Did Noah’s Curse Turn Ham’s Skin Black?

The Bible does not specifically refer to Ham being turned black as a result of Noah’s curse. Although the Bible is not definitive on this question, some Bible scholars have come to this conclusion, and I’ll address their lines of reasoning below. The relevant passage is Genesis 9:18-27 which reads as follows:

“18 The sons of Noah who came out of the ark were Shem, Ham and Japheth. (Ham was the father of Canaan.) 19 These were the three sons of Noah, and from them came the people who were scattered over the whole earth. 20 Noah, a man of the soil, proceeded to plant a vineyard. 21 When he drank some of its wine, he became drunk and lay uncovered inside his tent. 22 Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his father naked and told his two brothers outside. 23 But Shem and Japheth took a garment and laid it across their shoulders; then they walked in backward and covered their father’s naked body. Their faces were turned the other way so that they would not see their father naked. 24 When Noah awoke from his wine and found out what his youngest son had done to him, 25 he said, ‘Cursed be Canaan! The lowest of slaves will he be to his brothers.’ 26 He also said, ‘Praise be to the LORD, the God of Shem! May Canaan be the slave of Shem. 27 May God extend Japheth’s territory; may Japheth live in the tents of Shem, and may Canaan be the slave of Japheth.'”

The key phrases for this discussion are “may Canaan be the slave of Shem” (verse 26), and “may Canaan be the slave of Japheth” in verse 27.

Historians have reasoned that as the descendants of Noah’s three sons relocated and separated (verse 19), they re-populated the world as follows:

– Shem – The Middle East nations
– Ham – The continent of Africa
– Japheth – The European and other western nations

So, it seems to make sense that the descendants of Ham may have re-populated the African nations, and, of course, these nations are predominantly black.

Those who believe that Noah’s curse turned Ham’s skin black will quickly point out that Ham was Canaan’s father (verses 18 & 22), so they stretch this curse to include Ham as well as Canaan. However, Ham had other sons as well, including Cush, Egypt and Put (Genesis 10:6). Nevertheless, it does make some sense that dark-skinned people could have come from Canaan. On the other hand, it might make more sense if dark-skinned people came from the other sons: Cush (modern day Sudan and other African nations), Egypt (obviously, modern day Egypt), and Put (modern day Libya).

However, one caveat to this logic is that the land of Canaan is in the Middle East–not Africa. So, since Noah’s curse was specifically placed upon Canaan, and perhaps not on Cush, Egypt, and Put, then all of this seems somewhat reversed. In addition, there has been much scientific study as to what changes the pigmentation (color) of skin over the course of many generations. Many scientists believe that, in general, skin color is darker for those living closer to the equator, and lighter for those living farther from the equator. So, this could also explain the black skin of the African people.

There is one more thing to consider here. Noah’s curse specifically mentioned Canaan as being the slave of Shem and the slave of Japheth. Over the centuries, it does indeed appear that the descendants of Ham (again, dark-skinned people of Africa, although not necessarily of Canaan) were in many cases the slaves of the descendants of Japheth (the western nations).

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3 Responses to Did Noah’s Curse Turn Ham’s Skin Black?

  1. Marilyn Turner says:

    Ham was Never cursed!!! It was a BIG LIE started in the Middle Ages in Europe! Ham NEVER disrespected his father, Noah!!! Most of the world have not been told the truth about what happened on the mountains of Ararat. Noah was NOT the town drunk, no drinking problem! This is a metaphor: he had a problem with sex: Heard of “the wine of fornication”? Check the Book of Revelation. Noah waking up from “his wine” is not the same as “the wine”: his wine came from the vineyard; and the wine is Noah’s sex problem. Noah was sexually abusing Ham’s wife for years, and Ham didn’t know it. Shem and Japheth knew this about their father, and they covered it up, for they wanted “the blessing.” Noah got Ham’s wife pregnant, and the child was Canaan; he was the 4th son, and illegitimate. He found out when he got older when he walked in Noah’s tent and caught Noah with Mrs. Ham. Noah was unconvered in the tent, sexual abusing his daughter-in-law. Canaan was going to tell everyone about this, but Noah told Canaan that he was his father, not Ham. Canaan lost his mind! True! Canaan calmed down, and realized he was better off being the 4th son of Noah than the youngest son of Ham. Canaan started to blackmail Noah. Noah would NOT recognize Canaan as his son publicly! To make the story short, Noah coursed Canaan because of the blackmailing, and he thought the Canaan tried to kill him with poison wine which made people think that Noah was drunk! Ham was in Noah’s tent to clean him up, that was his role. He left, and Canaan came into the tent. Noah remarried to a young woman, a Japhethite princess; Canaan seduced her. Then Ham came back into the tent and saw them together: Yes, his father’s nakedness is another metaphor for “his father’s wife.” Canaan got into a fight with his step-father Ham: Ham was angry about “his son” being with his grandfather’s new wife. Ham didn’t know that he was fighting with his half-brother! The fight woke up Shem and Japheth. Canaan got out of Noah’s tent before the older brothers got there. Ham came out, and he came face to face with Shem and Japheth demanding what was going on in Noah’s tent. Ham lied to his brothers about what he saw, to protect Canaan! Yes, Ham told his brothers WITHOUT THE TRUTH—He lied!!!

    How do I know these things because my ancestors traded with the Canaanites, and they told the story: Who they were and what happened to Canaan. The story was passed down to me by my father who got it from his grandmother, and she got it from her ancestors. There are people who know this story, but they don’t want it to come out! You want to talk to me, I will talk.

    Sincerely,
    Marilyn Turner

  2. V Richards says:

    My understanding is Noah was 7 generation and his grandfather was Enoch. Enoch had a child that was described as white as snow and did not resemble man as they know, like the dark angels that descended from the heavens and formicated the humans on earth, and also had bright eyes. This tells me that humans were black or at least dark skinned according to the text. Thus is not a mystery as we all know the people of Africa are black.

  3. Rosetta Williams says:

    Give me scriptures on this as to say that black were curse

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