed the presence of primitive forms of a state organization in Cush. By the 16th-15th century B.C., the territory of Cush up to the Fourth Cataract was conquered by Egypt. The country was ruled by an Egyptian vicegerent known as imperial son of Cush. Egyptian influence facilitated the spread of Egyptian culture and the decline of primitive communal social relations. By the 11th century B.C., Cush was freed from Egyptian rule. Circa the eighth century B.C., a state with its center at Napata (the Napata State) arose on the territory of Cush. In the second half of the eighth century B.C., its ruler, Piankhy, conquered Egypt, thereby laying the foundation for the Twenty-fifth (Ethiopian) Dynasty in Egypt. In the second half of the sixth century B.C., the capital was moved to Meroe (the beginning of the Meroite Kingdom). The Meroite Kingdom lasted until the fourth century B.C. In classical times, the name Cush was replaced by Nilean Ethiopia, and in the tenth century the territory became known as Nubia.


Katsnel’son, I. S. “Nubiia pod vlast’iu Egipta.” Vestnik MGU, 1948, no. 6.
Katsnel’son, I. S. “Rabovladenie v Kushe.” Vestnik drevnei istorii, 1964, no. 2.
Katsnel’son, I. S. Napata i Meroe—drevnie tsarstva Sudana. Moscow, 1970.
Arkell, A. J. A History of the Sudan: From the Earliest Times to 1821, 2nd ed. London, 1961.
Hofmann, J. Die Kulturen des Niltals von Aswan bis Sennar. Hamburg, 1967.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


, Kush Old Testament
1. the son of Ham and brother of Canaan (Genesis 10:6)
2. the country of the supposed descendants of Cush (ancient Ethiopia), comprising approximately Nubia and the modern Sudan, and the territory of southern (or Upper) Egypt
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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