by Babu G. Ranganathan
I am not African-American. I am Indian-American. I was born in India but I lived most of my life here in the United States and I am a proud citizen of this great country.
I am also a Christian. I converted from Hinduism when I was fourteen. As a Christian, therefore, I am deeply troubled that there are still quite a number of people who believe that there was a biblical justification for enslaving the black people of Africa. Those who hold to this view say that Noah, in the Book of Genesis, cursed Ham and that the black people of Africa being descendants of Ham were justifiably enslaved and treated with contempt. This belief is far from being extinct in our society so it is important that this belief is examined in the light of what the Bible actually teaches.
The particular passage in Genesis 9:25 has been grossly misinterpreted. First of all, Noah never cursed his son Ham. The actual curse was on Canaan the oldest son of Ham. Ham also had other sons but they were not cursed by Noah. The servitude (or subjugation) of the Canaanites occurred at various times in history under various rulers. Their ultimate subjugation came under the Romans (who were descendants from the line of Japheth) when the Romans destroyed their final stronghold which was the ancient city of Carthage (a Phoenician or Canaanite colony) in North Africa, thus fulfilling Noah's prophecy in Genesis 9:27 that Canaan would serve Japheth. The Canaanites were also once slaves of the Hebrew people (descendants from the line of Shem) who themselves were once slaves of the Egyptians and, thus, fulfilling the Biblical prophecy that Canaan's descendants would be a "servant of servants." The Canaanites were also at one time ruled by their brothers the Egyptians. Thus, the Biblical prophecy concerning the curse of the Canaanites had been completely fulfilled long ago.
The Bible teaches that the Black (or Negro) people are descendants of Ham (who was one of the three sons of Noah). Obviously, Noah and his three sons Ham, Shem, and Japheth each carried the genes for producing several races since ultimately all the races of mankind had descended from them. Genetically, it was possible for Noah and his three sons to carry the genes for producing different races just as it is genetically possible today, for example, for a person of European origin to carry genes for producing children with different color hair. The principle is the same. Although you and I today may not possess genes for producing different races of people, Noah and his three sons Ham, Shem, and Japheth did possess such genes.
According to the Bible the ancient Egyptians were descended from Ham through the line of Mizraim. Ham had four sons: Cush, Mizraim, Phut, and Canaan (Genesis 10:6). The name "Mizraim" is the original name given for Egypt in the Hebrew Old Testament. Many Bibles will have a footnote next to the name "Mizraim" explaining that it means "Egypt." The name "Egypt" itself actually comes to us from the Greeks who gave the Land that name (i.e. "Aegyptos" from the Greek). In addition to the name "Mizraim," the ancient Egyptians also referred to their land as "Kemet" which means "Land of the Blacks." Western historians, however, say that the word "Kemet" refers to the color of the soil of the land rather than its people. But, the word "Kemet" is actually an ethnically derived term being a derivative of the word "Khem" (Cham or Ham) which means "burnt" or "black." Ham, who was one of the three sons of Noah and the direct ancestor of the Egyptians, was black. The Bible, in the Old Testament, repeatedly refers to Egypt as the "Land of Ham" (i.e., Psalm 105:23, 27; 106:22). The ancient Egyptians in their writings used their word for "black" to describe themselves and not just the color of their soil. Ham was named "black one" by his father Noah from birth. In other words, Ham was born black, long before any curse. His being black had nothing to do with a curse. The so-called curse of Ham was actually on Ham's son Canaan and not on Ham himself. This will be discussed later.
Regarding the ancient Egyptians, there is also considerable historical evidence, aside from the Holy Bible, that they were of Black or Negro origin. Even today the true Egyptian is not to be found in the cities but in the country sides and farmlands of Egypt. Most of the Egyptians in the cities carry a mixed ancestry of European and Asian, but mostly Asian from the immigration and invasions of various people into Egypt throughout the centuries. Very few people realize that Cleopatra was of Greek origin because the Greeks once ruled Egypt and she was descended from one of those Greek rulers. The true Egyptian found in the countryside, however, has dark brown to black skin and very pronounced Negro features. This is particularly true the further south one travels in Egypt. It was from the south that the original pharaohs and the people of Egypt settled the land. The original rulers and builders of Egyptian civilization were of completely Black.
In all fairness, it must be mentioned that there is considerable archaeological and anthropological evidence that ancient India was the source of ancient Egyptian civilization. The ancient black Indians, known as "Dravidians", (who in ancient times were also known by the Greeks and Egyptians as "Ethiopians") built and laid out ancient Egyptian civilization and, no doubt, in the process also mixed with their black brethren in Africa. The ancient Egyptians, themselves, admitted in their writings that they received their civilization and culture from the Ethiopians, another black "race".
The ancient Egyptians in their writings described that they had come "from the South", and from a land which was reached by crossing the Great Sea, a land which they called "Punt". Some have said "Punt" refers to ancient Somalia but this cannot be for various reasons, among them being the fact that the description of the animals and plants given by the ancient Egyptians as being native to the land of Punt match only with that of the southwestern coast of India (known as Malabar). Also, Somalia doesn't lie across any great sea.
In ancient times there were known to be two types of Ethiopians, Western Ethiopians, in Africa, (who were black with woolly hair and fine features) and their brethren, the Eastern Ethiopians, of India, who also were black with fine features but possessed straight hair. Both Western and Eastern Ethiopians were descended from the biblical Cush, one of the sons of Ham. An excellent website offering substantial scholarship and historical documentation and evidence that ancient India was the source of Egypt's ancient culture and civilization is "India and Egypt": http://www.hinduwisdom.info/India_and_Egypt.htm.
It should be understood that the people of North India and Europe share a common linguistic and racial heritage and that is why they are referred to on the whole as being "Indo-European." The people of South India (comprising four states and making up roughly twenty-five percent of India's total population) are linguistically and racially known as Dravidians. The Dravidians of India are generally shorter, broader-nosed, with dark brown to black skin complexion and straight or wavy hair. Both archaeological and linguistic evidence shows that it was the ancient Dravidians who built the Indus Valley civilization (also known as the Harappan Civilization which was one of the world's four oldest civilizations after Mesopotamia and Egypt). The ancient Harappan civilization existed in what is now Pakistan. The Dravidians of the Indus Valley were conquered, killed in great mass, and enslaved by white nomadic barbarian invaders called Aryans who came from the north. The Dravidians who escaped Aryan enslavement or slaughter fled to the south and were able to hold their own against any further Aryan encroachment and advancement, and that is why the linguistic and racial make up of South India is different from that of North India. Of course, over the centuries there has been so much crossbreeding between the two peoples that neither the north now is purely Aryan nor the south purely Dravidian anymore. Historian, anthropologist, and educational psychologist Dr.Clyde A. Winters has provided much painstaking research and numerous resources and references showing the ultimate cultural and phonetic/linguistic links between the peoples of South India and Black Africa. It is worth visting his site C.A. Winter's Homepage.
Now, to get back to Africa and Egypt. An interesting piece of evidence showing how the ancient Egyptians viewed themselves is found in the tomb of Ramses III (1200 BC). On the wall of this tomb is a painting of four human figures. Each figure stands at a certain relation to the Egyptian god Horus. The figures that were closest the god were considered by the Egyptians to be superior to the ones positioned further away. Each of the figures is identified with a particular race or group of people with whom the Egyptians at that time had known. One figure is that of a finely clothed man with a dark red skin complexion having long braided hair and he represented the ancient Egyptians. Another figure is that of a finely clothed m black with woolly hair who represented the Black nations south of Egypt. Another figure is that of a finely clothed light brown-skinned man who represented the Semitic or Asiatic people. The fourth figure is that of a barely clad fair-skinned or fair-complexioned man who represented the Europeans. There is no such thing as dark red skin, of course, but the ancient Egyptians sometimes used red paint as a ceremonial symbol to set themselves apart from others. American used red paint in a ceremonial way also and, thus, were often times called Red Indians by the American settlers. In other paintings, the ancient Egyptians painted themselves as fully black and not just dark red. The ancient Egyptians saw themselves as being Black, although distinct from other the black nations of Africa. And, no doubt, from the position of the figures the ancient Egyptians definitely saw other African blacks as being superior to the Asiatics and the white-complexioned Europeans.
It is important to understand, however, that the Negro or Black race is not monolithic. I realize that there are many scholars who make a distinction between being Negro and having black skin complexion because they take into consideration physical features (i.e. shape of nose, texture of hair, etc.) into their criteria for determining race and not just the criterion of skin color or skin complexion. However, these are all quite artifical criteria. In fact, the very classification of human races is in itself artificial since there really is only one race - the human race within which there are variations and permutations. Even the Bible has no terminology for race. Instead, the Bible refers to the divisions found in mankind in terms of tribe, language, or nation - but never race. However, since in our modern times the word "race" is so popular in designating divisions of mankind we are going to use the term. But, it should be kept in mind that there are wide varieties of characteristics even within a single race. Even among white Europeans, for example, you have varying shades of skin tone, hair color, and other physical traits or characteristics. The same is true of the Black race, but to a much wider degree.
DNA analysis of blacks in Africa confirms that African blacks possess a greater margin of genetic variability. It seems that black Africans carry a greater number of alleles - genetic variations of the same gene(s) in their DNA as compared to Europeans and others. Thus, it is not surprising that there are much wider physical varieties among blacks. For example, in Sudan, Somalia, and South India (where I am originally from) the blacks have more fine features. In fact, even blacks of ancient Nubia (also known as Kush) comprised individuals who had both straight hair as well as woolly hair. Just as whites have varying hair color (i.e. brown, red, blond, and brunette), so too blacks have varying hair texture (i.e. woolly, straight, wavy, and curly). The black aboriginals of Australia, for example, have curly/wavy hair. Many of the aboriginals even have blond hair. Such is the wide diversity within the Black race. Ancient Egyptian statues and paintings depict a wide variety of these Black types. Also, in certain characteristics of language and culture ancient Egypt is uniquely linked to other Black cultures of Africa and this reinforces the Black identity of ancient Egyptian civilization since these unique linguistic and cultural characteristics are not found among Indo-European peoples. For example, the ancient Egyptians like their African brethren were matriarchal whereas Indo-Europeans were and are patriarchal. An exception to this were the ancient Etruscans of Italy. Although the ancient Etruscans, who were Indo-European, were matriarchal, their matriarchal culture and budding civilization was actually due to the influence of trade with the ancient Phoenicians (Canaanities) who were Hamitic and matriarchal. The ancestors of the ancient Egyptians, therefore, were not the patriarchal Indo-Europeans from the North as white supremacists would have us believe but rather the matriarchal black Africans from the South (Upper Egypt). Geographically speaking, the southern regions of ancient Egypt are referred to as "Upper Egypt." The reason for this is explained below in another paragraph.
An excellent, scholarly, well-documented, and highly acclaimed book for study on this subject is The African Origin of Civilization: Myth or Reality by well-known West African scientist, scholar, and Egyptologist Cheikh Anta Diop. The book is generally available at bookstores or may be ordered through any bookstore. The book may also be purchased over the Internet (i.e. amazon.com). Unfortunately, Dr. Diop does not raise or discuss the possibility of Eastern Ethiopians (the Dravidians of India) as being the founders of ancient Egyptian civilization.
Although I agree with much of what Dr. Diop says in his book, I strongly disagree with his support of Darwinian evolutionary theory concerning human origins and his belief that Judaism and its offspring Christianity is a by-product of Egyptian civilization. There is no doubt that some Judeo-Christian themes, principles, and truths existed in civilizations and cultures much older than that of the Hebrews (the Jews). The concept of one God, for example, was also believed and promoted in ancient Egypt by a certain pharaoh before there ever were Hebrews or Jews who possessed this truth. Elements of God's original truth have been scattered in all cultures of the world including that of ancient Egypt, but I believe (and with good reason) that God uniquely revealed Himself to the Jews in such a way that He gave them His truths unmixed with any errors. The Christian Scriptures teach that the Jews were not selected by God because they were deserving or because they were a great people, but precisely because of the opposite. God delights in using the lowly, undeserving, and insignificant to accomplish His great purposes, and it was God's marvelous plan and purpose to use the lowly, undeserving, and insignificant Jews as His instrument to bring all mankind unto Himself so that both Jews and Gentiles in Christ become equally His children with eternal promises and blessings. It should be noted, however, that almost none of the Jews in modern Israel are descendants of the original Jews of Palestine thousands of years ago. Most of the Jews in Israel today are descendants of Europeans who had converted to Judaism in the Middle Ages (known as Khazar or Ashkenazi Jews).
It is important over-all to remember that there were both primitive and advanced black societies in ancient Africa just as there were also both primitive (barbarian) and advanced white societies in Europe during ancient times.
One must realize that geographers refer to northern Egypt as "Lower Egypt" and to southern Egypt as "Upper Egypt." The reason for this is because the Nile River in Egypt, unlike other rivers of the world, flows from the south to the north. So up the Nile is actually going south and that is why the southern part of Egypt is called "Upper Egypt" and down the Nile is actually going north and that is why the northern part of Egypt is referred to as "Lower Egypt."
In ancient times the border of southern (or "Upper") Egypt was much further south than where it is today. Upper Egypt in ancient times extended well into what is now the country of Sudan (known in ancient times as Nubia or Kush). It was from Upper Egypt (Nubia or Kush) that the first pharaoh of Egypt Narmer (also known as Menes) went out to conquer and unify all of Egypt into one nation or kingdom. It was from here (the South) that the original ancestors of the Egyptians, following the direction of the Nile River north, settled the land of Egypt. The Egyptians themselves recorded in their writings that their ancestors came from the south. For example, the Edfu text (which is an inscription still found in the Temple of Horus at Edfu) states: "Several thousand years ago, we were led by our king from the South to settle up the Nile Valleys."
Western Egyptologists and historians continue to ignore such evidence and will certainly not publish it in school history textbooks. Western Egyptologists and historians continue to use the specious argument that the ancient Egyptians and Nubians (also known as Cushites) could not have belonged to the same race because they were separate countries and throughout history they fought one another for supremacy. But, ancient history shows us that separate nations that were white also fought one another (i.e. the ancient Romans and Gauls), but no one would argue that because of this the people of those nations didn't belong to the same race. Egypt was originally a colony of Nubia (Kush or Cush) but eventually separated from Nubia and became independent and even stronger than Nubia. In fact, the 18th dynasty of Egypt was a Cushitic (Ethiopian) dynasty when Ethiopia finally over-powered and conquered Egypt.
Throughout history both nations (Egypt and Cush) fought one another for political dominance even though both belonged to the same Black race. When the Jews were enslaved in Egypt they adopted many of the Egyptian customs including the Egyptian prejudices towards the Cushites. That is why we read in the Bible that after the Jews left Egypt Miriam (Moses'sister) criticized Moses for marrying a Cushite woman. The language of the ancient Egyptians was related to the black nation of Kush (Nubia) to the south. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, in the language of the ancient Egyptians that is related to Indo-European or Semitic. Ancient Egyptian language was not Afro-Asiatic as Western historians presently claim. It was entirely Hamitic.
Today Egypt is referred to as an Arab nation, but this is only because the Arabs conquered Egypt centuries ago and imposed upon the original people their Arab language, culture and Moslem religion. Many modern Egyptians of today are really the descendants of Arab, Persian, Greek, and other non-African peoples that entered into Egypt over the many centuries. The ancient or original Egyptians, however, were of African or Black (Negroid) descent, and this is still mostly true of the bulk of Egypt's rural population, especially in the south where historically Egyptian civilization originated. Long before the Arabs invaded and conquered Egypt the famous and ancient Greek historian Herodotus (who is known as the Father of History) visited Egypt and wrote concerning the Egyptians: "They have burnt skin, flat noses, thick lips, and wooly hair" (Herodotus, Book II, p. 100, translated by George Rawlinson, New York: Tudor, 1928). Readers may wish to obtain the book Return to Glory. The book, written by white author and professional speaker Joel F. Freeman, discusses the historical and archaeological evidences for ancient black Egyptian civilization.
Now to get back to our subject. Even though Noah had pronounced a terrible curse on Canaan, the curse did not apply to the blacks of Africa who were taken as slaves to the Americas because those blacks were not descendants of the Canaanites. It must also be understood that the curse applied to the Canaanites in a national sense only. That is clear from the context of Scripture. Individual Canaanites in history who trusted in the true God were delivered from the curse (i.e. Rahab the harlot mentioned in the Book of Joshua in the Old Testament. The same Rahab is mentioned in the New Testament as being an ancestor of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ). As to why Noah pronounced a curse on Canaan for a sin that his father Ham had committed is not clearly explained in the Bible. In one sense it could be said that Ham was punished in his son Canaan. It also might be that Noah foresaw by revelation from God that Canaan would more likely follow and take after in the immoral footsteps and behavior of his father Ham. We know from history that the Canaanites practiced very gross sexual and other forms of immorality - even to the point of sacrificing their children in the fire to their idols which they worshipped and for this they were ultimately cursed with extinction as a nation.