*These notes come from Bob Deffinbaugh’s study on Genesis 9 &10 at Bible.org
The command of God to destroy the Canaanites has troubled Christians and non-believers alike, and would have been difficult for the Israelites too, as they had no strife with them. Chapter nine explains the origins of the nations with whom Israel must relate in some fashion throughout history, detailing the moral depravity of the Canaanites to necessitate their extermination. Long used as a justification for slavery, the Curse of Ham does not deal with African Americans, whose forefather was most likely Put not Canaan, but rather the Canaanites who lived in Palestine and threatened the Israelites.
Noah, whose sin of drunkenness was private, was not emphasized by Moses as the guilty party. Rather, Ham who went into Noah’s privacy and publicly made fun of him was the focus. As punishment, Ham’s youngest son, Canaan, was cursed to be a servant to his brothers. This curse reflects a prophecy that the moral flaws of the Canaanites will reflect those of their father, Ham. The Canaanites will manifest these same tendencies in their society. In contrast, Shem will preserve God’s line and Japeth is blessed in his relationship to Shem. There is clear correspondence between the activities of Shem, Ham, and Japeth and the curses and blessings which followed them
Ham – great cities/empries (Babylon, Assyria, Ninevah, Egypt); Canaanites
Shem – God’s line
Japeth – Greeks & Indo-Europeans (most of us – We (Japeth’s line) are blessed through our relationship to God’s line (Shem)!)
The Immoralities of the Canaanites
- A sex centered society
- In no country has so relatively great a number of figurines of the naked goddess of fertility, some distinctly obscene, been found.
- Nowhere does the cult of serpents appear so strongly
- Goddess Astarte and Anath are called “the great goddesses which conceive but do not bare”
We have been desensitized to immorality and are, therefore, more shocked by the perceived extreme actions of Shem and Japeth than of Noah or Ham.
- If God fell upon Ham’s actions and upon those who walked in his ways, what does that say about us?
One test of Christian character is our response to the sins of others. We need to stop finding humor in immoral TV and movies and instead be horrified. Further, we need to practice the principle of privacy, as sin is exposed by righteousness, not by reporting the deeds of wickedness. Sin is best dealt with when it is known to the fewest number of people so that those who are guilty may find forgiveness and reconciliation while others will not be tempted by the knowledge. We are taught to hate the sin, not the sinner, and to strive to save the sinner.
- Men will be blessed or cursed by their relationship and response to the line of God. We may either experience the blessings of Japeth or the curse of Canaan. It’s our choice.