Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Does the Bible support racism?

       Sadly, racism – especially against Africans – has in the past been blamed on the Bible which, according to some 'Godly' people condemns black people to slavery. The scripture most commonly used to support this travesty is in Genesis 9:25 where Noah is quoted as saying: “Cursed be Canaan. Let him become the lowest slave to his brothers.”  However, this verse doesn’t mention skin colour. Instead, the curse was made against Ham’s son due to a shocking act which he perpetrated against Noah while the older man was inebriated.

       It helps, of course, to identify who Canaan’s descendants actually were. Not black, but with paler complexions, Canaanites settled by the Mediterranean in land later occupied by Israel and surrounding Arab nations. They eventually came under divine judgement because of their depraved practices and rites, including child sacrifice. Most were wiped out by the Israelites, and those Canaanites who survived were forced into labour by their conquerors, so fulfilling Noah’s curse.

       As for the black races, these did not descend from Canaan but from another of Ham’s sons,  Cush, whose own offspring included Seba, Havilah, Sabtah, Raamah and Sabteca (Gen 10:6,7) When mentioned in later portions of the Bible, the term Cush corresponds to Ethiopia, while Seba refers to people in Eastern Africa.

       The Bible offers no basis whatsoever for racism or apartheid in any form. On the contrary,  in Acts 10:34,35, the apostle Peter states that “God is not partial, but in every nation the man who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.”

       Incidentally, black people specifically mentioned in the Bible include Ebedmelech (Jeremiah ch 38), the Shulammite maid (Song of Solomon, aka Canticles) and the Ethopian official (Acts ch 8 vs 26-40), each of whom displayed remarkable faith, loyalty, integrity and courage.  

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