No, Black People Did Not Descend From Ham

Noah curses Ham

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A TALE OF 2 CURSES AND 1 RACIST HISTORY

This morning when I woke up to get ready for work, I got sidetracked by reading T.C.’s post on an outrageous claim made by a Dallas bible church pastor.  While I like the idea of local pastors talking about race relations, being open and honest, I found T.C.’s quote troubling,

“It blesses me to know that Jesus had black in His blood, because this destroys any perception of black inferiority once and for all.”  (Oneness Embraced, p. 122, emphasis added)

Sit back. Think for a second. See something wrong? Did you catch it? Jesus has “black” in his blood, which means “blacks” do not have to see themselves as inferior. And this is exactly where the problem begins for me. The notion of “Blackness” is a social construct, and so to read this construct (this ideal) into scripture, does more harm than good. In fact, Blackness was created in a dualistic opposition to a Whiteness, with all the cosmological baggage that comes with, good versus evil, criminal versus innocent, sexual predator versus virginal. Evans is not alone in his understanding of race and Jesus’ blood either, in fact, in the 1970s, a “radical” black preacher named Albert Cleage claimed Jesus was of African descent, and he advocated race separation. In fact the racist notion that Africans are descended from Ham has a long line of tradition ranging from Medieval Times to even prior to the Civil War, when in 1859, Jefferson Davis defended slavery as “the importation of the race of Ham” since Africans were destined to be the slaves of whites (page 29) according to Dwight Callahan’s The Talking Book, African Americans and the Bible.

The curse of Cain, which actually comes before the Curse of Ham, was sacralized into an eternal decree meant for oppression. In the Book of Mormon 2nd Nephi 5:21-23, it says, “[God] caused the cursing to come upon them [dark skinned peoples], yea even a sore cursing, because of the iniquity…. the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them. Cursed shall be the seed of him that mixeth with their seed.” (page 26) ; but this all starts with the old tradition of being as “black as Cain.” Thus, Cain is the guilty, criminal murderer, and Abel, the innocent righteous man. Two humanities to promote one law and order.

As far as the curse of Ham goes, rabbinical tradition saw the curse as a response to Ham’s sexual perversion with his drunken father (28) while through the centuries the story began to be more and more racialized. Pro-slavery hermeneutics also used Leviticus 25, not as a form of Jubilee, but as an endorsement of their racist business enterprise –Leviticus 25:44-46 (84). Furthermore, the notion that Noah’s three sons are the forebears of the “Major Three races” is bound up with colonial interpretations; it is not a “literal” reading of the text, but a heavily racialized one. Episcopal priest James Theodore Holly (black) in his ” The Divine Plan of Human Redemption In Its Ethnological Developments” argued that the sons of Ham would overtake the sons of Japeth (white Europeans) (page 158-159). This sonship, however, is not purely biological or natural, but it is imagined. This is the problem with reading Noah’s ark and the flood as a universal flood that destroyed all of the world: it provokes the worst in our racial imaginations. I think this is the vast importance of historical criticism, as I have learned to perhaps see the Great Flood as one of many floods that happened in the ancient Near East.

Anyhow, the case is that it is Ham’s son, Canaan, that receives the punishment and not Ham himself directly. (btw, whatever happened to that Individual Responsibility that Ezekiel preaches about in exile– chapter 18–makes me wonder if the story of Ham is a product for the Israelite leadership to justify their domination of Canaan, eh?). I doubt that the purpose of “Old Testament Genealogies” is for Christians to hijack them and transform them into discussions on race. In fact, in the Hebrew Bible, Shem is a representative so to speak of the Jews, written in the “post-exilic Priestly tradition” to draw significance to the nationality of the Judeans and Israelites (page 134) according to Stony the Road We Trod: African American biblical Interpretation, editted by Cain Hope Felder. 1st Chronicles 2:1-55 explicitly says that Shem is the first of the people of God [laos tou theou in the LXX]. The story of the other two sons are meant to be foils for a nation striving to gain back its pride through the literature of its scribal ruling class ala, Ezra and Nehemiah. In fact, during exile, it is the beginning of the modern day racist scope of the curse of Ham, when, in the Babylonian Talmud, it says that Ham was “smitten in his skin” and punished along the dogs and ravens– i.e., have black skin (147). The Documentary hypothesis aids in our quest for the purpose of the curse of Ham text because it exposes the trajectories of at least two post-exilic theologies, one of the priestly class and one of the prophetic nature (Deuteronomist, sometimes, like Jeremiah).

 

All of this to say this: Not all black people are descendents of the Cushites, for not all blacks are from Ethiopia or Egypt; in fact, do not historians point to Western Africa as where the enslaved African trade happen? Where is Western Africa in all of this? It’s a rhetorical question. The point being is that it hardly matters in the first place. Africa as a Continent is a construct itself, united only by economic and military imposition of Western Colonialism.

If we understand race as something as so simply as that which comes down from a bloodline, we are falling prey into biological determinism in which our stories are trapped in the false genealogies, histories, and stereotypes that come with that understanding of race. It is not a biblical way of viewing race, that Tony Evans and the like are promoting, but a very philosophical one, almost as old as Social Darwinism itself.

If empire is what gave birth to the understanding that black people come from Ham, I hardly doubt it will be what will liberate us from the racism that is promoted by that very same hermeneutic.

I could not agree more with Joel on this, or for that matter, James McGrath

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44 thoughts on “No, Black People Did Not Descend From Ham

  1. T.C. R

    Rod,

    I read with great enthusiasm. While you’ve debunked much of what Dr. Evans has argued, you have really provided no answers. Perhaps this was your intention.

    Reply
  2. J. K. Gayle

    Rod,

    I think your post here really does provide answers:

    “In fact, Blackness was created in a dualistic opposition to a Whiteness, with all the cosmological baggage that comes with, good versus evil, criminal versus innocent, sexual predator versus virginal.”

    This debunks, deconstructs, what Dr. Evans has latched on to as a given.

    To move forward with your answers is to show what tends to happen with constructed dualities. What tends to happen with Western, Aristotelian binary thinking is this:

    whenever there are such divisions constructed, one side of the polarity is invariably touted as naturally superior to the other.

    To drive the duality into Jesus is to impose a hierarchy; examples:

    he’s EITHER white (naturally superior; and all the “white” people said, “Amen!”)

    OR he’s black blooded (“thank God,” says the “black” man; “I’m not so low after all, but even if I am, I have Jesus on my side“);

    he’s EITHER God in his penis-circumcised male body (“He’s the head of the church just like I am your head, honey,” says the husband reading the “Bible” to his wife in the 21st century)

    OR he’s the submissive personality in the God-head, in the Father-Son relationship (“See, honey, you need to follow Jesus’s example and submit to me because ontologically Jesus is lesser and willing to be submissive to his Father Superior just like you are the weaker vessel and ought to be submissive to me your Husband Superior. We’re really equal and all. Please don’t worry about serving me day and night because we’re ontologically equal. This is biblical womanhood and biblical manhood and biblical patriarchy through and through. So, just do it.” Again, that husband to his wife.)

    What you do in this post approaches what Toni Morrison does (and has to do) in her book, Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination. It may be worth our remembering how she opens:

    “These chapters put forth an argument for extending the study of American literature into what I hope will be a wider landscape. I want to draw a map, so to speak, of critical geography and use that map to open as much space for discover, intellectual adventure, and close exploration as did the original charting of the New World — without the mandate for conquest. I intend to outline an attractive, fruitful, and provocative critical project, unencumbered by dreams of subversion or rallying gestures at fortress walls.

    I would like it to be clear at the outset that I do not bring to these matters solely or even principally the tools of a literary critic.”

    Your reference to “empire” as you end your post reminds me of Morrison’s beginning here. And, all who’ve read on what she wrote know how ruthless she is, despite her initial and clever disavowal of the “mandate for conquest.” She says, upfront, that she’s also leaving behind principally the tools of the literacy critic as she works as an author as a critic. It’s brilliant stuff. And necessary. And gives answers by asking questions, by exposing the binary, “either/ or,” hierarchies, which are merely and only constructs of would-be conquerors.

    Reply
    1. Ken

      This is another lie put forth by these so called Christians. This Jesus never existed in the new testement. In Isaiah chapter 7 Ahaz king of Judah was being threatened by Syria and Isreal. Isreal had defected from the kingdom after the death of Solomon. Ahaz got scared after he was told of the threat. God instructed Isaiah to go and talk to Ahaz and tell him not to fear and be quiet. Then Isaiah told Ahaz to ask God for a sign, that god was going to be their to protect Judah form any attack. Ahaz said he was not going to tempt the Lord. Therefore Isaiah told Ahaz these words. ” Hear ye now O house of David, is it a small thing for you to weary men, but wii ye weary my God also. Therefore, the Lord himself shall give you a SIGN’ Behold a virgin or Almah shall conceive and bear a son and shall call his name Immanuel. Buter and honey shall he eat that he may know to refuse the evil and choose the good. FOR BEFORE THE CHILD SHALL KNOW TO REFUSE THE EVIL AND CHOOSE THE GOOD, THE LAND THAT THOU ABHOREST SHALL BE FORSAKEN BY BOTH OF HER KINGS. the two kings Isaiah was talking about was Rezin, king od Syria and Pekah the son of Remaliah. The word Virgin is the word almah in Hebrew. That word means covering. or vailed one. She being of age to marry. the other interesting point is that the Syrians and Isreal was attacked by Assyria in 732 BCE. Assyria wa an ally to Judah. this child Immanuel was born during the time of this conquest in 732. Chexk out isaiah 8:18; I and the children you have given me are for signs in Judah and Israel. See 2 kings 15; 21-30. this will tell you that these two kings died during an attack by Assyria. So this Immanuel was alive during the time of this conquest. Butter and honey shall he eat. the Romans conquered Judah some 700 years later and this Immanuel was not around.

      Reply
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  6. Reggie

    This issue, is something that I’ve given much though to
    Since, I was a preteen, I have to admit, it’s made me
    Very angry at times, I couldn’t understand why God
    Would allow a curse to be on a entire race of people? I finally
    rationalized was it was how those who sought to
    Enslave Blacks used as an excuse to commit the
    atrocities they did. But I still don’t understand why the white race
    Seems to dominate most of the world?

    Reply
    1. Ken

      Please read Genesis 25-27; Esau gave up his birth right to Jacob. Esau and his descendents were to submit and serve Jacob. Esau would not follow God’s commandments. But Jacob did.Esau was told he would live by the sword.

      Reply
      1. Ken

        Also read Deuteronomy 28: 1-68. the first 15 verses talk about the blessings of obedience while the last part 16-68 describe the curses. In the 68th verse it states and I will bring you back to Egypt in ships (Egypt) being the house of bondage. And you shall be sold as slaves, male and female and no man will be able to buy you or buy your freedom>

        Reply
        1. lilliana

          Sorry,living in Mesopotamia doesn’t mean one is black,and I do not remember the bible mentioning Abraham’s skin colour.In fact I do not remember any skin colour mentioned.
          If I’m not mistaken,the words said by God were directed to the children of Israel telling them that they’d be scattered and sold as slaves to all the corners of the world.You have mentioned that the Israelites are the Ashkenazi,which I understand are the EuropeansBlack people were also sold as slaves,by Europeans,and this contradicts the scriptures.
          According to the bible,the Israelites were slaves in Egypt.Does that mean the the white people were also slaves of the back people,the nation doomed to be slaves,themselves?(as you have insisted that Egyptians were also the sons of Ham,and were black.)
          Not all black people are from Ethopia,Egypt and Lybia.I feel the statement about black people being the descendants of Ham is just an excuse to continue oppressing them.

          Reply
      2. RodtRDH Post author

        Wow, you are so reading the Bible wrong this is hilarious. The descendents of Esau are the Edomites. The Edomites were to have good relations with Israel. HISTORY FAIL! BIBLE FAIL! Genesis 25, 36, Deuteronomy 23.

        THEEND.

        Reply
      3. lilliiana

        That/s so funny how you interprete the bible.I can still remember the scriptures while I was at primary school.I will always remember that Essau was very hairy while Jacob was not.That doesn’t mean Essau was black and Jacob was white,as you think.Jacob stole his elder brothers blessings.Essau receiving a curse does not mean he was black

        Reply
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  8. azi

    If black people are not of the Hamitic line then where did they come from? If you actually read Genesis it does state the nations of descendants linked to Ham that settled Arabia and Africa. Its funny you can use the Bible to justify your point of view relative to Shem but allegorically dismiss it as it pertains to lay out the foundation of Africans. *East or West on the continent, there is a thing called migration, nations, states, tribes throughout history were mobile and as a consequence spread their cultures throughout the ancient world.

    Reply
    1. RodtRDH Post author

      Sure I will tell you where black people come from.

      The idea of being black is a social construct, like I said in my piece above, learn to read. Plus, not all blacks are descended from the few African countries mentioned in later chapters in Scripture.

      And I have no idea what you mean by “allegorically dismiss” is that like a new term now?

      Reply
  9. lilliana

    Good discussion,but this Ham being black is not mentioned in the bible.It is also very confusing,how one man,can have different raced children.Besides,no black nation is mentioned in the bible.I have tried for ages to research how do blacks connect with Noah’s drama,but could not get the facts.
    Are we assuming these people are the descendents of Ham,because,we want to label them as a cursed nation just because of the colour of their skin?In the bible no colour is mentioned,so who said there was a better colour than the other?It’s all people’s ideas
    Noah’s descendants went to alll countries of this world.In Africa,only Ethopia and Egypt is mentioned.Does it mean Southern Central and West Africa is not genetically involved to anyone in the Bible?So ,where does all this come from?

    Reply
    1. RodtRDH Post author

      You are right Liliana. Race, as a social construct “it’s all people’s ideas” and how they have chosen to read the Bible. And your point about Central and West Africa is exactly my point, American black slaves were from these areas, and not Ethiopia and Egypt as such. The idea Blacks are from Ham is not historical to begin with. Its about racist ideology.

      Reply
    2. Ken

      The land of Cush is Ethipoia. Futhermore, Phut is Egypt, and Mizrain is Lybia. Shinar, Babel, Ninevah all of these cities are located in the land of Shem. Shem was and is a black man. The Japhites are descendents of the Caucasoid race. The so called Jews, they are Ashkenazi’s or descendents of Gomer. One of the sons of Japhet. They did not receive the promise of Abraham by Yah. They are Esau’s bloodline. the Amalekites, Edomites, MOabites, Amorites, Hittites, Gebosites, Tyre, Sidon all of these nations are from the tribe of Japhet. Read Joel chapter 3 Psalms 83 or and Psalms 137. Also Ezekiel 35 and 36. They are the ememies of Yah and he has promised to destroy them for their destruction of His inheritance. Judah and Israel. Read Isaiah 42, we are in the book. Whites know it and the Christians have done a pretty good job of disguising the whole thing. Read Daniel 11: 36-39,where he Daniel talks about a man who will anvance his kingdom with the “god of fortress”. Constintine the Great did that. but Gabriel the angel describe him as one who would change times and laws. The Hebrews never worshipped on Saturday or Sunday. Saturday was the Sabbath. Constintine change the day of worship to Sunday . Nicean Creed. 325 AD. Check it out!

      Reply
      1. RodtRDH Post author

        You are off rocker, #numerouno, #numerodos, learn to spell: Constantine! CONSTANTINE!!

        You are proving to be a racist anti-Semite and anti-Judaic polemicist. And uninformed on this topic.

        Reply
    3. Ken

      You are mistaken. The bible describes the Children of Isreal as the descendents of Abraham. Abraham was a black man.he lived in Mesopotamia. His father served in the court of Nimrod. the Children of Israel have been scattered to the four winds, just as God said he woudl do, because of our disobedience to His Laws, commandments, statutes and judgements. He told Abrahan in Genesis 15: Know of a surerity that thy seed shal be a stranger in a land that is not thiers.and they shall afflict them four hundred years. And that nation whom they shall serve will i judge. History has recorded that the first Hebrews to arrive in the Americas was at Jamestown Virginia in the years between 1607 and 1619. We are in the year 2013. therfore that nation whom they shall serve is being judged. It is called in Jeremiah 50-51, the Daughter of Babylon. The Americans said that Sadaam Hussein was trying to rebuild Ancient Babylon. Hoewever, that never occured because of the Mystery Babylon which has been built off of the sweat and blood of slaves…Hebrew slaves. The Esau’s descendents are doing just as he planed them to do. Whites are scared as hell, they going out buying all kinds of weapons but the Christians say no weapons formed against me shall prosper.they also say the weapons of our warfare are not carnal.but mighty through God. Well, if they have so much trust in God, then why the ries in the sale of weapons. Ezekiel 35; said, “As i live saith the Lord, I will preparethee unto blood and blood shall pursue thee; sith thou hast not hated blood, even blood shall pursue thee”. its all in the Book, if you know what your looking for.

      Reply
  10. lilliana

    Does that mean the Arabs,Africans,the Babylonians,the Canaanites,The Jews and the Greeks of Crete are related because they are the descendents of Ham?Ican understand with the Ethopians and the Egyptians because of their features and straight hair.But the sub-Saharan,the West Africans look very different.I’m not sure anyone has got the facts based on genetic proof

    Reply
    1. RodtRDH Post author

      Exactly, Liliana, for people who claim that the Curse of Ham is about Black people, it’s not about having “genetic proof” but having a proof-text to re-inforce their racist beliefs and policies like slavery and segregation.

      Reply
      1. lilliana

        Thanks RodtRDH,this has been troubling me for years,I have searched from the bible,googled,but found no answers.Thinks to this blog which I came across last night and it’s a blessing to be in a discussion like this

        Reply
      2. lilliana

        Yes RodtRDH,people have used this ideology to oppress the black people for ages.They had made everyone believe Blacks are the most inferior beings in this planet.I feel that religion has caused a lot of trouble.Religious people are the ones that promoted racism.How could God create cursed people?if you create something,you always want it to be perfect.How a father can curse his own child,is beyond understanding.It’s alleged that Ham didn’t cover his father’s nakedness,but instead,callled his other brothers to do so.His son Canaan ,a mere child received a curse for that.I feel that Noah blamed other people for his own fault.Ham shoul’d’ve covered his father,but the father shouldn’t have got drunk to a point of exposing his modesty.Some times I wonder if all this really happen Really this Noah-Ham thing doesn’t make sense

        Reply
      3. Ken

        Because the thou servedst not the Lord thy God with joyfulness, and gladnes of heart, therefore shalt thou serve thine enemies which the Lord shall send against thee, in hunger, and in thirst, and in nakedness, and in want of all things,and he shall put a yoke of iron upon thy neck, until he have destroyed thee. the Lord shall bring a nation against thee from far, from the ends of he earth, as swift as the eagle flieth a nation whose tongue thou shalt not understand. A nation of fierce contenance, which shall not regard the person of the young, or show favor to the old:. Dueteronomy 28: 47-50

        Reply
        1. RodtRDH Post author

          Ken,

          Are you serious? There is no book in the Bible called DUE-teronomy. IT IS DUE TIME you learned how to spell. It’s Deuteronomy.

          Reply
  11. Katie Grimes

    Thanks for this. The “curse of ham” nonsense isnot limited to the US. The claim that Africans descended from ham and therefore are fit to be slaves was also used by the Spanish and Portuguese to justify the slave trade all the way back in the 17th century.

    Thanks for addressing this.

    Reply
    1. lillliana

      You’ve just reminded me this.Thanks so much ,Katie Grimes.The French,the Arabs had done the same.Some blacks had been discriminated in their own countries.Wherever blacks go,they are treated with disrespect,all in the name of religion

      Reply
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  13. max

    The bible never said Ham was cursed…it was his son Canaan who was cursed by Noah. When Noah was blessing, he never mentioned Ham neither did he curse him. Wonder what bible U guys are reading.

    Reply
  14. Freddy West

    Folks track records show you the truth. White people have always been wicked in thought and deed (not all) they have always distorted and tricked their way in life. Why would you stop people from reading? Or trying to better themselves? Whites have been trying to cover up their wickedness just like their father(satan) This is why Jesus reprimanded them and told them that they do all these evil things because of their father(satan) This is why the Jews are hated by mainly western whites.

    Reply
  15. Ash

    God never had a problem with different skin colors or different physical features after all he created us just like he created the various colors of flowers, as well as different physical variations of flowers, etc. God said what he created was good. Because he is full of sin and prideful, man is the one who has problems with skin color and physical differences in people–not God. Man seems to forget he is the creature–not the Creator. Racism is a sin and arrogance against God, our Creator.

    Reply

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