chapter  4
28 Pages

Losing Canaan: Early Modern Exegesis of Genesis 9

There is no proof that the authors who silenced the narrative of a cursed Canaan in the sixteenth century did so in order to support or justify African slavery or out of some deep-seated racialist agenda. They did not. The African slave trade was not yet the significant economic force in the sixteenth century that it would become in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Further, slavery was largely accepted and did not need significant justification in the sixteenth century.2 Instead, the loss of Canaan served other less malevolent agendas in the sixteenth century, such as encouraging children to honor their parents. However, in the late seventeenth and then eighteenth century, when the Transatlantic Slave Trade did begin to require a myth of legitimacy, the fact that the narrative of Canaan had been lost allowed for easier acceptance of the Curse of Ham in both elite and popular cultures. This silencing of Canaan became commonplace and allowed for Noah’s curse to fall directly upon Ham.