The Curse on Canaan

Genesis 9:20-25 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.

Based on verse 24 (…knew what his younger son had done unto him), some teach that Ham engaged in sodomy with his father while his father was in a drunken stupor. While that certainly is a wicked act, that is not what happened as will be seen if you look at the context and compare this scripture to other scriptures.

First, verse 22 says Ham saw the nakedness of his father and then told his brothers without. That means Ham went into Noah’s tent, saw his father naked, and then rather than covering up his father, went out of the tent and told his brothers. His brothers then went in backwards to cover up their father. And notice in verse 23 why they went in backwards: so they would not see their father’s nakendness – the same thing that Ham did. If Ham seeing his father’s nakedness is a euphimism for sodomy as some say, then how would the other brothers going in backwards prevent them from committing sodomy? That just doesn’t make sense. And if Ham did commit sodomy, why was Canaan cursed? Should not it have been Ham who was cursed? We need to look at some more scripture to understand why Canaan was cursed.

Proverbs 14:9 Fools make a mock at sin: but among the righteous there is favour.

What Ham really was guilty of was mocking his father’s sin of drunkenness. He saw his father drunk and naked and rather than cover his father up, he goes outside and tells others about Noah’s sin. He probably was joking and laughing about it – that’s what making a mock at sin is. We are often guilty of making a mock at sin. When we see someone sin, oftentimes we laugh about it and tell others about it rather than rebuke or reprove the sin. One time, we were around some people who were drunk and acting stupidly. Many people were laughing at their behaviour. I chose to use it as an opportunity to teach my son Malachi. I told Malachi that if he ever is tempted to take a drink of alcohol to remember how foolish those men looked and how everyone was laughing at their foolishness.

Proverbs 10:12 Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins.

So Ham did something he should not have done: mock his father’s sin. Ham also did not do something he should have: cover his father’s sin. If Ham truly loved his father like he should have, he would have covered up his father and not told anyone about what he saw inside the tent. When my children do something wrong, I don’t go around and publicize it. No one needs to know about their sins or my sins. Love covers sins.

So why was Canaan cursed for Ham’s sin? Consider this:

Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

Ever heard the phrase “he’s a chip off the old block” or “the apple doesn’t fall very far from the tree?” Parents, everything we do or don’t do is teaching our children something. What Ham did and did not do was teaching his son Canaan. Noah recognized that Ham was teaching by example and that Canaan would learn to do the same sins and that when Canaan was old, he would not depart from that sinful behaviour. Parents, do you want your children to grow up holy and righteous? Do you want them to serve God and to live godly? You better be careful about how you act and what you find funny. You better learn how to cover sins and not publicize them. One way or the other, you will train up your children. Will it be in the way they should go?

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