THE DAYS OF NOAH
We’ve just begun our journey of discovery of Biblical Africa and the descendants of Africa. But before we continue forward, let’s recap where we’ve been so far, shall we?
- We understand that we were created in the likeness of God! When God made us, He essentially drew us out of Himself so that our very essence would be just like Him. (See Reflect God, Identity in Christ, In The Image of God)
- We understand that the concept of race as we know it today is not a Biblical concept. There is only one race (the human race) that reflects the many colors and the glory of God! (See Reflect God, This Black Girl, A Race Second to None)
- We understand that the genealogical and biological Jewish nation is no longer God’s representative (Romans 9:1-8). Jesus did not die for, nor is He returning for a nation, kingdom, tribe, particular religion, or denomination; Christ is returning for YOU (Romans 2:6-8, Hebrews 9:28). (See Reflect God, This Black Girl, The Greatest Love Story Ever Told)
- We understand that ancient Africa differed from Africa as we know it today. See Reflect God, This Black Girl Always Mattered, Back to Africa)
We understand that God had Africa in mind from the beginning of time as rivers flowed out of Eden through, around the lands of Africa, also known in ancient Biblical times as Cush or Ethiopia. See Reflect God, This Black Girl Always Mattered, Here in the Garden)
Genesis 5:29, 32 – And he called his name Noah, saying, “This one will comfort us concerning our work and the toil of our hands, because of the ground which the Lord has cursed.” And Noah was five hundred years old, and Noah begot Shem, Ham, and Japheth.
I confess. I used to get lost in all the “begats” of the Bible, and I often skipped right over those passages. But as I’ve engaged in this study, I’ve realized that to understand my history better, I have to understand the genealogies. It’s like doing a Biblical DNA test to trace your ancestry. So we’re going to take a deep dive into Genesis 10. But before we jump into that analysis, I need you to consider the following information as we begin drawing conclusions about Africa and the descendants of Africa.
Understanding Genealogy in general
There is a lot written to discredit the validity of the Table of Nations (Genesis 10) and other genealogies within the Bible. And I could spend a lot of time trying to prove that they are real. However, as I’ve shared previously, the point of these Bible studies isn’t to debate and argue what was. Additionally, I’m coming from the perspective that the Bible is true, and although I may not always understand everything, I don’t doubt its validity.
The thing with genealogies is that, although important, they can be tricky to understand. So, when reading the varying genealogies, we have to remember not to impose our modern expectations of precision on an ancient text written for very different purposes. Biblical genealogies were not meant to be exhaustive (From <https://biologos.org/series/how-should-we-interpret-biblical-genealogies/articles/the-genealogies-in-genesis-part-i>).
An additional reason they might be challenging to understand, as noted above, is that the composition of Biblical genealogies differed. Some are unilinear, like in Genesis 4:25-26, or in Genesis 5:1-32, which lists the male head of each family from Adam to Noah and the descendants of Noah’s three sons or in Gen 11:20-26. These read with the understanding that “X is the son of Y.” However, a literal father/son relationship was not always the case. For example, the Hebrew word ben (begat) in Genesis 46:18 represents grandson. It can also demonstrate ancestral links. For example, when Matthew (1:9) says Uzziah (Azariah) fathered Jotham, he omits three kings who lived between them. Ahaziah reigned one year (2 Kings 8:26); Joash forty years (2 Kings 12:2) and Amaziah twenty-one years (2 Kings 14:2). Therefore Jotham would be a distant relative of Uzziah and not a direct son. Yet, he is listed next in the genealogy (From <https://www.blueletterbible.org/faq/don_stewart/don_stewart_719.cfm>).
Others, like Genesis 10, are multilinear, more like a family tree, listing multiple branches of descendants in each generation (https://www.compellingtruth.org/Bible-genealogies.html).
The genealogies are also complex to understand because they serve different purposes. One of the purposes of the Biblical genealogies was to determine who could serve in specific roles. For example, only Levites working in the tabernacle and temple and descendants of Aaron were able to serve as high priests. Also, certain activities in the Mosaic Law were limited to those who could prove there were Jewish descendants. Another purpose was to prove many Bible prophecies. For example, Jesus would be a Jew from the tribe of Judah. As Scripture predicted, he was also a descendent of Abraham and David (From <https://www.compellingtruth.org/Bible-genealogies.html>).
Some genealogies also provided interesting information about people’s lives, as evidenced in I Chronicles 4:9-10, the passage regarding Jabez.
Other Genealogies list the names of tribes and or nations. In Genesis 25:12-18, the names listed are based on village names in areas surrounding Canaan but are not part of the land promised to Abraham and his descendants. And in Genesis 10, the list includes the corresponding tribes or nations of Noah’s descendants (From <https://bibleresources.americanbible.org/resource/genealogies-in-the-bible>).
So, although boring at times and confusing at others, genealogies are important for solidifying our belief that the Bible is real history and that we are, in fact, African descendants with a rich, royal, and God-ordained Biblical lineage. Genealogies help us trace the priestly and royal lines of Israel’s history. Genealogies also explain geographical proximity and ethnic similarity through family relationships. And when you look at the lives of some of the people included in varying genealogies (i.e., Tamar and Rahab), we begin to understand that God uses all kinds of people, even people like you and me (From <https://answersingenesis.org/bible-timeline/genealogy/gaps-in-the-genesis-genealogies/> and https://bibleproject.com/blog/jesus-genealogies/). Genealogies are essential specifically for:
- Substantiating the historical accuracy of the Bible,
- Confirming Biblical prophecy,
- Revealing more about the nature of God with respect to His attention to detail, to order, and to not only seeing “kingdoms, nations, tribes, and families,” but seeing individual people like you and me, and
- Showing that Jesus fulfilled the promise of God the Father.
Genesis 5:32 verifies the names of Noah’s three sons, Japheth, Shem and Ham. However, before we go further, we must first understand the significance of names and the naming of children in ancient Biblical times. In later studies I’ll go into more detail, but for our purposes, know that in ancient Biblical times, names were given intentionally. Names were more than just labels. For example, to the ancient Hebrews, nothing existed until it had a name and the name of a thing reflected its essence and very being. Names often expressed the person’s character as in the naming of Jacob (Genesis 25:26). Names sometimes signified origin like the naming of Adam, which in Hebrew meant “son of the red earth” (Genesis 2:7). Names offered explanations of something that the parents might have experienced, as seen in the naming of Issachar (Genesis 30:15-8). And sometimes, the name reflected the child’s appearance, as seen in the naming of Essau (Genesis 25:24).
So when we look at the meaning of the names of the sons of Noah, we come to understand that Japheth means to get bigger or to extend. Shem is often translated to mean “name.” However, the Hebrew translation is more akin to having a good name. And Ham is translated to mean warm, hot or burnt. Apparently, Ham’s name was reflective of his skin color (From <https://www.massbible.org/curse-of-ham-black-people>).
For this study, we will focus on the line of Noah’s youngest son, Ham, the father of Cush, Mizraim, Phut and Canaan, who, along with their descendants, are recognized as having populated the African nations. Now Ham was most notably known for instigating the Noah family scandal. After the flood, Noah and his family worked to reestablish civilization. One day, Noah became drunk and passed out naked in his tent. When Ham entered Noah’s tent, he found his dad there, passed out and naked. Instead of covering him and respecting his dad’s privacy, Ham told his brothers of their father’s condition. Shem and Japheth walked backward into the tent, their faces turned respectfully away, and they covered their father. When Noah awoke, he realized what Ham had done to him. Noah then cursed one of Ham’s sons and blessed Shem and Japheth for their actions (Genesis 9:18-27).
This “curse” has played a significant part in the justification of the enslavement and the oppression of Black Africans throughout the centuries. The story has been twisted, leading many to believe that God cursed Ham and that because Ham’s skin was “burnt” or black, then all of Ham’s Black descendants were cursed and destined to be “servants” or “slaves.” I just want to take a moment to dispel the lies. First of all, God did not curse Ham or Ham’s son Canaan. God spoke blessings over all of Noah’s sons and their descendants (Genesis 9:1-11). Next, Noah issued the curse (Genesis 9:24-27). Third, Noah did not curse Ham; he cursed Canaan, one of Ham’s sons (Genesis 9:25) (From <https://africa.thegospelcoalition.org/article/curse-of-ham/> ). Finally, and most importantly, even if we had been cursed back then, we wouldn’t be cursed now. See, when Christ hung on the cross in our place, He took on the curses of the law and all of our sins so that we would no longer be under any curse. Because of God’s love for us and because of the sacrifice of His only begotten Son, we have been redeemed so that the blessings and promises of God are our rightful inheritance (Deuteronomy 21:23, Galatians 3:13).
What I’ve learned from writing this lesson is the true meaning of “study to show thyself approved (2 Timothy 2:15).” See, when we rely solely on others’ interpretations of God’s Word, we run the risk of being confused. We begin to mischaracterize God. We doubt His love for us. We have a hard time seeing ourselves in His plan.
Getting into God’s Word and discovering it for myself has been the most incredible journey of my life. Knowing that the history of my people didn’t begin on a slave ship, but began after a cataclysmic flood, through the bloodline Noah, of a man chosen and set apart by God, fills me with pride. Knowing that my people are not cursed and that God’s blessings still hold, fills me with hope. I have the blessed hope of the rainbow, to which I can look and remember the everlasting covenant made between God and every living thing (Genesis 9:16).
“Study to show thyself approved (2 Timothy 2:15).” Walk in the light of God’s truth and allow His love, His hope, and His eternal plan for your salvation fill and consume you.
- How does Genesis 10:32 speak to you?
- What had been your understanding of genealogies? How has your understanding changed?
- How do God’s blessings upon Noah and His family (Genesis 9:1) and the promises made (Genesis 9:8-17) speak to you?
- What lies or distortions regarding the “curse of Ham” have you heard? How have these lies or distortions shaped how you think, feel or act?
- What is your understanding of the “curse of Ham” now?
- How has knowing the truth of God’s Word impacted you?
- What are your personal LIFE Lessons?
- Liberation: What new insights gained have freed you from past thoughts or practices?
- Inspiration: In what ways have you been spiritually, emotionally or mentally motivated to live for Christ?
- Fortification: What additional scriptural texts, passages or stories can reinforce and strengthen you against the attacks of the enemy?
- Edification: How might you share your story to edify others and bring glory to God?
As you process, digest, and apply what’s been shared, here are a few songs from “My Black Life” Playlist. Listen and let the music infiltrate your soul. Read the lyrics and let the words encourage you. And I pray that you’ll be blessed as I was.
The Curse Is Broken by James Fortune – James Fortune & FIYA – The Curse is Broken
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for my rich and glorious inheritance. Thank you for Your Son Jesus who died so that I might live. Thank You for Your truth and for the Holy Spirit Who guides me in all truth. In Your most holy name Jesus, I pray, Amen.