We are probably all familiar with the events related in this passage:

And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard: And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent.  And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without.  And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father's nakedness.  And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him.  And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren.  And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.  God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.  (Genesis 9:20-27)

 

This thread concerns the whole passage, but particularly the curse (and blessing) found in verses 25-27, which I highlighted above.

Now, many people have misinterpreted this passage over the years as a curse on Ham; some people still make this mistake.  A lot of the problem is that Ham is the one who seems to be guilty in this instance, but Canaan is the one who is cursed.  A recent article fromTroy Lacey at Answers in Genesis discussing the curse of Canaan lists three possible reasons why Canaan was cursed instead of his father:

  • Noah refused to curse his son since God had already blessed Ham in Genesis 9:1.
  • Noah could see that Canaan also possessed the carnal and materialistic nature of Ham, and he realized it would only get worse in the coming generations. Perhaps this is why the phrase “Ham the father of Canaan” was used in Genesis 9:22, since Canaan was very much his father’s son.
  • Canaan was not only the father of the Canaanites, but also of the Amorites, Jebusites, Sidonians and the Phoenicians. All of these peoples would at some period in the future wage war against the descendants of Shem and (to a lesser extent) Japheth, and would also become grossly idolatrous. Noah may have been prophetically denouncing this departure from faith in the true and living God.

 

Here is a link to the article:

 http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/2012/10/12/feedback-cursed... 

 

After reading this article, I thought of another possible reason why Canaan was cursed instead of Ham: Ham was also the father of nations that would not serve Shem, such as the Egyptians.  It looks like to me that if Noah had cursed Ham, the Egyptians would have been included in the curse and instead of Israel serving in Egypt, Egypt would have had to serve Israel.

What are your thoughts on the possibility of this last reason?  What are your thoughts on the article?  What are your thoughts on the curse of Canaan or the passage as a whole?

 

By the way, any other articles or reource recommendations are wlecome as well.

Tags: Canaan, Curse, Egypt, Ham, Noah

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I had always assumed it was ultimately a curse on Ham, but I hadn't considered that he'd been blessed previously by God...

I say "ultimately" because by cursing his son, Ham's bloodline becomes cursed and at that point in history I think everyone had pretty big expectations on the future of the human race!

Also, I can see how it might have played out with Ham walking into the tent finding Noah passed out drunk, then just putting his hands up in frustration and leaving then telling his brothers about what he saw, never trying to help or cover Noah.

I always wondered... What made Noah get drunk in the first place...

"I always wondered... What made Noah get drunk in the first place..."

Valid Question Steven. The Bible tells us that Noah planted a vinyard; I think is significant because to me Genesis seems to be characterized by economy, so the fact that he planted a vinyard must be important. Now he would not have needed grapes to get drunk, so it seems questionable that his intent was to be intoxicated (you would think there would be a quicker way). However, it does appear that Noah had lighted on a place that he liked or (what I tend to believe) he got tired. After years of building a gigantic ship, years of ridicule, years of preparing supplies, tending animals for a long time, perhaps losing friends and/or relatives in the great flood... he was tired. We know Elijah was ready to perish after standing before Israel and the prophets of Baal; it seems to be a common result of a great work. Anyway, to get back to the facts, if Noah's lapse (if that is what it was) was a common event, Ham would not have thought that his father's behavior was newsworthy. Also, contrary to what many people may think of tent life invading one's privacy in ancient times was a serious offence. The Bible makes it clear that Noah was inside his tent. Well, this comment is much longer than I intended, I just got carried away...     
 
Steven Weir said:

I had always assumed it was ultimately a curse on Ham, but I hadn't considered that he'd been blessed previously by God...

I say "ultimately" because by cursing his son, Ham's bloodline becomes cursed and at that point in history I think everyone had pretty big expectations on the future of the human race!

Also, I can see how it might have played out with Ham walking into the tent finding Noah passed out drunk, then just putting his hands up in frustration and leaving then telling his brothers about what he saw, never trying to help or cover Noah.

I always wondered... What made Noah get drunk in the first place...

Many have suggested that after the flood was the beginning of fermentation. Grape juice perhaps did not ferment in pre-flood conditions.

Or Noah could have been in some kind of pain, using wine as a sedative/pain killer.

There is not a single shred of evidence to continue putting forward the notion that "Noah was an alcoholic," or "Noah had a drinking problem," or "Noah was a drunk. . ."

I heard some of these things before too. I don't know what the scientific reasons would be if the "no fermentation pre-flood" idea was true but it would certainly get Noah off the hook.
 
Jim Brenneman said:

Many have suggested that after the flood was the beginning of fermentation. Grape juice perhaps did not ferment in pre-flood conditions.

Or Noah could have been in some kind of pain, using wine as a sedative/pain killer.

There is not a single shred of evidence to continue putting forward the notion that "Noah was an alcoholic," or "Noah had a drinking problem," or "Noah was a drunk. . ."

Ah cute point about the egypt thing meaning no curse on ham.

I don't know.

It seems the bible just means the first born gets punished and this hurts Ham more then himself.

it is only Canaan and not ham and this correction has been made for a long time. A Islamic scholar made it hundreds of years ago.

It was surely important because Hebrews were to take canaan's land from them.

It all worked out.

huh?

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