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Home > Secteur-English > General > THE CURSE OF HAM


The curse of Ham is a myth that has served in the 17th century to try to justify the enslavement of Africans and racism by the misinterpretation of an episode of the Bible

The story as reported by the Bible :

Noah plant vines and having wanted to taste his wine , fell asleep naked and dead drunk in his tent .

Cham, the youngest of three son Noah into the tent and discovers his father in this little rewarding situation drunk, lewd , unconscious. He hurries to tell what he saw to his two older brothers , Shem and Japheth.

Shem and Japheth , out of respect for their father that he did not want to see this, go into the tent backwards and they protect it with a blanket.

When Noah wakes up, he learns that his younger entered his tent and he saw it .

Then he gets angry and cursed not Ham, but one of his son , Canaan.

 » Cursed be Canaan ! Shall be servant of servants to his brothers ! »

The text adds that Canaan is also destined to be the slave of his uncles ( Shem and Japheth ) .

The episode of the curse of Canaan, which makes no reference to the skin color of the protagonists, will be the subject of many comments related to Jewish and Muslim traditions.

Wondering especially about the nature of the fault of Cham , commentators of the Jewish tradition have drawn varied and sometimes surprising interpretations :

1 . Cham simply wrong to be indiscreet, not to cover his father without telling anyone and without mocking him ( literal text).

2 . Ham slept with his mother.

3 . Ham had a sexual relationship with his father .

4 . Ham was castrated .

All agree on the fact that retaliation Noah has not cursed Ham but Canaan and his descendants.

Some commentators isolated , which is difficult to know whether they are Jews or Muslims , have tried before the 15th century to justify the enslavement of Africans and their color in this episode.

Until the 17th century , no Christian commentary on the biblical text is not in any case related to skin color of Africans or slavery .

But it is in 1666, in Holland, the legend from the Bible takes a different turn.

Under the influence of the French Peyrère , who suggested , from 1655 , that men would not be of the same origin , and that some ( inferior , sub- humans, preadamites ) were created before Adam, of new commentators , Horn, Hanneman , will try to establish the separation of humanity into « races » , one black become due to the curse of Noah, would be condemned to slavery on the authority of the Bible .

It is obvious that this interpretation, which makes the dark color of the skin tare of a « race » cursed and coincides with the start of the Atlantic slave system , was intended to justify .

Unfortunately, the use of this propaganda has led some people who have never read the story of the Bible concerning the curse of Canaan, to believe that there is written that Noah would have condemned Canaan and his descendants have black skin and be slaves.

These absurdities are often peddled and give rise to the most varied interpretations have in common to disturb the spirits . Such was the purpose of » scholars » Dutch .

Why have dark skin would be more of a curse having clear skin ? And why the skin tone – light or dark – could justify a man may be the property of another man ?

Nothing in the Bible or elsewhere , can not justify either racism or slavery, much less slavery based on racism .

It is likely that the interest of the text is more symbolic than literal , to show that man is not truly a free man when he reached a fairly high level of awareness not to place undue emphasis on sexuality ( and particularly that of his father). The punishment that the « curse » suggests Cham is that his own son, Canaan, can be as immature as him in the same situation.

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