Who are the Black Hebrew Israelites?

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The Black Hebrew Israelites are members of a religious movement that dates back to the slavery and Reconstruction. Its different sects (African Hebrew Israelites, Black Hebrews, Black Jews, Black Israelites, or Hebrew Israelites) believe that African Americans are the literal descendants of the Israelites of the Bible and have been cut off from their true heritage.
From the 17th to 20th century, the African-Americans’ identification with Judaism was created. Some of the prominent figures in the movement formation were Frank Cherry and William Saunders Crowdy. William Saunders Crowdy traveled across the United States with his message in the late 1800s, setting up congregations in states like Kansas, Illinois, New York, and Virginia before his death in New Jersey in 1908. In the 1980s other sects appeared, such as those lead by Yahweh Ben Yahweh (1935 – 2007), or Hulon Mitchell, Jr. The BHI group is around 200,000 members among the dozens of offshoot branches.
The beliefs and practices of Black Hebrew groups differ greatly among its sects. In general, they don’t believe in the Trinity nor the deity of Jesus. They also believe that there is no heaven or hell. And they claim that when the Messiah comes back, all Israel (black people) will be gathered back to the promised land near Israel of today. They also teach that in addition to the King James version, there are other books that are inspired, such as the Apocrypha and the Pseudepigrapha (especially the Book of Enoch and the Book of Jasher). Some don’t believe in the writings of Paul. They affirm that Jesus was black and they see white people as conspirators who try to persecute the black people and conceal their true identity as Israelites.

Thus, their teachings do not line up with Judaism. Instead, it is made from the manipulation of traditions and beliefs that have been gathered from widely different sources such as: Holiness/Pentecostal Christianity, the British Anglo-Israelite movement, Freemasonry, Mind Power, Theosophy, Judaism, the occult.

Today, The three largest sects are the International Israelite Board of Rabbis, the Church Of God And Saints Of Christ – Temple Beth El, and the African Hebrew Israelites of Jerusalem. Some of the groups are so extreme they’ve been categorized as hate groups because of their vehement, racist, and anti-Semitic language.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team


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