Black History In The Bible
Johnny R. Davis
It should be clear to many of us who are Christians, that God created man in
his own image. The first man created was Adam out of whom God created
woman.(Eve) From these two, all of humanity has been brought forth. The
Apostle Paul explains to the Philosopher on Mars Hill concerning God by
saying ".... he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; And hath made of
one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath
determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; (Acts
The Bible is not a history book but it does give us a good bit of history. Along
with the creation of man it gives us from time to time a small window into the history
of some major world powers such as the Babylonian, Assyrians, Egyptians,
Greeks, Romans, etc. This window is given to us from a Jewish prospective so we
are able to glean some Jewish history as well as some history of other people groups.
To glean a bit of Black history from the Bible we will start with one of Noah's
three sons name Ham. The book of Genesis records that Noah had three sons
Shem, HAM, and Japheth.(Gen. 5:32) The name Ham literally means black.
Many Bible scholars and some anthropologists consider Ham to be the father of
Negroes, Mongoliods, and Indians. HAM had four sons making up four nations
and four races of people. Their names are Cush, and Mizraim, and Phut, and
Canaan.(Gen. 10:6) In the Bible, the name Cush is used interchangeably with
Ethiopia. The word cush is a Hebrew word meaning black and the word Ethiopia is a
Greek word meaning " Burned face". Ethiopia is one of the first countries mentioned
in scripture.(Gen. 2:13) The Bible always speaks of the Ethiopians as being black.
Just as a leopard cannot change its spots neither can an Ethiopian change his
skin. (Jer. 13:23) The historian Herodotus maintain that the Ethiopians were the
longest -lived people, "'The tallest and the handsomest men in the world." The
Bible reveals that the wife of Moses was black. (Ethiopian) (Number 12:1). In the
bible it is noted that Ham's son Cush also had a notable son. His notable sons
was named Nimrod. (Gen.10:8) Nimrod was a " mighty" man in many ways.
He was a great in leadership and in organization. He was perhaps the
brainchild behind the building of the Tower of Babel and the birth of civilization as we
know it. The City of Babylon had always been a model of human achievement in the
ancient world. Nimrod was a leader in the land of "Shinar". The word Shinar,
according to some bible scholars, was probably the Hebrew form of the word " Sumer."
Sumer was a Mesopotamian site near the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. (Present
day Iraq) The land of Shinar or Mesopotamia most likely had a mixed multitude
of people but the population was predominantly Cushites. (Black)
Ham had another son named Mizraim. The Egyptian who made the great
pyramid were descendants of Mizraim. When Joseph went from Egypt back to
Canaan to bury his father Jacob at the threshingfloor of Atad, the place was
called Abel-Mizraim.(The meadow of Egypt, or mourning of Egypt) The
Egyptians did not call themselves Egyptians. This name was later given to them by the
Greeks. The early Egyptians call their land " Kam" which means black lands.
They portray them selves in many of their paintings as dark skinned people.
The historian Horodotus visited Egypt around 500 B.C. and he reported: " It is
certain that the natives of the country are black with heat... they are black skinned and
have woolly hair..." The Bible, which is the ultimate authority, calls Egypt the
land of Ham.(Psalms 78:51)
There is not much said about Ham's son Phut but many believe Libya and the Libyans
came from him. We are all familiar with Ham's last son Canaan because of Israel struggle
to possess the land of promise from the Canaanite. In fact, many Bible scholar believe
that the curse which was placed on Ham or Canaan was fulfilled when Israel conquered
the land and made the Canaanite subservient. Canaan had a good number of sons.
(Gen. 10:15) His son Sidon was the father of the Phoenicians. Canaan other sons were
father to the Hitties, Jebusites, Amorites, and others. (Gen. 10:15)
In the New Testament there are a number of figures who are known to be black.
Most of us are familiar with Simon of Cyrene who help carry the cross for Jesus.
(Matthew 15:21). There are others who might not be so familiar. Simeon, called
Niger (Black) and Lucius were leader in the Church at Antioch where believers
were first called Christians. This is also where Paul was commissioned by the
church to minister the Gospel to the gentles. (Acts 13:2,3) The wise men from the east
as well as the Ethiopian eunuch were people of color. By the grace of God the gospel
went down into Egypt, Ethiopia and beyond.
The Ethiopic versions of the Bible has been helpful in many way for our understanding of
We all should be thankful to God for what ever heritage we have. Our Christian faith
unites us in ways that are eternal. As we all journey from here to there let us
celebrate our history and cultural diversity of others.
(Isa 11:11) 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 Shiner, and from Hamath, and from the
islands of the sea.