The Christian Perspective

According to the Bible ALL people are descended from Adam and Eve - the first man and woman. We are told they multiplied and filled the earth but, because of their unceasing wickedness, all but Noah, his wife, his sons, and their wives, were destroyed in a globe covering flood. So, more specifically than Adam and Eve even, we can say that all people alive today are descended from Noah and his family.

Further, Genesis 10 gives us a few generations of the children, grand-children, and great-grand-children of Noah's sons*. From this list we can see that among his son Ham's children are the names "Cush", "Mizraim", "Put", and "Canaan". A quick search will show that each of these corresponds to the name the Jews used for a distinct people group(s) within or around Africa. Cush was the people group around modern Ethiopia, Mizraim the peoples of Egypt, Put the peoples in the area of what is now Libya, and of course the Canaan-ites in the land of Canaan. This people/prominent ancestor naming convention is underlined in verse 20, "These were the sons of Ham, according to their families, according to their languages, in their lands and in their nations."

Given what happened at Babel it's likely that the children of these brothers may have spoken different languages and therefore had good reason to spread out with their families to populate the areas of Africa more distant from Babel and thus passed out of the biblical narrative.

The same idea that all people are descended from Adam and Eve is repeated in the New Testament when Paul discusses each person's sentence of death for sin in Romans 5 and the necessity of Jesus's coming as a man to pay the penalty for that sin and to, in Hebrews 2:17-18, bridge the gap (as the one and only God/Man) that our sin had created between us and God.

*As an (admittedly lengthy) aside, none of the historical context from Genesis above has anything to do with the so-called curse of Ham which was trotted out many years ago to justify slavery and racism. That was a twisted teaching that used a conflation of 1) the mark God placed on Esau with 2) a curse Noah pronounced on Canaan after Ham (Canaan's father) had wronged him to identify the darker skin of many Africans as being evidence of "the curse of Ham" being on them and by extension God's disfavor of them. The problems abound here, but to innumerate 3 of the most glaring in brief: 1) There is no mention of a mark associated with the curse Noah uttered, 2) though in relation to something Ham did the curse was placed on Canaan so the name itself is wrong, and finally even if we passed over the first two issues, 3) the idea has zero explanatory power as Canaan would arguably have had the least dark skinned descendants of the brothers given the location we know he settled in compared to them! Sadly none of the arguments against it prevented it's widespread use and much damage was done to the name of Christ for the indulgence of men's sinful nature.