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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25 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.

    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

  4. Cynthia says:

    This information is a bunch of crap. First, Ham, Shem, and Japheth, according to the Bible, have the same genetic makeup, simply, the same mother and father. If Ham is identified as black so is the whole family. Second, with that being case, being black could not have been an issue. Third, there is only one reference in the Bible where a curse produced a change in color and that is found in 2 Kings 5. I believe you so-called bible scholars deliberately mislead people due to racism. The truth of the matter is that God did not deal directly with the people who classifies themselves as white. Ancient Israel is a black nation with all biblical scriptures supporting this fact. If you want to talk about the Word in spirit and truth, please contact me.

  5. Pat says:

    While Genesis 9 never says that Ham was black, he became associated with black skin, through folk etymology deriving his name from a similar, but actually unconnected, word meaning “dark” or “brown”.[37] The next stage are certain fables according to ancient Jewish traditions. According to one legend preserved in the Babylonian Talmud, God cursed Ham because he broke a prohibition on sex aboard the ark and “was smitten in his skin”;[38] according to another, Noah cursed him because he castrated his father.[39] Although the Talmud refers only to Ham, the version brought in a midrash goes on further to say “Ham, that Cush came from him” in reference to the blackness,[40]that the curse did not apply to all of Ham but only to his eldest son Cush, Cush being a sub-Saharan African.[41] Thus, two distinct traditions existed, one explaining dark skin as the result of a curse on Ham, the other explaining slavery by the separate curse on Canaan.[42]

  6. To all of you that commented, you have brilliant minds. Your opinions are highly valued, all your opinions make sense and I am learning a lot from you guys. I just spoke to GOD directly and HE told me to tell you to keep on doing what you are doing. One day everything will make sense. I am busy seeking more of GOD through you and you are a great help. We are all members of THE BODY OF CHRIST with different views, functions and opinions, as long as there is activity in the BODY there is LIFE. GOD BLESS.

  7. noah was not drunk. that’s a lie and black skin is nature. natural heritage and ham was not cursed by god that’s so unbelievable really a bible lying / that page or bible should be burned/destroyed in frickin helllllllllllll rudest bible doesn’t god think that is sin.wowwwwww anyway god bless ya and never lie lying doesn’t pay god,honesty does pay him amen and pls reply you pester angels

  8. this bible is so lying.this page should be burned/destroyed in hell omg this is so sin . omg god look at this omg god bless ya and remember to never lie and lying doesn’t pay that gets you a chance to hell when you were an angel. honesty is the better policy so if you repented and never lied youll still be gods angel and archangel REMEMBER THAT GODS PEOPLE THE SKY IS BLUE GOD LOVES YOU AMEN ANGELS BY BRIANNY CAVALLO ANTHONY FEEL FREE FOR MORE REPLYS

  9. Daughter of wisdom says:

    Actually all man was of color in the beginning, it tells you that in Gen 2:7. What color is dirt simple. Here’s more scriptures that speaks about color. jer 14:2,song of sol 1:5,dan 10:6, rev 1:15,Ex 4:6-7. Hate to burst yall bubble the characters in the bible are people of COLOR… The Caucasians are the CURSED people white with yellow/blonde hair 2 King 5:27.One more thing before I go Christ is not, I repeat is not a WHITE man he is a BROTHER meaning man of COLOR.

  10. Black skin is a heritage of color. No curse can turn someones skin to black skin. This is a lie. Yeah any color of skin is dirt simple. Any way color is free to anyone God makes. Hate to burst ya holy things but color is … free. Excuse my language, but ITS FREE. THERE IS NOT ONE … THING THAT CAN CHANGE COLOR AND IF ANY BODY DYES THEIR HAIR BLONDE THAT DOESN’T MEAN THEIR CURSED DUMMY.


  12. NAH NAH. When God makes you, first he looks at your parents color then he uses that color of skin to make you. That is called heritage. You inherit the color. GOD BLESS HUMANITY AMEN. MOST HONOR GOD, I WILL OFFER FAITH AND YOUR SUPPER. AMEN. HALLELUJAHHH. AMEN. IMMERSE ME IN WATER AND GLORY ALMIGHTY GOD WASH AWAY SIN. AMEN. HALLELUJAH ALMIGHTY GOD. AMEN. GOD BLESS HOLY HEAVENLY BIBLE.

  13. Aren’t curses a Jewish myth/story?


  15. smit says:

    Thank you Pat, 10 out of 10, you know your Bible and interpret it correctly. God be with you.

  16. smit says:

    Pat you get 10 out of 10, you know your Bible!

  17. Mitchell says:

    TO: Daughter of Wisdom, your first part is spot on but when you define the origins of skin color but you miss out a thing or 2.
    We ALL came from 3 pairs of humans, let’s use this as a basic fact.

    1-The Earth was not the same as it was before the flood, if you remember there was a “layer of water” over the Earth.
    2-This “shielding” of the sun’s rays increased the lifespan of life on Earth, this has been “mimiced” by scientist and have shown to be true in specially designed buildings.
    3-When you factor in genetic science and known results from more exposure to the effects of the Sun’s harmful rays we see lifespans decreasing over time, darking and/or lighting of the skin more pronounced over the generations. This was to be expected, people forget some of those rays will effect the DNA over time and they lived a long time a few generations after the flood.
    4-The expansion of humans since then and all the other factors such as wars, intermarrying, migrations, trading, etc. have indeed produced an interesting mixture, which if memory serves the Bible says it doesn’t matter all are the same to God.

  18. Mannarzm says:

    and not Biblical

  19. JoAnne Hershey says:

    I do not understand why Children of God quibble about skin color. History breaks us into three distinct categories…Caucasian, Mongolian, and Negroid. Obviously, mixture of these groups have given us many variations of skin colors and facial features. WHY DOES THIS MATTER???? My husband and I are both Caucasian. Our three children are all fair skinned and blue eyed. But if you place my arm beside that of my husband’s arm and did not see the rest of our bodies, he could be mistaken as part of the Negroid race. Our pigmentations vary SO GREATLY and makes for beautiful variations through out the world. My firstborn is fair skinned and blue eyed. Her husband is very Caucasian but dark skinned and brown eyed. Their three children are dark skinned and brown eyed. On the other hand, our son is medium brown skinned and blue/green eyed and his wife is blond, fair skinned, and blue eyed. Their six children are fair skinned and have blue or blue/green eyes. All have blond/light hair. I think that it is a gift from God for all the variations of color and body features throughot our world. Please praise God for His awesome creation an stop quibbling about it!!!!

  20. JoAnne Hershey says:

    Celebrate diversity!!!

  21. JoAnne Hershey says:

    Celebrate the diversity of God’s creation!!!

    Celebrate the diversity of God’s creation!!!

  22. Shem says:

    Some points I have to clear up:

    1. The Canaanites were expelled by the Israelites to Africa.
    2. Black skin and curly hair cannot be explained by science, since there are many peoples (out of black africa): Arabs, Berbers, Amerindians, Indians, Indonesians and others who live in hot and dry/ hot and wet regions and are not black skinned/curly haired like Africans and their offshoots (Papuans and others). And that is really suspicious.
    3. The curse of slavery and black skin was only put on Canaan and not on Ham’s other children who were darkish (and not black african skinned!) and free, while most Africans were in the state of slavery even in Africa.
    4. Many africans tribes had and some still retain, traditions of being descended from Canaan and have their origin in the current Land of Israel. The Efik, Yoruba, , Hausa from Nigeria, the Agaws from Ethiopia and the Meru from Uganada are just a few to name.
    5. The pre-Indo Europeans were from lineage of Japheth, but the warrior, newcomer Aryan conquerers were from lineage of Shem, the mighty chosen son of Noah.

    That’s all from now friends.

  23. Tony says:

    Well it is sad to see all this false teaching on here in the comment of people that have no idea what they are talking about. Starting with the first person. Believe junk handed down over what the bible says from Moses. Take the bible for what it says and stop your speculations of nonsense.

    briannny You are making no sense with nonsense calling the Bible lying. None of any of you know totally what happen because it does not give that details of what happen.
    The Bible does not say they were Black at all and we do not know when that began to happen.
    I would say after the fall of Babel when people were dispersed over the earth and certain Genes became dominant. Other than that it does not matter we all need Salvation only Found in Jesus.

    Shem Is Also the Line of Abraham and also making up the Asian Race Not Black.
    The First Son of Abraham might of been of a darker race and not sure Hagar was what color Making up the Arab Race. But ISSAC Was From SARAH Same line as Abraham his Sister. Also Abraham had more child after Sarah.

  24. Charmaine says:

    The title of this article is comical and reeks of the scum that seems to fill the hearts of Europeans. That the author would even quote Genesis 9:18-27 as the relevant passage supporting the view of the title further suggests this and that either there is a lack of intelligence in understanding the simple and straightforward text, Genesis 9:18-27, or an exaggerated case of twisting Scripture to gain some advantage.

    Also, that ‘Shem’ means ‘dark’ would suggest that there was more a preponderance of dark skin among humankind (2:1) than any other skin colour. The obvious and known benefits of melanin would also suggest that light skin is more likely a curse than dark skin could ever be, and probably further suggests the perennial behaviour of persons with the lack of melanin trying at all cost to denigrate those with.

  25. Honor says:

    ^Shem doesn’t mean dark, Ms black woman. Shem means “name” and “fame”, clearly the most superior racially and wisdom-ly of Noah’s sons – the stark contrast of the turned black, slave forever, ancestor of the Africans, Canaan, may his sufferings in hell last forever.

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