Jesus'   Black
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Term Paper: November 1998 for class:
The Black Presence in the Old Testament
Interdenominational Theological Center
Which of the Twelve Tribes
of Israel was Black?


(1) Trace the lineage of Jesus from Noah to Jesus
(2) Outlining the Black presence in the line.
(3) Give geographical significance to the origin of people - color and ethnicity.
(4) Include in your paper a theological reflection on what God was doing.

Length: 5-6 pages, double-spaced, plus bibliography


In ancient times, including Jesus' time, the Arabian peninsula was considered part of what we now call Africa, not "the Near East" or "the Middle East".

Americans and modern Europeans tend to think of a genealogy as a simple chronological list of ancestors and descendants; hence, many skeptics are quick to point out omissions in biblical genealogies and claim those are "proof" that the Bible is not reliable.

It is important to note that in ancient times genealogies were not always simple "family histories".  They served numerous purposes, e.g.:

The segmented genealogy describes more than one line of descent from an ancestor.  It charts alliances among peoples and may serve a variety of different functions in the areas of confederations, intermarriage, habitations, possessions of land, and war.

Segmented genealogies were used for domestic purposes by mirroring changes in the society, and for religious reasons related to celebrating some festival.  They were also used for political and legal purposes revealing ethnic alliances.  Since the group was more socially powerful than the individual, relationship to the group enhanced one's social power.  This made ethnic relationships essential for effectuating treaties and alliances.  Thus, family tree records were pressed into the service of explaining the social and political relationships needed to defend and maintain the survival of the people.

McCray, Vol 2. pp 32-33


I do not claim to be an expert on this topic, nor does this paper purport to be an exhaustive treatise on this subject.  The main reasons I put the paper (slightly modified) on the site are:

  1. Most English-language information on Christianity gives the false subliminal impression that Jesus was a dark-haired Anglo, (an American term referring to Caucasian Americans of generally northern European heritage, e.g., English, German, etc.  "Anglo" is a term of ethnicity not race.  It is a narrower term than "white" or "Caucasian".  For instance, medium-dark skinned persons from India, Pakistan, etc., are definitely Caucasian but would not be considered Anglo.)

  2. Christianity is frequently portrayed as "the White Man's religion".  The truth is that most of the people in the Bible were people of color (i.e., not "Anglo"): Semitics, blacks, and Mediterranean, e.g., Romans.

  3. I spent a lot of time researching and writing this (about 30 hours), because so little material is available.

  4. Very little information is readily available in print.

  5. Virtually all the printed works on this topic are very biased: American and European biblical scholars like to pretend that Jesus was Anglo, and black Bible scholars who write on this topic give the impression that everybody in the Bible was dark black with pronounced negro features.

  6. Like most Anglos, I was quite surprised to find out that Jesus does have black ancestry.

  7. I know it'll really bug a lot of Anglos who feel superior to people of color because "Jesus was white." (i.e., Anglo).

(Incidentally, since I know people will wonder . . . I'm half Italian, one-quarter German and one-quarter Irish.  I attend a Protestant black church and also a congregation of Messianic Jewish and gentile believers and a Reform Jewish temple, although I have no Jewish ancestry, because those are where the Lord led me.)


According to Genesis 9:19 and the Table of Nations in Genesis 10, all mankind is descended from the three sons of Noah: Shem, Ham and Japheth. (For some strange reason, Noah's sons are always listed in that order although Genesis 10:21 says Japheth was Shem's older brother. Normally in the Bible sons are listed in chronological order.)

The descendants of Japheth settled in Anatolia, modern Turkey, and from there moved into the Caucasus mountains of Western Russia and from there settled Europe and Russia. They are the ancestors of the Caucasian peoples. Their main impact on Israel was through the Persians, the Greeks and the Romans.

Ham's descendants became the various black peoples who settled the African continent and parts of the Arabian peninsula. His sons were Cush, whose descendants settled in Ethiopia, Mizraim, whose descendants settled in Egypt, Put, whose descendants settled in Libya, and Canaan, whose descendants settled in Palestine and founded the cities of Sidon, Tyre and Carthage and, among others, were the ancestors of the Phoenicians.

Collectively, in ancient times the descendants of Cush formed a large ethnic group and were the main populace of the Cushite Empire, which extended from present-day western Libya to Ethiopia and Nubia, south of Egypt, all of present-day Egypt, and the Arabian peninsula into the mountains of Turkey. They spoke a variety of languages and had skin pigmentation ranging from dark black to medium brown.

One of Cush's sons was Nimrod, founder of Babylon, Akkad, Assyria and Nineveh, several of early mankind's most powerful nations and cities. Their languages are generally referred to as belonging to the Western Semitic group, although they actually are Hamitic.

Mizraim's descendants became the Ludim, Anamim, Lehabim, Naphtuhim, Pathrusim, and Casluhim [Philistines]. According to the Jewish-Roman historian Flavius Josephus, most of these peoples were destroyed in the Ethiopic Wars.


It is often claimed that the black race resulted from a curse that Noah placed on his son Ham because Noah became drunk with wine and Ham "looked upon his father's nakedness." Some scholars interpret this as a euphemism and believe that Ham had homosexual intercourse with his father; others believe the reason for the curse was the disgrace Ham caused by telling others. The claim is that the curse turned Ham black on the spot. In any event, Genesis 9:25-27 records that in fact Noah cursed Ham's youngest son, Canaan, not Ham: [25] he said, "Cursed be Canaan! The lowest of slaves will he be to his brothers." [26] He also said, "Blessed be the LORD, the God of Shem! May Canaan be the slave of Shem. [27] May God extend the territory of Japheth; may Japheth live in the tents of Shem, and may Canaan be his slave."

Canaan's descendants founded Sidon and, among others, were the ancestors of the Jebusites, Amorites, Girgashites, Hivites, Arkites, Sinites, Arvadites, Zemarites and Hamathites. There is ample historical evidence that indeed they were cursed with moral depravity including temple prostitutes and human sacrifice. One scholar, Lenormant, said of the Canaanite religion: "No other people ever rivaled them in the mixture of bloodshed and debauchery with which they thought to honor the Deity." (per Summary of Near Eastern History, cited below.)

Shem's descendants became the Semitic peoples who settled parts of the Arabian Peninsula, including what is now Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Jordan, Israel, and Lebanon. They were of a generally medium-brown complexion with facial features roughly mid-way between typical negro and typical Caucasian and the languages they spoke included Arabic, Hebrew, and Aramaic, Jesus' native language.

It is important to realize that in Old Testament times Egyptians were black, not Arab. Arabs first conquered Egypt when Moslems invaded Egypt shortly after the death of Mohammed.


Jesus descended from the line of Shem; His lineage from Noah through Abraham is shown in Genesis 11:10-27 and Luke 3:34-38: Noah, Shem, Arphaxad, Cainan, Salah, Eber, Peleg, Reu, Serug, Nahor, Terah, Abram a.k.a Abraham.

Jesus' lineage from Abraham through David is shown in Matthew 1 and Luke 3: Matt 1:[2] Abraham, of Ur of the Chaldees & Sarah, Isaac & Rebekah, Jacob & Leah, [3] Judah & Tamar [Canaanite ?], Perez, Hezron, [4] Ram, Amminadab, Nahshon, [5] Salmon & Rahab [Canaanite], Boaz & Ruth [Moabite], Obed, [6] Jesse, David & Bethsheba, who probably was a non-Hamitic Hittite **. (Moabites were Semitic -- descendants of Abraham's nephew Lot; see Genesis 20:36-37.)

(**Note: Historically, there were two, possibly three unrelated peoples called Hittites. One group conquered another group but kept the name. One may have descended from Ham, (Hamitic) and one from Japheth. The Japhethic group would be Caucasian. The Hittites are among the oldest of the Indo-European peoples. This site has information on the Hittites. It is not clear whether the "Biblical Hittites" are the "Hittites" referred to by historians.)

Rahab was a contemporary of Joshua, successor to Moses.  Seventy Israelites went into captivity in Egypt and during the 400 years the Israelites were in captivity in Egypt they and their descendants intermarried with non-Israelites. (The Israelites were in Egypt 430 years, 400 in captivity.) The group of over 600,000 men plus women and children that left Egypt under Moses was a "mixed multitude".  Ethnically, their ancestors were a combination of Hamitic Egyptians and Semitic Israelites.  Although the Bible lays out Jesus' ancestors through Shem, it does not mention that His ancestors would have had Hamitic blood from this intermixing, e.g. on their mothers' sides.

Jesus' human paternal genealogy after David, mainly as shown in Matthew is: [7] Solomon (1Ch 3:5), Rehoboam, Abijah, [8] Asa, Jehoshaphat, Jehoram, [9] Uzziah (Ahaziah 1Ch 3:11), Joash (1Ch3:11), Amaziah (1Ch3:12), Azariah (1Ch3:12), [Matt 9] Jotham, Ahaz, [10] Hezekiah, Manasseh, Amon, [11] Josiah, [12] Jeconiah, Shealtiel, [13] Zerubbabel, Abiud, Eliakim, [14] Azor, Zadok, Akim, [15] Eliud, Eleazar, Matthan, [16] Jacob, Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus.

Jesus' maternal genealogy after David, as shown in Luke 3:23-31: Nathan (1Ch 3:5), Mattatha, Menna, [31] Melea, Eliakim, Jonam, Joseph, Judah, [30] Simeon, Levi, Matthat, Jorim, Eliezer, [29] Joshua, Er, Elmadam, Cosam, Addi, [28] Melki, Neri, Shealtiel, Zerubbabel, Rhesa, [27] Joanan, Joda, Josech, Semein, Mattathias, [26] Maath, Naggai, Esli, Nahum, Amos, [25] Mattathias, Joseph, Jannai, Melki, Levi, [24] Matthat, Heli, Joseph, Jesus.


Jesus' male ancestors trace a line from Shem. However, ethnically and racially, they were mixed Semitic and Hamitic from the times spent in captivity in Egypt and Babylon.

Rahab and probably Tamar were Canaanites. Although Canaanites spoke a Semitic language, they were descendants of Ham through his son Canaan. Bethsheba, who had been the wife of Uriah the Hittite, probably was a Hittite herself, possibly a Hamitic Hittite, though scholars disagree on the precise identity of the "Hittites" in the Bible because historical records are quite scarce.

In the United States today the general view on whether someone is "black" is the One-Drop Rule -- if a person has any black ancestors s/he is considered "black", even with a clearly Anglo skin color, e.g., Mariah Carry, LaToya Jackson. (cf., for example, The Politics of Egyptology and the History Kemet (Egypt))


In Old Testament times the first son had the right of preeminence, the right to inherit the best of what his father owned. As first-born Son of God, Jesus has that right. In Ezekiel, e.g., 5:5-7 God condemns Israel, saying that it has been more unfaithful than the Gentiles. Yet Jesus was entitled to the best the Father had. During the period from Noah to the Cross, God was preparing for His only Son a worthy inheritance. Also, regarding Israel, God had covenanted with Abraham:


Genesis 17:7-8 "[7] I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. [8] The whole land of Canaan, where you are now an alien, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God."


It has also been noted:

The prophesy of the moral and spiritual history of the nations in Genesis 9 furnishes an indispensable introduction to the principle that underlies the table of the nations in Genesis 10. The principle is that in divine dealings the moral character of a thing cannot be understood unless its source is known. Israel was in God's mind the medium of redemptive blessing to the world, and it was necessary for the nation to understand the source from which the various nations that surrounded her sprang, in order that she might have an insight into their character, thereby to guide her attitude and conduct toward them. This moral and spiritual principle underlying Genesis 10 makes it unique. (Summary of Near Eastern History by R.P. Nettelhorst, Chapter: "Prehistory: The Flood", Quartz Hill School of Theology) [emphasis added]


God used the Hamitic descendants in Egypt and Babylon and the Japhethic descendants in Rome to train and castigate Israel, to "bring it through the fire" and "remove the dross". (In metallurgy, certain metals are refined by melting them. Impurities rise to the top and are skimmed off.  This layer of impurities is known as 'dross'.)

God used the Shemitic and Japhethic descendants to fulfill Noah's curse on Canaan and His promise to Abraham, giving the land of Canaan's descendants to Israel and destroying the Phoenicians with Alexander the Great (Tyre) and Rome (Carthage).

At the Tower of Babel mankind tried to make itself great independent of God, so God confused man's language. At Pentecost, God showed that men, even descendants of Canaan, can only be brought together in Him.

God used Jesus, a descendant of cursed Canaan, to redeem the Elect, showing that people need not be bound by generational curses if they trust and rely on God for deliverance.


Internet sources found by Altavista search on 11/17/98
Language: English
Search for: +Hamitic +Bible -WHS -~custance
NLOL means "No Longer On-Line"
WAYBACK means now only accessible through the Internet Archive,

Beyond the Flood  WAYBACK
by Arlen L. Chitwood
The Lamp Broadcast, Inc., Norman, Okla. 1996

Bibliophobe's Guide to the Acts of the Apostles, The.  WAYBACK
by S.N.Mousir-Harrison. :1997
Part Three - Regional witness: A God for all peoples.

Black Presence in the Bible - Discovering the Black and African identity of Biblical Persons and Nations, The.
by Rev. Walter Arthur McCray
Black Light Fellowship, Chicago Illinois 1990
ISBN-13: 978-0933176232

Black Presence in the Bible and the Table of Nations Genesis 10:1-32, The.
Volume 2, Table of Nations

by Rev. Walter Arthur McCray
Black Light Fellowship, Chicago Illinois 1990
ISBN-13: 978-0933176249

(Note: McCray's two books are both paperbacks and the covers look virtually identical. The only real difference on the covers is the background colors.  At first glance, Volume 2 appears to be a 'rehash' of the first book, i.e., the author simply paraphrased his first book figuring he would sell more books.  However, this is not the case.  Each volume does cover different material, and anyone interested in this topic should buy both volumes.  Most bookstores do not stock them.  They can be ordered on-line from and

Canaanite & Phoenician History & Culture
by Lilinah biti-Anat Copyright 1997
(Main directory) Levantine and near Eastern Paganism

Curse of Ham: Capsule of Ancient History, The.
by Robert Brow
This article originally appeared in Christianity Today [October 26, 1973], pp. 8-10.

From Jerusalem -- Pictures of a Black Jesus  NLOL Mar '07
by Moreijah Ben HaMelech a.k.a. Wesley B. Webster 1997
African Israelite Information Center

Genesis Flood, the Biblical Record and its Scientific Implications, The.
Article: "Origin of Postdiluvian Civilizations"
by John C. Whitcomb and Henry M. Morris
P & R Publishing, Phillipsburg, New Jersey

Hallmarks of High Civilization  WAYBACK
by Gregory M. Gordon
Afro-American History I/hst 240, Fall 1998

Index - The Table of Nations
by Bill Cooper
Part Two: the Lineage of Ham

Introduction to the Exodus: A Picture of the Plan of the Ages, An.  WAYBACK
Brother James Parkinson
International Convention of Bible Students -- Miskolc, Hungary

Pastoral Theology 601 Unit 1 ("Sacred Words") / Lesson 5 (The Torah)  WAYBACK
(author not specified) on-line course materials, Culdee College

Politics of Egyptology and the History Kemet (Egypt), The.  WAYBACK
by Gregory M. Gordon, History Professor,
College of Lake County, Grayslake, IL U.S.A.
(12 Sept 1998)

Original Black Ethiopia Israelites (author not identified)  WAYBACK

Repopulation after the Flood
Christian Network: The Ben Crick Files

Roots of the Nations, The
Chapter 3: The Descendants of Ham
Arthur C. Custance, PhD.
The Arthur C. Custance Library (downloadable)

Summary of Near Eastern History
by R.P. Nettelhorst
Chapter: "Prehistory: The Flood"
Quartz Hill School of Theology, 43543 51st Street West - Quartz Hill, CA 93536

Summary of North African History, 1000 B.C. - 630 A.D.  WAYBACK
by Dr. Robert A. Hess, Messiah College

This Land is Mine  WAYBACK
Abridged from the booklet of the same name by the Chicago Bible Students


(c) 1998 Rick Reinckens
Last updated: October 2007

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