Cain, Ham and Racism

I wonder how many of you would be surprised to learn that Cain, is not just a controversial figure in the Bible, but he also used to inspire racism against two peoples: Those who are Jewish and those who are Black.

We all know the story, right?  The Bible says that after God confronted Cain about Abel’s death, He sent him into exile and told him that the Earth would not yield crops for him.  But Cain had a strong fear that others would kill him for what he had done, so God showed him a mercy by putting a mark upon him which would identify him as someone not to be killed by another, lest God’s wrath come upon the murderer.

But Cain’s story doesn’t really start here.  Not in terms of how Christianity has used him to feed racism amongst Christians.  It really begins in the Garden, as God is confronting the Serpent for making Adam and Eve eat the forbidden fruit.  He tells the Serpent that He will divide the seed of the Serpent and the Seed of Adam from one another, and the man’s seed would take out the Serpent.

Interpretations of what happen in the Garden are not all the same.  There are people which believe this is about Cain and Abel’s births.  Where the first tradition holds that both Cain and Abel are Adam’s children, this other tradition holds that they are Fraternal Twins with two different fathers.  That the “Forbidden Fruit” is a euphemism meaning that Eve first had sex with the Serpent, and then Adam had sex with the serpent.

In case you didn’t know, it is possible to have twins with two different fathers.  It’s called Superfecundation (Cocozza, 2018).  Which makes this an unfortunate piece of the puzzle- science holds up the theory, and thus encourages this version of the what it means to “partake of the forbidden fruit”.  To the people which believe this, it’s not much longer before the child which is the Serpent’s is revealed.  With Cain’s inability to please God and his subsequent murdering of Abel, everyone suddenly realizes that the seed of the Serpent (or Satan) is Cain.

So let’s go back to Cain’s “mark”.  In one tradition, his mark was the pigment of his skin, and it is used to condemn Black People.  The other tradition states that all his children inherited his curse that the land would not yield to him.  This version of the story is used to condemn the Jewish population, stating that they are not actually the Jews in the Bible, but rather “Kennites” (Descendants of Cain).

I thought about going into who the Kennites actually were, but I’ll get into that on another day.  For now, I want to talk about this problem of Racism in Christianity.  However, to get to that point, we have to have some real hard talks.

First, let’s first try to erase this notion of Cain being the father of an entire race living today: The Flood.  The whole point of the Flood was to get rid of all the evil people and start fresh.  God left only Noah and his Family to inherit the Earth.  It’s pretty clear from the Biblical account that if Cain’s line was nothing but evil, they wouldn’t have survived the Flood.  It’s a simple as that.

But even if this wasn’t the case (as some Christian faiths insist that “world” meant “known world” rather than the whole Earth), the curse of not being able to yield crops seems to have no bearing here either. Jewish people cultivate their own crops in Israel, and have a fairly rich agriculture. I’m sure I’d have some people point out that Zimbabwe has difficulty with their agriculture- to which I’ll see your Zimbabwe card with the US South during the years of slavery. It wasn’t the white people largely tending to the crops- it was Black Slaves who made the market what it was. Clearly both these cultures have the capacity for Green Thumbs. I, on the other hand, don’t. Maybe the curse of Cain came down the White Line? Except that I have plenty of family on both sides that can grow their own small gardens…so there goes that theory as well.

So the next theory comes about- Alright, the Flood and Green Thumbs didn’t work, so let’s try that the Black population comes from Ham.  This one was used by Brigham Young, of the Church of Latter-Day Saints, to try and keep the Black Man down.  His argument was that if we didn’t keep Black Slaves, we would be going against God’s Will when He cursed Ham’s descendants.  This same racism was echoed around the country.  And later on, it became a point of scholarship to blame racism against Black persons on Rabbinic Racism (Goldenberg, 1997).

In some minor defense of the LDS, in 2013 they denounced the Curse of Ham as an excuse to prevent Black Men from obtaining a priesthood, but isn’t well known by their membership.  But this denouncement came about about 40 years after a leader in the Mormon Church had a revelation given to him by God that no race or skin tone should be withheld from the priesthood.

I don’t need a personal revelation.  And honestly if you’re one of those people who believe that God wants you to continue a feud with either the Black or Jewish population, I hope you’ve stuck it out this far.  

EXHIBIT A:

Ezekiel 18:19-20

Yet say ye, Why? doth not the son bear the iniquity of the father? When the son hath done that which is lawful and right, and hath kept all my statutes, and hath done them, he shall surely live.

The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.

Your actions are your own.  You can choose to follow in the footsteps of your ancestors, or you can choose to become righteous before God.  Every person on this planet has their own choices to make.  They are not bound by a curse made a few millennia ago- the only “bloodline curse” upon anyone are those which are self-fulfilled due to racism.

EXHIBIT B:

Acts 10:28

And he (Peter) said unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean.

Upon Christ’s resurrection, the rules changed.  Gentiles (meaning anyone that isn’t a Jew) were afforded an opportunity to enter into God’s Kingdom in a way they had never been given before.  So even without the declaration in Ezekiel, we have evidence in the New Testament that racism is not just ridiculous- God doesn’t want it.  The whole point of allow Gentiles in was to fulfill a prophecy given in Genesis that God would use Abraham’s line to bring the world together under God’s Divine rulership.

If God judges a human being by their personal character and not by their ancestors- or even by the people they communicate with- by what excuse do we, mere humans, have to do so?

Oh, and by the way, this same argument debunks all Arab racism as well. Although the feud between Ishmael and Isaac seems to be forever going on in the Middle East, there are plenty of people on both sides that have proven Jewish and Muslims can get along when they decide their ancestors and those actively fighting have nothing to do with them.

Citation

Cocozza, P. (2018).  One set of twins – two fathers: how common is superfecundation?  Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/shortcuts/2018/dec/11/one-set-twins-two-fathers-how-common-is-superfecundation

Goldenburg, D. (1997).  The Curse of Ham: A Case of Rabbinic Racism?  Retrieved from https://www.sas.upenn.edu/~dmg2/comsalz3%20as%20publ.%20with%20additions.pdf 

Published by alethealeland

Author of "A Wicked & Adulterous Generation"

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