Who Were the Original Black Prophets in the Bible?

Black people are associated with prophets in the Bible.
Black people are associated with prophets in the Bible.

Arguments exist over the racial identity of many important figures, including Jesus, in biblical history, and the list of black prophets is also a matter of much debate. According to Lisa Jones, in Ebony magazine, blacks were "among the major actors in the Bible." Some of these figures include the Queen of Sheba, Zipporah, Moses's Cushite wife and Sarah's handmaiden Hagar. Black prophets include two men, Ebed-melek and Yehudi, associated with one of the most important of Biblical prophets, Jeremiah.

  1. Jeremiah

    • Jeremiah was a prophet associated with two key black figures.
      Jeremiah was a prophet associated with two key black figures.

      Jeremiah prophesied disaster for Jerusalem with the rise of King Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylon assault on his people. When Jeremiah recommended that people give in to the Babylonians rather than be slaughtered, King Zedekiah declared him an outlaw. Considered mainly a prophet of apocalypse, he preached bitterly against "forsaking

      God and the Torah and turning to idolatry," according to The New Jerusalem Mosaic. Religious scholar Gene Rice notes that Jeremiah tried to "prevent needless bloodshed," but he was branded a traitor for his efforts.


    • Ebed-melek rescued the prophet Jeremiah from certain death.
      Ebed-melek rescued the prophet Jeremiah from certain death.

      Enter the Ethiopian Ebed-melek into Jeremiah's life. The four leading princes urged King Zedekiah, considered weak and often indecisive, to put Jeremiah to death, but he refused to. Therefore, the princes had Jeremiah placed in an empty, dark cistern, where he was exposed to the elements and left to die without food and water. Ebed-melek discovered this covert plan and sought out Zedekiah and told him of the plan. Confronting Zedekiah in such a manner put Ebed-melek's life at risk, but he did so anyway, and was rewarded when the king put him in charge of a rescue mission. Ebed-melek used lengths of rags lowered into the cistern to pull Jeremiah out. "Moved to save the life of another and acting without calculation or counting the cost, an otherwise unknown black man emerges from obscurity to immortality," notes Rice.


    • Black royal official Yehudi read Jeremiah's sermons to the king.
      Black royal official Yehudi read Jeremiah's sermons to the king.

      Another Ethiopian, Yehudi, figures into the prophet Jeremiah's life. He was, according to Rice, "not only of African descent, but one of the royal officials comprising the king's cabinet." Jehoiakim, the king of Judah in 604 BC, was an arrogant man not prone to seeing how his kingdom was going to ruin because of what Jeremiah prophesied as a spiritual illness. Jeremiah wrote a series of sermons read by his close friend Baruch because Jeremiah was forbidden from the temple. Royal officials who heard the sermons interpreted them, Rice says, as a "divine ultimatum," and then Yehudi took the scrolls and read the sermons to the king, who ordered Jeremiah's arrest.

    Black Prophets

Related Searches


  • Jones, Lisa C. "Blacks in the Bible." Ebony 49.4 (1994): 60. Middle Search Plus. EBSCO. Web. 5 Aug. 2011
  • The New Jerusalem Mosaic
  • Rice, Gene. "Two Black Contemporaries of Jeremiah." Journal of Religious Thought 32.1 (1975) 95. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO Web. 5 Aug. 2011


  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images Photos.com/Photos.com/Getty Images Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images


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