February 22nd, 2017

The Descendants of Ham:
The Tower of Babel, Nimrod, and a Scattered People

REVIEW: After the ark landed (2345 B.C.), Noah and his wife, their three sons and their wives, gave rise in the course of time to three distinct families who, according to their patriarchal lineage, are most properly termed Japhethites, Shemites, and Hamites. In modern terminology, these three families would be represented by the Semitic people (Hebrews, Arabs, and ancient nations of the Middle East and Arabian Peninsula), the great world explorers the world (Hamites) whose families include the Mongoloid and Negroid Hamites, and finally, the Caucasoid Japhethites (the Indo-Europeans).

At first they kept together. But within a century or so they broke up into small groups, and subsequently some of the family of Shem, most of the family of Ham, and a few of the family of Japheth arrived from the east in the Mesopotamian Plain (Genesis 11:2). Here it would appear from evidence discussed elsewhere that the family of Ham, who had become politically dominant, initiated a movement to prevent further dispersal by proposing the building of a monument as a visible rallying point on the flat plain, thus bringing upon themselves a judgment which led to an enforced and rapid scattering throughout the earth (See Appendix 12, The Tower of Babel).

The Difficulties of Tracing the Descendants of Ham

The descendants of Ham present problems which are not shared by the families of Japheth and of Shem. Several listed descendants of Ham are also easily traceable today, for example, Mizraim (Egypt), Canaan (Canaanites), and Heth (Hittites). But there are many names of which we have very little information, yet all of whom may have been ancestors of very substantial portions of the present world's population. In the languages of the Hamitic line there is a great deal of confusion. Among the descendants of Ham are dialects that rapidly developed between neighboring and related tribes as they multiplied, rendering their speech unintelligible to one another in a remarkably short space of time, even when related tribes lived relatively close to one another.

The names of Ham's sons are not preserved even in corrupted form in modern times. The sons of Ham were Cush, Mizraim, Phut, and Canaan, but not one of these is held today by any living representatives in any recognizable form whatever. Cush subsequently became identified with Ethiopia, Mizraim with Egypt, Phut with Libya, and Canaan with Palestine, but the old names passed completely out of use.

On the other hand, many of the names were bywords for a long time not because there were numerous descendants, as in the case of Japheth, but rather because of some single notable achievement. Nimrod was remembered for his hunting prowess. Many of the cities which are listed as having been founded by Ham's descendants had notable histories. But they, too, for the most part ceased to have importance long before modern times. A notable exception is the city Jerusalem, which of course is not actually mentioned at all even under its older name Jebus.

How, then, can one provide substantiating evidence for the claim that from Ham are descended the people of darker color? Only by inference. For example, while there was a Cush in or near Mesopotamia at the very beginning, the most prominent settlement established by descendants of this patriarch was in Ethiopia. The Ethiopians have been habitually considered true blacks, which is recognized indirectly in Scripture when the prophet asks, "Can the Ethiopian change his skin?" (Jeremiah 13:23). There are other native African tribes which trace themselves back traditionally to Ham. The Yoruba who are black skinned, for example, claim to be descendants of Nimrod, whereas the Libyians, who are "white" skinned, are usually traced back to Lehabim, a son of Mizraim. And the Egyptians were direct descendants of Mizraim. It is possible that all of Africa, despite the different shades of color among the various tribes of its native populations, was initially settled by members of this one Hamitic family.

There still remains, however, the vast aggregate of peoples who are generally classified as Mongoloid (Chinese), who settled the Far East and the New World. Do they really appear in this genealogical tree, or must we admit that the Table of Nations is not comprehensive here?

Heth and Sin

There are two names which I think may conceivably provide us with clues. That they should be so briefly referred to in the genealogy may seem surprising as we are proposing they gave rise to such enormous populations. We are referring specifically to Heth, a son of Canaan, and the Sinites, a tribe presumably descended from Sin, a brother of Heth.

Heth was, without question, the father of the Hittites. Except for the work of archaeologists, however, we should never have known how important the descendants of this man really were at one point in history, for the Hittite empire seemed to nearly completely disappear. Anthropologist C. R. Conder contended that when the Hittite empire crumbled, all the Hittites of importance were either killed or fled eastwards (see Genesis 23:2, 26:34, 50:13 and Joshua 1:4). Conder's view was that the word "Hittite," which appears in Cuneiform as "Khittae," was borne by the fleeing remnant of this once powerful nation to the Far East and was preserved through the centuries in the more familiar form ''Cathay.''He assumes that they became a not unimportant part of early Chinese stock. Certainly there are curious links between them, for example, their modes of dress, their shoes with turned-up toes, their manner of doing their hair in a pigtail, and so forth. Representations show them to have possessed high cheekbones, and craniologists have observed that they had not a few characteristics of the Mongoloids. More recently, another possible corroborating link appears in the discovery that the Hittites mastered the art of casting iron and the taming of horses, two achievements of great importance, occurring early in Chinese history.

Sin is preserved in the modern term "China." The Chinese civilization originates by migrations from the West. Cuneiform scholars have noted how Sumerian is to Chinese. The Sinae people became independent in western China, their princes reigning there for some 650 years before they finally gained dominion over the whole land. In the third century B.C. the dynasty of Tsin became supreme in the Empire. The word came to have the meaning of "purebred." This word became Tsina or China (see Isaiah 49:12). The remnants of the Hittites after the destruction of their Empire travelled towards the East and settled among the Sinites who were relatives, contributing to their civilization certain arts, chiefly metallurgy (especially the casting of iron) and being so absorbed subsequently as to disappear entirely from history as a distinct people. That the New World was peopled by a Mongoloid stock is generally agreed, although there is some evidence of a small Negroid component. The evidence, it is true, is slim, but what evidence there is appears to me to point consistently in the same direction, supporting our initial contention that not only Africa with its black races, but the Far East and the Americas with their people of color were all descendants of Ham. (Source: Arthur Custance, The Descendants of Ham).

Appendix 13