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Was Esau-Edom white? Demolishing Hebrew Israelite lies (part 1)

Members of the Black Hebrew Israelites demonstrate outside the U.S. Capitol on November 13, 2018 in Washington, DC. The group is comprised of African Americans who believe they are descendants of ancient Israelites, and a militant wing of the group has been described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as "black supremacists." | Getty Images/Win McNamee

One of the most common (and pernicious) Hebrew Israelite lies is that Isaac and Rebekah’s son Esau (also known as Edom) was White and that Whites today are his descendants, vilified as “White Edomite Devils.”

Not only is there absolutely no historical or genetic connection between Esau and contemporary White Americans and Europeans, but it is absolutely absurd to argue that Edom himself was White. Where do Hebrew Israelites come up with such nonsense?

Bear in mind that according to Hebrew Israelites, the ancient Jewish people, from Abraham and Moses to Jesus and Paul, were all Black. Is this possible?

To be sure, they were not White. But were they Black?

Most likely, they were brown-skinned people, perhaps similar to the Semites pictured on the famous Beni Hasan Tomb paintings in Egypt which date back almost 4,000 years. There, the Semitic men entering Egypt are brown-skinned, but somewhat lighter than the Egyptians. A Jewish legal text from roughly 200 years after the time of Jesus would seem to confirm this (Mishnah Negaim 2:1).

One thing, though, is sure: Esau’s parents, Isaac and Rebekah, were not White. (Again, according to Hebrew Israelite beliefs, they were Black.)

It’s also clear that Jacob, Esau’s younger twin brother, was not White either. (Once again, in Hebrew Israelite lore, he was Black as well.)

By what magical or mystical circumstances, then, did Esau somehow become White when his mother, father, and twin brother were all Black? How on earth did that happen?

Not only is that an impossible scenario, but according to Genesis 36:2, Esau’s two wives were Canaanite women, and therefore not White either.

How, then, were Esau’s descendants White if his mother, father, twin brother, and two wives, were all people of color? The only possible way that anyone could believe is by suspending all logic because of a racist (or related) radical ideology.

But all this begs a more fundamental question: Where on earth did these Hebrew Israelites get the idea that Esau was White?

They point to Genesis 25:25 which reads, “The first to come out was red [Hebrew ’admoni], and his whole body was like a hairy garment; so they named him Esau” (NIV).

So, being “red” means being White? Is this the logic?

In that case, King David must have been White as well, since he is also referred to as being ’admoni, red (see 1 Samuel 16:12; 17:42). But according to the Hebrew Israelites, David was black. This presents a real problem.

So, based on this logic, Esau is White because he is described as ’admoni, red, but David is Black, even though he is called ’admoni, red. Who can possibly believe this and keep a straight face?

Not only so, but the male lover (Solomon, according to many) in Song of Solomon 5:10 is described as being tsakh (radiant, or, in the KJV, White!) and ’adom (ruddy). This would make him the same color as Esau, even though Hebrew Israelites believe that Solomon was also black. You can see where this is going.

How do Hebrew Israelites respond to this?

When I asked one of their leaders this very question during a recent debate, he responded, “When we take a look at the color spectrum we know that red has various different shades, over 50 shades of the color red. So, we would have to look at the context of each one of those scriptures to determine which shade of the red that was being referred to.”

The context? Go ahead and look up all the verses just cited. There is nothing whatsoever in any of the contexts that would tell you that ’admoni means one thing in one verse and another thing entirely in another verse. Nothing at all.

Remarkably, this Hebrew Israelite leader tried to argue that: 1. Esau was red like a hairy garment; 2. in antiquity, this was understood to be “blood red” based on a particular dye that was used; therefore 3. Esau was Caucasian. (If you can’t believe this argument was actually made, listen for yourself; the video is queued up for you here.)

Unfortunately for Hebrew Israelites: 1. red garments “in antiquity” — to quote this leader directly — were not made from one particular dye and therefore all blood red; 2. describing someone as “blood red” does not make them Caucasian (and, to repeat, nothing in the text speaks of “blood red” anyway); 3) the verse does not say that Esau was red like a hairy garment but rather that he was red and hairy like a garment all over.

You can survey scores of English translations here, all of them saying the same thing, from the KJV to modern English versions: “And the first came out red, all over like a hairy garment; and they called his name Esau” (KJV); “The first son came out reddish — his entire body was covered with hair — so they named him Esau” (ISV).

The only real debate among scholars was whether Esau’s skin was red or his hair was red. That he is described as a hairy man is not in dispute; see also Genesis 27:11, where Jacob tells his mother Rebekah that his brother Esau is “a hairy man.”

So, genetics tells us that Esau was not White (since his parents and twin brother were people of color, along with all the other peoples of that region at that time), and obviously, his children were not White, since his two wives were people of color.

More importantly, the biblical text explicitly states that he was of the same complexion as King David (and, probably, Solomon). If, based on Hebrew Israelite logic, Esau was White, then so were David and, probably, Solomon.

Finally, the Hebrew states that Esau was red and like a hairy garment all over, not red like a (specially dyed) hairy garment that somehow gave him the appearance of being Caucasian. Perhaps Esau was actually Santa Claus pre-incarnate, wearing a red suit?

In reality, though, this is no laughing matter. These Hebrew Israelites (especially the most radical sects among them) equate Esau-Edom with the oppressor of the true Israelites, therefore the White man oppressing blacks and Hispanics. And in their view, these “White Edomite devils” will be destroyed or enslaved when Jesus returns.

May God deliver these Hebrew Israelites from deception and bring them into the life-transforming, soul-cleansing love of God.

Dr. Michael Brown( is the host of the nationally syndicated Line of Fire radio program. His latest book is Revival Or We Die: A Great Awakening Is Our Only Hope. Connect with him on FacebookTwitter, or YouTube.

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