Ancient Nubia: From the Rivers of Eden to the Assyrian Empire, their power and gold is a significant player in the scheme of things in the Ancient Near East. Gearing up to a visit to a special exhibition in Boston, this is a pre-article.
This Sunday I will be visiting the Boston Museum of Arts. I am looking forward to seeing the exhibit “Gold and Gods – Jewels of Ancient Nubia“, to better understand Tanach.
Kush and Gold
Though not often thought about, this unique and powerful culture, and their gold, is hinted to already from the beginning of the book of Genesis (2:10-14). Quite a strange passage, which describes the Four Rivers emerging from Eden.
Whether there is consensus about the translation of the items mentioned, or of their being where they are said to be – is irrelevant – it is the focus on the Gold which interests me. Why talk about that in such a primordial context?
“A river issues from Eden to water the garden, and it then divides and becomes four branches.
The name of the first is Pishon, the one that winds through the whole land of Havilah, where the gold is.
The gold of that land is good; bdellium is there, and lapis lazuli.
The name of the second river is Gihon, the one that winds through the whole land of Kush. The name of the third river is Tigris, the one that flows east of Asshur. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.”
Taharqa, Assyria and the last Kings of Judah
Israel’s involvement with the Assyrian Kingdom is well established and documented, and it lead to the destruction of Samariah and the Ten Tribes. Later, in the time of Sennacherib, there are a few brief passages in II Kings and Isaiah referring to Taharqa, the Nubian (Kushite) Pharaoh of the 25th Dynasty. But it is misleading in its seeming triviality.
The interference of the Nubians with Assyria has devastating consequence upon the land of Egypt and its entire infrastructure, and adds significant context to the story of Ezekiah and Sennacherib.
This is an important culture to understand, and I would like to dedicate the following article to this story, as well as the museum visit.