The redemption that came with the appearance and the significance of the Rainbow was soon to be overcome by gloom. A gloom that was to determine the fate of men for millennia and centuries afterwards.
We are reminded that Noah had three sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth, and that Ham was the father of Canaan (probably to prepare our minds for an event that will soon follow).
Noah chose to career into Agriculture and soon planted a vineyard. Well, in those days when there were just a handful of people on earth, it wasn’t out of place for him to have a taste of his own ‘brew’ moreso even get drunk on it.
So it was, that Noah did drink and actually got drunk on this day, and ‘lay uncovered in his tent’. He was seen in this state by Ham (again, the father of Canaan), who then ran to call his brothers who were outside the tent at the time. ”Shem and Japhet took a garment, laid it on both their shoulders, and walked backward (so that they would not see their father’s nakedness) and covered the nakedness of their Father”.
Noah, on learning what his son Ham had done, when he woke pronounced the following words,
”Cursed be Canaan (remember him?, Ham’s son);
a servant of servants shall he be to his brothers.”
To the others he said,
”Blessed be YAHWEH, the Elohim of Shem;
and let Canaan be his servant.
May YAHWEH enlarge Japheth,
and let him dwell in the tents of Shem,
and let Canaan be his servant”.
So, Ham is cursed (was he?) through his son Canaan, while Shem and Japhet recieve blessings, for covering their father’s shame.
Noah lives for Three Hundred and Fifty odd years after the flood, then dies at the age of Nine Hundred and Fifty.
Now, lets go to the crux of the matter. Ham has four sons namely, Cush, Egypt, Put and Canaan. It is interesting to note that Canaan was cursed and not Ham, who was guilty of seeing his father’s nakedness.
People have over the years related this curse as justification for the subjugation of people they feel are inferior to them. Initially, it served to justify the subjection of the Canaanites to the Israelites, but was soon to gain wide acceptance among the Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam as justification for enslaving black skinned people, even though the text as we have just seen did not mention that Ham was cursed, nor his race or skin colour mentioned.
One of Ham’s sons was Cush, the forefather of Ethiopia. Many scholars agree that ‘Cush’ means ‘Black’, and one can simply posit that Ham was the forefather of black people through his son Cush. But Cush was never cursed, neither (again) was Ham who was ‘culpable’ but Canaan (who had a curse of servitude pronounced upon him).
There could’ve been no justification whatsoever for transposing Noah’s curse from one of Ham’s sons to another or even to Ham himself, and if there was some justification for that, how come Put and Egypt (also sons of Ham) were not thought to be included in this curse.
Did the Israelites (according to their history) not serve Egypt (and for Four Hundred and Fifty odd years for that matter)?
Wouldn’t that amount to a reversal of the curse?
Would this not be a manipulation of scripture to benefit the powerful?
Infact, one of the greatest men in Biblical history arose from the loins of Cush. We are told that,
”Cush fathered Nimrod; he was the first on earth to be a mighty man. He was a mighty hunter before YAHWEH.
Therefore it is said, ‘Like Nimrod a mighty hunter before YAHWEH’. ”
This Nimrod will go on to build the famed ‘Tower of Babel (Confusion)’, following which man became scattered to all the nooks and crannies of the earth.
History is replete with stories and situation where the so called, ‘Curse of Ham’ and by extension ‘Curse of Cush’ was employed as tool for the subjugation of black people in Africa and in other areas where the aboriginals were dark skinned (like in Papua New Guinea, Australia etc.), which explains why no serious attempts were made by white settlers and explorers to make slaves of American Indian aborigines, even though they suffered a fate which was equally unenviable in cruelty (if not more) as did Black skinned people under the yoke of Lighter skinned members of the Human race.
The trade in black slaves had been on for centuries, long before slave trade became organized under the Europeans and the American white settlers. The Arabs who were closer to the African continent had been dealing black slaves to people of the major empires, notably the Persians, Greeks and Romans. Even Israel had Ethiopians (who were mainly Eunuchs) serving in the Royal courts, sometimes superintending over the King’s Harem.
Even after Slavery was abolished, Christian missionaries continued to perpetuate the message of the Black man’s inferiority citing the ‘Curse Of Ham’, giving rise to some very ridiculous postulations even among notable scientists about the limitations of the Black Man and why it is (was) so.
This doctrine has now seeped into the thinking of the Black Man that his confidence has become diminished especially before people who are lighter in colour. When Blacks make comments that talk of their inability to attain a height long before attained by his lighter skinned counterpart, or agree with such notions they simply reestablish the potency of this deep rooted misinformation, further perpetuating it’s continuous use as a tool to undermine all that is good and right about the black man. The abolution of slavery for blacks has mutated into ‘Mental Slavery’, which is even worse for it’s debilitating effects on the growth and development of the Black Man, as an individual, a race and as nations.
We should heed Bob Marley’s warning, to ’emancipate ourselves from mental slavery, for none but ourselves can FREE our minds’.
This was how a simple Biblical verse, went so long as to determine and doom the fate of many, based on Man’s chivalry. Unfortunately, we seem not to have learnt anything from that, as adherents of religions today still wrest scripture written under a different context, assuming such to be divine dogma upon which our time should be governed and ruled.
1. Genesis Chapter 9 verse 18 –
| English Standard Version |