Was Jesus black?

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QUESTION: Was the skin color of Jesus either black or dark? What did he look like?

ANSWER: It cannot be known, with absolute certainty, whether Jesus was black or not. This is because the Bible gives us almost NO physical description of him. Our Savior, the God who became a man, was a Jew and a descendant from the tribe of Judah. Jesus was specifically a descendant of David, King of Israel, who was described by the prophet Samuel as not being dark skinned but looking "ruddy," meaning red or reddish color.

And Samuel said to Jesse (the father of David and a person in the lineage of Jesus), 'Are all the young men here?' Then he said, 'There remains yet the youngest, and there he is, keeping the sheep.' And Samuel said to Jesse, 'Send and bring him. For we will not sit down till he comes here.' Now he was ruddy (Hebrew word admoniy, Strong's Concordance Number #H132, meaning "reddish of the hair or complexion"), with bright eyes, and good-looking (1Samuel 16:11 - 12).

Note also that this ancestor of Jesus had "bright eyes, and good-looking," although having beautiful ancestors is certainly no guarantee of how a person looks. Although he does not mention him being any particular skin color like black, Isaiah the prophet does give us a general description of his physical appearance.

What does the color black symbolize in the Bible?
Is Jesus the GOD of the Old Testament?
Map of King David's military victories

2 It was the will of the Lord that his servant grow like a plant taking root in dry ground. He had no dignity or beauty to make us take notice of him. There was nothing attractive about him, nothing that would draw us to him (Isaiah 53:2)

It should also be noted, regarding how Jesus looked, that he did not have the kind of long hair often seen in images of him. With the exception of those under the Nazarite vow, the Bible teaches that it is shameful for a man to have long hair (1Corinthians 11:14, 16). There are also several reasons why the image of a man on the famed Shroud of Turin (see our article on the subject) is decidely NOT that of Christ!

One former well-known religious author and preacher wrote extensively concerning what he thought Jesus looked like. He believed he was of average height for his time. Additionally, because of his hard work of helping his stepfather Joseph in the carpentry business, he was likely thinner rather than fat and had the kind of muscles conditioned by hours of pushing, tugging, moving, pulling and other activities required of his occupation. In short, he looked like any other person born of the tribe of Judah who lived in Palestine during the first century A.D.

Considering the Biblical description and racial characteristics given us by secular history, the evidence points to the fact that Jesus was not black or African in ancestry or looks. The important thing is that, no matter WHAT he looked like or what color was His skin, or what texture was His hair, or what shape His physical features took, He was God, the Son of God, and our Lord and Savior and He remains the only path to salvation for man.

Additional Study Materials
When did Jesus know he was God?
Map showing last travels of Christ
Who were the religious leaders in the first century?

Was Jesus black?

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