Thursday, February 3, 2011

What Color Was Abraham?

Alice C. Linsley


As a descendant of the Ainu (royal priestly caste of Onn/Heliopolis), Abraham probably had a red skin tone, such as the man dressed in red in the photo below.  Abraham's grandson Esau inherited his grandfather's reddish skin tone.  We do not know Jacob's coloring, but he may have been darker skinned than Esau.



In his younger years, when he probably traveled more in the sun, Abraham might have been a darker reddish brown like these men:

Beja Metalworker of Sudan

In his later years, after he was very wealthy and had many servants and sons and had retired to Beersheba, his skin tone was probably lighter, though still reddish, closer to the skin tone of this man:


Egyptian ruler and his wife

That said, none can be certain as to Abraham's skin tone, but it is evident that he was not a white European. He was a descendant of Ham and Kush, through Nimrod, and he resided most of his life in Egypt, Canaan and Arabia. Abraham was also a descendant of Shem, but since the lines of Ham and Shem exclusively intermarried, their descendants would have had similar skin tone.

To answer the question, "What color was Abraham?" I suggest that his skin color was like that of the Beja of Sudan, most Egyptians, and the Dravidians of India.  All of these peoples are ethnically Kushite. We are not talking about race here, only skin tone. Genetically humans are 99.7% the same and the term "race" is biologically meaningless.


Abraham's Kushites Spread Far and Wide

Abraham's Kushite people spread across vast areas of Africa, the Middle East, the Levant, Europe, India and as far as India, Nepal and Cambodia.

Genesis 17:5 says that Abraham means “father of many” or “father of a multitude.” Abraham was indeed the father of many since he had many children by his two wives and his two concubines.

As Abraham and his people were of Kushite or Nilotic origin, we can call them Africans.  Here is what we must remember when we consider African populations: Geneticist, Kenneth Kidd, was said, “In almost any single African population or tribe, there is more genetic variation than in all the rest of the world put together."

 “Africans have the broadest spectrum of variability, with rarer versions at either end [of the bell curve distribution]. If everyone in the world was wiped out except Africans, almost all human genetic variability would be preserved.” (From here.)

As the Kushites and Nilotic peoples spread across the Afro-Asiatic Dominion and married with other populations the genetic variation became less. This is true with the exception of the Horite ruler-priests who exclusively intermarried.


Horite Social Structure

Among Abraham's Horite people social status and occupation were passed from father to son, but the son's ethnicity was that of his mother. It is important to know the ethnicity of the mothers to understand the ethnic complexity of Abraham's descendants.

By Sarah, Abraham had Isaac, the father of Israel. By Keturah, he had six sons and the first-born was Joktan, an Arabian with ties to the people of Sheba. The Joktanite Tribes of Arabia are his descendants. By his concubine Hagar, he had Ishmael of Al-Paran, an Egyptian, and by his other concubine Masek, he had Eliezar. Masek was Keturah's maidservant, just as Hagar was Sarah's maidservant.

We are not told how many daughters Abraham had, but it is certain that he had daughters as well as sons. His daughters are not named because the genealogies list only first-born sons, those who would rule.

The Hebrew form of Abraham is Avraham. A variant of the name – Abram – means high father, indicating a man of high estate, a fact recognized by the Hittites who referred to Abraham as “a prince among us” when he approached them about buying land to bury Sarah (Gen. 23:6).

The most likely explanation for the name Abraham is the most obvious. Ham in Arabic means burnt. Abraham means “burnt father” and refers to his skin color. The Nilotic peoples were referred to as burnt. Abraham was a descendant of Ham and Shem because the royal lines of Ham and Shem intermarried exclusively. These ancestors of Abraham were Kushites and their skin color ranged from black to reddish brown.

All of these types lived in ancient Egypt.  There was greater genetic diversity there than most other places in the world because the Upper Nile Valley was apparently the birthplace of Humans.

King David, one of Abraham’s most famous descendants, was said to be of a burnt skin color.  He is described as ruddy, which means that he had a reddish skin tone like that of Egyptians who work in the sun (I Sam. 16:12; 17:42). The Hebrew word for ruddy is adom and it is related to the word edom and to the word adam. God formed the man "Adam" from the red clay which swept down into the Nile Valley from the Ethiopian highlands.



The Hebrew adam is related to the Hamitic/Hausa word odum, meaning red-brown. The story of the creation of the first man comes from the Nile and probably dates to the time before the Kushite rulers.  It indicates that Abraham and his Ainu people had a red skin tone.

One of Abraham's descendants was called "Edom" (Esau) because he was red. The people of Seir the Horite (Gen. 36) were callled "Edomites" because they had a red skin tone. All the Horites had this skin tone since, as a caste, they practiced endogamy.

The Horite of the Nile were the descendants of the Ainu who spread abroad and eventually settled in Japan and the Northeastern seaboard of Canada.  This has been documented by living descendants of the Ainu.


Related reading:  Who Were the Horites?; Rekindling Ancient Memory; Who Were The Kushites?; The Christ in Nilotic Mythology; Abraham's Concubines; Who Was Eliezar of Damascus?; Race and the Bible

26 comments:

Ron said...

"Burnt" relative to whom? If the skin color of Abraham's people ranged from black to reddish brown, why would this common feature be emphasized?

Alice C. Linsley said...

The Kushites included Nubians who were black and Egyptians who were reddish-brown.

This suggets that the story of the creation of Adam/Odem/Odum (red-brown) originates with the peoples of the Nile closer to what is Egypt and northeastern Sudan.

Anonymous said...

In the picture if the Nubians are black, the Egyptians reddish brown, the afro-asiatics must be white. This doesn't seem likely. Who are the white people, if not afro-asiatics? Earlier in the series,
I thought you referred to Abraham and his people as afro-asiatics.

Maybe I just need to get more sleep!

Lydia

Alice C. Linsley said...

Hi, Lydia. I've used the term Afro-Asiatics as a general category and it applies to all groups who speak languages in the Afro-Asiatic group. This includes Nilotic languages in the Cushitic and Hamitic (Hahm) groups, Arabic and Babylonian. The Babylonians had a lighter skin tone and the men wore long curly beards. Hebrew is in this group also, though it is not as old as Arabic. That's why I often look for explanations to words and phrases in Genesis by looking at the Arabic meaning.

koptictext said...

so he was black then?

Alice C. Linsley said...

Dark reddish brown is closer to black than white.

Anonymous said...

Alice, A Clarification to Your Readers on the Skin Color of Abraham,

Skin color tends to change over time as climate changes. When Abraham lived, the land on the earth was plush and vertile with the dew of morning and periodic rain fall. In 2200 B.C., a forty-year draught occurred, which turned a large portion of this land into a desert. When this occurred, a major climate change took place as well. Areas that once had rain turned into dry, arid wastelands. The air changed from moist to dry carried about by the wind, clouds diminished, and the rays of the sun became brighter. It is possible that the early inhabitants on earth after the Flood were light skinned. Exposure to long periods of direct sunlight will eventually change the color of human skin. People living in a sun-baked dry desert-like environment tend to develop darker skin, which makes it easier to cope with dryer climates. The skin of human beings living in other areas that were not affected by the draught in 2200 B.C. most likely retained their lighter skins. People living in moderate sun-lit regions tend to develop light to medium-dark skin depending on their location.

Alice C. Linsley said...

Climate certainy affects, but genetics is a more signiificant factor. The reddish tone (Edom) is the skin tone of modern Egyptians who labor in the sun.

Anonymous said...

Alice,

I agree that genetics is probably a more important factor with regards to skin color, but the genetic code may have been somewhat different than it is today. You have to remember that man was one race at this time, and that the influence of genetics from many races had not yet happened. When God divided the languages of man at the Tower of Babel, man was still one race. When God created Adam and Eve and embedded genetic code within them, it is possible that He gave the code the ability to adapt to changes in climent and environment, especially when man began to travel into different regions on earth. We do know that the clans and tribes of man were related to the sons of man born at this time. For example, Ham, the Hamites, Shem, the Semites, Japheth the Japhethites, etc... Other clans and tribes came into being from the sons of Ham, Shem, and Japheth. By the time Jacob was born, there were many clans and tribes living in a number of regions on earth. Did they have different skin colors? Possbibly. The change in genetic code did happen because we can see in our day and age that there are many different races with different colored skin tones living in different regions on earth. Truthfully, the color of Abraham's skin is irrelevant. The focus should be on his relationship with God, on God's covenant with him, and on God's promise to make him and his descendants into a nation that would serve Him (God).

Alice C. Linsley said...

The Tower of Babel story speaks of real historical developments. Apparently, the linguistic divergence to which the story alludes began at least five generations before Abraham.

The intermarriage of the Aramean lines of Eber and the Afro-Arabian lines Sheba indicates that wives were chosen from kin living in distant territories (as happened with Jacob/Jospeh and Moses). This marriage structure parallels that of the lines of Cain and Seth, and the lines of Ham and Shem.

When Genesis 11:1 speaks of the whole world having one language, it speaks from the perspective of the Afro-Asiatics. It is not speaking of all peoples and languages. The languages listed in Genesis 10 are all Afro-Asiatic and languages of peoples living in the Levant which was controlled by Afro-Asiatic rulers. The Afro-Asiatic family is the oldest known language family. This is proof of the reliability of the Geneis record. For example, were the Polynesians and Eskimos listed here, we would know that someone had corrupted the text, since these peoples were not known by Abraham's ancestors.

Anonymous said...

Alice,

According to genetics, each mature reproductive cell carries a gene for every characteristic inherited from a previous mature cell. The genes that are dominant in the development of the embryo also dominate the characteristics (hair, eye, and skin color; facial and body features, and metabolism) of the unborn child. When the child is born, he or she will exhibit the characteristics of his or her parents. If both parents have black hair with blue eyes and white skin tones, then the child will have black hair, blue eyes, and white skin tones.

Today, the scientific community does not believe that different geographical locations, changes in climate and weather patterns, or changes in the geophysical nature of the earth have anything to do with the changes that have taken place in the genetic code of man. They do believe that inter-marriage and inter-breeding among family groups has caused changes to the code, which is evident in the variety of people on earth today.

Biblical historians believe that sin caused definite changes in man's heart towards God, in his unwillingness to be associated with God, and in his defiance against God to satisfy his own lusts and desires. Has sin affected the genetic code of man to the point where mutation within it changed the characteristics of man? Only God knows the answer to this question.

Today, there are number of people living on the earth with different hair, eye, and skin colors, facial and body features, and metabolisms. Will mutuations in the genetic code of man continue to take place as man gives birth to new offspring? Only time will tell. God is the only individual who knows what the future will be like for man. One thing is certain, when He creates the new heaven and the new earth, man will once again be like God in His image without spot or blemish.

Alice C. Linsley said...

Are you suggesting that skin tone is the result of the sin of Adam?

Genetic studies has shown that geographic distance from East Africa along ancient river and mountain routes is a predictor for the genetic diversity of present human populations. See the reseerach of Franck Prugnolle, Andrea Manica and Fran├žois Balloux.

Populations farther from East Africa (the Nile) have lower genetic variability. In other words, one East African is genetically more different from another East African than a European is from another European. There was greater genetic diversity among Abraham's Nilotic ancestors than there is among Europeans, Asians and Native Americans.

Anonymous said...

NO. The question, "Has sin affected the genetic code of man to the point where mutation within in has changed the characteristis of man?," was hypothetical.

We both seem to agree that definite changes in the genetic code has taken place through the years from Adam to present day man. Mutations, and possibly changes in climate and in geographical locations, have played a role in the genetic makeup of man. Although certain aspects of the genetic code of man will continue to change, the original building blocks within that code will remain the same. Man will always be man created in God's image.

I have enjoyed our conversations on this subject! I should have known not to discuss this issue with an anthropologist. My intention was to give your readers other avenues to pursue to help them in their understanding of this subject.

MBA said...

All this talk of skin color is divisive and pointless as far as salvation is concerned. It's a tool used by Satan, to divide and not unite the body of Christ. We serve a God who is no respecter of persons, race, social status, etc - who loves all equally. Praise be to God.

Alice C. Linsley said...

Such discussion might make us uncomfortable but it is necessary and useful. Why is it divisive to discuss physical attributes?

This blog is dedicated to anthropological investigation of the Bible, beginning from the premise that we have reliable information in the text. The text mentions that David had a red skin tone. Why ignore this significant piece of information?

Indeed God is fair and just in all His judgments. This is what is meant by "no respecter of persons." He is the author of the races and ethnicities, and He even used pagan kings to fulfill His will (Cyrus).

He also announced the coming of His Son to a specific group of people who lived in Eden and we are given information about their appearance. That is of great anthropological interest and can help us to understand the origns of Messianic expectation.

Anonymous said...

I don't have a comment; I have a question? I am suppose to be afro- american.(Black) I chang color in the summer and in the winter. In thr summer I am very dark skinned and, in the winter I am a light brown skinned color and my hair is fine and wavey and very black. My mother was light brown with somewhat fine hair(between corse and fine maybe) and my father was dark skinned and corse hair.Both of my grandmothers had very fine hair,one with waves and the other with no waves.My grandfathers; one very dark skinned and the other brown skinned. can you explane to me why my skin color changes with the seasons. Don't get me, I am proud of my color, that I am black. I was just wondering why my skin color changes.And in the inside of my arms and under my clothes my skin color is very light.Please don't tell me I have some kind of skin problem because I know I don't, I have very nice skin.

Alice C. Linsley said...

What you describe is natural.

God created all shades of skin color. Such diversity brings Him glory.

There is no reason to feel proud of your skin color. You have no part in that. Instead thank God for life and His love for you.

vera said...

Alice Linsley,,,you are a beautiful person with no alterior motives and i have just fallen upon your page,,,do you have any books that you have written,,,i am going to share your finding on my youtube account 'vera747',,is there anyway that i may have a live conversation with you,,,you have filled in many blanks for me as i have within the past 3 years been shown by the Most High as ezekiel 37 brings out that black-americans are a part of the lost-tribes of israel,,such has been hidden by the western powers and others to conceal our identity just as psalm 83:1-12 shows,,,yet now the Most High is making it known who the seed of abraham through isaac are,,,much of your information confirms what has already been shown to me,,,yet i love your links to the anthropology of the bible on the afro-asiatic origins of the bible,,,,bless you for your work,,,i sure would love to sit at your feet to learn,,,thank you

vera said...

thanks so much for your truth,,,you truly have only a Godly agenda,,,i as a black-american have been allowed to know within my spirit that black americans are descendants of the lost tribes of israel, the afro-asiatic connection of the bible has been purposely expunged throughout the centuries in order to hide such information just as psalm 83:1-12 shows,,,your work has confirmed much of what the Most High has been showing me of myself and my people ezekiel 37 is happening to black americans at a high degree,,,zondervans bible dictionary alludes to this truth in describing hams offspring as being the progenitor of the dark races ethiopians, egyptians, lybians, cushites 'NOT THE NEGROES', i guess they were trying to say the negroes are of shemitic origins,,,'from babylon to timbuktu' by Rudolph r Windsor shares that the slaves taken from west africa were historically hebrews taken captive just as duetoronomy 38:15-68 prophesied,,,Do you have a book that i could purchase?,,i would love to speak with you in person if possible and sit at your feet to learn,,,i have a youtube channel where i hope to share your wisdom it is 'Vera747',,,bless you

Alice Linsley said...

Vera,

I hope to have a few books in the next couple of years. This blog is the sounding board for those works in progress. I enjoyed reading comments on my research. Your comments and feedback make me think, ponder, pray, etc. and will improve the quality of the books. Again, thanks for the encouragement.

Anonymous said...

Abraham was a black man.

Alice Linsley said...

And your evidence for this is?

Anonymous said...

I've been doing some research on this, and I have a question-- is there any sign of white men in the Bible? Is there any mention of white-skinned people (besides leprosy) or Germanic tribes? Any help is appreciated.

Alice Linsley said...

By white, I assume you mean northern European types?

Genesis is not about these, as it details the lives of Afro-Asiatic rulers. These dispersed widely between 4000 and 1000 years ago and some intermarried with Europeans in areas such as Bulgaria and northwestern China. See the Just Genesis article on the Kush-Kushan Connection.

Anonymous said...

Hello alice

I just want to state my opinion on this subject. If you look at the table of nations in genesis you'll see that some of ham descendents names are found in Shem's list. WHY? They are one and the same. The difference is the doctrine. There is a science behind this. The red people are the "stars". It was/is symbolic. Abraham more than likely would be like a cushites in appearance. The cushites are dark people not as they are portayed today. The bible mentions them as tall and smooth of skin. Sudanse people are tall. Scriptures states can a cushite change his color. The reference to this indicates their skin. They are a dark people. Lam4:7-8 says the nobles were whiter than snow. The word for white is h6704. It means to glow dazzling. Then next it states more ruddy in body than rubbies (i'm reading from New King James version). Verse 8 tells us that they are now blacker than soot. Both verses use symbolism. The righteous shines like the stars (ruddy). The verse states they lost their luster. It is symbolic. The famine (lack from not getting the word of Yah) changed them. The interpretations most versions give is lacking.

Tauemyah

Alice Linsley said...

Thank you, Tauemyah! The mental picture I have is of someone whose skin glows like burnished copper.