0 The curse of Canaan (Gen 9-14)

Episode 3: The Curse of Canaan

(Genesis 9-14)

God's post flood instructions

9 1 God blessed Noah and his sons and said,

Have lots of children. 2 All the animals will be afraid of you. Do whatever you'd like with them. 3 Eat any living thing that moves, along with all the plants. 4 But don't eat anything while it's still alive. And don't eat blood. 5 If a man or an animal kills a man, the brother of the victim must kill the killer. 6 Whoever kills a man must be killed by a man, because men are made in God's image.

The rainbow

8 God said to Noah and his sons,

9-10 I am making a promise to you, your descendants, and all of the beasts of the earth. 11 I promise to never again kill every living thing in a flood. 12-13 And here's a token of my promise: I will set a rainbow in the clouds. 14 Whenever I make a cloud, there will be a rainbow. 15 When I see it, it will remind me of my promise not to destroy all living things in a flood.

Noah, the drunk and naked

20-21 After Noah sacrificed the clean animals for God, he planted a vineyard, made wine, got drunk, and lay naked in his tent.

Noah's drunkenness

The curse of Canaan

22 Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his father Noah naked, and told his brothers about it.

23 Ham's brothers, Shem and Japheth, took a garment and covered their naked father, walking backwards and not looking at his nakedness.

24 When Noah sobered up, he knew what his younger son had done to him. 25 And he said,

Cursed is Canaan. He will be a slave of slaves to his brothers. 26 Blessed be the God of Shem. Canaan shall be his slave. 27 God will enrich Japheth, who will live in Shem's tents, and Canaan will be his slave.

Noah curses Ham by Gustave Dore, 1865

28-29 Noah lived 350 years after the flood, and he died when he was 950 years old.

The descendants of Japheth, Ham, and Shem

10 10:1-32

The Tower of Babel

11 1 Before the Tower of Babel was constructed, all humans spoke the same language. 2 At this time, everyone on earth traveled to the plain of Shinar and lived there. 3 They said to each other,

4 Let's get some brick and slime and build a tower that reaches to heaven. We need to make ourselves famous, so we aren't scattered all over the face of the earth.

5 God came down to see the tower that the people had built. 6 And he said,

These people are unified and have one language. If they can build a tower, they can do anything. 7 Let's go down and confuse their speech so they can't understand each other.
8-9 So God confounded the language of the people who were building the tower and scattered them over the face of the earth.
Building the Tower of Babel

The genealogy from Shem to Abraham


Abraham travels to Haran

27-28 Terah was Abraham's father and Lot was Abraham's nephew. 28 Abraham married Sarah, who could not have children. 31 Terah, Abraham, Sarah, and Lot traveled from Ur of the Chaldees to Haran. 32 Terah died in Haran when he was 205 years old.

Abraham travels to Canaan

12 1 God said to Abraham,

Leave your country for a land that I'll show you. 2 I'll bless you and make your name great. 3 I'll bless those that bless you, and curse those that curse you.

4-5 So when Abraham was seventy-five years old, he left Haran and traveled with Sarah and Lot to Canaan. 7 When they arrived, God appeared to Abraham, and said, "I give all this land to your descendants."

Sarah lies for Abraham (the first time)

10 There was a famine in the land of Canaan, So Abraham and Sarah went to Egypt. 11 As they approached Egypt, Abraham said to Sarah,

You are a beautiful woman. 12 Therefore the Egyptians will say, "This is his wife" and they'll kill me but keep you alive. 13 So tell them you are my sister, so things will go well for me.

14-15 When they arrived in Egypt, Pharaoh saw the good-looking Sarah and took her into his house. 16 Because of Sarah, the Pharaoh gave Abraham sheep, oxen, male and female asses, slaves, and camels.

17 But God sent plagues on the Pharaoh and his household because of Sarah.

18 Pharaoh called Abraham and said,

What have you done to me? Why didn't you tell me Sarah was your wife? 19 Why did you say, "She's my sister" so I would take her as my wife?

Now Go. Take your wife and leave.

20 So Abraham and Sarah left, with all the valuable things Pharaoh had given him.

Abraham, Sarah, and Lot return to Canaan

13 1-5 Abraham, Sarah, and Lot left Egypt, taking their cattle, silver, and gold south to Bethel.

Abraham and Lot split up

6-9 When Abraham and Lot arrived back in Canaan, they split up, since they had too many things to live together.

Lot chooses Sodom for his new home

10-12 Abraham went to the land of Canaan; Lot went to Sodom.

13 The men of Sodom were exceedingly wicked sinners.

God promises to give Abraham everything else

14 After Lot left, God said to Abraham, 15 Look around you. Everything you see I give to you and your descendants forever. 16 And I'll make your descendants as numerous as the dust of the earth.

The Battle of Sodom and Gomorrah

14 1-9 Soon after Lot moved to Sodom, a war broke out between the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah and some of the other local kingdoms. 10-12 The Sodomites were defeated, and Lot was taken prisoner.

14 Abraham sent an army of 318 slaves to pursue and smite Lot's captors. 18 After the battle, Melchizedek, who was a priest and king of Salem, praised God for delivering Abraham's enemies into his hand. 20 Abraham gave Melchizedek a tenth of all the spoils.

A few more words about this episode

Carole asked in the podcast (at 12:38) how long it was between Noah and Abraham, so I thought I'd look into that.

It turns out that the genealogy that we skipped in Genesis 11:10-26 has the answer!

Here's what it says:

  • Shem was 100 years old when his son Arphaxad was born. This was, according to v.10, two years after the flood.
    [There's a slight discrepancy here, since Shem was born with Noah was 500 years old (5:32) and the flood happened when Noah was 600 years old (7:6). But maybe when you figure in gestation periods, it'd all work out.]
  • Araphaxad was 35 years old when Salah was born (v.12)
  • Salah was 30 years old when Eber was born. (v.14)
  • Eber was 34 years old when Pelag was born (v.16)
  • Pelag was 30 years old when Reu was born (v.18)
  • Reu was 32 years old when Serug was born (v.20)
  • Serug was 30 years old when Nahor was born (v.22)
  • Nahor was 29 years old Terah when was born (v.24)
  • Terah was 70 years old when Abram [Abraham] was born (v.26)

So counting them all up, we find that Abraham was born 292 years after the flood.

Noah, the drunk and naked (9:20)
Noah was a just and perfect preacher of righteousness according to Genesis 6:9, 7:1, and 2 Peter 2:5, yet here we see him drunk and naked, cursing his grandson (Canaan) and all of his grandson's descendants with slavery because his son (Ham) saw him naked.
The curse of Canaan (9:22-27)
Noah (and presumably God) cursed his grandson Canaan - and all of Canaan's descendants with slavery. And since blacks were thought to have descended from Ham, this curse was used to justify slavery and racism.
The story about Noah's drunkenness and the curse of Canaan was obviously made up to justify the mistreatment and God-assisted slaughter of the Canaanites by the Israelites.

The Lord delivered the Canaanites and the Perizzites

Barak and God massacre the Canaanites

The descendants of Japheth, Ham, and Shem (10:1-24)

I'm leaving out this genealogy, since it the usual series of begats. But there are a few things I'd like to point out about it.

Cainan, who was cursed by his grandfather Noah, was the fourth son of Ham. (v.6)

Nimrod, who was "a mighty hunter before the Lord," was the son of Ham's first son, Cush. He was the king of Babel - the tower of which will be covered in the next episode. (vv.8-10)

And, according to this chapter, many languages existed before the Tower of Babel. (vv.5, 20, 31)

Were there languages before Babel?

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