Victor Lewis (Courtesy photo)

The Los Angeles Sentinel will explore the connection between Black America and Biblical history during Black History Month. We will show how our deep seeded love for God goes deeper and retreats further than slavery, and what is taught in our schools and seen through our media. But, it is engrained in our ancestorial DNA from the beginning of time.

Noah, his wife, and three sons – Japheth, Shem and Ham – were chosen to begin life after the flood. When the waters receded, they set out to establish in the earth the kind of humanity that would be pleasing to God, the creator of life itself. Noah’s sons would establish their own lives and communities by claiming their personal pieces of land.

Noah’s firstborn, Japheth, fathered seven sons, Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshech, and Tiras (Genesis 10:2). Their descendants lived in the north and west of Israel and, after Babel (where God separated them and gave them their own their languages) spoke what today is classified as Indo-European languages.

The second son, Shem, had five sons, Elam, Ashur, Arphaxad, Lud, and Aram (Genesis 10:22). Shem lived to be 600 years old (Genesis 11:10–11) and became the ancestor of the Semitic people (Genesis 10:1, 21–31). Abraham, who was a descendant of Shem, is the first person in the Bible who is referred to as a “Hebrew” and then “Jewish” (Genesis 14:13).

The baby boy, Ham, had four sons, Cush, Mizraim, Put, and Canaan (Genesis 10:6). The Hamitic, we see, (Genesis 10:6-20) became a godless and worldly power. It was the land of Israel that was assigned to Ham’s son, Canaan, and for centuries it was under the control of the Egyptians. Ham is the father of the Arabians, Canaanites and Africans, including the Egyptians. Black Americans are the descendants of Ham’s eldest son, Cush.

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In today’s focus, Moses went from “Prince of Egypt” to “Deliverer of Israel.” The only man who ever saw the face of God married a woman named Zipporah from the ancient land of Kush. After being raised in the lap of luxury as Pharaoh’s adopted child, he fled from Egypt because he could no longer adhere to the enslavement of Hebrews.

Then, Moses killed an Egyptian guard when he saw the guard beating a Hebrew slave. Next, Moses ran to the land of Midian, which is south of Judah, to escape the death penalty, which was sure to be his sentence for killing the Egyptian.

While wandering around in the land of Midian, Moses meets Jethro and ends up marrying his daughter, Zipporah. After meeting God in all his glory in a burning bush and after being commissioned by God as the deliverer of the Hebrews; after pronouncing the ten plagues upon Pharoah; after the parting of the Red Sea, while leading God’s people through the desert to the land God promised them, he faces a family crisis. Aaron, Moses’ brother, and Miriam, his sister, begin criticizing him because of his choice in a Cushite woman for a wife (Numbers 12:1-2).

The family breakdown affected the leadership of the new nation. It could have been derailed because of racism. Aaron and Miriam, jealous of the influence of Moses, were about to ruin a movement that had far reaching ramifications. But, God will not allow this to go uncorrected nor unpunished. Zipporah’s legacy, a woman of color, isn’t in the harsh words of Moses’ siblings, but in the action, she took to protect her family.

In Exodus chapter 4, as Moses is preparing to return to Egypt and rescue God’s people, he’s traveling with his family through the desert. In a passage that’s hard to completely understand, it seems Moses neglected to circumcise his young son (circumcision is an ancient sign of covenant with God). This was the purported issue, especially for the man who would be leader to God’s people. Image and integrity came into question. So big a deal, that God sought to kill Moses over it. But not on Zipporah’s watch. In Exodus 4:25, it reads,“So, Zipporah took a flint, cut off her son’s foreskin, and threw it at Moses’ feet.”

Zipporah’s taking ownership for her family when her husband would not rescued Moses, who would become the deliverer of Israel, from death at the hands of God before any miracle in Egypt ever could have taken place.

Zipporah teaches us that justice begins at home. If you are a parent, especially a blended one of much different background principles, consider her example of humility, selflessness, and heroism. She teaches us to be pro-active in our conversations around race and justice with our children.

Zipporah, a woman of color, illuminates critical thinking under critical circumstances, even if only right under her own roof. Zipporah compels us to seek forgiveness, first from God, and then from those who have been wronged.

She is today’s, Black Unsung Hero, captured on the pages of the Holy Scriptures.