Alice C. Linsley

 

The Bible has been used to support racism throughout history.  One such text is the “curse of Ham” in Genesis, a gloss that comes from the rabbis.  This gloss is not consistent with the older tradition, as is evident in analysis of the kinship pattern of Abraham’s Horite people.  For example, the men listed in Genesis 4 and 5 are rulers whose lines intermarried exclusively.  The same is true for the lines of Ham and Shem, Noah's sons. This means that Abraham was a descendant of both Ham and Shem.

 

Abraham means “burnt father” and refers to his skin color. In Arabic (a language older than Hebrew) ham means burnt. The Nilotic peoples were referred to burnt. Abraham was a descendant of these ancestors, who the Bible designates as Kushites.  Their skin color ranged from that of the black Nubians to the reddish brown Egyptians.

 

King David, one of Abraham’s most famous descendants, was said to be of a burnt skin color. In I Samuel, David is described as ruddy, which means that he had a reddish skin tone like that of Egyptians who work in the sun (I Sam. 16:12; 17:42). The Hebrew word for ruddy is adom. It is equivalent to the Hamitic/Hausa odum, meaning red-brown.  is related to the word adam because God formed the man from the red clay which swept down into the Nile from the Ethiopian highlands.  The story of the creation of the first man comes from the Nile and probably dates to the time of the Kushite rulers.  It also indicates that Abraham and his people were probably red-brown.

 

Related reading:  Who Were the Kushites?; The Christ in Nilotic Mythology; The Lines of Ham and Shem Intermarried

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Tags: anthropology, biblical, racism

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