Here at 1st Christian, we strive to be a safe place where you can come and explore, wrestle with questions of faith and life. This Sunday, we had the opportunity to put that value into practice as we opened up the teaching portion of our service discover what was on your mind. We had lots of great questions, even a few that stumped the Pastor:-). But, unfortunately, we were unable to get to them all.
Therefore, over the next few weeks, I’ll use this blog space to address those left over questions. I hope you’ll check back weekly to see if something you have wondered about gets discussed. And, as always, I welcome your feedback.
- Q: In Genesis 9:25, why did Noah curse Canaan? What was wrong with what he did?
- Great question. For those of you unfamiliar with that story, it happens on the heals of the Big Flood, after Noah and his family have left the ark. Noah, Scripture says, plants a Vineyard, get drunk and passes out naked in his tent (Understandably absent from any picture Bible I’ve ever seen:-).
Noah’s son Ham comes upon his father and goes and tells his two brothers, who quickly run to cover him up. When Noah wakes up, he curses Ham’s family, specifically his son Canaan.
Now, there are a few things we need to understand about this story so as to make sense of it. First, need to reconize that God is nowhere involved in this story. There is no ‘Thus said the Lord’ in Noah’s pronouncement. Second, it is difficult for people living in the modern world to understand the importance of honor, modesty, and discretion of privacy in ancient cultures. To be exposed was to revel the shame of the fall, it meant being unprotected, it brought dishonor and could be used to gain advantage for potential exploitation. So Ham desecrated a natural and sacred barrier, and then went out and told others about it. Ham made an irreparable breach in his father’s family; a curse will thus be put on his family.
But who is Canaan? Canaan, of course, represents more than the youngest son of Ham. Canaan, would be the people inhabiting the promise land when Israel arrived after the Exodus and the years in the wilderness. Canaan, we learn, are a selfish and shameful people involved all kinds of deplorable practices (like father/like son). That’s why God commands his people to ‘drive them out’. Those who remain become slaves to Israel, just as the prophetic curse foretold. That they would become “the lowest slaves to your brothers”.
Now, I don’t believe the ‘curse’ caused the Canaanites to turn out this way or for this to happen to them. I believe the story of Noah’s curse is meant to be what is referred to in literary circles as a bit of ‘foreshadowing’. The author of Genesis is giving the reader a little taste of what will unfold a little later in the story.
Hope this helps. Love to get your feedback.
See you Sunday,