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What Did Jesus Look Like?

Just as the sun rises and sets and the swallows return to Capistrano, so it is that every December there will appear multiple network programs on the subject of What did Jesus look like? Each program always ends with Jesus looking like a politically correct man by having a combination of African, European and far eastern physical traits. The look that is most striking is when a forensic artist takes a first century middle eastern male skull and applies clay to it. The outcome is more of a horrendous Neanderthal look than that of a first century Jewish male. However, if they bothered to read scripture concerning the inception of Jesus and Jewish writings concerning the physical traits of the patriarchs, they would realize that their wild hypotheses are complete nonsenses and unnecessary. So, let’s turn to the Bible to once and for all reach a conclusion on this subject.

Our research starts with the very first book of the Bible. In the Book of Genesis, God caused a deep sleep to come over Adam at which time God removed what we would today call a DNA sample from his side. This recounts the world’s first use of anesthesia, surgery and cloning (Genesis 2:21). Before Genesis was written down by Moses, it was passed down orally. The story stated that God physically opened the side of Adam and took a flesh and or bone sample from him in order to help in the creation of Eve. The word side was translated into the word rib as the side of a person according to skeletal structure is the rib cage. Perhaps God took DNA from Adam’s flesh and or stem cells from one of Adams rib bones, we just do not know. But we do know that when Adam awoke he was immediately aware of what had happened to him and that the procedure was necessary for the creation of Eve (Genesis 2:22-23).

We know that God did not literally take a rib from Adam as all men and women have the exact same number of ribs on each side. Oral tradition stated that when Adam saw Eve he said, “This creation is now bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh”. So once again, in writing the story down, it was assumed that God must have taken a rib bone and possibly some flesh from Adam to produce Eve (Genesis 2:23). Scripture states that  Adam was molded or formed from the elements of the earth in the form of clay outside of the garden while Eve is said to have been built or fashioned inside the garden (Genesis 2:7, 22). The word Adam means man or mankind and the word clay in Hebrew is Adamah. Adam was created solely from the earth and Eve was cloned from Adam’s DNA. In this way she was literally her own independent person yet figuratively, she and Adam could not be whole without each other. Prophetically, the two could eventually come together to create a third life. They each now possessed separate yet complimentary physical traits, character traits and genetically speaking, twenty-two similar pairs of chromosomes. The only difference was that the twenty third pair was an xx in Eve and xy in Adam. This difference is what causes the male to decide the sex of a child.  It is this combination of forty-six chromosomes that allows a couple to come together and create a third life.

The Lord, brought Eve to Adam in a garden located in the Land of Eden and, in introducing them, performed the first wedding ceremony (Genesis 2:24). When Adam first saw Eve, he must have in some way understood her creation process because he said that she was bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh. And we now know that he was more genetically correct than he knew. Adam and Eve saw themselves as separate yet equal compliments to each other. They were genetically predisposed to have physical traits and mental predispositions that when united made them a powerful force even to the point of creating life. The couple was in love, happy, content and innocent (Genesis 2:25). But, were they virtuous?

A person cannot be virtuous until they are tested for virtue. This is why God allowed the fallen angel Lucifer, now known as Satan the accuser, to enter the garden and tempt Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:1). They ate the forbidden fruit, failed the test and were now in active rebellion against the command of God.  When He came to talk with them that evening, they heard Him call, “Where are you?” but hid behind the trees of the garden.  (Genesis 3:9). This is the first question in the Old Testament. The Magi, or wise men, would come looking for the Messiah and ask King Herod, “Where is He born King of the Jew?” (Matthew 2:2). This would be the first question in the New Testament. The first question has God looking for man. The second question has man looking for God. The two admitted their sin and true to the original Adamic Covenant that both parties had agreed to, God pronounced a curse on them, the land and Satan (Genesis 3:14-19).

Now, here is where we get our first clue as to what Jesus may have looked like. God told Satan that He would put animosity between the serpent’s seed and “the Seed of the woman” (Genesis 3:14-15). Notice the word Seed is singular and capitalized and the use of the word “woman” is singular as in a certain woman. Thus, we have a reference to a future certain woman with a certain Seed defeating the serpent of sin. The woman would be Mary and her “Seed” would be Jesus. Eve approached the Tree of Knowledge and brought sin into the world. Mary would approach the Tree of Life, or the cross and her Son the Seed would crush the head of the serpent, or Satan making salvation from sin available to all mankind. Thus, the first prophecy of the Bible was given by God concerning the Messiah of mankind and this prophecy was accomplished four thousand years later at the cross. Literally, mankind would now have an automatic repulsion at the sight of a snake. Also, literally the seed of the serpent would be the hybrid humans that came about by the union of fallen angels with the daughters of men creating giants, or in the Hebrew Nephilim (Genesis 6:4). Figuratively, the seed of the serpent would be those who lived lives of unrepentant sin. Prophetically, Jesus would be the “Seed of the woman” who crushed the deadly venom or sin filled head of the serpent by providing the way for mankind to escape the death sentence from a righteous God. But the seed of the serpent or unrighteous men, would “bruise the heel” of the woman’s Seed, which occurred when the crucifixion nails were driven into each of Jesus’ heels. A Jewish tomb in Israel was discovered that contained the skeletal remains of a first century Jewish male with a crucifixion nail still imbedded in one of his heels (timesofIsrael.com & forbs.com). This is the only crucifixion nail ever found to date. The Romans kept the nails as they were used hundreds of times over the years. The skeletal remains of second crucified man was found in Italy who also had crucifixion nail holes in his heels (Newsweek, Crucified Skeleton Discovered in Italy, (June 8, 2018).

The term, “Seed of the woman” has continuously puzzled Jewish scholars. In ancient times as it was thought that the husband placed his or the seed into the woman who then incubated it for nine months. He provided the seed and she provided warmth and nutrients to the baby by way of her blood. Therefore, the prophetic term given by God “Seed of the woman” would have meant to Jewish scholars that the woman had a seed of her own without the help of her husband. This would mean that a virgin or Ha-alma in Hebrew and Parthenos in Greek, would give birth. Yet this was a physiological impossibility and totally against the laws of nature. To this day, Jewish scholars refuse to accept this obvious understanding of the word Ha-alma to mean virgin. Instead, they insist it only means a young girl. But if this was true, why would the prophet Isaiah state that the sign of the birth of the world’s Messiah would be that a young girl would give birth (Isaiah 7:14)? This happens every hour of every day in every country around the world. There is no sign in a young girl giving birth. But there is a tremendous sign in a virgin giving birth!

How Ancients Thought Babies Were Conceived vs How Jesus Was Conceived
The accepted ancient understanding of conception was that the man had the seed of the child. He puts the seed into the woman who only incubates the seed by providing warmth and nutrients in the form of her blood. Today we now know that this concept is completely wrong on

With this information in mind, we must now jump forward four thousand years to the Book of Luke. Here we learn that the “woman” mentioned by God in His prophecy four thousand years earlier has a name. The angel Gabriel appeared to a young engaged peasant girl named Mary and explained that she had been chosen by God to give birth to the long-awaited Messiah of Judea. But even Mary at the young age of thirteen or fourteen knew that this was an impossibility, because she was not yet married and thus, she did not have a husband from which to get a seed in order to help create this child the angel spoke of. This is why she literally questioned Gabriel as to how she, still a virgin, could possibly become pregnant without a seed from her husband Joseph after they were married. The angel explained that in her particular case, the Holy Spirit of God would cause her to become pregnant. This means that while Mary, like all women from Eve, carried twenty-three pairs of chromosomes in her egg, the Holy Spirit would provide the other twenty-three pairs of chromosomes to create the body and determine the sex of the child to be named Jesus.

Did you catch that, God provided the needed twenty-three pairs of chromosomes and therefore God is the biological father of Jesus (Luke 1:34-35). This in turn means that Jesus was half human and half divine. This is why Jesus could legitimately call himself the “Son of man” as He was partly from Mary who was a descendent of first man Adam. Yet, at the same time call Himself the “Son of God” as God was His actual biological father. This is why Jesus often referred to God using a Hebrew word abba that is best translated papa or daddy (Mark 15:34). This also means that any attempt to conclude what Jesus looked like without involving scriptural study is impossible. No doubt Jesus looked in many respects like a first century Jew by way of Mary who was in the direct lineage of David by way of Nathan his son. Thus, Jesus was a legitimate claimant to the throne of David. And through Mary, Jesus could remain genetically true to the direct blood line from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to King David (Matthew 1:1-17). However, He also had half of His chromosomes provided by God. While we cannot know how the chromosomes supplied by the Holy Spirit affected the genetic physical traits of Jesus on His Father’s side, we can consider how the blood lines or genetic traits of the ancient patriarchs through Mary’s bloodline could have affected Him. This is because scripture and ancient Jewish texts document many features of the patriarchs that are strikingly different from those of modern-day Middle Eastern Jews.

Therefore, our next step is to consider what scripture, Jewish literature and archaeology have to say about the physical look of the patriarchs and the sons and twelve tribes of Jacob up to the time of King David. Again, while Joseph of Nazareth was not Jesus’ biological father, Mary’s lineage shows that she was a direct descendent of King David through his son Nathan (Luke 1:30-33, 3:23-38, *3:31,34,36). Thus, Jesus would have genetically inherited many of the characteristics of his royal ancestry. Some documented physical traits of the patriarchs are as follows.

Laban the father of Jacob, has a name that means white. Esau, the twin of Jacob had reddish hair all over his body (Genesis 25:25). King David is said to have had reddish golden or strawberry blond hair (I Samuel 16:12, 17:42). The Book of Song of Songs contains a story in which the hero is white skinned with reddish hair (Song of Songs 5:10). Egyptian paintings of men from the Kingdom of Israel, depicts them as having reddish blond to brown hair with grey to blue eyes. The Book of Lamentations, which is attributed to the prophet Jeremiah, states that the royal and elite of Jerusalem were extremely white. And the Nile delta Hebrews called Libyans not from modern Libya are depicted on Egyptian monuments as blond headed with blue eyes. They were also referred to as Lebus which is derived from the word Rebu or the tribe of Ruben. Joseph, the son of Jacob also known by the name Israel, is described in the Midrash. This ancient Old Testament commentary describes him as looking like a “Germani ”. These were a people who lived in the far north and appeared very white or fair (Genesis Rabah 86:3). In the Talmud, another ancient commentary on the Old Testament, Joseph is described as having a face that was “pink like a rose” (Sota 36). He was also described as looking like his father Jacob. One Midrash states that the tribe of Simeon and Levi were very light complected individuals (Genesis Raph 98:3). A commentary on the Midrash states that most of the high priests from the tribe of Levi had reddish golden hair or strawberry blond.

While these descriptions would seem to fly in the face of the look of the modern-day Jews of Israel, one must take into consideration that today’s Jews are a mix of peoples that have returned to Israel from a two-thousand-year diaspora. They have come from dozens of countries in and around the Mediterranean area including Europe, Russia and the Americas. And, they have brought with them some genetic traits that are alien to those of ancient Israelites. Modern genetic studies show that the physical traits of the people of the far north having blond hair and blue eyes were present 8,000 years ago and today’s physical traits of Europeans were established 5,800 years ago. By the first century, the physical traits of Africans, Europeans, middle and far easterners were exactly the same as they appear today.

Therefore, to suggest that because of Israel’s approximation to Africa, the Jews looked like Africans is no less plausible than saying that because the Mediterranean directly connected Israel to Europe, the Jews looked European or that Israel as a part of the Middle East looked oriental.  You also have to consider that Israel has been conquered many times by many nations. And with each defeat, a massive number of Jews were deported from Israel as slaves and were replaced with people from other conquered lands. This was commonly seen as a way to destroy a culture thus reducing the chances of future nationalistic uprisings on the part of the conquered nation. Ancient Babylon and Syria both defeated Judea and used this method on them. In the Israeli region of Samaria, Jews intermarried with these immigrants only to have their offspring considered cursed by main stream Judaism.

It is clear that the Jews in the time of Jesus had acquired red, blond and strawberry blond hair as well as auburn, brown and black hair. It is clear that they had brown as well as blue and gray eyes. It is also clear that some were white complected while others were olive to dark brown. Even today it is estimated that approximately seventeen percent of Israeli Jews are red to blond headed with blue to gray eyes. And it is interesting to note that just because a person has red hair does not automatically mean they will have blue eyes.

The Book of Isaiah prophesied that the Messiah would appear “comely” (Isaiah 53:2). It is regularly noted that this term is to be taken as homely or without distinction when in fact the dictionary gives an exact opposite definition. The term means pleasing or attractive in appearance. Related words that can be used in place of comely are, disarming, elegant, easy and wholesome. The Book of Hebrews describes Moses using the Greek word asteios, which was translated as a “proper child” meaning comely, pretty or fair (Hebrews 11:23). The term comely can also be understood to mean that Jesus as the coming Messiah would be unpretentious as is the common man. As a comely man, He would not receive notoriety because He was born into a wealthy family, or He had unusually handsome features or because of His flamboyant oratory, or the fashionable clothing He wore. Instead, He would be followed simply because of the power of His words, His message of hope and God’s redeeming love for mankind (Matthew 24:35).

No one can currently state with authority how Jesus looked. But it is clear from the writings of John in the Book of Revelation that Jesus is currently in heaven sitting on the throne of God appearing the same way he last saw Him at His ascension. Only now He is in a resurrected and immortal state as opposed to the physical mortal body He had during His life here on earth (Revelation 5:5-7). Remember, John was shown events that had already happened in the future. A kind of coming attraction preview of the actual events to occur at the end of the final government of man. He not only saw the Jesus he had followed for 3.5 years while exiled on the Island of Patmos by Rome, but John also saw Him in human form sitting on the Throne God (Revelation 1:13-16, 5:1-7). He saw the saints who had been resurrected and raptured into heaven before the tribulation period (Revelation 19:6-7). He witnessed the Marriage of Christ to His bride the Church and was now no longer referred to the bride but instead as His “wife” (Revelation 19:7-9). John saw the actual Second Coming of Christ to the earth accompanied by an army of angels and the exact same resurrected saints he previously saw at the Supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19:11,14). He witnessed the destruction of all unbelievers on earth (Matthew 24: 39-44; Revelation 19:19-21). He saw Lucifer the originator of sin, bound for one thousand years (Revelation 20: 1-3). He saw the one-thousand-year reign of Christ on earth (Revelation 20:4-7) and the eventual removal of Satan, sin, death, the grave and hell or Sheol, from the earth (Revelation 20:10-15). Finally, he saw the earth purified and reconstituted by the fire of the Holy Spirit (Revelation 20:9, 21: 1-2; II Peter 3:7). This series of events then has already happened in the future thus, we have an absolute guarantee that the day will come when both the righteous and unrighteous shall all see Him as He was and still is (I John 3:2).

So, if you want to picture Jesus as a man with Mediterranean skin tones, black hair and brown eyed, go ahead. But you would be just as correct to picture Him as having light skin tones, auburn or reddish blond hair and blue or grey eyes. The choice is yours to make!

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