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Slavery

Essay by   •  October 22, 2010  •  1,261 Words (6 Pages)  •  1,612 Views

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The Old Testament is comprised of parables, metaphors, and sequential stories explaining the unknown entities of mankind. Here, believers utilize this foundation in order to better understand, evaluate, and rectify occurrences throughout daily life. In early American history, the old-testament was routinely used to justify slavery. The aim of this research is to discuss the specific reference and justification of slavery as it is portrayed in the Old-Testament.

The Christian church's main justification of slavery is based on Genesis 9:25-27. (Haynes, 2) Early America was primarily Anglo-Saxon protestant, and practiced a religion that was strictly based on the teachings of the Bible; more specifically the Old-Testament. From here, we begin to compare the ideology of previous generations to the popular belief of today's society considering slavery itself, as an immoral practice. This can only be settled in that either the text of the Bible is not valid, or that it was being misinterpreted. And if it is confirmed, that the Bible was misinterpreted, we must be able prove such misinterpretation? The basis of this research will be centered on Genesis 9:25-27 and will discuss the historical implications as well as the social developments regarding the moral dilemma encoded within the slavery of Africans and their descendants.

When mankind had become evil and corrupt the Lord decided it was time to purify the land. God did this by flooding all the earth. According to the Bible, when the worldwide flood had concluded, there were only 8 humans alive on earth: Noah, his wife, their six sons and daughters in law. Noah's son Ham was guilty of disgracing his father's name and ill-treatment towards Noah. So, a curse was cast upon Ham. The curse however wasn't directly cursing Ham. It was transferred to Ham's oldest son Canaan. (Genesis 9:18-29)

It was believed by The Christian church that the curse had been extended to Canaan's descendants. "The most positive and racist approach looked upon the curse of Ham as a divine decree that set the Negro race apart as an inferior, servile people." (Tise, 118) Their deep rooted beliefs come from an interpretation of the direct content within the Old Testament. Genesis 9:25-27 states: "Cursed be Canaan! The lowest of slaves will he be to his brothers. He also said, 'Blessed be the Lord, the God of Shem! May Canaan be the slave of Shem." Historians traditionally believed that Canaan and his descendants have settled in Africa, more specifically, Northern Africa. (Genesis 10:6-14) The dark skin of Africans became associated with this "the curse of Ham." Thus slavery of African's became religiously "justified" in 18th and 19th century America.

In these times, cursing a whole race into slavery was considered acceptable because it was in the Bible. Prior to the emancipation proclamation, throughout early American history, the old-testament was routinely used to justify slavery. The American slave owner felt whole-heartedly, that he was carrying out God's plan by buying and using slaves. (Tise, 117-120) The logical implication of such harsh treatment was considered quite clear: The direct descendants of Canaan can be traced back to early Roman times when Canaanites inhabited Northern Africa. These people were servants of many different rulers through-out history. Therefore, such "servant status" was continuing into slavery of the Africans.

In early generations, this belief held firmly with the given society. To enslave a black at this time meant to continue God's plan. This allowed slave owners, politicians, and average citizens to harbor such an evil without question or reason to question. We must remember the social structure at the time was very strict and finite; the authority of the government and the church was extremely powerful. Over time this power began to diminish and individuals felt empowered to dig deeper into the issue of slavery according to the Old-Testament. (Tise) Through this, it upheld the story in the Genesis, as well as the curse of "Ham" and the people of Canaan in Northern Africa.

However in further research, the so-called descendants of Ham's ultimate oppression came when the Romans destroyed the final Canaanian stronghold; which was the ancient city of Carthage. When the city was destroyed all descendants of Canaan were killed with it. This event was a prophecy of the bible, and was confirmed in 146 BC; marking the end of Ham's curse. (Bagnell, 68) Here, we must consider the discrepancies of the justification of slavery in America.

This finding essentially means that the Africans of the 18th and 19th century American couldn't possibly be descendants of Canaan, and that there is no justification of modern day slavery. The bible in effect makes slavery in American

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