Where is there a rabbinical discussion or a mentioned in the TaNaKH about ethnic designation to mean "white" or "white person" or non-black person?

I am aware that there is an ethnic designation in regards to "black" or "black person" in our Hebrew word "Cush" or "Cushi".

Rashi, in Bamidbar - Numbers - Chapter 12, referenced, "Scripture teaches that everyone acknowledged her beauty just as everyone acknowledges a Cushite’s blackness. — [Tanchuma Tzav 13]"

In reverse, is there any reference anywhere that perhaps say something to the effect of, "just as everyone acknowledges a [xxx’s] whiteness"?

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    Not sure if I understand the q. Do you mean something like this mishnah (Nega'im 2:2)? – Oliver Jul 2 '18 at 6:29
  • @Oliver Thank you for this reference, "Germani" to mean "light-skinned person" in contrast to "Cushi", a "dark-skinned person". My follow-up questions to this would be: Is "Germani" a word in the TaNaKH that also means "light-skinned person"? This reference comes close to what I am looking for, if I get both an etymological and rabbinical source for what "Germani" really means and/or whether there are other ethnic words that also means "light-skinned person". – ninamag Jul 2 '18 at 6:59
  • Well, the definition of "Germani" is disputed; some say it's the name of a light-colored bone, others identify it as the nation of the biblical Gomer (or Germany). Yet, see Midrash here (86:3). – Oliver Jul 2 '18 at 7:32
  • @Oliver you wrote, "see Midrash (86:3)". I clicked on it, and I could not find any reference to "Germani". – ninamag Jul 2 '18 at 7:52
  • just as some background tabletmag.com/scroll/194226/the-curse-of-ham – rosends Jul 2 '18 at 10:52

In Ezekiel 27:6 it says:

אַלּוֹנִים֙ מִבָּ֔שָׁן עָשׂ֖וּ מִשּׁוֹטָ֑יִךְ קַרְשֵׁ֤ךְ עָֽשׂוּ־שֵׁן֙ בַּת־אֲשֻׁרִ֔ים מֵאִיֵּ֖י כִּתִּיִּֽים׃‏

From oak trees of Bashan They made your oars; Of boxwood from the isles of Kittim, Inlaid with ivory, They made your decks.

(As Sefaria translates it)

Rashi explains it to mean that that oars of boxwood covered with ivory with nails refers to the leaders of Tzor; both in beauty and in strength.

ואת קברניטה של צור המשיל לקרש של אשכרוע מצופה בשן ע''י מסמרים לנוי ולחוזק

That would seem to hint to them being of ivory complexion, especially since he uses the same term for ivory - אשכרוע - that the Mishna uses in Nega'im 2:2 where Rabbi Yismael uses the term to refer to an Arian complexion.

רַבִּי יִשְׁמָעֵאל אוֹמֵר, בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, אֲנִי כַפָּרָתָן, הֲרֵי הֵן כְּאֶשְׁכְּרוֹעַ, לֹא שְׁחוֹרִים וְלֹא לְבָנִים, אֶלָּא בֵינוֹנִיִּים.‏

Rabbi Yishmael says: Bnei Yisrael, may I be their atonement, behold they are like box-wood, not black and not white, but intermediate.

  • Interesting. I am glad you looked at my question in this way, too. I was looking for existing ethnic words, like Kushi, to mean "black". I was wondering, in part, if there are any ethnic words, like perhaps Midyani, to mean "white" (one person told me that once, but I have found no support for it.) – ninamag Jul 6 '18 at 15:21

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