Was Moses Black? ‘Urban Daily’ Proposes Black Actors for Spielberg Biblical Epic

ReBecca (great name!) Theodore-Vachon over at The Urban Daily raises an excellent question: Why do we picture Moses as this:

 

Instead of this?

"Moses Parting the Red Sea" by Aaron and Allen Hicks. http://www.itsablackthang.com/Allen-Aaron-Hicks-artwork.htm

After all, Moses came out of Egypt. He is also a huge symbol of hope for African-Americans. Theodore-Vachon proposes five black actors for the iconic role in Steven Spielberg’s proposed Biblical epic.

I have to admit, Denzel would be fabulous. What do you think?

 

About Rebecca Cusey

Rebecca is a lead critic and editor of entertainment at Patheos. Follow her on Twitter @Rebecca_Cusey

  • Trista

    Am I missing something? Moses wasn’t really Egyptian. He was adopted by Egyptions.

    Denzel as Moses…I dunno. Chiwetel Ejiofor might be cool. He was the only redeeming quality in the movie 2012.

    • Rebecca Cusey

      That’s right, but I think we have to assume some intermarriage between Hebrews and Egyptians. Starting with Joseph, right?

    • Rebecca Cusey

      There was a redeeming quality in 2012? I thought the credits rolling was the only good part!

    • Quintin Jahmal

      Moses was an Egyptian ALL ISRAELITES come from ancient Egyptians.

  • Teresa Nelson

    Not all Egyptians were black, though. There were two kingdoms — and the depictions of Nubians were clearly different in hieroglyphic drawings than Egyptians of the Upper Kingdom, not just in their skin tone, but also in their dress. It’s a far leap to assume all Egyptians were black, merely because they hailed from Africa.

    As far as who should play Moses, that’s a question I’ll leave to the big players. :)

  • http://filmchatblog.blogspot.com/ Peter T Chattaway

    Well, there’s a theory that the reason Joseph got along with the Pharaohs so well — and the Hebrews who came after him didn’t — is because Joseph’s Pharaoh was a member of one of the Hyksos dynasties, i.e. the Semitic dynasties that ruled Egypt during the 16th century BC.

    There may or may not be anything to that theory, but if there is, then Joseph wouldn’t necessarily have been marrying anyone all that different from him.

    The bigger question here is why anyone should assume the Egyptians were black to begin with. We have the mummified remains of a number of their Pharaohs, and the Pharaohs in question don’t *look* particularly “African”, as that word is now used. (If a Libyan moves to America, is that person an African-American? Based on geography, we might say yes, but based on race…?)

    And then there are the murals painted by the Egyptians themselves, in which their skin does not *seem* to be particularly dark…

    Of course, this brings to mind all the silly controversies that arise whenever a non-black actress is considered for the part of Cleopatra. Never mind that Cleopatra, like all the other Pharaohs towards the end of the Egyptian empire, was the descendant of a *Greek* general (or, perhaps more accurately, a *Macedonian* general)…

    And hey, here’s *another* reason why Moses almost certainly wasn’t black: Because one of his *wives* was black! I quote Numbers 12:1: “And Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Cushite woman whom he had married; for he had married a Cushite woman…”

    Presumably Moses’ big brother and sister would not have objected if they, too, were Cushites (i.e. dark-skinned people of African descent).

    • Rebecca Cusey

      Modern Egyptians aren’t as dark as other Africans, either, like Sudanese. There are as many varieties of skin tone and facial features in Africa as there are hair colors and eye colors in Europe. I think an Ethiopian beauty looks as different from a Kenyan darling as an Irish lass looks from a Greek goddess.

      Interesting about the wife. Still, what’s closer to possibility of reality? An African-American or a Caucasian-American? I guess neither one would be accurate.

      • VegasNevada

        Modern Egyptians are not really Egyptian at all. Egypt was conquered by Arabs around 7 AD. Indigenous Egyptians are still around, you just don’t see them on CNN all the time. What you see are people living in Egypt calling themselves Egyptians (they are, they live there) but they aren’t the descendants of ancient Egyptians…Indigenous Egyptians are not extinct, you just have to search for them deeper, because no one wants to talk about them…they are a secret. In all these movies, they’re trying to make folks think the ancients looked like Miss Scarlett a/la/ Gone with the Wind. It’s a joke. They’re April fooling us!

  • http://ticketstubz.blogspot.com Candice Frederick

    i love the thought. i wish hollywood was as progressive

    • Rebecca Cusey

      Hollywood follows money and, thus, tries to please the widest swath of potential audience. I sometimes wish it weren’t so, but it is.

  • james

    the egyptians were not black, the various races of Egypt were white until the Arabs came along in the Middle Ages. toward the end of the egyptian empire the nubians invaded-fair feautured blacks. they ran things for awhile, running the empire into the ground and producing small laughable pyramids in the desert that no tourists would bother to visit.

    king david was white with ruddy cheeks according to the Bible. in the new testament the only black disciple was identified by race.
    all of a sudden african-americans decided egypt and moses were black in the 20th century as a byproduct of ‘black is beautiful’ 60′s revisionism.
    and we are still buying this nonhistoric tripe despite archaeology and history? lol.

    • Rebecca Cusey

      I don’t think you can qualify either the Egyptians or David as “white.” Perhaps they weren’t African, dark skinned like we think of African, but nor were they Caucasian.

      There are more categories than “white” and “black.”

    • Quintin Jahmal

      James, your totally wrong, totally incorrect. First if you make a broad statement at least show historical sources. You’re opinion is based from European coverups of The Cushite Empire. Moses was a Black Egyptian before he became the King of Cush. He married the Queen of Cush named “Adoniah”. If you don’t believe me ,by all means, go and search for yourself. Before Egypt was called “Egypt it was Mizraim. Mizraim had 3 brothers named Cush ,Phut , & Canaan. Their father was Ham.

      Stephanus of Byzantium (circa 700 AD) wrote, “Ethiopia was the first established country on earth; and the
      Ethiopians were the first to set up the worship of the gods and to establish laws.” FACT.

      Strabo (63 – 24 AD) provides
      even further detail on the extent of the Ethiopian empire, which
      included not just Arabia, but Europe as well.

      The ancient Egyptians of
      Joseph time were indeed what we know today as “black”, this is a
      fact attested to by many.

      Gerald
      Massey, English writer and author of the book, Egypt the Light of the World, wrote, “The dignity is so ancient
      that the insignia of the Pharaoh evidently belonged to the time when Egyptians wore nothing but the girdle of the Negro.” (p 251)

      Sir Richard Francis Burton, a 19th century English explorer, writer and linguist in 1883 wrote to Gerald Massey, “You are
      quite right about the “AFRICAN” origin of the Egyptians. I have 100
      human skulls to prove it.”

      Scientist, R. T.
      Prittchett, states in his book The Natural History of Man, “In
      their complex and many of the complexions and in physical peculiarities the Egyptians were an “AFRICAN” race (p 124-125).

      The Ancient Greek historian Herodotus,
      who visited Egypt in the 5th century B.C.E., saw the Egyptians face to face and described them as black-skinned with woolly hair.

      Anthropologist, Count Constatin de Volney (1727-1820),spoke about the race of the Egyptians that produced the Pharaohs. He later paid tribute to Herodotus’ discovery when he said:
      The ancient Egyptians were true Negroes of the same type as all native born Africans.
      That being so, we can see how their blood mixed for several centuries
      with that of the Romans and Greeks, must have lost the intensity of it’s
      original color, while retaining none the less the imprint of it’s
      original mold. We can even state as a general principle that the face
      (referring to The Sphinx) is a kind of monument able, in many cases, to
      attest to or shed light on historical evidence on the origins of the
      people.”

      The fact that the
      ancient Egyptians were black-skin prompted Volney to make the following
      statement:

      “What a subject for meditation, just think that the race of black men
      today our slaves and the object of our scorn, is the very race to which we owe our arts, science and even the use of our speech.”
      My name is Quintin Jahmal and I am proud of knowing my history as a Black man . It’s not about black or white superiority ,but it’s amazing to find out European history is based off of stolen African Legacy. In Biblical times Cush/Ethiopia was and still is known as the direct descendants of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba / Markeda.

  • Yahudah

    All Hebrews were black and so were the Egyptians! Study it yourself don’t watch too much tel-lie-vision.
    Moses as well as Jesus fled into Egypt to escape the romans! If Moses and Jesus were white it would be easy for the romans to find dem!
    Let’s go back further when Moses was layed in the basket by his sister Miriam and the egyptian princes, daughter of pharao Ramses, found him in the Nile river, now how could she fool her father into believing that it was her child if the child was white??

    You white people wanna claim everything but when HIM returns with hair like lamswool (dreadlocks) and feet as brass as if burned in a oven(black!), you all gonna be very shocked!!!

  • IknowTruth

    Egypt was BLACK!!! Period! Herodotus who Europeans(White people) revere as “the Father of History” wrote that”Egyptians are of woolly hair in appearance and are as all indigenous African people…” To know truth nowadays is to not look in the history books. Research Joel Freeman-a white man who researched and told the truth.Yes,the white man will rather hold on to lies and self deception than accept that its civilization and languages are all based on the works of black men.

  • Quintin Jahmal

    James, your totally wrong, totally incorrect. First if you make a broad
    statement at least show historical sources. You’re opinion is based from
    European coverups of The Cushite Empire. Moses was a Black Egyptian
    before he became the King of Cush. He married the Queen of Cush named
    “Adoniah”. If you don’t believe me ,by all means, go and search for
    yourself. Before Egypt was called “Egypt it was Mizraim. Mizraim had 3
    brothers named Cush ,Phut , & Canaan. Their father was Ham.

    Stephanus of Byzantium (circa 700 AD) wrote, “Ethiopia was the first established country on earth; and the
    Ethiopians were the first to set up the worship of the gods and to establish laws.” FACT.

    Strabo (63 – 24 AD) provides
    even further detail on the extent of the Ethiopian empire, which
    included not just Arabia, but Europe as well.

    The ancient Egyptians of
    Joseph time were indeed what we know today as “black”, this is a
    fact attested to by many.

    Gerald
    Massey, English writer and author of the book, Egypt the Light of the World, wrote, “The dignity is so ancient
    that
    the insignia of the Pharaoh evidently belonged to the time when
    Egyptians wore nothing but the girdle of the Negro.” (p 251)

    Sir Richard Francis Burton, a 19th century English explorer, writer and linguist in 1883 wrote to Gerald Massey, “You are
    quite right about the “AFRICAN” origin of the Egyptians. I have 100
    human skulls to prove it.”

    Scientist, R. T.
    Prittchett, states in his book The Natural History of Man, “In
    their complex and many of the complexions and in physical peculiarities the Egyptians were an “AFRICAN” race (p 124-125).

    The Ancient Greek historian Herodotus,
    who
    visited Egypt in the 5th century B.C.E., saw the Egyptians face to face
    and described them as black-skinned with woolly hair.

    Anthropologist,
    Count Constatin de Volney (1727-1820),spoke about the race of the
    Egyptians that produced the Pharaohs. He later paid tribute to
    Herodotus’ discovery when he said:
    The ancient Egyptians were true Negroes of the same type as all native born Africans.
    That being so, we can see how their blood mixed for several centuries
    with that of the Romans and Greeks, must have lost the intensity of it’s
    original color, while retaining none the less the imprint of it’s
    original mold. We can even state as a general principle that the face
    (referring to The Sphinx) is a kind of monument able, in many cases, to
    attest to or shed light on historical evidence on the origins of the
    people.”

    The fact that the
    ancient Egyptians were black-skin prompted Volney to make the following
    statement:

    “What a subject for meditation, just think that the race of black men
    today
    our slaves and the object of our scorn, is the very race to which we
    owe our arts, science and even the use of our speech.”
    My name is
    Quintin Jahmal and I am proud of knowing my history as a Black man .
    It’s not about black or white superiority ,but it’s amazing to find out
    European history is based off of stolen African Legacy. In Biblical
    times Cush/Ethiopia was and still is known as the direct descendants of
    King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba / Markeda. bjkg


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