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Interracial Marriage In The Old Testament
The topic of interracial marriage in relation to the Bible often makes many people uncomfortable. The reason for this is that most of the teaching on it comes from cherry picking specific situations and attempting to apply them across the board. This study is an in depth look at what was allowed and what wasn’t allowed when it came to interracial marriage in the Bible.
Before we start, we need to understand that mainstream Christianity teaches and accepts the following view on the origins of the races:
If we stay true to the above viewpoints and honestly examine the text, we will see that the Bible’s view on interracial marriage is much different than what is taught in many churches across the world, and especially in the United States.
The Absence of Japheth
One thing that may not be apparent is that there is no record in the Bible of the descendants of Japheth mixing with the descendants of Ham or Shem. Most Bible scholars agree that the descendants of Japheth migrated into Europe, thus separating themselves from the descendants of Ham and Shem, who mixed and had children throughout the entire Old Testament.
The Problem With Mixing With Ham’s Descendants
Another major issue that bothers many believers is the claim that all black people came from Ham. By taking this position, every researcher, preacher, and teacher has painted themselves into a corner of having to either accept that Hebrews were mixing with black people, or they have to lie their way into the existence of a white Hebrew nation. This only becomes an issue for those that outright deny that Hebrews were black people.
- Joseph was mistaken for an Egyptian descendant of Ham
- Moses was mistaken for an Egyptian descendant of Ham
- Paul was mistaken for an Egyptian descendant of Ham
These are not the only cases of mistaken identity in scripture, due to mixing between Ham and Shem, but it does provide key insights as to what the Hebrews looked like. We need only to look at how Egyptians painted themselves. The following painting of Moses predates the European Renaissance period. When we compare it to how Egyptians painted themselves, we see that the Bible is 100% accurate when they point out that people couldn’t tell the two nations apart.
The evidence speaks for itself that Egypt was a black nation, and the only reason Hebrews would be mistaken for Egyptians at that point in history was if they were black too or if they mixed with enough Hamites that they became a black nation. In either scenario, the Bible never speaks of a white or light Hebrew nation. Let’s take a look at Hebrew and Hamite mixing before the Exodus.
Hebrews Mixing With Hamites Pre-Exodus
From its very beginning Israel was a mixed nation. In the early chapters of Genesis, we’re told that the Cushite Nimrod built Babel. It was from Ur, a province in Babel, that Abraham was called by God. While that doesn’t give us any indication of race, there are a few tribes Israel that started with mix raced children:
- Abraham – His wife Sarah gave him the Egyptian woman Hagar to have a son with. Their son was named Ishmael, and he went on to marry an Egyptian woman. The tribes the descended from Ishmael, such as the Kedarites were traditionally viewed as dark skinned people.
- Simeon – His son Shuah was the son of a Canaanite woman, which mainstream Christianity teaches was a black descendant of Ham. He and Levi also took Canaanite women as concubines after killing all the men of Shechem for raping their sister Dinah.
- Judah – He had five sons with two different Canaanite women. It is half Canaanite son Pharez that is the father or the lineage through which the Messiah would come.
- Joseph – His sons Ephraim and Manasseh, born to the Egyptian woman Asenath, would go on to become two of the tribes of Israel, and holders of the birthright. The birthright gives them the double portion that would usually go to the firstborn son of Jacob (Reuben).
If we do the math, three out of twelve tribes is equivalent to 25% of the tribes starting off as half Shemite and half Hamite, which would mean they were dark skinned people. Even if we work under the false assumption that Hebrews were white, their children would look like mixed race black people that we see today, and maybe even darker due to growing up in and living in the intense African sun.
- Hagar: Abraham’s Black Wife From Egypt
- Tamar: The Canaanite Mother of Judah’s Son Pharez
- Asenath: Joseph’s Egyptian Wife
- Pharez: The Half Canaanite Son of Judah and Tamar
Hebrews Mixing With Hamites Post Exodus
What is often not reflected in movies, documentaries, and probably most Bible studies, is that a mixed multitude of African descendants of Ham left Egypt with Israel.
“And the children of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand on foot that were men, beside children. And a mixed multitude went up also with them; and flocks, and herds, even very much cattle.” – Exodus 12:37-38
This small mention of a mixed multitude coming out of Egypt with Israel after the Exodus also explains two other mentions of interracial marriage soon after leaving Egypt.
Marriage #1 – The Israelitish Woman and The Egyptian Man
In the book of Leviticus we see an Israelitish woman married to an Egyptian man, and they have a kid together. The marriage itself didn’t seem to be a problem since they lived together among the tribe of Dan.
“And the son of an Israelitish woman, whose father was an Egyptian, went out among the children of Israel: and this son of the Israelitish woman and a man of Israel strove together in the camp; And the Israelitish woman’s son blasphemed the name of the LORD, and cursed. And they brought him unto Moses: (and his mother’s name was Shelomith, the daughter of Dibri, of the tribe of Dan:)” – Leviticus 24:10-11
Scripture is also clear to point out that the boy was the son of an Egyptian man, and not an Israelite. This is because lineage in the Bible is tracked through the father, which would make the boy Egyptian and not Hebrew. The same holds true in the case of Joseph. Ephraim and Manasseh were both considered Hebrew, even though their mother Asenath was Egyptian.
Marriage #2 – Moses and His Cushite Wife
During the Exodus there is an odd exchange that has no preceding build up. Miriam and Aaron confront Moses in the temple about the Cushite woman that he’s married. We aren’t told anything about her other than the fact that she is indeed a Cushite (Ethiopian).
“And Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married: for he had married an Ethiopian woman.” – Numbers 12:1
The mixed multitude mentioned in Exodus 12:37-38 explains how Moses had time to find and marry a Cushite woman, while still serving as the leader of the nation of Israel. It is very likely that Egyptians weren’t the only nationality of Hamites to come out with the Hebrews. We must also not forget the Japheth was not located in Africa, but in Europe, which means the mixed multitude could only have consisted of African nations that descended from Ham.
There is also concrete evidence in the Bible that not only did Africans come out with Israel, but there are Israelites still living in Africa and will be until they’re regathered the last time:
“And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea.” – Isaiah 11:11
Egypt, Pathros, and Cush are named as three of the locations of “the remnant of his people.” If his people lived in these countries, it only makes since that they resemble the people of these countries or they would stand out, and it would be obvious to everyone who they are. However, that is not what we see in those countries. There are no records of any non black nations inhabiting those parts of Africa.
We can also be assured that Hebrews looked similar to Africans because God always sent them to Africa to hide, but never to Europe. In times of persecution, Hebrews would flee to Africa to escape, but never to Europe. This is no doubt due to their appearance, cultural ties, and familiarity with African people, because they’d been mixing with them since the very beginning.
In the midst of all of the intermarrying between Africans and Hebrews, God never punishes anyone for the act itself, but specifically for idolatry.
- Cush: The Hamite Founder of Sudan
- Moses: The Black Hebrew Raised As An Egyptian Prince
- Bathsheba: King Solomon’s Canaanite Mother
- The Queen of Sheba: King Solomon’s Ethiopian Mistress
The Rules For Interracial Marriage
The claim that God is against interracial marriage is destroyed when we look at the words of God to the Israelites. The following verses were his instructions concerning the non Hebrew nations Israel went to war with.
“When thou goest forth to war against thine enemies, and the LORD thy God hath delivered them into thine hands, and thou hast taken them captive, And seest among the captives a beautiful woman, and hast a desire unto her, that thou wouldest have her to thy wife; Then thou shalt bring her home to thine house; and she shall shave her head, and pare her nails; And she shall put the raiment of her captivity from off her, and shall remain in thine house, and bewail her father and her mother a full month: and after that thou shalt go in unto her, and be her husband, and she shall be thy wife.” – Deuteronomy 21:11-13
Geographically, the areas that Israel inhabited were occupied by descendants of Ham, which mainstream Christian doctrine teaches were black people. Logic dictates that if the above provisions were made concerning the nations Israel encounter, then God was not and is not opposed to interracial marriage, at least between the descendants of Ham and the nation of Israel. As stated before, the European descendants of Japheth are not seen mixing with the descendants of Ham or Shem.
Mass Interracial Marriage In Israel
It’s almost impossible to take an honest look at the Bible and not come away with the impression that Hebrews were dark skinned people. One of the civilizations that they had the most contact with were the various tribes in Canaan, collectively known as the Canaanites.
- Abraham lived among the Canaanites.
- Jacob lived among the Canaanites.
- Jacob’s sons took Canaanite wives.
When we look at art depicting male Canaanites, we see facial features such as their lips and nose that are very much African features. Generations of mixing with the Canaanites would no doubt result in Hebrews having similar features over time, if they didn’t already have them to begin with.
In art, Canaanite women are often depicted with wide hips, big butts, and African facial features. One example of such depictions is the following statue:
In the book of Judges we see the following comment:
“And the children of Israel dwelt among the Canaanites, Hittites, and Amorites, and Perizzites, and Hivites, and Jebusites: And they took their daughters to be their wives, and gave their daughters to their sons, and served their gods. And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and forgat the LORD their God, and served Baalim and the groves.” – Judges 3:5-7
The tribes listed are all Canaanite descendants of Ham, which mainstream Christianity teaches are black people. Even though the Bible is clear that Israel engaged in mass interracial marriage with the descendants of Ham, they weren’t punished for it. They were sent into slavery for eight years for worshiping other gods, but not for the marriages themselves (Judges 3:8-9).
This one single event solidifies the belief that Hebrews were not Europeans nor were they light skinned people. At the very minimum they had very strong negroid features due to generations of mixing starting with Abraham and continuing into the time of Solomon according to the Biblical text.
Interracial Marriage In The New Testament
There are many Christian churches that teach against interracial marriage outright, and then there are those that have doctrine that seems subtle in its opposition to these marriages. They constantly warn those considering to “consider the consequences” and “consider the cultural differences” before getting into an interracial marriage. The reality is that the New Testament has nothing to say about interracial marriages, but keeps it’s focus on believers only marrying other believers.
“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?” – 2 Corinthians 6:14
This is not a new concept, but an already established law found in the Old Testament. Many people of all colors attempt to use the following Old Testament verses to prove their point against interracial marriage, but the Bible makes it clear that the law against the marriages had nothing to do with race, but with religious beliefs:
“When the LORD thy God shall bring thee into the land whither thou goest to possess it, and hath cast out many nations before thee, the Hittites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and mightier than thou; And when the LORD thy God shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them: Neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son. For they will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of the LORD be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly.” – Deuteronomy 7:1-4
God’s commandment to not marry into these seven specific tribes descended from Ham makes no mention of race. It is to keep Israel religiously pure. These verses cannot be used by an honest believer in an attempt to make a Biblical case against interracial marriage.
Is Interracial Marriage A Sin?
The fact is that the Bible is not against interracial marriage, but is firmly against inter-religious marriage, regardless of skin color. Those that preach against interracial marriage only do so out of their own prejudice and without the backing of the totality of scripture. Ultimately, there is nothing in scripture that calls interracial marriage a sin.
Every Interracial Hookup / Marriage In The Bible*
- M = Married
- U = Unmarried
*The list is updated as new evidence is discovered in the pages of scripture.
(Line of Shem)
(Line of Ham)
(Gilonite / Canaanite)
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More Black History In The Bible
“And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not. Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me? He that is of God heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God.” – John 8:45-47