ZERAH (zē'ra, Heb. zerah, rising)
3. A son of Simeon the founder of the Zerahites a sub-branch of the tribe of Simeon (
4. A Levite of the family of Gershom (
5. An Ethiopian, or perhaps a South Arabian tribe of Cushites (since the name appears in O.S. Arabian inscrs.) כּוּשִׁי (cf.
W. F. Albright, From the Stone Age to Christianity (1957), 46, 47.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
(zerach, meaning uncertain):
(a) an Edomite chief (
(b) father of an Edomite king (
(4) Head of the Zerahites (
See Zohar, (2).
(5) Cushite king (
(zerach ha-kushi (
(1) Wiedemann holds that this may refer to a real Ethiopian prince, who, though unrecorded in the monuments, may have been reigning at the Asa era. There is so little known from this era "that it is not beyond the bounds of probability for an Ethiopian invader to have made himself master of the Nile Valley for a time" (Geschichte von Alt-Aegypten, 155).
(2) Recently it has been the fashion to refer this term "Cushite" to some unknown ruler in South or North Arabia (Winckler, Cheyne, etc.). The term "Cushite" permits this, for although it ordinarily corresponds to ETHIOPIA (which see), yet sometimes it designates the tract of Arabia which must be passed over in order to reach Ethiopia (Jeremias, Thein the Light of Ancient East, I, 280) or perhaps a much larger district (see BD; EB; Hommel, Ancient Hebrew Tradition; Winckler, KAT, etc.). This view, however, is forced to explain the geographical and racial terms in the narrative differently from the ordinary Biblical usage (see Cheyne, EB). Dr. W. M. Flinders Petrie points out that, according to the natural sense of the narrative, this army must have been Egyptian for
(a) after the defeat it fled toward Egypt, not eastward toward Arabia;
(b) the cities around Gerar (probably Egyptian towns on the frontier of Palestine), toward which they naturally fled when defeated, were plundered;
(c) the invaders were Cushim and Lubim (Libyans), and this could only be the case in an Egyptian army; (d) Mareshah is a well-known town close to the Egyptian frontier (History of Egypt, III, 242-43; compare Konig, Funf neue arab. Landschaftsnamen im Altes Testament, 53-57).
(3) One of the Usarkons might be called a "Cushite" in an anticipatory sense, since in the next dynasty (XXIII) Egypt was ruled by Ethiopian kings.
Camden M. Cobern