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mishmash

When God delivered Israel from Egypt, “an ethnically diverse group went with them” (Ex 12:38). Who were these people?

Some were Egyptians. I like to believe that among them were the now-elderly midwives, Shiphrah and Puah, who refused to slaughter Hebrew baby boys (Ex 1:15-22). But who else?

Some were Cushites (Black Africans). Black Africans not only joined Israel; Moses married a Black African woman. In Numbers 12:1-16, God rebuked Moses’ siblings for opposing her. Another Cushite was Phinehas who was a faithful Black priest that saved Israel from being destroyed (“Phinehas” means “the Cushite/African”). More famously, both the prophet Zephaniah and the Queen of Sheba (the Sabean kingdom of D’mt) were Black (cf. Zeph 1:1; 1 Kings 10:1-13). Less famously, the guy who rescued Jeremiah from a miry dungeon was a Black man named, “Ebed-melech the Ethiopian” (Jer 38:7-13).

The Israelites themselves were already an ethnically diverse group. Backup to Joseph’s rise to power. The Hyksos, a people of mixed Semitic-Asian descent, were likely reigning over Egypt during that time. This means that Joseph’s wife, Asenath, was a West Asian-Egyptian woman (Gen 41:45). From their two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, came two of the 12 tribes of Israel. Yes, two of the 12 tribes of Israel were West Asian-Egyptian-Hebrew. Apparently, Joshua (of Ephraim) did not look Scandinavian.

Others joined the mishmash of faith as well. Caleb, Rahab, and three judges, Othniel, Shamgar and Jael, were all Canaanites (Num 32:12; Josh 2; Jud 3-5; cf. Gen 15:19). Ruth, a Moabite, married Boaz, the son of Rahab, which means that David was part-Moabite, part-Canaanite, and part-Hebrew! The Ark of the Covenant was stored in the backyard of a Philistine named Obed-Edom from Gath (2 Sam 6:6-11). Uriah and Bathsheba were Hittites (2 Sam 11-12). Elijah supplied food for a poor Phoenician widow (1 Kings 17). And Naaman, a commander from northern Syria, came to faith in God through a miraculous healing (2 Kings 5).

Quite a mishmash! Isn’t it perfect?

It’s perfect that a Black man named, Simon of Cyrene, “the father of Alexander and Rufus,” carried Jesus’ cross (Mark 15:21). Eventually, this Black man’s wife and son would become leaders at the church in Rome (Rom 16:13).

It’s perfect that Philip shared the gospel with a Black man (Acts 8:27) while two Black guys commission Paul to take the gospel to Europe (Acts 13:1).

What about Jesus? He’s the perfect mishmash (Matt 1:1-17)!

And look at you. You fit right in (Rev 7:9-10).

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