Christian Apologetics Study

GENESIS RECORD: NOAH’S CURSE ON CANAAN

Jul
04

Did Noah curse Ham and all his black African descendants? Ham was the second son of Noah (Genesis 5:32, 6:10, 7:13, 9:18, 22, Genesis 10:1, 20 and 1 Chronicles 1:8). Ham is the ancestor of the Egyptians, as well as the people in Africa, Arabia, and Canaan. After the Great Flood, Noah began cultivating vineyards, and on one occasion exposed himself while he was drunk inside his tent (Genesis 9:20-24). Ham saw his father lying naked and related the incident to Shem and Japheth, who covered Noah up discreetly. When Noah awoke and learned what Ham had done, he cursed Ham’s son Canaan, saying his brothers (Cush, Mizraim, and Put) and Shem and Japheth would rule over him.

However, if Ham is the one referred to in 9:24 as offending Noah, why should the curse fall on his son Canaan? The most likely answer is that it is not Ham who is being referred to here, but Canaan. The expression is “his youngest son,” whereas Ham is repeatedly seen as the second son of Noah, not the youngest (5:32, 6:10, 7:13, 9:18 and 10:1). More exactly, Noah’s curse on “his youngest son” refers to Canaan because of some kind of sinful act done to Noah when Noah was asleep in his tent, which was not recorded in the Bible. The word for “Son” was always used for “grandson” and great grandson in ancient times, and it seems to have been used here in this manner. Because Canaan was the “youngest” of all Noah’s grandsons during this period, the curse was clearly on Canaan and his descendants only. The text clearly says the curse  is on Canaan rather than Ham. Canaan and his offspring were to be subject to Japheth and Shem before their complete extermination during the generation of Joshua.

This fact means the correct reading of the Genesis passage should be: “When Noah awoke from his wine and found out what his youngest son (CANAAN) had done to him, he said, “Cursed be Canaan! The lowest of slaves he will be to his brothers.” (Genesis 9:24-25 NIV).

ANALYSIS OF NOAH’S CURSE

Traditionally, Noah’s curse has been interpreted to justify the institution of slavery over black African populations worldwide. However, Noah could not have cursed Ham because G

od had already blessed Ham along with his brothers, according to Genesis 9:1. The first great post-flood civilizations in the Middle East and North Africa all originated from the descendants of Ham.  The first rulers of Babylon and Egypt were primarily the descendants of Ham.  The descendants of Ham were great navigators who traveled to North, Central, and South America. They built great post-flood civilizations for generations before the rise of Greece and Rome.

RELATED SOURCES

 The Holy Bible New International Version; 2014. Ancient Egypt; Donald P. Ryan, Ph.D.2002. Middle East Conflict; Mitchell G. Bard, Ph.D.; 2008. The Middle East; Craig S. Davis,PhD; 2003. World History; Peter Haugen; 2009.

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