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19 September 2010 (Rishon/Pesach)
Day #187, 5934 AM
Who Were the Egyptians?
Exposing the Shoddy Scholarship of the
So-Called Black 'Hebrew Israelites'

Because we live in a politically and racially sensitive age I need to begin this devotional by stating up front that I am not a racist and I do not care what colour a man's skin is. I grew up in a multi-cultural and multi-ethnic society (Malaysia) where my race (British) was a small minority and where Malays, Indians, Chinese and Europeans along with Moslems, Christians, Hindus and Buddhists mingled freely. We all got along famously and my best friends were from all racial groups. I never knew what racial prejudice was until I returned to my ancestral home of England because there had been none in my upbringing. My first real shock of the realities of England in the 1960's was in seeing some white thugs beating up a Pakistani man at some docks as we drove away. I couldn't understand why and my heart went out to the Pakistani.

Four decades on I count my friends from amongst Arab Palestinians, Indians, West and East Africans, Iraqis, and of course Europeans. I think one of the most beautiful races in the world are the Somalis of Africa. So what I am writing about today has nothing to do with any personal 'preference' for one race or another, for I could not care a fig about skin-colour and I hold racism in utter scorn. I'm a white man (more accurately, a pink man) but living in the tropics for the first 10 years of my life made me pretty brown. So I was once brown by tanning.

All this article seeks to do is establish the truth. And the truth is this: the ancient Hebrew peoples were neither black nor white but brown and the Afro-American is not an ancient Israel in exile even if there is undoubtedly some Israelite blood in some Afro-Americans just like there is in every race on the face of this globe. And having established that, what will be the point of the article? To proclaim that Yahweh only cares about the 'colour' of your heart, whether it is good or bad, whether it is saved or lost.

An Israelite is, by definition, someone who has overcome. The man 'Israel', son of Isaac and grandson of Abraham, was not originally called 'Israel'. He was born 'Jacob' the deciever. Yahweh gave him the name 'Israel' later only after he had overcome his carnal disposition to be deceptive (dishonest). A New Covenant Israelite or Christian is defined as one who trusts in Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) and obeys the commandments of Yahweh. It doesn't matter what country or race he comes from because Yahweh accepts him on the basis of his heart and not his skin-colour. The original Israelites were Semites, descended from Shem, and resembled in appearance your modern Western Arab from Syria, Iraq or Jordan, who are also Semites. However, neither the Hebrews (descendants of 'Eber) nor the Arabs ever maintained a 'pure' race. There is no such thing as a 'pure' race anymore which is probably a good thing.

Noah's family seeded all the main racial types of the earth that we find today from black to white and every shade inbetween. Whether that is because Noah had had multiple wives during his long life and only one was worthy enough to be on board the ark, or whether all the necessary genes were contained in Noah's three sons, is immaterial to our discussion today. What's important is that what we see today in terms of racial types is what Yahweh chose to survive and prosper after the Flood. All races belong to Him. Moreover, whilst the biological children of Israel were overall Semitic in their appearance, they intermarried with converts from every race under the sun, including blacks.

Every single racial type has had a racial supremacy movement in it. The Japanese promoted Asian racial supremacy in the years before and during the Second World War. Hitler promoted white Arian racial supremacy. Fascist Romanians, Greeks, Italians and Spaniards promoted the racial supremacy of their olive skin-colour. There is a strong Slavic racial supremacy movement in Russia today. And now we have had the black supremacists since the rise of the Black panthers in the days when we were young.

Religons are no different. The original Islamic writings touted the 'white' (actually brown) skin as superior to black. There are the KKK (Klu-Klux-Klan) white supremacists of the southern states of the USA who claim to be the original 'Israel'. We have had the Rastafarians of Ethiopia who have long claimed to be Israelites (and actually there is some merit in their claims because Judah and Ham definitely intermarried in Ethiopia) which their strange religion of drug-taking and believing the late Emperor Haile-Selassie was Christ. And now we have the black 'Hebrew Israelites' or Afro-Americans (but not the Afro-Africans) who claim to be the original 'Israel'. On what do they base their claims?

In their main article following an introduction called The Physical Appearance of Ancient Israel, they point out that Israel has its beginnings in Egypt with 70 souls and by the time they left, there were 2 million of them who looked like black Africans. They correctly identify Ham, the son of Noah, as being black and correctly point out that Ham largely settled in Cush (Ethiopia), Mizraim (Egypt), Phut (Somalia) and Canaan. However, thereafter, their 'scholarship' becomes ludicrous:

    "Since the ancient Egyptians were a black people, Joseph had to be black also. If Joseph and the Hebrews look like Donny Osmond (he portrayed Joseph in a stage play), his brothers would have recongised him easily enough among the 'black' Egyptians. But Joseph's own flesh and blood brothers thought he was an Egyptian".

At least three false assumptions are made here:

  • 1. That all the Egyptians were one homogenous race of black people;
  • 2. That there was only one type of black man (just compare Somalis with Nigerians to see the differences); and
  • 3. That all Christians believe the Hebrews were milk-white like Donny Osmond.

The Semites were, as I have pointed out, brown- or olive-skinned and prolonged exposure to the sun would have made them very dark indeed. I had a friend, a South African white woman living in England, who was one who loved sunbathing. When she went back to South Africa on a vaccation (this was during the apartheid era of segregation of the races) she was thrown off a whites-only bus and made to take one for coloureds. So the Hebrews need not have stood out like a sore thumb in a 'black' country.

Were the Egyptians 'black'? Some of them were, undoubtedly. Some Pharaohs had jet-black skin and others paler brown skin. Why? Because Egypt was a country with a long history of many dynasties. And like all imperial and colonial powers, they brought back captives as slaves. Look at the United Kingdom today. Because of our former Empire, we are a multi-racial society. Someone calling himself 'British' could as easily be black, brown, yellow or white. He is considered British because of his nationality, not his skin colour. The same is true in numerous Western countries, including the USA, which has a multi-ethnic population.

What did the ancient Egyptians look like? Well, the majority were indeed dark-skinned (darker than the Semitic people) but they were not jet-black-skinned. You only have to look at the inscriptions of the times, as on this painting from the tomb of Seti I to see what a racial amalgam Egypt was:

From left to right we see depicted the four main racial types within the Egyptian Empire: a Syrian (Semite), a Nubian (typical black African Hamite), a Libyan (Semite) and an Egyptian. Notice that the Egyptian is not a typical jet-black African but something inbetween that of an African and a Semite - he's a mixture! To get an idea of the racial mix that was Imperial Egypt, look at this picture from the royal palace at Medinet Habu depicting the foreign prisoners-of-war of Ransees III:

From left to right we have a Libyan (Semite), a Nubian (African Hamite), a Syrian (Semite), a Shashu Bedouin (Semite) and a Hittite (Asian Hamite/Semite). What this proves, along with the depiction of various Pharaohs, is that Egypt, though certainly a Hamite nation, was in reality a blending of Hamite and Semite like the Asian Hamites, the Hittites. And like all royal dynasties, the Pharaohs would have married their daughters off other nations to forge political alliances, resulting in various royal houses with mixed blood. One of Solomon's wives was a daughter of Pharaoh. This is such common knowledge and such common sense that no intelligent person denies it. The Egyptain Hyksos dynasty, for example, is known to have been a dynasty of fair-skinned Semite shepherd-kings.

So I ask, would Joseph have looked conspicuous or out of place in an Egyptian setting? Of course not. He would have mingled quite naturally. If the creator(s) of the black Hebrew-Israelite movement had done any serious, unbiased scholarly research, instead of just digging examples of blacks wherever he could find them, he would have concluded, as all serious scholars have, that Egypt - lying as it did at the crossroads of Africa and Asia - was a Hamitic-Semitic MIX. Your ancient Egyptian was both and neither, with a whole range of shades of colour inbetween. So when these people cite passages of scripture that call Moses an "Egyptian", the author was not saying he was a 'black negro' but that he belonged to the multi-racial Egyptian nation. They were making a political statement. At the death of Jacob we read:

    "So Joseph went up to bury his father; and with him went up all the servants of Pharaoh, the elders of his house, and all the elders of the land of Egypt, as well as all the house of Joseph, his brothers, and his father's house. Only their little ones, their flocks, and their herds they left in the land of Goshen. And there went up with him both chariots and horsemen, and it was a very great gathering. Then they came to the threshing floor of Atad, which is beyond the Jordan, and they mourned there with a great and very solemn lamentation. He observed seven days of mourning for his father. And when the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites, saw the mourning at the threshing floor of Atad, they said, 'This is a deep mourning of the Egyptians'" (Gen.50:7-11, NKJV).

The 'Hebrew-Israelites' want us to believe that because the Canaanites said that "this is a deep mourning of the Egyptians" that this meant that Jacob and his family were therefore black. Such exegesis would be laughable were it not so tragic because this racial doctrine is leading thousands of black people astray into a fleshy gospel. Of course the Canaanites called the event 'Egyptian' just as a Russian would have called the funeral of Martin Luther King an 'American' affair. It wasn't, as they claimed, because "the Canaanites saw a procession of black-skinned people". Why would they have cared less since they were, according to the 'Hebrew-Israelites', black-skinned themselves (though actually they would have been more like the Hittites and dark brown-skinned Egyptians themselves).

Next we are told that the baby Moses could never have been concealed and raised in the Egyptian court because as a Donny Osmond-type white baby he would have stuck out like a store thumb in the jet-black court of Pharaoh. Well, we have already seen the nonsense that such a claim is because the court of Pharaoh would have been multi-racial and the colour difference between the Hebrew Moses and the dark-brown Egptians would not have been that great. Really, these people are just knocking down unbelievable and laughable straw men. Why would Pharaoh have cared less about skin colour? My first wife was part Armenian and had an olive skin complexion. Our son has the darker Asiatic skin and the hooked nose and our daughter white and typical Nordic features. No one ever cared or noticed. There must have been all kinds of people with different skin tones in the Royal House of Egypt. They were not so hypersensitive to racial matters as we are today. A person was viewed in terms of their loyalty not their skin colour just as there were in most Empires.

Attempting to reconstruct people from their skeletons showing not only their facial features but also the colour of their skin is dicey at best and complete guesswork at worst. The 'Hebrew-Israelite' flaunts some reconstructions of King Tut and Queen Nefertiti showing them as negroes. They might have been but these reconstructions are shere speculation but are used to reinforce an image that is realer than life. If evolutionist artists can reconstruct a pig's tooth to make it look like an ape-man (Nebraska man) then the imagination can make Tut or Nefertiti look like like Mao-tse Tung of China and Margaret Thatcher of England and it would establish nothing.

One of Solomon's lovers is described in the Song of Solomon. She was almost certainly black. But why make the distinction if Solomon (as an Israelite) were black too? Moses's first wife from MeroŽ in Nubia was also black. Some of the Hebrews made a fuss about this and criticised Moses for being married to such a woman. If the Hebrews were black, why would they care less? Yahweh rebuked the racists of that day, giving Mirian leprosy, thus confiming Yahweh's blessing on mixed-racial marriages.

The last argument offered in support of Moses being black was the fact that Yahweh made his hand leprous as a prophetic sign. The 'wonder' it is claimed, is that the leprosy made Moses' back hand white (cp. Ex.4:6). Well, of course, nothing much would have been visible if Moses had looked like Donny Osmond! But if he had been brown-skinned (whether pale or dark, it doesn't matter), the snow-white effects of the leprosy would have stood out just as easily. Accordingly, this does not make Mirian black either because she had leprosy and went partially white.

Finally, we come to Yah'shua (Jesus) Himself whom (of course) they claim was black. Well, what more can I say? Yah'shua was not a white Caucasian and no one who is a serious scholar would ever claim He was. But He was not a negro either. He would have been an olive-skinned Semite like your modern western Arab.

The case for the Hebrews being a Hamitic, African-Negro race is flawed with error. As Christians and Messianics we are not supposed to be seeing our identity in a biological race anyway but in a spiritual one - the 'race' of the Overcomers. I pity all who make their skin colour or race the focus of their identity, whether white, black, brown, yellow or red. This is a false gospel, a gospel of the flesh, which leads to pride and vanity. Yahweh's people are like the ancient Egyptians, a mixed assembly, and may it always be that way! I count among my heroes of the faith today Afro-Americans like T.D.Jakes, Sino-Americans (Chinese) like Francis Chan, Indians like K.P.Yohannan, Chinese like Watchman Nee, Palestinian Arabs like Anish Shorrosh, and many others from every race, kindred and tongue upon the vast surface of this globe. And you know what? All are the sons of Abraham by faith in Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) and all are Israelites who additionally obey the Torah.

The bottom line is that the so-called 'Hebrew-Israelites' have swallowed and are propagating a lie that will cost them their souls if they do not repent. They are no different from the original Mormons who believed that a white skin was a sign of righteousness and that wicked people turned black. Enough of this racial arrogance. We sing the song of a single race - the race of Adam - redeemed by the Blood:

    "And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to Elohim (God) by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation" (Rev.5:9, KJV).

I have always loved the Egyptians and I love black people as I do all others but sloppy exegesis steered by the same kind of persecution complex that many Jews have I have absolutely no time for. They need to get this chip off their shoulder and strop trying to be 'specual' because of the flesh. I see nothing of any value that this 'Hebrew-Israelite' movement has brought forth - they are a self-serving interest group. They have brought forth no new theological insights, they only care about one segment of people, and they are not being true to the commission of the Master. Like so many Messianics, they want to 'rescue' people from Christianity. Many, like some Messianics, deny the deity of Christ and the virgin birth. Some of them behave like occultists.

It's a great pity that people like them aren't colour blind. It would do them a power of good. It reminds me of an episode in the TV series MASH about the Korean War and how some servicemen teach a white racist wounded soldier a lesson. While he is unconscious they paint him black and tell him when he wakes up that he has been given a transfusion of blood from the black man - which he had.

I happen to be a Josephite, a descendant of Joseph of Egypt's son Ephraim. I guess that makes me part Egyptian and black. Joseph got a wonderful wife who may have been a negro. If so, then my ancestros have negro blood in them. I am not ashamed of that. My own family is multi-racial with English, Irish, Norwegian, Danish, Norman, French, German, Armenian and Amerindian Cherokee. And in the distant past there is likely Egyptian too along with many others. I love it! We have no race to boast of and don't care to. Like Paul, we boast of Yah'shua the Messiah and His saving grace and are fully satisified with that. Amen.

Visit the Black Hebrew-Israelite Heritage page


Acknowledgements

[1] Larry Orcutt, Cathpenny Mysteries of Ancient Egypt Explained, What Race Were the Ancient Egyptians?

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