[Editor’s Note: This was a graphics rich presentation. This transcript does not include slides from the presentation.]
DARIUS GRAY: We had a marvelous speaker just before, Sis. Ulrich, I really enjoyed her presentation1 and a word that she mentioned is one that we’ll deal with here and that’s ‘paradigms’ and let me give you an example of one. About a dozen years ago I visited Oklahoma to attend the funeral of one of my cousins and we were in a small little town called Whybark. While standing at the gravesite one of the cousins, another cousin approached me and said, ‘Now you’re from Utah is that right?’ And I said, ‘Yes,’ kind of thinking I knew what was coming next. And he said, ‘There aren’t many of us there are there?’ And I said, ‘Well there are five of us now.’ (Laughter) And then he offered, ‘Now that’s where those Mormons are. You’re not one of them are you?’ And I had to confess, ‘Yes I am.’
Well that was a paradigm. He didn’t expect that there were Blacks in Utah and when we started talking he was surprised to know that there was a history of Black Mormons. Well he had a paradigm shift and we’re going to have another paradigm shift here.
We’re going to be talking about Blacks in the Bible and, you know, oftentimes members of my persuasion, my race, have felt left out because it seems to be a book written by white folks about white folks but that’s not the case and I hope that you will see and have a paradigm shift yourself as we talk about Blacks in the Bible.
These are some of the sources I used but the most critical thing for you to know is that this is from the scriptures. This is my quad, King James Version, so that which we’ll be discussing isn’t taken from these books; it’s taken from the King James Version of the Bible.
Why this presentation? We’re taught in this faith to do our family history, our genealogy, well if you’re black and you want to know who you are in the old book, in the Bible, this is how you can do it. It helps to develop a sense of self whenever you do genealogy and family history and it’s the same case here and like others we need to see our nation, our people, in the scriptures. And the last reason is to repudiate the confusion about race as presented by most Christian churches.
What do we mean by black? Africa. 11,635,000 sq. miles, it’s huge. It’s as far from one end of Africa to the other as it is from Boston to Buenos Aires. It’s huge. You have every shade of black person there; you have deep dark blue-black in the Sudan, the Nubians. You have a sort of a chocolate black in West Africa. You have the light tan coloring. The world’s tallest people are the Watusis. The world’s shortest people? The Pygmies. Both found on the African continent. So for the sake of this presentation black is anyone of that group, whatever shade, however tall, short, fat or thin. We’re talking about the descendants of Ham.
In the beginning. Now for those of you who have been to the Temple this is the poor version of the Temple film. (Laughter) You go with what you’ve got! We’re doing who, when, and where.
A chronological table according to Jewish tradition that year, 3761 BC, the date Adam and Eve were created in the Garden of Eden. Between 3740 BC and 2500 BC, a wide span of 1240 years, we have a lot of things happening including Cain, Abel and Seth being born to Adam and Eve. We all know the story of Cain killing Abel and that he was exiled and wandered the land, and in the Land of Nod and as we continue in the narrative we have the Flood. Everyone dies except Noah, Mrs. Noah, his sons and their wives but they repopulate the earth after the Flood.
Now those three sons were Shem, Japheth and Ham. Some people take exception with being called a descendant of Ham. I do not, I embrace it and hopefully by the end of this presentation you’ll see why. Here are those sons of Ham: Mizraim who is in Egypt; Cush in the Sudan/Ethiopia area; Put in Lybia—and Put is sometimes spelled Phut. And then Canaan, the fourth son of Ham, and he settled in Palestine the land of Israel today.
Now here’s your homework assignment, go home read Genesis 10:6-20. We’re going to learn ‘the code’. To be able to know who the black folks are in the Bible you have to decipher the code. Starting at verse 6 you’re learning the sons of Ham, you’re seeing those names and then you’re learning the descendants of those sons, and you need to become intimately familiar with those names because as you read your scripture, whenever you see one of those if Ham is the father of the black race—and I accept that he is—then his descendants would be black. Whenever you see one of those names think, ‘That’s a black guy.’ Okay? You’ve got to know the code.
Nimrod, mighty hunter, did you know that he was a descendant of Ham? Just as an example, we’re not going to go through all of these for the sake of time but we’re just going through Genesis 10:6-20.
I draw your attention to the bottom, to Genesis 10:16 “And the Jebusite, and the Amorite, and the Girgasite,” remember that Jebusite, we’ll come back to that. “And the Hivite, and the Arkite, and the Sinite, and the Arvadite, and the Zemarite, and the Hamathite,” that one we’ll see shortly as well and “the Canaanites spread abroad. And the border of the Canaanites was from Sidon,” (Genesis 10:17-19) sometimes you’ll see that spelled with ‘Z’ Zidon. And then if we read the bottom on verse 20, “These are the sons of Ham, after their families, after their tongues, in their countries, and in their nations.”
Here we are, here’s Canaan (Palestine); here’s Mizraim (Egypt); Put, over here; we can’t see Cush, it’s down here (Ethiopia and the Sudan). By the way we have two groups of Hittites mentioned, you have a Semitic Hittite and a Hamitic Hittite group and just to know that there are two.
Timeline: 2100 BC. Roughly 4100 years ago father Abraham lived in Ur which is right here and then he traveled north to Haran and then he traveled south going through what is known as Palestine, or Canaan, into Egypt and then he left Egypt and came back in to Palestine. So the question is who did he meet? What were the people like that father Abraham would have met? Who were the inhabitants of that area?
Well, meet the neighbors! Assyrian and Nubian, again very dark-skinned, beautiful coloring. When I was in Ethopia many, many years ago I just marveled at the deep blue-black color of the Nubians. The Ethiopians are sort of a pecan color for the most part but I love that deep dark color. We have a Libyan, Put, and we have an Egyptian. And these are some of the people that father Abraham might have seen. Again we have the Hamathites (a good afro on that brother!) and from the tomb of Ramses III, again, we have depictions of the people that father Abraham would have seen in that time period.
Now, once father Abraham had left Egypt and returned to Canaan, Melchizedek meets Abraham—I call it ‘tithing settlement.’ Again the citation there is directly from our scriptures, we all know that story, that Abraham paid his tithing to this great man Melchizedek. As a king and high priest of the most high God he holds a place of great respect and honor in our faith and in others.
What are his other titles this man to whom Abraham gave a tenth? He was king of Salem, which is king of peace. Where was Salem and what did Melchizedek look like? Where was Salem? Jerusalem. What did he look like? Well for a clue we can go back to Genesis 10:16. Remember Jebus? We talked about Jebus and the Jebusites, he was Canaan’s third son, one of Ham’s grandsons. And here’s what the scriptures tell us, going to Judges 19:10, “But the man would not tarry that night, but he rose up and departed, and came over against Jebus, which is Jerusalem; and there were with him two asses saddled, his concubine also was with him.” We see Jebus. Jebus, this grandson of Ham, was the founder of Jerusalem. So now if you know the code, if you’re doing the genealogy, you know that a black man—a descendant of Ham—was the person who created or started this city. It was a hilltop fortress and it wasn’t until the time of King David when the Jebusites were finally overcome and that’s a thousand years after father Abraham was there.
So what did Melchizedek look like? Well, here is what I found on the Internet. It looks more like a depiction of what we find, you know, for the Savior. But if Melchizedek was the first king, and he is listed as such, of Salem and if Salem was founded by a grandson of Ham and if Ham is the father of the black race this guy looks awfully Swedish to me! (Laughter) Now am I saying that Melchizedek was black? No, I’m not. But I am saying he was hanging with the brothers! (Laughter)
Moving forward in time, Abraham and Sarah. We know the story, Sarah is barren so she gives her Egyptian—now Egyptians are what race? Black. Whenever you see it, you know the code word, black okay? She gave her Egyptian handmaiden Hagar to Abraham; a problem develops, Hagar has a child. She sort of lords it over Sarah and there’s trouble in the household and so Hagar and her son are shipped out, cast out. But now here we have an Egyptian woman, and it’s a part of our Bible history, but you need to know where are the Negroes? Where are the colored folks? Here they are.
4,000 years ago, 2,000 BC, Abraham then fathers Isaac by Sarah. Isaac fathers Jacob, whose name is changed to Israel. Israel has twelve sons all of whom have fingers they can control, Israel’s twelve sons one of whom is Judah. Judah marries a Canaanite woman; Judah is the father of what ethnic group? The Jews. Genesis 38:2-6, “And Judah saw there a daughter of a certain Canaanite, whose name was Shuah; and he took her, and went in unto her.”
They had three sons, the name of the eldest was Er. Did you know that Judah had married a Canaanite woman, a black woman? If you follow the code you’ll find that. Er, the son of Judah, grows to marry a woman by the name of Tamar; again straight from the King James Version. Tamar was from Timnath in the vicinity of Adullam, a known Canaanite town, there are the citations. Her sister is identified as a Canaanitess. Now, Tamar gives birth to twins by Judah her father in law.
I hope you all know that story. Her husband Er died and it was the tradition of the Jews at that point that the next oldest son would then go in unto his brother’s widow and ‘know her’ in the biblical sense and raise up seed unto his brother. Well that next oldest son took issue with that. He wanted to have carnal knowledge of the woman but he did not want to impregnate her and God was not pleased with his action so he was called home early from his ‘mission’. Then there was the third oldest son, but he was too young to marry and so what father Judah said was, well you stay here in the fold with the family and when the third oldest son is old enough we’ll marry you to him and we’ll raise seed to your first husband. Well as it turned out (I won’t go into the whole story but it’s an interesting read if you’re not familiar with it) she is in fact impregnated by her father in law Judah.
Now Judah had a better known brother, his name was Joseph. Out of jealousy his brothers sell him to the Egyptians, again black folks, for 20 pieces of silver. We know the story of the coat of many colors. Joseph rises to power as a trusted assistant to Pharaoh. And now there’s a famine in the land and so, Jacob sends the other brothers out to find food. They go to Egypt and they don’t recognize their own brother Joseph and it’s a marvelous read. What the brothers though had meant for ill by selling Joseph into slavery ultimately got turned into good because when the brothers came seeking grain, Joseph was able to spare his brothers. He finally makes himself known to them. Times do change.
Now, Joseph takes a wife, and Pharaoh “gave him to wife Asenath the daughter of Potipherah priest of On.”(Genesis 41:45) On was the sun-god and her father was a sun-god priest, we have it in three citations. “And unto Joseph in the land of Egypt were born Manasseh and Ephraim, which Asenath the daughter of Potipherah priest of On bare unto him.” (Gen. 46:20) Now some people hasten to say, ‘Well this was during a period of time when the Hyksos, Shepherd Kings, were in Egypt ruling and that this woman whom Joseph married was therefore not black but that she was Hyksos. Well it’s an interesting problem and the reason is that while some say they’re Semitic, there are others who say they are a blend of Canaanite and Amorite and again, both of those are out of Ham. But even if we say that the Hyksos were Semitic, they had a policy: they only ruled in Egypt for a couple of hundred years and what they did they left intact the infrastructure. They left the existing religion in place and so the fact that we have a sun-god priest is evidence of that and they did not move those folks out, and insert their own people into that new religion. So we have Asenath, the daughter of the sun-god priest who is an Egyptian, therefore those of us who are of Manasseh and Ephraim might want to watch for this tanning light here!
We have the death of Jacob, the death of Joseph, the birth of Moses. We know about him being found by Pharaoh’s daughter; Pharaoh’s daughter being an Egyptian black. We have the Exodus; Moses is grown leading the children of Israel, who have been enslaved for 400 years, out and toward the land of Canaan, which later became Israel. Now while out there during those years Moses married Zipporah the daughter of Jethro, the priest of Midian.
Now, which wife? While Zipporah is clearly mentioned as Moses’ wife there is a woman mentioned in Numbers 12:1 and I’ll go straight to the scriptures on this one. It’s kind of interesting to read. What we have here in the setup to those scriptures starting at chapter one: “Aaron and Miriam complain against Moses, the most meek of all men—The Lord promises to speak to Moses mouth to mouth, and to reveal in him his similitude—Miriam becomes leprous for a week.” (Header, Numbers 12) So here’s what we have in verse one: “And Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married: for he had married an Ethiopian woman.” Now that’s kind of like, if you didn’t get it the first time, she’s black! He has married an Ethiopian woman and they said, “And they said, Hath the LORD indeed spoken only by Moses? hath he not spoken also by us? And the LORD heard it.” (Numbers 12:2)
What we have here is Miriam and Aaron are jealous of this close relationship that Moses has with God and they take their jealousy out by pointing to Moses’ black wife. I do not believe that that was Zipporah. I believe that it was another woman and I’ll tell you that is not scriptural but I’ll give you that name a little bit later on. But it’s interesting what God does. It says in verse 9-10, “And the anger of the LORD was kindled against them; and he departed.” He departed from “the tabernacle; and, behold, Miriam became leprous, white as snow:” God said, ‘You don’t like black? You like white? I’m going to give you white! So for a week she’s white and then she repents and all is well. Interesting read. Yes it was jealousy but they took it on the woman because of her race, we know where God stood on that.
Now here is Aaron, the brother, he was the first high priest in Israel and the way it was supposed to work is that priesthood was to go from son to son- oldest son to oldest son. Aaron marries Elisheba (Exodus 6:23) who was of the tribe of Judah. They had four sons, there they are (Nadab, and Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar) and I highlight the third one because the first two die. So now the third oldest is the eldest and it is he who becomes the second high priest of Israel—Eleazar. He succeeds his father and there are the citations. Now Eleazar took a wife of the “daughters of Putiel” (‘Put’) and also became the father of Phinehas (Exodus 6:25) which name means black, the Negro or mouth of bronze. So we have a bi-racial young man here. His father is Jewish, his mother is a Put and this young man, Phinehas, bi-racial, becomes the third high priest of Israel. Bet you didn’t know that.
Phinehas served as a high priest for 19 years and he is well thought of even today; the historians looking back at his time, he was a defender of the faith.
Now we have Israel entering the Promised Land into Canaan. Note the city of Jericho here, it was an important Canaanite fortress city, it was a stronghold and it was in the path of the advancing Israelites who had just crossed the Jordan River. Now who’s heading up the Israelites at this point? Joshua. What’s happened to Moses? He’s been translated. So now Joshua is aware that there is this hill fortress, this city, and he sends out spies to reconnoiter; to find out how strong are they?
And the spies are in the city of Jericho and they become discovered, they’re found out, and so they’re hiding trying to find a place to be safe and they go to the home of a harlot by the name of Rahab and she, it’s interesting, is a Canaanite woman but as you read the scriptures she has been told by the Israelite God of the coming battle. And she’s been informed that the Israelites will win. Those walls of Jericho will come tumbling down and so what she exacts is a promise from the spies. She said, ‘I’ll hide you guys if when you come into the city you spare me and my family’ and they were comfortable with that.
So she hid them and the story tells about her letting them out of her window on a scarlet cord, they went back to Joshua and reported. Well, the Israelites win, they marched around the city six days and they did it one time a day for six days and on the seventh day they marched seven times blowing their trumpets and beating their drums and the walls came tumbling down. Well that harlot had a son, his name was Boaz—the harlot married a good Jewish boy and this was their offspring and that offspring married a woman by the name of Ruth who was a widow.
We know the story of Ruth out gleaning the field, Boaz’ field. Here we have it in Matthew 1:5 “And Salmon,” the good Jewish boy who married Rahab had Boaz as their son, “Booz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse;” (see also Ruth 4: 21) who did Jesse beget? David, progenitor of Jesus of Nazareth, “son of David” was one of the titles that Jesus had.
Moving to the New Testament and the genealogy of Jesus. Here we have the very first book of the New Testament, Matthew, it’s a book written by men really about men. The whole Bible is a patriarchal book but it’s interesting as we start reading that we start seeing names like Thamar—remember her? The daughter in law of Judah who is impregnated by her father in law? Here is that lineage laid out in the third verse of the first chapter of the New Testament.
And here we have Salmon who married Rahab and they begat Boaz, and we come forward in the time who begat Obed, who begat Jesse, who begat David. And then we have down here, “and David the king begat Solomon of her that had been the wife of Urias” (or Uriah) (Matthew 1:6) Uriah the Hittite, another one of the descendants of Ham. So we don’t know that his wife Bathsheba was black but we know that he is identified as being such and there’s a chance that she may have been but again we have a woman being identified in this patriarchal book.
There are countless blacks in the New Testament including these next two: Philip preaches to the Ethiopian, the Ethiopian eunuch, and there’s the citation in Acts 8; and then we have Simon the cross bearer. We’ll talk about both of these guys.
“And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert.” Now the first line is the critical one, here we have an angel directing Philip to go forward, “And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship.” (Acts 8:26-27)
Now first we had an angel and now we have, in Acts 8:29, “Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot” of the Ethiopian “and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.” (Acts 8:38)
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is now and has always been for all people and it was such in the time of the New Testament.
Here we have the Cyrenian, Simon the Cyrenian was someone that I became aware of when I was very young and went to the old movie “The King of Kings” it was a silent movie and the person portraying this Simon of Cyrenia was a man of color and it always intrigued me.
“And as they came out, they found a man of Cyrenia, Simon by name: him they compelled to bear his cross.” (Matthew 27:32) When the Savior could no longer carry his own cross, they—the people in Jerusalem—compelled this Simon to carry it. Why did they compel him? It’s interesting that’s he is identified in each of these three—Matthew, Mark and Luke. What holiday was taking place at the time of the Savior’s crucifixion? Passover. A Jew needed to be ritually clean to partake of the Passover Feast. You could not touch anything unclean including someone who is scheduled to be killed, to be crucified, and so they had to find a non-Jew to carry this cross—this unclean thing for this unclean person, the Savior.
Where is Cyrenia? Well here it is, remember Put, Libya? It’s a coastal time right there; that Simon was a Cyrenian is carefully noted by three evangelists.
Brothers and sisters, Father’s black children have held prominent roles throughout scriptural history. Ham’s probable offspring are cited in both the Old and the New Testaments as we’ve seen. We have Pharaoh’s daughter who raised Moses as her own. We have the Canaanite wife of Judah; Tamar, who was impregnated by her father in law Judah; Uriah the Hittite husband of Bathsheba; the Ethiopian wife of Moses defended by God himself; we have Asenath, the wife of Joseph and the daughter of an Egyptian sun-god priest; we have Pharaoh’s daughter whom Solomon took to wife; we have Sheba the queen who undertook to prove Solomon and that Sidonian widow, remember Sidon sometimes spelled with a ‘Z’—’Zidon’?
Though many Eurocentric writers have hastened to depict each of these individuals as non-black there is little to suggest that they are all wrongly placed in Ham’s family tree for we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus unto good works which God had before ordained that we should walk in them.
Now before the end, I led you to a path to see that there was black lineage in the Savior’s genealogy; am I saying that Jesus was black? No. Jesus was a Jew, the scriptures tell us that. But isn’t it appropriate that he who would die for each of us, he who is the only begotten of the Father, who carries within him the genetic marker for each of us—isn’t it appropriate that he would have the blood of each of us? That blood which he would share?
Brothers and sisters I bear witness that we are one family. We are brothers and sisters, we share a history, and we are saved by the same Savior, the same Master, even Jesus the Christ, in his holy name, saves us. Amen.
Q: Where do the Australian aborigines fit in?
GRAY: They’re cousins! (Laughter) I’ll let someone else do their genealogy. I’ve had enough doing my own.
Q: If what you say about the extent of Ham’s descendants and prominent people in the Bible, why do you think the blacks were temporarily denied the priesthood?
GRAY: I’ll give you an answer to that. I need to give you a disclaimer first. That which I am about to share should not be considered as doctrine and that it does not appear in the Standard Works of the Church. It is, however, consistent with the scriptures, and permission has been granted by the brethren for me to teach this. Are we clear? Okay.
In the book of John in the New Testament, chapter 9 verses 1-3, “And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.”
It’s interesting to note that the persons asking the question aren’t just members of the crowd, his disciples ask. It’s interesting also to consider that they had some sense of a pre-existence. This man had been born blind, ‘Master, did he do something prior to his birth that resulted in his blindness? Did he do something in the pre-existence?’ They also had some sense of, ‘Well is it lineage related? Did his parents do something that caused him to be born blind?’ And to both the Savior said “Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.”
Brothers and sisters, the priesthood restriction was not imposed by God. It was allowed by God as a test to see how we would respond to one another. Imagine this, my brother Scott here, at some point in the pre-existence Father coming to you and saying, ‘Scott I want you to go down during a period of time when you will have occasion to learn of the gospel. Will you be able to go down and accept that? And you said, ‘Yes.’ And He said, ‘Now you’re going to be assigned to a group that at times will be more prominent and have position. Can you go down and not become arrogant, puffed up, somehow thinking yourself better than others?’ And you foolishly said, ‘Yes.’ (Laughter)
Then imagine this conversation, Father coming to me and saying, ‘Darius, I’m going to send you down during a period of time when you too will have occasion to embrace the gospel. Will you do that?’ And I foolishly said, ‘Yes.’ And He said, ‘Now you’re going to be assigned to a group that at times people will consider ‘less than’ and there might be opposition for you there. Can you go down and not become hardened in your heart. Can you go down and not become embittered? Can you go down, you and Scott, and both of you live to the same standard to have love in your heart one for another?’ And we said, ‘Yes.’
Brothers and sisters our assignments are just that: assignments. They’re not an indication of worthiness or lack of worthiness in the pre-existence. One is not greater than the other. The priesthood restriction was as a threshing floor, it was to see what we would do. It was like Joseph’s brothers selling him into slavery. How are we treating one another? That restriction was to see if people would become embittered or if they would hold to the gospel; it was not imposed by the Father.
1 “Believest thou…?”: Faith, Cognitive Dissonance, and the Psychology of Religious Experience by Wendy Ulrich, Ph.D. < http://www.fairlds.org/FAIR_Conferences/2005_Faith_Cognitive_Dissonance_and_the_Psychology_of_Religious_Experience.html > (accessed on 26 March 2006)