Saturday, June 11, 2016

Was Abraham a Black Man?

Alice C. Linsley

"Was Abraham a black man?" People often ask that question once they recognize that Abraham's ancestors came out of Africa. The question reveals some misconceptions that should be addressed.

Misconception: Black and white populations are genetically unrelated.

Molecular genetics has demonstrated that all humans living today have common ancestry and the point of origin of our first ancestors is Africa.

Misconception: Africa is populated by "black" people.

Human populations in Africa always have had a great range of physical appearance. Even today Africa has the greatest genetic diversity of anywhere on Earth. For example, in antiquity there were both red and black Nubians. They preserved their distinctive color by marrying within their own type, but the red and black Nubians were one people, a moiety. A moiety refers to each of two social or ritual groups into which a people is divided, especially among Australian Aborigines, some American Indians, and the ancient Nubians.

Red and black Nubians
Detail from a Champollion drawing

Even among the red and black Nubians there was a range of skin tone. These red Nubian warriors are an example. Their wavy black hair and feathers resemble the Nabatean warriors of Edom. The Edomites were known to have a reddish skin tone.

Image: Dr. Arthur Brack

Since Abraham was a ruler in Edom, it is likely that he had a red skin tone. That is how one of Abraham's great grandsons is described. Esau is listed in the Edomite ruling line in Genesis 36. Edom was called "Idumea" by the ancient Greeks and the word means "land of red people."

Note that Hebron (where Sarah lived) and Beersheba (where Keturah lived) are in Idumea/Edom. Abraham's territory extended between the settlements of his two wives and was entirely in that region.

This answer to the question "Was Abraham a black man?" is based on the evidence of Biblical anthropology and genetic studies. Were we able to test Abraham's DNA, we probably would find that he was in Haplogroup R1b (Y-DNA).

Haplogroup R1b, also known as haplogroup R-M343, is the most frequently occurring Y chromosome haplogroup in Western Europe, some parts of Russia (the Bashkir minority), Central Asia (e.g. Turkmenistan) and in the region of Lake Chad and along the Upper Nile. This is the haplogroup of Abraham's Proto-Saharan ancestors who dispersed widely and are known by many names in ancient history: Kushites, Kushan, Ainu, Saka, Hittites, etc. Among them was a caste of priests known in ancient texts as 'Apiru, Hapiru, Habiru or Hebrew. The skin color of these rulers and priests would have varied greatly. Siblings, even twins, could in fact have been born with quite different skin color.


Deron Wilson said...

I appreciate the information given on this subject. SOME people are just hooked on the "Color" of the biblical characters and loose focus on the message to be learned. YES I am interested in the ethnicity of the biblical people, because I want to know "Who I am." But at the same time, I want to know what message were they trying to convey to me? What am I suppose to learn from them? What is God showing me? How am I to live?
It is so easy to become confused and misinformed when it comes to the descriptions of our biblical ancestors and trying to understand Who we are, Where do we come from, What tribe do we belong to? If at all! This information I can better understand, believe and receive because you give more of a Genetic, Genealogy overview of the people of that era and that sheds a clearer light on a lot of things!

Thank you for taking the time to do the research and giving a clear explanation of this subject matter. It's a great blessing to receive clear cut information with biblical Geography to back it up, instead of "THIS IS WHAT IT IS, SO ACCEPT IT" words!
Again, Thank you! SHALOM SHALOM!

John Jones said...

Deron it's nice to see that people want to know what color the people of the bible was coming from Africa because if you would leave it to Europe all of them where white, they are continuing to leave out blacks in history, and they continue to have disbelief that black men and women are the inventors of most things that good for survival

Alice Linsley said...

In reality, as is shown by molecular genetics, the concept of "race" is a false one. There are genetic types and ranges of physical appearance associated with the various types or haplogroups. That said, all living humans have African ancestry.

Here are some related articles that might be of interest:

Best wishes,


GIsh said...

Hello. I am just learning how to use the "BLOG"; however there's so much to learn. I am getting some books from a friend in Israel about Identity Theft and not to eliminate the short studies I've learn in The OT yet didn't mention about ethnicity and skin tone; but reading from this website interests me because they mentioned Japan (Tokyo) and I am not even Japanese.

But I'm interested to actually know my lineage because God put it in my heart about the Middle East Culture and I am far from actually going there but ELOHIM put them in my heart (Why? I don't know!).

Please bear with me, this is my first Blog in my entire life. Is there a FACEBOOK site on this Blog?
Just curious.

Shabbat Shalom
Psalms 139