Blacks in Mormonism: Beyond Black and White: What Might Zoramites, Mulekites or Jaredites Look Like? Pt 1

Todd Noall

Todd Noall

Source Expert

Todd Noall is an author and religious scholar at Mormonism Explained with a focus on the history and theology of religion.

Fact Checked by Kevin Prince

In the previous video, we explored the use of the terms black and white as used in the Book of Mormon and how they relate to the theology of blacks in Mormonism. A case was made that even though phrases like “skin of blackness” or “skin became white” are used in the book, there’s a strong likelihood that this refers to a person’s dark or light countenance related to their righteousness or wickedness. In this video, we will look for opportunities to imagine a broader range of ethnic diversity for the people the Lord brought to the new world. This can be important when filmmakers or artists, such as myself, seek to represent stories around the people of the Book of Mormon.

If one assumes that Lehi, Ishmael, and their families looked like typical 7th-century Israelites, and I think we can only guess the specifics of what that might be, what then can we suppose of the others that the Lord led away out of biblical lands?

Let’s start with Zoram. What do we know about the servant of Laban introduced in 1 Nephi 4? Some have contended that as a high-ranking servant over the Treasury of the house of Laban, he must be an Israelite. After all, he seems to have knowledge of and faith in the God of Israel. For example, in verses 22 and 27, he seems very interested in the Jewish elders, and in verses 32 and 34, Nephi comforts him with the invocation of the name of the Lord. Lastly, he’s allowed to marry into an Israelite family. But is it coincidental that Zoram is first named in Nephi’s account in association with the covenant he makes with Nephi? Was that his name originally, or was he named after the covenant? What if he was not originally an Israelite? What if Zoram’s story finds a parallel with the contemporary of his, Ebed-Melech, an Ethiopian servant of Zedekiah, king of Judah? They both lived in Jerusalem at the same time, both were trusted servants to high-ranking Israelites, both trusted the God of Israel, and both were provided a way by God to escape the upcoming destruction of Jerusalem. But how does this relate to black Mormons?

As far as marrying into the house of Israel, the Bible is filled with examples of faithful outsiders being brought into the covenant. Jesus taught that the children of Abraham are those who do the works of Abraham. Is it possible, then, that Zoram could be like Ebed-Melech and be from another nation than Israel? And we’re not done looking at Ebed-Melech because of what he did for the prophet Jeremiah. By saving his life and his trust in God, he was given a miraculous promise by the Lord: “I will save you. You will not fall by the sword but will escape with your life because you trust in me.”

Like Lehi and Zoram, Ebed-Melech would escape the destruction of Jerusalem. How did he escape? Were there any others that were saved with him? Where did God lead him to safety? The Book of Mormon tells us about Mulek, the son of Zedekiah, king of Judah, who somehow escaped the fate of all the other sons of Zedekiah—death at the hands of the Babylonians. The Book of Mormon tells that he traveled in the wilderness with others before he was brought by the hand of the Lord to the promised land. How did he escape when his brothers were killed? Perhaps he was hidden away by miraculous means. He probably was young. Zedekiah was made king at age 21 and only reigned for 11 years, so many of his children would have been younger. Did this help in secreting him away, or was Mulek hidden in the most effective way a child can be—still in his mother’s womb?

By Todd Noall, Source Expert

Todd Noall is an author and religious scholar at Mormonism Explained with a focus on the history and theology of religion.

Fact Checked by Mr. Kevin Prince, Source Expert

Kevin Prince is a religious scholar and host of the Gospel Learning Youtube channel. His channel has garnered over 41,000 subscribers and accumulated over 4.5 million views. Mr. Prince also created the Gospel Learning App, a reliable platform where individuals seeking truth can access trustworthy answers to religious questions from top educators worldwide.

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