Ham’s Sin

Noah had 3 sons- Shem, Ham and Japheth. In chapter 9 of Genesis, Ham had committed a sin. This sin caused Noah to be so angry that one of Ham’s seeds, Canaan, was cursed… the entire lineage of people from the seed of Canaan. What was Ham’s sin?

Genesis 9: 18-29
18. And the sons of Noah, that went forth of the ark, were Shem, and Ham, and Japheth: and Ham is the father of Canaan.
19. These are the three sons of Noah: and of them was the whole earth overspread.
20. And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard:
21. And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent.
22. And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without.
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.
24. And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him.
25. And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren.
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.
28. And Noah lived after the flood three hundred and fifty years.
29. And all the days of Noah were nine hundred and fifty years: and he died.
KJV

First off, in verse 18 there is something significant.
“18. And the sons of Noah, that went forth of the ark, were Shem, and Ham, and Japheth: and Ham is the father of Canaan.

Noah had three sons and Noah’s three sons each had children. So what made Ham’s seed significant enough to mention. A quick look at chapter 10 will reveal that this was not Ham’s only son…

Genesis 10:6
6. And the sons of Ham; Cush, and Mizraim, and Phut, and Canaan.
KJV

We never want to just read over something so quickly in the bible  and disregard anything as just “flavor text” or filler- everything written actually means something. So why if Ham had 4 sons is Canaan mentioned in verse 18? Why is this seed significant?

Look at verse 22
22. And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without.”

In this verse Ham is, again, identified specifically as the father of Canaan. So we need to dig a little deeper with this text at this point and find out what is going on here. What does this verse mean by “saw the nakedness of his father“? By reading verses 20-21,

20. And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard:
21. And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent.

-we could easily assume this was talking about Noah being naked and move on- but that would not explain the anger of his father and the cursing of an entire seed. There is something missing…

Well something we often overlook, especially those of us who live in the western world, is that when a man and a woman get married they become one flesh. They are no longer two, but one the bible says. So we overlook the fact that Noah had three sons and therefore had to have a wife to bear him these children. Sometimes you may see on an announcement about, or a letter to a married couple- addressed as “Mr. and Mrs. John Doe”. We know because they are married that this includes John Doe’s wife even though her name is not mentioned. When in verse 21 it says “and he was uncovered within his tent” this is referring to Noah’s wife.

Now back to verse 22- what does “saw the nakedness of his father” mean? Well a quick trip through the book of Leviticus will open up revelation to us on this…

Leviticus 20:11
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.
KJV

Whoa! Now Noah’s anger is definitely understandable! Now let’s seal this fact.

25. And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren.

I like the term used in the NASB which helps us to really understand who Canaan’s brethren are.

25. So he said, Cursed be Canaan; A servant of servants He shall be to his brothers.
NASB

Well we know that Ham is Canaan’s father, so who are Canaan’s brothers? well… read on…

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.

Wait a minute… Canaan shall be the servant of Shem and Japheth- so Shem and Japheth are his brothers… but that’s Ham’s brothers. So how can Canaan have the same brothers as his father? Only if Canaan’s mother is the mother of Shem and Japheth.

And there you have it. Canaan was a seed that was not supposed to be. The land should have been inhabited by the three sons of Noah, but because of Ham’s sin a fourth was added that would cause much issue for Abraham’s seed that was unnecessary. The promised land was the land of Canaan, that Abraham was sent into, which is where the descendants of Canaan dwelt. Canaan’s curse was so important to identify, that Abraham gave important instruction to his son Isaac not to take a wife of the children of Canaan- as did Isaac give instruction of this to Jacob. Esau in his rebellion to his father, took wives of this lineage from Canaan through Ishmael.

It never pays to break God’s laws- it only makes things harder. God has given us specific instruction about life- and it’s all for our good. He is the manufacturer of all creation and knows what is best for His design.

Praise God for His instruction, I will delight myself in His laws and in Him will I trust and obey!

-For The Kingdom, Nathan Bland

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