“Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses regarding the Cushite woman he had married, for he had married a Cushite woman.”Bamidbar (Numbers) 12:1
“The Lord descended in a pillar of cloud and stood at the entrance of the Tent. He called to Aaron and Miriam….why were you not afraid to speak against My servant Moses? The wrath of the Lord flared against them….Then Aaron turned to Miriam and behold, she was afflicted with tzara’ath [leprosy].”Bamidbar (Numbers) 12:5-10
Black people are Jewish royalty, and racism is a grievous sin against God.
See Bamidbar (Numbers) 12, in which HaShem punished the holy prophetess Miriam, Moses’ sister, for gossiping against Moses’ Tzipporah, because she was “Cushite” or Black.
We know this not only because the Bible repeats the word “Cushite” twice, emphasizing it. Ibn Ezra comments:
“The Midianites are Ishmaelites and they live in tents….Because of the sun [meaning that they are “very sunburned”] they do not have any whiteness at all. Zipporah was black and was like a Cushite.”https://www.sefaria.org/Numbers.12.1?lang=en&with=Ibn%20Ezra&lang2=en
Both Miriam and Aaron participated in the incident, but only Miriam was punished with leprosy. Ibn Ezra comments that this is because it was Miriam who was more active in the sin. She made the statement and Aaron did not repudiate her.
Other arguments about the reason for calling out her “Cushite” identity do not make sense. For example, some say that it was because the Cushites were slaves. But as Prof. David Goldenberg notes:
“For part of the biblical period, Kush was not only a powerful kingdom, but for almost a century they ruled over Egypt itself….Thus, the knee-jerk connection between Nubian and slave would not have existed in the biblical period.”https://www.thetorah.com/article/why-do-miriam-and-aaron-criticize-moses-for-marrying-a-kushite-woman
Prof. Goldenberg, who does not agree that the reference is to skin color, does note that the punishment of “tzara’at” is flaking of the skin, which is…white. “Midah keneged midah” – a punishment is measure for measure. You call someone out as inferior because their skin color is black; you receive a skin disease that makes you look frighteningly white, and sick.
The professor incorrectly concludes that Miriam was aggrieved that Moses had married a non-Israelite woman rather than a Black woman. However, he quotes the Bekhor Shor, who actually disclaims this explanation.
“They did not speak about Zipporah not being from Israel, because that had then been out of his control; since he had been a fugitive and could not go to Egypt among the Children of Israel.”https://www.sefaria.org/Numbers.12.1?lang=en&with=Bekhor%20Shor&lang2=en
The interpretation by the professor, in fact, appears to be a deliberate misquote aimed at justifying intermarriage. (“In having God punish Miriam for arguing against the marriage, this text implicitly acknowledges the acceptability of foreign marriage.”)
The truth is that the Bekhor Shor is contrasting the “simple meaning” (which is that Miriam griped about Moses’ choice of a foreign wife) with the more probable scenario: that brother and sister understood Moses, being in exile, was unable to choose a Jewish wife at all.
The simplest explanation is usually the correct one.
When you remove the contortions:
Miriam was upset that Moses had married a Black woman.
It had nothing to do with the fact that he married a woman from a slave class (keep in mind that the Jews were slaves in Egypt!)
It had nothing to do with the fact that he married a foreigner.
It had only to do with her skin.
And for that, her skin was afflicted.
None of this takes away from Miriam’s righteousness in other ways.
The point is that God is teaching us here to refrain from bigotry.
He is also pointing to the royal lineage of Black people.
“Moses’ descendants became a nation mightier and greater than the 600,000 Israelites in the desert.”Berakhot 7a
Who are the people that the Talmud says became “a nation mightier and greater than the 600,000 Israelites in the desert?”
If Tzipporah, Moses’ wife, was Black (Moses did not have any other wives), then it is an obvious logical next step that Black people descended from Moses are precisely who the text refers to as “a nation mightier and greater than the 600,000 Israelites in the desert,” whom God was so angry at for their insolence that He wanted to obliterate.
Interestingly there is widespread lack of knowledge about this Talmudic passage. Rather, the common misunderstanding is that Moses’ children not being good enough to succeed him (“Moses’ physical progeny did not live up to his example.”) This is because:
- The Bible lists Aaron’s children rather than Moses (Numbers 3:1).
- Moses asks God for hereditary succession and God says no. (“Your sons sat idly by and did not study the Torah. Joshua served you faithfully and showed you great honour.” – Midrash Bamidbar Rabbah on Numbers 27:16; see Rashi)
Yet as the Talmud says: God never reneges on a promise. Moses begged God not to smite the Jews in anger after the incident of the Golden Calf. At that time, God had said: “Leave Me alone, and I will destroy them and obliterate their name from beneath the heavens, and I will make you into a nation mightier and more numerous than they.” (Deuteronomy 9:14)
How is it possible that God promised to make a “mightier and more numerous” nation out of Moses, and did so, but mention of that nation is not further elaborated on in the Torah?
Go back to Genesis 17:20, where God promises Abraham regarding Ishmael: “I will make him fruitful, and I will multiply him exceedingly; he will beget twelve princes, and I will make him into a great nation.”
The language sounds very similar.
The Talmud is extremely clear in Berachot 7a:
“Even though Moses prayed to have the decree repealed, and it was nullified, the promise was fulfilled and Moses’ descendants became a nation mightier and greater than the 600,000 Israelites in the desert.”
Dr. Maurice M. Mizrahi writes: “Moses had a lot of descendants. We just don’t know who they are. They disappear from history.”
But they did not disappear at all.
We just haven’t looked for them.
“And the sons of Eliezer were: Rehabiah the chief. Eliezer had no other sons, but the sons of Rehabiah were very numerous.”1 Chronicles 23:17
Now read what Rabbi Nachman of Breslov said about this lost nation–they were BETTER THAN THE ISRAELITES IN THE DESERT:
Likutei Moharan 273:1:4
This is the full quote:
1 Know! there are children that people give birth to in this world. Yet, there are people on a very lofty spiritual plane who give birth to souls that are loftier than the souls enclothed within the children that are born in this world.
2 For, altogether, there are 600,000 souls in the world. Even though there are more [Jews than that], they are only a result of the division of the sparks. In total, however, there are only 600,000.
3 Nevertheless, the aforementioned souls are loftier than the 600,000 enclothed in this world, for they are not at all suited to be enclothed in this world. Thus, even when they do come into this world, they are not considered part of it.
4 This is the aspect of Moshe’s sons, about whom it is written, “and the sons of Rechavyah increased beyond” (1 Chronicles 23:17). Our Sages, of blessed memory, expound: “Beyond” the 600,000 (Berakhot 7a). This is because they were not at all considered among the 600,000, for [the souls of Rechavyah’s sons] were loftier than theirs, as explained above.”
You don’t need elaborate explanations as to why to respect the Black community. And whether they are Jewish or not, bigotry is wrong. But this adds an extra dimension to it.
“The Hebrew people, a nomadic people had to wait seven days for her [Miriam’s] sanctification transformation….In what ways have Whites held themselves from moving forward collectively, which inevitably holds us all back, because of many upon many in their race have heart posture of embracing racism?”https://seelemag.com/blog/black-lives-in-the-bible-zipporah-ff
Black descendants of Moses and Tzipporah are Levites and Jewish royalty–in fact, on a higher level than other Jewish people.
1) Moses was a Levite.
2) Levite tribal lineage passes through the father.
3) Moses had one wife, Tzipporah.
4) Miriam was punished with leprosy (flaking white skin) for gossiping against her for being Black (Numbers 12:1-10).
5) Moses was blessed by God to have numerous children, a great and mighty nation (Talmud – Berachot 7a) distinct from the Israelites who left Egypt.
6) Rabbi Nachman of Breslov explains that the souls of Moses’ descendants were “loftier” (spiritually higher) than the ones physically manifested on Earth (the 600,000 souls divided among many beings).
7) The lineage went from Moses to Eliezer to Rechavia and his “many sons,” who are not named.
8) These unknown Jews are Levites—a holy class within the tribes, but even holier because of the nature of their souls.
9) There is no logical reason why they are “hidden from history” other than bias.
10) The fact that Black people have historically suffered from persecution indicates on a spiritual level that the Devil is trying to crush them for their holiness.
Again one does not need to do contortions of logic here, it’s just a part of history that is not well-understood.
Incidentally Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, of blessed memory, is buried in Ukraine.
By Dr. Dannielle Blumenthal (Dossy). All opinions are the author’s own. Public domain.