Title Page, Copyright

pdf iconDownload PDF
 

Contents

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. vii-viii

read more

Acknowledgments

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. ix-x

A work of this sort, which attempts a historical synthesis covering different time periods, cultures, and languages, is naturally dependent upon the help of others. Several are mentioned and thanked in the notes to this work. In addition, I am indebted to Annalisa Azzoni, William Brinner, Ephraim Dardashti, Joseph F. Eska, Gilad Gevaryahu, Moshe Lazaar, Nehemiah Levtzion, Bernard Lewis, Renee Levine Melammed, Uri Melammed, Vera Moreen...

Abbreviations

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. xi-xviii

read more

Introduction

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 1-14

This biblical story has been the single greatest justification for Black slavery for more than a thousand years. It is a strange justification indeed, for there is no reference in it to Blacks at all. And yet just about everyone, especially in the antebellum American South, understood that in this story God meant to curse black Africans with eternal slavery, the so-called Curse of Ham. As one proslavery author wrote in 1838, “The blacks were originally designed to vassalage by the Patriarch Noah.”...

Part 1. Images of Blacks

read more

1. Biblical Israel: The Land of Kush

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 17-25

How did the ancient Israelites view the black African? Our main body of evidence for ancient Israel is the Hebrew Bible. Although other evidence is also found, the Hebrew Bible is the main repository of information for ancient Israel, including its views of the black African. Indeed, the Bible refers to these people a number of times, which should not be surprising as they were part of the ancient Near East and played a role in its history...

read more

2. Biblical Israel: The People of Kush

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 26-40

Now that we have determined when the Bible refers to Nubia/ Kush, what the ancient Israelites knew about the land, and how they perceived it, we can begin our investigation into the biblical views of, and attitudes toward, the people of that land. Kushites are mentioned in a number of places in the Hebrew Bible, but we cannot, of course, restrict our investigation to the Bible...

read more

3. Postbiblical Israel: Black Africa

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 41-45

Having examined how biblical Israel viewed black Africa and its people, we are ready to investigate the postbiblical period. As we did with the earlier material, we first look at the land and then the people. We saw that in the Hebrew Bible the name Kush referred to several different places. In trying to assess attitudes toward black Africans, our first task was to determine when “Kush” meant the African location...

read more

4. Postbiblical Israel: Black Africans

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 46-76

Now that we have defined the various names for black Africa used in postbiblical Jewish literature, we are ready to look at the references to the people who lived in, or came from, this part of the world to see how they were perceived by the Jews of late antiquity. We saw that in the biblical period Kush played a role in the history of Israel and the ancient Near East, and that the Kushites were known to biblical Israel primarily as a militarily powerful people...

Part 2. The Color of Skin

read more

5. The Color of Women

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 79-92

One passage in the Bible does not speak of black Africans and yet is very important in any discussion of attitudes toward skin color: “I am black but beautiful” (Song of Songs 1:5). As the historian Harold Isaacs wrote forty years ago, “‘I am black but comely,’ sang the Shulamite maiden to the daughters of Jerusalem and on that but hangs a whole great skein of our culture.”1 As we shall see, although the passage is not about the black African, it is very definitely about aesthetic evaluations of skin color...

read more

6. The Color of Health

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 93-94

Other references to skin color in both biblical and postbiblical literature may also fall outside the parameters of our investigation, for they are not markers of a person’s natural complexion. These instances, rather, refer to transitory changes in the brightness or color of a person’s skin brought on by various physiological or psychological causes (such as our “pale with fright,” “red with shame,” “ashen with gloom,” etc.)...

read more

7. The Colors of Mankind

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 95-112

A rabbinic text commenting on the skin diseases mentioned in the Bible (Leviticus, chs. 13–14; Deut 24:8), states: “An intensely bright white spot [baheret] appears faint on the very light-skinned [ germani], while a faint spot appears bright on the very dark-skinned [kushi]. Rabbi Ishmael said: ‘The Jews—may I be like an expiatory sacrifice for them [an expression of love]—are like the boxwood tree [eshkeroa'], neither black nor white, but in between.’”2 This statement records a second-century (R. Ishmael) perception that the skin color of Jews is midway between black and white...

read more

8. The Colored Meaning of Kushite in Postbiblical Literature

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 113-128

Throughout the course of this study, we have seen that the dark color of the Kushite was noted and commented on, to one degree or another, by both Greco-Roman and Near Eastern writers from antiquity onward. It is, after all, the most noticeable feature of the Kushite in a lighter-skinned society. We recall one view that the biblical personal name Kush or Kushi may have even been given to non-Kushites because of their dark complexion...

Part 3. History

read more

9. Evidence for Black Slaves in Israel

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 131-138

Were there black slaves in Israel in antiquity and late antiquity? If there were, did they constitute a minority or a majority of the slave population? Was there an implicit identity of the Black as slave? Do Jewish sources, specifically the three shifhah kushit parables, reflect this identity? In order to get a better handle on the historical picture in Israel at this time, let us first see what the situation was like in other countries of the Mediterranean basin and the Near East...

Part 4. At the Crossroads of History and Exegesis

read more

10. Was Ham Black?

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 141-156

For the humanities, philology is a fairly exact science. To be sure, people have forever been devising their own derivations of words and hanging all sorts of ideologies on their creations. But the development of language follows specific linguistic laws, the proper examination of which can lead to firm conclusions about the origin of words and, consequently, about the world represented by those words. In a wonderful parody of the loose etymology used by Jacob Bryant in 1807 to prove that Egyptians...

read more

11. "Ham Sinned and Canaan was Cursed?!"

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 157-167

The biblical account of Noah’s drunkenness and his curse of slavery is very clear about who was cursed. Although it was Ham who behaved improperly toward his father, Noah, it was not Ham whom Noah cursed. Rather, Noah cursed Ham’s son Canaan. Why Canaan was cursed if it was Ham who sinned is a question that has been debated for well over the past two thousand years. Nevertheless, it was Canaan who was cursed...

read more

12. The Curse of Ham

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 168-177

The curse of Ham is the assumed biblical justification for a curse of eternal slavery imposed on Black people, and Black people alone. Earlier we examined various Near Eastern curse-of-blackness etiologies accounting for the existence of dark-skinned people in a lighter-skinned world. We saw, too, that the Greeks had their own etiologies as well as an environmental explanation to account for the phenomenon of dark-skinned people. Other etiological explanations are found elsewhere...

read more

13. The Curse of Cain

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 178-182

Ham is not the only biblical figure who was supposedly marked by a change of skin color. So was Cain, the son of Adam, according to some writers. Several authors in antebellum America refer to a then-current idea that Cain was smitten with dark skin as punishment for killing his brother, Abel. To some, this was the unspecified “mark” that God put on Cain “so that no one who found him would kill him” (Gen 4:15)...

read more

14. The New World Order: Humanity by Physiognomy

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 183-194

We have seen how the new historical circumstances, that is, the increasing identification of the Black as slave, brought in its wake reinterpretations of Scripture. Although only Canaan is cursed with slavery in the Bible, Ham, the father of colored people, shares that fate in the later interpretations. Peculiarities in the graphic representation of the Hebrew language also played a very significant role in these reinterpretations...

read more

Conclusion. Jewish Views of Black Africans and the Development of Anti-Black Sentiment in Western Thought

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 195-200

What were the images of black Africans in the ancient Jewish perception? How did Jews in the biblical and postbiblical periods think about Blacks? What were the attitudes underlying these views? Was there an overriding color prejudice? Did early Jewish attitudes toward Blacks influence later Christian and Islamic views? How did postbiblical Jewish interpretation of Scripture influence Christian and Islamic exegesis in regard to the black African?...

Appendix I. When is a Kushite not a Kushite? Cases of Mistaken Identity

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 201-210

Appendix 2. Kush/Ethiopia and India

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 211-212

Notes

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 213-378

Glossary of Sources and Terms

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 379-394

Subject Index

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 395-412

Index of Ancient Sources

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 413-430

Index of Modern Scholars

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 431-449