Identifying Blackness In Scripture
I am rapidly coming to the conclusion that the many nations that are mentioned in the Old Testament scriptures were of the Black race. These nations include, but are not limited to, the Ethiopians, the Egyptians, the Babylonians, the Assyrians, the entire Canaanite family of nations, the Hebrews/Israelites, Ishmaelites, and many others.
It is important especially for Black American people to appreciate the Black people's presence in the Scripture. It is important historically, because the Scripture (Bible) is history. It is recorded history from YAHUAH'S perspective, and it is reliable history. Black people need to understand all Black history, including that which is revealed in the Scripture (Bible). McCray writes, "If we are ignorant of our history and its heritage, we will walk blindly into our future. And without keeping in our minds and hearts the spiritual and eternal dimensions of our history, our future forebodes a hopelessness which many of us would rather not face."1
Being able to identify and understand the presence of Black people within Scripture nurtures among Black people a greater affection for the Word and the things of YAHUAH; therefore causing some to see for the first time in their lives that the Scripture speaks responsibly about them and to their experience.
In the book, "The Black Presence in the Bible," Rev. Walter Arthur McCray discusses four ways to identify Blackness in Scripture.
1. Black people are identifiable by natural characteristics,
particularly by the color of their skin. In the Scripture (Bible),
Yirmeyahu (Jeremiah) asked of Black people, "Can the Ethiopian change his
skin, or the leopard his spots. . .?" (13:23).
We identify those who are Black as those who are naturally assumed as such. They are basically an African people. Most are of a dark hue in color, and "Negroid" in physical characteristic to a far greater degree than other peoples. In the Scripture, no special attention is drawn on their identity. They are named and identified just as any other Biblical character, or just named period. They are merely accepted at "face" value, by their dark color- the initially impressionable criterion for identifying Black people especially. What is seen is who they are
2. Black people are identifiable by their negation by others.
In the Scripture (Bible), 'Aharown (Aaron) and Miryam
(Miriam) sought to place themselves a class above Mosheh (Moses') Black
wife, for they "spoke against Mosheh (Moses) because of the Ethiopian/
Cushite woman whom he had married, for he had married a Ethiopian/ Cushite
woman" (Bemidbar [Numbers] 12:1). This controversy revealed a
political power grab by 'Aharown (Aaron) and Miryam (Miriam)
challenging Mosheh (Moses') leadership of the liberated community of
YisraeYAH (Iarael) (Cf.Bemidbar [Numbers] 12:2-8ff). This
controversy was not about Mosheh (Moses') wife being black skinned, but
because she was of another culture/ nation (read Acts 10:28).
Popularly we identify those who are Black as those African people who are negated. For the most part, this definition is imposed upon Black people by outsiders, particularly by the despicable term "nigger" used by whites of Blacks, as well as by Blacks in reference to themselves. This negation is rooted in racism and perpetuated through social oppression.
When a certain person is identifiable as coming from a race or ethnic group different from the white majority-dominant group, this person is stigmatized and treated with contempt by the group in power. These, indeed, are the "niggers" of the society. Oftentimes those who are oppressed internalize how the oppressor feels about them and perpetuate this psycho-social violence on themselves and on their own people. There are many Blacks who have internalized and reinforce in various ways this negative definition of Blackness. Thus "nigger" is at times a racial distinction and at other times a class distinction, dependent upon who uses the term for what purpose.2
3. Black people are identifiable by their own self
affirmation, particularly in reference to their value and beauty. In
the Scripture (Bible), the Shulamite of Shlomoh (Solomon) Song proclaimed
of her Black being, "I am black and comely (beautiful)" (Song of Solomon 1:5).3
We identify those who are Black as those who accept and identify themselves as such. Theirs is a self-imposed positive definition. Aesthetically, it expresses a high value which Black persons place upon their own being, culture and experience. Being positive, this definition reflects more than a reactive response to racism. It is a pro-active response based on standards reflecting noble human and personhood values.
4. Black people are identifiable by the choice of their
association, particularly under oppressive circumstances. In the
Scripture (Bible), Mosheh (Moses) chose "rather to share ill-treatment
with the people of YAHUAH," (Hebrews 11:25). In doing so, Mosheh
(Moses) identified with his own Black people who were regarded as the covenant
people of YAHUAH and whose ranks included many native Egyptians.
We identify those who are Black as those who choose to operate in Black community. So to speak, they have put their "name on the roll" of Black nationhood. They have decided to identify with and operate concertedly with their people. Some of them, for instance, could choose to identify with the other side of their mixed-parentage, but go the other way. Some of them could "pass," but they choose not to. Some of them could hold to limited definitions of Blackness and by doing so individualistically function in society but they don't. Like Mosheh (Moses), they choose to operate in Black community. 4
In conclusion, for too long a time the Black race
has been ill-depicted and cited by many as not ever having had a culture and not
having made any contributions to civilization. We are seeking to denounce
and undo, through undeniable facts, that type of thinking. We want to
impart the Truth- a truth that has been hidden, crushed and nearly destroyed for
more than twenty centuries. To cite Moses Farrar:
Some say it makes no difference the race of 'Abraham (Abraham), Mosheh (Moses), Ysha'yahu (Isaiah), Yirmeyahu (Jeremiah), YAHUSHA (Jesus) or the people of Biblical times. Well, we say to that: It must make a difference, else the Whites in power over the last 2000 or more years would have kept all the paintings, portraits and pictures of the ancient peoples Black, as they were originally. If color makes no difference to the Caucasian race, Napoleon Bonaparte would not have blown off the broad noses and thick lips of the ancient statues of Egypt. Try convincing them that color makes no difference.
Open the average Scripture (Bible), then write the publishers and tell them that in their next edition, please make all the pictures of the various characters as Black people, and see if it makes any difference to them. 5
(Hope) of YAHUSHA HA MASHAYAH,
Raah Fredrick A. Brown
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1. "The Black Presence in the Bible" (pg. 31) by Walter Arthur McCray]
2. "Additionally, one may be defined as black regardless of color or race; all who suffer oppression, especially oppression at the hands of white Westerners, are classified as black" Copher, "The Black Man in the Biblical World," Op. cit., p.8. Copher sites Arthur Weigall a scholar who calls Tirharkah and other Egyptian Pharaohs "nigger kings." Copher, Ibid., p. 16. [qtd. in The Black Presence in the Bible (pg. 160) by Walter Arthur McCray].
3. See Snowden, Op. cit., pp. 198- 199, 331 [qtd. in The Black Presence in the Bible (pg. 160) by Walter Arthur McCray].
4. When Mosheh (Moses) fled Egypt he went to the desert of Midian. The Midianites were Black people. When Yowceph (Joseph) and Miryam (Mary) fled with YAHUSHA (Jesus) from the wrath of Herod, they went to Egypt, Africa. See Shemoth (Exodus) 2:15; Chabaqquwq (Habakkuk) 3:7; Mattithyahu (Matthew) 2:13ff. See Dunston, Op. cit., p. 97ff.; Houston, Op. cit., pp. 127, 167.; ISBE, referring to an archaeological discovery connecting Midian to Egypt, s.v. "Midian, Midianites," by T.V. Brisco. [qtd. in The Black Presence in the Bible (pg. 160 -161) by Walter Arthur McCray].
5. "The Deceiving of the Black Race" (pg. 20) by Moses Farrar: A noted Author, Biblical Historian, and Researcher