Summary: We will discover the truth concerning the curse on Canaan and examine our own hearts regarding race relations.
There is no shortage of controversial issues raised in the opening chapters of Genesis. We have already discovered the God’s Word has much to say about the subject of Creation, the family, the role of husband and wife, homosexuality, capital punishment, and role of government. Today, we come to a passage that has been wrongly used to support white racism. Our goal in today’s study is to discover the truth concerning the curse on Canaan, and to examine our own hearts regarding race relations.
Sadly, Christians used the BIBLE in an attempt to justify their racist behavior. The SCOFIELD STUDY BIBLE (1917) included this footnote in Genesis 9:21. “A prophetic declaration is made that from Japheth will descend the "enlarged" races Genesis 9:27. Government, science, and art, speaking broadly, are and have been Japhetic, so that history is the indisputable record of the exact fulfilment of these declarations.”
From Genesis10:6, we learn that the sons of Ham were Cush (Ethopia), Put (Lybia),
Egypt, and Canaan. Scofield’s interpretation is that the curse of Genesis 9:27 is a curse that condemned the entire continent of Africa.
While Scofield’s note may initially sound innocent, notice the word “Japhetic.” Japheth’s sons moved into the land that is currently Turkey, Greece and the western Mediterranean, essentially the ancestors of white Europeans. “Japhetic” means the superiority of the white race. This was the attitude of many in Europe and America in the 1800’s and 1900’s. It is devastatingly sad that accomplished theologians such as Scofield could be so prideful, as well as so thoroughly blinded by their cultural understanding so as to misinterpret the Scriptures. Bear in mind that the same danger is possible for us today, perhaps in different areas of our thinking.
Before we go further into the subject of racial prejudice TODAY, let’s examine the story more closely. There are key points for us to remember...
The description of Noah’s Sin is given in Gen 9:20-22.
This occurred years after they left the ark. There were only 8 were on the ark. Ham’s son Canaan was not yet born when they left the ark. Enough time in the story has gone y so that there was time to find grapes, plant a vineyard, and ferment wine and drink from those grapes.
NOTEThis is the first mention of wine in the Bible, and it demonstrates to us the danger of alcoholic consumption. Noah did not set out to get drunk and embarrass himself, he succumbed to the power of alcohol, as many still do today. WINE TAKES OVER and causes even the STRONGEST BELIEVER to sin!
Noah retires to his tent, overheated by the alcohol, he removes his clothes. Noah’s behavior is a LACK of JUDGMENT and DISCERNMENT. His lack of discernment cause him to make wine, the wine led to the sin of DRUNKENNESS and tt put the man of God in a compromising situation. His son Ham, overcome by evil, was able to take advantage of Noah. And it all started with Noah’s lack of discernment.
The Bible Knowledge Commentary notes the following: “Intoxication and sexual looseness are hallmarks of pagans, and both are traced back to this event in Noah’s life.” BKC. John F. Walvoord, Roy B. Zuck and Dallas Theological Seminary, The Bible Knowledge Commentary, (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1983-), in loc.
Ham’s Sin is described in Gen 9:22.
What happened next is of utmost importance to the story. “Ham saw his father’s nakedness. The word can be interpreted, “gazed with satisfaction” (Morris). There is is often an emotional component to this word (“My bones gloat over me” (Ps 22:18). “Enjoy looking at” (Song 6:11). “Look at with sorrow” (Gen 21:16).
Ham was satisfied to see his father’s embarrassing condition. Here, Dr. Morris gives us profound insight. “A much more probable interpretation of Ham’s actions here is that they expressed a long-hidden resentment of his father’s authority and moral rectitude. ....Now, however, beholding the evidence of his father’s human weakness before his very eyes, he rejoiced, no doubt feeling a sense of release from all the inhibitions which had until now suppressed his own desires and ambitions. Thinking his brothers would share his satisfaction, he hastened to find them and tell them the savory news. Literally, the text means “he told with delight.”
Ham’s sin was not so much one of immoral lust. It was one of rebellion against his father’s authority, plus resentment against the entire moral standard that had been taught and enforced by Noah in his family for well over a hundred years. Fundamentally, his act revealed an attitude of resentment against God Himself, a character trait which was bound to crop out explosively some day, if not in Ham, then in his children. Henry M. Morris, The Genesis Record: A Scientific and Devotional Commentary on the Book of Beginnings (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1976), 235.