Genesis 9:25
And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren.
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(25) Cursed be Canaan.—The prophecy of Noah takes the form of a poem, like Lamech’s boast in Genesis 4. In it Ham is passed over in silence, as though his unfilial conduct, recorded in Genesis 9:22, made him unworthy of a blessing, while it was not so wicked as to bring on him a curse. The whole weight of Noah’s displeasure falls on Canaan, whose degraded position among the nations is thrice insisted upon.

A servant of servants. That is, the most abject of slaves. This was fulfilled in the conquest of Canaau by Joshua, but the race had nevertheless a great future before it. The Hittites were one of the foremost nations of antiquity, and the Sido-nians, Tyrians, and Phœnicians were such famous traders, that Canaanite is in our version translated merchant, without even a note in the margin (e.g., Proverbs 31:24). But the whole race was enslaved by one of the most terrible and degrading forms of idolatry, and as Shem’s blessing is religious, so possibly is Canaan’s curse. Lenormant (Manual of Ancient History of the East, 2:219) says of their religion, “No other people ever rivalled them in the mixture of bloodshed and debauchery with which they thought to honour the Deity.” He also quotes Creuzer, who says, “The Canaanite religion silenced all the best feelings of human nature, degraded men’s minds by a superstition alternately cruel and profligate, and we may seek in vain for any influence for good it could have exercised on the nation.”

Genesis 9:25. Cursed be Canaan — Canaan may be here put, by a well-known figure termed ellipsis, often used in Scripture, for the father of Canaan, the title given to Ham in Genesis 9:22. And although Ham had more sons, he may here be described by his relation to Canaan, because in him the curse was more fixed and dreadful, reaching to the utter extirpation of his seed, while many of the other nations descended from Ham were, in after ages, blessed with the knowledge of the true God and the gospel of his Son. A servant of servants shall he (namely, the father of Canaan, Ham) be to his brethren — That is, in his posterity; whose condition in every age has remarkably coincided with the prediction. “The whole continent of Africa was peopled principally by the descendants of Ham, and for how many ages did the better parts of that country lie under the dominion of the Romans, and then of the Saracens, as they do now under that of the Turks! In what wickedness, ignorance, barbarity, slavery, misery, live most of the inhabitants! And of the poor how many hundreds, nay thousands, have been annually sold and bought, like beasts in the market, and conveyed from one quarter of the world to do the work of beasts in another!” — Newton on the Prophecies. “There never has been a son of Ham who hath shaken a sceptre over the head of Japheth. Shem hath subdued Japheth, and Japheth subdued Shem, but Ham never subdued either.” — Mede. The curse, however, principally respects the posterity of Canaan, the devoted nations whom God destroyed before Israel, and is here recorded for the encouragement of the Israelites, who, it is probable, when Moses wrote these words, were about to march against them and to take possession of their country, about eight hundred years after the words were uttered by Noah. The Phœnicians and Carthaginians are also included in the curse denounced on Canaan; for they were descended from him, and were, at length, subdued with dreadful destruction by the Greeks and Romans, and made tributary to them both.

9:24-29 Noah declares a curse on Canaan, the son of Ham; perhaps this grandson of his was more guilty than the rest.The prophecy consists of two parts - a malediction and a benediction. "Cursed be Kenaan." A curse Genesis 3:14, Genesis 3:17; Genesis 4:11 is any privation, inferiority, or other ill, expressed in the form of a doom, and bearing, not always upon the object directly expressed, but upon the party who is in the transgression. Thus, the soil is cursed on account of Adam the transgressor Genesis 3:17. It is apparent that in the present ease the prime mover was Ham, who is therefore punished in the prospect of a curse resting on his posterity, and especially on a particular line of it. Let us not imagine, however, that the ways of the Lord are not equal in this matter; for Kenaan and his descendants no doubt abundantly deserved this special visitation. And as the other descendants of Ham are not otherwise mentioned in the prophecy, we may presume that they shared in the curse pronounced upon Kenaan. At all events, they are not expressly included in the blessing pronounced on the other two divisions of the human family, It is proper to observe, also, that this prediction does not affirm an absolute perpetuity in the doom of Ham or Kenaan. It only delineates their relative condition until the whole race is again brought within the scope of prophecy.

A servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren. - The curse here consists in servitude, which is in itself an inferiority, and, among the children of self-will, tends more and more to all the horrid ills of slavery. Slavery originated in war and conquest. The mere warrior put the captives to death, the cannibal devoured them, the economist fed them for their labor. Accordingly, slavery soon made its appearance in all countries which were trodden by the conqueror. A system of slavery, imposed without consent and for no crime, is a dire evil. Besides the direct injustice of robbing a fellow-man of his personal liberty, it dissolves wedlock, breaks the family tie, and disregards the conscience. It trades, therefore, in the souls as well as the bodies of mankind. It is a historical fact that the degradation of slavery has fallen especially upon the race of Ham. A portion of the Kenaanites became bondsmen among the Israelites, who were of the race of Shem. The early Babylonians, the Phoenicians, the Carthaginians, and Egyptians, who all belonged to the race of Ham, were subjugated by the Assyrians, who were Shemites, the Persians, the Macedonians, and the Romans, who were all Japhethites. And in modern times it is well known that most of the nations of Europe traded in African slaves. "A servant of servants" means a slave of the most abject kind. "Unto his brethren." If the doom of slavery be referred to the race of Ham, then his brethren are the descendants of Japheth and Shem, who have held many of the Hamites in bondage. If we limit the sentence to Kenaan, then his brethren may include the other descendants of Ham. It is said that the servile tribe is also the most tyrannical; and it is the fact that the Africans have lent themselves to the forcible seizing and selling into slavery in distant lands of their own kinsmen and fellow-countrymen.

25. Cursed be Canaan—This doom has been fulfilled in the destruction of the Canaanites—in the degradation of Egypt and the slavery of the Africans, the descendants of Ham. And he said, not from the passion of revenge, but by Divine inspiration, and the Spirit of prophecy,

Cursed be Canaan; hateful to God, abhorred by men, miserable in his person and posterity.

Quest. Seeing Ham committed the crime, why is the curse inflicted upon his son Canaan?


1. When Canaan is mentioned, Ham is not exempted from the curse, but rather more deeply plunged into it, whilst he is pronounced accursed, not only in his person, (which is manifestly supposed by his commission of that sin for which the curse was inflicted), but also in his posterity, which doubtless was a great aggravation of his grief; as on the contrary Joseph is said to be blessed when his children are blessed, Genesis 48:15-16.

2. It seems therefore very probable from these words, and the Hebrew doctors and others affirm it, that Canaan did partake with his father in the sin, yea, that he was the first discoverer of his father’s shame.

3. Canaan is particularly mentioned by the Spirit of prophecy, in regard of the future extirpation of that people; and this is here remembered for the encouragement of the Israelites, who were now in their expedition against them.

4. This may be an ellipsis, or defect of the word father; for such relative words are ofttimes omitted and understood in Scripture, as Matthew 4:21, James of Zebedee, for the son of Zebedee; John 19:25, Mary of Cleopas, for the wife of Cleopas; Acts 7:16, Emmor of Sychem, for the father of Sychem, as our English translation rightly supplies it from Genesis 33:19. Thus Goliath is put for Goliath’s brother, as is evident by comparing 2 Samuel 21:19, with 1 Chronicles 20:5. So here Canaan may be put for the father of Canaan, as the Arabic translation hath it, that is, Ham, as the Seventy here render it. And though Ham had more sons, yet he may be here described by his relation to Canaan, because in him the curse was more fixed and dreadful, reaching to his utter extirpation, whilst the rest of Ham’s posterity in after-ages were blessed with the saving knowledge of the gospel.

A servant of servants, i.e. the vilest and worst of servants; as vanity of vanities is the greatest vanity, Ecclesiastes 1:2; and great wickedness, Hosea 10:15, is in the Hebrew wickedness of wickedness; and King of kings is put for the chief of kings.

And he said,.... Not in a drunken fit, as some profane persons would suggest, for he was awaked from his wine; nor in the heat of passion, but by inspiration, under a spirit of prophecy:

cursed be Canaan; or, "O cursed Canaan", or rather, "Canaan is", or "shall be cursed" (q); for the words are either a declaration of what was his case, or a prediction of what it should be. It may seem strange that Canaan should be cursed, and not Ham, who seems to he the only aggressor, by what is said in the context; hence one copy of the Septuagint, as Ainsworth observes, reads Ham, and the Arabic writers the father of Canaan; and so Saadiah Gaon supplies it, as Aben Ezra relates; and the same supplement is made by others (r): but as both were guilty, as appears from what has been observed on the former verses, and Canaan particularly was first in the transgression; it seems most wise and just that he should be expressly named, since hereby Ham is not excluded a share in the punishment of the crime he had a concern in, being punished in his son, his youngest son, who perhaps was his darling and favourite, and which must be very afflicting to him to hear of; and since Canaan only, and not any of the other sons of Ham were guilty, he, and not Ham by name, is cursed, lest it should be thought that the curse would fall upon Ham and all his posterity; whereas the curse descends on him, and very justly proceeds in the line of Canaan; and who is the rather mentioned, because he was the father of the accursed race of the Canaanites, whom God abhorred, and, for their wickedness, was about to drive out of their land, and give it to his people for an inheritance; and in order to which the Israelites were now upon the expedition, when Moses wrote this account, and which must animate them to it; for by this prediction they would see that they were an accursed people, and that they were to be their servants:

a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren; the posterities of Shem and Japheth, who stood in the relation of brethren to Canaan and his posterity; and to those he and his offspring were to become the most mean abject servants, as the phrase implies: this character agrees with the name of Canaan, which may be derived from "to depress", "humble", and "make mean and abject".

(q) "maledictus erit Cenahan", Junius & Tremellius. (r) So some in Vatablus.

And he said, {r} Cursed be Canaan; a {s} servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren.

(r) He pronounces as a prophet the curse of God against all those who do not honour their parents: for Ham and his posterity were cursed.

(s) That is, a most vile slave.

25. And he said] Noah’s utterance of a curse upon Canaan and of a blessing upon Shem and Japheth is expressed in poetical terms. The solemn words of a father, as the head of his house, concerning his sons, partook of the character of prophecy, and were expressed in brief oracular sentences. Cf. in the story of Jacob chs. 27, 48 and 49.

Cursed be Canaan] Three times over, in these verses, is the curse repeated against Canaan, while a blessing is pronounced upon Shem and Japheth. It is difficult to resist the conclusion that Canaan here stands on a level with Shem and Japheth, and that he is regarded as Noah’s third son; as, indeed, is expressly indicated by the mention of “his brethren” (Genesis 9:22; Genesis 9:25). The explanation that the wrong-doing of “Ham” is punished by the curse levelled at Canaan, a son of Ham, seems most improbable; but this is the only explanation which the words of the text in Genesis 9:22, making “Ham, the father of Canaan,” the offender, will admit. The mention of “Ham” in that verse is almost certainly a late insertion for harmonizing purposes.

A servant of servants] i.e. the meanest of servants, the slave of slaves. Lat. servus servorum. For this method of expressing the superlative, cf. “the Holy of holies,” i.e. the innermost Sanctuary (Exodus 26:33); “prince of the princes” (Numbers 3:32); “God of gods, Lord of lords” (Deuteronomy 10:17; Psalm 136:2-3); “Song of Songs,” i.e. the fairest of songs (Song of Solomon 1:1); “the King of kings,” i.e. the Omnipotent (Ezekiel 26:7).

unto his brethren] Canaan is to be the slave of Shem and Japheth. The oracle predicts the subjugation of the Canaanites to the Israelites, and forecasts their inability to resist the power of Japheth. The precise manner in which the subjection of Canaan to Japheth was historically realized must be left uncertain. There is no suggestion of a whole race doomed to a condition of slavery. The application of this clause to the African races is an error of interpretation. Doubtless the power of the Japhetic races was from time to time successfully asserted against the Phoenicians. Japheth represents the races of the West and North.

If Canaan be not here regarded as the brother of Shem and Japheth, it must be assumed that the punishment of Ham is to be inflicted upon his son, Canaan. This is the usual explanation; but it breaks down in view of the fact that all the names are used symbolically and representatively, and the oracle has reference, in each case, not to the individuals, but to their descendants. Hence there would be no point in singling out a son of the real offender, instead of indicating the offender himself.

SPECIAL NOTE ON Genesis 9:25-27There is much uncertainty as to the period of history to which the Song, or Oracle, of Noah may be considered to refer. In all probability, the question must be left undecided.

1. It has been understood to refer to the times of David. Shem, i.e. the Israelites, have subjugated Canaan. Japheth, i.e. the Philistines, coming from the West, have first inflicted defeat upon the Canaanites, and then occupied the S.W. portion of the country of Palestine. But is it possible that an Israelite poet would have spoken so favourably of the Philistines, and have described their arrival under the simile of Japheth dwelling in the tents of Shem?

2. It has been understood to refer to the times either of Solomon or of Ahab. Shem, i.e. the Israelites, have subjugated Canaan, and have entered into terms of friendship with Japheth, i.e. the Phoenician; king of Tyre. It is obviously an objection that, in Genesis 10:15, the Phoenicians are ranked among the sons of Canaan. Moreover, it is hardly probable that the devout Israelite would offer to the worshippers of Baal a welcome into the tents of the servants of Jehovah.

3. It has been conjectured (by Gunkel) that the poem has reference to the great racial movements of the second millennium b.c., and that Canaan may represent the earliest Semitic immigrants into Palestine; Shem, the invading races of Aramaeans and Hebrews; Japheth, the northern nations, and, in particular, the Hittites. It may be doubted, whether the migratory invasion of Aramaean and Hebrew peoples would ever have been comprehended by an Israelite singer under the single symbolic name of Shem; and, also, whether he would have regarded any other peoples besides Israel as belonging to Jehovah. Again, if so wide a designation be assigned to Shem, the prayer that Japheth may “dwell in the tents of Shem” becomes unintelligible.

4. It has been conjectured, by Bertholet, that the Song has reference to a late period; that Shem represents the post-exilic Jews; Canaan, the heathen dwellers in Palestine and Phoenicia; Japheth, the Greeks under Alexander, who conquered and subjugated Phoenicia, and received a welcome from the Jews of Jerusalem. But this, beside other improbabilities, assumes too late a date for the composition of the Song.

5. It is better, for the present, to leave our judgement in suspense. But, in all probability, we should be right in supposing that under “Jehovah, the God of Shem,” is contained a reference to the people of Israel; and that in the denunciation of Canaan, “A servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren,” is implied a time when the subjugation of the Canaanites was not yet complete; when they were still formidable; and when the support of Japheth (unknown peoples (?) in the north) was likely to prove a welcome assistance, though only of a temporary nature, to Israel.

The period, then, might conceivably be not long after the settlement of the tribes of Israel in the land of Canaan.

It only remains to point out the importance of this poetical Oracle in the literature of the Old Testament. (1) It treats of the movements of the nations as ordered and guided by Jehovah. It may thus be described as possibly the first product of Israelite prophecy. (2) In its attitude of generous trust towards Japheth, it is an early example of the spirit of tolerance towards the stranger, which in later Judaism was almost lost in narrow exclusiveness1[14].

[14] I am indebted to the discussion of this Song in G. Adam Smith’s Schweich Lectures, 1910, pp. 46–49.

Verse 25. - And he said. Not in personal resentment, since "the fall of Noah is not at all connected with his prophecy, except as serving to bring out the real character of his children, and to reconcile him to the different destinies which he was to announce as awaiting their respective races" (Candlish); but under the impulse of a prophetic spirit (Poole, Keil, Lange, Candlish, Murphy, and expositors generally), which, however, had its historical occasion in the foregoing incident. The structure of the prophecy is perfectly symmetrical, introducing, in three poetical verses,

(1) the curse of Canaan,

(2) the blessing of Shem, and

(3) the enlargement of Japheth, and in all three giving prominence to the doom of servitude pronounced upon the son of Ham. Cursed. The second curse pronounced upon a human being, the first having been on Cain (Genesis 4:11). Colenso notices that all the curses belong to the Jehovistic writer; but vide Genesis 49:6, 7, which Tuch and Bleek ascribed to the Elohist, though, doubtless in consequence of the "curse," by Davidson and others it is now assigned to the Jehovist. That this curse was not an imprecation, but a prediction of the future subjection of the Canaanites, has been maintained (Theodoret, Venema, Willet), chiefly in consequence of its falling upon Canaan; but

(1) as the contrary "blessing" implies the inheritance of good in virtue of a Divine disposition to that effect, so does "cursing" import subjection to evil by the same Divine power; and

(2) if we eliminate the moral element from the doom of Canaan, which clearly referred to a condition of temporal servitude, there seems no reason why the language of Noah should not be regarded as a solemnly pronounced and Divinely guaranteed infliction; while

(3) as the curse is obviously aimed at the nations and peoples descending from the execrated person, it is not inconsistent to suppose that many individuals amongst those nations and peoples might attain to a high degree of temporal and spiritual prosperity. Be Canaan.

(1) Not Ham, the father of Canaan (Arabic Version); nor

(2) all the sons of Ham, though concentrated in Canaan (Havernick, Keil, Murphy); but

(3) Canaan alone, though indirectly, through him, Ham also (Calvin, Bush, Kalisch, Lange, et alii). For the formal omission of Ham many different reasons have been assigned.

(1) Because God had preserved him in the ark (Jewish commentators).

(2) Because if Ham had been mentioned all his other sons would have been implicated (Pererius, Lange).

(3) Because the sin of Ham was comparatively trifling (Bohlen). For the cursing of Canaan instead of Ham, it has been urged -

(1) That he was Ham's youngest son, as Ham was Noah's (Hoffman and Delitzsch); surely a very insufficient reason for God cursing any one!

(2) That he was the real perpetrator of the crime (Aben Ezra, Procopius, Poole, Jamieson, Lewis, &c.).

(3) That thereby the greatness of Ham's sin was evinced (Calvin).

(4) That Canaan was already walking in the steps of his father's impiety (Ambrose, Mercerus, Keil).

(5) That Noah foresaw that the Canaanites would abundantly deserve this visitation (Calvin, Wordsworth, Murphy, Kalisch, Lange). We incline to think the truth lies in the last three reasons. A servant of servants. A Hebraism for the superlative degree; cf. "King of kings, "holy of holies, "the song of songs" (vide Gesenius, § 119). I.e. "the last even among servants" (Calvin); "a servant reduced to the lowest degree of bondage and degradation" (Bush); "vilissima servituts pressus" (Sol. Glass); "a most base and vile servant" (Ainsworth); "a working servant" (Chaldee); "the lowest of slaves" (Keil); παῖς οἰκἑτης (LXX.), which "conveys the notion of permanent hereditary servitude" (Kalisch). Keil, Hengstenberg, and Wordsworth see an allusion to this condition in the name Canaan (q.v., supra), which, however, Lange doubts. Shall he be to his brethren. A prophecy which was afterwards abundantly fulfilled, the Canaanites in the time of Joshua having been partly exterminated and partly reduced to the lowest form of slavery by the Israelites who belonged to the family of Shem (Joshua 9:23), those that remained being subsequently reduced by Solomon (1 Kings 9:20, 21); while the Phenicians, along with the Carthaginians and Egyptians, who all belonged to the family of Canaan, were subjected by the Japhetic Persians, Macedonians, and Romans (Keil). Genesis 9:25The second occurrence in the life of Noah after the flood exhibited the germs of the future development of the human race in a threefold direction, as manifested in the characters of his three sons. As all the families and races of man descend from them, their names are repeated in Genesis 9:18; and in prospective allusion to what follows, it is added that "Ham was the father of Canaan." From these three "the earth (the earth's population) spread itself out." "The earth" is used for the population of the earth, as in Genesis 10:25 and Genesis 11:1, and just as lands or cities are frequently substituted for their inhabitants. נפצה: probably Niphal for נפצה, from פּוּץ to scatter (Genesis 11:4), to spread out. "And Noah the husbandman began, and planted a vineyard." As האדמה אישׁ cannot be the predicate of the sentence, on account of the article, but must be in apposition to Noah, ויטּע and ויּחל must be combined in the sense of "began to plant" (Ges. 142, 3). The writer does not mean to affirm that Noah resumed his agricultural operations after the flood, but that as a husbandman he began to cultivate the vine; because it was this which furnished the occasion for the manifestation of that diversity in the character of his sons, which was so eventful in its consequences in relation to the future history of their descendants. In ignorance of the fiery nature of wine, Noah drank and was drunken, and uncovered himself in his tent (Genesis 9:21). Although excuse may be made for this drunkenness, the words of Luther are still true: "Qui excusant patriarcham, volentes hanc consolationem, quam Spiritus S. ecclesiis necessariam judicavit, abjuciunt, quod scilicen etiam summi sancti aliquando labuntur." This trifling fall served to display the hearts of his sons. Ham saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without. Not content with finding pleasure himself in his father's shame, "nunquam enim vino victum patrem filius resisset, nisi prius ejecisset animo illam reverentiam et opinionem, quae in liberis de parentibus ex mandato Dei existere debet" (Luther), he just proclaimed his disgraceful pleasure to his brethren, and thus exhibited his shameless sensuality. The brothers, on the contrary, with reverential modesty covered their father with a garment (השּׂמלה the garment, which was at hand), walking backwards that they might not see his nakedness (Genesis 9:23), and thus manifesting their childlike reverence as truly as their refined purity and modesty. For this they receive their father's blessing, whereas Ham reaped for his son Canaan the patriarch's curse. In Genesis 9:24 Ham is called הקּטן בּנו "his (Noah's) little son," and it is questionable whether the adjective is to be taken as comparative in the sense of "the younger," or as superlative, meaning "the youngest." Neither grammar nor the usage of the language will enable us to decide. For in 1 Samuel 17:14, where David is contrasted with his brothers, the word means not the youngest of the four, but the younger by the side of the three elder, just as in Genesis 1:16 the sun is called "the great" light, and the moon "the little" light, not to show that the sun is the greatest and the moon the least of all lights, but that the moon is the smaller of the two. If, on the other hand, on the ground of 1 Samuel 16:11, where "the little one" undoubtedly means the youngest of all, any one would press the superlative force here, he must be prepared, in order to be consistent, to do the same with haggadol, "the great one," in Genesis 10:21, which would lead to this discrepancy, that in the verse before us Ham is called Noah's youngest son, and in Genesis 10:21 Shem is called Japhet's oldest brother, and thus implicite Ham is described as older than Japhet. If we do not wish lightly to introduce a discrepancy into the text of these two chapters, no other course is open than to follow the lxx, Vulg. and others, and take "the little" here and "the great" in Genesis 10:21 as used in a comparative sense, Ham being represented here as Noah's younger son, and Shem in Genesis 10:21 as Japhet's elder brother. Consequently the order in which the three names stand is also an indication of their relative ages. And this is not only the simplest and readiest assumption, but is even confirmed by Genesis 10, though the order is inverted there, Japhet being mentioned first, then Ham, and Shem last; and it is also in harmony with the chronological datum in Genesis 11:10, as compared with Genesis 5:32 (vid., Genesis 11:10).

To understand the words of Noah with reference to his sons (Genesis 9:25-27), we must bear in mind, on the one hand, that as the moral nature of the patriarch was transmitted by generation to his descendants, so the diversities of character in the sons of Noah foreshadowed diversities in the moral inclinations of the tribes of which they were the head; and on the other hand, that Noah, through the Spirit and power of that God with whom he walked, discerned in the moral nature of his sons, and the different tendencies which they already displayed, the germinal commencement of the future course of their posterity, and uttered words of blessing and of curse, which were prophetic of the history of the tribes that descended from them. In the sin of Ham "there lies the great stain of the whole Hamitic race, whose chief characteristic is sexual sin" (Ziegler); and the curse which Noah pronounced upon this sin still rests upon the race. It was not Ham who was cursed, however, but his son Canaan. Ham had sinned against his father, and he was punished in his son. But the reason why Canaan was the only son named, is not to be found in the fact that Canaan was the youngest son of Ham, and Ham the youngest son of Noah, as Hoffmann supposes. The latter is not an established fact; and the purely external circumstance, that Canaan had the misfortune to be the youngest son, could not be a just reason for cursing him alone. The real reason must either lie in the fact that Canaan was already walking in the steps of his father's impiety and sin, or else be sought in the name Canaan, in which Noah discerned, through the gift of prophecy, a significant omen; a supposition decidedly favoured by the analogy of the blessing pronounced upon Japhet, which is also founded upon the name. Canaan does not signify lowland, nor was it transferred, as many maintain, from the land to its inhabitants; it was first of all the name of the father of the tribe, from whom it was transferred to his descendants, and eventually to the land of which they took possession. The meaning of Canaan is "the submissive one," from כּנע to stoop or submit, Hiphil, to bend or subjugate (Deuteronomy 9:3; Judges 4:23, etc.). "Ham gave his son the name from the obedience which he required, though he did not render it himself. The son was to be the servant (for the name points to servile obedience) of a father who was as tyrannical towards those beneath him, as he was refractory towards those above. The father, when he gave him the name, thought only of submission to his own commands. But the secret providence of God, which rules in all such things, had a different submission in view" (Hengstenberg, Christol. i. 28, transl.). "Servant of servants (i.e., the lowest of slaves, vid., Ewald, 313) let him become to his brethren." Although this curse was expressly pronounced upon Canaan alone, the fact that Ham had no share in Noah's blessing, either for himself or his other sons, was a sufficient proof that his whole family was included by implication in the curse, even if it was to fall chiefly upon Canaan. And history confirms the supposition. The Canaanites were partly exterminated, and partly subjected to the lowest form of slavery, by the Israelites, who belonged to the family of Shem; and those who still remained were reduced by Solomon to the same condition (1 Kings 9:20-21). The Phoenicians, along with the Carthaginians and the Egyptians, who all belonged to the family of Canaan, were subjected by the Japhetic Persians, Macedonians, and Romans; and the remainder of the Hamitic tribes either shared the same fate, or still sigh, like the negroes, for example, and other African tribes, beneath the yoke of the most crushing slavery.

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