The Mormon Faith & Black Folks
Question #12

Q. The Book of Abraham says that the Hamites were blessed with wisdom, but cursed as pertaining to the Priesthood. But does it explain why the Hamites were cursed as pertaining to the Priesthood?

A. No. The Book of Abraham says only that those of the lineage of Ham were “cursed as pertaining to the Priesthood” but “blessed with wisdom”. It doesn’t explain why the Hamites were banned. It says:

21.Now this king of Egypt was a descendant from the loins of Ham, and was a partaker of the blood of the Canaanites by birth.

22. From this descent sprang all the Egyptians, and thus the blood of the Canaanites was preserved in the land.

23. The land of Egypt being first discovered by a woman, who was the daughter of Ham, and the daughter of Egyptus, which in Chaldean signifies that which is forbidden;

24. When the woman discovered the land it was under water, who afterwards settled her sons on it; and thus, from Ham, sprang that race which preserved the curse in the land.

25. Now the first government of Egypt was established by Pharaoh, the eldest son of Egyptus, the daughter of Ham, and it was after the manner of the government of Ham, which is patriarchal.

26. Pharaoh, being a righteous man, established his kingdom and judged his people wisely and justly all of his days, seeking earnestly to imitate that order established by the fathers in the first generations, in the days of the first patriarchal reign, even the reign of Adam, and also of Noah, his father, who blessed him with the blessings of the earth, and with the blessings of wisdom, but cursed him as pertaining to the Priesthood.

27. Now, Pharaoh being of that lineage by which he could not have the Priesthood, notwithstanding the Pharaohs would fain claim it from Noah, through Ham,....” (Abraham 1:21-26)

These verses say:

1. The Egyptians were Canaanites (descendants of Canaan, son of Ham).

2. The first king or pharaoh of Egypt was a son of Egyptus, the daughter of Egyptus (the Cainite woman), the wife of Ham, and thus the ‘curse’ was inherited by the Egyptians.

3. Pharoah was a righteous man, and established a priesthood in imitation to the Order of the Son of God; which is the true Priesthood (now called the Melchizedek Priesthood). Pharaoh established this because he was born of that lineage (bloodline) which was cursed or banned form having the Priesthood.

Some scholars believe that the priesthood of Amon is in fact this ‘imitation’ priesthood that Pharaoh established; because Joseph Smith informed us that the name of God in the Adamic language was Ahman, and the name of the Most High God in the Egyptian pantheon was Ahmon (Amon) or Ahmen (Amen or Amen-Ra). He was considered to be the Creator of gods and men. He was called the ‘Unknown God’ and the ‘Hidden One’ (Amon is Egyptian for ‘hidden’). Some scholars claim that Moses was a Heb Ker  ( high priest)  in the priesthood of Amon (Amen-Ra) while he was a Prince of the royal court of Egypt.

Some scholars believe that the very name Mormon is a contraction of the Egyptian MRMN (Meri-Amon  or Mori-Amon); which means “Beloved of God”.

The Book of Abraham says that Pharaoh was a descendant of Ham, and that lineage (bloodline) was ‘blessed with wisdom’ but ‘cursed as pertaining to the Priesthood’. It tells us no more than that.

*The Curse of Cain/Curse of Egyptus Outlined

The explanation of why the Hamitic lineage was cursed as pertaining to the Priesthood that has been given by Presidents and Apostles of the Church is this:

1. Cain, the firstborn son of Adam and Eve, had the birthright to the Priesthood; which is the Power of God on Earth delegated to man which gives him the authority to officiate the ordinances of His Law and Gospel for the Salvation of the Human Family. Cain, being the firstborn, had the birthright; meaning he and his descendants would be the first to receive the Priesthood. It  is recorded in Genesis that Cain and Abel (the second-born) made offerings to God. Abel’s offering was accepted, but Cain’s offering was rejected; because it was offered “unworthily”, or because he offered it in a state of unrighteousness. God accepted Abel’s offering in righteousness, but not Cain’s. Because of this Cain lost the Right of the Firstborn; or the right of Cain and his posterity to hold the Priesthood first before his brother sand their descendants.

The Prophet Moses wrote:

“And in the process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD.

And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and the fat thereof.

And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering:

But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect.

And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.

And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? And why is thy countenance fallen?

If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? And if thou doest not well, since lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his [Abel’s] desire [submission], and thou shalt rule over him.

And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.” (Genesis 4:3-8)

The LORD said that Cain’s offering was not accepted because he offered it unrighteously, or in a state of unworthiness, but that if he repented and did good, he would retain the Right of the Firstborn and Abel would submit to his birthright and Cain would rule over Abel. But Cain decided not to repent of his sins and offer a sacrifice in righteousness. Instead, Cain decided to kill his brother Abel; mistakenly thinking that the birthright would revert back to him by default.

Latter-day Saints are told by their Living Prophets to donate 10% of their incomes to the Church, and to sacrifice their time to the Church.  They are asked to make offerings (sacrifices) unto the LORD; both in time, in prayers, in funds, and in other ways. They are told that to make these offerings in righteousness they must be “worthy”; in a state of worthiness. This means to be morally clean; to obey all the Laws of God, and to repent of their sins.

Being morally unclean, whether it is through sexual transgression, lying, sloth, greed, or some other sin, makes a person unworthy and causes their offerings (no matter how large or great they appear to others) to the LORD to be unworthy as well, and not accepted by Him. This is like a man who goes out and lies, cheats, steals, or commits adultery, and then makes offerings (sacrifices) to the LORD; whether in money, prayers, fasts, or some other form. Instead of the LORD blessing that man, the LORD curses him; because he make his offerings in a state of unrighteousness.

Members of the Church believe these sacrifices and offerings will bless them and their posterity (descendants). However, Latter-day Saints are warned that if they make offerings to the LORD unrighteously, while in a state of unworthiness, such offerings will prove to them to be a curse instead of a blessing. If we make offerings to the LORD in a state of worthiness, the LORD blesses us with various material and spiritual rewards. However, if we make offerings to the LORD in a state of unworthiness, He sends us cursings instead of blessings.

The Apostle Paul wrote:

“By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts;....” (Heb. 11:4)

The Prophet Joseph Smith said:

“Cain also being authorized to offer sacrifice, but not offering it in righteousness, was cursed.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p.169)

Erastus Snow (Apostle) said (1856):

“Cain might have been the head of this Priesthood, under his father, but instead of exercising his birthright on the principles of righteousness, and in accord with the powers of heaven, he was befogged and understood not his true position; and his offering was not accepted. When Cain found that his offering was not accepted, and his brother Abel’s was accepted, Satan tempted him...he became possessed with the spirit of murder. Cain lost his privilege [to the birthright to the Priesthood]...and the blessing fell to one more worthy, and the rights of the Priesthood passed to the next [surviving] son of Adam, which according to the Bible record was Seth, who magnified the Priesthood, which was sealed upon him by his father [Adam]; and from him [Seth] it descended upon the righteous of his posterity. There are many instances, from that time forward, of which the Scriptures speak of this birthright continuing among the descendants of Seth, until it came to Noah and his sons, of which sons Shem [his firstborn] received the blessings pertaining to the Priesthood. Abraham came through Shem, and the Savior came through this lineage; and through this blessing of Noah upon Shem, the Priesthood continued through his seed; while the offspring of Ham inherited a curse, and it was because, as a revelation teaches, some of the blood of Cain became mingled with that of Ham’s family, and hence they inherited the curse.” (J.D. 21:370)

Cain, being the firstborn of Adam and Eve, had the Right of the Firstborn. With this birthright, the Prophets and the Savior Himself were to be born of his lineage. Yet, because he offered a sacrifice to God in a state of unworthiness, it was rejected and the Right of the Firstborn went to the next oldest brother; Abel.  This caused Cain to be jealous of his younger brother, and Cain killed Abel; thinking that by killing him the Right of the Firstborn would revert back to him.  For this crime, God put a curse upon Cain; a denial of the birthright to the Priesthood.  This meant that instead of the Cainites receiving the Priesthood first, they would receive it last among the descendants of Adam.

The first shall be last, and the last shall be first. The Cainites were to receive the Priesthood  first because Cain had the birthright to it, but because of his sins, they would receive it last; after Abel was resurrected, had descendants, and these descendants received it first. Cain murdered Abel in order to get back what he had lost through an unrighteous offering. Two wrongs don’t make a right in any situation.

Brigham Young (Apostle and 2nd President of the Church) declared:

“Cain did not obtain Abel’s birthright and blessing, though he killed him for that purpose; the blessings which belonged to Abel, descended to his posterity; and until the blessings of Abel’s birthright are fully realized, by his [Abel’s] descendants, Cain and his posterity must wear the mark which God put upon them; and his white friends may wash the race of Cain with Fuller’s soap every day, they cannot wash away God’s mark: yet, the Canaanites may believe the Gospel, repent, and be baptized, and receive the Spirit of the Lord, and if he continues until Abel’s race is satisfied with his blessings, then may the race of Cain receive a fullness of the Priesthood, and become satisfied with its blessings, and the two of them became as one again, when Cain has paid the uttermost farthing.” (Deseret News, April 3, 1852)

It would be against the Justice of God for Cain and his descendants to first receive the Priesthood after Abel was killed. God decreed that the descendants of Abel would have to receive if before the descendants of Cain did.

Many of you will recall how the birthright of Esau (the firstborn of Isaac) was given instead to Jacob–who was called Israel). Esau lost his birthright to Jacob (Israel). Instead of the Edomites (descendants of Esau who was nicknamed ‘Edom’) becoming the Chosen People, the Israelites (descendants of Jacob–later renamed ‘Israel’) became the Chosen People.

In like manner, Cain lost his birthright to Abel. Instead of the Cainites receiving the Priesthood first (the Right of the Firstborn), they were to receive it last (not until Abel’s descendants received it first). The first shall be last, and the last shall be first.

2. God did not wish Cain to be killed for his deed, so He placed a “mark” upon Cain. There were two reasons for this. First, God wanted to protect Cain and his descendants from other descendants of Adam (the Sethites) who wished to avenge the blood of Abel. Also, God wanted to keep the Cainites (the descendants of Cain) and the Sethites (the other descendants of Adam–through his third-born son Seth) separate until the Curse of Cain was revoked. The mark upon the Cainites was a black-skin.  This would distinguish the Cainites from the Sethites. It would both protect the Cainites, and prevent intermarriage between them; since intermarriage would cause the Sethites to inherit the curse (denial of the Priesthood). The Sethites were a ruddy-complexioned people; like Adam and Eve. The very name “Adam” in Hebrew means “ruddy-complexion”(i.e. to have the ability to blush, or to appear reddish in color).

3. Just before the flood both the Cainites and the Sethites became wicked, and God decided to destroy the descendants of Adam; leaving only Noah and his family alive (with the animals aboad the Ark). Ham, one of the sons of Adam, and a Sethite (like his father Noah) violated God’s command and married a Cainite woman named Egyptus. After the flood was over, the descendants of Ham and Egyptus inherited the Curse of Cain (now called the Curse of Egyptus). This meant they could not have the Priesthood until Abel’s descendants first were offered it. The sons of Ham and Egyptus were Canaan, Mizraim, Cush, and Phut; all of them settled in what is now Egypt and Sudan, except for Canaan who settled in Palestine.

The descendants of Canaan (Canaanites) settled in the land of Palestine (Israel). Mizraim settled in Egypt (named after Egyptus), and Cush and Put settled in what was called Nubia (now Sudan and Southern Egypt). Thus, the Ancient Egyptians and Nubians were Hamites; descendants of Ham. They were also Cainites; descendants of Cain, because Ham’s wife, Egyptus, was a Cainite woman. According to The Book of Abraham, a revelation to Joseph Smith, the Hamites were “blessed with wisdom” (Abraham 1:26). This explains why they had the intelligence to invent civilization (writing, medicine, farming, blacksmithing, musical instruments, city-building, etc.) while the others descendants of Adam (the Sethites) were still living very primitively in caves and tents.

4. The Hamites (descendants of Cain via Ham and Egyptus) were blessed with wisdom, but cursed as pertaining to the Priesthood. Yet, they were also promised that one day they too would be given the Priesthood; after Abel had descendants, and his descendants were first offered the Priesthood. The general feeling was that this would take place sometime during or after the Millennium; since Abel would have to be resurrected from the dead, have children, and his descendants get the Priesthood. However, this was based upon two assumptions. First, it was assumed that Abel didn’t have any children when he was killed by Cain. Second, it was assumed that Abel needed to be resurrected on this earth, and have descendants on this earth. LDS doctrine teaches that those who are most righteous in keeping God’s Laws will be resurrected and go to another world and have children!

There is evidence that the Prophet Joseph Smith believed that Abel and his posterity would receive the Priesthood on another world, and not this one. George F. Gibbs reported in the year 1900:

“President Cannon remarked on this subject, as, he said, he had on a prior occasion when this subject was under consideration, that he had understood that the Prophet Joseph had said during his lifetime that there would be a great wrong perpetrated if the seed of Cain were allowed to have the Priesthood before Abel should have posterity to receive it, and this curse therefore was to remain upon the seed of Cain until the time should come that Abel would have posterity. He understood that that time could not come until Abel should beget spirits in the eternal worlds and those spirits obtain tabernacles; if it were otherwise the slayer would have advantage over the slain.” (Compilation on the Negro in Mormonism, p.188-9)

Latter-day Saints are promised that if they are sealed in the Temple, and remain in a state of worthiness until their deaths, they shall have the privilege of begetting children in the Eternal Worlds. Mormons have assumed that Abel would have to come back to this world and beget children, but it seems that Joseph Smith believed that was not so, but that Abel would be resurrected on an Eternal World, and have posterity there.

In any case, in 1978, President Spencer W. Kimball received a Revelation granting all worthy males, regardless of lineage, the Priesthood. Since that time, black African males (and males of other colors of Hamitic descent) in the Church, if they are worthy, are ordained to all offices of the Priesthood, and partake of all the sacred ordinances of the Temple; including the sealing ceremonies  for Eternal Marriages.


Please feel free to e-mail Darrick Evenson

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