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. From the beginning of human existence, there has been genetic diversity. Even today, Africa has the greatest genetic (and linguistic) diversity of any continent.

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.


Unknown 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!

Alice C. 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

Unknown said...

Although, I hear what you're saying Alice and I agree that "ideally" race shouldn't matter and it's a construct, we'd be euro-centrically blind to ignore the anti-blackness that's in the world. I use your blog a lot to help people but I think, seeing how black people are treated in the world, using the "race is a construct" response is very post-racial which is a new form of aloofness that some see as keeping racism as alive. Also, the term black is applied across the board to everyone in Africa that is indigenous to it. Sure, they may not be African American but they for sure are considered black whether they have a reddish tone or not. Let them get pulled over by a cop somewhere in America. Yeah, it's constructed and etc., but the reality is the worlds eco-system today was initiated by race. That's just the world we live in today, which I call the fourth beast (See Daniel 9). Anyway, I think God had foresight when choosing the Hebrews and seeing how they would be treated today as being labeled "black." It sweetens the story from the beginning until the end once Yeshua returns and the world is astonished that he's a burnished bronze descendent of Ham and Shem's line. I'm not down for the hateful speech of the Hebrew Israelites or anything like that but I definitely think their premise is correct. The Hebrews, Israelites were black--seeing that's the lowliest thing one can be in this world, it makes sense he'd choose them.

Alice C. Linsley said...


Shalom and welcome to Just Genesis! You will find the INDEX helpful. It is organized alphabetically by topic.

You are the first person to raise the question about Facebook. I will consider it. Maybe I will use the group name "Just Genesis" and keep to conversation going through social media.

Alice C. Linsley said...


I don't speak of the concept of race as a social construct. I believe it is a way clans and tribes differentiate based on physical features and it has been so from the beginning. The red and black Nubians were one people but they differentiated based on skin tone and formed a moiety. "Moiety" refers to each of two social groups or castes or two ritual groups into which a people is divided. The moiety structure is found among Australian Aborigines, some Native American clans, and the red and black Nubians of archaic history.

Racism is one of the outcomes of our sinful nature that needs redemption. That is something we should pray for and expect change, just as the Church brought change to South Africa and also prevented widespread blood shed after the dismantling of Apartheid.

It also would help for people to be informed about the science that clearly reveals that all humans have common ancestry with a point of origin in Africa, and that from the beginning, the diversity of physical appearance was already evident among our archaic "African" ancestors.

No doubt that some of the ancient Hebrews had "negroid" features, as did some of the kings of ancient Egypt. The physical attributes most often ascribed in the Bible to the Hebrew rulers are a "reddish" skin tone and hairy. They certainly were not "Caucasian" and, if we are speaking of a moiety, there would have been both red and black. My theory is that the Habiru/Hebrew originated along the Upper Nile which is also where we find the earliest references to the Creator Yahweh.

One especially interesting passage concerns Zerah the Ethiopian. He commanded a military garrison at Gerar and fought against King Asa of Judah (2 Chronicles 14:9-15). After Egyptian influence ceased in Palestine, the soldiers stationed at Gerar settled in the area, taking wives from the local families. When the Simeonites took over Gerar 200 years later, they "found rich, good pasture, and the land was very broad, quiet, and peaceful; for the former inhabitants there belonged to Ham" (2 Chronicles 4:40). Keep in mind that the intermarriage between the ruling lines of Ham and Shem had been a reality for many centuries before this. See this and click on the image to enlarge it:

If Ham is "cursed" then so is the line of Shem, since the two ruling lines intermarried. Abraham is a descendant of both Ham and Shem and he is considered the "Father of the Faith." The perception of Jewishness as a white race is a false perception that has been advanced by Jews of Eastern European ancestry who seek to preserve their control in modern Israel. They promote a political Zionism that does not align with the Hebrew Scriptures.

Tiggy said...

Hi, how do I subscribe to or 'Follow' this blog? I can't see anywhere. The subcribe to comments button doesn't appesr to work, but I mainly want to receive your blog posts.

Thanks, Tiggy.

Unknown said...

I Love All People....First shall be last and LAST Shall Be FIRST.. Understand that 👍🤴👸

Alice C. Linsley said...

I have added the follow button.

A.A.Goodwin said...

I do not think we can erase the fact that Abraham came out of Nubia, Kush as his ancestors were also of Kush. Please do not erase the AFRICAN of Abraham and put him in Russia. That is the land of Gog and Magog the lands of Japeth, not Shem.

Alice C. Linsley said...

A.A. Goodwin, you are unaware of the research I have done that shows clearly that Abraham's ancestors came out of Africa. To be specific, they lived near the major water systems of the Nile and Lake Chad. The populations of these regions have a wide range of physical characteristics, so it is not possible to say what Abraham looked like. We have to rely on the biblical data which suggests he had a reddish skin tone like his ancestors Adam, Seth and his descendants Esau and King David.

Anonymous said...

From scripture it is clear that neither Ham nor Shem was cursed. Ham's seed, Canaan was cursed. Not Ham's other offspring only Canaan. So any intermarriagea between Ham and Shem does not necessarily speak to a definitive curse upon Abraham unless Canaan's bloodline was introduced.

Alice C. Linsley said...

The Hebrew were a ruler-priest caste that practiced endogamy. This pattern of intermarriage between the descendants of two brothers is found throughout the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament). The descendants of Cain and Seth intermarried. The descendants of Ham and Shem intermarried, and the descendants of Abraham and his brother Nahor intermarried.