The Sons of Noah

It’s been awhile since I wrote about my study on the messianic prophecy of the Old Testament. It’s slow going only because it is so, so rich in content. I’m proud to say that I’m only at Genesis 11.

Let me tell you a little from what I’ve learned about Noah and his sons. Remember, after the flood subsided, Noah got intoxicated and passed out naked. One of his sons, Ham, saw him and told his brothers. Those two, Shem and Japheth, covered up Noah without looking at their father in that state. Noah woke up and cursed Ham’s son, Canaan! Not Ham, but Canaan! The other two, he blessed.

Genesis 9:25-27 25 he said,

“Cursed be Canaan;
    a servant of servants shall he be to his brothers.”

26 He also said,

“Blessed be the Lord, the God of Shem;
    and let Canaan be his servant.
27 May God enlarge Japheth,
    and let him dwell in the tents of Shem,
    and let Canaan be his servant.”

What a strange thing for Noah to do, or so it seems. However, when one looks at the language of the encounter, it starts to make a little more sense. You see, Ham “saw the nakedness of his father” (v. 22). This is the same descriptive used in unlawful sexual relations as described in Leviticus 18. So, it could very well be that Noah’s son, Ham, sexually assaulted Noah while Noah was passed out drunk. Ham then bragged about it to his brothers, and those two covered up Noah without participating in the sin.

That makes a lot more sense. It would also explain why we never dug into this in Sunday School as children. However, it doesn’t explain why Noah would curse only one of Ham’s many sons. The book I’m studying only offered speculation including that Ham had been previously blessed by God so he wouldn’t go against that. Or, perhaps it was because Canaan demonstrated the same tendencies as his father, Ham. We know that the Canaanites were known for their sexual sin. In the chapter of sexual sin, we find:

Leviticus 18:3 You shall not do as they do in the land of Egypt, where you lived, and you shall not do as they do in the land of Canaan, to which I am bringing you. You shall not walk in their statutes.

In any case, Canaan was cursed to be the lowest of the low, a slave to slaves, and serve both Shem and Japheth. That didn’t happen right away. In the nearer term, the sons of Noah would disperse. The sons of Seth would occupy Arabia, the sons of Japheth the northern coast of the Mediterranean to Asia, and the sons of Ham the continent of Africa. Oh, and there was a little bit that Ham’s sons occupied along the eastern end of the Mediterranean, the land that Canaan occupied. This would be the land that God promised to Abraham and his offspring, the sons of Seth.

Eventually, these sons of Seth would be led by Noah and come out of Egypt as redeemed slaves and take by force the land occupied by Canaan. These ancestors of Seth, the Israelites, would come to enslave the ancestors of Ham, the Canaanites.

Joshua 17:12-13 12 Yet the people of Manasseh could not take possession of those cities, but the Canaanites persisted in dwelling in that land. 13 Now when the people of Israel grew strong, they put the Canaanites to forced labor, but did not utterly drive them out.

Very interesting, isn’t it? Now, here’s something else that’s interesting. Notice Noah’s prophecy to Shem, “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Shem.” He didn’t bless Shem. Without seeming to mention a messiah, Noah did just that. And that messiah would eventually come through the line of Shem: Jesus of Nazareth. This Jesus would be the savior from the sin not only of Shem but of Japheth, too. Oh, yes, and even the Canaanites. Where once God dispersed the sons of Noah at Babel and sent them across the face of the earth, Jesus brings these nations together, in the Promised Land, not just in the land on the east coast of the Mediterranean, but in the new heaven and new earth.

One last interesting thing about all this. We have a very interesting account of this in Acts where Luke puts three radical conversions of the sons of Noah, one after another, in Acts 8-10. First, we see the son of Ham as the Ethiopian whom Philip baptized. Next, we see the son of Shem in the conversion of Saul who later became the apostle to the Gentiles. Then, we see the son of Japheth in the conversion of Cornelius after Peter’s vision.

It may take awhile for that to soak in, but it gives me goosebumps how the bible brings everything back around to Jesus as Lord. It’s all interconnected so precisely; hidden, yet in plain sight. And it all points to Jesus.

Father, wow! I don’t even know what to say!

Copyright © 2020 Scott Powers

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