Friday, March 17, 2017

What Is the Explanation for Canaan's Curse and Being In the Line of Christ?

There are a couple of incidents in the Bible that have confused people, as there is no immediate explanation for them. They both concern the same person. The first is found in the story of Noah when he got drunk.

Genesis 9:18-27 “And the sons of Noah, that went forth of the ark, were Shem, and Ham, and Japheth: and Ham is the father of Canaan. These are the three sons of Noah: and of them was the whole earth overspread. And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard: And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent. And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without. 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. And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him. And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren. And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant. God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.”

When Noah awoke and found out what had occurred, he cursed Canaan and not Ham. This has always been a puzzlement, for why curse the son for the sin of the father? Maybe we need to take a closer look at exactly what is said. First notice that when it speaks of when they went forth from the ark, that it mentions not only the three sons, but also that Ham was the father of Canaan. Was Canaan born aboard the ark? Or is Canaan mentioned because he is about to become important in some way? Noah was drunk, and he was uncovered within his tent. It has always been assumed that Noah stripped down. I have not been around drunk people as a rule, but how many drunk people go around stripping when they are that drunk? It seems to me that they are beyond being able to take their clothes off. They can generally not even sit up straight, much less stand up to disrobe. What if what is meant was that someone else uncovered him within his tent, while he was drunk. What if he were not the person committing the action, but the victim receiving the action while he was unconscious?

It is pointed out again, immediately after telling that Noah was uncovered in this passage, that Ham is the father of Canaan. Why point that out a second time within the space of five verses of the story, and immediately after this event, if Canaan is not a party to the event? Why bring it up at all? It is almost as if it is pointed out that Ham is the father of the offender. Perhaps Canaan, who is the only grandchild mentioned up to this point (and whom we know was the father of the pagan ungodly Canaanites, which consisted of a number of pagan tribes of the family) was an ungodly young person already, (we are not sure of how many years had passed by this time) and was aware that his grandfather had been drinking. He could have crept in and uncovered his grandfather either as a joke, or for spite, and then bragged to his father what he had done. Ham then went to see for himself and then, thinking it was amusing, mocked Noah by telling the others of his shame. (Or possibly they did it together.) Noah blamed Ham, but then he cursed Canaan. He held the father responsible for his son's actions, but he cursed the offender rather than the father, so that the other children would not be cursed. So it would seem that Canaan had a hand in this somehow, for there is no reason to mention Canaan to start with, or curse Canaan for his father's actions otherwise. We know that Canaan's descendants were pagan, so it seems that rebellion started with Ham and ran through Canaan down the line. This should be kept in mind as we go to the next puzzle.

Now we come to the second problem. In the genealogy of Christ we find the following lineage in Luke Chapter 3 within verses 35-36. “which was the son of Sala, which was the son of Cainan, which was the son of Arphaxad, which was the son of Sem, which was the son of Noe” This has caused a problem for scholars as Cainan (or Canaan as it is spelled in the O.T.) was not a son of Arphaxad. Sala (or Salah) was his son, according to Genesis. Genesis 10:22-24 “The children of Shem; Elam, and Asshur, and Arphaxad, and Lud, and Aram. And the children of Aram; Uz, and Hul, and Gether, and Mash. And Arphaxad begat Salah;” Genesis 11:10-12 “These are the generations of Shem: Shem was an hundred years old, and begat Arphaxad two years after the flood: And Shem lived after he begat Arphaxad five hundred years, and begat sons and daughters. And Arphaxad lived five and thirty years, and begat Salah:”

According to both of these Scriptures, Arphaxad was the father of Salah. In fact the age at which he begat Salah was thirty-five years of age. This was thirty-seven years after the Flood. It does not seem that there was a generation between them. There is a possibility that can be surmised though. We are told that Arphaxad was born two years after the Flood. He was of the first generation after the Flood. We are told the names of the other males who were born of Noah's sons. Genesis 10:2 “The sons of Japheth; Gomer, and Magog, and Madai, and Javan, and Tubal, and Meshech, and Tiras.” Genesis 10:6 “And the sons of Ham; Cush, and Mizraim, and Phut, and Canaan.” Genesis 10:22 “The children of Shem; Elam, and Asshur, and Arphaxad, and Lud, and Aram.” Within this first generation, we can see the the only Canaan is Ham's son. And he is also the only Canaan within the next generation as well. So when Canaan is spoken of in Luke, we must assume that the Canaan mentioned is Ham's son. We can also see that the three couples got busy repopulating the earth. Needless to say, they had daughters also, for we are told that they did, and the sons had to marry someone. Cousin marriage is an approved marriage in Scripture, (even to today) and at this time sister marriage was also allowed. So the first generation had to marry either their sisters, their first cousins, or their cousin's children.

Next we must look at another matter. It is assumed by many that the names of the offspring are always in line with their birth order, but that can be shown to not be true. For instance Shem is assumed to be the oldest as he is always mentioned first, when the three sons of Noah are listed.

Genesis 5:32 “And Noah was five hundred years old: and Noah begat Shem, Ham, and Japheth.” Genesis 6:10 “And Noah begat three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth.” Genesis 7:13 “In the selfsame day entered Noah, and Shem, and Ham, and Japheth, the sons of Noah” Gensis 9:18 “And the sons of Noah, that went forth of the ark, were Shem, and Ham, and Japheth: and Ham is the father of Canaan.” Genesis 10:1 “Now these are the generations of the sons of Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth:”

In each of these cases, Shem is mentioned first, therefore many teach that he is the eldest, however Scripture contradicts that. Genesis 10:21 “Unto Shem also, the father of all the children of Eber, the brother of Japheth the elder, even to him were children born.” Japheth is clearly said to be the elder brother. Then some say that Shem is the youngest, but in Genesis 10:24 we find that neither is he the youngest. “And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him.” This verse is speaking of Ham and it designates him as the younger son. Had he been the middle son, it would seem that he would have been addressed as his middle son, so it would seem that Shem is the middle son. Shem appears to be mentioned first, as he is the most important of the brothers, for he is the one in whom the line of the Messiah will begin. These two verses are the only ones that actually mention birth order, so we need to pay attention to them even though when the sons are spoken of, they are listed with Shem first. In the line of Shem, we know that Arphaxad was born two years after the Flood, yet he is the third son mentioned in the line of Shem. It is probably unlikely that Shem's wife had three children in two years unless the first two were twins. The godly patriarchal line did not have to come through the eldest son. It had to come through the godly son. So birth order does not seem relevant in the list of names.

The reason for bringing all this up is that the children of Ham are listed in the following order. Genesis 10:6 “And the sons of Ham; Cush, and Mizraim, and Phut, and Canaan.” If sons were listed from the oldest to the youngest, this would put Canaan as the youngest, but I do not think that is the case, based on the above reasoning. I think the sons are listed with Cush first for a reason, which will be made clear in a moment. The implication when mentioning the three sons of Noah coming off the ark, and mentioning Canaan along with them is that he might have been born on board the ark, or if not coming off the ark as a baby, then Ham's wife was pregnant with him. This would make him the eldest of Ham's sons. The only grandson mentioned at all before these genealogy lists is in fact, Canaan. In the case of the above order, Cush is mentioned first, but then there is a reason for this, just as there was for mentioning Shem first. Shem was the first of the Messianic line. Cush was the father of Nimrod, who is first mentioned at this time as the mighty hunter, and the king of Babel, who became a very important person at an important event later on and from whom ultimately the antichrist will come. This could explain his being first in the list of Ham's sons. If Canaan were guilty of the sin with Noah, his name would have been mud, as they say, which may be why he was relegated to the last name mentioned. But that was earlier on in his life, and he seemed to be of no importance later on, as much as who his descendants were became important to Israel, so he is just listed last. As other than being one of the partriarchs, Arphaxad didn't do anything in particular to merit mention, nor did his brothers, there seems no particular order to their names.

Given now that we know that Canaan was most likely born immediately after if not before the end of the Flood, and most likely the perpetrator of the sin against Noah, and that his descendants would become depraved pagans, there is every reason to believe that he was not a young man who observed restrained behavior. It is then quite likely that by the time he was a teenager or in his early twenties at best, which would have been only that many years after the Flood as well, that he was sexually active and took a wife (either sister or cousin) and started a family. The objective was to repopulate the earth, after all, and he was probably eager to cooperate with that mandate. By thirty-seven years after the Flood, he could very well have had a daughter of the age of fifteen to seventeen years of age. By this time Arphaxad was thirty-five and was wanting a wife of his own. The number of females to go around for the males was probably not equal in number, so some had to wait to get a wife this early on. As the first generation might not have produced enough females for the males of that generation, someone would have to take a wife from the next generation. A girl of sixteen or so would have been considered old enough to start a family. It is quite possible that Arphaxad took as wife the daughter of Canaan. That would make Canaan the grandfather of Salah on his mother's side.

When one looks at the genealogies of Jesus, it can be seen that Matthew included several very important women in the list - Rahab the harlot, Ruth the Moabitess, and Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah (although her name is not mentioned, we know it was her). On the other hand, Luke did not list any women. He could have, but he didn't. So when he listed that Salah which was the son of Canaan, which was the son of Arphaxad, and there was only one Canaan at that time, we can surmise that what was most likely being said was that Salah was the son of the daughter of Canaan and her husband, Arphaxad. This is the only reasonable way to reconcile this account, as Canaan, the son of Ham, was the only Canaan at that time. The only other way to deal with this is to say that Canaan and Arphaxad shared a wife so Salah considered both men his father. While it was common for a man to have multiple wives, nothing indicates that a woman ever had multiple husbands or that this was the situation. There are some who would like to make this work by saying it was a levirate marriage, but there are two problems with this interpretation. First, the laws of levirate marriage did not exist then, and secondly, Arphaxad and Canaan were cousins, not brothers.

The importance in even bringing Canaan up in Christ's lineage seems to be the fact that Abraham was promised the land of Canaan as an inheritance for his offspring forever. The reason that Abraham could make claim to this land is that it is rightfully his by lineage. Salah was the descendant of Canaan, but also the descendant of Shem. He was the only descendant of Canaan who was in the godly Messianic patriarchal line of Shem. So he brought both lines together, so that the descendants of Shem down through to Abraham were the legal heirs to the land of Canaan, as the pagan tribes were not heirs in God's eyes, due to their rejection of Him. And thus Israel is the rightful heir to the land of Canaan.

While it is true that this information is surmised, we have to look at exactly what we are told and try to make logical sense of it. This interpretation seems to do that.

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