Cuthites in Arabia
According to Jacob Bryant, the whole world was not assembled at Babylon as is commonly supposed. Instead the Great Rebellion, and the building of the Tower of Babel, was the action of the descendants of Cush, the son of Ham. They are known as the Cuthite Arabs, and when they were scattered, they invaded other nations.
The notion of a local Tower of Babel seems contrary to the worldwide disperspersion described in the Biblical account, but whatever be the case on this issue, we can be sure that the Cuthites were the dominant tribe. Now it appears that they are re-assembling in Iraq for another Great Rebellion that could turn out to be the beginning of the kingdom of Antichrist.
This article is an update of a previous version which has been preserved as an archive.
I would highly recommend, for anyone who has the time for some really interesting study, the six volumes of Jacob Bryant's A New System; or, an Analysis of Ancient Mythology, third edition, 1807. This is the most comprehensive account of the ancient world that I have seen, beginning with Noah and his three sons, and how they might be identified in Egyptian and Greek mythologies. In particular, he has a great deal to say about the descendants of Cush, the son of Ham, who did not settle in any appointed place of their own, and instead they went to places that were already inhabited and invaded their territories.
The saga begins with an interpretation of Nimrod's rebellion at Babylon that is not very well known. Bryant believes that the Flood was global, the dispersion after the Flood was global, but the assembly of people at Babylon was local, involving only the descendants of Cush and a few others who had joined them. Bryant refers to them as the Cuthites, or Cusheans, or Cuseans. They are mentioned in 2 Kings where they are seen invading Samaria, together with other Babylonian tribes.
And the king of Assyria brought men from Babylon, and from Cuthah, and from Ava, and from Hamath, and from Sepharvaim, and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the children of Israel: and they possessed Samaria, and dwelt in the cities thereof...Howbeit every nation made gods of their own, and put them in the houses of the high places which the Samaritans had made, every nation in their cities wherein they dwelt. And the men of Babylon made Succothbenoth, and the men of Cuth made Nergal, and the men of Hamath made Ashima, And the Avites made Nibhaz and Tartak, and the Sepharvites burnt their children in fire to Adrammelech and Anammelech, the gods of Sepharvaim. (2 Kings 17:24-31).
Turning to the maps at the back of my Bible, I see that during this period, the land of Cuth, or Cuthah was close to Susa, the capital of the Elamites who were descended from Elam, the first son of Shem. The Hamitic Cuthites and Semitic Elamites lived alongside each other in the area to the north of the Persian Gulf which is now known as Khuzestan, in south-west Iran.
Bryant says that the Cuthites are Arabs, and in that case, what do we make of the commonly-held belief that the Arab nations are descended from Ishmael, the son of Abraham and half-brother of Isaac? In the Encyclopedia of Islam Myths, the supposed Ishmaelite descent of the Arabs is denounced as an invention based on vanity, and is an attempt to claim the inheritance that was promised to the descendants of Isaac and Jacob. The same source quotes the Dictionary of Islam as saying that the pure Arabs are those who claim to be descended from Joktan, (Qahtan in Arabic), and those who claim to be descended from Ishmael are known as mixed Arabs, or Arabu l-Mustaribah. Joktan was a descendant of Shem, his pedigree being Noah, Shem, Arphaxad, Shelah, Eber, Joktan. He was the brother of Peleg, the patriarch of the division (Gen. 10), and we will come to that subject later. If the Arabs are descended from Joktan, it excludes them from any of the inheritance of Abraham, because they are an entirely different line. Abraham was the fifth-generation descendant of Peleg, the brother of Joktan.
Bryant does not say anything about Semitic Arabs, and instead he describes the Arabs in a way that would lead the uninformed reader to believe that all Arabs are Cuthite. He assumes a readership that is well educated in history and classics and frequently quotes passages in Greek and Latin without translation. However, for the reader who might not be familiar with all these issues, some explanation is required. The Columbia Encyclopaedia describes the Arabs as being originally the Semitic peoples of the Arabian peninsula, but now they are more loosely described as anyone whose primary language is Arabic, including both Muslims and Christians (but with the possible exception of Arabic-speaking Jews).
Probably the most accurate description of the Arabic people comes from Bill Cooper, in his book After the Flood. In Appendix 1 he describes the descendants of Joktan as the pure Arabs, while the Hamitic Arabs are called Musta 'rabs, or pretended Arabs. This looks like the same Arabic term already used, to describe Arabs who claim their descent from Ishmael, and perhaps someone with a knowledge of Arabic could tell me whether it means mixed or pretended. Cooper gives a map showing the approximate locations of the tribes that descended from Joktan and his thirteen sons, and they are all scattered around the Arabian peninsula. Then we turn to Cooper's Appendix 2 where he discusses the descendants of Ham, and we find that the Cuthites were also scattered around the Arabian peninsula, in the same places as the descendants of Joktan. Cush himself probably went to Ethiopia, because it is known as the land of Cush, and is probably their appointed destination. If all the Cuthites had gone there, the world would have been a lot more peaceful. Nimrod, the most infamous of all the sons of Cush, is thought to have remained in Babylon, while the other sons and grandsons of Cush, seven tribal leaders altogether, went to Arabia.
Taking all this into account, we can satisfy ourselves that Bryant was describing the Cuthites as pretended Arabs, although he simply calls them Arabs. Now that we have some idea about what is meant by an Arab, in the mind of Bryant and the rest of the world, we can return to his history.
Bryant believes that after the Flood, there was an early dispersion of the descendants of Noah around the world, each to a place that had been given to them by divine appointment, but the Cuthites were nomadic shepherds, wandering around for a while with no place of permanent settlement. (Does the word nomad come from Nimrod?) Eventually the Cuthites came to the plain of Shinar, and set up the tower of Babel.
And the whole earth [eretz] was of one language, and of one speech. And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land [eretz] of Shinar; and they dwelt there. And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them throughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for morter. And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth [eretz]. (Gen. 11:1-4).
I have inserted the Hebrew word eretz where appropriate because it can mean land or earth, and the geographical extent has to be determined from the context. Obviously the whole earth must have been of one language, because there were only eight people in the Ark, members of one family, and their language would have remained the same for some generations afterwards. So in this case the word eretz refers to the whole population of the earth, regardless of their geographical extent. They must have stayed together for some time, to build up their numbers, before dispersing in different directions. The next occurrence of eretz describes the land of Shinar, and according to Bryant there is no reason to believe that the entire population of the world was there. The third occurrence of eretz is again global in extent, describing the dispersion over the whole earth (which Bryant translates as every region). So the limited population of the land of Shinar is expressing their fear that they would be scattered throughout the whole earth. The reason for building the tower was to establish the authority of the Cuthites, and they remained in the immediate vicinity until they were strong enough to extend their authority elsewhere. In the table of nations in the previous chapter, we find out where they went.
And the sons of Cush: Seba, and Havilah, and Sabtah, and Raamah, and Sabteca; and the sons of Raamah: Sheba, and Dedan. And Cush begat Nimrod: he began to be a mighty one in the earth. He was a mighty hunter before Jehovah: wherefore it is said, Like Nimrod a mighty hunter before Jehovah. And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar. Out of that land he went forth into Assyria, and builded Nineveh, and Rehoboth-ir, and Calah, and Resen between Nineveh and Calah (the same is the great city). (Gen 10:7-12, ASV).
This passage tells us what was the beginning of his kingdom, but then he went forth to a number of other places, including Assyria which was the territory of Asshur, the son of Shem.
The children of Shem; Elam, and Asshur, and Arphaxad, and Lud, and Aram. (Gen. 10:22).
The Cuthites had built their tower, and extended their authority to other places, but the Lord came down and scattered them, and confounded their languages. They were scattered over a wide area, and according to Bryant, there is evidence of their presence in many places, including Egypt. Some of them went to the Nile delta region, which was very fertile and good for keeping sheep, and they continued their practice of subjugating other people. They ruled over the Egyptians, and were known as the Hyksos, or shepherd kings, but eventually the Egyptians rose up against them and expelled them to the eastern bank of the Nile which was known as Arabia. (That's right, the Arabian peninsula, the Sinai, and the east bank of the Nile were all called Arabia).
After the expulsion of the Hyksos, we have Joseph, the son of Jacob, being sold by his brothers to a group of Ishmaelites who were on their way to Egypt. They sold him to Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, but he prospered and rose to a position of high authority. Then we have the story of his interpretation of Pharaoh's dreams, and the seven years of plenty followed by the seven years of famine, and to cut a long story short, he eventually welcomed all his brothers to Egypt, and was reconciled with them. They went to Canaan to get their father Jacob, and returned to Egypt, and settled in the land of Goshen.
Bryant gives us the etymology of the name Goshen. He says it is the land of Cushan, where the Cuthites had formerly dwelt. The Israelites were shepherds, just like the Cuthites, and they were given the land of Goshen because it was a good place for keeping sheep. Sometimes the Israelites have been mistakenly confused with the Hyksos, because they were shepherds, but they were a totally different tribe that went there after the Hyksos had been expelled.
Now we return to the history of the dispersion from Babylon. Bryant says that even after the confusion of tongues, there were some Babylonians who stood their ground, and there was a long war, until the Assyrians and other Semitic tribes eventually prevailed and recovered the land they had lost. At this point we come to the question of the division that occurred during the days of Peleg. There are currently a number of commonly held views about this event:
Out of these three views, only the first one would have been available at the time of Bryant, since the other two are based on modern science. However, Bryant does not concern himself with the question of the dispersion from Babylon, and instead he says the division was a social and political event, between the Cuthites and the Semites, with Peleg and his brother Joktan being on opposite sides.
And unto Eber were born two sons: the name of one was Peleg; for in his days was the earth divided; and his brother's name was Joktan. And Joktan begat Almodad, and Sheleph, and Hazarmaveth, and Jerah, And Hadoram, and Uzal, and Diklah, And Obal, and Abimael, and Sheba, And Ophir, and Havilah, and Jobab: all these were the sons of Joktan. And their dwelling was from Mesha, as thou goest unto Sephar a mount of the east. (Gen. 10:25-30).
Bryant says that the names of the sons of Joktan are given, together with their place of residence, because they went to the places that were given them by divine appointment, although it could equally well be argued that their names were given because they disappeared from the Biblical scene at this point. Nobody seems to know exactly where to find Mesha and Sephar, but the region between them is generally thought to be along the south coast of the Arabian peninsula. However, there is an alternative view, that Mesha is Mashad in north-east Iran, and Sephar is somewhere in China, and the descendants of Joktan are the oriental Hebrews (the father of Peleg and Joktan was Eber). If this can be proved, it means the so-called "pure Arabs" are not descended from Joktan at all, and the people who call themselves Arabs are all Cuthites as Bryant seems to suppose. For details, see Oriental Origins in the Bible, by Paul Phelps, although we will not get too involved in this just now because it will greatly distract us from our purpose. Genesis 10 says nothing about the sons of Peleg, and Bryant suggests that this is because Peleg, unlike his brother Joktan, did not go to his appointed place and instead he joined the Cuthite rebellion and made his way to Babylon. The list of his descendants is given later, in Genesis 11, showing the lineage as far as Abram (subsequently called Abraham), and we see that Abram and his family were living among the idolatrous pagans, in Ur of the Chaldees, but they came out and went to the land of Haran in north-west Mesopotamia.
And Terah took Abram his son, and Lot the son of Haran his son's son, and Sarai his daughter in law, his son Abram's wife; and they went forth with them from Ur of the Chaldees, to go into the land of Canaan; and they came unto Haran, and dwelt there. (Gen. 11:31).
Then we have the story about Abram going to the land of Canaan, with his wife Sarai and his nephew Lot, and they prospered to the extent that there was not enough room for all their possessions, especially their sheep and cattle, so they separated. Lot went to the city of Sodom, and Abram remained in Canaan. Then there was the so-called "battle of the kings" where Lot was captured and Abram assembled an army and went and rescued him. There were two groups of kings at war against each other, as follows:
And it came to pass in the days of Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of nations; That these made war with Bera king of Sodom, and with Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, and Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela, which is Zoar. All these were joined together in the vale of Siddim, which is the salt sea. Twelve years they served Chedorlaomer, and in the thirteenth year they rebelled. And in the fourteenth year came Chedorlaomer, and the kings that were with him, and smote the Rephaims in Ashteroth Karnaim, and the Zuzims in Ham, and the Emims in Shaveh Kiriathaim, And the Horites in their mount Seir, unto Elparan, which is by the wilderness. And they returned, and came to Enmishpat, which is Kadesh, and smote all the country of the Amalekites, and also the Amorites, that dwelt in Hazezontamar. And there went out the king of Sodom, and the king of Gomorrah, and the king of Admah, and the king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (the same is Zoar;) and they joined battle with them in the vale of Siddim; With Chedorlaomer the king of Elam, and with Tidal king of nations, and Amraphel king of Shinar, and Arioch king of Ellasar; four kings with five. (Gen. 14:1-9).
This is the most ancient of all recorded wars, and Bryant considers it to be the historic basis of the Titanic wars that appear in classical mythology. He identifies the Semitic kings as follows:
On the other side we have:
Bryant identifies these as most probably Cuthites, or Hamitic allies of the Cuthites. They were subservient to the Semitic king Chedorlaomer for twelve years, which means the Cuthites had been driven out of Babylon, and the plain of Shinar was in the hands of the Semites. In the thirteenth year they rebelled, and in the fourteenth year Chedorlaomer assembled his allies and suppressed the rebellion.
Bryant normally considers the Cuthites to be Titans, but he quotes passages from classical literature where the gods are at war against each other, and the names and titles do not appear to identify any specific character. He says that it is of little consequence by what title they are called, and we have to be satisfied that the classical literature identifies three brothers, and three families, one of which was the Titanian. I have to say that I have run into the same problem myself, and in my Forgotten History, in the section on The Descendants of Noah (pp.45-49), I have identified Titan as Shem, as an interpretation of the following Chaldean fragment from Alexander Polyhistor:
The Sibyl says, that when all men formerly spoke the same language, some among them undertook to erect a large and lofty tower, in order to climb into heaven. But God, (or the gods), sending forth a whirlwind, frustrated their design and gave to each tribe a particular language of its own, which (confusion of tongues) is the reason that the name of that city is called Babylon. After the Flood, Titan and Prometheus lived, and Titan undertook a war against Kronus.
At the same time, I have pointed out that mythology is full of contradictions, and the reversal of good and evil is only to be expected, because everyone considers himself to be right in his own eyes, and our opponents are always evil. I have correctly pointed out that the Titanic wars were between the families of Shem and Ham, and on the Hamitic side the main participant was Nimrod the son of Cush. However, I did not realise, until I read Bryant, that these wars were still going on at the time of Abraham.
We will soon look at the possibility that the Titanic wars, might still be going on today, but first we need to tie up the question of the Great Rebellion at Babylon and the building of the Tower of Babel. The notion of a local event, consisting of the Cuthites and a few other tribes, does not seem consistent with the Bible or with world history, or even the possibilities for population growth. Genesis 10 gives the Table of Nations, showing how the descendants of Noah went to their appointed places after the Flood, including distant lands such as the "Isles of the Gentiles". However, it would not have been possible for them to disperse around the world immediately, and they settled in the plain of Shinar because it was a convenient fertile place where they could build up their numbers. The Great Rebellion was not the settlement in Shinar, it was the work of Nimrod and the Cuthites, building of the Tower of Babel and dominating the other tribes so that they were unable to go to their appointed places.
The whole world, or at least the vast majority, must have been at Babylon because in ancient times the world was divided into language groups, as it is now. There has never been a time in recorded history, after the Babel event, when all the world could understand each other, so they must have all been affected by the event. If some small groups were not present, we would expect them to speak the original Edenic language, and although this is a possibility worth considering, we will not go into it now.
What happens to Bryant's explanation of the Cuthites, and their harrassment of other nations, if the Babel event was global and not local as he supposes? Actually, nothing at all. The entire history remains intact because it simply means that, after the dispersion, the Cuthites were a nomadic people who didn't settle anywhere, and they used to spy out the lands that had been settled by other nations and would try to take them over. And now we return to the question of the Titanic wars.
The world today is at war against an unknown, unseen enemy. Not against a nation that has a territory, an army and a flag, but a war against terrorism. Hardly anyone in the western world understands the mindset of the people who practice this kind of "ism", but we are aware that they are some kind of Arabs, or some kind of Muslims, who are prepared to blow themselves up and take as many people as possible with them, in the belief that they will get a fast-track ticket to heaven. The most wanted terrorist leader, who is held responsible for the attacks on September 11th, 2001, is Osama Bin Laden. He is a Saudi Arabian prince who was expelled from his family for his anti-American fanaticism. His views didn't go down well because the Saudis have always tried to cultivate a good relationship with America, not for religious or ideological reasons, but because they get rich by supplying oil. Osama Bin Laden is a Wahabi Muslim, as are the entire house of Saud, and here lies the problem, because the Wahabis started up as a rebellious sect of Islam, with the objective of subjugating other Muslims. For a description of the history, see Who or What is a Wahabi? This article is written by moderate Sunni Muslims with the intention of exposing the evil within their midst. It contains some Arabic terms that will not make sense to non-Arabs, but there is enough plain English to enable you to get the gist of it.
Saudi Arabia today is ruled by the Wahabis, with the result that the practice of any other religion is illegal. There are cases of Christians who have been threatened with execution just for having small prayer meetings in their own homes. You can get into trouble just for carrying a Bible in your pocket, and even Muslims, who follow some other sect of Islam, complain of harrassment from the Wahabi religious police.
If I knew the history of Arabia well enough, perhaps I could establish whether or not the Wahabis are the Cuthite Arabs that Bryant is complaining about, but they certainly behave that way. We are seeing today a revival of Nimrod's rebellion, and it wouldn't surprise me at all if they establish the base of their operations in the very same place where they started, in Babylon.
Saddam Hussein has been thrown out of Iraq because he supposedly had weapons of mass destruction. Now it seems that he never had any, but while he was in power, he wanted people to believe that he had them, because it was a way of controlling the Kurds and Shi'ite Muslims. Some of his officers were concerned that his deception was too successful. He had convinced the Kurds and Shi'ites, but if he wasn't careful, he might also convince the Americans and they would invade the country. None of his officers wanted to tell him that he had gone too far, because to deliver such a message to Saddam Hussein would mean certain death. The deception continued to succeed, and the Americans were convinced, and they invaded and captured Saddam. His regime has been overthrown, and elections for a new government were held in January 2005, but there are still many rebel groups and the Americans are still there, trying to maintain an uneasy peace.
Iraq is an absolute dream for Osama Bin Laden and his Al-Qaeda militants, and other like-minded organisations. They were never able to operate in Iraq while Saddam Hussein was there. They used to operate in Afghanistan with the support of the Taliban regime, but the Americans went in and overthrew it, and the supporters of Al-Qaeida fled to the hill country of Pakistan where there were plenty of places for them to hide. Now it seems the Americans are locked into a long Vietnam-style war in Iraq, unable to bring about peace in spite of the majority of the population who showed their support for democracy at the election. They appear unable to prevent it from being used as the new operational base where militant Arabs, who might well be the rebellious Cuthites, can pursue their cause of hatred against the world.
In Revelation 17 and 18, Babylon appears as a great empire that is doomed to failure, as it comes under the judgement of God. The fall of Babylon is described as a real end-time event, which has puzzled Bible scholars because Babylon has never been the centre of an empire since the time of Nebuchadnezzar. Some have said that the New Testament Babylon is Rome, while others say that the apocalyptic fall of Babylon is a reference to the judgement of all the systems of idolatry that originated from that place. There are others who say that, during the time of Antichrist, a real political empire will be established at Babylon, and this is the approach taken by Arnold Fruchtenbaum in his Footsteps of the Messiah. The Antichrist will have his political centre in Babylon and his religious centre in Jerusalem where his image will be worshipped in the Temple, but when Christ returns, his empire will fall.
In that case, we have to consider the possibility that the Cuthites, who established the empire of Nimrod in ancient times, are re-appearing as militant Arabs and preparing the way for the Antichrist to establish his political centre at Babylon. This raises the question of who is the Antichrist. Some have thought that he might be a Roman, who establishes his power through the European Union and the Roman Catholic Church. Others have thought that he might be a Jew, because he would be in a position to deceive the Jews and persuade them that he is the real Messiah. Nobody yet, as far as I know, has considered that he might be an Arab, but as the events unfold, we will see who emerges as the charismatic leader who convinces the world that he can solve all our problems. Whatever happens, it means that Christ is coming soon and we have to make sure that we are ready, and not be deceived like all the others.
Updated March 2004.
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