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Understanding the Curse of Canaan


It's not uncommon to hear people claim that black skin is symbolic of the curse Noah pronounced on Ham, and the curse of Canaan is a reflection of the enslavement the black race suffered at the hands of other nations. 

To better understand the significance of the curse of Canaan and the descendants of Ham, we have meticulously and carefully analyzed the validity of these claims, while incorporating two elements: keeping in mind the biblical narrative, and taking into account the historical figures involved. And, in keeping with the Lord's Word, those who aspire to know the truth must necessarily consult ancient history.

  • Isaiah 46:9 "Remember what happened long ago..."

  • Job 8:8 "Please inquire of past generations and consider the discoveries of their fathers."

The name "Canaan" means "humiliated". Following Noah's humiliation, he uttered a curse against the posterity of Canaan, and not against the whole posterity of Ham, as some people believe.

  • Genesis 9:21-25 "But when he drank some of its wine, he became drunk and uncovered himself inside his tent. And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his father’s nakedness and told his two brothers outside...  When Noah awoke from his drunkenness and learned what his youngest son had done to him. he said, “Cursed be Canaan! A servant of servants shall he be to his brothers!"


However, if you read Genesis 9:21-25 very carefully, you will realize that it is a very ambiguous verse and raises a number of questions and problems. Such complexities have led modern biblical critics to speculate on the entanglement of numerous sources and textual corruptions that might have generated such confusion, or to speculate that something might have changed in an earlier version of human history. Indeed, this brief account presents the following challenges in terms of interpretation.


Problem 1 - Which youngest son does this refer to? 

Many experts and scholars maintain and teach that Japheth is the eldest of Noah's sons. However, in all genealogies, the Bible systematically lists the male children according to their birth order. In the following verses, the birth order of Noah's children is as follows:

  • Genesis 5:32 "After Noah was 500 years old, he became the father of Shem, Ham, and Japhet"

  • Genesis 7:13 "In the selfsame day entered Noah, and Shem, and Ham, and Japheth, the sons of Noah, and Noah's wife, and the three wives of his sons with them, into the ark"

  • Genesis 9:18 "The sons of Noah who came out of the ark were Shem, Ham, and Japheth."

Note that this order is also consistently repeated in several non-canonical Books classified as apocrypha.

  • "And in the twenty-fifth jubilee Noah took to himself a wife, and her name was Emzara, the daughter of Rakeel, the daughter of his father's brother, in the first year in the fifth week: and in the third year thereof she bare him Shem, in the fifth year thereof she bare him Ham, and in the first year in the sixth week she bare him Japheth." |The Book of Jubilees, chap. 4:33|

  • "And she bare unto him three sons. Sham, Ham, and Japhet." |The Book of Adam and Eve, chap. 3-1:8|

  • "As to those three sons of Noah, the first of them is Shem; the next is Ham; and the third is Japhet." |The Book of Adam and Eve, chap. 3-3:5|

In Genesis 10:21, Most Bibles clearly state that Japheth is the youngest son of Shem, his elder brother..  

  • "And unto Shem, the father of all the children of Eber, the elder brother of Japheth, to him also were children born." |JPS Tanakh 1917|

  • "And Shem, Japheth’s older brother, also had sons. Shem was the father of all the sons of Eber." |Holman Christian Standard Bible|

But some Bibles seem to imply that Japheth is the eldest.

  • "Unto Shem also, the father of all the children of Eber, the brother of Japheth the elder, even to him were children born. |King James Bible|

  • "To Shem also, the father of all the children of Eber, the brother of Japheth the elder, even to him were children born." |Webster's Bible Translation|

In Genesis 9:24, it is written that it was the youngest son who humiliated Noah. If no Scripture has ever clearly designated Ham as Noah's youngest son, why was he given the title of youngest and not Japheth? Why is it that the traditional sequence of genealogies doesn't seem to apply to Japheth, and although he's listed last, he's still not the youngest?  Something is obviously amiss.


Problem 2 - What precisely had Ham "done" to make Canaan deserving of such a severe curse?  

When Noah awoke, he learned what his youngest son had done to him. The episode culminates with Noah cursing Canaan, Cham's youngest son. Perhaps most disconcerting is to read that Canaan is cursed for what appears to be an offense committed by Ham alone.

  • Genesis 9:24-25 "When Noah awoke from his drunkenness and learned what his youngest son had done to him. he said, “Cursed be Canaan! A servant of servants shall he be to his brothers!"

Note that in Hebrew, the word "son" is not quite explicit, as it means "builder of the family name", an expression that can be used in other languages as a reference to a grandson or even a very distant descendant. Thus, the expression "his younger son" is not necessarily a direct reference to Ham, but may rather imply Canaan "the younger son of Ham".

  • According to the Talmud (Sanhedrin 70a), it was Canaan who sinned against Noah in the manner of the sodomites. Cham, having seen the deed, spread the news with mockery. 

  • According to Jewish legend, Canaan was the first to discover Noah's nakedness, and he informed his father Ham, who in turn informed his brothers Shem and Japheth; and when Noah woke up, he cursed Canaan for having been the first cause of the scandal.


Thus, the expression "his youngest son" is not a direct reference to Ham, but rather implies Canaan "the youngest son of Ham". In other words, Canaan was not punished for Ham's fault, but only for his own. 


Furthermore, nudity was a taboo in ancient Israelite society, and seeing one's parents' nakedness had connotations of sexual intimacy and sometimes even incest or rape. Note that in the Bible, the notion of "seeing one's father's nakedness" has a very broad meaning and does not exclude the fact that Noah's wife may also have been subjected to the humiliation.

  • Leviticus 18:8 "The nakedness of your father’s wife you shall not uncover; it is your father’s nakedness."


All these elements may be implicit in the story, although the text is unclear on the subject. However, it may simply be a matter of Cham's (or Canaan's) lack of respect for Noah's sex life, which he inadvertently witnessed.

Problem 3 - Japhet the youngest?

First conundrum:

We know that some women from Cain's bloodline married into Seth's bloodline, the family from which Noah descended. We also know that some women from Cain's bloodline had intimate relations with angels and begat Giants.

  • Genesis 6:4 "The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and afterward as well—when the sons of God had relations with the daughters of men. And they bore them children who became the mighty men of old, men of renown..."

The Bible states that the Giants (Naphidim) were the heroes of antiquity. It should be noted that antiquity generally refers to classical antiquity, i.e. the period from the 8th century B.C. to the 4th century A.D. in the Mediterranean region, in particular the Greek and Roman civilizations. In other words, the giants (Naphidim) were descendants of Japhet.

It is written in Genesis 15:19-21, that the giants who populated the Promised Land were not only comprised of Canaanites, but also of Kenites, Kenizites, Kadmonites, Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaim, Amorites, Girgashites and Jebusites. When reviewing the biblical references to these giants, it is very difficult to draw a clear conclusion as to their identity. However, much can be deduced about the spiritual significance of their names. 


  • Kenite: is derived from the name Cain. Thus, the Kenites or Cainites were descendants of Cain, from the lineage of Japhet. They seem to have been well respected in the Scriptures. Skilled artists, they lived near Mount Sinai and developed fruitful trade relations with other tribes living in the region. But they had conflicting relations with the Canaanites. See the story of Ehud's assassination of Eglon and Jael's murder of Sisera. (Judges 3 and 4)

  • Kenizite: is derived from the Hebrew verb “qanaz” and evokes a hunter or trapper. This name does not describe a physical descent, but rather a professional activity that would be assimilated to the international trade of human beings. The Kenizites are said to be “hunters of men”, and were known for their role in the vast world of human interaction and exchange. |Abarim Publications|

  • Kadmonites: is derived from the Hebrew adverb “qedem” and can mean antiquity as well as the Levant (the place where the sun rises). The denominative verb “qadam” means to precede or to be ahead, to anticipate, to be in the forefront. The noun “qadim”, meaning east or oriental, is often used to indicate a destructive wind blowing eastwards. |Abarim Publications|

  • Hittite: is derived from the Hebrew verb "hatat" and means "terror". People with the hittite spirit are stealth operators who prey on the emotions with the aim of causing a sense of deep despair, torment and emotional terror. |Abarim Publications|

  • Rephaim is derived from the Hebrew verb "rapa", meaning to bring down, to sink, to cause to fall, The name “repai'm” refers to the “sunken”, i.e. the spectres or ghosts of people who are no longer alive. They are described in the Bible as "giants" and "mighty men". In Ugaritic texts and Phoenician funerary inscriptions, they are depicted as healers or physicians; kings, rulers, judges, heroes and generals; gods or demi-gods; giants or titans. |Abarim Publications|

  • Amorite: is derived from the Hebrew verb "amar" meaning "to declare, to pronounce"; and could be literally translated as "one who speaks". People with the Amorite spirit have a need to be noticed, and revered by others, they also like to "give orders" and have people "obey" them. In other words, Amorites like to be "kings". |Abarim Publications|

  • Girgashite: is derived from the Hebrew verb "garar" which means "dwellers of clay soil" or "to take and strike". People with the Girgashite spirit focus on earthly, temporal things, and despise spiritual, eternal things. |Abarim Publications|

  • Jebusite: is derived from the Hebrew verb "bus", which means to trample. People with the Jebusite spirit don't hesitate to belittle and humiliate others, whenever they see these "little people" trying to assert their authority. Jebusites believe that some people are inherently inferior, and have no right to show any authority. |Abarim Publications|

The Bible also mentions that there were giants right up to the time of David. Psalm 151 is a psalm attributed to King David after he slayed the giant Goliath and refers to the giants, it is found in most copies of the Septuagint, the Vetus Latina, the Vulgate, the Peshitta and various bibles of the Churches of the Three Councils, but it has been excluded from the Massoretic texts of the Hebrew Bible and the Catholic biblical canon. The implication is that these giants were of the japhetite line.


Psalm 151

I was small among my brothers, and the youngest in my father's house; I tended my father's sheep. My hands made a harp; my fingers fashioned a lyre. And who will tell my Lord? The Lord Himself; it is He who hears. It was he who sent His messenger and took me from my father's sheep, and anointed me with his anointing oil. My brothers were handsome and tall, But the Lord was not pleased with them. I went out to meet the Philistine, and he cursed me by his idols. But I drew his own sword; I beheaded him, and took away disgrace from the people of Israel.

If the Kenites (Cainites) were descended from Japheth, why are they then counted among the Canaanites descended from Ham? What about the other tribes that populated the Promised Land, were they all of the line of Ham or were they more a mixture of Hamites and Japhetites?

Second conundrum:

In Genesis 9:24-25, it is written: "When Noah awoke from his drunkenness and learned what his youngest son had done to him. he said, “Cursed be Canaan! A servant of servants shall he be to his brothers!" Now, if we were to apply the genealogy of Noah's sons in accordance with the biblical context, i.e. Shem (the first-born), Ham (the second-born), Japheth (the youngest), this verse would read as follows: "When Noah awoke from his drunkenness and learned what his youngest son had done to him. he said, “Cursed be Canaan! A servant of servants shall he be to his brothers!"


In this context, the implication changes and does not exclude the fact that the name "Canaan" could be a textual corruption of Kenite or Cainite?  In other words, Noah would not have cursed an individual named Canaan but rather the Cainite posterity?


Problem 4 - Why did the prosperity of Ham ruled over Shem and Japhet?

History and archaeological evidence attest that Ham's lineage was the world's first imperial power, first under Nimrod in Babylonia, then under the Pharaohs in Egypt.

  • Genesis 10:8 "Cush was the father of Nimrod, who began to be a mighty one on the earth."

  • Psalm 68:32 "Princes shall come out of Egypt"


Yet it seems somewhat odd that Nimrod, grandson of Ham, became the first king to establish a powerful empire on earth and inhabit the most prosperous region of the world, only 130 years after the flood and at a time when Noah and those to whom he and his descendants had been subjected were still alive.


According to Sefer ha-Yashar or the Book of Jasher, when Nimrod was 18 years old, a war broke out between the Hamites (his relatives) and the Japhetites. The latter were victorious at first, but Nimrod, leading a small army of Cushites, attacked and defeated them, whereupon he became king over all the peoples of the earth and appointed Terah, father of Abraham from Shem's bloodline, as his minister and servant. 


If Ham was the one who humiliated his father, it implies that the curse he was under precluded him and his descendants from attaining kingship, as they were condemned to serve his brothers, not to rule over them. If the curse of Canaan affected all of Ham's posterity, why did Nimrod ruled over the descendants of Shem and Japheth in the royal hierarchy, and why in every ages have the world's elite remained under the authority of the worship of Nimrod, also known as Baal/Osiris, through Egyptian mysteries, occultism and paganism? 


This would not be called into question if Nimrod had descended from Japheth's bloodline, for a certain degree of greatness was conceded to him. 

  • God will enlarge Yapheth - Aramaic Bible in Plain English

  • May God expand the territory of Japheth - Berean Standard Bible

  • God increase Iaphet - Coverdale Bible of 1535

Who are the biblical Canaanites?

Before addressing the real meaning of the curse of Canaan, it would be useful to first clarify who the biblical Canaanites are.


He begat Sidon, Heth, Leboussi, Emori, Gigarshi, Hivi, Harqi, Sini, Arvadi, Semari and Hamati. According to the official narrative, his sons settles in the following regions:

► Zidon: father of the sidonians or phoenicians, who lived in the present Lebanon.

► Heth: father of the Hittites, they lived in the city of Hebron, one of the most famous cities of Palestine, which was then called Kir-jath-arba.

►  Jebus: father of the Jebusites, who took their name from the city of Jebus, the ancient name of Jerusalem, where they lived.

► Amor: father of the Amorites / Amoreans. They lived in the west of Mesopotamia, present-day Syrian.

► Gigash: father of the Girgasites / Guirgasians. They lived in the area known as Gadara in the New Testament. When they left their country for Israel, they went to Gurgestan which was Georgia. They are the descendants of Georgia.

► Hivi: father of the Hivittes or Horite. They lived in the mountainous region of Lebanon.

► Ark: father of the Arkites. They lived either in the city of Irquata, a Phoenician coastal city today in Syria, or in the city of Arce, located at the northwestern foot of Mount Lebanon.

► Sin: father of the Sinites. They lived in the south in the Sinai region.

► Arvad: father of the Avvites. They lived in Hazerim, or "the villages", at the southwest corner of the sea coast. 

► Zemar: father of the Zemarites / Tsemarians. They lived in Zemar, a city near the coast of present-day Syria.

► Hamath: father of the Hamathites. They lived in the kingdom of Hamath, located in what is today western Syria and northern Lebanon.


In chapter 10:29-30 of the Book of Jubilees, it is written that Canaan and his descendants did not migrate to the territory that was rightfully his, but instead appropriated part of Shem's territory, namely: present-day Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria and Jordania. His father and brothers admonished him, saying:

"You have settled in a land which is not your, and which did not fall to us by lot: do not do so; for if you do so, you and your sons will fall in the land and (be) accursed through sedition; for by sedition you have settled, and by sedition will your children fall, and you shall be rooted out for ever." |The Book of Jubilees, Chapter 10:30|.

Indeed, the territory that Canaan unjustly appropriated is to this day plagued by sedition, with two groups claiming legitimacy as their own, under the name they have chosen. One land, but two names, hence the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that has spawned countless agitations, uprisings, riots and subversions.

If the biblical Canaanites refer to the Middle East, then why is the curse of Canaan associated with Africans and blacks as a whole? The deeper you delve into your understanding of the curse of Canaan, the more you will be left with the impression that it conceals a very sinister agenda intended to hide the true identity of Noah's sons and justify the atrocities committed against the black race.

The true meaning of the curse of Canaan

Noah declared that Canaan would be "a servant of servants"; in other versions of the Bible this is translated: "The lowest of slaves". 

The word "slave" used for Canaan is the Hebrew term "Ehbed" which expresses "possession", and is often used to describe a servant or slave who has been freed by his owner, but chooses to stay and continue to serve out of love and devotion. "Servant of servants" is translated as "Ehbed of ehbed" which means "one who is spiritually enslaved to a deity". This implies that the consequences of Canaan's transgression will be such that he'll remain in a state of spiritual slavery which will compel him to serve the "ehbed" not by love or choice, but rather by imposition and obligation, making him lower than the "ehbed" he serves. In other words, Canaan and his descendants will never serve the true Elohim.


According to many historical records, the Canaanites had become polytheists enslaved to idolatry, and whose main gods were Ba'als, Astarte, Molech, Dagon... They erected sacrificial altars before whom they performed Canaanite magic, snake worship and child sacrifice. The Canaanite fertility ritual was characterized by the presence of male and female prostitutes in temples and sanctuaries. As a result of their moral depravity or slavery to idols worship, ELOHIM brought them to their destruction by means of the numerous wars they waged against the sons of Jacob.

  • Numbers 21:3 "And the LORD listened to the voice of Israel and delivered up the Canaanites, and they utterly destroyed them and their cities. So the name of that place was called Hormah."

  • Deuteronomy 9:5 "It is not because of your righteousness or uprightness of heart that you are going in to possess their land, but it is because of their wickedness that the LORD your God is driving out these nations before you, to keep the promise He swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob."

  • Exodus 23:28 "I will send the hornet before you to drive the Hivites and Canaanites and Hittites out of your way."

**Note that Jezebel was a Canaanite princess, daughter of the priest-king Ethbaal, ruler of the coastal Phoenician (present-day Lebanon) cities of Tyre and Sidon (Ṣaydā or Arabia). Raised in Sidon, she married Ahab of Israel for diplomatic reasons. She introduced the Canaanite religion to the Israelites by bringing in its foreign gods and goddesses, in particular Baal and his wife Astarte.


Consequently, the curse of Canaan does not concern the enslavement of the black race, but rather the spiritual servitude imposed upon Canaan's descendants, to serve other gods under pressure and coercion. In other words, Shem and his posterity will serve the true ELOHIM, but Canaan and his descendants will be servants/slaves to those who do not serve ELOHIM.

  • Genesis 9:26 "And he said: Blessed be the LORD, the God of Shem; And let Canaan be their servant."


You be the judge, and we encourage you to do your own research.

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