… that the Black People mentioned by name in the Bible were invariably prominent individuals?
… that the Black People mentioned by name in the Bible were invariably prominent individuals?
Last week’s post dealt with some of the prominent Black People (Ham, Nimrod, Zerah the Ethiopian commander of a million soldiers, Ebed-meleck – rescuer of the Prophet Jeremiah, and a brief sketch of the Cushites/Ethiopians) in the Old Testament. I said I would discuss prominent Black People in the New Testament in the next post. However, before leaving the Old Testament, there are some additional prominent and important individuals I must discuss: several Pharaohs, Moses’ wife, one of Solomon’s wives, and the Queen of Sheba. This post will discuss the wife of Moses, the Shulamite wife of King Solomon, and the Queen of Sheba.
While the Israelites were still in the wilderness, an incident occurred that displeased God; the brother and sister (Aaron and Miriam) of Moses spoke against the wife of Moses, an Ethiopian woman. In Numbers 12: 1-2, we read,
“Then Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married; for he had married an Ethiopian woman. 2 So they said, “Has the Lord indeed spoken only through Moses? Has He not spoken through us also?” And the Lord heard it.” (NKJV)
Indeed, God heard them and swiftly dealt with this expression of racial/ethnic prejudice by afflicting Miriam with leprosy. A repentant Aaron begged Moses to appeal to God on behalf of Miriam, which he did. The Lord restored Miriam but not until she had been outside the camp for seven days.
Since Miriam, not Aaron, was the one afflicted with leprosy, she evidently was the ringtail leader of this enterprise. We see from this incident that God does not tolerate prejudice or the coming against his anointed. Zipporah, being the wife of Moses, was one with Moses. Therefore, when they came against her, they came against Moses. The Lord pointed out that Moses was not just any prophet but he was so special that He, unlike with other prophets, spoke to him mouth to mouth. He then asks Miriam and Aaron, “Why then were you not afraid to speak against My servant Moses?” (Verse 8).
Exodus 2: 21 tells us that Jethro (the man of wisdom who gave Moses wise counsel), the Midianite, gave Moses Zipporah his daughter in marriage. There are those who say that this black wife was not Zipporah, the Midianite. Midian was a son of Abraham by his second wife Keturah (Genesis 25: 2). The country with his name was located in southwestern Arabia. Therefore, the question may be, how did she become black, if, indeed, this Ethiopian wife was Zipporah? First I would note that there is no account in Scripture that tells of Moses marrying someone other than Zipporah nor an account of the death of Zipporah. Secondly historically we know that before Semites came into Arabia, the country was inhabited by Black People, Ethiopians (Cushites). The present day Arabs arose from race mixture during historical times2; that is what accounts for their darkness.
Interestingly it is Zipporah who circumcises Moses’ son. What bearing does this have on her race or ethnicity? It is significant because it has been well established that the Ethiopians practiced circumcision since time immemorial. Herodotus (the Greek father of history who visited Egypt almost 2,500 years ago) makes this assertion and posits the possibility that the practice of circumcision was passed from Ethiopians to the Egyptians. He dogmatically asserts that the Jews (the Syrians of Palestine as he calls them) learned the practice from the Egyptians. Here is the point: if Zipporah was Ethiopian, then it would not be strange for her to be acquainted with the practice of circumcision. By the way, circumcision is universal among Black Africans.
Two prominent black women of the Old Testament are associated with King Solomon: the black Shulamite wife of Solomon and the Queen of Sheba who visited Solomon from the other side of the world. First we will discuss the Shulamite wife of Solomon.
In the first chapter (verses 5 and 6) of the Song of Solomon or Song of Songs (Canticle of Canticles in some Bibles), Solomon’s Shulamite wife says the following to the daughters of Jerusalem:
5 I am black, but comely,
Oh ye daughters of Jerusalem,
As the tents of Kedar,
As the curtains of Solomon.
6 Look not upon me, because I am swarthy,
Because the sun hath scorched me.
My mother’s sons were incensed against me;
They made me keeper of the vineyards;
But mine own vineyard have I not kept. (ASV)
Some say that this Shulamite was a daughter of Pharaoh, presumably because she compares herself to horses in Pharaoh’s chariots. It seems more likely she was from Western Asia from all the allusions to places in the Levant and Arabia, where Black People at this point in history were probably quite common and where, according to the Bible, most of the descendants of Cush (Ethiopia) settled. Whether she came from Africa or Asia, the bottom line is that she was black. Some translations render the first sentence as swarthy or dark. However, Strong’s Concordance gives the translation as black, actually jet black. Her getting sunburnt cannot explain her blackness since by the time she came to be Solomon’s wife I am sure that she was not working in the hot sun. It should be evident that this woman was prominent, and important, since Solomon wrote such a long and amorous song about her. Clearly his deep love for her was more important than the prejudice of the daughters of Jerusalem. I know that this Psalm has spiritual meaning (for example, types and shadows of Christ and the Church) but that discussion is for another day. This affair brings to mind the incident involving Miriam and Aaron who came against Moses’ wife because she was an Ethiopian and when, more recently, in 1939, the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) refusing to allow the great Diva Marian Anderson perform in Constitution Hall, solely because she too was an Ethiopian, that is, black. Like Zipporah, she too was vindicated when 75,000 showed up to hear her perform in front of the Washington Memorial on Easter Sunday.
The other black woman connected with Solomon is the Queen of Sheba who visited him to find out if he was as wise as he was reported to be. We can assume she was black because she is a descendant of Cush. The sons of Cush (Ethiopia) were: Seba, Havilah, Sabtah, Raamah, Sabtecha and Nimrod. The sons of Raamah were Sheba and Dedan (Genesis 10: 7-8). The land she ruled was named after the Biblical ancestor Sheba. A German scholar from the 15th century assumed she was black like Sub-Saharan Africans1.
In 1 Kings 10: 1-3, we read that,
“Now when the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the Lord, she came to test him with riddles. 2 So she came to Jerusalem with a very large caravan (entourage), with camels carrying spices, a great quantity of gold, and precious stones. When she came to Solomon, she spoke with him about everything that was on her mind [to discover the extent of his wisdom]. 3 Solomon answered all her questions; there was nothing hidden from the king which he did not explain to her.” (AMP)
After hearing all he had to say, she exclaimed that the half had not been told. The Lord Jesus Christ spoke very highly of her, in speaking to a group of Pharisees, when he said, “The Queen of the South (Sheba) will stand up [as a witness] at the judgment against this generation, and will condemn it because she came from the ends of the earth to listen to the wisdom of Solomon; and now, something greater than Solomon is here.” (Matthew 12: 42, AMP) In other words, He is telling them “you will not hear me but the Queen of Sheba would have gladly received the Good News I am preaching” [my paraphrasing what Jesus said]. Jesus knew that she had told Solomon, “8 How blessed (fortunate, happy) are your men! How blessed are these your servants who stand continually before you, hearing your wisdom! 9 Blessed be the Lord your God who delighted in you to set you on the throne of Israel! Because the Lord loved Israel forever, He made you king to execute justice and righteousness.” (1 Kings 10: 8-9, AMP). That’s how He knew how she would have responded to him.
Sheba gave Solomon lots of gold, spices, and precious stones. He in turn loaded her up with stuff, giving her whatever she wanted. She then went back home. However, the Ethiopians (of today), who claim her, say that was not the whole story and that she had a son for Solomon called Menelik I. All of this is extra-biblical. However, there are those who believe that the Arc of the Covenant is in Ethiopia, and it might have gotten there through this Solomon-Sheba connection.
My next post will concentrate on the Pharaohs associated with important Biblical events.
References and Notes
- Depiction of Queen of Sheba by 15th Century German.
2. Cheikh Anta Diop (1967), The African origin of civilization: myth or reality. Westport, Connecticut: Lawrence Hill & Company, pp. 123-124.
3 thoughts on “Why Didn’t They Tell You…”
Interesting learning that the Queen of Sheba gifted Solomon what amounted to over $42 million (present day). Then he in turn reciprocated making sure she departed with more in value that he’d received. High Rollers!
Yeah, you’re right!
Rhyme and pathos
Religious analytical psychology