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Cuth, Cuthah

CUTH, CUTHAH (Heb. כּוּת, II Kings 17:30; כּוּתָה; II Kings 17:24), a Sumero-Akkadian and Babylonian holy and cult city; the present-day Tell Ibrāhīm, 31¼ mi. (50 km.) N.E. of Babylon, 12½ mi. (20 km.) W. of Jemdet Nasr (see *Mesopotamia). The Sumerian (or pre-Sumerian) name for Cuthah is Gudua, and the Akkadian (from which the biblical name was derived) is Kutû(m). In the Bible (II Kings 17:24, 30) Cuthah figures as one of the cities from which the king of Assyria brought colonists to the province of Samaria. The Talmud (BB 91a) and Josephus (Ant., 9:279) speak of it as a locality still known in their time. The former identifies it with the Ur of the Chaldeans, which was Abraham's original home according to Genesis (11:31; 15:7). Perhaps the modern name of the site of Cuthah, Tell Ibrāhīm, reflects this tradition. The city of Cuthah is known in cuneiform sources chiefly as the cult center of the god Nergal; his central shrine, É-MES-LAM, stood in Cuthah (cf. e.g., Laws of Hammurapi, Preamble, line 71), and the Cuthean colonists in the province of Samaria established this cult there (II Kings 17:30).

Cuthah is mentioned in various hymns and cultic poems. One historical poem, formerly known as the "Legend of the King of Cuthah," is now called the "Legend of Naram-Sin" because its subject is King Naram-Sîn of *Akkad (see O.B. Gurney, Anatolian Studies, 5 (1955), p. 93ff.). Although Cuthah was also considered a holy city by the Assyrian kings, it was damaged and destroyed by Sargon II and Sennacherib, due to the active participation of its old and new inhabitants in the wars of independence and revolts. According to the first edition of Sennacherib's annals of his first campaign (lines 23ff.) he took the city because it served as a center of Babylonian resistance to Assyria, and Ashurbanipal had to chastise it for the same reason. (Rassam Cylinder, 3:130 (in: D.D. Luckenbill, The Annals of Sennacherib (1924), 61); meanwhile Cuthah served as a minor astronomical-astrological observations station.) Either one or both of these episodes may be connected with the transplanting of Cutheans to the territory of the former rump kingdom of Ephraim reported in the already cited biblical passages (II Kings 17:24, 30; cf. Ezra 4:1–2, 10). In rabbinic sources "Cuthean" (Heb. כּוּתִי) is the fixed term of "*Samaritan."


Luckenbill, Records, index; A. Parrot, Archéologie mésopotamienne (1946), 93; D.O. Edzard, Die zweite Zwischenzeit Babyloniens (1957); A.L. Oppenheim, in: Centaurus, 14 (1969/70), 97–135.

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.