Was Moses Black?
What Race Did Moses Belong To?
As a child in church I wondered what race Moses was. What color was Moses's skin? Was Moses black, was he Arab? It's a tough question to answer with certainty. The tougher question is do people want to know? People tend to have images and expectations of their heroes in their heads. Challenging or shaking a person beliefs or ideals could truly compromise who they are. Still there will always be truth seekers. People who can't wrap their mind around something without all the facts. I ten to fall into that category. While I believe the race,color or gender of a person has no bearing on the deeds they do in life. I still feel compelled to know these things. It's that insane need that led me to scour the web and bother religious figures from multiple faiths to get my answers. So while we may never know for sure...I present to you what I found.
What does the Bible say about Moses?
This is the purest source of information you are going to find. Chances are you have a few around the house anyway. Just one in my house. It belonged to my wife's grandmother.
It's allways good to have one floating around that you don't need to treat with kid gloves
Moses and Me
I started my search at my computer. Typed the Question "was Moses Black?" into Google and started reading. Within the first hour or so I quickly realized something, this not a conflict of facts alone. People have heavy emotional investments on all sides. I even found people making up a lot of information for the sake of their stance. It made me wonder, why is it such a big deal? The obvious choice would be racism but I think it's something deeper then that.
Most people start learning about religious faith at a young age. Moses is the "hero" of some of the most exciting parts of the Bible and even more so in Judaism. As a child you look up to these people. Your mind puts them in a place of high standard and respect but who else is on that level for a child? Your parents, your teachers and your Faith Leader. A lot of the time those people have the same or similar skin color as you do. This is just a theory of mine but I think the reason people are so bound to the race of their religious figures is because of aspiration. We want to be like our heroes.
You remember Exodus right?
Exodus 2:1-2:2 "Now a man of the tribe of Levi married a Levite woman, 2 and she became pregnant and gave birth to a son."
This is one of the few times we get real information on the subject. Moses was the child of two Levites. This doesn't mean he must be either Eastern Europeon or South Asian. A large amount of Levites were not actually descendants of Levi. It was a time of great conflict and tribes and peoples would commonly mix.
If you were to believe Moses was a descendant of Levi, he would most likely have a complexion close to that of someone of South Asian heritage.
Over 50% of Levite Jews will have the genetic marker Haplogroup R1a1a (R-M17). The origin of the genetic marker is disputed but it is thought to be either South Asia or Eastern Europe. With most studies showing and earlier foothold in South Asia. So what does this mean for Moses?
We know that Moses was a descendant of Levi. Both on his mother's and father's side. This does not mean Moses was south Asian or Eastern European. All it tells us is that people related to him were. If Moses was the great grandson of Levi (as is implied) he would most likely have this genetic code.
So does this mean Moses was black? No it neither confirms or denies anything. It points its finger though.
Egypt and Moses
Moses spent a large chunk of his life in Egypt. At the very least that would give him a tan. A lot of people equate this to Moses being Egyptian. This is not necessarily true. He may have been raised in Egypt but it isn't established that Moses's family was Egyptian. You could argue that if Moses didn't blend in with the locals it would cause an uproar. This may or may not be true. While the Dreamworks film may show Moses and the Pharaoh like brothers this is probably not the way the relationship worked. You could say that Moses is an Egyptian name. This is also true but the name was given to him by an Egyptian and not his birth mother.
So was Moses Black? We Still don't know for sure.
Debunking Theories about Moses
As I said before a lot of people had strong opinions about his. I got a lot of half baked ideas thrown at me. Here are a few.
1. Moses must have looked Egyptian to pass of as the Pharaoh's daughter"s son.
- Exodus 2:10 When the child grew older, she took him to Pharaoh's daughter and he became her son. She named him Moses,[b] saying, "I drew him out of the water."- Seems to me she announces that it is not her child. Also at the time it was not uncommon for the wealthy of the time to take in additional children. Like the a biblical Jolie-Pitt.
2. Aaron and Miriam (brother and sister to Moses) didn't like that Moses had an Ethiopian wife, thus Moses probably didn't look Ethiopian
- At that time in History it is not clear if what they called Cush or Cushan were black skinned. So Moses's wife's skin color is as hard to determine as his own.
3. Moses's hand turned white in Exodus 4:6 Then the LORD said, "Put your hand inside your cloak." So Moses put his hand into his cloak, and when he took it out, it was leprous, like snow.
- The white of Leprosy is not the same as the white of a Caucasian man. I also wondered if Moses wrote Exodus, when did he see snow?
4. Moses is an Egyptian name.
- Moses was raised by Egyptians not born one. His name could mean "to draw water" as in he was pulled from the water.
This blew me away. James Earl Jones is has a fantastic voice for audio recordings. If you recognize the name it's because he was the voice of both Mufasa (The Lion King) and Darth Vader (Star Wars).
So was Moses Black
It's likely that he wasn't black in the African sense. I believe he would have be some where between olive to dark tan. That's just my opinion. Religion is about faith. People will try to change your mind and try to distract you from your beliefs. Don't let them. If you think he was black,white,tan or Asian then that's just fine. It's what he accomplished and what he left us with that matters.
If that got to cheesy at the end for you scroll down below the comments for the things about Moses people tend to forget.
Movies about Moses
Both are great Movies. The Ten Commandments is a classic film comparable in quality to today's epics. and the Prince of Egypt is a fantastic kids movie that can be enjoyed on a deeper level. Beware both have their shares of historical inaccuracies.
Charleton Heston at his best
Classic family movie that's not afraid to go into religion
Moses and his Ethopian Wife
Moses Had an Ethopian Wife. I won't go to far into this because...well. It's a nightmare of terminology and opinion. For a better opinion on Moses and his Ethopian Wife go to BibleFellowshipUnion.co
Biblical Historical Information
I found so many great online sources while researching for this. Moses was an important man and it's good to see the internet age didn't leave him behind.
This site was a huge help. You can search anything in the any version of the Bible. I searched "Moses" and was given all verses that relate to Moses. The best feature is you can specify whichever Bible you and your family read.
Geneaology and genetics played a huge roll in my search. For a much deeper understanding then just "the branches on the family tree" go to this page. I It Reminded me that therewas a world before our countries and lines in the sand.
While I didn't find a lot of information that pointed one way or another, wikipedia gave me an unbiased view of the man who was Moses. In theolgy you sometimes need a less abstract view.
Black,White,Brown or Asian Moses
Moses killed a man and hid the body.
Exodus 2:10 "Looking this way and that and seeing no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand."
Moses played a large part in the plagues. One could argue he was an instrument of God and it wasn't his own actions.
When Moses came down from Mt Sinai he witnessed the Golden calf and rallied is followers to kill of all those who particapated
Exodus 32:27 "Then he said to them, This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: 'Each man strap a sword to his side. Go back and forth through the camp from one end to the other, each killing his brother and friend and neighbor.'"
It goes on to say 3000 people died.
Did you know Moses had two wives? Although this wasn't against the rules at the time.