Blacks of the Bible Essay

This essay has a total of 2779 words and 11 pages.

Blacks of the Bible

Blacks of the Bible
Any attempt to establish a universally accepted statement as to the presence of blacks in
the Old Testament would be futile for several reasons. Firstly, current definitions of a
black or Negro person may differ greatly dependent on the context of their usage, and
therefore any study aimed to show the presence of blacks in the bible would be limited to
the definition used by either the author or the reader of such a study. Also, the concept
of race defined on a basis of skin color alone has been the relatively young creation of
the Euro-centric western world, post 17th century. Due to this fact, it is sometimes
difficult to determine clearly the race of various peoples or persons in the Bible; the
people of biblical times do not share the same concept of race that we carry today. In
fact the Hebrew peoples themselves seem not to be of a pure racial breed of any color, but
rather the genealogy of the Hebrew people, as will be shown later, seems to be scattered
with interracial marriages and people of most all races including the Negro race.

Therefore, it is not my attempt with this essay to present an exhaustive or authoritative
account of all the black peoples and persons in the Old Testament. Rather it was my hope
to begin to explore the significance people of the Negro race hold in these ancient texts,
to find out the role that these people held in the rise and fall of the Hebrew nation, and
the part that was played by Negroes in the working out of Godís will for his people.

The account that I will provide is based most largely on similar studies presented by
African-American biblical scholars Cain Hope Felder and Charles B. Copher. However, I
have not taken the words of these men without a grain of salt, and I was sure to read
their study with their book in one hand and the Bible in the other. What I found was that
people of dark skin played an important role in just about every generation dating almost
back to Godís creation of man. I had expected to find a few scattered references to
African peoples or a few random accounts of individuals who had traveled from the African
continent, but my study revealed that people of dark skin, who very well may be considered
black by todayís racial standards, were found scattered about the nations of the ancient

Origins of the Negro Race
One of the first or most obvious questions that may be asked when beginning to look for
the presence of blacks in the Old Testament is with regard to the origin of dark skinned
races. A logical place to begin this search may be in the table of nations presented in
Genesis 10:1-14 and again listed in 1 Chronicles 1:8-16. This list begins with Noah and
accounts for the dispersing of his sons to begin repopulating the Earth after the great
flood account in Genesis. In this table of nations we find that two of the named sons of
Ham are known dark skinned races. These being the descendants of Cush and the descendants
of Canaan. The most commonly accepted reason for the sudden appearance dark skin within
the genealogy is related to the curse Noah set upon Ham in Genesis 9:25-27. Although not
explicitly stated in the text, it is generally accepted that Hamís skin was turned dark as
a result of this curse, and his descendants were then destined to carry the same mark.

There are, however, other hypotheses for the origin of the black races. The first of
these theories, expressed in ancient Babylonian myth, suggests that Ham defiled himself in
a sexual act with the dog while on the ark. For this act of defilement, curses were
placed on both the dog and Ham. Hamís curse was that he and his descendants would be

The next theory suggests that the Negro race actually began back with Adam and Eveís first
son Cain, who was turned black by the ashes of his inappropriate offering to God. The
theory that Cain was in fact the father of the Negro race was a somewhat prevalent thought
among Europeans back as far as the 12th century, and possibly further as Cainís
descendants are depicted as black skinned in the tale of Beowulf. However, this theory
has only been made doctrine in the Mormon church. This theory is closely tied to the
story of Ham, by suggesting that Ham took a descendant of Cain as his wife, thereby
producing dark skinned offspring in Cush and Canaan.

Still others theorize that the table of nations shown in Genesis and 1 Corinthians is a
list of nations that is only inclusive of the nations within the scope of knowledge of the
author, and in fact all of the races listed there are Caucasoid races. Among those
excluded from this list would be the Indians, Chinese, Mongolians, Malaysians, and the
Negroes. The theory suggests that there were other races of independent lineage that were
unknown to the author at the time of the writings. It seems that this would be strongly
discredited by the established ideal that the great flood was intended to wipe all people
from the Earth, save Noahís family. It would thereby be assumed that all races of the
Earth are descendant of Noah.

Whatever the explanation for the origin of dark skinned races, Negro people clearly have
been descendant of Noahís son Ham, and it is told in Genesis that Hamís offspring were
those who settled and built such great ancient cities as Babylon, Nineveh, Sodom, and

In the Patriarchal Period
According to Genesis 11:31 Abraham, then Abram, was born and raised in the city of Ur of
the Chaldeans, whose inhabitants included many dark skinned people descendent most likely
from Babylonian settlers. Included among these people were the Sumarian people who
referred to themselves as the "black headed ones," indicative of skin color not only black
hair. Abram took his wife Sarai while still living in Ur. Granted there is no explicit
indication that either Abraham or his wife was born into a family with Negro heritage, but
the great black presence in the region of his familyís origin certainly means that one
must at least entertain that possibility. So it would be reasonable to believe that the
great patriarch himself, the father of the Hebrew people, may have had some black blood in

Regardless of the presence of Negro blood in Abrahamís lineage it is certainly clear that
he had much contact with dark skinned people in the time that he and Sarah spent in Egypt
and Canaan. Both of these areas were settled by the descendants of Ham, and were
inhabited most largely by dark skinned people. Abraham and Sarah took an Egyptian
maidservant named Hagar when they headed to Canaan, out of Egypt. It was later through
the Egyptian, Hagar, that Abraham bore his first son Ishmael. Because Ishmael was born
outside Godís covenant with Abraham, he and his mother were eventually sent away, but they
settled in the region just east of Egypt and it is generally believed that he took an
Egyptian wife and fathered the Arab race.

In Egypt and the Exodus
Egypt was a land of people of all colors, but it has become more and more apparent in
recent scholarship that the great nation of Egypt has been more a derivative of the
African nations descendent of Cush than of any middle eastern peoples. In addition to
this, although most Egyptians were not as dark skinned as their Ethiopian neighbors to the
south, the vast majority of Egyptians had enough black blood in them that they would
certainly have been considered Negroes by most any definition used today. This fact is
only reinforced by the observation that the Psalms repeatedly poetically refer to Egypt as
"the land of Ham" (Ps. 78:51, 105:23, 106:22).
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