How many races are in the Bible?
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Question: American Indians and many others believe there are four races of mankind. The Bible, however, seems to state that there are only three. Which is correct? Where did the Indians originate?
Answer: The word "race" or "races" other than in the sense of track and field racing, does not appear in the Bible other than in the New International Version translation of Romans 9.
"For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race, the people of Israel. . ." (Romans 9:3, NIV)
The word translated 'race' in the NIV comes from the Greek word suggenes (Strong's Exhaustive Concordance Number #G4773) and is more accurately translated as 'kinsman' as it is found in the King James:
"For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh: . . ." (Romans 9:3, KJV)
Scripture does not indicate that Shem, Ham and Japeth were "white, black and yellow" as is asserted. We know that the children of Israel descended from Shem because God's word gives us that genealogy, but there is nothing to indicate that Ham was "black" or Japeth was "yellow" or Oriental. These are suppositions based upon the fact that some of Ham's descendents settled in Northern Africa and one of Japeth's descendents was named, "Javan", which some think might be the antecedent of Japan. However, this is ONLY a supposition or theory and is not something that can be proved from the word of God.
Those whose formal field of study are races and racial characteristics have proven that many of the North American "Indians" are descended from Asiatic people. The Scriptures are not, however, a historical record of the world and all its people. After the first ten chapters of Genesis, the rest of scripture is primarily concerned with the descendents of Abraham and only mentions other people as they come in contact with the chosen people.
Much of today's speculation is of two primary origins.
Those who are racist in their ideology, believing that one group of people is superior to others because of the color of their skin or the texture of their hair.
Those who want to merge all people together, regardless of cultural differences, out of "political correctness".
Many of those who nominally believe the holy scriptures do not recognize that Moses married a woman whose skin was black. There are no restrictions on races "mixing." God's word DOES warn against believers marrying and taking up the habits of unbelievers but that's about the extent of Bible teaching in the area of race. The real truth is that all of mankind have the opportunity to become sons of God through the grace of God and the blood of our Savior, Jesus.
Written by: Clay Willis