Black Hebrew Israelites (BHI)
Black Hebrew Israelites(BHI) also known as Black Hebrews,
or, Hebrew Israelites are groups of African-Americans situated mostly in
the United States who claim to be descendants of the ancient Israelites. Not to
be confused with African Hebrew Israelites, or Beta Jews they
claim that they are Alpha Israelites and that they are not Africans at
all, but were merely sold into slavery from Africa.
They claim they are refugees of the so-called "First Jewish-Roman War"
avoiding the holocaust at Masada In 73 AD. In 70 AD they claim to have fled
Judea into the interior of West Africa, and sojourned there some 1,500 years.
Their Shemetic ancestors were sold by Hametic Africans, to Ishmaelite-Arabian
slave traders, who (in turn) sold them to European, Trans-Atlantic Slave Traders
in the early 1600’s.
They assert that the Negroes, and Indians of North America, Central America,
South America, and the Caribbean are all descended from the twelve Israelite
patriarchs. They use many prophecies in the Hebrew Bible to show similarities to
the predicted fate of the descendants of the Israelites in the "latter days".
They most often cite the 28th Chapter of the book of Deuteronomy as proof that
the predicted condition of the Israelites more closely matches their own, than
that of today's Caucasian Ashkenazi, and Sephardic practitioners of Judaism.
African American and African Caribbean Christianity had long developed a
comparison of their experience in the New World with that of the Jews held in
slavery in Egypt, particularly as
regards the Book of Exodus. From the
mid-eighteenth century a metaphorical embrace of a Hebrew identity was a major
element of New World African spirituality. Thus in 1800 Gabriel's slave
conspiracy in Virginia identified themselves with the Israelites of the Old
Testament, as was Denmark Vesey's attempted rebellion of 1822. However it was
not until later in the nineteenth century that an identification as ancient
Hebrews developed from identification with biblical prophecy.
Groups within the BHI movement:
|Church of God and Saints of Christ: The Church of God and Saints of Christ is a BHI religious congregation organized in
1896 by Prophet William Saunders Crowdy. The members of this congregation believes they are descendants of the lost tribes of Israel.
In 1906, Prophet Crowdy passed his mantle of leadership to three successors: Chief Joseph W. Crowdy, Bishop William H. Plummer, and
Counselor Calvin S. Skinner. Counselor Skinner consecrated for leadership Rabbi Howard Z. Plummer, who prior to his demise ordained
Rabbi Levi S. Plummer. Currently, the congregation is led by Rabbi Jehu A. Crowdy, Jr. The Church of God and Saints of Christ
has headquarters in Belleville (Suffolk), VA with tabernacles across the United States, Jamaica, and Africa.|
|Church of the Living God: F. S. Cherry founded a Black Jewish movement called the
Church of God in Philadelphia in 1915.
Theologically it mixed Judaism and Christianity, although the Jewish Bible and the Talmud were considered the essential scriptures.
Several Jewish practices and prohibitions were observed by Cherry’s flock. The movement has been reported to survive under the
leadership of Cherry’s son, but little information about it has been disseminated.|
|African Hebrew Israelite Nation of Jerusalem: The African Hebrew Israelite Nation of Jerusalem is a small religious
group whose members believe they are descended from the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel. With a population of over 2000 men, women and
children residing in three development towns Dimona, Arad and Mitzpe Ramon in southern Israel. communal lifestyle, a vegan diet,
a system of preventive health care and a claimed high moral standard - - a holistic approach to life. Their stated intent is to live
according to the laws and prophecies of God.|
In 1966 their spiritual leader, Ben Ammi, had a vision that it was time for
the Children of Israel who remained in America (the land of their captivity) to
return to the Holy Land (the land of their origin).
In 1967, after a claimed two thousand years in the Diaspora, four hundred
Hebrew Israelites left America. According to their plan, they settled in
Liberia’s interior to purge themselves of the negative attributes they had
acquired in the captivity. After spending a two-and-one-half year period in
Liberia, The African Hebrew Israelites prepared to make the last portion of
their journey home, a journey to Israel in 1969.
|Israeli School of Universal Practical Knowledge: This group has undergone some evolution and has spawned several
permutations over the last forty years. A man named Abba Bivens in 1960s Harlem started the group. It was originally called the
Israeli School of Universal Practical Knowledge (ISU.P.K.), but later changed its name to the Israeli Church of
Universal Practical Knowledge (I.CU.P.K) as part of a plan to get tax exemption
status, though some splinter groups still call themselves ISUPK.|
A split in the leadership of the school occurred, and I.C.U.P.K. lost much of
its membership. Although they have physically retained the school, they gave up
all claims to I.S.U.P.K and re-emerged in the new millennium as Israelite Church
of God and Jesus Christ (ICGJC). Those that left before this new incarnation
retain the name of the original school started by Abba Bivens (I.S.U.P.K) and
consider themselves to have remained true to the original nationalist agenda of
Bivens. They refuse to refer to the messiah as "Jesus Christ", or the creator of
Heaven and earth as "God", but as YAHAWAH (God) and YAHWASHI
|Israelite Church of God and Jesus Christ: The ICGJC and its various splinter groups can be loosely grouped together as
sects which advocate a King-James-Version-only approach to the Bible (i.e. they
only endorse the KJV as scripture), the belief that white people are Edomites
(it should be noted that other so-called "Black Israelite" sects declare white
people to be descendants of Japheth), and claim to speak "Lashawan Qadash" (a
form of Hebrew grammatically identical to Modern Israeli Hebrew, save for the
absence of any vowel except 'a' and 'i'). The Black Israelites seen preaching on
the streets of many American cities are of this cohort. Unlike most BHI sects,
the ICGJC is also open to Hispanics and Native Americans, who are believed to be
among the 12 tribes of Israel. They produce a television program called "The
Hidden Truth of the Bible", which airs on many public access stations across the
country. Websites endorsing the views of this branch of the Black Israelite
community include http://www.theholyconceptionunit.org|
The Black Hebrew Israelites of New York City, a
Yahoo! forum, lists the following correspondences between the ancient twelve
tribes of Israel and modern-day inhabitants of the western hemisphere:
Ruben = Seminole Indians (Muskogee).
Simeon = Dominicans of Hispanola.
Levi = Haitians.
Judah = African Americans.
Dan = Cubans.
Naphtali = Argentineans & Chileans.
Gad = Native Americans.
Asher = Incas.
Issachar = Aztec Indians and other Mexicans.
Zebulon = Mayan Indians and other inhabitants of countries from Guatemala to
Ephraim & Manasseh = Taino & Boriqua Indians and other Puerto Ricans
Benjamin = Carribe, Cibao, Arrowack, and other inhabitants of Guyana and the
Many Black Hebrew Israelites are at odds over the religious aspects of mainstream Judaism and tend to reject Jewish
because of its heavy reliance on the Talmud which has been edited exclusively by European-born rabbis since the 8th century, often
superseding the teachings of Torah, and so most Black Hebrew Israelites reject the Talmud, and the Kabbalah as being contrary to the
will of YHWH and the testimony of Moses.
The remaining number tends to split along the lines of Messianic, and non-Messianic, ironically inheriting the European
Judeo-Christian dichotomy from European schools of thought.
B.H.I. groups tend to reject the notion of returning to Israel, as citizens of the sovereign Israeli government, preferring a
more religious and prophetic return to sovereignty a new covenant with their God YHWH.
Racism and anti-semitism:
Because they believe that the Tanakh forbids them from allowing "whites" —Jews of relatively light complexion whom they call
"Caucasians", as opposed to Semites—into their congregations, a number of Black Hebrew Israelite groups have been thought of as
racist, being mirror images of Black Christian Identity groups to whom the concept of race is
unnecessarily made an issue. They insist that these "Caucasian," non-Semitic Jews are not descended from Israelites
at all, but rather from Edomites and Khazars. As such, BHI groups have been accused of anti-semitism, a term which they reject
as Black people are in fact Shemetic, disacknowledging the fact that, in modern usage and in this context, the term
‘anti-Semite’ almost exclusively refers to antagonism towards Jews.
|Arthur Koestler, "The Thirteenth Tribe: The Khazar Empire and Its Heritage," Random House, 1976.
Read reviews or order this book safely from
Amazon.com online book store|
|Rudolph R. Windsor, "From Babylon to Timbuktu: A History of the Ancient Black Races Including the Black Hebrews,
" Windsor Golden Series, (1988).
Read reviews or order this book|
|Shadrock, "The Forgotten Israelites: God's Chosen People," Fifth Ribb Pub., (1991).
Read reviews or order this book|
|Shadrock, "The Truth, The Lie, and The Bible III," Fifth Ribb Pub., (1995).
Read reviews or order this book|
|Shadrock, "The Word, The Israelites, and The Damned by Shaddrock," ISBN# 9694907-3-9, at:
The following hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
This essay, with the exception of the list of
correspondences and links to the Southern Poverty Law Center was
copied on 2006-MAY-30 from a Wikipedia essay "Black Hebrew Israelites"
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Hebrew_Israelites Used by permission.
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Originally posted: 2006-MAY-30
Latest update: 2006-MAY-30