Slavery & Emancipation

    Biblical Defense Of Slavery  "The Curse Of Ham"

Human slavery dates back to antiquity and was an integral part of most of the ancient empires. The ancient Greeks and Romans enslaved whomever they conquered, regardless of race. Hebrews enslaved other Hebrews. When the black race became singled out for slavery is unclear. Andre Horn, a 13th century Chamberlain of London, said, "Yet 'serfage' in the case of a black man is a subjugation issuing from so high an antiquity that no free stock can be found within human memory." The Portuguese began trading in black slaves in earnest in the 15th century, followed by the Spanish and the English. Black slavery in North America began in 1619, when the English colonists in Jamestown, VA, bought 20 black slaves from a Dutch trader, and slavery remained legally sanctioned for more than 200 years.

By the end of the Civil War, the Protestant churches in the United States had split into Northern and Southern factions over the issue of slavery. Proslavery clergymen could cite biblical references that sanctioned slavery and particularly the enslaving of the black race. The primary citation was Genesis 9:25-27, in which Noah, upset over an indiscretion of his son Ham, who was supposed to be black, cursed all the descendants of Ham's son Canaan. They were to be slaves for eternity and were to serve the other six-sevenths of the population.

Canaan's descendants were said to have populated Africa, and the clergy had only to point to history to demonstrate that the prophecy had been fulfilled. Therefore, it was supposedly the divine decree of God that gave the black people the liability of being enslaved by white people and justified the degradation of the entire race. Divine law and natural went hand in hand. It was obvious to the clergy that blacks were inferior to whites and that slavery was the black man's natural state. Indeed, slavery was rationalized as beneficial to the black race. White masters, it was said, gave them sustenance, Christianized them, and offered them hope for salvation.

Fascinating Fact:  The Babylonian Talmud states that negroes were the children of Ham, who was cursed with blackness. Ancient Arabs considered black people to have been born to slavery.


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