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Don Stewart :: What Was the Curse of Canaan?

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Don Stewart
Noah cursed Canaan for his sin. What exactly was the curse and to whom was it?

Canaanites

Canaan, as well as his descendants, followed in the sinful way of their father. The punishment was placed upon the descendants of Canaan-the Canaanites. These are the people who were driven out of the Promised Land by the children of Israel. Consequently, they would be in servitude to the descendants of Shem and Japeth. Because the descendants of Canaan lived corrupt lives, their judgment was righteous. When the children of Israel entered the land of Promise they saw the detestable things that the descendants of Canaan were doing. God blessed Israel and cursed the Canaanites because their practices were similar to their father Ham.

Historical Fulfillment

History records God's promises were fulfilled. The Canaanites were defeated and placed into slavery by the eastern kings (Genesis 14). Later in the history of Israel, other descendants of Canaan, known as the Gibeonites, were made wood choppers and water carriers under Joshua. Thus the predictions of Noah that Canaan's descendants would serve Shem's descendants were literally fulfilled and recorded in the Old Testament.

Not Blacks

Truly one of the most unfortunate instances of the misinterpretation of Scripture comes from this passage of the curse of Canaan. The curse was limited to certain members of the descendants of Ham, not to all of them. It was not a curse against an entire ethnic group. The specific people who were cursed were the descendants of Ham through Canaan. Of the four sons of Ham, only one could have possibly had black skin. Although there are North African nations that are included among the sons of Ham, at least two of them, Put (Libya), and Mizraim (Egypt) are not black nations. A third, Cush, probably refers to northern Sudan, not modern Ethiopia. The fourth son of Ham, Canaan, is certainly not black.

Summary

The descendants of Canaan were the Canaanites. They were not blacks. The curse had no effect on them or most of the descendants of Ham. It was fulfilled long ago with the destruction of the Canaanites in the Promised Land.

CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.

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