The Hamitic Curse—Did Noah Curse The Black Race? (Gen 9:20-27)

During the Trans-Atlantic slave trade (which lasted from the 16th to the 19th centuries), Africans were captured against their will, transported to foreign countries (mostly the Americas) and sold as slaves. This act was justified by the slave traders who quoted Genesis 9:20-27 as probable warrant to carry out this barbaric practice. These slave traders opined that the “black race” (“Negroes” as they were termed) were cursed to be in servitude to the Caucasoid. But how true is this? Does anything in God’s Word remotely suggest such predestination? We attempt to find out in this article.


Note that in the Beginning, God made just ONE man. Every other man we see today proceeded forth from the first man. The Apostle Paul, preaching at Athens, says, “…He has made from ONE BLOOD every NATION OF MEN to dwell on ALL THE FACE OF THE EARTH…” (Acts 17:26). He is making reference to the Genesis account here.


Genesis 2:7 (NKJV)

7 And the Lord God FORMED MAN of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being


From this man, the woman is formed: 21 And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He TOOK ONE OF HIS RIBS, and closed up the flesh in its place. 22 Then THE RIB which the Lord God had TAKEN FROM MAN He MADE INTO A WOMAN, and He brought her to the man. (Gen 2:21-22)


From these two came forth the entire human race. This first man (Adam) and the woman who was formed from him kept reproducing to populate the Earth.


Genesis 5:1-5 (NKJV)

1 This is the book of the GENEALOGY of Adam. In the day that God created man, He made him in the likeness of God. 2 He created them MALE AND FEMALE, and blessed them and called them MANKIND in the day they were created. 3 And Adam lived one hundred and thirty years, and BEGOT A SON IN HIS OWN LIKENESS, after HIS IMAGE, and named HIM SETH. 4 After he begot SETH, the days of Adam were eight hundred years; and he HAD SONS AND DAUGHTERS. 5 So all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years; and he died. 


Recall that Adam had begotten two sons earlier, named Cain and Abel:


Genesis 4:1-2 (NKJV)

1 Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she CONCEIVED and BORE CAIN, and said, “I have acquired a man from the Lord.” 2 Then she BORE AGAIN, this time his brother ABEL. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. 


But Cain killed Abel:


See vs. 8

8 Now Cain talked with Abel his brother; and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and KILLED him. 


Accordingly, Cain is begotten as Adam’s first son (Gen 4:1), then Abel (Gen 4:2) who dies, before Seth (Gen 5:3). Thus, from Cain and Seth PRIMARILY would come two families. Cain’s family is listed in Genesis 4:16-24, and Seth’s family, in Genesis 5:6-32.


Noah proceeds from Seth’s family:


Genesis 5:28-29 (NKJV)

28 Lamech lived one hundred and eighty-two years, and had a son. 29 And he called his name Noah, saying, “This one will comfort us concerning our work and the toil of our hands, because of the ground which the Lord has cursed.”


He is Seth’s descendant and then has three sons:

Genesis 5:32 (NKJV)

32 And Noah was five hundred years old, and Noah begot Shem, Ham, and Japheth.


Genesis 7 and 8 then record a flood that wiped out the entire human race, only Noah and his family are saved: “On the very same day Noah and Noah’s sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth, and Noah’s wife and the THREE WIVES of his sons with them, entered the ark.” (Gen 7:13)


Thus, Seth’s family line is preserved whilst Cain’s is completely wiped out. We see from Gen 7:13 that Noah’s three sons had wives. These ones (Noah’s sons and their wives) would serve as “the new creation” of the human race. From them, the human race would be replenished. ALL humanity would come from Shem, Ham, and Japheth.


Genesis 9:18-19 says this, “18 Now the sons of Noah who went out of the ark were Shem, Ham, and Japheth. And Ham was the father of Canaan. 19 These three were the sons of Noah, and FROM THESE the WHOLE EARTH was POPULATED.”


Interestingly, Noah names his sons after colours! Shem means dusky (brown). Ham means black (the Hebrew uses this word for what turns black because of a hot or tropic environment). Japheth means fair or white.

(McKissic and Evans in Beyond Roots II)


It is intriguing that Noah names his sons after the three major skin colour distinctions that would later be found in the world. We believe Noah prophesied (spoke ahead by the Spirit of God) in so doing.


Genesis 9 then records an incident that transpired after the flood:


Genesis 9:20-27 (NKJV)

20 And Noah began to be a farmer, and he planted a vineyard. 21 Then he DRANK of the wine and WAS DRUNK, and became UNCOVERED in his tent. 22 And Ham (“black”), the FATHER OF CANAAN saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brothers outside. 23 But Shem (“brown”) and Japheth (white”) took a garment, laid it on both their shoulders, and WENT BACKWARD and COVERED the NAKEDNESS of their father. Their faces were turned away, and they did not see their father’s nakedness. 24 So Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done to him. 25 Then he said:



He shall be to his brethren.” 

26 And he said:

“Blessed be the Lord,

The God of Shem (brown),

And MAY CANAAN be his servant.

27 May God enlarge Japheth (white),

And may he dwell in the tents of Shem;

And may Canaan be his servant.


Noah’s statement in vv. 25-27 constitute the contents of what is commonly termed “the Hamitic Curse.” It has been interpreted in various ways. One interpretation is that Noah cursed the “black race” (which descended from Ham) to have wide noses, black skin and woolly hair.


The most popular interpretation, however, is that he cursed the “black race” to always be in subjugation to the descendants of Shem (brown-skinned) and Japheth (Caucasian). The white Trans-Atlantic slave traders used this text to justify their actions by saying that Noah cursed the blacks to always be their slaves forever.


This reasoning is absurd as God had already blessed Noah and his sons!


Genesis 9:1 (NKJV)

1 So God BLESSED Noah and HIS SONS (including Ham!), and said to them: “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth. 


Therefore, Noah’s statement must, of necessity, be carefully examined. To whom was Noah referring? Observe some clues within the text itself:


Gen 9:22 (NKJV)

22 And Ham, the FATHER OF CANAAN (Canaan is an actual person here, Ham’s son, not a people yet.), saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brothers outside. 25 Then he said:

“Cursed be CANAAN (Ham’s son);


He shall be to his brethren.” 


A careful reading reveals that Noah’s statements were directed at CANAAN. Noah, looking into the future, explains that Ham’s profane character would rub off on his son Canaan. JUST LIKE Ham is ungodly, EVEN SO will his son be. And because of this, his son would be cursed. The father’s act revealed how his son would turn out.


This is true as several years later, the Canaanites (the descendants of Canaan) became just like their ancestor Ham:


Leviticus 18:2-3 (NKJV)

2 “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘I am the Lord your God. 3 According to the doings of the land of Egypt, where you dwelt, you shall not do; and according to the DOINGS OF THE LAND OF CANAAN, where I am bringing you, you shall not do; nor shall you walk in THEIR ORDINANCES. 


They too were profane, and the children of Israel (who came from Shem) ruled over them:


Joshua 9:27 (NKJV)

27 And that day Joshua made THEM woodcutters and water carriers for the congregation and for the altar of the Lord, in the place which He would choose, even to this day.


Joshua 16:10 (NKJV)

10 And they did not drive out THE CANAANITES who dwelt in Gezer; but the Canaanites dwell among the Ephraimites to this day and have become FORCED LABORERS. 


1 Kings 9:20 (NKJV)

20 All the people who were left of the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites, who were not of the children of Israel— 21 that is, their descendants who were left in the land after them, whom the children of Israel had not been able to destroy completely—from these Solomon raised FORCED LABOR, as it is to this day.


So Noah’s prophecy CANNOT be used to justify enslaving black people today! It has been fulfilled ALREADY with Israel (the descendants of Shem) and the Canaanites (the descendants of Ham) when Israel conquered their lands and made them slaves! The Canaanites as a people went into extinction SEVERAL YEARS AGO, so the curse of Ham cannot be applied to ANYONE today!


Note that Ham had three other children asides Canaan (Cush, Mizraim and Phut) and Noah’s statements are not directed at them, only Canaan. It is not therefore not “racial” but specific.


Therefore, what Ham did caused Noah to see ahead in relation to how his son Canaan would behave, and he spoke about them ahead of time. This is what Genesis 9:25-27 is saying. The Hamitic curse has been fulfilled in history, not when innocent Africans were sold as slaves, but in Israel’s dealings with the Canaanites. No Bible text affirms racial bias or can be used HONESTLY to further a racist agenda.


(For a thorough treatment of this subject, you may consult the sermon-series “God Wants The World! PART 2” by Pastor Josh Banks which deals with the concepts of RACE, SKIN COLOUR and RACISM).


© Josh Banks Ministries. 2021.

1 Comment

  1. Maria Camacho

    Yes, I see. Thanks for the explanation. But no matter what thank God We have been delivered from the curse!

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