Blacks in Mormonism: Beyond Black and White: What Might Zoramites, Mulekites or Jaredites Look Like? Pt 2

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

Consider this scenario: when Jerusalem was conquered and Zedekiah’s sons were killed, the king was blinded and taken captive. There’s no reference as to what happened to Zedekiah’s many wives, but Jeremiah indicates prophetically that they may have been taken to Babylon, or perhaps they went with Zedekiah’s daughters to Egypt. Either way, what if one of them escaped, and it was she that was carrying the last male descendant of the king of Judah? But who would help and go with her? Zedekiah’s court was filled with wicked people who obeyed not the voice of the Lord, as Jeremiah tells us in 43:7. What about Ebed-Melech, the Ethiopian? He was a man who trusted God and had access to the palace and Zedekiah’s family. If he was truly a eunuch—the Hebrew “saris” can mean both eunuch or officer—he would have been in charge of the king’s harem. But either way, his familiarity with the court of the king and the king’s family would place him in the perfect circumstance to help rescue a secretly pregnant wife. And think about what this reflects on Mormon views of black people. The others who traveled with them in the wilderness could have included anyone; even Mulek’s mother could have been from any ethnic background in the region since Zedekiah’s wickedness would not have limited his selection of a wife from the tribes of Israel. So, we’re free to imagine a company of many ethnicities being led by the hand of the Lord through the wilderness and over the sea. Would being a diverse group have contributed to their language becoming corrupted sometime after arriving in the new world?

If this scenario could be true, an image I would love to see would be Ebed-Melech carrying a newborn Mulek in his arms as they travel to the promised land and recalling the prophecy of Isaiah that the Gentiles, like Ebed-Melech, would help gather a fallen Israel by bringing the Israelite sons in their arms. Perhaps there’s even some significance to Mulek’s name in relation to Ebed-Melech. In Hebrew, the consonants are what are most important, as they have no written vowels. Mulek has been spelled three different ways, and even Melek is seen as both with a K and a CH, which makes for a perfect relationship between the two. Was Mulek named after the one who helped save his life? Mulek is a nickname derived from “Melek,” which means king, a diminutive term of endearment meaning “little king.” Ebed-Melech means servant of the king. So maybe it’s just a coincidence, or maybe it’s not. If events happened this way, we would have a license to imagine the Nephites in many ethnic expressions after they join with the descendants of Mulek during the reign of Mosiah. Especially since the Mulekites are described as more numerous than the descendants of Nephi, so the Zoramites could potentially be of a different ethnic heritage, and the Mulekites could be from almost any ethnic background.

How about the Jaredites? How could we imagine them? The Jaredites, specifically Jared, his brother, and their friends with all their families, came to the Americas from the Tower of Babel. This was the city founded by Nimrod, son of Cush and great-grandson of Noah through Ham. The Bible dictionary tells us that the descendants of Cush are a dark-skinned race of Eastern Africa and of South Arabia. It’s also the name of a country—Cush or Ethiopia. Although it is possible that Babel could have been populated with many different peoples, the only one we know for sure is the descendants of Cush. This would be our first clue as to what the Jaredites might have looked like. But biblical insights are just one source. Many scholars from our church have made a strong case for the connection of the Jaredites and the ancient American people—the Olmec. These are some of the sculptures the Olmec have left behind.
If you didn’t know these were ancient inhabitants of the Americas, what nationality do they remind you of? I would propose African and Asian. Finally, the oldest human remains discovered in the Americas were reconstructed, and to everyone’s surprise, discovered to be Negroid or African rather than Asian, which is another interesting parallel to blacks in Mormonism. I would propose that the best option for visualizing the Jaredites would be African-looking or possibly Asian. Remember that the Jaredites were a mighty nation that inhabited the new world for at least twice as long as our record of the Nephites. They would have been a dominant influence in the land, so whatever the children of Lehi and Ishmael may have looked like—Zoramites, Mulekites, and Jaredites—opened the door to the possibility that the Lord invites all to come unto Him in the land of promise in the new world.

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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