The Curse of Ham: Biblical Justification for Racial Inequality?

A new publication has just been released online by GCRR's bi-annual academic journal, Socio-Historical Examination of Religion and Ministry (SHERM)! You can read the article for free here.


"The Curse of Ham: Biblical Justification for Racial Inequality?"


The story of the drunkenness of Noah that caused him to remove his clothing and thus provided the opportunity for his son, Ham, to “see” him (Genesis 9:20‒27), has never received an interpretation that has been unanimously adopted by interpreters over the centuries. By examining the concept of “nakedness” as it functions in biblical legislation, this article argues that the most plausible understanding of the passage is that Ham committed incest with the wife of his father, Noah. Concomitantly, it becomes clear that the literalist idea of “race” used to undergird either slavery or any comparable form of white supremacy cannot be derived exegetically from the passage.

About the Author

Charles David Isbell is the Jewish Studies professor at Louisiana State University. He holds a Ph.D. in Hebrew and Judaic Studies from Brandeis University and is an original member of the translation committee for The New American Standard Bible. For additional biographic and bibliographic information about Dr. Isbell, see his website:

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