Thursday, October 19Exploring The Black Presence In The Bible

Hebrews Had Dark Skin: Evidence From The Old and New Testaments


"My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge..." - Hosea 4:6

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Why are there so many references to the Hebrews having dark skin, and none of them having white skin in scripture? Why were they mistaken for Egyptians from the time of Joseph, up until the Apostle Paul began preaching? The debate as to whether or not the original Hebrews had dark skin, can be settled using scripture and history. There are verses all over the Bible that give us an indication of what the original Hebrews looked like, before they began to mix with the invading European nations.


Disclaimer: Please read the entire chapter for context. There are other sources out there that grasp for straws, in an attempt to explain away any reference to the Hebrews being dark skinned people. However, an honest and thorough reading of the text will prove that the Hebrews did have dark skin. If you’d like to read about Hebrew Slavery In America, then click here.


Exhibit A – Dark Skin References

My skin is black upon me, and my bones are burned with heat.” – Job 30:30

While the text makes it clear that Job’s skin was black, many point out that the Hebrews mourned and repented by covering themselves in ashes. While it is true that the Hebrews sprinkled ashes on themselves, it is a stretch to believe that Job did not bathe at all, and remained covered in ashes throughout the ordeal.

The Hebrew

  • Shachar (Strong’s #7835): A primitive root (identical with shachar through the idea of the duskiness of early dawn); to be dim or dark (in color) — be black.

I am black, but comely, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, as the tents of Kedar, as the curtains of Solomon. Look not upon me, because I am black, because the sun hath looked upon me: my mother’s children were angry with me; they made me the keeper of the vineyards; but mine own vineyard have I not kept.” – Song of Solomon 1:5-6

Here we have Solomon’s lover telling us twice that she is black. She even goes as far as to compare her own skin to the tents of Kedar, the curtains of Solomon, and says it is because “the sun hath looked upon me”. This is a literal telling of her skin color. As we can see, there are four direct references to black skin in the Old Testament, and at least one in the New Testament that implies dark skin.

The Hebrew

  • Shachor (Strong’s #7838): Or shachowr {shaw-khore’}; from shachar; properly, dusky, but also (absol.) Jetty — black.

“Her Nazarites were purer than snow, they were whiter than milk, they were more ruddy in body than rubies, their polishing was of sapphire:” – Lamentations 4:7

If we keep this verse in context, the reference to being “whiter than milk” is a reference to a Nazarite’s moral character. That is why the writer differentiates by specifying that they were “more ruddy in body than rubies”. If we take an honest look at the following, we must conclude that the Hebrews were a deep, dark red, because people are not bright red. Find the color “ruby” on the following color chart, and ask yourself which color is closest to a skin tone you’ve seen before.

ruddy1

When we look at the chart, we can rule out every color that doesn’t remotely look like a human skin tone. From there, we can rule out any color that isn’t darker than ruby. That leaves us with the following colors:

  • Currant
  • Garnet
  • Jame
  • Mahogany
  • Wine

If you’re interested in reading a thorough study on ruddy skin in the Bible, please read the following article here on this site: Ruddy Skin In The Bible: Forget Everything You’ve Heard.

The Hebrew

  • Adom (Strong’s #119): To show blood (in the face), i.e. Flush or turn rosy — be (dyed, made) red (ruddy).

Their visage is blacker than a coal; they are not known in the streets: their skin cleaveth to their bones; it is withered, it is become like a stick.” – Lamentations 4:8

The word “visage” means “appearance” (Strong’s #8389), and as we read in the verse, their appearance was “blacker than coal”. It can be argued that this is a reference to their demeanor or visible emotional state, but the following verse puts a nail in that coffin.

  • The Hebrew word “black” in this verse is chashak (Strong’s #2821), which means “to be or grow dark”.
  • By mentioning coal, Jeremiah is giving us something visual to reference.
  • When we take this verse in context, along with Lamentations 4:7, we can see that Jeremiah was telling us that the Hebrews were a dark skinned nation.
"Their visage is blacker than a coal..."
“Their visage is blacker than a coal…”

The Hebrew

  • Chashak (Strong’s #2821): A primitive root; to be dark (as withholding light); transitively, to darken — be black, be (make) dark, darken, cause darkness, be dim, hide.

Our skin was black like an oven because of the terrible famine.” – Lamentations 5:10

No matter how long the Hebrews were out in the sun, their skin would not go from white or light to black as an oven due to famine or sunlight. Some teachers attempt to explain this away by using the same ashes argument that they do in Job, but as stated before, it is a stretch to maintain this viewpoint.

The following is a picture of a typical stone oven that would have been used by the Hebrews at the time that Jeremiah wrote this verse. We can clearly see how dark the inside of the oven is.

The Inside of A Stone Oven
The Inside of A Stone Oven

The Hebrew

  • Kamar (Strong’s #3648): A primitive root; properly, to intertwine or contract, i.e. (by implication) to shrivel (as with heat); figuratively, to be deeply affected with passion (love or pity) — be black, be kindled, yearn.

And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters.” – Revelation 1:15

Many people try to allegorize this vision to escape the inevitable conclusion. John was describing what he saw and heard, to the best of his ability. Part of this description was noting that Jesus’ feet were in likeness to brass burned in a fire. Here is a picture of fire burned brass for you to reference.

Brass Burned In Fire
Brass Burned In Fire

It is very hard to deny the color of the above picture, but there will still be those that play semantics with the colors, in order to deny the obvious. Jesus was a person with dark brown skin. John used similes, which indicates a comparison, and not allegory.

The Hebrew

  • Chalkolibanon (Strong’s #5474): Neuter of a compound of chalkos and libanos (in the implied mean of whiteness or brilliancy); burnished copper, an alloy of copper (or gold) and silver having a brilliant lustre — fine brass.
  • Puroo (Strong’s #4448): From pur; to kindle, i.e. (passively) to be ignited, glow (literally), be refined (by implication), or (figuratively) to be inflamed (with anger, grief, lust) — burn, fiery, be on fire, try.


Read More About Black History & The Bible In My Book

God Couldn't Have Done It Without Africa: Earth's Final Great Awakening


Exhibit B – Hebrews Looked Like Egyptians

“And the shepherds came and drove them away: but Moses stood up and helped them, and watered their flock. And when they came to Reuel their father, he said, How is it that ye are come so soon to day? And they said, An Egyptian delivered us out of the hand of the shepherds, and also drew water enough for us, and watered the flock.” – Exodus 2:17-19

We see here that Moses was mistaken for an Egyptian, but why? If an African puts on European clothing, nobody will mistaken them for a European, and vice versa. Moses was born in Egypt, adopted by Pharaoh’s daughter, given an Egyptian name, and raised in Egypt. Moses spoke both Egyptian and Hebrew, and possibly other languages as well. The fact is, Moses looked like an Egyptian, and it wasn’t just because of his clothing.

Art not thou that Egyptian, which before these days madest an uproar, and leddest out into the wilderness four thousand men that were murderers?” – Acts 21:38

Not long after the resurrection of Christ, the Apostle Paul was mistaken as an Egyptian, and unlike Moses, Paul was a Pharisee. Because he was a converted Pharisee, Paul would not have been dressed like an Egptian, which means that they must have had ore than clothing in common.

Exhibit C – The Meaning of Names

In the Hebrew culture, people were often named because of physical features or personality traits that they possessed. Because of this, we can often look at names to understand something about the person that wasn’t otherwise mentioned.

Ham: Brown or Burnt or Hot (translation varies)

“And Noah was five hundred years old: and Noah begat Shem, Ham, and Japheth.” – Genesis 5:32

The Hebrew

  • Cham (Strong’s #2526): a son of Noah, also his descendants, also a name for Egyptians
Egyptian Tomb Art
Egyptian Tomb Art

Kedar: Swarthy

“And these are the names of the sons of Ishmael, by their names, according to their generations: the firstborn of Ishmael, Nebajoth; and Kedar, and Adbeel, and Mibsam,” – Genesis 25:13

The Hebrew

  • Qedar (Strong’s #6938): swarthy, black-tented

The English

Niger (Simeon): Black Skinned

“Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.” – Acts 13:1

The Hebrew

Lucius of Cyrene

In the above verse (Acts 13:1), Cyrene is located in Libya. The following picture shows where Libya is located.

Libya In The Bible
Cyrene, Libya Is Located In Africa

Exhibit D – Circumstantial Evidence

“And the LORD said furthermore unto him, Put now thine hand into thy bosom. And he put his hand into his bosom: and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous as snow.” – Exodus 4:6

While this isn’t hardcore evidence of having dark skin, the act of turning white or light skin even whiter doesn’t seem like much of a miracle. However, turning a dark skinned person as white as snow, would be something to talk about.

“And the cloud departed from off the tabernacle; and, behold, Miriam became leprous, white as snow: and Aaron looked upon Miriam, and, behold, she was leprous.” – Numbers 12:10

Again, the Bible seems to emphasize that leprosy turns the person “white as snow”. Once again, if these people were already white or light skinned, the emphasis wouldn’t be needed.

“The leprosy therefore of Naaman shall cleave unto thee, and unto thy seed for ever. And he went out from his presence a leper as white as snow.” – 2 Kings 5:27

If we read the full chapter, we see that Naaman was a full body leper since birth. That means he was white or more likely albino. He went to Elisha to be healed, and his flesh was restored to it’s original color (whatever that was). As we get down to verse 27, Gehazi (Elisha’s servant) and all of his descendants are cursed by Elijah to be white.

Exhibit E – Pictures Worth 1,000 Words

Sometimes pictures say more than words ever can. The following pictures are some of the oldest known depictions of Christ, and all of them show him as dark skinned. Christ was not depicted as white until around the 4th century A.D.

The Earliest Known Depiction of Jesus (Coptic Museum in Cairo, Egypt)
The Earliest Known Depiction of Jesus (Coptic Museum in Cairo, Egypt)
The Healing of The Paralytic (circa 235 AD)
The Healing of The Paralytic (circa 235 A.D.)
The Good Shepherd (3rd Century A.D.)
The Good Shepherd (3rd Century A.D.)
christpeterpaul
Christ, Peter, and Paul (4th Century A.D.)
The Catacombs of Domitilla - Christ and The Disciples
The Catacombs of Domitilla – Christ and The Disciples

A Summary of The Evidence

  1. The Hebrews before the Exodus were all born and raised in Africa.
  2. The Hebrews were referred to as black several times in scripture.
  3. The Hebrews are mistaken for Egyptians at least three times in scripture, and Egyptians depicted themselves as dark skinned people.
  4. The Hebrews intermixed with Africans. In those times, people married interracially, but mainly with other people that shared the same skin tone as them. The offspring of a dark and a light person almost always results with a child that is lighter than the darkest parent, and darker than the lightest parent, meaning that most Hebrews would not have been white or light skin.
  5. Joseph, Jesus, and Mary were all sent to hide among the Egyptians until the death of Herod. It would not make any sense to hide a white or light child among people that depicted themselves as dark.
  6. A man from Cyrene, Libya was the one chosen to bear the cross of Christ. As mentioned above, Cyrene, Libya is located in Africa.
  7. Following the resurrection of Christ, at least one of the apostles was referred to as “black skinned” and another was from Cyrene, Libya.

Please Present Your Evidence

If you know of any other evidence not found on this page, please feel free to use the comment form below to submit links, references, pictures, and videos to support your claims. Thanks in advance for helping to make this site better.




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5 Comments

  • dave

    And too it actually would be a miracle to talk about if a light skinned persons hand suddenly turned snow white as white people’s skin is not snow white. White people are people of color too! It’s not proof of black skin. Maybe he was black or maybe he was brown..idk..but the to say it’s not much of a miracle to go from light skin to snow white is ridiculous.

    • Black History In The Bible

      When we say “black” and “white”, we know that no one has skin that is literal to the description. They are visual terms for the reader. Moses was mistaken for an Egyptian, and the vast majority of Egyptian depictions are dark skinned Egyptians. It wasn’t just about clothes, but about skin tone, language, etc. The Midianite girls thought Moses was Egyptian.

      Based on how Egyptians depicted themselves, it’s very likely that Moses had dark skin. Ethiopians were famous for their black skin in those times, and Moses married an Ethiopian woman. Solomon had an affair with an Ethiopian woman as well. Back then, people tended to mix and marry similar skin toned people.

      Based on the evidence, Europeans were not running around Africa for 400 years, taking African wives, and still giving birth to white Hebrews. It’s not logical to conclude any of them were light skinned. Remember, God commanded the nation to stay separate from certain groups. However, he never told them to exclude Egyptians, Ethiopians, etc.

      Gentiles were off limits to marry, and in the Gospels, we see the Romans referred to as Gentiles. After Rome fell, they scattered and founded new locations. Those locations eventually formed Britain, and then America. There is no evidence that the Hebrews suddenly started taking Gentile women as wives and diluting the line with Gentiles or any other outsiders.

      There is one group that can fit the description of “white as snow” better than white people, and they are black albinos. However, even black people still consider albinos “black” and albinos almost always identify themselves as “black”. Even then, there’s no record of a tribe of albino Hebrews. A miracle is a miracle, but seeing a black person turn white has shock value. White skin turning whiter is not a huge deal, but a white person turning black would be shock value.

      I personally do not believe that Moses was light skinned based on the fact that he was born and raised in Africa, and descended from a tribe of people that intermarried with dark skinned Africans.

  • dave

    The black Jesus pics especially the Egyptian one is a little on the biased side. Just because it has an early date doesn’t necessarily mean anything. You have to look at where the painting is from. It’s natural for each ethnicity to want to depict Jesus as similar to them. Europeans did it a long time….no different with Egyptians. I always thought of Jesus as being medium brown or something but if he was black so be it..I just can’t help but feel like you being black you might be seeing dark skin in every description. But, maybe I’m the ignorant one..

    • Black History In The Bible

      You have a point to a degree. However, the date is important. It also makes a difference because the further back we look, the less white Jesus becomes. In fact, Judah’s son Pharez, was with Tamar. Tamar was a Canaanite woman, and Canaan was from Ham, the father of the African nations. So in context, the son of Judah, through whom the Messiah would come, had African blood.

      We then see David and Solomon with African wives as well. Moses had an African wife. Joseph had an African wife. The list goes on and on, so we know that Christ had African blood via Mary.

      Also, let’s consider the location. Israel is right next door to Africa. It’s actually closer to Africa than anywhere else, and was under African control for over 1,000 years. When Christ was sent to hide, where did God hide him? In Africa. You don’t hide a white person in a black nation because he’d be easy to find.

      In other words, the best place to hide a needle is in a huge stack of needles that look very similar. The point of hiding Christ was to keep Herod from murdering him. If Christ was white, it would make sense to send him into Europe, not Africa.

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