In Alex's answer to Did any Achronim comment on the American Revolutionary or Civil Wars? he says that a certain Rav was opposed to the Emancipation Proclamation, because it goes against Noach's curse, that Cana'an and his descendants will be slaves.

I remember reading, perhaps in a Torah commentary, that when one of the Canaanite nations heard about Beni Yisrael coming to the Land, they were afraid, and went to Africa. This would make Africans, or at least certain tribes, descendants of Cana'an.

Does anyone know the source of this claim?

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    Don't forget that the Rav who said this was the Rav of New Orleans. If he had told the Jews to support the E.P., there could have been a pogrom. Commented Oct 20, 2014 at 12:33

1 Answer 1


It's mentioned in the Medrash Raba - Metzora 17:6 that the Girgashi went to Afriki (sic) instead of fighting with Yehoshua.

גִּרְגָּשִׁי עָמַד [ופנה] מֵאֵלָיו, לְפִיכָךְ נִתְּנָה לוֹ אֶרֶץ יָפָה כְּאַרְצוֹ, הֲדָא הוּא דִכְתִיב (ישעיה לו, יז): עַד בֹּאִי וְלָקַחְתִּי אֶתְכֶם אֶל אֶרֶץ כְּאַרְצְכֶם, זוֹ אַפְרִיקֵי. ‏

In the Medrash Raba in Shelach 17:3 we see a similar story:

אָמַר רַבִּי זַכַּאי דִּשְׁאָב אָמְרוּ יִשְׂרָאֵל לִפְנֵי הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא, רִבּוֹנוֹ שֶׁל עוֹלָם בְּכָל מָקוֹם אַתָּה קוֹרֵא אוֹתָהּ אֶרֶץ כְּנַעַן, וְכָאן אֶרֶץ מוֹשְׁבֹתֵיכֶם, אָמַר לָהֶם הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא, חַיֵּיכֶם נָתַתִּי אוֹתָהּ לְאַבְרָהָם לְיִצְחָק וּלְיַעֲקֹב, וְכֻלָּם מִן הַמִּקְרָא, וְהַבֵּן יוֹרֵשׁ אֶת הָאָב, לְכָךְ אֶרֶץ מוֹשְׁבֹתֵיכֶם, וְלָמָּה זָכָה כְּנַעַן שֶׁנִּקְרֵאת הָאָרֶץ עַל שְׁמוֹ, כֵּיוָן שֶׁשָּׁמַע שֶׁיִּשְׂרָאֵל בָּאִים, פָּצָה אֶת הַמָּקוֹם, אָמַר הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא אַתָּה פָּצִיתָה אֶת הַמָּקוֹם תִּקָּרֵא הָאָרֶץ עַל שִׁמְךָ, וְאֶתֵּן לְךָ אֶרֶץ יָפָה כְּאַרְצְךָ, וְאֵיזוֹ זוֹ אַפְרִיקֵי.‏

In the Medrash Raba in Shoftim 5:14 we see a similar version of the story:

מִי קִיֵּם הַפָּרָשָׁה הַזֹּאת, יְהוֹשֻׁעַ בִּן נוּן, אָמַר רַבִּי שְׁמוּאֵל בַּר נַחְמָן מֶה עָשָׂה יְהוֹשֻׁעַ, הָיָה פּוֹרֵשׂ דִּאַטְגָּמָא בְּכָל מָקוֹם שֶׁהָיָה הוֹלֵךְ לִכְבּשׁ, וְהָיָה כָּתוּב בָּהּ מִי שֶׁמְבַקֵּשׁ לֵילֵךְ יֵלֵךְ לוֹ, וּמִי שֶׁמְבַקֵּשׁ לַעֲשׂוֹת שָׁלוֹם יַעֲשֶׂה, וּמִי שֶׁיְבַקֵּשׁ לַעֲשׂוֹת מִלְחָמָה, יַעֲשֶׂה, מֶה עָשָׂה הַגִּרְגָּשִׁי, פָּנָה וְהָלַךְ לוֹ מִלִּפְנֵיהֶן, וְנָתַן לוֹ הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא אֶרֶץ יָפָה כְּאַרְצוֹ, זוֹ אַפְרִיקֵי.‏

  • So even my sneaking suspicion that it was the Girgashim was right.
    – Scimonster
    Commented Oct 20, 2014 at 10:51
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    Afriki in Chazal usually refers to Phrygia, not to Africa. Also, see Radak (to Obadiah 1:20) who writes that some Canaanites fled to Germany ("Almenia") and Yossipon (ch. 1) who writes that some Canaanites fled to Eastern Europe and they are known as slavs (related to the word "slaves"). Commented Oct 20, 2014 at 17:24
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    @RebChaimHaQoton - all possibly true, but the OP asked a specific question which I answered. Feel free to ask a new question "why do people think Afriki is Africa" or similar. Commented Oct 21, 2014 at 8:02

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