Photo by Jürgen Liepe

ON THE COVER: Pharaoh Tirhakah, ruler of Egypt and its southern neighbor, Cush, provided badly needed military aid to King Hezekiah of Judah during the Assyrian siege of Jerusalem. The Bible records that Tirhakah (690 to 664 B.C.) promptly “marched out to fight” against the Assyrian ruler Sennacherib (2 Kings 19:9).

Sculpted in black granite, Tirhakah’s round face, wide nose, full lips, and curly hair betray his ancestry: His family was not Egyptian but came from Cush, a powerful nation that briefly controlled Egypt from the late eighth to the mid-seventh century B.C.

In “From the Land of the Bow,” J. Daniel Hays examines how ancient references to the Cushites as skilled mercenaries throughout the Near East shed light on the oft-ignored role of these black Africans in the Bible.