What Was The Curse Of Canaan?
Name: Gary Morgan
Question: I know that Noah cursed Canaan, but not Ham. I know that Ham committed the sin of homosexuality with his father Noah which is meant he looked upon his father’s nakedness when he was drunk and that’s why Noah told Ham “Curse be unto Caanan”.
My question is:
What was this curse that Noah spoke of? What kind of curse?
Answer: There are a few different theories concerning this account. I disagree, with what you have outlined here, let me explain.
We all know, Noah began to farm the land they settled in and he planted a vineyard. Noah enjoyed the fruits of his labors in the vineyard a little too much and after consuming wine he became intoxicated, (Genesis 9:20-21). There is no doubt in my mind that Noah’s wife was with him and she was intoxicated as well.
Ham Saw His Father’s Nakedness
Turn your Bible with me to,
22 “And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without.”
Now let us use a little common sense here.
If Ham simply saw his father naked by mistake, there would have been no harm done. It would have been a simple mistake, yet we know from verse 24 Noah was extremely upset by Ham’s actions. So we are not talking about Ham seeing his father naked, unfortunately, there is something far more mischevious taking place here.
We have to understand the Bible was written in a different language, by a different culture and in a different time altogether.
Understanding that, the account we are and will read of is a “euphemism,” which is “a mild or indirect word or expression substituted for one considered to be too harsh or blunt when referring to something unpleasant or embarrassing.”
The account we will read of is certainly “unpleasant and embarrassing“, but we are adults here so let us continue.
So we need to ask ourselves, what is ‘your father’s nakedness‘?
What Is Your Father’s Nakedness?
Please turn your Bible with me to
8 “The nakedness of thy father’s wife shalt thou not uncover: it is thy father’s nakedness.”
When Ham saw “the nakedness of his father” (Noah), it simply means Ham saw the nakedness of Noah’s wife, which was Ham’s mother. It would seem obvious to me that Ham must have uncovered the nakedness of Noah’s wife in order for him to have seen her naked, though the Scriptures do not provide us with those level of details.
Now again, let us use some common sense and stick with me here.
How and why does one uncover someone’s nakedness?
I think we all understand why you uncover someone’s nakedness.
11 “And the man that lieth with his father’s wife hath uncovered his father’s nakedness: both of them shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.”
What I believe happened that night was Ham discovered his own mother intoxicated, uncovered her nakedness and took advantage of her. It is a very disturbing thought, there is no doubt about it, but let us continue and the evidence will continue to build.
We will now pick it back up in Genesis.
23 “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.”
Shem and Japeth, the youngest and oldest sons respectively did not see their father’s nakedness, they did not see their naked mother. Instead, they covered up their mother’s nakedness that I believe was exposed by Ham.
24 “And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him.”
Ham the younger son (the middle son) had violated his father’s wife, his own mother and Noah was extremely upset.
If Ham had mistakenly saw his father or mother naked Noah would have never known. Yet, we are told Noah awoke from his drunk and knew right away what had happened. Obviously, Noah’s wife was aware enough that she saw the perpetrator and told Noah.
25 “And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren.”
Now Ham is the one who trespassed here, why is Canaan the son of Ham being cursed by Noah?
I believe it is very possible that Canaan was the result of the affair we just discussed and Noah was extremely upset by that. Why or how did Canaan have a name while in the womb is something we are left to ponder.
26 “And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.”
27 “God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.”
Notice that Noah’s oldest and youngest sons are mentioned as being blessed, while Ham who perpetrated a heinous act against his father Noah is left out of the blessing.
While we do not have all of the details of this account and we are forced to use our own mind to come to some conclusions, it does not make sense for Noah to curse Canaan the son of Ham for no apparent reason. Noah had no reason to pin any blame on Canaan who was an innocent bystander in all of this. The only logical reason for Noah to curse Canaan would be what has been outlined above.
I ask you to consider that for yourself.
As you pointed out, it was Noah, not God who cursed Canaan.
So let me ask, can a man issue and then bring to pass a curse?
No, not unless God is behind it and we are not given any indication in Scripture that our Father was behind Noah’s curse.
So this curse, in essence, was null and void as soon as the words came out of Noah’s mouth. Noah was outraged and acting on emotion.
I will say, it is true the land the Israelites conquered was the land of Canaan. The inhabitants of Canaan were naturally those who were descendants of Canaan and Ham, a people who were involved in all sorts of heathen practices.