{21}   STUDY: Noah’s Descendents


        Chapter 10 lists the 70 nations, originated from Noah’s 3 sons. Despite being from the same family, these nations became different racial groups on Earth. How did this happen? The black races have passed through horrendous history. Can this be traced to Noah’s curse on Canaan?


In which year was Adam created?

Archbishop (of Ireland) James Ussher published a biblical chronology in 1650-54. He dated creation in 4004 BC [and the Great Flood in 2350 BC]. His calculations were based on the genealogy of Genesis as recorded in the Hebrew Bible, the Masoretic Text. If Septuagint and Samaritan texts were used, the creation dates will be different.

However, there are clearly genealogical gaps (e.g. Gen 11:12 missing Cainan between Arphaxad and Shelah, as recorded in Lk 3:36). The reason is not because of inaccuracy of the Bible. In Jewish custom, “father” can mean “ancestor”, “son” can mean “descendent”. Because of these proven gaps, the date of creation was thought to be 8,000 to 10,000 years ago. However, if the genealogies were only 10% complete, the creation of Adam could be 60,000 years ago.

o        In biblical Hebrew, ab (father) can be used to mean grandfather, great-grandfather or even before, while ben (son) can mean grandson, great-grandson or even later.

How did different racial groups originate?

[1] When were the different races first described in the Bible?

The origin of different racial groups remains a mystery. In the Bible, racial diversity existed at least by the time of the Jewish exodus from Egypt (Nu 12:1).

[2] Secular explanation of the origin of races—natural selection and adaptation:

Secularists believe that races were the result of human evolution as a response to the various environments that the human groups are exposed to. However, the explanation seems inadequate, considering: [a] the rapid changes in many different racial traits within a few thousand years, [b] the significant genetical differences, and [c] the absence of genetical changes today. (Caucasians who have lived in Africa for many many generations still give birth to entirely white babies.)

[3] Process for genetic diversification:

Genetic research shows the possibilities of hybridization through selective pairing. Highly selective pairing among humans (such as marrying people with similar characteristics such as living habits or intelligence) might have facilitated the development of racial diversity as different groups of people with similar characteristics were formed out of one race.

Another possibility is that Adam and Eve possessed the genes to produce children with different skin tones. Later, there were only 8 survivors of the Flood. Perhaps Noah’s, Shem’s, Ham’s, or Japheth’s wives were all of different races so that they possessed the necesssary genes to produce children of different races.

[4] Is race related to the confusion of languages?

Some speculate that when God confused the languages at the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1-9), He also instituted racial diversity. God’s intention at Babel was to break up the destructive unity and to motivate people to spread throughout Earth’s habitable land masses. The separation could be achieved by diversifying language as well as introducing by God some new genetic material that caused external changes—those we recognize as racial distinctives. The two types of change (linguistic and racial) would seem to complement each other in causing mankind to segregate—at least until the late 20th century.

[5] Stabilization of racial traits: (continuation of the genetic diversification process in point [3] above)

After the Flood, when the different languages came into existence, groups that spoke one language moved away with others of the same language. In doing so, the gene pool for a specific group shrunk dramatically. Closer inbreeding took place, and in time certain features were emphasized in these different groups. As further inbreeding occurred through the generations, the gene pool got smaller and smaller, to the point that people of one language family all had the same or similar features, thus intensifying the previously minor genetical differences.

Why was Canaan cursed, not Ham?

[1] Perhaps Canaan was morally the worst son out of Ham’s 4 sons (Gen 10:6) so he was cursed.

[2] Canaan was paying for the sin of his father.

[3] Noah’s words were prophetic (similar to Isaac’s in Gen 27:27-29 and Jacob’s in Gen 49:2-27). He was prophesying the future of Ham’s descendants. This is why the word used is “shall”, not “may”. Later facts proved that Canaanites “defiled” themselves in sexual sins (Lev 18:24).

Was dark skin the penalty of Ham’s sin?

[1] Some argue that Canaan’s descendants may not have dark skin.

Gen 9 gives no hint that a change of skin colour marked the change in Canaan’s future. There is no archaeological evidence that the Canaanites had dark skin. The last of the Canaanites died in the Roman-Punic wars when Carthage was destroyed. So there is no definitive proof that Ham’s descendants had dark skin.

[2] History and World Events:

As we have witnessed from history, the black people are indeed an unfortunate race. In history, they were conquered and were taken as slaves. Their land was colonized by white people until the mid-20th century. They were culturally backward.

Today, the black people face a multitude of disasters. Physical disasters include frequent droughts, famines, and AIDS. Human disasters include massacres, totalitarianism, internal military and religious struggles, all of these resulting in massive deaths. All the countries are economically backward with little prospect of improvement. It is truly a dark continent.

Yet, God is still merciful to them. Spiritually, the continent is no longer dark. Many countries have a growing Christian population. We need to pray for a miraculous relief of their sufferings.

[3] Christian Position on racial discrimination:

Some people used Noah’s curse to justify the systemic discrimination of black people such as apartheid. This is unwarranted. If a racial group is cursed by God, it is up to God to dispense judgment. To us, each person in that group is still an image of God, deserving the same dignity.


        All races are originated from the same source (Adam) and all are in the image of God (Ac 17:26). Any form of racial discrimination and segregation should not be tolerated.

        Most important of all, God opens the door of salvation for everyone in the world. As Peter said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.” (Ac 10:34-35)