While these first few paragraphs do not address Canaan's Curse, they are a set-up for that topic. You need to understand something of God's program first. Joshua was leading the refugees from Egypt into the promised land. They were all camped on the east side of the Jordan River and would be crossing over it to the west, into Canaan. God was directing Joshua, and told him, "This day I begin to exalt you before all the children of Israel, that they may know that as I was with Moses, so will I also be with you." (Joshua 3:7) And then God gave Joshua instructions for the priests with the Ark of the Covenant.
v.9"And Joshua said to the children of Israel, Come near, and hearken to the word of the Lord our God. v.10Hereby you shall know that the living God is among you, and will utterly destroy from before our face the Chananite, and the Chettite and Pherezite, and the Evite, and the Amorite, and the Gergesite, and the Jebusite." (Joshua 3:9,10) (Translation is from the Septuagint. Names of people and places are spelled differently in the Septuagint. Chananite = Canaanite; Chettite = Hittite; Pherezite = Perizzite; Evite = Hivite; Gergesite = Girgashite.)
The Israelites were being directed to utterly destroy, to kill all those people and take their land! Do you know why? Many think it was terrible of God, and therefore reject our God as a cruel tyrant. But, there was a reason.
A fact which Christians are hesitant to admit is that our God has selected one racial strain of people to favor and cares naught about the others of this world. Throughout the Old Testament, there is one dominant theme, and that is GENEALOGY. From the creation of Adam, about 5508 BC (Septuagint dating), the lineage of descendants was carefully tracked through nearly four thousand years, until written records made the information more secure at the time of Moses, about 1450 BC. YET, for all that time God carefully maintained among His people the record of this one special line of people. Of each family, God would select one brother to continue the line. For example, of Noah's three sons, Sem was elected to continue this special line.
We ponder such action by God as puzzling. Why should brother Japhet be cast aside; he hadn't done anything wrong! Yet, God persisted in such selection. Theologians have not understood why, because they have not known God's long-term plan, His program and goal. Once one knows God's purpose for this earth, His selective actions are easily understood. The Bible has made it fairly clear, but men have rejected the plan as politically unacceptable. The plan is racial; God introduced a special race (created in His image) into a world also populated with earth-people, for a special purpose. The special race would have divine-minds; that means they would be creative, philosophical, spiritual, progressive technologically; they would have instincts which compel them to respond to challenges, to solve problems, to explore, to adventure, and in the end to glorify God's image as true Man. They were created with potential drives and abilities to do just that, and are driven by instinctive compulsions to strive toward it. They strive toward God! In order to achieve this plan, God acts just like a breeder of fine animals; he selects the most prime of each generation for further breeding, and he casts the others off. It is by this natural process that the divine characteristics in Man will be strengthened, genetically propagated, and perfected.
If you can understand this plan of God, then you can see why He has done what we find recorded in the Old Testament. God has a goal, and will not be deterred. Conversely, the Lord of this world also has a goal, and that is to prevent God from culling out his own wicked earth-children. The devil serves God's purpose for the strengthening of His elect people through tribulation. The devil wants to prevent God's small number of elect from becoming dominant, and will use any means to stop this plan. The devil has never been able to exterminate God's children through wars because God's elect usually win, often against overwhelming odds. The devil has damaged the elect race the most by promoting miscegenation. Racial adulteration has been probably the biggest problem for this group from Adam until Christ. The special people of God have Godly qualities, not just of wisdom, but of compassion, benevolence, tolerance, forgiveness, empathetic understanding, and even self-sacrifice. These are Godly qualities. Wickedly shrewd earth-people have been able to exploit and manipulate God's elect through appealing to their sense of mercy and generosity. That is our Achille's Heel. These things which I've pointed out make for an exciting and fascinating story of Man's struggles and progress. There, you now see part of the stage-set, and through some of the details of history, you are going to learn some interesting facts in this story, that will help to explain more of God's actions.
Noe (Noah) had three sons: Sem, Ham, and Japhet. The tenth chapter of Genesis lists some of the descendants of each of these sons, but there is something strange inserted here. Verses 2 - 5 tell us of Japhet's children; verses 6 - 14 list Ham's offspring; and verses 21 - 31 list Sem's offspring. But, inserted in this chapter, in verses 15 - 20 we have a list of Canaan's descendants!
There were many sons listed as Noe's grandchildren, and we already know that God selected Sem's line for his chosen people. So, why is such special attention given to that son of Ham, named Canaan? Well, as it turns out, for very good reason. As a cursed offspring, Canaan went on to spawn nations of people who served God's design as enemies to His chosen ones. Remember, at the start of this article, Joshua was leading the Israelites into Canaan, with instruction to utterly destroy all the inhabitants there. Seven nations of people populated that area, recorded in the second paragraph quotation above. Those seven are from the sons of Canaan: the Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites, Girgashites, Amorites, and Jebusites. They are listed in Genesis 10 also, as sons from Canaan.
I just mentioned that Canaan was a cursed offspring. Now, we are getting to the interesting part of the story which ultimately had major effect on our own history.
Ham was the father of Canaan (Genesis 9:18). Here's another interesting verse with an unusual insert. Verse 18 says, "Now the sons of Noah who went out of the ark were Sem, Ham, and Japhet. And Ham was the father of Canaan." Well, Ham had three other sons, but they aren't even mentioned, nor are any sons of Sem or Japhet. This hints at the important role Canaan would play.
The story continues: v20"And Noah began to be a farmer, and he planted a vineyard. v21Then he drank of the wine and was drunk, and became uncovered in his tent. v22And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brothers outside. v23But Sem and Japhet took a garment, laid it on both their shoulders, and went backward and covered the nakedness of their father. Their faces were turned away, and they did not see their father's nakedness. v24So Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done to him. v25Then he said: "Cursed be Canaan; A servant of servants he shall be to his brethren." v26And he said: "Blessed be the Lord, the God of Sem, and may Canaan be his servant. v27May God enlarge Japhet, and may he dwell in the tents of Sem; and may Canaan be his servant." (Genesis 9:20-27)
So, how about that? Ham does a naughty and Canaan gets cursed! What's going on here? Noe had already lived about five-hundred years, is one of God's elect, has a divine spiritual mind, and then he does something like this? Settle down; Noah is alright; you just need to know the rest of the story.
We find our first clue in Leviticus. Keep in mind that Ham's crime was that he "saw the nakedness of his father." It seems that phrase was a cultural idiom which meant something quite different from what it sounds like. Lev. 18:8 tells us what was meant by that phrase: v8"The nakedness of your father's wife you shall not uncover; it is your father's nakedness." It sounds strange to us that they would use this kind of idiom, but that was a different culture and their attitudes toward women were very different from ours today. Women were seldom mentioned, even in conversation, so Noe's wife is referenced by means of this idiom. Women were looked upon somewhat like a man's shadow; little noticed and not mentioned. But there is more to this, the problem was not just that Ham saw his mother naked! A couple chapters further in Leviticus, in chapter 20, we read, v11"The man who lies with his father's wife has uncovered his father's nakedness." Bingo! Ham laid with his mother, and it was the offspring from that incest, Canaan, whom Noah cursed! It is not by a mere whim that Canaan should be cursed. Rather, the curse is a simple statement of fact, indicating that the offspring from incest is born contrary to God's good will and therefore cannot be blessed. It is a natural consequence of crime that the fruits of the crime cannot be holy, or acceptable to God! And the curse applied to all succeeding generations that might be born from descendants of that unholy Ham.
That same curse applies to all offspring of unholy alliances, whether incest or racial miscegenation. The theme of the entire Old Testament is the maintenance of racial purity for God's special white Adamic race. Any mixed breed offspring, who are partially white, live under the curse of God. That may not be politically correct in our modern culture which promotes race-mixing, but it is FACT with God, as He makes explicitly clear in the scriptures He has given us.
In the New Testament we see an unusual emphasis upon "covering." In I Corinthians 11, many verses are devoted to this concept, in verse 3: making man the head of the woman; in following verses: requiring the woman to be covered, but man is not to be covered. This discourse of Paul falls barely short of saying that the man serves as a covering for his wife. Here is a subject that merits further contemplation.
by Roger Hathaway, January 1997
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