In recent weeks, media mogul and professed Christian Kanye West, now known as Ye, promoted multiple Antisemitic lies, both on TV and on Twitter. As a result a number of his sponsoring companies broke ties with him, resulting in a loss of millions, maybe billions, of dollars. Still, he refused to recognize the pain and danger of his words. Then, in solidarity with Kanye West, Brooklyn Nets superstar player, Kyrie Irving, posted a link on Twitter of a deeply Antisemitic film. Despite condemnation from the owner of the Nets, Irving refused to take down the tweet. Then he doubled down on the false anti-Jewish conspiracy theories in the film. Only after condemnation by NBA greats and suspension from his team did Irving take down the post and apologize.
But there’s something different about Ye and Irving’s Antisemitism. Here’s what Ye said, “The funny thing is I actually can’t be Anti Semitic because black people are actually Jew also.” Then he told a media figure, “When I say Jew, I mean the 12 lost tribes of Judah, the blood of Christ, who the people known as the race Black really are. This is who our people are.”
Kyrie Irving said, “I cannot be antisemitic if I know where I come from” in an obvious allusion to the ideas taught in the Antisemitic film he was promoting. Both Kanye West and Kyrie Irving have adopted the teachings of the Black Hebrew Israelites, and that’s what makes their Antisemitism different. What is this sect about?
Simply put, it contends that the tribe of Judah or the alleged 10 lost tribes of Israel made their way to Africa and that some or all Black Africans are their descendants. This would make all black people the true Israel and Jewish people usurpers of biblical covenants. The biblical support for the Black Hebrew teaching is found in Deuteronomy 28, a passage which really only predicted the Jewish diaspora if the Jewish people disobeyed the Torah. It says nothing about Africans being Israel. Also, they also support their view with a mistranslation of Lamentations 5:10. The KJV mistakenly translated this verse as “Our skin has become black” when it actually says “Our skin has become hot as an oven.” Black Hebrews believe God’s true name is Yah. They also hold that the Lord Jesus is less than God and must be called by his true name, “Yah-Shuah.” This is incorrect because the actual Hebrew name of Jesus is Yeshua.
In addition to these beliefs, Black Hebrews engage in conspiracy theories that are completely false. Some of these are that the Jewish people oversaw and carried out the slave trade that brought African slaves to America and that the Holocaust was a hoax to foster world sympathy for the Jewish people.
Of course bad ideas generally lead to bad outcomes. One negative result has been that these wrong ideas are creeping into the Black church. I have received calls from sincere brothers and sisters in the black church that have promoted these falsehoods. Of course, another outcome is that it leads to resentment and hatred of Jewish people. Yet, another problem is that it has led to violence against Jewish people. In December of 2019, Black Hebrew Israelites entered a Jersey City, NJ Kosher supermarket and killed four people in the store. In NYC, there has been a spate of Black on Jewish attacks, with orthodox Jews being beaten or punched.
Believers need to be aware of the dangers of Black Hebrew Israelism. Here’s a biblical evaluation. First and foremost, too often Black Hebrews teach that the Lord Jesus is less than God. The Bible declares that in Jesus, “all the fullness of deity dwells in bodily form” (Col 2:9). Another problem with this sect is that most of their teachers advocate some form of Torah obedience for salvation. But the Scriptures teach we are “saved by grace through faith . . . not from works” (Eph 2:8-9). Yet another issue is that Black Hebrews advocate replacement theology. But Paul plainly says of the Jewish people that God’s gifts and calling “are irrevocable” (Rom 11:29). Still another trouble with the teachings of Black Hebrews is that they advocate a hatred of white people in general. But, John 3:16 teaches that God loves the whole world, black and white, Jew or Gentile. Of course, the Black Hebrew Israelite’s hatred of the Jewish people is a sin that is especially offensive to God since the Messiah Jesus Himself was Jewish “by physical descent” (Rom 9:5).
My brother in the Lord, well known African American preacher, Raleigh Washington, spoke at Moody Bible Institute just recently. His message called out the racism and Antisemitism of the Black Hebrews and apologized to the Jewish people for their hateful message. I’d encourage Kanye West, Kyrie Irving, and any who may be adopting the teachings of Black Israelism to respond to Raleigh’s challenge and repent of these false teachings and conspiracy theories. In particular, the Antisemitism of Black Hebrew Israelism is an affront to the God of Israel and the Jewish Messiah, Jesus.