A team of archeologists from the University of Tel Aviv have uncovered a collection of ancient scrolls in the West Bank region, near the Qumran Caves, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were originally uncovered in 1947, and which promise to shed a new light on the life and physical appearance of Jesus Christ.
The newly found documents which are believed to have been written by a small Jewish sectarian group, called the Essenes, retraces different elements of the Old Testament and New Testament similar to the Dead Sea Scrolls, but scholars have turned their attention to a peculiar fragment which describes the birth of the Christ figure in a new light.
The manuscripts that have been dated between 408 BCE to 318 CE describe the son of Mary as of a “darker color” of skin than her parents, a revealing information admits professor Hans Schummer.
“It is quite revealing that the unknown author of the document notes with a certain sense of surprise that the infant’s skin tone is darker in color than his mother and father.
“The infant was the color of the night” reads a part of the fragment of the scripture, “In the dark of the night, nothing could be seen of the infant except the white of his eyes” reads another excerpt.
Hamshet, half-brother of Joseph
There is also the mention of a peculiar character named Hamshet, which is described as the half-brother of Joseph. Hamshet is described as “untrustworthy” and “ill-fated”, denoted as suspicious and reviled by his brother Joseph who “despises his wicked manners” and “lack of morals”, but most interestingly, accordingly to archeologist Natanya Jeborah of the University of Tel Aviv, Hamshet and the infant are described by a shepherd as sharing “the same color of skin”, a remark Joseph does not take lightly.
“In this account of the nativity of Christ, this is the first known description of Hamshet, the alleged half-brother of Joseph, with whom Joseph seems to have much contempt for some unexplained reason” she explains. “Is it possible Hamshet was in fact the true father of Jesus? Although some elements may lead us to think so, without further proof we are left only with a plausible conjecture” she adds.
Why is Hamshet, half-brother of Joseph, dark skinned?
Some apocryphal texts insist the father of Joseph had two wives, but also a servant of African origin named Melcha. Although the names of Joseph’s siblings are not mentioned, he allegedly had 4 sisters and 5 brothers. It is also said that a child was born of the union of Jacob and his servant after his second wife had died. “This could explain why Hamshet is described as of a darker tone of skin than his half-brother Joseph” believes Hebrew scholar Moshe Zuckenschtein. “The use of the Hebrew adjective “כושי” Cushite or Cushi, translated to Latin as Aethiops, to describe Hamshet also confirms that he is of darker skin than the average Israelite of the time” he acknowledges. “That his skin tone is said to be the same as that of the infant Jesus is very intriguing” he concedes.
Further research of the caves led by the University of Tel Aviv in the vicinity of the ancient settlement at Khirbet Qumran in the West Bank could reveal new promising discoveries believe scholars, although the two-year excavation of the caves, which are located about 2 kilometers inland from the northwest shore of the Dead Sea, are under constant threat by armed conflicts in the region.
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