Author of the Month

Black Genesis (cont.)
By Robert Bauval & Thomas Brophy

From Chapter 5, section Ham, Son of Noah:

In Egyptology, we frequently come across the term Hamites in connection with the origins of the ancient Egyptians. As we attempt to understand why and how the Hamites are associated with the ancient Egyptians, we are often led to the Bible and the story of Noah and his sons. In the Book of Genesis, Ham is one of the sons of Noah. Ham’s children are Mizraim, Cush, Put, and Canaan, but in the Bible the names of Ham’s children are also used to denote geographical places: Egypt (Mizraim), Ethiopia (Cush), Libya (Put), and Palestine (Canaan). Many biblical scholars have proposed that the name Ham meant, in ancient Hebrew, “black” and “hot,” implying that the Land of Ham was a warm, tropical region populated by Black people. The Land of Ham is thus often said to be that part of the world we call Black Africa (what has been thought of as sub-Saharan Africa). Naturally, as has always been the case with the etymology of Hebrew words in the Bible, there is a heated debate over whether this interpretation is correct, because in Genesis 9:20–25 another story is told of how Noah, while tending his vineyard, became drunk and fell asleep naked in his tent, and then Ham did something unspeakable to him, whereupon Noah cursed Ham through Ham’s youngest son, Canaan. This so-called Curse of Ham (also known as the Curse of Canaan) has generated, as we might expect, all sorts of debate and various interpretations among fundamentalists of the Bible as well as racists. To confound the issue even further, in the Bible, the Land of Ham is also unequivocally associated with the land of the pharaohs—that is, Egypt, the traditional enemy of Israel: “Israel also came into Egypt, and Jacob dwelt in the land of Ham” (Psalm 105:23) and “They forgot God their Savior, who had done great things in Egypt, wondrous works in the land of Ham, awesome things by the Red Sea” (Psalm 106:21).

As we have just seen, in the Bible, the land of Egypt is also known as Mizraim, the name of one of Ham’s sons. By implication, then, we can see how biblical literalists might conclude that the Egyptians were the descendants of Ham. At any rate, we can see all these biblical interpretations

as fueling the neverending conflict between Israel and Egypt—a conflict that supposedly started with the Jews in captivity in Egypt at the time of Rameses II (ca. 1290 BCE) and ended in 1979 with the fragile peace treaty between Israel and Egypt—the so-called Heskem HaShalom Bein Yisrael Le Mizraim. We can note that even today Jews refer to Egypt as Mizraim. Indeed, the Egyptians themselves call Egypt Mizr, clearly a derivative of Mizraim. Of course, biblical stories are not scientific evidence…

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