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More On “Black People” In Scripture

 July 2007

Dear Chaciyd,

          The book entitled "The Black Presence in the Bible" is by Walter Arthur McCray a noted minister of the Gospel, and a nationally recognized and celebrated author, lecturer, servant- leader, and Chicago- based entrepreneur. He is the co-founder and director of Black Light Fellowship in Chicago, IL.  McCray’s research into the Biblical presence of Blacks stems from the early 70’s.  Since its release, his book The Black Presence in the Bible has distinguished itself as a forerunner and a foundational resource.  Under the heading The Bible’s Explicit, Implicit, and Presumed Black Presence on pages 16, 17, and 18 of his book; McCray discusses these three terms as a way in which to recognize Blackness in Scripture.  To help us grasp how these terms can help us recognize Black People in Scripture, let’s look at the dictionary’s definition of these terms.  According to the Merriam—Webster Dictionary, the words

explicit means:  1a: fully reserved or expressed without vagueness, implication, or ambiguity; leaving no question as to meaning or intent. 2: being without doubt or reserve: unquestioning;

implicit means: 1a: capable of being understood from something else though unexpressed: implied <an implicit assumption> b: involved in the nature or essence of something though not revealed, expressed, or developed;

presumed means: 3: to suppose to be true without proof.  With this understanding, there is both an explicit and implicit, as well as presumed “Black” presence in the Scripture. 

By the term “Explicit Black Presence,” we mean that it is fully revealed or expressed without vagueness and leaves no question (being without doubt or reserve) as to the meaning or intent that there is a “Black People” present in Scripture.  By the term “Implicit Black Presence” we mean that it is capable of being understood from something else though unexpressed that there is also an implicit presence of Black people in Scripture.  As truth seekers we need to discover and affirm the identity of a people whose physical or social environment and background is composed to some degree of Blackness and/or Africaness, but whose individual personages escape precise “Black” identification.  Their Blackness is not ascertainable; it is implied rather than expressly stated. 

          For instance, how would your perception of the Abrahamic Hebrew community’s ethnic make-up be affected by a factual understanding demonstrating to you that the territory in Mesopotamia from which Abraham migrated, Ur of the Chaldees, was inhabited by a “Black people”? [Bereshith (Genesis) 11:28, 31; 15:7; NehemYAH (Nehemiah) 9:7) 1  or how does it challenge our thinking to understand that the “Mixed Multitude” who left ancient Mitsrayim (Egypt) a “Black” nation of people with the ancient children of Yashar'YAH (who were also a Black people according to Scripture and other historical documents; more light and proof on this will come shortly in our study)2 included many native Egyptians whose numbers probably far surpassed the population who were descendants form Ya’aqob (Jacob’s) twelve sons?3 Does it make any difference that scholars can verify that at certain times the inhabitants of the Mediterranean islands of Crete4 and Cyprus5 contained “Black people” among their populations?6

         The implicit “Black People” presence in the Scripture (Bible) can be traced also along other lines throughout Biblical history. 1) We can trace the “Black” identification of people and nations all over the Biblical geographical world;7 2) the Egyptian names of persons in Mosheh (Moses who also was a “Black Man”; more light and proof on this to come shortly in our study) family; 8 3) the intermixture of the Kna’aniy (Canaanite), an explicitly Hamitic Black people, with the Hebrew Yashar'YAH population;9 and 4)  the impacting of MashaYAH’s ancestral lineal genealogy with persons known to be Black.10

                These implicit lines of thought demonstrating the “Black people” presence in the Scriptures set a towb (good) context for understanding and better appreciating the explicit Scriptural references to “Black” persons and nations.  Thanks to the implicit Black presence in the Scriptures, we have towb (good) grounds for believing that much of the numerous and diverse names of persons mentioned in Scripture references to Black people.

          Now, when we used the term the Presumed Black Presence we are saying that the world of the Scripture (Bible) was a world composed of different peoples.  That world of different people served as the cultural and social background to Biblical history.  This world of different people included mostly people of color and an overwhelming majority of “Black” people.  Thus, a major assumption in this investigation is that there was indeed a “Black” presence in the world which gave us the Bible.11

                That is, at the time when the events of Scripture took place, and over the period of time when the books of the Scripture (Bible) were first written, there were “Black” people inhabiting the then known world.  Many of these “Black” people had direct dealings with the covenant people Yashar'YAH.  Consequently, many of these “Black” persons and nations were plainly identified and others were referred to indirectly in Scripture.12 This identification was natural, for these were the same “Black” people inhabiting the then known world.  Therefore, any explanations of Scripture in their historical and cultural contexts ought as a matter of sound explanatory course make reference to these “Black” persons and nations.  The fruits of any serious Biblical study must, due to necessity, include the presence of “Black” people.13

          We can now, after having evaluated the information about the world of the Bible with good conscience presume (to suppose to be true, but with proof) that there was a Black Presence in the Biblical world.

          In closing I do concur with Walter Arthur McCray that it is important for “Black” people to understand their Biblical history.  Understanding the presence of “Black” people within the Scripture nurtures among “Black” people an affection for the Scripture and the things of YAHUAH.  Far too many of our people reject the Scripture (Bible) because they don’t understand that it speaks responsibly about them and their experience.  YAHUAH is concerned about “Black” people.  Furthermore, enough information pertaining to “Black” people and their experience is written in YAH Dabar (YAHUAH’S Word) to convince the honest searcher for the emeth (truth) that YAHUAH is indeed concerned for the well-being, salvation, and liberation of ‘Black” people throughout the world.

          II Timothy 3:16-17 teaches us that “all Scripture is breathed (inspired) by YAHUAH and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for setting straight (correction), for instruction in tsdaqah (righteousness), vs. 17 that the man of YAHUAH might be fitted, equipped for every towb (good) work.”  Since this is so, why do “Black” people, if they want to be made whole, neglect those things which YAHUAH has favorably said about “Black” people in His Dabar (Word)? YAHUAH had to say what He has said about “Black” people for some reason, some good reason.

          It is time for Black people to read, study, and draw lessons for themselves from those things which YAHUAH has ordained to be written about Black people in His Word.  While the presence of a “Black People” is not the entire focus of the Scripture (Bible), neither should its contributions be neglected or despised.  Black people must learn to appreciate the word of YAHUAH which is specifically addressed to them and about them as a people, and this we will do.  HALAL YAH (PRAISE YAHUAH)!!! References Below

 

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

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  References

1. “. . . the patriarch Abraham migrated from what later came to be called Chaldea, a land occupied by Cushites.” Copher, “Blacks and Jews in Historical Interaction: The Biblical/ African Experience,” Op. cit., p. 12. See: Rashidi, “A Historical Overview,” Op. cit., pp. 17-19; Rashidi, “More Light on Sumer, Elam and India,” Op. cit., pp. 168-169.  [qtd. in The Black Presence in the Bible (pg. 152) by Walter Arthur McCray].

 

2.  And the sons of Ham, Cush & Mizraim &  Phut & Canaan.   "Genesis 10:6"
For years, scholars, theologians and archaeologist have debated the answer to the question, "How did the ancient Israelites look physically?   Although the scriptures and other historical documents,  have left a lot of evidence that confirms the  physical appearance of the Israelites.  Much of this information is still unknown to the masses.  The popular belief today among Christians,  Scholars and theologians, is the people known as "Ashkenazi Jews" are the direct descendants of the ancient Israelites. But, can this be proven beyond a shadow of a doubt? 
The answer is NO.  
The scriptures which will be used  as our  main source, supported by history and archaeology proves that these Jews are not the physical descendants of the ancient Hebrew Israelite nation.  In addition it reveals who the true descendants are. The answer may leave you in shock.  ObadYah Ysrayl, “The Physical Appearance of Ancient Israel The Hebrews & The Sons of Ham”; http://hebrewisraelites.org/physicalapp.htm.

3. See Bishop Alfred G. Dunston, Jr., The Black Man in The Old Testament and Its World, (Philadelphia, PA: Dorrance & Company, 1974), chapter. vi., “The Mixed Multitude,” pp. 58ff.; R. Alan Cole, Exodus: An Introduction and Commentary, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries, gen. ed. D.J. Wiseman, (Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1973), p.87. See his comment on Exodus 6:16: “There may well have been much intermarriage in early days (Genesis 41:45).” [qtd. in The Black Presence in the Bible (pg. 152) by Walter Arthur McCray].

 

4. Concerning Crete , it is usually assumed that the Cherethites of David’s bodyguard were Cretans (2 Samuel 8:15-18, 15:18; 1 Chronicles 18:14-17), and the name Caphtor (from whence came Philistines) is a reference to Crete (Deuteronomy 2:23; Jeremiah 47:4; Amos 9:7; Genesis 10:14). Were these elite fighters Black? Consider the following Snowden: “Egyptian tomb paintings have preserved other vivid representations of Nubians who served at various times under Egyptians . . . From the south also had come Ethiopians (Kushites) who had overrun Egypt and ruled it for more than half a century.  It was perhaps via Egypt that the blacks, depicted on a Minoan fresco, had come to Crete to serve as auxiliaries” Frank M. Snowden, Blacks in Antiquity, (Belknap Press: Cambridge, MA, 1970), p. 119.; see Drusilla Dunjee Houston, Wonderful Ethiopians of the Ancient Cushite Empire, (Baltimore, MD: Black Classic Press, 1985); notice Houston’s citation from The Earth and Its Inhabitants, vol. 1, p. 306 associating ruins in Cush with those in Crete: “…whose tunnel shaped gallaries like those of Crete are still to be seen passing under the houses.”; Copher states, “…Blacks, including Negroes, during Biblical times, inhabited…parts of Arabia, Phoenicia, Canaan, Crete and Greece” Copher, “Blacks and Jews in Historical Interaction: The Biblical/ African Experience,” Op. cit., p. 11.; also “…David employed Philistine mercenaries who had come from Crete where Black troops had been in service since early Minoan times, having come from Ethiopia and Egypt” Copher, “Egypt and Ethiopia in the Old Testament,” Nile Valley Civilizations, ed. Ivan Van Sertima (New Brunswick, NJ: Journal of African Civilizations Ltd., 1985), p. 173 and notes; Hansberry states, “…evidence was found which seemed to indicate that at various intervals in the long history of Minoan civilization there were evidently direct contacts with people and cultures of black or African origin. Evidence of such intercommunications dates from the very beginnings of the early Minoan civilization…” William Leo Hansberry, Africa & Africans as Seen By Classical Writers,  ed. Joseph E. Harris (Washington, D.C.: Howard University Press, 1981), sec. “The Aegean and Africa,” p.35.; R,K, Harrison, Introduction to the Old Testament, (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1969), p. 312.

 

5. Two of the Biblical inhabitants of Cyprus were Barnabas (Acts 4:36), and Bar-Jesus (Acts 13:6ff.). Could it be verified that either of the forementioned were Black?! Contact of Blacks with the island of Cyprus occurred at various historical points.  It was conquered by Thutmose III of the 18th Dynasty (1501-1447 B.C.); it was influenced much by Crete; the Phoenicians made settlements on the island in the 9th and 8th c. B.C.; it was conquered by Aahmes (Amasis) of Egypt and held to 526 B.C.; it fell under the domain of Ptolemies of Egypt (323 B.C.); and again under their domain in 294-258 B.C. See ISBE, s.v. “Cyprus,” by M. N. Tod and R.A. Gwinn; Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible, (1988), s.v. “Cyprus”; Clarke, “Social Studies African-American Baseline Essay,” Op. cit., sec. “The Ptolemaic Period- 332-47 B.C.,” p. SS-43; Snowden has written: “The most convincing explanation of Negroid stone figures found in Cyprus is that the sculptures were portraits of Ethiopians in the civil and military service of the Egyptians during Egyptian occupation of the island under Amasis [king of Egypt] (568-525 B.C.).” “A striking piece of corroborative evidence for the presence of Ethiopians in Cyprus is the traditional opinion of the Cyprians themselves, recorded by Herodotus, that one component of their population was Ethiopian.  The combined literary and archaeological evidence, together with the fact that Egyptians had a long history of recruiting Ethiopians, tends to confirm the view that the figures depicted Negroes present during military occupation of Cyprus in the sixth century.  It is not possible to determine the size of the Negroid contingents among the Egyptian forces, but it does not seem likely that the Cyprians would have included Ethiopians in a statement of population statistics- the others mentioned being Salaminians, Athenians, Arcadians, Cythnians, and Phoenicians- had the numbers bee negligible.” Snowden, Blacks in Antiquity, (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press, 1970), pp.121, 122-123; see also notes on pp. 24-25, 101, 157 and fig. 1, p. 33 [qtd. in The Black Presence in the Bible (pg. 153) by Walter Arthur McCray].

 

6. See James E. Brunson, Black Jade: African Presence in the Ancient East, intro. By Runoko Rashidi (Dekalb, IL: KARA Publishing Co., 1985), part iv., “The African Presence in the Ancient Mediterranean and Aegean Isles”, pp. 123-135. [qtd. in The Black Presence in the Bible (pg. 154) by Walter Arthur McCray].

 

7. In Biblical geographical world, Blacks were to be found in Arabia, Elam-Persia, Mesopotamia, Greece, India, Phoenicia, Crete, Cyprus, and Canaan, Egypt and Cush [qtd. in The Black Presence in the Bible (pg. 154) by Walter Arthur McCray].

 8. Commenting on Exodus 6:14-27 dealing with Moses’ and Aaron’s genealogical line, we read: “Merari may be an Egyptian name. Such names are very frequent in the tribe of Levi, whatever the explanation: Moses Putiel…are other examples” Cole, Op. cit., p. 87.; “Moses was of black Cushite origin.  Support for the opinion comes in the form of the Egyptian names carried by members of the family as well as by other Hebrews: Moses, Phinehas, Hophni, Merari, Pashur, etc., especially Phinehas, which means Black, Negro, Nubian, etc.” Copher, “Blacks and Jews in Historical Interaction: The Biblical/ African Experience.” Op. cit., p.13   [qtd. in The Black Presence in the Bible (pg. 154) by Walter Arthur McCray].

 9. For example, see Judges 3:1-6. “…in prehistoric times, before the coming of the Hebrews to Canaan, and also during the time of Hebrew-Israelite-Jewish occupation, Negroid peoples lived in the land, apart from any black element in the Hebrew-Israelite –Jewish population.” Copher, “Blacks and Jews in Historical Interaction: The Biblical/ African Experience,” Op. cit., p. 11.; “…from 8,000 B.C. – the era of the Natufian Blacks of Canaan- to 3500 B.C., most of Western Asia, including Canaan, Mesopotamia, and the Arabian Peninsula, wsa inhabited more or less exclusively by a black people. Op. cit., p. 188.; Custance says Sennacherib, the king of Assyria (r. 705-681 B.C) refers to the Canaanites as “blackness of head people” in his infamous six-sided prism.  This is the term which the indigenous population of Sumer (Biblical “Shinar”) used with reference to themselves. Custance, Op. cit., p. 152; see p. 72 and notes. [qtd. in The Black Presence in the Bible (pg. 154) by Walter Arthur McCray].

 10. For instance Tamar the Canaanite (Genesisi 38:26ff.; Matthew 1:3); Rahab the Canaanite (Joshua 2:1; 6:25; Matthew 1:5); Bathsheba the wife of Uriah the Hittite (2 Samuel 11:3; Matthew 1:6) and Athalia, daughter of Ahab and Jezebel the Sidonian, the granddaughter of Omri (the sixth king of the northeren kingdom of Israel), who married Jehoram king of Judah, and became the mother of Ahaziah (Jehoahaz), king of Judah (1 Kings 16:29-31; 2 Kings 8:25-27; 11:1-3; 2 Chronicles 22:1-9). [qtd. in The Black Presence in the Bible (pg. 155) by Walter Arthur McCray].

 11. A rather expansive category of evidence for identifying Blacks in the Biblical world is presented by Copher.  Namely, archaeological data; modern historical works; critical Biblical scholarly works; personal names and adjectives; opinions of modern travelers, archaeologists and anthropologists; ancient Greek-Roman legends and historical writings; works of early Christians commentators; and ancient Jewish writings. See Copher, “Blacks and Jews in Historical Interaction: The Biblical/African Experience.” Op. cit., p. 11. [qtd. in The Black Presence in the Bible (pg. 155) by Walter Arthur McCray].

 12. See Diop, “Origin of the ancient Egyptians,” Op. cit., sec. “Witness of the Bible,” p. 43. [qtd. in The Black Presence in the Bible (pg. 155) by Walter Arthur McCray].

 

13. When referencing Blacks in the Bible we can refer to “Cushite Blacks,” “Egyptian Blacks,” “Putite Blacks,” and “Canaanite Blacks.” Each of these descendants of Ham, except perhaps the Putites, had extensive dealings and contacts with the Covenant community in the Old Testament and are mentioned numerous times throughout the Scripture. Why should these peoples and their descendants not receive proper racial/ ethnic identification, and their Biblical data not be exegeted? [qtd. in The Black Presence in the Bible (pg. 155) by Walter Arthur McCray].

        

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