Arlen Chitwood on the “Hamitic curse”

In his published writings, Arlen Chitwood maintains that several African races are cursed by God. He argues that “Hamitic curse” is still valid, and will remain so until the reign of Christ in the millennial kingdom. This curse, he describes, is a curse of servitude, the lowest form of servility.

“The curse connected with Gen. 9:25, 26b, 27b, of necessity, remains in effect today, will remain in effect until the Millennium, and will then pass out of existence,” Chitwood wrote in reply to inquiries on this subject. He added that this is “simply what the Bible states — something which no one can get around, no matter how hard that person might try.”

Historically, the Hamitic curse was used to defend slavery and segregation. Chitwood’s spiritual predecessor, A. Edwin Wilson, championed segregation and derided integration as a work of Satan, employing biblical texts to defend his position (see related story).

Chitwood is reluctant to speak on the topic, but he has not publicly disavowed Wilson.

In the 1980s, Chitwood edited and published Selected Writings of A. Edwin Wilson, which contains Wilson’s racial theories. Chitwood wrote in the introduction to the book, “The articles in this periodical covered a broad range of Biblical subjects and came from the pen of an individual who, through many years of prayer, study, and meditation upon the Scriptures, was pre-eminently qualified to write on these subjects.”

Until recently, Chitwood offered an electronic edition of the text at The book is widely available from other online sources and in print.

Identifying the Hamitic race in the writings of Arlen Chitwood

In a subsequent reply to inquiries, Chitwood declined to clarify his views. “Now, if you were to ask me what race of people today is under the curse in Gen. 9, I would take the matter no further than to tell you to find out who the descendants of Ham through his sons are today, and you will have that segment of society,” he wrote. “I’m going to let you find that out for yourself so that you can’t do what you have already tried to do on your web site.”

However, he plainly states in his published writings who the descendants of Ham are. In “Focus on the Middle East,” he identifies 90 percent of Egyptians as Hamitic.[1. “Focus on the Middle East,” p. 75.] He also regards people inhabiting the nations below Egypt as descendants of Ham. This accords with the traditional understanding of the Hamitic curse (see Wikipedia).

“‘Libya’ and ‘Ethiopia’ can be identified with nations south of Israel — modern-day Libya and probably the area covered by northern Sudan and possibly northern Ethiopia (looked upon in Scripture as one nation, referring to ancient boundaries rather than those of modern times),” writes Chitwood. “The Hebrew word translated ‘Ethiopia [Cush, descendants of Ham]’ seemingly refers to a people who settled in the area south of Egypt and eastward to the Red Sea, an area inhabited mainly by Moslems today.”[2. Focus on the Middle East, p. 40.]

Defining the Hamitic curse

According to Chitwood, Noah issued a generational curse after one of his sons sinned against him.

As the story goes (Gen. 9), Noah planted a vineyard after the flood. Being drunk one day, he laid naked in his tent. When his youngest son Ham entered, he “saw the nakedness of his father” and reported this circumstance to his brothers, Shem and Japeth. Careful to avert their eyes, they entered the tent and covered Noah with a blanket. When Noah awoke, the text says he “knew what his younger son had done unto him,” and then pronounced a curse upon Canaan, one of Ham’s sons, declaring, “A servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren.”

What exactly did Ham do to his father? Why did Noah curse Canaan and not Ham?

Chitwood’s answers are not wholly original — he merely repeats what Wilson taught on the subject — but he insists that Ham’s sin was more than just a passing glance at his father’s nakedness. “Many of the old Hebrew rabbis taught that Ham committed a homosexual act with his father,” writes Chitwood, “other Hebrew rabbis taught that Ham emasculated his father. Either would be an abominable act, and the end result of Ham’s sin was a curse pronounced upon his lineage by Noah.”[3. By Faith, p. 54.]

The scriptures are not noted for obscurity: King David’s adultery is plainly stated; Lot’s incestuous relationship with his daughters is explicit. Why Genesis 9 would obscure Ham’s sin remains unclear, and Chitwood does not explain. Regarding the possibility that Ham emasculated his father, that is extraordinary. Shem and Japeth would have done more than simply cover Noah with a blanket.

Why Chitwood eschews the most obvious explanation, that Ham shamed his father by looking upon his nakedness, is unclear. That the text contrasts Ham’s behavior with his brothers should be instructive, yet Chitwood prefers more radical interpretations. This is not entirely unexpected, for by worsening the crime, the curse is intensified.

As regards why Noah cursed Canaan and not Ham, Chitwood writes, “God had previously blessed Noah and his three sons [Genesis 9:1], and Noah couldn’t curse the one whom God had blessed. Thus, Noah did the only thing which he could do. Noah cursed Ham’s son, Canaan.”[5. The Heavenly Calling, July/August 2010.]

Why Noah’s curse should have a generational effect, and God’s blessing should affect but one generation is left unexplained. Chitwood merely holds that since Japeth’s blessing was generational, Canaan’s curse was too. He further claims that Japeth’s blessing affected all of his progeny, and that Canaan’s curse was necessarily meant to affect all of Ham’s progeny.

Thus, the Hamitic curse.

Chitwood insists the Hamitic curse is presently applicable: “…the curse will not be removed until the millennium [Zech. 14:21].”[4. The Heavenly Calling, July/August 2010 edition — for whatever reason, Chitwood has postdated several issues of this periodical.] His scriptural citation, however, does not mention Ham’s descendants, though it does employ the term “Canaanite” (KJV). Translators, however, agree that “Canaanite” in Zech. 14:21 refers to traders. Thus: “And there shall no longer be a trader in the house of the Lord of hosts on that day” in the English Standard Version. Nevertheless, the text does not refer in any way to the descendants of Ham.

That a generational curse should be construed from Genesis 9 is doubtful. While the effect of the curse would no doubt extend to Canaan’s children, at least in the first succeeding generations, no conception of the curse is found anywhere in scripture. When Israel invades the land of Canaan, the Hamitic curse, so-called, is never mentioned. It is entirely absent in the New Testament.

Chitwood should renounce the Hamitic curse

That a race of people is cursed simply on the basis of ancestry is profoundly vulgar. More grievously, to never acknowledge the oppression and enslavement of Africans on the basis of the Hamitic curse is callous. Chitwood, as a published writer and public speaker, has a moral obligation to confront these issues, particularly as he has involved himself in these matters on several occasions. He did, after all, promote a book championing segregation.

It is not unreasonable to call upon Chitwood to renounce the Hamitic curse. First, scriptural support for this theory is so utterly inferential, no race should be condemned by it. Second, kingdom seekers frequently look to Chitwood for direction. If he were to renounce this theory, they would follow. Third, Christians have a moral obligation to confront racism wherever it may be found. Silence is not an option. Fourth, the fruit of the Hamitic curse is grotesque: slavery, murder, segregation, oppression, theft, etc. That anyone can fail to see its satanic origins is dismaying.

For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?” — 1 Pet. 4:17

I simply note that this passage speaks of the present age, and I call upon Chitwood to renounce the Hamitic curse.

© 2010, Mark Adams. All rights reserved.

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