The Curse of Ham: Race and Slavery in Early Judaism, Christianity, and Islamby David M. Goldenberg, William Chester Jordan, Michael Cook
Pub. Date: 07/18/2005
Publisher: Princeton University Press
How old is prejudice against black people? Were the racist attitudes that fueled the Atlantic slave trade firmly in place 700 years before the European discovery of sub-Saharan Africa? In this groundbreaking book, David Goldenberg seeks to discover how dark-skinned peoples, especially black Africans, were portrayed in the Bible and by those who interpreted the
How old is prejudice against black people? Were the racist attitudes that fueled the Atlantic slave trade firmly in place 700 years before the European discovery of sub-Saharan Africa? In this groundbreaking book, David Goldenberg seeks to discover how dark-skinned peoples, especially black Africans, were portrayed in the Bible and by those who interpreted the Bible--Jews, Christians, and Muslims. Unprecedented in rigor and breadth, his investigation covers a 1,500-year period, from ancient Israel (around 800 B.C.E.) to the eighth century C.E., after the birth of Islam. By tracing the development of anti-Black sentiment during this time, Goldenberg uncovers views about race, color, and slavery that took shape over the centuries--most centrally, the belief that the biblical Ham and his descendants, the black Africans, had been cursed by God with eternal slavery.
Goldenberg begins by examining a host of references to black Africans in biblical and postbiblical Jewish literature. From there he moves the inquiry from Black as an ethnic group to black as color, and early Jewish attitudes toward dark skin color. He goes on to ask when the black African first became identified as slave in the Near East, and, in a powerful culmination, discusses the resounding influence of this identification on Jewish, Christian, and Islamic thinking, noting each tradition's exegetical treatment of pertinent biblical passages.
Authoritative, fluidly written, and situated at a richly illuminating nexus of images, attitudes, and history, The Curse of Ham is sure to have a profound and lasting impact on the perennial debate over the roots of racism and slavery, and on the study of early Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
- Princeton University Press
- Publication date:
- Jews, Christians, and Muslims from the Ancient to the Modern World Series
- Product dimensions:
- 6.14(w) x 9.22(h) x 1.13(d)
Table of Contents
LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS xi
PART ONE: IMAGES OF BLACKS
Biblical Israel: The Land of Kush 17
Biblical Israel: The People of Kush 26
Postbiblical Israel: Black Africa 41
Postbiblical Israel: Black Africans 46
PART TWO: THE COLOR OF SKIN
The Color of Women 79
The Color of Health 93
The Colors of Mankind 95
The Colored Meaning of Kushite in Postbiblical Literature 113
PART THREE: HISTORY
Evidence for Black Slaves in Israel 131
PART FOUR: AT THE CROSSROADS OF HISTORY AND EXEGESIS
Was Ham Black? 141
"Ham Sinned and Canaan was Cursed?!" 157
The Curse of Ham 168
The Curse of Cain 178
The New World Order: Humanity by Physiognomy 183
Jewish Views of Black Africans and the Development of Anti-Black Sentiment in Western Thought 195
When is a Kushite not a Kushite? Cases of Mistaken Identity 201
Kush/Ethiopia and India 211
GLOSSARY OF SOURCES AND TERMS 379
SUBJECT INDEX 395
INDEX OF ANCIENT SOURCES 413
INDEX OF MODERN SCHOLARS 431
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This book is very meticulous with an abundance of information on how the curse of Ham evolved from the time of the Greeks and Romans. It however, leaves out an important ancient Semitic (Afro-Asiatic) cultural history and heritagee. It dealss mainly with the origins of Syrian and European Jewish tradition rather than true Semitic heritage as exemplified in early Arabia including Judaea. Hamran (or Ham)and Shim'al refered to the agricultural as opposed to bedouin Arabian caste which controlled them. In Arabian and early Jewish culture Ham and Shem and Japhet were definitely one peoples. To be fair in Arabia as late as the 13th c. was considered to be descended from a slave. According to ibn Rabbu writer of El Eqd El Fareed of Andalusia the Shuraik el Qadi of the 7th c. said "A fair-skinned Arab is something unthinkable or inconceivable". The interpretation of colors in this book by Goldenberg is different from early Arab interpretations. For example, his interpretation of el Tabari in Arabic where it says " Shem were both black and black with a light brown undertone". The term for fair skin in Arab is not white . White, yellow and green was and is used in early Arabian and modern African and Afro-Arabian culture often for brown and dark-skinned people like Aulemidden Tuareg in Niger,Fulani in Sahara, African Americans and North Sudanese, etc. Thus Thus El Dhahabi 13th and 14th c. said in the text Seyar A'alam al Nubalaa, "When the Arabs say that that a person is white they mean that he is black with a light brownish undertone." He also wrote "red in the speech of the people from the Hijaz means fair-complexioned and this color is rare amongst the Arabs. This is the meaning of the saying... 'a red man as if he is one of the slaves'." ." Similar statements are made by Ibn Mandur 12th c. who said Red people applies to the non-Arabs because of their whiteness and he also said the Arabs call the slaves "the red people". This is why in the Kitab al Aghani the tribe of Yashkur in Mohammed's time is said to be "so lightskinned that you would think they are slaves." Thalab of the 9th c. stated "The Arabs don't say a man is white because of a white complexion... If they meant that his complexion was white, they said red."
This is to say while in Syria and the Levant blackness may have come to be associated with slavery. But, it was quite the opposite among the early or real Arabs who were also the originators of the Ham, Shem Japhet allegory. In Arabian genealogy Shem Ham and Japhet are various tribes in Arabia and are all the same color.
Even one Jewish writing Pirqe de Ribbi Eli`ezer pereq 24.says "Shem was especially blessed black and beautiful. Ham was blessed black like the raven, and Yapheth was blessed white all over."from Pirqe de Ribbi Eli`ezer pereq 24. Thus it is clear the tradition Shem and Japhet being white arose later. First Japhet became white because Arabian tribes had been settled in Iran and Asia Minor for a millenium and a half before Christ since this Hyksos period and before. As Josephus said the nations received their names from their original inhabitants. Then Shem finally became associated with whiteness as Syrians and other groups began to adopt Judaean and Arabian culture in Palestine and Syria.
It is clear that European academics need to become more versed on early Semitic and Arabian culture and dialects and stop t