See, for example, the following BR articles: Tikva Frymer-Kensky, “Forgotten Heroines of the Exodus,” BR 13:06; Adrien Bledstein, “Was Eve Cursed? (Or Did a Woman Write Genesis?),” BR 09:01; Jerome Murphy-O’Connor, “Prisca and Aquila—Traveling Tentmakers and Church Builders,” BR 08:06; Carey A. Moore, “Susanna—Sexual Harassment in Ancient Babylon,” BR 08:03; and Jane Schaberg, “How Mary Magdalene Became a Whore,” BR 08:05.


See Bezalel Porten, “Did the Ark Stop at Elephantine?” BAR 21:03.


Papyrus scrolls were commonly tied with string, and a lump of clay was placed over the knot. The sender then pressed a seal—bearing his name, his title and sometimes his father’s name—into the clay (called a bulla once it was stamped), making the document official. See the following articles in Biblical Archaeology Review: André Lemaire, “Royal Signature: Name of Israel’s Last King Surfaces in a Private Collection,” BAR 21:06; Hershel Shanks, “Jeremiah’s Scribe and Confidant Speaks from a Hoard of Clay Bullae,” BAR 13:05 and “In Private Hands,” BAR 22:02.



See Ladislas Bugner, ed., The Image of the Black in Western Art, vol. 1, From the Pharaohs to the Fall of the Roman Empire (New York: William Morrow, 1976). Note especially Jean Vercoutter, “The Iconography of the Black in Ancient Egypt: From the Beginnings to the Twenty-fifth Dynasty”; Jean Leclant, “Kushites and Meroïtes: Iconography of the African Rulers in Ancient Upper Egypt”; and Frank M. Snowden, “Iconographic Evidence on the Black Populations in Greco-Roman Antiquity.”


J. Daniel Hays, “The Cushites: A Black Nation in Ancient History,” Bibliotheca Sacra 153 (July–September 1996), pp. 270–280.


John H. Taylor, Egypt and Nubia, British Museum (Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press, 1991), p. 5. It is also possible, however, that the name “Land of the Bow” refers to the shape of the land. The Nile River is relatively straight in its course through Egypt. In Cush, however, due to the cataracts, the Nile makes a dramatic 180 degree bend, resembling the shape of a bow.


Taylor, Egypt and Nubia, p. 24.


The models are in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.


Eugen Strouhal, Life of the Ancient Egyptians (Norman, Oklahoma: Univ. of Oklahoma Press, 1992), p. 203.


John A. Wilson, The Culture of Ancient Egypt (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1951), pp. 136, 138.


James B. Pritchard, Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament (ANET), 3rd ed. (Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 1969), p. 488. The translated term for the troops is “Nubian,” but William F. Albright explains in ANET that these troops should be identified with Cush.


Pritchard, Ancient Near Eastern Texts, EA no. 287, p. 488.


Joab was reluctant to give the job to Ahimaaz, an Israelite. Perhaps Joab was worried about David’s response to the death of his son and decided that it would be more appropriate for a foreigner to deliver the news than an Israelite. See Charles Convoy, “Absalom! Narrative and Language in 2 Samuel 13–20, ” Analecta Biblica 81 (Rome: Pontifical Biblical Institute, 1978), p. 69. Convoy suggests that Joab chose the Cushite, not necessarily because he was black, but simply because he was a foreigner.


Because this episode is not recorded in 2 Kings, several scholars doubt its historicity. Ernst Axel Knauf, for example, argues that Zerah could not have been a ruler from Cush, although he cites no evidence for this. He adds that Zerah also could not have been an Egyptian because Egyptians do not have names starting with “z.” He suggests that the story may refer to a later skirmish with Bedouins, especially since the text mentions camels. See Knauf, s.v. “Zerah,” in The Anchor Bible Dictionary (ABD) (New York: Doubleday, 1992), vol. 6, pp. 1080–1081.

Knauf overlooks the fact that Zerah is a Cushite not an Egyptian. The Cushitic language is still not clearly understood, and it is doubtful whether one could state that Cushite names cannot start with a “z” sound.

Pierre Montet states that this invasion was by a Cushite army, but probably done with the pharaoh’s permission, perhaps as part of a treaty. See Montet, Egypt and the Bible, trans. Leslie R. Keylak (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1968), p. 43. Jacob M. Myers and John Bright state that Zerah was either a Cushite mercenary in the Egyptian army or, perhaps, an Arab. Their evidence for the Arab possibility, Habbakuk 3:7 and Numbers 12:1, is questionable, however, in regard to establishing an Arab connection to the term “Cush.” See Myers, II Chronicles, The Anchor Bible Series (Garden City, NJ: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1965), p. 85, and John Bright, A History of Israel, 3rd ed. (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1981), pp. 234–235. The term “Cush” in the Hebrew Bible consistently refers to the area south of Egypt. Habakkuk 3:7 mentions “Cushan” in parallel with Midian, but this one reference to an enigmatic place called “Cushan” hardly justifies the identification of “Cush” as Midian.

The argument that Zerah is an Arab (or Bedouin) is weak. The context includes Egyptians (Shishak in 2 Chronicles 12), which further cements the identification of Cush. The Bedouin or Arab argument is further weakened by the mention of chariots in 2 Chronicles 14:9 and 16:8. The army of Zerah did not come on camels like Arabs, but rather on chariots, like Egyptians. Nowhere in the Hebrew Bible are chariots associated with Arabs, Bedouins, Midianites, or any other Arabian peninsula people. Nomadic peoples did not construct chariots. See Mary Aiken Littauer and J.H. Crouwel, s.v. “Chariots,” in ABD, vol. 1, p. 891.


Stephanie Dalley, “Foreign Chariotry and Cavalry in the Armies of Tiglath-Pileser III and Sargon II,” Iraq 47 (1985), pp. 46–47.


Dalley, “Foreign Chariotry,” pp. 31, 43–44. The texts are published as nos. 99–118 in vol. 3 of the series Cuneiform Texts from Nimrud, ed. Dalley and J.N. Postgate.


Dalley, “Foreign Chariotry,” p. 46. Cushites appear in the various lists four times. See J.V. Kinnier Wilson, The Nimrud Wine Lists (London: British School of Archaeology in Iraq, 1972), p. 93. Pauline Albenda also argues that Cushites were living in Nimrud during the eighth century B.C.E. See Pauline Albenda, “Observations on Egyptians in Assyrian Art,” Bulletin of the Egyptian Seminar 4 (1982), p. 8.


Albenda, “Egyptians in Assyrian Art,” p. 8. See also J.E. Reade, (“Sargon’s Campaigns of 720, 716, and 715 B.C.: Evidence from the Sculptures,” Journal of Near Eastern Studies 35 [1976], p. 100), who writes, “The heads of the enemies in battle (K), at least one of those in siege (J), and possibly those in Gabbutunu, are negroid; both Botta and Flandin were positive about this, though Layard saw the slabs later and tentatively questioned their conclusion; we must accept the original excavators’ opinion, and therefore identify these enemies as Egyptians or Nubians.”


16 Albenda, “Egyptians in Assyrian Art,” p. 10.


Pritchard, ANET, pp. 287–288. The term used for Cush is Meluhha. At this time in Assyrian history this term was used to refer to Cush. See A. Leo Oppenheim, Ancient Mesopotamia: Portrait of a Dead Civilization, rev. ed. (Chicago: The Univ. of Chicago Press, 1977), pp. 64, 408.


R.H. Hall, “The Restoration of Egypt,” The Cambridge Ancient History, 2nd ed., vol. 3, (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1988), pp. 293–294.


Ronald J. Williams, “The Egyptians,” in Peoples of Old Testament Times, ed. D.J. Wiseman (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1973), pp. 95–96. See also the Letter of Aristeas 13; and Herodotus, History 2.161.


Bezalel Porten and Ada Yardeni, “Literature, Accounts, Lists” in Textbook of Aramaic Documents from Ancient Egypt, vol. 3 (Jerusalem: Hebrew University, 1993), p. 280.


Herodotus, History 3.152–153. In an inscription the Cushite king Nastesenen speaks of defeating k-m-b-s-u-d-n. Hall (“Restoration of Egypt,” pp. 312–313), argues that this is a reference to Cambyses. George Reisner, however (Harvard African Studies 2, 1923), rejects this connection, maintaining that Nastesenen was much later than Cambyses. See G. Buchanan Gray, “The Foundation and Extension of the Persian Empire,” in The Cambridge Ancient History, vol. 4, pp. 20–21.


Herodotus, History 3.379, p. 379. See also Gray, “Persian Empire,” pp. 21–22.


Frank M. Snowden, Blacks in Antiquity: Ethiopians in the Greco-Roman Experience (Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press, 1970), plates 17–22.


Snowden, Blacks in Antiquity, pp. 122–23, 130.


Note also that Zephaniah, a contemporary of Jeremiah, mentions Cush or Cushite three times in his three short chapters. Ronald E. Clements, Jeremiah, Interpretation (Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1988), pp. 86–87.


William L. Holladay, Jeremiah 2, Hermeneia (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1989), p. 289.


Robert Deutsch and Michael Heltzer, Forty New Ancient West Semitic Inscriptions (Tel Aviv: Archaeological Center Publications, 1994), p. 41.


Although in the Masoretic text (the standard Hebrew text of the Bible) Ebedmelech says, “these men have done wrong,” in the Septuagint (a Greek translation from the Hebrew) he tells Zedekiah, “you have done wrong.” In the Book of Jeremiah, the Septuagint is arguably the superior text.


Gordon H. Johnson, s.v. “syrs,” New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology and Exegesis, vol. 3, pp. 288–295.


J.A. Thompson cites instances where saµri³Æs refers to royal officials in Egypt (Genesis 37:36; 39:1; 40:2, 7), in Assyria (2 Kings 18:17; 20:18), in Babylon (Jeremiah 39:3, 13; Isaiah 39:7; Daniel 1:3, 7–11), in Persia (Esther 1:10, 12), and in Jerusalem (Jeremiah 29:2; 34:19; 41:16; 52:25; 2 Kings 23:11, 25:19). See Thompson, The Book of Jeremiah, The New International Commentary of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1980), p. 639.


Johannes Schneider, s.v. “eunoucoz,” Theological Dictionary of the New Testament vol. 2, p. 766. See also R.D. Patterson, who argues that saµri³Æs should not be translated as “eunuch” unless the context demands it. See Patterson, s.v. “syrs,” in Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, ed. R. Laird Harris et al. (Chicago: Moody Press, 1980).


Ziony Zevit, citing Greenfield in support, argues that ebed in Jeremiah should be translated as “vassal.” Zevit notes an Ugaritic letter (UT 2062) from the king to an official named Yadan, who is referred to as ‘bd.mlk (ebedmelech). See Zevit, “The Use of db[ as a Diplomatic Term in Jeremiah,” Journal of Biblical Literature 88 (1969), pp. 74–77; and Jonas Greenfield, “Some Treaty Terminology in the Bible,” Fourth World Congress of Jewish Studies: Papers Vol. I (1967), pp. 117–119.


Holladay, Jeremiah 2, p. 266.


Walter Brueggemann, To Build, To Plant: Jeremiah 26–52, International Theological Commentary (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1991), pp. 159–161.