Did Moses Marry A Black Woman?

Q.  In regards to the question from a reader about interracial marriages, is it true that Moses was married to a black woman?

A.  This seemed like an easy question to answer until I began to research it.  The idea that Moses had a black wife apparently comes from Numbers 12:1 which says Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of his Cushite wife.  Some say this identifies her as a descendant of Noah’s grandson Cush.  The Hebrew word Cush means black, and Cush is said to be the father of the black African people. (Cush is identified as Ethiopia in some versions of the Bible.) This would make the wife of Moses a black woman.

But others point out that Moses married Zipporah, the daughter of a priest of Midian named Reuel, also called Jethro (Exodus 2:18-22, 3:1).  Midian was a son of Abraham and his 3rd wife Keturah (Genesis 25:1-2).  They also claim there were two lands named Cush in the time of Moses.  The other one was in Eastern Mesopotamia in what would later become Babylon. If so, this would make the reference to a Cushite wife in Numbers 12:1 inconclusive as to race.  If Jethro was a descendant of Abraham’s through Midian, then Zipporah would have been Abraham’s descendant, not Cush’s, and therefore not a black woman.

Then there’s a minority view that Moses had two wives, Zipporah, who he sent back to her father, and the Cushite woman of Numbers 12 who was never mentioned by name. In my opinion this view requires a rejection of the Mosaic authorship of the Books of Moses and is not reliable.

In summary, I don’t think we can use the example of Moses to support inter-racial marriage. But as I said before, I don’t think the Bible forbids it as long as both parties are believers.

Print Friendly