Mitt Romney and a Mormon Priesthood Apology

On September 16, 2012 the Salt Lake Tribune published an editorial by R. B. Scott, a Massachusetts journalist and author of  “Mitt Romney: An Inside Look at the Man and His Politics.” In his editorial, Scott argues that the LDS Church has recently been “edging toward a formal apology” of the practice of barring African Americans from the Priesthood prior to 1978. Scott realizes that such an apology would help Romney in the current campaign, despite the fact that it would look like it was prompted by public opinion and would cast doubt on the revelatory base of Mormonism. Despite all of that, Scott argues that such an apology is warranted and overdue, and is therefore worth it.

I would offer my reasons in support for such an apology, and when and how such an apology might be offered. My perspective on the topic is shaped by my experience with Blacks and the priesthood on my mission in Brazil. In Brazil, I saw first hand the personal pain that this policy caused and why such an apology would be healthy. I served my mission in Northern Brazil in the late 1960’s. My mission headquarters were in Rio de Janeiro, and its borders extended north to the Caribbean countries. The land mass of my mission was 2/3 the size of the United States.

Brazil is a true melting pot— many races and nationalities have been intermarrying for hundreds of years in Brazil. I estimate that nine tenths of the people in my mission had some African ancestry. But according to church policy, anyone with any amount of Black ancestry was barred from the priesthood at that time. Unless persons of African ancestry persistently pursued us, we were instructed not to teach or baptize them. Bahia, the fourth most populous state in Brazil, was historically the center of the African slave trade in the country. (See map below.) It’s capital, Salvador, had millions of inhabitants when I was on my mission. But because interracial marriages had historically been occurring in Bahia for so long,  a larger proportion of its people had African ancestors. We did not have a single missionary in Bahia, although we had missionaries in the surrounding states.

Each new missionary was trained how to spot signs of racial identity in the face, hands and feet, looking at family pictures, and asking family racial origins when meeting new investigators. As far as I can tell, this was practiced uniformly throughout the Brazil North Mission. And these were unusually intelligent, compassionate and hard working missionaries.

As missionaries, we had soul-searching discussions about this policy of Blacks and the priesthood. Our mission president instructed us on it. He provided us with written statements from General Authorities about it. General Authorities of the Church visited us and interviewed us. We asked questions about the policy. There were times that I felt uncomfortable about the policy on Blacks and the priesthood. I had a companion that was ready to revolt because of it. There were times that many of us were genuinely embarrassed, and annoyed at the theological and practical gymnastics that this created. But, we somehow made peace with the policy and moved on to our hard and hectic lives of teaching.

I recall being deeply saddened when a group of young, enthusiastic Blacks came up to me and my companion and wanted to know about the church. I instantly loved them and their enthusiasm. I wanted to teach them the lessons. But instead, I followed mission instructions and gave them a card with the chapel address. I never saw them again. We could have revolted. We did not. It never occurred to me to do so. I saw the gospel through the simple lens of total obedience to God and his infallible servants, the prophets. God had a loving plan for all of his children. Who was I to question it?

After teaching investigators the 6 standard lessons (word for word), before an investigator could be baptized, we were required by mission policy to give them a special lesson on the “Lineage of Cain.” It was essentially a lesson about why Blacks, as possessors of the curse of Cain, couldn’t hold the priesthood. We essentially defended the ban on Blacks holding the priesthood on the sole basis that a loving God had commanded it.

The logic of that official, written lesson was that God loves all of his children equally, but that his gospel was delivered to different groups of people based on their spiritual preparation.  So, as the logic of the lesson went, the Jews received the priesthood first, then the Gentiles. Someday Blacks will be given the priesthood as well, as part of God’s plan. The lesson then had us directly question if the prospective member had any Black ancestry. If they did, they were told that they could be baptized, but could not hold the preisthood.

It was only after I returned from my mission that I threw out this doctrine from my personal beliefs.  After reading about how the church excommunicated an outspoken critic of the policy, I visited Lowell Bennion (a liberal Mormon educator) at his home in Millcreek, Utah. I asked if he thought it best to publically condemn the policy of Blacks and the priesthood. For him it was a political question. He hated the policy, but advised against public opposition. “If  you are excommunicated, you will lose all influence with the church. It is best to keep a low profile and work for change from within.”

I remember the genuine surprise and joy when hearing about the priesthood being granted to Blacks in 1978. I also remember that I even had greater surprise over a member of my ward who refused to go to church after the revelation was announced. He certainly represented a the small minority. But his actions made it clear that the policy banning Blacks from the priesthood was, at least for some, a shield for their own racism.

So we get back to the question at hand. Should the church apologize for its ban on the priesthood for Blacks? Absolutely!!! This is a policy that created enormous confusion, and pain for members of the church in Brazil. I saw the unease of missionaries who were trained to act against their natural moral instincts. It is a barrier to true compassion. An official apology would help.

But the apology is going to be more difficult than Scott anticipates. Scott thinks that the ban against Blacks holding the priesthood would be easy to renounce, because it began with Brigham Young. In a way, it was only made uniform and formalized by Young. Joseph Smith ordained Blacks to the priesthood. But he also set the stage for the ban by providing a canon of scripture stating that a dark skin is the sign of a curse from God.

In the Book of Mormon, the curse is the dark skin of Native Americans. 2 Nephi 5:21 in the Book of Mormon states that the dark skin of Native Americans is a divine curse to discourage intermarriage with white skinned races. In the Pearl of Great Price it is the African Americans who possess the curse of a dark skin. The policy of priesthood denial is therefore founded on Mormon scripture .  The standard missionary lesson in Brazil on the Blacks and the priesthood cited Abraham 1 in the Pearl of Great Price. Here is a slightly different section of the verse than was quoted in the missionary lesson:

“Pharaoh, being a righteous man . . .Noah, his father, . . blessed him with the blessings of the earth, and with the blessings of wisdom, but cursed him pertaining to the priesthood. Now Pharaoh, being of that lineage by which he could not have the right of the priesthood . . . through Ham. . .”

What we have here is the canonization of typical 19th century racial bigotry. By canonizing its worst racial setting, Mormons forfeited its progressive teachings on the elimination of poverty and destruction of class privilege. It now seeks to elect one of class privilege as president of the United States.

So should Mormonism offer its apology NOW to help Mitt Romney, as Scott proposes? Absolutely not. If the church were to apologize now, it will appear to be what it really is—-a political tactic to help Romney get elected. Apologize, yes, but only after the election. Apologize for this policy. But even then, this apology for the priesthood ban is not enough. By putting the whole blame on Brigham Young, we only hack at the branches of racism. It must also be accompanied by a denunciation of the racist words of the Nephites when condemning a dark skin as a curse of God, and of the pejorative remarks about Blacks and the priesthood by the narrator, Abraham, in the Pearl of Great Price. Only then will the root of evil be cut through. The teachings on skin color and race in Mormon scriptures are scientifically and morally untenable.  This does not require a rejection of scripture, just a revisioning of its meaning. Scripture is not so much the almighty word of God to  humans, as it is  the frail word of humans about God, with all our highest inspiration and our meanest human failings. A priesthood apology is insufficient.  Mormonism cannot be a universal religion, cannot be a truly compassionate religion, cannot be a truly great religion until it condemns the racism within its own scriptures.

I cannot control the Mormon Church and what it does. I cannot control Mitt Romney. But whether or not Mormon Church leaders apologize, I would like apologize to them for not standing up for people of color, for not sufficiently defending my neighbor as I was taught as a young Latter-day Saint. I deeply regret that I did not stand up for a principle higher than obedience to authority. It is a necessary, but by itself, a shallow moral principle. I apologize to the people of Brazil. Blacks and Native Americans deserve something better than this. Mormonism deserves something better than this. That is why an apology must come, along with a rejection of its basis in the canon.

Comments

Mitt Romney and a Mormon Priesthood Apology — 34 Comments

  1. The church has no more to apologize for than ancient Israel did for only giving the priesthood to the children of Aaron. The priesthood is not for man to control but comes from God. I don’t understand why blacks were denied the priesthood, but I am thankful that God saw it fit that the full blessings be available to all in our day!

  2. Daniel, the situation of the Levites is completely different than the priesthood ban. It is different for one family to have the priesthood and everyone being able to get the priesthood except one racial group (the Levites also didn’t get an inheritance of land like the rest of the tribes). It is not helpful to promulgate folklore like this. The recent church statement on racism denounced the folk explanations for the ban and was notable in not saying that the ban came from God.

    Mark, I agree with you that there should be an official apology for the priesthood and temple ban. However, I’m not sure about renouncing the scriptures you cited. I think it is a stretch to say that the Book of Abraham says that African Americans are cursed. It requires some jumps that were often made by Mormons but aren’t present in the text (for example, it never talks about Africans being cursed with black skin and people tend to conflate Cain, Cainan, and Canaan). I think it makes a difference in how you interpret it if you believe that it is an ancient text or not as well. Same thing with the Book of Mormon. Personally, I’m open to the idea that these passages show the racism of either ancient authors or Joseph Smith, but I think it would be rash for the church to renounce them right now.

  3. I concur. What’s needed is more attentive and exacting exegesis that points out the holes in racist readings of the texts in order to counteract the duct tape of racist speculation that holds together such falsely scripturally-based prejudices.

  4. Mapman,
    I am simply relying on an old missionary lesson for a reading of Abraham 1 on the priesthood. I have never done a careful exegesis of the passage. I would love to see a better reading, if there is one. Any thoughts?

    Mark Thomas

  5. Mueller’s talk suggests that it’s ok that early Mormons believed that a black skin is a curse from God, and that Brigham Young approved of benign slavery in Utah. I do not judge early Mormons. They had subtle and mixed views on race. Let’s face it, Abraham Lincoln’s views on race would be considered racist today. It was a different world. Neverthless, we still have scripture we must read today. So I repeat myself—– the assertion in Mormon scripture that a dark skin is a curse from God is both scientifically and morally untenable, however subltely it may be shaded, or simpathetically people of color may be viewed.

  6. Did you read the article on treatment of race in LDS scripture? You can only connect the dots if you come to the scripture with racist myths and assumptions in play. If not, it’s harder to make a racist argument.

  7. Based on your logic, we would be forced to conclude that the Church sponsored missionary lesson used in Brazil is a racist interpretation of Abraham 1, since it was the church that interpreted this passage as a ban against Blacks holding the preisthood as the descendents of the cursed Cain. That is not my reading. It is the Church sponored reading used by missionaries. The Church connected the dots in its own missionary lesson. The logical conclusion of your argument is that the church is racist. But I don’t buy your argument.

  8. I would argue that the leaders who designed the lesson in Brazil had inherited frameworks rooted in common non-LDS justifications of racism (mixed with later LDS elaborations), passed down through folklore and tradition, which allowed them to read racial discrimination into scriptures where that conclusion is not logically supported and is often highly problematized.

    (Note, you can hold racist beliefs unconsciously.)

  9. I would highly recommend that you visit http://blacksinthescriptures.com. It is a website created by some LDS African-American brethren who discuss through a series of lectures that skin color really refers to spiritual righteousness in LDS canon and does not represent a person’s outward skin color. And they do it by only using the scriptures. It’s very fascinating.

  10. Darius Gray, a prominent black American Mormon who was heavily involved in racial issues in the church in the 1960s and 70s and features prominently in the video documentary “Nobody Knows – the Untold Story of Black Mormons” has repeatedly said he feels there was never solid basis for the racial ban in the first place. He’s quite adamant that an informed reading of both the Book of Mormon and the Pearl of Great Price does not support the racial ban at all.

    In fact, it’s highly disputed whether the Book of Mormon itself even explicitly labels skin color as a curse at all.

  11. The LDS Church has nothing to apologize for. Its members have nothing to apologize for, although individually they are free to do so if that is their wish. The Lord has spoken and the ban was lifted. It is the Lord’s Priesthood and the Lord is perfectly capable of commanding the apology or leaving things as they are. Perhaps you should take it up with the Almighty and His Son as the prophets have done so many times before? Finally, if the blacks or any other person is hurt or doesn’t join the LDS Church because of the ban that is no longer then they are condemning themselves. Wouldn’t be the first time either in scripture or history that fleshy feelings have kept someone from salvation. The only reason to apologize is PR and I doubt very much that those who were offended by the ban will change their hearts and minds if an apology was given. The LDS Church would be wasting their time and alienating far more who believe than those who don’t.

    [[Jettboy, the crossed-out lines in this comment violate our blog rules. Please keep in mind: “questioning or calling out the personal righteousness or faithfulness of a contributor or commentator is not appropriate.” This includes generalized condemnations of everyone who thinks or feels differently than you do. Thanks, -Admin]]

  12. Jettboy, I sort of doubt that the number of Mormons who would be upset by the LDS Church apologizing would outnumber the number of others who would welcome it, or simply be indifferent to it.

    And anyway, upsetting the membership shouldn’t be the first priority in making these decisions anyway. It certainly wasn’t Joseph Smith’s first priority.

  13. Seth R. what would be the purpose of the apology? The negatives outweigh the positives by what I think is five to one odds. It is doing something that will have negligible effect on those it would be meant for; non-Mormons and a few disgruntled members. The opposite is what I consider more likely; upset enough of the core believers and cause theological damage to them. This results in the LDS Church losing even more active participants.

  14. Actually, I think the apology should be done for the benefit of the believing membership – regardless of whether it causes a stumbling block for some. Ignorance is a disservice to those trapped in it, so is prejudice.

    That said, I think the main reason the General Authorities haven’t said anything about the ban is mainly because they sincerely don’t know why it was instituted and why it was rescinded in the manner it was. They don’t know – so they don’t feel at liberty to offer any apology.

  15. I have come to the conclusion that I didn’t quite represent R. B. Scott’s article on Romney, Blacks and the priesthood correctly. I do not think that he is tryiong to advocate that the Church apologize for its ban on Blacks and the priesthood. He simply seems to be saying that such an aploogy is overdue and might be useful for the Mormon cause and Romney candidacy. He quotes President Hinckley speaking to Mike Wallace—it seems to me that the Prophet came close to an apology. Read Scott’s article and see what I mean. I found the artcle useful and quite thought provoking. You can find a longer version of the Salt Lake Tribune Article by R. B. Scott in politisphere.net. Also, I have discovered that R. B. SCott recently finished a novel that deals with this subject—“Closing the Circle–Trapped In The Everlasting Mormon Moment.” I have not read it yet. I plan to. Also see ronaldbscott.blogspot.com for more on his books.

  16. Jettboy,
    Why apologize? My parents served two missions in Africa. Many Black Africans came up to them and said how ugly they looked because they had a black skin from a curse from God. They complimented my parents on their beautiful, white skin. My parents were horrified. They had to work hard to convince them that they were beautful. But my parents could not tell them that Mormonism does not teach that a dark skin is not a divine curse. That would not be telling the truth.

    My neighbor growing up in Utah, Frankie Alt, was black. I was playing with him in first grade at school. He accidently bumped into a girl on the playground who started streaming “He touched me!!! He touched me!!! [The Negro] touched me!!!!” as if she had been contaminated with a plague. I didn’t understand. Frankie looked at the ground—-humiliated. Years later I invited Frankie to a stake conference in Holladay, Utah. We were in junior high school. He was not a Mormon. Joseph Fielding Smith was speaking. I wanted to see if Frankie might meet the apostle and want to join the church. After the meeting, I took Frankie up to meet Elder Smith, who gave Frankie a cold stare and said nothing. I told Elder Smith that Frankie was not a member and was investigating our church. Elder Smith was completely silent while looking straight at us. I was too young to understand why an apostle would have no interest in talking to Frankie. I wanted Frankie to join the church.

    It did not go unnoticed that we did not talk to Blacks on the streets of Brazil— we were told not to, from Salt Lake City. Brazilians who knew nothing of our Church, noticed. They knew nothing of Mormonism, but came up and called us racists. We certainly were enaged in racial profiling while tracting and teaching.
    Of that there is no doubt. This has nothing to do with priesthood. This is selecting for church membership.

    When one of my converts in Taguatinga, Brazil, named Sabatiao, did his genealogy after he was baptized, he found out that he had black ancesters, and he would not be able to hold the priesthood. Sabatiao was very, very worthy. He had a joyous and sweet personailty. But he was devastated when he found out that he could not hold the priesthood. His life would never be the same. Because of his ANCESTRY. My heart broke when he told me. Because of his ancentry??? His life would be crushed because of his ancestry. And you claim that Frankie and Sabstiao and the people of Africa do not deserve an apology from Mormonism? That they are unworthy of an apology? That adds insult to injury.

    If the Church is too afraid to heal these wounds, I will stand up by myself. Sabastiao, I apologize for not standing up for you. You people of Africa, I apologize to you for allowing us to convince you that you are not beautiful because of your “curse.” Frankie Alt, wherever you are, I apologize for the enormous insult on the playground that I could see humiliate you. I apologize that my beloved, and admired Mormon leader aparently engaged in racial profiling when selecting to whom he would speak and encourage to join our church. I apologize for the racial profiling that I and other missionaries enaged in for years at the direction of the church headquarters in selecting who we would teach and baptize. If no one else in this Church will—I will—I do apologize for all the meanness and cruelty and the humilation that this teaching has caused while I sat and watched and did nothing.

  17. “And you claim that Frankie and Sabstiao and the people of Africa do not deserve an apology from Mormonism? That they are unworthy of an apology?”

    Yes, because its in the past. Things have changed. Let bygones be bygones. Get over it. Move on. I’m not sure what other phrases I could use. I am moved by revelations and actions, not by apologies. True repentance is about making a change and not saying magic words. It should be enough that we allow the Priesthood to worthy members and our prophets teach us not to judge by race or treat others badly. If it takes more than that, there is an ego that needs humility.

    “If the Church is too afraid to heal these wounds”

    Yes right, more like too smart to get into the “apology” business to satisfy the demands of a fickle and fallen world. I take the Lord at His word and not some lame statements that are going to be picked apart because they don’t go far enough or other such nonsense. Demands will never be satisfied and it will be foolish to try. The apology won’t be about righting a wrong. Its about sucking up and bending over, showing weakness and lowering the glory of God and His Church.

    “I will stand up by myself”

    As we all have a right to do as individuals. Send that note to Africa. Have it printed in newspapers. Get others to sign it if they so wish. Let it be truly and honestly individual just like missionary work. That way its a choice how much and if there is an apology, without saddling a condemnation on the whole membership and putting Divinity into question.

  18. I think Brother Faulkner said it best, Jettboy: “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”

    The “get over it” answer in response to an historical question is facile at best and arrogant at worst.

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  20. I’ve read all of the comments & the article itself…do I think the church should apologize, no. I don’t think the church apologizing would bring others to the gospel or change how many members feel.
    However, jetboy, it is obvious you are a white member. You’re arrogance is horrible. It’s easy to be born in

  21. stu, I disagree with Jettboy’s opinions here.

    But is there any point in playing the “you’re a white guy” card?

  22. Whoa! The writer made a comment in the second half of his above article that Joseph Smith was the first to mention in scripture that people received a skin of blackness as a mark that they were cursed. However that’s NOT true. “skin of blackness” is mentioned over and over in the Old Testament and was obviously a symbolism, in fact a Hebrew Idiom meaning gloom.

    People don’t change color because they are wicked or righteous but they do become miserable. “Skin of blackness” is how it was expressed back in ancient times and that should be a testimony to anyone that the Book of Mormon is a true record that was misinterpreted by Brigham Young and others during a very heated time in American history.

    The Doctrine and Covenants (scriptural canon) of the church of Jesus Christ of LDS told the doctrine right from the get go: that ALL MEN should receive the priesthood (D&C 36:4&5) and the only ones who should not are those who unrepentedly persecute the church (D&C 121:16-19).

  23. Joyce, the Old Testament verses in question seem to be images of the skin’s deterioration from heat, illness, or famine. This doesn’t appear to fit the Book of Mormon usage.

  24. Hi Jettboy,

    I used to believe as you do. If it were easy for people and nations to get over the past, we wouldn’t have the social ills and wars we have today. In fact, by your logic the truth and reconciliation commissions that are leading to so much healing in South Africa which has, like the US, had such a tragic history of racial bigotry and destruction of the human soul, would be useless. Instead they have been an incredible source of healing for both perpetrators of racially motivated violence and victims. I am of African American and Native American decent, I am a strong, active member of the church who converted with a sad question in my heart about how the church could allow racist teachings to dictate policy. The apology means a lot to me, and I am not, as you have dismissed so many of us who want an apology, a “disgruntled member”. My family will not join the church because of the past experiences with white members taking it upon themselves, unsolicited, to tell them that because they are black that they were not worthy of the priesthood and they and their children (including me) would never amount to anything in this world or the next. I was not born in the covenant because of this and will not enjoy that privilege in this lifetime. Though I am now sealed to my husband and five children, they will not have their grandfather sealed to them in this life. You have no idea the pain that this ban caused.

  25. Joyce,
    I do not recall claiming that Joseph Smith was the first to state in scripture that skin of blackness was a mark that a race was cursed. Aside from that, it appears that you think that the “skin of blackness” is ONLY a metaphorical statement in the Book of Mormon. I agree with Christpher Smith that there is often a degree of literalness in the Book of Mormon phrase that is not in the Hebrew Bible, although there are metaphorical overtones among the Nephites, at times, when discussing a dark skin. The Book of Mormon is a text written from the point of view of the defense of the underclass. Though it has an untenable view of skin color, it advocates for people of color.

    I think that the Book of Mormon has a very mixed and complex view of race and skin color. I have treated that issue elsewhere and need not address it here. In any case, I am glad to hear that you are an advocate of a universal priesthood. You represent on that score the real core of Mormonism’s concern for the downtrodden.

    Because of our recent racial profiling in missionary work and denial of the Priesthoood to Blacks, Mormonism is in a catchup mode, compared to the rest of the country. We have never been in the forefront of human rights or civil rights. Believe me, I have met people that will not move to Utah because they think it is a racist state, a state that will not uphold civil rights in general. The Utah Legislature fought for years to stop the movement for a Martin Luther King holiday. Elder Benson announced in Genereal Confernce in 1965 that the civil rights movement was a communist conspiracy. And until recently, Bruce R McConkie’s Mormon Doctrine with all of its racial overtones was being published by the church, even though several apostles had vigorously denounced parts of it as early as 1958.

    There were right wing fanatics in Mormonism then, as there are now. I think that the bulk of Mormons are compassionate people of good will to all. But we have never aplogized nor confronted the right wing fanatics among us. Until we do, we deserve the world’s suspicion about our racial and human rights motives, however underserved thay may be. That is why I would love to hear a bold voice of compassion in Mormonism—including an apology —-as part of a reclaiming of our history of radical concern for the rights of the downtrodden.

  26. Mark, I think you’re right that the LDS Church is in a sort of catch-up mode on this issue. But I also think it’s easy to overstate the case too.

    The LDS Church does not have the best track record on racial issues. But let’s also remember that it doesn’t have the worst record either. No LDS bishops were reading from the scriptures while blacks were being lynched in oak trees overhead. The KKK never took hold in Utah like it took hold everywhere else. Blacks were safer in Utah than in most parts of the US, and incredibly – there’s never been a time in the history of the LDS Church when a black person could NOT walk freely into a Mormon Sunday service.

    In fact, on the topic of being open to racial integration of mere membership (leaving aside the issue of priesthood), the LDS Church has one of the best records on integration in the nation. In fact, the LDS Church has a better stance on integration now, than a lot of modern Protestant churches – of whom our current President Obama noted that Sunday still contains the “most segregated hour in America.”

    So, while the LDS Church has certainly, as far as I can tell, “done wrong,” that shouldn’t obscure what it’s done right.

  27. Christopher wrote in comment #24 “Joyce, the Old Testament verses in question seem to be images of the skin’s deterioration from heat, illness, or famine. This doesn’t appear to fit the Book of Mormon usage.”

    Christopher you’re wrong on that. Have you actually seen pictures of anorexics turning black? Take a look at the OT footnotes. My LDS scriptures say “skin of blackness” is a Hebrew idiom meaning gloom.

    Also take a look at Lamentations 4:7-8 (it’s helpful to read 1-8 because you’ll get the whole context and see how the loss of their purety and strength was brought on by wickedness).

    7 Her Nazarites were purer than snow, they were whiter than milk, they were more ruddy in body than rubies, their polishing was of sapphire:

    8 Their visage is blacker than a coal; they are not known in the streets: their skin cleaveth to their bones; it is withered, it is become like a stick.

  28. Joyce, that verse actually underscores the point that the image here is of deterioration of the skin. “Gloom” is not going to shrivel your skin or make you unrecognizable in the streets. Further, black skin here is contrasted with the ruddy skin of the previous verse, an image of good health. This even clearer from the context of the chapter. I don’t see how you could get from the context that this is an image of wickedness or gloom.

    As for why blackened skin is used in the Hebrew Bible as an image of starvation/deterioration, it could be because Vitamin B3 deficiency causes dermatitis. As one article on starvation explains, “The parts of the body that are exposed to the sun turn reddish and eventually turn black, especially on the neck.”

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