The Hebrew Israelites Debunked

Black Hebrew Israelites typically believe that African people of the Diaspora (those in North America, South America, and the Caribbean) are not Africans. According to their ideology, they are actually Hebrew Israelites that were sold into slavery by Africans.

The ideology of the Hebrew Israelites is historically and culturally confused, however, and only serves to further distance African people from their homeland and true identity. The following are just the number of reasons why the Hebrew Israelites are wrong on many of their claims:

Culture: It is very apparent that Africans in the Americas are culturally African in almost every way. Their various Creole and Ebonics languages are rooted in African speech patterns, so much so that various West Indian Creole languages use African loan words such as “Rara,” “Nyam,” and “Duppy.” Guyanese Pan-Africanist Eusi Kwayana once explained that his wife Tchaiko Kwayana had even come across a village in Guyana where the Africans spoke Yoruba. If they are Hebrew Israelites why is their language more African than Hebrew?

Their religious and spiritual practices also show very obvious African influences. Throughout the Caribbean and South America we find religious practices such as Obeah, Voodoo, and Orisha worship. Even their style of Christianity has obvious elements of African influence, as W.E.B. Du Bois explained in The Souls of Black People. Once again, if they are Hebrew Israelites then why are traditional African religious influences so prominent throughout the Diaspora?

There are other culture practices that we can look at as well. The Dozens, a verbal game practiced by African Americans, can be traced to a similar game that was played by the Igbo people in Nigeria. Carnival in the Caribbean and Brazil has very obvious African roots. Stories of the trickster spider Anansi (or Aunt Nancy in the United States) are found all over the Diaspora. They obviously did not get these stories from the Hebrews, but Anansi tales are still common in Ghana and other parts of West Africa.

The Black Hebrew Israelite claims are reliant on the fact that black people were stripped of their original identity during slavery. The problem is that many elements of their identity and culture survived, and those survivals reflect Africa more so than they reflect Israel.

The Exodus: Much of the Hebrew Israelite ideology is rooted in Biblical story of the enslavement of the Hebrews by Egypt.
Black Hebrew Israelites use Deuteronomy 28:68 as a prophecy that the Hebrews will be brought back into slavery again by ships. This is taken to be a reference to the Trans-Atlantic slave trade and slavery in the United States. The fact is that the Bible never actually mentions America, so this prophecy is really not much of a prophecy, but Hebrew Israelites trying to twist the words of the Bible to suit their own agenda. Furthermore, this passage when read in context with the entire Deuteronomy 28 is not actually a prophecy, but a warning from God. This is made clear at Deuteronomy 28:58. God is not giving a prophecy, but a warning. Deuteronomy 28:60 also makes it clear that Egypt in Deuteronomy is not meant to be seen as representing America, but that Egypt very literally means the same land that the Hebrews escaped slavery from. In Deuteronomy 28:60, God warns the Hebrews that he will give them all of the diseases of Egypt if they fail to follow his word. This obviously is a reference to the ten plagues that befell Egypt. Nothing about Deuteronomy 28 indicates that God is using Egypt as a catchall phrase for any land where the Hebrews could be enslaved.

The Tribes Make no Sense: Carefully pay attention to these charts. You will notice that each of the 12 Tribes of Israel corresponds with a nation or identity, but this might be the most confusing part of Hebrew Israeli teachings. First of all, the term Negroes was applied to all people of African descent, be it American, West Indian, or native African. Here Negroes are separated from West Indians for some reason. We are left to assume that Negro here is referring to African Americans. Even more confusing is that Cubans, Haitians, Puerto Ricans and Dominicans are West Indians themselves but they are apparently a separate category from West Indians according to this chart. Similarly, Seminole Indians are separated from North American Indians.
Obviously very little research or thought went into this chart and pay attention to the second one. It includes the red, black, and green flag of the UNIA—the Pan-African flag, which has even been adopted by some African nations such as Malawi, Burkina Faso, and the short-lived Republic of Biafra.

On top of all this, Wentworth Arthur Matthew, one of the earliest Hebrew Israelite leaders, claimed that he was born in Nigeria. In other words, despite the fact that Hebrew Israelites distance themselves from Africa, one of their very founders was African born. Apparently Matthew was born in Nigeria and then was taken to St. Kitts in the Caribbean by his mother after his father died. Not only this, but Matthew also consciously associated with Africa. He referred to himself and his followers not as Hebrew Israelites, but as Ethiopian Hebrews. Matthew was inspired by Rabbi Arnold Ford, who was a member of Marcus Garvey’s UNIA, an organization that promoted a return back to Africa. Ford himself migrated back to Africa. Today we find many Hebrew Israelites that reject Africa. Yet, Matthew, who along with William Saunders Crowdy can be credited with the spread of the Black Hebrew Israelite movement, was not only born in Africa, but he proudly referred to himself as an Ethiopian.

Those Africans that were enslaved and brought to the Americas were indoctrinated to disassociate themselves from Africa. Africa was portrayed as being savage, uncivilized, and even as heathens( a term used in the above picture). These are images that Black Hebrew Israelites seem to have internalized.

Via Akrikan Knowledge

2 thoughts on “The Hebrew Israelites Debunked

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