A Curse on Ham?

A Curse on Ham?

Some people will try to use a story from the Bible or a verse taken out of context to explain or justify some prejudice they have with those of another background by saying that God put a curse on them. An example of this is found in the events surrounding Noah and his family after they came out of the ark.

Noah had three sons – Shem, Ham, and Japheth (Gen 5:32). When they had come out of the ark and things had begun to grow again, the scripture says : Gen 9:18-27 “The sons of Noah who came out of the ark were Shem, Ham, and Japheth. (Ham was the father of Canaan) These were the three sons of Noah and from them came the people who were scattered all over the earth.

Noah, a man of the soil, proceeded to plant a vineyard. When he drank some of its wine, he became drunk and lay uncovered inside his tent. Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his father’s nakedness and told his two brothers outside. But Shem and Japheth took a garment and laid it across their shoulders; then they walked in backwards and covered their father’s nakedness. Their faces were turned the other way so that they would not see their father’s nakedness. When Noah awoke from the wine and found out what his youngest son had done to him, he said ‘cursed be Canaan! The lowest of slaves will he be to his brothers’. He also said ‘Blessed be the Lord, the God of Shem! May Canaan be the slave of Shem. May God extend the territory of Japheth; may Japheth live in the tents of Shem, and may Canaan be his slave.”

Gen 10:6 “The sons of Ham were Cush, Mizraim, Put, and Canaan.”

From a careful reading of these verses we see that:
-Ham was the youngest son of Noah -The curse was on Canaan, the son of Ham – not on Ham -The curse was that Canaan was to be a slave to his brothers -Canaan was only one of the sons of Ham
In the tenth chapter of Genesis, we find the names of the sons of Shem, Japheth, and Ham. From these names and the regions they inhabited, it has been suggested that Japheth was the father of the Caucasians, that Shem was the father of the Semites (Jews, Arabs ,and other Eastern peoples), and that Ham was the Father of the people of color (one of Ham’s sons was Cush, Cush was the land of Ethiopia) Because of their own prejudices and a lack of knowledge of the scriptures, some have said that God cursed all black people to be slaves. But as we see, if we read what the Bible says – the curse was not on all of Ham’s children, just one – Canaan. And just as prophesied, when Israel (descendants of Shem) came into the Promised Land, they drove out the Canaanites (descendants of Canaan) and those who remained were made slaves (Joshua 9).

There is no curse on Ham, Cush or any other sons of Ham besides Canaan, and not even on Canaanites today. When Christ died on the cross, he reconciled all mankind. Eph 2:13-16 In Christ there is equality for all who have been cleansed by the blood shed on the cross.

Contributed by Arlington Church of Christ in Mt. Healthy, OH Cincinnati, Ohio 45231


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