Zerah the Ethiopian
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International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
Zerah the Ethiopian

ZERAH (THE ETHIOPIAN)

(zerach ha-kushi (2 Chronicles 14:9); Zare): A generation ago the entire story of Zerah's conquest of Asa, coming as it did from a late source (2 Chronicles 14:9-15), was regarded as "apocryphal": "If the incredibilities are deducted nothing at all is left" (Wellhausen, Prolegomena to the History of Israel, 207, 208); but most modern scholars, while accepting certain textual mistakes and making allowance for customary oriental hyperbole in description; accept this as an honest historical narrative, "nothing" in the Egyptian inscriptions being "inconsistent" with it (Nicol in BD; and compare Sayce, HCM, 362-64). The name "Zerah" is a "very likely corruption" of "Usarkon" (U-Serak-on), which it closely resembles (see Petrie, Egypt and Israel, 74), and most writers now identify Zerah with Usarkon II, though the Egyptian records of this particular era are deficient and some competent scholars still hold to Usarkon I (Wiedemann, Petrie, McCurdy, etc.). The publication by Naville (1891) of an inscription in which Usarkon II claims to have invaded "Lower and Upper Palestine" seemed to favor this Pharaoh as the victor over Asa; but the chronological question is difficult (Eighth Memoir of the Egyptian Exploration Fund, 51). The title "the Cushite" (Hebrew) is hard to understand. There are several explanations possible.

(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, The Old Testament in 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

Strong's Hebrew
2226. Zerach -- three Israelites, also an Edomite, also an ...
... Zarah, Zerah. The same as zerach; Zerach, the name of three Israelites, also of
an Idumaean and an Ethiopian prince -- Zarah, Zerah. see HEBREW zerach. ...
/hebrew/2226.htm - 6k
Library

National Apostasy
... The faith of Asa was put to a severe test when "Zerah the Ethiopian with an host
of a thousand thousand, and three hundred chariots," invaded his kingdom. ...
/.../white/the story of prophets and kings/chapter 8 national apostasy.htm

Asa's Prayer
... Zerah the Ethiopian, who was coming down on Asa, is said to have had a million
fighting-men at his back, but that is probably an erroneous figure, because Old ...
/.../christianbookshelf.org/maclaren/expositions of holy scripture g/asas prayer.htm

The Hebrews and the Philistines --Damascus
... With Tamar, the widow of the eldest of the latter, he had accidental intercourse,
and two children, Perez and Zerah, the ancestors of numerous families, were ...
/.../chapter iiithe hebrews and the.htm



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