Friday, January 29, 2010

Since Ham Sinned, Why Is Canaan Cursed?

As mentioned in the previous post, when Ham mocks his father, Noah pronounces what appears to be a curse upon Ham's son Canaan. I have read several explanations of this matter:
  1. When a son did something commendable in that culture, his father was given a portion of the credit for it. For example, when David killed Goliath, King Saul immediately wanted to know whose son David was, probably so that he could commend David's father, Jesse. I suppose the opposite was also true. When a son disgraced his father, the father shouldered a portion of the blame. When Ham mocked Noah, Noah wouldn't want to curse Ham directly, or he would in effect be bringing that curse/blame upon himself as Ham's father. By cursing Canaan, the curse/blame would be laid upon Ham. Reasonable, yet it still seems unfair to Canaan.
  2. Some say that the curse Noah brought upon Canaan seemed all out of proportion to the incident. Therefore, these people conclude that Ham must have done something far more indecent to his father than merely seeing him exposed. They note that perhaps since Canaan was Ham's fourth son, whatever Ham had done had prevented Noah from having another (i.e, a fourth) son. Therefore, Noah cursed Ham's fourth son. Again, it seems unfair to Canaan. Also, the Bible does not generally sugarcoat the sins of the person being discussed. If Ham had done something of a more depraved nature, it probably would have been stated.
  3. Another option is open to us. I have not fully studied it through, but it is interesting. Rather than the emphasis being placed upon Ham/Canaan's curse, the passage is seen as being prophetic of the contributions each one of Noah's sons would make to the world. In the Bible, when a phrase such as 'king of kings' or 'lord of lords' is used, it is nearly always in the sense that the individual being described is the supreme example of that position. In this view, then, when Noah says that Noah says that 'The lowest of slaves will he (Canaan) be to his brothers.' (Genesis 9:25), this view maintains that the wording is better rendered 'servant of servants', i.e., Ham/Canaan's lines would be characterized as being a most excellent servant to the other brothers. Then, a long line of the achievements and advances brought about by Ham/Canaan's descendants for the good of mankind is noted. Since you are probably wondering, as I was, where the curse/punishment is for Ham/Canaan in that scenario, it is also maintained that although the descendants of Ham produced many inventions, they themselves did not appear to have profited from them, and often, others took the credit or reaped the benefits (financial or otherwise) from these discoveries. I am intrigued by this explanation, yet need to study it further before being committed to it. When I figure out how to do it, I will give a link to the site where I read of such an interpretation, so that you can check it out for yourself.

No comments:

Post a Comment