BHI

In the modern era new religious divisions, sects, and denominations are increasing seemingly by the day. One of the more prominent views that is becoming popular is undoubtedly the Black Hebrew Israelite ideology, or “BHI” for short. Normally, I do not venture to write about other religious affiliations such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Islam, et cetera. In this case, though, it deals directly with Judaism and challenges the entire history we know and have learned to its very core. What is the Black Hebrew Israelite ideology? Where did it come from? What are the different “versions” of this ideology? More importantly, what does G-d say about it in the Tanakh?

Black Hebrew Israelitism is a sect which believes that black men and women are the real, authentic Israelites. They also believe that every Jew today, if they aren’t black, are impostors and frauds. This goes somewhat in line with Texe Marrs, who says that the Jews today are not only false and of the “synagogue of Satan” (from a verse in the Book of Revelation), but also responsible for every war we’ve ever had. Even though Texe Marrs would, I presume, be against BHI, the parallel of his ideology along with the BHI movement is closely aligned.

Black Slavery

One of the key texts of the BHI camp is Deuteronomy 28. Anyone who is familiar with the Torah knows that this is the place to go in order to see that the Eternal One will bless and curse His people when they either obey or disobey Him. In particular, BHI proponents focus on the following passage:

Deuteronomy 28.68

68 The Eternal One will send you back to Egypt in galleys, by a route which I told you you should not see again. There you shall offer yourselves for sale to your enemies as male and female slaves, but none will buy.”

The train of thought is that since black people were enslaved for so long, this must be because they fulfill Deuteronomy 28’s curse and are, consequently, Israel by race. This isn’t the only verse that they use, of course. They also quote Job 30, Song of Songs 5, and Lamentations 5 as follows:

Job 30.30
30My skin, blackened, is peeling off me;
My bones are charred by the heat.”

Song of Songs 5.11
11His head is finest gold,
His locks are curled
And black as a raven.”

Lamentations 5.10, KJV

“Our skin was black like an oven because of the terrible famine.”

It is because of these verses that the BHI feel that they are the real Israelites and all others are impostors. It is critical to note, however, that not all BHI believes the same. Indeed, there are vast differences between one congregation and the next, as we shall see later on in this post. Those who believe that the New Testament is valid use Revelation 3:9, which speaks of “false Jews”, who are of the synagogue of “Satan”. Others simply believe that they are fakes, not really serving Satan.

Black Hebrew Israelites began, surprisingly, in the late 1800’s. Instead of having one central founder, there were several individuals responsible for the BHI movement, including a slave named William Saunders Crowdy. It really began to spread when Arnold J. Ford built a congregation in Harlem in the 1920’s. After awhile, the movement began to grow and spread rapidly across the United States. Soon, different sects in BHI began to form and break off from the rest.

The more obvious and known version of the BHI are the radical raciest who believe they are superior to the rest of the world. The Southern Poverty Law Center states the following out this group of extremists:

“Around the country, thousands of men and women have joined black supremacist groups on the extremist fringe of the Hebrew Israelite movement, a black nationalist theology that dates back to the 19th century. Its doctrine asserts that African Americans are God’s true chosen people because they, not the people known to the world today as Jews, are the real descendants of the Hebrews of the Bible. Although most Hebrew Israelites are neither explicitly racist nor anti-Semitic and do not advocate violence, there is a rising extremist sector within the Hebrew Israelite movement whose adherents believe that Jews are devilish impostors and who openly condemn whites as evil personified, deserving only death or slavery.

As SPLC has said above, there are many examples of this group harassing Jewish kids, men, women, and everyone who isn’t black. They openly want to either kill, rape, enslave, or do all three, to anyone who isn’t black, Hispanic, or Native American. They are the black version of the KKK, to put it bluntly. The SPLC goes on:

“Confrontations between Hebrew Israelite street preachers and their perceived enemies are growing uglier and gaining increasing attention through video clips circulated to legions of viewers on websites like YouTube. The Israelite School of Universal Practical Knowledge, a sect that is the Israelite Church’s main rival, has its own YouTube “channel,” or video sharing distribution networks, with over 500 subscribers. One recently circulated Israelite School video, which has been viewed more than 26,000 times, shows a group of robed street preachers harassing a white woman until she bursts into tears. Another shows the preachers applauding as a white man kneels down to kiss the boots of “the prophets of God” while begging forgiveness for the sins of his race. In yet another video, a preacher of the Israelite School, a man who identifies himself as General Mayakaahla Ka, offers this stark prediction for the future of the white race: “Every white person who doesn’t get killed by Christ when he returns is going into slavery!”

Continuing on with the extremist groups, one of the rather violent ones is called the “Israelite School of Universal Practical Knowledge“, where they openly teach that “white men” are the “devil”.  I will provide just a few examples of the ISUPK’s students hatred of white people, no matter who they are, below:

ISPUK BHI Picture 3ISUPK BHI PictureISUPK BHI Picture 2

I have only provided three examples from a few of this groups actions because the rest is too violent. They’ve encouraged people to literally decapitate their infants, threatened to murder them, and rape their wives. This is the fruit and the result of the ISUPK and other fringe groups like them. These people are not only off on their theology, but they should be considered dangerous to anyone who is not of black descent.

This fringe, extremist, racist, and highly dangerous group of the BHI doesn’t represent the entirety of the movement, though. One prominent website, one of which I’ve already sourced, has repudiated and rebuked racism among the BHI movement.   Many others have opposed this as well. Rather than going out screaming on the streets, they prefer to worship indoors, like everyone else.

KJV BHI

Many BHI believes that the King James Version is the only inspired translation (both of the Tanakh “Old Testament” and the New Testament). This doesn’t stop here, though. They also believe King James, who had the KJV accomplished, was actually black. They believe that the “white man” changed history in many respects, especially this one, to make King James white.

One of the more controversial doctrines that some of them teach is that the Hebrew Name of G-d, spelled Yod, Hei, Vav, and Hei, is actually an abomination that was added to the text by the Masoretic scribes. They, of course, also reject any Masoretic vowel pointing systems and have, instead, claimed to have been following the “Paleo Hebrew” of the Hebrew Language. I will provide an example below. Please note that while this group does use the Sacred Name in Hebrew in order to say it is an abomination, I have replaced anything relating to the Name with “Hashem” because I will not have that blasphemy on my blog. Also, to conserve space, I have deleted any added spaces that the original author has added.

“Hashem/JEHOVAH = SATAN

Exodus 6:3 And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name JEHOVAH was I not known to them.

Genesis 22:14 And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovahjireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the LORD it shall be seen.

HOW IS IT THE MOST HIGH SAID HE APPEARED TO ABRAHAM, ISSAC AND JACOB, BY THE NAME OF GOD ALMIGHTY, “BUT” BY HIS NAME JEHOVAH THEY DID NOT KNOW HIM AS. THE MOST HIGH IS TELLING US ABRAHAM, ISSAC AND JACOB DID NOT KNOW HIS NAME. BACK IN GENESIS IT SAYS, ABRAHAM NAMED THE PLACE ISAAC WAS TO BE SACRIFICED, JEHOVAHJIREH; HOW IS IT IN EXODUS, THE MOST HIGH SAYS MY NAME WAS I NOT KNOWN TO THEM (ABRAHAM, ISAAC AND JACOB).”

As I stated previously, most of the BHI believe that the KJV is either a perfect translation or, instead, a good translation that should be heavily relied upon. In the King James Version, it is implied that G-d was not known by Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as Hashem but instead as the Almighty. This is the foundation for the rest of the article, which we will attempt to cover.

“After the fall of Biblical Israel, their texts remained behind, while they were exiled and taken captive. These texts remained fairly intact, and were not tampered with until a group came along. This group was called the Masoretes, and they existed for a few centuries as scribes. The Masoretes were not from the original Hebrew population, but rather imposters from Europe and Eurasia, all descendant from Gomer, the rest can be put into perspective. Their purpose was to hide the history of the real Hebrews, so that they may be the chosen people. And they were successful, as they were chosen. As the Most High God of Israel had chose a people, Satan did too, he chose Jews, specifically Ashkenazi. He chose them and gave them the world, so long as they do his desire and work for him. These imposters set themselves up to be the real Hebrews, and establish their god (Satan) as the God of the Bible. One of the many ways they did this was by going through ancient Hebrew texts and “revising” them, while changing the Name to the Tetragrammaton, which is Satanic.”

The BHI believe, for the majority anyway, that the Masorets were evil, “Satanic”, impostors sent in order to corrupt the Hebrew Torah and place the “Satantic” Tetragrammaton in the Text. The real Name of G-d, they claim, is “Ahayah”. Instead of the Hebrew word “Ehyeh”, I assume that they believe all vowels are pronounced with an “Ah” sound, thus: Ahyah Ashar Ahyah instead of the proper Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh (I am that I am).

Bible test.jpg

What does Hashem have to say about all of this and all of these arguments? Let’s go through each and every argument I’ve already listed above and compare them with what the Tanakh says.

The first argument is that Deuteronomy 28.68 proves that they are the authentic Israelites since they were enslaved. Earlier, I put the emphasis on what they wanted to show. Now, I will show the other part.

Deuteronomy 28.68

68The Eternal One will send you back to Egypt in galleys, by a route which I told you you should not see again. There you shall offer yourselves for sale to your enemies as male and female slaves, but none will buy.”

While the Black Hebrew Israelites would love for us to focus solely on the words, “There you shall offer yourselves for sale for your enemies as…slaves”, the context quickly disproves their position. First, we see that Hashem was speaking of sending Israel back to Egypt, not to Colonial America. Second, we see that no one will buy the Israelites, which is exactly what happened when black people were put into slavery. With this, it’s surprising that they still use this verse in an attempt to prove their argument.

The second verse they use is Job 30.30, where we read:

Job 30.30

30My skin, blackened, is peeling off me;
My bones are charred by the heat.”

What is remarkable is that this verse isn’t speaking of race. It is speaking of a person being opened to the air and being burned or scorched by the sun. This is speaking of an intense sunburn and not to be taken literally as changing ones race. We know this because, outside of these four verses, no such thing appears in the hundreds of verses in the rest of the Tanakh. Indeed, it doesn’t appear in any historical document as well (such as the Book of Jasher, Enoch, Mishnah, Qumran Scrolls, etc). Nothing else supports the BHI’s interpretation of this verse.

Going on to the third verse in the Song of Songs, we read:

Song of Songs 5.11
11His head is finest gold,
His locks are curled
And black as a raven.”

Interestingly enough, the structure of this verse doesn’t even hint at race. The verse is clearly speaking of the man’s hair. His hair is curly and black. That is all the text is saying. There is no hint, implication, or hidden meaning of race in this text. Even the King James Version doesn’t make such a hint or implication.

Going on to the fourth and final verse in Lamentations, we read:

Lamentations 5.10, KJV

“Our skin was black like an oven because of the terrible famine.”

I specifically chose to use the King James Version because I was attempting to show their point of view and no other translation reads as the King James Version (certainly no authentically Jewish version does). The NJPS translates as follows:

10Our skin glows like an oven,
With the fever of famine.”

The Hebrew word, translated “black” in the KJV, is kamar, which simply means to heat or to be hot or to glow. It certainly is not referring to race in this context. It is not only lunacy to use such a passage to prove the BHI’s point, but it is blatantly dishonest and is, quite frankly, lying. It is not only isogesis (which is the act of placing your theology into the text; opposed to exegesis, which is deriving ones theology from the text), but it is changing the very words of G-d in order to fit man’s framework. We all know the penalty of such an act (Deuteronomy 4.2; Deuteronomy 12.32; Proverbs 30.6).

Getting to the main controversy, the heart of the matter, is where they are using Revelation 3:9 to say that the Jews today are false and of the synagogue of “Satan”. There are many things wrong with this statement, but we will focus on three primary points.

First, the obvious is that they are assuming Satan (properly, the Satan; haSatan) is evil and a fallen angel. While this isn’t the purpose of the article (that is, to explain the Satan from a Tanakh perspective), the Satan is actually a righteous angel. It isn’t really one angel as it is an office that can be filled by angels. For example, Hashem Himself fulfills the role of HaSatan as an adversary against Balaam in Numbers 22.22. For more information, I suggest Out Reach Judaism’s explanation along with Derech haTorah’s explanation.

Secondly, the Tanakh is clear on who a Jew is and how to become a Jew. To give a quick summary, a Jew is simply someone who follows the G-d of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and is circumcised, keeps the Passover, and obeys the Torah for the rest of his life. Conversion to Judaism (which, really, is becoming an Israelite) is as simple as the process I’ve just described. That is, ultimately, what a Jew is.

Finally, the third point in error is that they are heavily relying on the NT in order to obtain doctrine like this. The reason is that it is a completely foreign idea to what Hashem has given in His word. If you have to rely on any other document other than the G-d given Tanakh, you’re more than likely in error. The only place for doctrine and direction is the Tanakh, along with the help of the extra-biblical books for background.

WidowsOrphans

Moving on, the more extremist groups show the clear ignorance in the BHI movement. While anyone who knows me will readily say that I am strict in Torah observance and advocate for everyone – Jew and non-Jew alike – to join in keeping the Torah’s instruction, if you’re just keeping the Torah while degrading your fellow man, you’re not keeping the Torah at all. You’ve missed the entire point of Hashem giving us the Torah. The first chapter of Isaiah gives us the reason of the Torah:

Isaiah 1.16-19

16Wash yourselves clean; Put your evil doings Away from My sight. Cease to do evil; 17Learn to do good. Devote yourselves to justice; Aid the wronged. Uphold the rights of the orphan; Defend the cause of the widow18“Come, let us reach an understanding, —says Hashem. Be your sins like crimson, They can turn snow-white; Be they red as dyed wool, They can become like fleece.”  19If, then, you agree and give heed, You will eat the good things of the earth;”

 What G-d is saying is that if we are not doing good, spreading justice to the world, aiding the wronged, helping the orphans and widows – if we are not being good people, we are not Torah observant at all. All of our works are in vain. If we are wearing tzitzit, keeping Kashrut, are guarding the Sabbath perfectly, and doing all the letter of the Torah perfectly and yet we are arrogant, spiteful, vengeful, violent, and encouraging acts against humanity, all of our Torah keeping is in vain.

One rather harsh Rabbi once told the congregation that someone wanted to learn Hebrew and asked him to teach him. The rabbi asked the man for the reason he wanted to learn. When the man said that he wanted to read the Tanakh in Hebrew, the Rabbi declined his request. The reason, the Rabbi said, is that he wanted to learn Hebrew for his ego. He kept the Torah only for his ego and social acceptance. Indeed, some say that the reason why we do a mitzvah is just as important as the mitzvah itself. If we do it for praise, for our ego to make us feel good about ourselves, it is in vain. If someone says the Shema everyday, keeps the Shabbat perfectly, and observes the whole Torah, but does it only for the sake of fame or for their ego, and not for the sake of Heaven alone, it doesn’t count. It is in vain.

When the Black Hebrew Israelites berate, scream at, and attack people unprovoked, they are just showing that they do not know the basic meaning of the Torah. The Rabbinic Sage, Rabbi Hillel the Elder, put it best: “What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor: that is the whole Torah while the rest is commentary; go and learn it.””

More than that, a Messianic ministry, New Heart, New Spirit, recently posted an excellent response to the idea the that Hashem’s people are an actual ethnic race:

“Abraham married Keturah, a non-Hebrew Chaldean or Aramean. Isaac married Rebecca, an Aramean. Jacob married Rachel and Leah, two Arameans. Joseph married Asenath, an Egyptian. Moses married Zipporah, a Midianite. Boaz married Ruth, a Midianite. Interracial marriage is all over the Bible. Righteous Hebrews married other races of women, plain and simple. This means that in successive generations, the Israelites were not one pure, homogenous race. If the Israelites are not a single race of people, it means that there is no such thing as true “Black” Hebrews, “White” Hebrews, “Brown” Hebrews, etc. The Hebrews of today look like these races, but they are not exclusively just one of these races. That’s why Hebrews come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. There’s authentic brown Israelites, black Israelites, white Israelites, and they are all descended from Abraham!”

In closing, I would like to emphasize the fact that, through my studies, research, and communication with BHI proponents, I have met many good men and women who, though I disagree with them greatly on these issues, I am proud to consider my friend. Even still, I would warn the reader that should he or she come across such people, they need to ascertain that the person is not part of a dangerous cult such as the ones I have stated earlier.

 

Sources

  1. http://www.deuteronomy28.org/israelite.html
  2. http://www.texemarrs.com/032007/synagogue_of_satan_article.htm
  3. http://forward.com/news/347996/who-are-the-hebrew-israelites/
  4. https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/intelligence-report/2008/racist-black-hebrew-israelites-becoming-more-militant
  5. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bfL1UzreWQY
  6. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BLb3o65q0vk
  7. http://www.deuteronomy28.org/racism.html
  8. https://ahayahyashiyaisraelitesunite.wordpress.com/most-high-christ-true-names/jehovah-satan/
  9. https://ahayahyashiyaisraelitesunite.wordpress.com/most-high-christ-true-names/i-am-that-i-am-ahayah-asher-ahayah/
  10. https://outreachjudaism.org/who-is-satan/
  11. http://pathoftorah.com/jewish-apologetics/who-is-satan/
  12. Definition of a Jew
  13. Conversion in Judaism
  14. http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/2312343/jewish/Chapter-7-Hillel-and-Rabbi-Akiva.htm
  15. https://www.facebook.com/NewHeartNewSpirit/?fref=nf&pnref=story (Posted 7/9/2017, accessed 8:39pm, CST; also note that I do not advocate for any certain ministry.)
  16. http://isupk.com/
Advertisements