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May/June 2007

ARE “BLACK PEOPLE” IN SCRIPTURE?

Dear Chaciyd,

            When I was about 10 yrs. old, I asked my grandmother: Did the Bible speak about “Black people”? Madea (my grandmother as we called her) would always give an answer to my questions, but her response to this question only made me more curious and opened the door for more questions about “Black People” that I would never be able to let go until I was able to find out the truth.  The truth of the matter is that the scriptures have a lot of evidence that confirms the Presence of Black people in Scripture.  They are noted in Scripture by the beauty and color of their skin, by the land from which they came; their history is remembered, their contributions are noted in scripture, their failures are described in scripture, and their future is prophesied in scripture.  “Black People” were noted and rooted in the household of faith in both the Old and New Testaments.  They were respected and redeemed by YAHUAH.  Both individually and collectively, they played an important part in YAHUAH’s machashabah (plan and purpose) for the yasha (salvation) of all humanity.

            Today, forty-one years later, I am teaching my children and grandchildren the answer to the question I asked my grandmother at the age of 10: Does the Bible speak about “Black people”? My response today is that not only does the Scripture (Bible) speak about “Black people,” it is the history of “Black people.”  It tells of our beginning and our ending; our past, our present, and our future.  This is perhaps the world’s most best kept secret of all times, especially in the “Black” community.  Although much is written about “Black people” in scriptures, still much of the information concerning who we are and who’s we are is unknown or overlooked by the students and readers of the Scripture.

            There may be not so few Bible students who can readily name some specific “Black” person in the scriptures such as Shim’own (Simon) of Cyrene- the cross bearer for YAHUSHA (Mark 15:21); the Ethiopian eunuch who was converted through the witness of Philip (Acts 8:26-40); the Kuwshiy (Cushite or Ethiopian) woman whom Mosheh (Moses) married [Bemidbar (Numbers) 12:1]; the queen of Shba (Sheba) who visited Shlomoh (Solomon) [I Melakim (I Kings) 10:1-13)].

            But what about being able to grasp and identify certain people and nations who are “Black” referring to those such as the Egyptians [Bereshith (Genesis) 12:12,14; Shemoth (Exodus)1:13,19; Wayyiqra (Leviticus) 24:10]; the Kuwshiy (Cushite or Ethiopian) [II Dibre ha Yamin (II Chronicles) 12:3; Yirmeyahu (Jeremiah) 46:9]; the Midyaniy (Middianites) [Bereshith (Genesis) 37:28, 36; Bemidbar (Numbers) 10:29]; or even the Kna’aniy (Canaanite) the Ybuwciy (Jebusite), and the Emoriy (Emorite or Amorite), and the Girgashiy (Girgasite), and the Chivviy (Hivite), and the Chamathiy (Hamathite), and others, Bereshith (Genesis) 10: 6-20.  There is clear Scripture data which demonstrates the Blackness of all these people and nations.

            One of the easiest ways to identify “Black people” in Scripture is through the use of names.  There are names in Scripture that identifies by their very meaning the nation, race, and ethnic origin of a people.  For example, the name “Kedar1” meaning “Very Black” or the name “Phinehas2” meaning the “Negro or the Nubian” identifies a Black person.  The name “Cush3” meaning “Black” identifies a people or nation.  The name “Tahpanhes4” meaning Palace of the Negro [Yirmeyahu (Jeremiah) 43:7, or “Ham5” meaning “hot,” “heat,” “Black or Burnt” and Shim’own (Siemon) the prophet, a leading member of the assembly of Antioch is nicknamed “Niger6” meaning “dark-complexioned and black.”

    There are several names in the Scripture (Bible) that reference Black people.  These names include Cham (Ham), the father of African people and his sons Kuwsh (Cush);  Mitsrayim (Egypt); Phut (Put) Kna'an (Canaan).  These are the name of some more people in Scripture that were Black, but this is only a few names there are many more:

Malkiy-Tsedeq (Melchizedek): Bereshith (Genesis) 14: 18; Tehillim (Psalms) 110:4; Ibrim (Hebrews) 5:6, 10; 6:20; 7:1, 10, 11, 15, 17

'Ephrown (Ephron) the Chittiy (Hittite): Bereshith (Genesis) 23:8, 10, 13, 14, 16, 17; 25:9; 49:29, 30; 50:13

Hagar the Mitsriy (Egyptian):  Bereshith (Genesis) 16:1, 3, 4, 8, 15, 16; 21:19, 14, 17; 25:12; Galatians 4: 24, 25 

 Rachab (Rahab) the Harlot: Yehoshua (Joshua) 2:1, 3; 6:17, 23, 25; Mattithyahu (Matthew) 1:5; Ibrim (Hebrews) 11:31; Ya'aqob (James) 2:25

Queen of   Shba' (Sheba): I Melakim (I Kings) 10:1, 4, 10, 13; II Dibre ha Yamim (II Chronicles) 9:1, 3, 9, 12; Mattithyahu (Matthew) 12:42; Luke 11:31  

 'Ebed Melek (Ebedmelech) the Ethiopian: Yirmeyahu (Jeremiah) 38:7, 8, 10, 11, 12; 39:16

Par'oh (Pharaoh)  Tirhaqah (Tirhakah): II Melakim (II Kings) 19:9; Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 37:9

    Also, here are just a few of the nations that are identified as Black people: Midyaniy (Midianites),  'Almiy (Elamites), and Chittiy (Hittites).

    In spite of the overwhelming evidence the Scripture gives about the Presence of Black People in Scripture there are those who have tried to discredit our presence in Scripture.  For a good racist example of this point, let us consult the following words and article by W.S. Lasor.  The position of this author is ambiguous, inconsistent, and charged with the fear of the truth regarding “Black people.” The following is a representative quote from the author:

1There is no evidence, either in the Bible or extrabibical material, to support the view that Ham or any of his descendants was negroid.  The Greek term Aithiops does indeed mean “burnt face” and was doubtless applied to peoples to the south of Egypt because of their dark complexion.  However, both the Ethiopians and the Nubians lack the physical characteristics, other than skin pigmentation, that are used anthropologically to define the negroid peoples.  Of the identifiable descendants of Ham named in Genesis 10 all are Caucasoid.  The first reference to the Negroes is found in late Egypt records. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (rev. 1979-1988), s.v. “Cush,” by W.S. LaSor [qtd. in The Black Presence in the Bible (pg. 147) by Walter Arthur McCray].  

 2Chancellor Williams comments that “The periodization of African history is carefully arranged in such a way that the history becomes the history of Arabs and Europeans in Africa, and not the history of Africans… There is no period of Black civilization in Black Africa.  Such is the Caucasion viewpoint – almost a religion.” Chancellor Williams, The Destruction of Black Civilization: Great Issues of a Race from 4500 B.C. to 2000 A.D., (Chicago Illinois: Third World Press, 1976; p.39) [qtd. in The Black Presence in the Bible (pg. 147) by Walter Arthur McCray]. 

            According to Charles B. Copher, an eminent Black Old Testament scholar:

3The more or less biblically based view that regarded the black man as an inhabitant of the biblical world may be titled the Old Hamite Hypothesis…Then, around 1800, a new stream came to the surface.  This latter, which may be called the New Hamite Hypothesis, eliminates the black man, or rather the so-called Negro, from the biblical world.  Those black peoples whom it retains are given the title Caucasoid Blacks instead of being regarded as Negroes are viewed as being white. Charles B. Copher, “The Black Man in the Biblical World,” The Journal of the Interdenominational Theological Center, vol. 1, no. 2 (Spring 1974):7 [qtd. in The Black Presence in the Bible (pg. 10) by Walter Arthur McCray].  [The] new Hamite hypothesis or view… dissociated the so-called Negroes from the Hamites, removes color from the criteria for determining racial identity, and regards black non-Negroids to be white – Caucasoid or Europid Blacks.  It is this view or hypothesis which came to characterize the so-called sciences of anthropology, ethnology, and kindred studies, but also critical historical- literacy Biblical studies.  And just as anthropology and ethnology removed Negroes from the Biblical world so did critical study of the Bible remove Negroes from the Bible and Biblical history- except an occasional Negro individual who could only have been a slave.  Thus today in critical Biblical studies, as in anthropology and ethnology, the ancient Egyptians, Cushites, in fact all the Biblical Hamites, were white; so-called Negroes did not figure at all in Biblical history, and there could not have been interaction between Blacks and Jews if by Blacks is meant so-called Negroes.  Charles B. Cpher, “Blacks and Jews in Historical Interaction: The Biblical/African Experience,” The Journal of the Interdenominational Theological Center, vol. 3, no, 1 (Fall 1975):10. [qtd. in The Black Presence in the Bible (pg. 10) by Walter Arthur McCray]. 

            I do Barak YAH (Bless YAHUAH) for lighting a fire in me forty-one years ago that still burns for the knowledge to discover and understand the Presence of Black People in Scripture.  Perhaps even more important is who are we as a “Black people” in America.  Removed from our homeland in the continent of Africa, could it be that we (the so called Negro, African-American, Afro-American, Blacks in the Western Hemisphere) are the direct descendants of the ancient Hebrew Yashar'YAH? The answer may leave you in shock.  But with the Scriptures and the support of other historical documents, we will discover the truth.  HALAL YAH (Praise YAHUAH).  References Below

 

In the Yachal (Hope) of YAHUSHA HA MashaYAH,
Raah Fredrick A. Brown

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References


1. Genesis 25:13; Psalms 120:5; Song of Solomon 1:5. It means "exceedingly Black," according to Copher, "Search: The Black People's Presence in the Bible," Op. cit., p. 4; See also Copher, "Three Thousand Years," Op. cit., p.107; Eerdmans Bible Dictionary, (1987) s.v. "Kedar." Perhaps a secondary meaning of "Kedar" is "mighty." So it could be said that the Kedarites were "Black and mighty!" See NUBD, s.v. "Kedar." 

2. Exodus 6:25; I Chronicles 9:20; see Copher, "Three Thousand Years," Op. cit., p. 107.; Illustrated Bible Dictionary, (1980) s.v. "Phinehas," by K.A. Kitchen.

3. "Ethiopia" II Chronicles 16:8; 21:16; Isaiah 20:4; see Copher, "Three Thousand Years," Op. cit., p. 107.

4. Jeremiah 2: 16; 43:7, 8, 9; 44:1; 46:14; see IBD, s.v. "Tahpanhes"; Copher, "Blacks and Jews in Historical Interaction: The Biblical/ African Experience," Op. cit., p.15. See also Cushan and Ham as place names.

5. Genesis 14:5; I Chronicles 4:40; see Copher. "Three Thousand Years," Op. cit., p. 108; EBD, p. 456; s.v. "Ham"; ISBE, s.v. "Ham."

6. Acts 13:1; A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Early Christian Literature, William F. Arndt and F. Wilbur Gingrich (Chicago, Illinois: University of Chicago Press, 1957.), p. 541; s.v. "Niger"; ISBE, s.v. "Niger"; note The Living Bible rendering, "the Black Man."

 

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