The curse of Ham is the curse that Noah is thought to have laid on his son Ham. It was the chief excuse White Americans used in the early 1800s to defend slavery and racism.
The curse of Ham comes from Genesis 9:20-27. It is after the Flood:
20. And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard: 21. And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent. 22. And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without. 23. And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father’s nakedness.
24. And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him. 25. And he said, “Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren.” 26. And he said, “Blessed be the LORD God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant. 27. God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.”
Things to know:
- Ham: was widely thought to mean “black” or “dark” in Hebrew. Some say he was black or, because of the curse, turned black.
- saw the nakedness of: can mean having sex with, in this case either with Noah himself (yes) or his wife.
The curse was fulfilled when the Canaanites became slaves to the Jews. That was 3,000 years ago, in the days after Moses. The Canaanites have long since disappeared from history.
That should have ended the matter, but thousands of years later whites brought the curse back from the dead:
Ham had four sons who peopled the following present-day countries:
- Cush: Sudan
- Mizraim: Egypt
- Phut: Libya
- Canaan: Israel
Presumably in time they filled the rest of Africa.
So blacks were seen as coming from Ham and therefore fell under his curse. Whites meanwhile came from Japheth and most people in Asia from Shem. Therefore it was simply God’s will that blacks be slaves to whites and Asians.
Some said that blacks got their dark skin from Ham – along with his low moral character. That made dark skin the sign of the curse, of a bad moral character, of the need to be controlled by whites.
Of course there is a huge, huge hole in all this that people from Africa quickly notice but which many white people have strangely overlooked: the curse falls on Canaan, not Ham! Nor does it does fall on Cush, Phut, Mizraim or anyone else in Africa.
No one seriously argues for the curse of Ham anymore, not even Mormons. But this idea that blacks are somehow ill-starred through no fault of white people is still with us, only now it is argued in terms of genetics and black pathologies instead of God’s will and Biblical curses.