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Does Deuteronomy 28-68 prove that the original Israelites were black?

by lee thriepland  
7/25/2018 / Bible Studies

Does Deuteronomy 28-68 prove that the original Israelites were black?

When attempting to prove that the original Israelites were in fact black most people or groups use Deuteronomy 28-68 as a supporting verse. They claim that it categorically demonstrates that the verse can ONLY be referencing black people. Most of these people use a KJV bible so let's have a look at what it says.

Deuteronomy 28- 68 68 And the LORD shall bring thee into Egypt again with ships, by the way whereof I spake unto thee, Thou shalt see it no more again: and there ye shall be sold unto your enemies for bondmen and bondwomen, and no man shall buy you.

They say that this verse refers to the transatlantic slave trade where black people were taken from Africa by ships and taken to America where they were sold unto their enemies as slaves.

They interpret the verse as such

Deuteronomy 28- 68 68 And the LORD shall bring thee into Egypt (slavery/america) again with ships (literal ships), by the way whereof I spake unto thee, Thou shalt see it no more again(Israel) : and there ye shall be sold unto your enemies(the white race) for bondmen and bondwomen (slaves), and no man shall buy( redeem) you.

Before we break down this verse and look at the understanding of what has been applied to its meaning let's add some context.

This verse is actually the end verse in a rather long list of blessings and curses given by God through Moses for those that would enter into the promised land. Blessings for his people who followed God in the land and curses for those that would not follow after him (see Deuteronomy 28:15-68) These blessings and curses were given BEFORE the Israelites had even set foot inside the promised land, Israel.

It can't simply be a case of taking this one verse and saying see this applies to one specific people and that proves the point. If this one verse is going to be taken as evidence then ALL the blessings and curses must be taken and applied to that people. Therefore it would also need to be demonstrated that ALL the other curses and the blessings could be applied to black people as well and NOT to anyone else, through colour or any other determinate means such as specific nation.

But let's have a look at the verse itself break it down and examine the understanding that has been applied to it.

Deuteronomy 28-68 And the LORD shall bring thee into Egypt (slavery/america) again

Egypt has been taken figuratively as meaning slavery and also means America.

Egypt in Hebrew however does not mean slavery. There is not one verse in the Bible where Egypt in of itself means slavery. Egypt means the physical land or a people.

The Hebrew word is ×Ö×Ö×ÖÖ×Ö× Mitzrayim and means Egypt, the proper name of a territory or a people.

A verse that is often used as support for taking Egypt as meaning slavery is Exodus 20-2

Exodus 20- 2 I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

It is claimed that Bondage being linked to Egypt.

However the verse doesn't actually do what it is claimed it does. It very clearly distinguishes between Egypt and bondage. While it is very true that the Israelites were slaves in Egypt, Egypt is separated from slavery, there are 2 separate referents, Egypt and bondage. They were in bondage, in Egypt. Both the word for Egypt Mitzrayim and the Hebrew word for bondage ‘Ä-áÄ-áîm. ×Ö×'Ö×"ÖÖÖ'××× are used in this verse. 
When the word Egypt is used in the Bible it always refers to the physical place or people of Egypt and never bondage. Egypt is not used as meaning bondage. When God wants to refer to Egypt and the bondage in Egypt then both are referenced. If just Egypt is used then it is not in reference to the bondage in Egypt but the physical land Egypt.

Over and over the Bible uses both Egypt and bondage together.

Deuteronomy 5-6 I am the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.

Micah 6-4 For I brought thee up out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed thee out of the house of servants; and I sent before thee Moses, Aaron, and Miriam.

Judges 6-8 That the LORD sent a prophet unto the children of Israel, which said unto them, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, I brought you up from Egypt, and brought you forth out of the house of bondage;

Joshua 24-17 For the LORD our God, he it is that brought us up and our fathers out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage, and which did those great signs in our sight, and preserved us in all the way wherein we went, and among all the people through whom we passed:

Jeremiah 34- 13 Thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel; I made a covenant with your fathers in the day that I brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondmen, saying

The Israelites were brought out of slavery but also out of the physical land of Egypt( it is possible to be brought out of slavery but not removed from a physical land and vise versa) The land of Egypt the physical place of is separated from the physical act of the bondage.

Another verse that is used is Hosea 9-3 They shall not dwell in the LORD'S land; but Ephraim shall return to Egypt, and they shall eat unclean thingsin Assyria.

The claim here being is that Ephraim (a reference to the Northern kingdom of Israel) will go into Egypt but then it states that they will eat unclean things in Assyria. This is a reference to the Assyrian captivity of 722bc, Assyria is not Egypt so we see that they didn't go into physical Egypt but captivity in Assyria and so Egypt is clearly a reference to captivity not the physical land of Egypt.

This verse may at first glance appear to prove exactly what it is claimed it does.

When we actually look at the verse we will see that there are 2 separate prophecies here. One that Ephraim will go back into Egypt AND those that go into Assyria would eat unclean things. This just means that the Israelites would not be allowed to follow their laws regarding food.  The verse does not link Egypt to captivity.

We cannot simply take this one verse and ignore all the other verses that very clearly distinguish between the physical land of Egypt and the physical bondage.

Deuteronomy 19-15 One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established.


There are 2 explanations for the fulfillment of this verse. The first being the fact that Ephraim did go back into Egypt shortly BEFORE the Assyrian captivity. In fact it was one of the reasons that the king of Assyria invaded Israel in the first place.  They gave gifts to the king of Egypt.

2 kings 17- 1In the twelfth year of Ahaz king of Judah began Hoshea the son of Elah to reign in Samaria over Israel nine years. 2And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, but not as the kings of Israel that were before him. 3Against him came up Shalmaneser king of Assyria; and Hoshea became his servant, and gave him presents. 4And the king of Assyria found conspiracy in Hoshea: for he had sent messengers to So king of Egypt, and brought no present to the king of Assyria, as he had done year by year: therefore the king of Assyria shut him up, and bound him in prison.

In a prophecy in Isaiah we see that the Lord will recover a remnant of his people. One of the places will be from EGYPT

Isaiah 11-11 And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea.

Therefore we see that Ephraim at some point have gone back into PHYSICAL Egypt.

There is evidence that there was a remnant of Ephriam (the Northern Kingdom that escaped the Assyrians and went to dwell in the Southern Kingdom.

2 Chronicles 1-1/11

Specifically verse  6 So the posts went with the letters from the king and his princes throughout all Israel and Judah, and according to the commandment of the king, saying, Ye children of Israel, turn again unto the LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, and he will return to the remnant of you, that are escaped out of the hand of the kings of Assyria.

So if there was a remnant of the Northern kingdom living in the southern kingdom then it is possible that when the Judeans fled into Egypt when the Babylonians came against them in 597bc that some of those would have been from Ephraim.

2 kings 25-25But it came to pass in the seventh month, that Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, the son of Elishama, of the seed royal, came, and ten men with him, and smote Gedaliah, that he died, and the Jews and the Chaldees that were with him at Mizpah. 26And all the people, both small and great, and the captains of the armies, arose, and came to Egypt: for they were afraid of the Chaldees.

This is also told by Jeremiah in chapter 43

6Even men, and women, and children, and the king's daughters, and every person that Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard had left with Gedaliah the son of Ahikam the son of Shaphan, and Jeremiah the prophet, and Baruch the son of Neriah. 7So they came into the land of Egypt: for they obeyed not the voice of the LORD: thus

 So Ephraim has gone into Egypt, physical Egypt and will be recovered from Egypt.

These people/groups try to make Egypt not only mean slavery but specifically slavery in America. They use Deuteronomy 28-49 as support

Deuteronomy 28-49 The LORD shall bring a nation against thee from far, from the end of the earth, as swift as the eagle flieth; a nation whose tongue thou shalt not understand;

Here we have a reference to the eagle and it is this that is used to link Egypt/slavery with America, the Bald Eagle being the national emblem of America. However America is not the only country to have the Eagle as its emblem, including but not limited to Austria, Mexico, Poland, Romania, Russia and Indonesia.
Its must also be noted that the Eagle was also the emblem of the Roman Empire which is important when looking at the 2nd part of the verse with ships, by the way whereof I spake unto thee.

It is far more likely that this curse was fulfilled throughout Biblical times rather than some 3000 years later.

The Israelites were taken captive numerous times throughout history when God allowed them to be due to their falling away and not following him as recorded in the Old Testament. It is very likely that ships were used in their transportation. Even though Egypt is geographically close to Israel it would not be an easy job to walk a group of captives through the desert to get from Israel to Egypt.

There is another verse in Deuteronomy that is often used as additional support that verse 68 is referring to the transatlantic slave trade.

Deuteronomy 28- 48 Therefore shalt thou serve thine enemies which the LORD shall send against thee, in hunger, and in thirst, and in nakedness, and in want of all things: and he shall put a yoke of iron upon thy neck, until he have destroyed thee.

The verse states that they shall have a yoke of iron around their neck.

It is very true that yokes around the neck were used on black people during the slave trade, however it must be noted that they were not the first people to have yokes placed around their neck when taken into slavery.

There are many images from ancient Egypt where slaves are depicted with yokes around their necks.

Hieroglyphics depicting slaves at the entrance to the temple at Abu Simbel for example.…/fit…/19960608-Egypt-165.jpg

The Romans also used Yokes around the necks of slaves.

Black people during the transatlantic slave trade were not the first people to have yokes placed around their necks when enslaved. To state otherwise is simply incorrect either through ignorance or purposeful deception.

This was most certainly fulfilled during the Roman-Jewish wars.

We do know that the Israelites were taken from Israel to Egypt during the Roman-Jewish wars and put in chains . Remember the Roman emblem was also the Eagle.

Josephus wrote

# Because the soldiers were now growing weary of bloodshed, and survivors appeared constantly, Caesar orders to kill only those who offered armed resistance and to take alive all the rest. (415) The troops, in addition to those covered by their orders, slaughtered the aged and infirm; people to their prime who might be useful they herded into the Temple area and shut up in the Court of the Women (lcl. (416) Caesar appointed one of his freedmen as their guard, his friend Fronto, to decide the fate appropriate to each. (417) All those who had taken part in sedition and brigandage (they informed against other) he executed. He picked out the tallest and handsomest of the lot and reserved them for the Triumph (418). Of the rest, those who were over seventeen he put in chains and sent to hard labor in Egypt while greet numbers were presented by Titus to the provinces to perish in the theaters by sword or by wild beasts; those under seventeen were sold. #
Josephus, “The Jewish Wars”; Book vi 9:2.

Munter a Roman Historian wrote that the Israelites were sold unto their enemies however due to the vast numbers buyers could not be found for many of them and they were not bought. Those who were not bought were taken to Egypt in ships.

# Now that Betar had been captured, everything came under Human control, while Palestine [Judah] was reduced to a desolate mound. Captives were sold into slavery in numbers too great to count. First they were brought to the grand annual market at the Terebinth-Eloh tree in Hebron, or in the words of Hyranumous, to the Tent-Ohel of Abraham near Hebron. Each slave sold for the price of a horse. Those captives who were not sold there were brought to the market place in Azza [Gaza] which, because of the great multitudes of slaves who were sold there, was called Hadrian’s marketplace. And those who were still not sold there were herded into ships and were taken to Egypt. Many died in transit, whether by starvation or by shipwreck, while many also were killed by cruel masters.
Munter, Primordia Eccl. Africanae, pp. 85f.,113.

To simply apply a historical act which has a similarity to a biblical verse taken at face value without any application of understanding to it and then make that biblical verse taken at face value without any application of understanding to it mean the historical act based on that similarity is to twist and distort the biblical verse to make it appear to say something that it in fact doesn't.

However lets say that this was not fulfilled in during the Roman-Jewish war.

There are still a few problems that remain to simply assert that the translatlantic slave trade was a fulfillment of this verse. First off the slave trade of people from Africa actually started MUCH earlier than those who were transported to America.

  • 1441: Start of European slave trading in Africa. The Portuguese captains Antão Gonçalves and Nuno Tristão capture 12 Africans in Cabo Branco (modern Mauritania) and take them to Portugal as slaves. *

This being some 50 years BEFORE America was even discovered.

There have been many incidents of slavery that have involved the transportation of those people by way of ships.

The Barbary slave trade for example. Where white Europeans from places such as Italy  Spain, Portugal, France, England and the Netherlands were taken to North Africa and sold as slaves between the 15th and 19th centuries. Estimated figures for this are as high as 1.25 Million but this has been disputed.

There was also the Slavic slave trade (Slavic being where the word slave is derived from.

Between 1500 and 1650 an estimated 1.5 million Eastern Europeans were taken to North Africa, the Middle East and Asia while over a million were taken from Western Europe between 1530 and 1780 .

So there have been other historical occurrences of Slaves being taken by ship.

Another problem by saying that the trans Atlantic slave trade of Black people is the fulfillment of this verse is that circle reasoning needs to be invoked. If all other occurrences of slaves being transported by ships are rejected and only the trans Atlantic slave trade is accepted then it would already need to be believed that black people are the Israelites for this to be a fulfillment of the verse. However it would also then have to be believed that the trans Atlantic slave trade fulfills the scripture for it to support the Israelites are black.

A very basic appeal to circle reasoning which does not prove anything.

If the verse was not fulfilled during Biblical times or by any previous slave shipment which the Hebrew Israelites will state, then their is NO reason (unless you have already accepted that the Isaelites are black) to assume that this verse has indeed  yet been fulfilled. If we cannot point to the fulfillment of the verse at anytime if we don't presuppose that the Israelites are black then it is JUST as viable to state that the verse has not yet been but will be fulfilled at a future time.

Thou shalt see it no more again

Let's look at the land that they will not see again which is stated is in reference to Israel.

Thou shalt see it no more again:

Firstly we cannot simply take this one section of the verse and isolate it. This is in continuation of the previous part of the verse.

Deuteronomy 28- 68 And the LORD shall bring thee into Egypt again with ships, by the way whereof I spake unto thee, Thou shalt see it no more again:

There is no reference to Israel in this verse but Egypt. God had told the Israelites that they would not see Egypt again (if they followed him).

To input Israel as the place they would not see again is to ignore the context of the verse and the very clear reference to Egypt.

It was Egypt that God said they would not see again not Israel.

Exodus 13-14 And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will shew to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever.

Deuteronomy 17- 16 But he shall not multiply horses to himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt, to the end that he should multiply horses: forasmuch as the LORD hath said unto you, Ye shall henceforth return no more that way.

Jeremiah 42- 19 The LORD hath said concerning you, O ye remnant of Judah; Go ye not into Egypt: know certainly that I have admonished you this day.

The transatlantic slave trade did not take people from Israel to America but Africans from Africa to America.

This leads us into the final part of the verse.

and there ye shall be sold unto your enemies for bondmen and bondwomen, and no man shall buy you.

Here it is asserted that this means that the black Israelites would be sold as slaves and that no man could redeem them.

However the Hebrew word used in no man shall buy you is ×Ö×Ö×" qanah It means to buy,to purchase , to acquire. It does not mean to redeem. Redeem has its own Hebrew word ×ÖÖ×"Ö×" padah to redeem, to ransom.

The verse actually means what it actually states, they will be sold to the enemies to be slaves however they will not be bought, this means they literally will not be bought NOT that they will not be redeemed. Black people were bought in the transatlantic slave trade many black people were also purchased/redeemed out of slavery.

JPS tanakh 1917 translates the verse as

Deuteronomy 28- 68 And the LORD shall bring thee back into Egypt in ships, by the way whereof I said unto thee: 'Thou shalt see it no more again'; and there ye shall sell yourselves unto your enemies for bondmen and for bondwoman, and no man shall buy you.

Targum Yonatan ben Uziel paraphrased the verse

And Hashem will exile you hack to Egypt in ships by way of the Reed Sea that you once crossed and concerning which I said: You shall not see it again! And there you will be sold into servitude to your enemies for large sums of money as crafts-men. And afterwards (you will be sold) cheaply as slaves and maidservants, until you will be cheapened (and try) to sell yourselves for nothing, and no one will take you in

These 2 translations would have the meaning that the Israelites would try to sell themselves as slaves but nobody would buy them which would have been an ultimate insult.

Under proper and full scrutiny and analyse the verse does not support the claim that the original Jews were black.

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