What Does The Bible Say About Modern Day Prophets – Any serious biblical study of race or ethnicity should begin in Genesis 1. The Bible does not begin by creating a special or privileged race of people. When the first man is created, he is simply called
, which is Hebrew for “mankind”. Adam and Eve are not Hebrews or Egyptians; they are neither white nor black nor even Semitic. Their own particular ethnicity is not even mentioned, for the Bible seems to emphasize that they are the mother and father of all peoples of all ethnicities. Adam and Eve are presented as non-ethnic and non-national because they represent all people of all ethnicities.
What Does The Bible Say About Modern Day Prophets
) in Our image, according to Our likeness.” Then 1:27 describes his act of creation: “So God created man (
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) in his own image; He created him in the image of God; Male and female he created them.”[ 1] “God’s image” relates to one or more of the following: 1) the mental and spiritual faculties that humans share with God; 2) the appointment of mankind as God’s representatives on earth; and 3) an ability to relate to God. Yet it is clear that being made in the “image of God” is a spectacular blessing. it is what separates humans from animals. Likewise, whether or not the “image of God” in humans was tarnished or blurred during the “Fall” of Genesis 3, it is clear that at least humans still bear some aspect of God’s image, and this gives mankind a very special status in creation. Also, as mentioned above, Adam and Eve are ethnically generic and represent all ethnicities. Thus, the Bible is very clear when it declares from the beginning that all people of all races and ethnicities bear the image of God.
This reality provides a strong starting point for our discussion of what the Bible says about race. Indeed, John Stott explains, “The dignity and equality of both human beings is traced in Scripture to our creation.” To assume that one’s own race or ethnicity is superior to another’s is to deny the fact that
The book of Proverbs presents several practical implications from this connection between God and the people he created. For example, Proverbs 14:31a says, “He who oppresses the poor insults their Maker.” Proverbs 17:5a reiterates this teaching: “He who mocks the poor insults his Maker.” These verses teach that those who assume a superior attitude toward others because of their socioeconomic status and thereby oppress or mock others are actually insulting God Himself. To insult or mistreat the people God has created is an affront to Him, their Creator. The same principle applies to racial prejudice. A group’s unjustified self-assertion of superiority that leads to the oppression of other groups is an affront to God. Likewise, mocking people whom God created—and this would apply directly to ethnic denigration or “racist jokes”—is a direct insult to God. All people of all ethnicities are created in the image of God. Seeing them as such and therefore treating them with dignity and respect is not just a suggestion or “good manners”, it is one of the mandates that emerges from Genesis 1 and Proverbs.
When it comes to the history of racial prejudice in America, no other passage in Scripture has been so misused, twisted, and perverted as Genesis 9:18-27. Therefore, it is important that we clarify what this passage actually says (and does not say).
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In Genesis 9:20-21, after the flood is over and his family has settled down, Noah gets drunk and passes out, lying naked in his tent. His son Ham, specifically identified as Canaan’s father (9:22), sees him and tells his two brothers Shem and Japheth, who then carefully hide their father. When Noah wakes up and finds out what happened, he pronounces a curse on Canaan, the son of Ham, saying, “Cursed be Canaan! The lowest of slaves he will be to his brothers.” Noah then blesses Shem and Japheth, saying, “Blessed be the LORD of Shem! May Canaan be Shem’s slave. May God expand Japheth’s territory. . . and let Canaan be his slave” (9:26-27).
Century, both before and after the Civil War, this text was often cited by whites to argue that the enslavement or subjugation of the black races was in fact a fulfillment of the prophecy in this text. These pastors and writers argued that 1) the word “Ham” really means “black” or “burnt”, and thus refers to the black race; and 2) God commanded the descendants of Ham (black people) to become slaves to Japheth, who, they claimed, represents the white races.
It should be stated clearly and unequivocally that every reputable evangelical scholar of the Old Testament that I know of considers this understanding of Genesis 9:18-27 ridiculous, even ludicrous. It is completely indefensible on biblical grounds.
First of all, note that the curse is placed on Canaan and not on Ham (Genesis 9:25). To project the curse onto all of Ham’s descendants is to misinterpret the passage. It is Canaan (and the Canaanites) that is the focus of this curse. This text is a prophetic curse on Israel’s future enemy and nemesis, the Canaanites. The Canaanites are included here in this prophetic curse because they are characterized by similar sexually related sins elsewhere in the Pentateuch (see Leviticus 18:2-23 for example). The curse on Canaan is not pronounced because Canaan will be punished for Ham’s sin, but because Canaan’s descendants (the Canaanites) will be like Ham in their sin and sexual abuse.
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Furthermore, it is highly speculative to assume that the name Ham actually means “black” and thus refers to the people of black Africa. There is an ancient Egyptian word
It means “the black land”, a reference to the land of Egypt and to the dark fertile soil associated with Egypt. But to suppose that the Hebrew name Ham is at all connected with this Egyptian word is doubtful. Then even if it is, to say that “the black land”, a reference to fertile soil, is actually a reference to black races in Africa, is also a huge leap in logic. The etymological argument that “ham” refers to the black peoples of Africa is thus not tenable. Likewise, as mentioned above, the actual curse is upon Canaan, who is clearly identified as the son of Ham. Thus the curse is placed on the Canaanites and not on the supposed (and unlikely) descendants of Ham in Black Africa.
This passage finds fulfillment later in Israel’s history during the conquest of the Promised Land when the Israelites defeat and subdue the Canaanites. It has absolutely nothing to do with black Africa or the subjugation of black people. Such an interpretation seriously distorts and distorts the meaning of this passage.
Using cultural and geographic “boundary markers” such as language, territory, religion, dress, appearance, and ancestral origins, the ancient peoples of the regions in and around ancient Israel can be divided into four major ethnic groups: 1) the Asiatics or Semites (including the Israelites, the Canaanites, the Amorites, the Arameans, etc.); 2) the Kushites (black Africans living along the Nile south of Egypt; also called Nubians or Ethiopians, although not connected to modern Ethiopia); 3) the Egyptians (a mixture of Asiatic, North African and African elements) and 4) Indo-Europeans (Hittites, Philistines).
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Ancient Israel develops from within the Asiatic/Semitic people group, although several of the other groups have significant contributions. Note that Israel is not mentioned in Genesis 10 as one of the ancient nations. When God first calls Abraham, he lives in Ur of the Chaldees, an Amorite region in Mesopotamia. But later in the Bible, Abraham is most closely associated with the Arameans (Genesis 24:4; 28:5; Deuteronomy 26:5). While both Abraham’s son Isaac and grandson Jacob marry Aramean women, the next generation also marries Canaanites (Judah, Genesis 38:2; Simeon, Genesis 46:10) and Egyptians (Joseph, Genesis 41:50).
Thus at the dawn of the Israelite nation, the descendants of Abraham are a mixture of Western Mesopotamian (Aramaic and/or Amorite), Canaanite and Egyptian elements, and looked very much like the Semitic peoples of the Middle East today, such as modern Arabs and Israelites.
It is during the over 400-year stay in Egypt that Abraham’s family develops linguistically and culturally into an identifiable Israelite people. But even then, in terms of ethnicity, they are hardly monolithic. In addition to the various ethnic currents influencing the formation of the Israelite nation during the patriarchal period, many other ethnic influences continued to shape the formation of Israel. For example, when God delivers Israel from Egypt, the Bible mentions that “an ethnically diverse crowd went up with them” (Ex. 12:38). This term indicates that the group that Moses leads out of Egypt and into covenant relationships with God is an ethnically diverse group. The majority of them are probably descendants of Abraham but many of them are not.
At this particular time in Egypt’s history,
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