The Sons of Ham, Part 2

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, August 23, 2018 2 comments

by Steve Risner

Last week we began talking about the sons of Ham. We're a few posts deep in a series about the Table of Nations found in Genesis 10. We've already discussed the sons Japheth here and here and some of the sons of Ham. We'll continue with Ham and his descendants—speaking primarily of Canaan but also others. Let's get into the Native Americans/Amerindians. That is a truly fascinating topic.

Generally, it is accepted by many that the oldest Native American populations that we would call a thriving civilization began around 1700 BC. It seems that there were multiple waves of people that came to the Americas from Siberia (most likely). However, there are portions of people that are considered Amerindians that are nothing like the vast majority of other Amerindians. There seems to be genetic indicators that some of the earliest settlers in the Americas may have been European (or possibly Middle Eastern or North/West African). Many Native American tribes have high percentages of genetic markers that are found in these populations and are not found at all in Asian populations. Is it possible they traveled over the Atlantic to find their way to the “New World”? Probably.

The Greek historian Diodorus wrote that the Phoenicians, out of their passion for exploring for trade, discovered an “island” that was rich with resources and had many rivers to navigate deep within it. None of the actual islands between Africa and the Americas fit this description. The Paraiba Stone is a remarkable piece of evidence to review. Some have called it a forgery, but Cyrus H. Gordon, an American scholar of Near Eastern cultures and ancient languages, studied the stone and its inscription and determined it to be authentic. He claims there are nuances and styles in the characters used that no 19th century forger would have been aware of. It tells the tale of Phoenician people in several ships that were blown out into the Atlantic by a storm and separated from their companions. Eventually, because of the trade winds, they landed in what is now Brazil. This is actually how Brazil was “officially” discovered in 1500 AD by the Portuguese—the discoverer, Pedro Álvares Cabral, found himself in the trade winds and was blown to Brazil. The stone tells us that these people were descendants of Canaan and set sail under orders of their king, Hiram. Hiram was a contemporary of Solomon and was known for sending ships out on long voyages to gather resources and bring them back.

Some of the Native American groups share linguistic and writing similarities with Egyptian languages. Tribes that used hieroglyphics must have been from somewhere other than Asia. Asian cultures didn't use them, but Middle Eastern/African cultures did. Genetic markers, as stated above, also indicate not all of the American Indians were from Asia. Some were from Europe, the Middle East, Northern Africa, or all of the above. The Cherokee, for instance, have markers indicating they're from the Middle East or Africa. Many of these peoples have stories they've passed from generation to generation that are remarkably similar to the Biblical narrative. For instance:

“It is found in the histories of the Toltecs that this age and first world, as they call it, lasted 1716 years; that men were destroyed by tremendous rains and lightning from the sky, and even all the land, without the exception of anything, and the highest mountains, were covered up and submerged in water fifteen cubits [caxtolmolatli]; and here they added other fables of how men came to multiply from the few who escaped from this destruction in a ‘toptlipetlocali’, that this word nearly signifies a closed chest; and how, after men had multiplied, they erected a very high ‘zacuali’, which is today a tower of great height, in order to take refuge in it should the second world (age) be destroyed. Presently their languages were confused, and, not being able to understand each other, they went to different parts of the earth.” --Fernando de Alva Cortés Ixtlilxochitl

The similarities between this tradition and the narrative found in Genesis is obvious, I hope. This sounds like the Flood account on several points, including the time frame from creation to the Flood. The Bible gives a time frame of around 1656 years (approximately) while this tradition is just 60 years different! It describes a global Flood and the Tower of Babel and the dispersion after the confusing of languages. That's amazing!

Percy Bullchild, a member of the Blackfeet tribe, describes his people's history according to their tradition. He describes a spirit that blew life into the nostrils of a human made of mud. He describes how this spirit removed a rib from the human and created a mate for him. This is uncannily similar to the Biblical account.

Vine Deloria, who is not friendly towards Christianity at all but favors the stories of his ancestors and their traditions, says concerning flood stories in these cultures, “Scholars in comparative religion, anthropology, psychology, and folklore usually steer well clear of using flood stories for anything except demonstrating that all societies have these kinds of traditions … Accepting that these flood stories speak of a planetary event, not so long ago, involving significant psychological trauma, would free minds to make progress in all sciences.” He is no friend of the Bible at all but notes that many of the histories told by various Native American tribes are extremely similar to the Biblical account. Of all the things that man would hold to a mythology on, we can see how creation and the afterlife would be strong candidates. But why a flood story? Why are there cultures all over the world, literally, that have a “mythology” that includes a global flood? It is worth noting, also, that some of these flood stories were part of the traditions of people who lived nowhere near large bodies of water.

Also of interest is that many of the Amerindians also tell stories of how they arrived in the Americas. Many claim to have come from the east, not the west. That's interesting, right? A number of people reject these ideas because they believe people from so long ago were not advanced or intelligent enough to travel successfully across the Atlantic. Just this month a man used a 20' row boat to cross the Atlantic from Newfoundland to the Scilly Islands. He used a row boat! He also set a record, which is pretty cool. If you think of it, people were traveling several thousand miles from the Mediterranean to India (around the continent of Africa and over 5000 miles) long ago. This trip is much, much longer than the jaunt across the Atlantic (at just under 2000 miles). Is it really unreasonable to believe Europeans, Africans, or Middle Easterners made the trip?

The legends of these people groups not only trace them back to the Flood, but also the Tower of Babel. The Choctaw Indians and Incas of Peru have similar legends that account for the building of a large monument and the confusing of tongues after a terrible flood. From “History of the Incas,” a history book originally written in the late 1500's, it was written: “One thing is believed among all the nations of these parts, for they all speak generally and as well-known of the general flood which they call ‘unu pachacuti’.” The Popol Vuh of the Mayans says, “In the beginning there was only sky and water and the world was in darkness. Coiled in the water lay the Feathered Serpent … in the sky dwelt Heart of Heaven appearing as three kinds of huracan, or lightening … they fashioned a man out of clay … So the gods made a great flood during which resin fell like rain … most were killed … Finally the people separated, going in different directions and speaking different languages … ” Sound a little familiar?

It seems reasonable that these people (from all over the world so far) tell similar stories about a Flood that killed everything except a few on a boat and a confusion of languages after a huge structure was built because their ancestors witnessed these events and passed them on to their descendants. They also include details about how God created, a serpent lied, and man was brought out from the earth. Sure, it could just be coincidence that they all have striking similarities to the Biblical account and confirm it as history, but the number of stories like this seem to indicate a much more likely idea—the story found in Genesis is true and these people can trace their heritage to Canaan (in the case of most Amerindians).

We'll quickly discuss Egypt next, since we're nearly out of space. The final son of Ham to discuss is Mizraim. Mizraim is what the Hebrews have always called Egypt (very often referred to in the Bible). Misr is the Arabic name for Egypt and it's still called Misr by the Egyptians today—the Arab Republic of Egypt where Egypt is translated Misr. The word Misr comes from the name of Egypt's founder—Mizraim. Josephus says, “The memory also of the Mesraites is preserved in their name, for all we who inhabit this country [of Judea] called Egypt Mestre, and the Egyptians Mestreans.”

We all know about the pyramids that the Egyptians are famous for building. Did you know there are pyramids (sometimes known as ziggurats) all over the world? We can connect this to the topic of the Table of Nations. All the peoples of the world built similar structures after the dispersion. They generally built them as temples of some sort, but not always. These structures are found all over South and Central America (my wife and I have climbed a couple of them in our travels), as well as the Middle East, Sudan, China, Greece, America, India, Indonesia, and Turkey to name a few. Skeptics suggest that these structures inspired the story of the Tower of Babel. I believe the opposite is true—the Tower of Babel may have been pyramidal in construction and, therefore, the people groups that left the Tower at the dispersion were mimicking it. They are frequently associated with religious significance.

We are finding that all people groups have a similar heritage—we all come from the same people. We are, really, one race. Since we are one race, we are all the same, essentially. This means, like all humans, we each are under the curse of sin, and as a result we need a Savior. People around the world who have never met a Christian have within their histories a story that resembles the creation account of the Bible. It makes sense that, over time and with telling the story from one generation to the next without it being written for a long time, that the details might get skewed a bit. But the similarities are certainly enough to show that these ancient stories are rooted in real events that we can reliably read about in the Bible, which hasn't changed over the centuries. Any reasonable, objective, and honest person can see how strong this evidence supports the Biblical narrative. Stay tuned! We'll be talking about Shem and his descendants next time.

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Greg Thurston said...

Great blog full of very interesting info, Steve! Thanks.

Steve Risner said...

Thanks, Greg, for reading and for commenting!