Why was Ham’s son cursed for an action that Ham did?
Ham was one of the three sons of Noah and had been saved in the ark along with Noah’s wife and the wife of each son. They were in the Ark during the global flood as described in Genesis. After the flood waters had receded Noah planted a vineyard.
20 And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard: (AV)
Now from a vineyard you can make wine using the grapes and the fermentation process. Drinking wine in and of itself is not a sin. Where the problem occurs with drinking to an excess and then becoming drunk is the intoxicated actions that occur that harm not only the person drinking but others through the actions of the drunk person. Sinful actions can occur and distort the gift that God has given us.
21 and he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent. (AV)
Noah sinned and drank to excess and consequences followed. Noah was found to be righteous and so were his family they survived the flood in the Ark. But Noah and his family were still sinners, as all of us are, since we inherit the sin nature from Adam when he disobeyed in the Garden of Eden. Noah’s drunkeness was so soon after the flood and sinful behavior is continuing and rearing its ugliness in the world.
22 And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without. (AV)
23 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. 24 And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him. 25 And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren. 26 And he said, Blessed be the Lord God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant. 27 God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant. (AV)
So Ham saw his father’s nakedness in the tent but he also knew of the drunkenness of his father. Ham went to his brothers to tell them of Noah’s nakedness. Now we aren’t told of any issues between Ham and Noah but we can surmise that maybe Ham told his brothers that righteous Noah had done a sinful thing. Maybe Ham resented some of the rebukes he may have received from Noah to his own sinful behavior in the past. The other brothers however did not look upon their father’s embarrassing/guilty condition and covered Noah’s nakedness and did it in such a way as to not look upon him.
When Noah awoke and realized what had happened he cursed Canaan the son of Ham. Why not curse Ham the one responsible?
1And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.
God had already given a blessing on Ham and Noah knowing this didn’t curse Ham. One of Ham’s sons was Canaan. Canaan was born after the flood and Canaan’s descendants were the Canaanites mentioned in Scripture. What was God’s command to the Israelites when they were to go into the promised land?
16 But of the cities of these people, which the Lord thy God doth give thee for an inheritance, thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth: 17 but thou shalt utterly destroy them; namely, the Hittites, and the Amorites, the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; as the Lord thy God hath commanded thee: 18 that they teach you not to do after all their abominations, which they have done unto their gods; so should ye sin against the Lord your God. (AV)
God knew from eternity past that Canaan’s descendants would be evil and practice idolatry and many other sins. Israel was to eliminate the Canaanites so they wouldn’t corrupt Israel. Ham’s son was cursed before the Canaanites existed and later Scripture shows us a reason. Noah, through his curse, shows a prophetic message about a future people and their sinful idolatrous ways.
God’s ways are not our ways. God is perfect and all decisions made by him are perfect. We don’t always have to understand why something is done. Sometimes Scripture is clear sometimes we have to accept that God’s plan is the perfect way to go when our finite sinful selves try and think differently. Trust God!
May God bless you,
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