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Ambassadors in Reed Boats

26th December 2016, hej

 

3) Beyond Cush

In Isaiah's day the great power was Assyria. Their emblem was the winged bull. They were the ascendant empire overshadowing the holy land, having subdued the northern kingdom of Israel from 732BC and they threatened the kingdom of Judah. Sennacherib would soon come in 710BC to attempt to subdue the king of Judah. It is reasonable to read the KJV translation 'Ethiopia' as more correctly 'Cush' which described the Assyrian founders of Nineveh.

And Cush begat Nimrod: he began to be a mighty one in the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the LORD: wherefore it is said, Even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before the LORD. And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar. Out of that land went forth Asshur, and builded Nineveh, and the city Rehoboth, and Calah, (Genesis 10:8-11)

So why doesn't Isaiah call the land of the shadowing wings 'Assyria'?

The key may be that in the prophecy next in chapter 19 he speaks of 'the burden of Egypt.' The section concludes with Egypt, Assyria and Israel

In that day shall Israel be the third with Egypt and with Assyria, even a blessing in the midst of the land: (Isaiah 19:24)

In this verse there is the hint of the scope of the prophecy is a land forming a broad arc. The prophecy is identified by its location beyond 'Cush' (as the word 'Ethiopia' is in the Hebrew).


Two nations of Cush – how they are related

There were therefore two places called 'Cush'. The first was the Cush of Nimrod whose kingdom began beyond the Euphrates, the ancient Tigris civilization and the other Cush was south of Egypt at the headwaters of the Nile, corresponding to Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea and perhaps including Somalia.


Both of these areas of Cush are characterised by reeds, and both peoples historically used reed boats. Both have people who still use boats made of reeds (bulrushes). There is a strong case for the land being beyond both rivers of Cush, beyond both the great flooding rivers, the Euphrates and Nile, but overshadowing both areas.


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