Why Didn't They Tell You?

Dr. FRANK MARTINS COMMENTARY ON HISTORICAL, SOCIAL & ECONOMIC ISSUES OF OUR TIME

about the beauty of Piankhi?

… about the beauty of Piankhi?

My last post dealt with the Cushite (Ethiopian, Nubian) Treasurer of Queen Amanikhatashan who ruled Cush from 62 AD to 85 AD. Piankhi was one of the early kings of the unbroken line of monarchs (kings and queens) who ruled the Kingdom of Cush for 1,200 years, from the 8th century BC to the 4th century AD. He was king of both Ethiopia and Egypt from 747 BC to 716 BC and was the second Pharaoh of Egypt’s 25th Dynasty1. The Featured Image at the top of this blog post is Piankhi’s Victory Stela after defeat of the forces of disunity in Egypt.


At this point I want to try to clarify something that is probably creating some confusion amongst my readers. I have used the terms Ethiopia, Cush (which may be spelled with a C or a K), and Nubia interchangeably. The first thing to understand is that the country of Ethiopia of today is not the Ethiopia of the Bible or the Ethiopia of the Ancient Greeks. The Ethiopia of today used to be known as Abyssinia. Evidently Emperor Haile Selassie changed the name of the country from Abyssinia to Ethiopia during World War II. Modern day Ethiopia might have been on the southeastern fringe of the Ancient Ethiopian Empire.
Ethiopia comes from the Greek work Aithiops, meaning burnt faces which is a description of how blacks would have appeared to the first white Greeks who saw them. If we go back to the time of Homer, the Land of the Blacks (Ethiopia) extended from the western edge of Africa, including North Africa, to southern India, including Egypt and the Asiatic Middle East in between. In the Odyssey, Homer pens the following:
But now Poseidon had gone to visit the Ethiopians worlds away,
Ethiopians off at the farthest limits of mankind,
a people split in two, one part where the Sungod sets
and part where the Sungod rises. There Poseidon went
to receive an offering, bulls and rams by the hundred—
far away at the feast the Sea-lord sat and took his pleasure. (Odyssey 1.21-25)

So we see that at the time that Homer wrote the Odyssey, perhaps around 800 BC, the Blacks not only lived in Africa (“where the sun sets) but also in Asia (“where the sun rises”).
Lady Lugard’s comments on the Greek’s view of the Ethiopians is quite telling:
“The fame of the Ethiopians was widespread in ancient history. Herodotus, Homer, in even in more flattering language describes them as “the most just of men: the favorites of the gods.” The annals of all the great early nations of Asia Minor are full of them. The Mosaic records allude to them frequently; but while they are described as the most powerful, the most just, and the most beautiful of the human race, they are constantly spoken of as black, and there seems to be no other conclusion to be drawn, than that at that remote period of history the leading race of the Western world was the black race.”2 [writer’s italics].
The above views were expressed by many different Greeks over a period several hundred years. Perhaps it was because the Ethiopians were, indeed, powerful people who knew how to humanely exercise their power.
As time passed what was considered the land of the blacks became smaller and smaller until it came to designate the area south of Egypt (Sudan comes from the Arabic Beled-es-Sudan, land of the Blacks). In the Old Testament of the Bible, the Hebrews used the word Cush to refer to the land south of Egypt. The Greek Septuagint (Greek translation of the Old Testament) substitutes the word Ethiopia for Cush. Cush had no racial connotation but Ethiopia obviously did. According to David O’Connor, before 1550 BC, the Ancient Egyptians referred to the land to the south as Ta-Nehasyu (or Ta-Neheshi). We also know that they called it Ta-Seti, the Land of the Bow. After 1550 BC, Egyptians often called the country Cush (Kush) from whence came the Hebrew designation. O’Connor asserts that “… during the first millennium BC, Kush was the preferred name for all Nubia in Egyptian, Assyrian, Persian, and Hebrew”.3 Somehow, over time the name Nubia came to be associated with Cush, perhaps because of the gold found in the region.
In short, when I speak of Ancient Ethiopia, Cush, or Nubia, I am talking about the civilization centered along the Nile River from the 1st Cataract to at least the 6th Cataract. Historically the area from the 1st to the 2nd Cataract was part of Nubia, but today it is part of Egypt.
I maintain that the Pharaoh Piankhi epitomized the admirable human qualities that the ancients attributed to the Wonderful Ethiopians of the Ancient Cushite Empire, borrowing from the title of a book by the pioneering and courageous scholar Drusilla Dunjee Houston. I now proceed to back up my assertion.
Piankhi’s father, Kashta, “was confirmed in power by the priests of Amon [at Thebes], and where he obliged the High Priestess to adopt his daughter as her successor. In thus formalizing the alliance between the monarchy and the Amon cult he was following the practice of a number of earlier pharaohs. There is no suggestion of military activity connected with Kashta’s visit; apparently he journeyed in peace and was acclaimed at Thebes, as he was at Jebel Barkal as the appointed patron of Amon and defender of the faith”.4 This anointing of Kashta took place sometime before 751 BC, the year he died. Therefore, it seems clear that by their actions, the priests of Amon confirmed Kashta as the legitimate Pharaoh of Egypt, and he, therefore, became the founder of Egypt’s 25th Dynasty. This happened at a time when Egypt was being wracked by division and disunity with Libyans from the North taking control of provinces (nomes) in Middle and Lower (northern) Egypt.
With the passing of Kashta, his son Piankhi began to rule from his Cushite capital of Napata around 751 BC. In the 21st year of his reign, Piankhi received pleas for help from princes and military commanders in Egypt. “The military officials at Thebes implored Piankhi to protect the domains of Amon against the intruder”. The intruder referred to here is Tefnakhte, a Libyan prince. Evidently the number of soldiers at Thebes were not enough to deal with the Libyan and Asiatic threat. After daily pleas from the Egyptians at Thebes, Piankhi decided to act. Let us now hear the words of beautiful Piankhi, as written on his Stela6 (a massive slab of dark-gray granite, nearly 6 feet high and 4 feet 7.5 inches wide and about 1 foot 5 inches thick, written in impeccable hieroglyphics):

His first act was to send orders to, “the princes and commanders of the army who were in Egypt … “Hasten into battle line, engage in battle, surround …., capture its people, its cattle, its ships upon the river. Let not the peasants go forth to the field, let not the plowmen plow, beset the frontier of the Hare nome, fight against it daily. “Then they did so.” (Victory Stela)
They were to hold down the fort until reinforcement got there. Piankhi’s instructions to the solders he sent to Egypt are instructive:
“When ye arrive at Thebes, before Karnak, ye shall enter into the water, ye shall bathe in the river, ye shall dress in [fine linen], unstring the bow, loosen the arrow. Let not the chief boast as a mighty man; there is no strength to the mighty without him, He maketh the weak-armed into the strong-armed, so that multitudes flee from the feeble, and one alone taketh a thousand men. Sprinkle yourselves with the water of his altars, sniff the ground before him. Say ye to him, ‘Give us the way, that we may fight in the shadow of thy sword. (As for) the generation whom thou hast sent out, when its attack occurs, multitudes flee before it.’ “

The king made it clear that they were to be laser focused on the military mission and preparation. His orders bring to mind another Ethiopian king, Memnon, who traveled to Troy from Persia (Iran) to help out his uncle Priam, King of Troy, in their fight against the Greeks. When the Trojan king offered his soldiers alcoholic drinks, Memnon said no and told his soldiers to go to bed so that they could be ready to fight the next day. Piankhi told his soldiers to purify themselves by bathing in the Nile at Thebes and sprinkling themselves with water from the altar in Egypt’s most sacred city, Thebes (which the Egyptians call No-Amon, the dwelling place of Amon, God) and then dressing themselves in fine linen. What a sight this must have been with thousands of black men (they were probably jet black) dressed in white and ready for battle! He reminds them that their strength comes from God when he tells them, “Let not the chief boast as a mighty man; there is no strength to the mighty without him, He maketh the weak-armed into the strong-armed, so that multitudes flee from the feeble, and one alone taketh a thousand men”. This brings to mind what Joshua said in verse 10 of Chapter 23 of the book of Joshua, “One man of you shall chase a thousand: for the Lord your God, he it is that fighteth for you, as he hath promised you.” (KJV). Like Joshua, Piankhi put his trust in the Lord for victory.
The soldiers did well when they engaged the enemy in battle but they let some of them get away which enraged Piankhi. Upon hearing the report, the King said, “”Have they allowed a remnant of the army of the Northland to remain? allowing him that went forth of them to go forth, to tell of his campaign? not causing their death, in order to destroy the last of them? I swear: as Re loves me! [writer’s italics] I will myself go northward, that I may destroy that which he has done, that I may make him turn back from fighting, forever.” (Victory Stela).
Piankhi fought his way north to Thebes where he completed the Feast of Amon at the Feast of Opet; he was scrupulous in observing tradition and performing sacrifices wherever he went. In terms of his culture and belief system, he was a keeper of the Law. In the above passage, Piankhi expresses the conviction that God loves him when he says, “… as Re loves me”. This same conviction that God loves him is expressed several other times in this stela. One theologian has said that one Sunday school song, Yes Jesus Loves Me, conveys the whole essence of Christianity. The Christian who walks with Jesus is thoroughly convinced that he is beloved of God, as was Piankhi, and is the apple of his eye. Thus some evangelical churches sing a song called, Keep Me Jesus as the Apple of Thine Eye.
As Piankhi moves north subduing one city or nome after another (Heracleopolis, Hermopolis, Memphis, and Heliopolis are a few of the well-known places), he gives them two options: open up your gates, surrender and live or keep your gates closed and die. If they opened up their gates and surrendered, nobody died; he only expected obedience and tribute, which the princes, chiefs, and kings supplied in abundance: in gold, silver, lapis lazuli, malachite, bronze, many types of costly stone, other things of value, and often horses of the finest breeds. One is struck by the wealth of these cities and small kingdoms. The bounty became gifts for the domain of Amon at Thebes, and some Piankhi took back with him to Napata when the fighting was over.
An example of the ultimatum issued is the following:
“His majesty sailed north to the opening of the canal beside Illahun; he found Per-Sekhemkhperre with its valiant wall raised, and its stronghold closed, filled with every valiant man of the Northland. Then his majesty sent to them, saying: “Ye living in death! Ye living in death! Ye insignificant …. and miserable ones! Ye living in death! If an hour passes without opening to me, behold, ye are of the number of the fallen; and that is [painful] to the king. Close not the gates of your life, to be brought to the block this day. Love not death, nor hate life ……… before the whole land.” (Victory Stela).
Per-Sekhemkhperre surrendered and “The army of his majesty entered into it, without slaying one of all the people”. [writer’s italics] He extended this kind of mercy and forgiveness to all of the cities and nomes that surrendered. Only those places that resisted Piankhi suffered casualties. Tefnakht, the Libyan prince who was Piankhi’s main adversary, fled north as Piankhi advanced but eventually surrendered after he had gone to a temple and essentially hugged the horns of the altar, promising to act right. After hearing his plea, “Then his majesty was satisfied therewith.” He did not keep his promise, but instead, fought against the legitimate government of Egypt for another generation.
This valiant king was capable of going into a rage if rubbed the wrong way. After the surrender of Hermopolis, Piankhi went to inspect the horse stables and went into a rage when,
“he saw that they had suffered hunger, he said: “I swear, as Re loves me, and as my nostrils are rejuvenated with life, it is more grievous in my heart that my horses have suffered hunger, than any evil deed that thou hast done, in the prosecution of thy desire. It has borne witness of thee to me, the fear of thy associates for thee. Didst thou not know that the god’s shadow is over me? and that my fortune never perishes because of him? Would that another had done it to me! I could not but condemn him on account of it. When I was fashioned in the womb, and created in the divine egg the seed of the god was in me. By his ka, I do nothing without him; he it is who commands me to do it.” (Victory Stela).
Cleary he was a lover of horses, but this account again demonstrates his confidence in and dependence on God, more than his dependence on his flesh. He said, “Didst thou not know that the god’s shadow is over me?” In other words, do you really know who I am? I am a child of God who was predestined to be who I am.
At several points, the stela speaks of how the defeated foes came to see the “beauty of his majesty”, hence the title of this blog: Why didn’t they tell you about the beauty of Piankhi?
I believe that Piankhi’s character is consistent with the picture of the Ethiopians painted by the Ancient Greeks.
What I also see in Piankhi and his character are types and shadows of Christ and the New Testament or, perhaps, I should say types and shadows of the Christian walk under the New Covenant that Jesus Christ ushered in. Every place Piankhi went to, he did sacrifices, which the New Covenant did away with. He scrupulously keep the Law, but he never heard the Good News, the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Eight hundred years later, one of his countrymen (the Cushite eunuch) heard the Gospel and responded to it immediately. Would Pharaoh Piankhi have done the same? He just might have.
There is a 2014 PBS documentary on Prime Video about the 25th Dynasty called The Rise of the Black Pharaohs. The unstated assumption, or it could be called the inarticulate major premise, of the title of this video and the content of the video is that the Black Pharaohs of the 25th Dynasty were exceptions since everyone knows that Egyptians, and the Pharaohs up until the 25th Dynasty, were white. The unarticulated premise is that Pharaohs are white. What I submit to you is that the White Pharaohs were the exception, not the rule. I invite you to view the images of Pharaohs from Egypt’s Old Kingdom, Middle Kingdom, and New Kingdom shown below. If you will allow yourself to accept what your eyes see, you cannot, with a straight face, say that any of those nine individuals are white, European, or Asian.
Finally there is a misconception still being conveyed that the Ethiopians invaded or attacked Egypt. It seems obvious that they come by invitation. Egyptologist Cherubini echoes this point of view in the following passage:
“In any event, it is remarkable that the authority of the king of Ethiopia seemed recognized by Egypt, less as that of an enemy imposing his rule by force, than as a guardianship invited by the prayers of a long-suffering country, afflicted with anarchy within its borders and weakened abroad. In this monarch, Egypt found a representative of its ideas and beliefs, a zealous regenerator of its institutions, a powerful protector of its independence. The reign of Shabaka was in fact viewed as one of the happiest in Egyptian memory. His dynasty, adopted over the land of the Pharaohs, ranks twenty-fifth in the order of succession of national families who have occupied the throne.”7
The passage speaks for itself. Shabaka is Piankhi’s brother who was his immediate successor.


“… and the truth shall make you free”.

Notes and References

  1. William, J. Murnane (1997). “Disunity and foreign rule” in Ancient Egypt, David P. Silverman, ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, p. 37.
  2. Flora Shaw – Lady Lugard (1905). A tropical dependency. London: James Nisbet & Co., Limited.
  3. O’Connor, David (1993). Ancient Nubia: Egypt’s rival in Africa. Philadelphia: The University Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Pennsylvania, p. 3.
  4. Adams, William Y. (1977). Nubia: corridor to Africa. Princeton, N. J.: Allen Lane, Princeton University Press, pp. 260-261.
  5. Adams, p. 261.
  6. The text and the graphic of Piankhi’s Sela can be accessed at http://realhistoryww.com/world_history/ancient/Victory_Stela_of_Piye.htm)
    This is how the eminent Egyptologist James Henry Breasted described Piankhi’s Victory Stela:
    “…this remarkable literary monument is the clearest and most rational account of a military expedition which has survived from Ancient Egypt. It displays literary skill and an appreciation for dramatic situations which is notable, while the vivacious touches found here and there quite relieve it of the arid tone usual in such hieroglyphic documents. The imagination endues the personages appearing here more easily with life than those of any other similar historical narrative of Egypt; and the humane Piankhi especially, the lover of horses, remains a man far removed from the conventional companion and equal of the gods who inevitably occupies the exalted throne of the Pharaohs in all other such records”, quoted in Adams, p. 262.
  7. Quoted in Cheikh Anta Diop (1967), The African origin of civilization: myth or reality. Westport, Connecticut: Lawrence Hill & Company, p. 146.
Old Kingdom Pharaohs (L to R): Hani-3rd Dynasty; Khufu-3rd Dynasty; Niuserre-5th Dynasty

Middle Kingdom Pharaohs (L to R): Mentuhotep-11th Dynasty; Senusret I-12th Dynasty; Senusret II-12th Dynasty
New Kingdom Pharaohs (L to R): Ahmose I-18th Dynasty; Tutankhamen-18th Dynasty; Rameses III- 20th Dynasty

that the Black People mentioned by name in the Bible were invariably prominent individuals?

Part IV

that the Black People mentioned by name in the Bible were invariably prominent individuals? Part IV: New Testament.

The most prominent Black Person mentioned in the New Testament of the Bible is undoubtedly the Ethiopian eunuch of the Book of Acts. Literally a eunuch is a castrated male; however, sometimes those referred to as eunuchs were not actually castrated. However, certainly some, and perhaps most, were castrated. Monarchs (kings and queens) often found it convenient, and perhaps safe, to have eunuchs as trusted advisors who often were very powerful in their own right.

The account of evangelist Phillips’ encounter with the Ethiopian Eunuch goes as follows:

“But an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Get up and go south to the road that runs from Jerusalem down to Gaza.” (This is a desert road). 27 So he got up and went; and there was an Ethiopian eunuch [a man of great authority], a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure. He had come to Jerusalem to worship, 28 and he was returning, and sitting in his chariot he was reading [the scroll of] the prophet Isaiah.” (Acts 8: 26-28, AMP).

Let us note that this Ethiopian was a man of great authority, a court official in charge of all the treasure of Candace (or Kandake), queen of the Ethiopians. Candace, or Kandake, is a title like Pharaoh. Clearly this Ethiopian was an important and prominent person, from an empire that spanned a huge area from the 1st Cataract to beyond the 6th Cataract of the Nile. To appreciate how important he was, we need to know something about this country that his queen ruled over. We do not know the name of this court official but we do know the name of the queen. She undoubtedly was Queen Amanikhatashan who ruled the Ethiopian Empire from her capital of Meroe from 62 AD to 85 AD. We know her name because we have the names of all the kings and queens who ruled Ethiopia (Cush or Nubia) in an unbroken line over a period of almost 1,200 years, from 806 BC to 320 AD1.

In my blog of April 18, 2020, I made the following observation, “As far back as 5,000 years (3,000 B.C.), they [the Ethiopians] were renowned for their economic and military prowess. The ancient Greeks were of the opinion that Egypt began as a colony of Ethiopians (just like the British colonized America). Isaiah 18:2 describes them as a nation,

“Which sends ambassadors by the sea,
Even in vessels of papyrus on the surface of the waters.
Go, swift messengers, to a nation [of people] tall and smooth (clean shaven),
To a people feared far and wide,
A powerful and oppressive nation
Whose land the rivers divide.” (AMP)

During the reign of Queen Amanikhatashan, Cush (Ethiopia) was still a powerful nation who had fought the Romans to almost a standstill after Rome had been taken over Egypt. The wars with the Romans took place under the reign of an earlier Kandake, Queen Amanishakhete (41 BC-12 BC). Consequently the Nubians signed a peace treaty with the Romans and the two empires established diplomatic relations. The Nubians initially used hieroglyphic writing but by the time of Queen Amanikhatashan, the Nubians had developed their own alphabetic writing which has not yet been deciphered. The featured image at the head of the blog shows Queen Amanikhatashan and the Meroitic alphabetic script of the Ethiopians.

Returning to the scriptural reference, we see that the Ethiopian was on his way back home after a visit to worship in Jerusalem when the Holy Spirit told Philip to catch up with the chariot. Interestingly Phillip heard the eunuch was reading a scroll of the Prophet Isaiah. Philip asked him if he understood what he was reading and the Ethiopian’s response was how could he understand if he had no one to explain it to him? The passage he was reading was,

“Like a sheep He was led to the slaughter;
And as a lamb before its shearer is silent,
So He does not open His mouth.
33 
“In humiliation His judgment was taken away [justice was denied Him].
Who will describe His generation?
For His life is taken from the earth.” (Acts 8: 32-33, AMP)

Verse 35 says, “Then Philip spoke and beginning with this Scripture he preached Jesus to him [explaining that He is the promised Messiah and the source of salvation]. As they rode along, the eunuch exclaimed, “Look! Water! What forbids me from being baptized?” 37 Philip said to him, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he replied, “I do believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”] 38 And he ordered that the chariot be stopped; and both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and Philip baptized him. 39 When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord [suddenly] took Philip [and carried him] away [to a different place]; and the eunuch no longer saw him, but he went on his way rejoicing. (Act 8: 36-39, AMP).

It is interesting to see how quickly the Ethiopian responded once the gospel was preached to him. In effect he said, there is water; so let’s do this thing right now! He responded the way one is supposed to respond to baptism; he came out of the water rejoicing. Can there be any doubt that he spread the word in Egypt along the way and once he got back home.

His ordering the chariot to stop clearly demonstrates that the eunuch was not driving the chariot. Indeed, there can be no doubt that he had a large armed escort accompanying him. The capital city of Meroe was renowned for being fabulously wealthy and he was the treasurer for the queen who reigned over this wealthy city and the whole Ethiopian empire.

The Roman centurion Cornelius is considered to be the first Gentile converted to Christianity. Recall how the Lord had to prepare Peter and the ones with him for their mission to share the Gospel with Cornelius; in their minds their mission was only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Cornelius’ conversion is related in Chapter 10 of the book of Acts but the Ethiopian eunuch’s conversion is related two chapters before that, chapter 8. This Ethiopian evidently was not considered a Gentile. This explains why he had traveled hundreds of miles, coming from the ends of the earth like the Queen of Sheba, to worship at the Temple in Jerusalem. Thus it appears that this man was a Jew or a Jewish proselyte.

In the first verse of Acts 13, we are told that, “In the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen … and Saul.” (NIV). They were gathered for fasting and praying before laying hands on Barnabas and Paul before sending them out. Niger is a Latin word meaning black which in this case is a Latin word spelled with Greek letters, an explanation given by the Amplified translation. In other words, he was known as Simeon the black one. But what is more important is that he was an early church leader at Antioch, a prophet or a teacher, clearly a prominent person.

Simeon was not the only black person who was part of the early church. There were still lots of black folk in Western Asia in the first century AD, and I am sure that many became Christians.

Notes and References

  1. Adams, William Y. (1977). Nubia: corridor to Africa. Princeton, N. J.: Allen Lane, Princeton University Press, pp. 251-252.

… that the Black People mentioned by name in the Bible were invariably prominent individuals?

Part II

… that the Black People mentioned by name in the Bible were invariably prominent individuals?

Part II.

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. 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:

I am black, but comely,
Oh ye daughters of Jerusalem,
As the tents of Kedar,
As the curtains of Solomon.
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 to 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. 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]. 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, “How blessed (fortunate, happy) are your men! How blessed are these your servants who stand continually before you, hearing your wisdom! 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

  1. Depiction of Queen of Sheba by 15th Century German.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Queen_of_Sheba

2. Cheikh Anta Diop (1967), The African origin of civilization: myth or reality. Westport, Connecticut: Lawrence Hill & Company, pp. 123-124.

that the Black People mentioned by name in the Bible were invariably prominent individuals?

Part I

that the Black People mentioned by name in the Bible were invariably prominent individuals? Part I.

In a recent History Channel documentary on Pompeii, the expert being interviewed by the commentator pointed out that that the remains of a person who perished in the destruction of Pompeii were those of a black woman. The commentator said something to the effect that he did not know that the Pompeiians had black slaves. The expert quickly corrected him by pointing out that these were not the remains of a slave but of a woman of high position. This is a perfect example of “the inarticulate major premise”, a phrase attributed to U. S. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes and discussed in Basil Davidson’s The Lost Cities of Africa. The inarticulate major premise here is that blacks have always been a slave race. If blacks show up in ancient times, they necessarily were slaves or at best servile persons of low status. It usually is not articulated but the premise or assumption is always in the background, namely, that blacks were always a slave race.

If we examine the identified Blacks in the Bible, we find just the opposite. Instead of their being of low position, they are invariably individuals of high position, people of influence. The Table of Nations in Genesis 10 is the first place in the Bible where people are identified by race, with the three sons of Noah being the progenitors of three different races, the Black, the Semitic, and the Indo-European. This classification corresponds exactly to the New Kingdom racial classification system of the Ancient Egyptians, found in the Valley of the Kings. Ham is the biblical progenitor of Blacks, Shem the progenitor of the Semitic Peoples, and Japheth the progenitor of the Indo-Europeans. How do we know that Ham has any connection to Black People?

First the word Ham is from the Hebrew Cham which, according to Strong’s Concordance, means “hot (from the tropical habitat)”. The word is the old name for Egypt, Kemit, land of the Black People (not black soil). Therefore, we can trace the genealogy of blacks through the descendants of Ham: Cush (Ethiopia), Mizraim (Egypt), Phut, and Canaan. Up to this very day, Arabs call Egypt Misr, a variation on Mizraim. When the Greeks translated the Old Testament into Greek, they translated Cush as Ethiopia (land of burnt faces). Over time Ethiopia came to refer to the civilization to the south of Egypt, not the Ethiopia of today which previously had been called Abyssinia. Interestingly at the time of the writing of Genesis 10, there were more descendants of Ham than of either Shem or Japheth. Twenty-eight (28) descendants of Ham are identified by name but and only nineteen (19) and eight (14) respectively of Shem and Japheth. Fifteen verses are devoted to Ham’s descendants while only eight (8) and five (5) respectively to Shem and Japheth. So clearly there are many, many Black People in the Bible.

Well educated speakers of English, who have not been blinded by racial prejudice, understand quite clearly who Ham is. On the first page of his novel, Billy Budd, the American writer Herman Melville made the following observation about a sailor who stood out above the rest:

“In Liverpool, … I saw under the shadow of the great ding street-wall of Prince’s Deck … a common sailor so intensely black that he must  needs have been a native African of the unadulterated blood of Ham…”

Clearly Melville understood that Ham was the Biblical progenitor of Africans, i.e., Black People.

The first prominent black person after Ham is Nimrod, a son of Cush and a grandson of Ham. The Bible describes him as a mighty one in the earth, a might hunter before the Lord, and a builder of cities and kingdoms (Babel, Erech, Accad, Nineveh (the great city), Rehoboth-Ir and Calah). He was the first mighty ruler. Chapter 11 of Genesis tells us that the people of Babel got besides themselves and tried to build a tower to Heaven which caused God to confuse them with many languages and to scatter them. Though verses 1-9 of Chapter 11 do not say that Nimrod led them in the enterprise to build a tower to Heaven, the presumption is that he was the leader.

When King Asa of Judah was feeling safe with walled cities and more than a half million (580,000) soldiers under his command, everything was upset when “There came against Judah Zerah the Ethiopian with a host of a million [that is, too many to be numbered] and 300 chariots …”. (2 Chronicles 14:9. AMP). Asa cried out to God, and “… the Lord smote the Ethiopians before Asa and Judah, and the Ethiopians fled.” (2 Chronicles 14:12). Only divine intervention saved the day for King Asa.

Who were these Ethiopians (Cushites) of old? As far back as 5,000 years (3,000 B.C.), they were renowned for their economic and military prowess. The ancient Greeks were of the opinion that Egypt began as colony of Ethiopians (just like the British colonized America). Isiah 18:2 describes them as a nation,

 “Which sends ambassadors by the sea,
Even in vessels of papyrus on the surface of the waters.
Go, swift messengers, to a nation [of people] tall and smooth (clean shaven),
To a people feared far and wide,
A powerful and oppressive nation
Whose land the rivers divide.” (AMP)

Isaiah concludes his prophesy, after saying that Cush would come under divine judgment, by noting that, “At that time a gift of homage will be brought to the Lord of hosts from a people tall and smooth (clean shaven) … To the place [of worship] of the name of the Lord of hosts, to Mount Zion [in Jerusalem].” (v. 7). Some Bible scholars believe that the gift referred to in this verse is the Arc of the Covenant. Furthermore, in the end they would come to the Lord. Cush remained powerful throughout most of the era of Roman dominance, even after Egypt had fallen to the status of a Roman colony.

When the prophet Jeremiah was cast into a dungeon, it was a black man named Ebed-melech, a palace eunuch, an Ethiopian, who went to the king and pleaded for Jeremiah. Though King Zedekiah had approved what Jeremiah’s enemies had done to him, he reversed himself and told Eded-melech to take thirty (30) men and pull Jeremiah out of the dungeon. (Jeremiah: 38: 9-13). Clearly Ebed-melech had influence with the king. The Babylonians were about to burn Jerusalem down. While the siege was in progress, the Lord told Jeremiah:

   16 “Go and speak to Ebed-melech the Ethiopian, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, “Behold, I am about to bring My words [of judgment] against this city through disaster and not for good; and they will take place before you on that day. 17 But I will [a]protect you [Ebed-melech] on that day,” says the Lord, “and you will not be handed over to the men of whom you are afraid. 18 For I will certainly rescue you; and you will not fall by the sword, but you will have your [own] life as a reward of battle, because you have placed your trust in Me,” says the Lord.’”

Not only did Ebed-Melech find favor with the king, he also found favor with God because of his character and his faith in God. He clearly believed the prophet.

Such was the status of the Black people mentioned in the Bible before the time of Christ, going back more than 3,000 years. My next post will talk about the prominent Black People of the New Testament.

that all Africans believe in the resurrection?

… that all Africans believe in the resurrection?

I believe the Africans brought to America over the two hundred years or so from 1620 to the early 1800’s brought a belief system with them that made it easy for them to embrace Christianity, when given the real deal. There were some things that all black Africans believed in, whether they came from West Africa, Central Africa, East Africa, North Africa, or Southern Africa. These things were part of the world view of Africans that gave rise to that cultural unity that has been observed by eminent scholars such as Dr. John Hope Franklin, Basil Davidson, Drusilla Dunjee Houston, Egyptologist Dr. Cheikh Anta Diop, Dr. Theophile Obenga (linguist and Egyptologist), Chancellor Williams, and Egyptologist E. Wallis Budge. One of those commonalities was a belief in the resurrection.  

We cannot speak about the belief in a resurrection in a vacuum but must consider it in conjunction with their beliefs about God, eternal life, and final judgment. The scholarly British Egyptologist E. A. Wallis Budge wrote very persuasively about the unity in religious thought of Black Africans and Ancient Egyptians. Rather than try to paraphrase what he said, I will share several direct quotations from his book Osiris & the Egyptian Resurrection. What brought him to investigate religious thought in Black Africa was his quest to discover “… the source of the fundamental beliefs of the indigenous Religion of Ancient Egypt … “.1

After much search, including looking at Asia as a possible source, Budge states, “… I became convinced that a satisfactory explanation of the ancient Egyptian Religion could only be obtained from the Religions of the Sudan, more especially those of the peoples who lived in the isolated districts in the south and west of that region [Egypt], where European influence was limited, and where native beliefs and religious ceremonials still possessed life and meaning.”1. Budge examined the accounts of Arabs and Europeans explorers who traveled throughout Sub-Sahara Africa. The value of the explorers’ and travelers’ accounts was that they generally were objective enough to simply write down what they were told. Additionally Budge himself traveled to the country of Sudan to do personal investigations.

His conclusion was “All the evidence available suggests that Sudani beliefs are identical with those of the Egyptians, because the people who held them in Egypt were Africans, and those who now hold them in the Sudan are Africans.”1. At another point, Budge characterizes this Egyptian/African belief system as an, “… unchanging, persistent belief in the resurrection of the righteous and in immortality.”  When Budge says Sudan, he means Sub-Sahara Africa. Sudan is just the shortened form of the Arabic Beled-es-Sudan (Land of the Blacks). He found clear expression by African people of every element of Ancient Egyptian religious beliefs. In short, in the process of investigating the source of Ancient Egyptian beliefs, he ends up giving up valuable information about modern African beliefs.

What then was the African conception of God? Budge characterizes it as the belief in “the existence of One Great God, self-produced, self-existent, almighty and eternal, who created the “gods”, the heavens and the sun, moon and stars in them, and the earth and everything on it, including man and beast, bird, fish, and reptile.”1 That is consistent with the Christian conception of God.

Budge relates that a Mr. Wilson, “… says that there is no well-defined system of false religion in Western Africa which is generally received by the people. The belief in one Supreme Being, who made and upholds all things, is universal. The impression is so deeply engraved upon their moral and mental nature that any system of atheism strikes them as too absurd and preposterous to require a denial [author’s italics]. All the tribes met with by him have a name for God …”1. Clearly the African-American strong belief in God pre-dates the slave experience.

British explorer and travelers Mungo Park who traveled through Senegambia (Gambia, Senegal, and Mali) in 1795 and 1796 had this to say about the belief system of the people he encountered: “… I have conversed with all ranks and conditions, upon the subject of their faith, and can pronounce, without the smallest shadow of doubt, that the belief of one God, and of a future state of reward and punishment is entire and universal among them …”2 In other words, people will be judged for their actions on earth.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ would have been Good News for a people with the belief system described above because it tells them how exactly they can achieve the resurrection and eternal life they longer for, as beautifully expressed in John 3:16:  “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” By his death and resurrection, Jesus, the man (though God in the flesh), conquered death and, therefore, we have the hope of the resurrection.

As an American of African descent, I thank my Heavenly Father for my African ancestors’ deep abiding faith in Him.

May You Have a Blessed Resurrection Day!

Sources

1. Quotations are from pages vi, xvii, 349, 361, 364 of Budge, E. A. Wallis (1911). Osiris and the Egyptian Resurrection. London: Philip Lee Warner; New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons. Accessed at http://www.archive.org/details/osirisegyptianre01budg.

2. Park, Mungo (1799). Travels in the Interior Districts of Africa. W. Bulmer and Co.: Pall-Mall, England. Reprinted in 2000 by Duke University Press: Durham and London, p. 247.

that Ancient Egyptian Pharaohs had the same bone structure as Black American males?

… that Ancient Egyptian Pharaohs had the same bone structure as Black American males?

Sometimes one piece of evidence is enough to settle an argument. I believe that the evidence demonstrating that Egyptian pharaohs of the Old Kingdom, the Middle Kingdom, and the New Kingdom all had the same bone structure as Black American males is enough to settle the unnecessary controversy over the race of the Ancient Egyptians. Since most Americans of African descent trace most of their ancestry to West Africa, this amounts to saying that the Ancient Egyptians had the same osteology (bone structure) as West Africans. What is the evidence?

During and after WWII, the United States faced the problem of identifying the remains of repatriated Americans killed during the war. One piece of evidence that is of great value in identifying remains is the height of the living individual. Generally length of the cadaver is not sufficient to get an accurate estimate the living stature of the individual. Therefore, researchers developed equations for estimating living stature from the length of long bones (the tibia, fibula, and femur in the leg and the humerus, ulna, and radius in the arm). Given these equations, forensic specialists can plug in the length of the long bone to get an estimate of the height of the living person. Researchers Trotter and Gleser developed separate equations for Negroes (that was in the 1950s) and Whites because of “a failure of the formulae of one race to give satisfactory prediction results for the second [race].”1 Physical anthropologists hit upon the idea that they could use these equations to estimate the living stature of Egyptian pharaohs using the lengths of long bones obtained from mummies.

Some scholars interested in using the equations developed by Trotter and Gleser acknowledged that “the physical proportions of Ancient Egyptians had negroid affinities2; nevertheless since they were certainly not negroes, the use of the negro equations to estimate their stature has generally been avoided.”3 In other words, they preferred to remain ignorant (of the true height of these pharaohs) rather than shatter their false notion that Ancient Egyptians were white. Thus we have here a perfect example of prejudice and racism retarding the advance of science and knowledge. Please note that these were not “rednecks” doing this but august members of the intellectual establishment.  

Robins and Shute, who used the Negro equations to estimate the living height of pharaohs of the 18th and 19th Dynasties, which included King Tut, observed, “Such equations only yield acceptable values for stature if the unknown population group [Egyptian Pharaohs] to which they are applied had similar physical proportions … to the group [American Negroes] from which the equations have been derived.” Robins and Shute decided to estimate the living statures of New Kingdom (18th and 19th dynasty) kings since Robins had already shown for the Middle Kingdom that “for males, at least, plausible estimates of stature that are reasonably consistent when different long bones are used only result from the negro equations”.3

Robins and Shute showed that using the white equation to estimate the living heights of New Kingdom Pharaohs was not a good fit and gave rise to unrealistic and unacceptable predictions. The authors, therefore, concluded that, “From a practical point of view, the conclusion must be that the Trotter & Gleser (1958) negro equations can be applied satisfactorily to ancient Egyptian material as they stand.”3 Using the Negro equations, the authors were able to estimate the living heights of fourteen (14) kings4 of the 18th and 19th dynasties and in the process dispel the notion that Thutmose III was excessively short.

In plain language, “Negroes” have longer lower legs than whites. If you compare a black man and a white man of the same height, generally the black man’s lower leg (his tibia), from his knee to his ankle, will be longer than white man’s tibia. That is what Black People mean when they say someone has a high “booty”. That is also why the equations derived from a white population would not work for estimating the living heights of Egyptian Pharaohs of the New Kingdoms. They were black, and not white. A perfect example of this body type is Narmer (See picture below), first Pharaoh to unite Lower and Upper Egypt, sometime between 3,000 and 3,300 B.C. Still today most scholars in the august academies of the world do not want to acknowledge this truth.

Are there other scientific verifications of the race of Ancients Egyptians we could allude to? Yes there are. Just to give one that is close to home. Eighty-six percent (86%) of my DNA comes from Sub-Sahara Africa, mostly from West Africa. My male chromosome is designated as Sub-Saharan African, E1b1a. Rameses III, the last great warrior pharaoh of the New Kingdom (20th Dynasty) also had the E1b1a male chromosome.5 Indeed, 23andme.com says that we share a common ancestor. Specifically it says “You and Ramesses III share an ancient paternal-line ancestor who probably lived in north Africa or western Asia.”  (See picture below of Rameses III).

Morale of this vignette: Distorting or not accepting the truth retards the development of science and knowledge. The true history of humanity cannot be written until academic racism is obliterated.

Sources

  1. p. 465, Mildred Trotter and Goldine C. Gleser (1952). Estimation of Stature from Long Bones of American Whites and Negroes, American Journal of Physical Anthropology, n. s. 10, 436-514.
  2. The late great Egyptologist Cheikh Anta Diop in his book African Origin of Civilization: Myth or Reality reports that the German Egyptologist Karl Richard Lepsius, based on objective measurements, reached “… the formal, major conclusion that the perfect Egyptian is Negritian. In other words, his bone structure is Negroid and that is why anthropologists say little about the osteology of the Egyptian.”, p. 64.
  3. Robins, G. and C.C.D Shute (1983). The physical proportions and living stature of New Kingdom Pharaohs, Journal of Human Evolution, Vol. 12, No. 5.
  4. 18th Dynasty Pharaohs: Ahmose, Amenhotpe I, Thutmose I, Thutmose II, Thutmose III, Amenhotpe II, Thutmose IV, Amenhotpe III and Smenkhkare; 19th Dynasty Pharaohs: Sety I, Ramesses II, Merneptah, Sety II, and Siptah.
  5. Hawass, Zahi and et al (2012). Revising the harem conspiracy and death of Ramesses III, British Medical Journal, Vol. 344 (17 December 2012).
Narmer, (or Menes) first Pharaoh to unite Upper Egypt & Lower Egypt about 5,000 year ago
Closeup of face of Narmer
from other side of palette
wearing the crown of Lower Egypt
Ramesses III
Last great warrior Pharaoh of the New Kingdom

… that the word mulatto is a very racist word?

… that the word mulatto is a very racist word?

The word racist is thrown around a lot nowadays, so much so that sometimes it is a stretch to accept some things that are called racist as actually racist. However, in the case of this word mulatto, there is no doubt that the label arose from a full-blown racist mind.

We have to thank the Spaniards for this word! The origin and etymology of the word mulatto, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, is the Spanish word mulato which comes from the Spanish word mulo which in turn came from the Latin mulus. Both mulo and mulus mean mule. English speakers anglicized the Spanish word by adding an extra t.

Now what is a mule? A mule1 is the offspring of a male donkey and a female horse (the offspring of a female donkey and a male horse is not a mule, but a hinny1). The mule inherits the size and strength of his mother (the horse) but other traits from of his father (the donkey), such as intelligence, perceptiveness and sensitivity2. He is a work animal, a beast of burden. However, this offspring is not fertile; you cannot get another mule from a female mule and a male mule. This infertility is due to the fact that a horse and a donkey are not the same species but close enough to produce an infertile offspring; a horse has 64 chromosomes but a donkey only has 62. The implication of the word is quite clear: the offspring of a black and white union is like a mule, not quite human because, one party is human but the other party is not quite human. This brings to mind the comments of the ignorant slave owner Hammond in the Falconhurst novels (Mandingo is the first one) in which he refers to the mixed s laves who looked white as “mostly human”.  Clearly in the mind of the white racist, the black party is the not quite human one. Besides being racist, it is a lie. The offspring of a black and white union is completely fertile, even if one is a black Pygmy from the African rain forest and the other a tall, blonde, blue-eyed Nordic from Scandinavia because as the Bible attests, and science confirms, that all people are of one blood (Acts 17:26).  . 

The above discussion brings to mind a discussion that is going on right now, the discussion about Homo Sapiens and Neanderthals. During pre-historic times, Homo Sapiens out of Africa, in the view of some scholars, bred with Neanderthals from Europe and Asia and produced an offspring which was fertile, as evidenced by the fact that humans today who have their origin in Asia or Europe may have up to 4% Neanderthal DNA. Unmixed Sub-Sharan Africans have no Neanderthal DNA. I have a hint of Neanderthal DNA because I am 13% European. The passing on of Neanderthal DNA in the face of the extinction of the Neanderthal suggests that the mixed offspring was fertile. If so, were Homo Sapiens and Neanderthals of the same species? Needless to say, this is not a settled issue; not all scholars believe that Homo Sapiens bred with Neanderthals, which begs the question as to how Neanderthal DNA got into the human gene pool. But isn’t it ironic that in the early pre-historic encounter between the African and the European and Asian, the African is the true human?  

My final observation is this: given the undisputable fact that mulatto is a very racist word, I suggest that you not categorize or describe anybody as a mulatto. If a person is half white (half black), then say that. The person is biracial but not a mule!

References and Notes

1. Mule and Hinny compared. A mule is bigger than a hinny. From the picture, you can see that they inherit a different set of traits from their parents.

Mule
Hinny

2. See Maura Wolff, “How to tell the difference between a mule and hinny”.  Accessed at   https://animals.mom.me/tell-difference-between-mule-hinny-9758.html

                         

                                      

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that President John Quincy Adams believed that the rights enumerated in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were also for People of African descent?

that President John Quincy Adams believed that the rights enumerated in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were also for People of African descent?

Implicit in the often heard, and erroneous statement, that the U. S. Constitution made a Black Person three-fifths of a person is the idea that the high sounding ideals of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were not meant for Black People, understanding that the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution go hand-in-hand. It follows that if a Black Person is considered to be only three-fifths of a person, surely he cannot be deemed to be created equal to a White Person. By appealing to the actual words of the Constitution, my last blog demonstrated, I believe, that the U. S. Constitution did not define a black person as three-fifths of a person. Since it is written in 2 Corinthians 13:1b, “In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established”, I shall now bring forth the 6th President of the United States, John Quincy Adams, as my second witness, along with several other witnesses.

Since John Quincy Adams, the 6th President of the United States, was there when the Constitution was ratified, his testimony should carry a lot of weight. Born almost ten years before the issuance of the Declaration of Independence, he was the eldest son of the second President of the United States, John Adams. He was twenty years old when the U. S. Constitution was drafted in 1787 and twenty-two when it was ratified in 1789 and a law student at the time.  He was involved in the battle to ratify the Constitution, having initially opposed its ratification but later came around to supporting it. In short, John Quincy Adams surely has the standing, so to speak, to speak to the issue at hand.

Adams, having returned to Washington as a member of the U. S. House of Representatives after his stint as President, agreed to represent the African captives in the Amistad case before the U. S. Supreme Court in 1841. At one point in his argument before the Court, Adams asserted that, ““The Constitution nowhere recognizes them [slaves] as property. The words slave and slavery are studiously excluded from the Constitution. Circumlocutions are the fig-leaves under which these parts of the body politic are decently concealed. Slaves, therefore, in the Constitution of the United States are recognized only as persons, enjoying rights and held to the performance of their duties (italics added)”1. Eureka! On reading this passage, I understood why the words slave, slavery, or Negro were not mentioned in the original Constitution, something I had pondered on for years. Pivotal to Adams’ argument on behalf of the captured Africans was the conviction that these captured Black Africans were due the same consideration as whites in enjoying the rights of life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness enumerated in the Declaration of Independence and, therefore, had the right, given to them by their Creator, to overthrow their captors on the slave ship Amistad, which they did.

Some contemporary views of the issue are expressed by several commentators in the documentary Liberty and Slavery. Henry Wiencek, author of Master of the Mountain, opined that Jefferson meant to include black men when he said “all men are created equal” and many other scholars think so too. Author K. Carl Smith believes that what the Founding Fathers said has to be taken at face value. In this documentary, Travis Hickens expressed the belief that Jefferson intended all races to be included. He notes that it is significant that Adams (father of John Quincy Adams) and Jefferson changed the phrase from “life, liberty, and property” to “life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness”. Furthermore, “They were not enshrining slavery [mention of the word was studiously avoided]; so it could be changed”. In actuality, “They were planting a time bomb in the Declaration”. Martin Luther King used that time bomb when he appealed to the Declaration of Independence in his “I Have a Dream” speech.

Why did they resort to these circumlocutions – the use of many words where fewer would do, especially in a deliberate attempt to be vague or evasive2? I believe it was because they wanted to set up a new government and, therefore, they did not want to antagonize the slave-holding interest, who could have sabotaged the whole undertaking. As another commentator in the Liberty and Slavery documentary pointed out, this was a fragile time and it was not a “foregone conclusion that it [this new Republic] would work.” Eighty-four years after the Declaration of Independence, Lincoln, in his Gettysburg Address, referred to America as an “experiment” that was being tested by a bloody and horrible Civil War. Meanwhile the lofty ideals of equality and liberty for all races is there in the founding document but is not stated directly in the Constitution; it is covered up by the fig leaves of language, waiting to explode.

When the Supreme Court rendered a 7 to1 (the 9th justice, Justice Philip Barbour died in his sleep during the trial) decision to uphold the rulings of two lower courts, the majority opinion was written and read by Associate Justice Joseph Story. The Chief Justice, Roger Taney, voted with the majority of 7 to free the captured Africans. The Africans were freed and returned to Sierra Leone, West Africa.

I believe that the Amistad decision was one of the most important decisions of American jurisprudence. It shouted out loud that the lofty ideals of the Declaration of Independence also applied to people of African descent who are part of the human race, something that apologists for slavery tried to deny. One of their supports had been knocked from under them. Twenty years later (1861), the Civil War would start with the secession of eleven slave states and the Confederate attack on Fort Sumter. This was the beginning of the end to slavery.

My next blog will discuss the Dred Scott ruling for which Chief Justice Taney wrote the majority opinion and the incisively brilliant dissenting opinion written by Associate Justice Benjamin R. Curtis

References and Notes

1. John Quincy Adams’ argument in the Amistad case can be found at https://avalon.law.yale.edu/19th_century/amistad_002.asp. This particular quotation is found on page 38.

2. Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary. Accessed at https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/slave

… that the Constitution of the United States did not define a Black person as three-fifths of a person?

… that the Constitution of the United States did not define a Black person as three-fifths of a person?

This is the first post of this blog that was launched a little more than a year ago. Since I have been in hiatus for a while and have heard repetition of the assertion that the U. S. Constitution counted Black People as two-thirds of a person, I thought it good to place my first blog at the top. For those who have followed me from the beginning, there is nothing new here but new posts are coming.

There is an assertion that one hears over and over again, namely, that the U. S. Constitution made Black people three-fifths of a person. It is, indeed, an assertion that has no factual basis. In fact, the paragraph in the Constitution where this idea comes from does not use the term Black, Negro, or African. The passage lists all those included in determining a state’s representation and taxation and ends with the phrase “three fifths of all other Persons” (read the wording of Article 1, Section 2, Paragraph 3 below). We know that the phrase refers to slaves since everybody else had been listed, including exclusions, in determining representation, and we know that 99+ percent of all slaves were black (there may have been a few enslaved Native Americans). You might as well say 100%.

So the reasoning goes like this. One hundred percent of all slaves were Blacks; a slave was counted as three-fifths of a person in determining the state’s representation in Congress. Therefore, a black person was made to be three-fifths of a person. It should be clear that this is faulty reasoning. Why? Well, though 100% of slaves might have been black people, not a 100% of Blacks were slaves. Though a small minority (about 60,000 or 8% of the United States’ population when the Constitution was written), there were some free black people in the United States who had exercised their right to vote before and after the Revolutionary War.(I refer you to John Hope Franklin’s From Slavery to Freedom for confirmation.) They were counted in the “whole Number of free Persons” referred to in the passage and, therefore, counted as whole persons.

Was this failure to mention color or race an oversight on the part of the framers of the Constitution? I think not. The founders of our country were well educated, thoughtful people. Indeed, I submit that not mentioning color or race was quite intentional. Is this important? I say yes. It is very important in demonstrating that the U. S. Constitution was not just written for white people! They said exactly what they meant to say and meant what they said.

This three-fifths rule worked to the disadvantage of the slave owning ruling class of the South since it had the effect of diluting the political power of the slave states, such as South Carolina and Mississippi which had majority black populations well into the 20th century. Nonetheless this is little consolation given the enormity of the evil of chattel slavery.

Next time I will give you President John Quincy Adams’ take on this issue.

References and Notes

Article 1, Section 2, Paragraph 3 of the U.S. Constitution reads:

Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.

Click on the above paragraph to go to America’s founding documents (Declaration of Independence, U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and other resources)