In the last two posts we introduced the name lists of Genesis 10 as the Table of Nations from Noah, and reviewed the descendants of Japheth, the elder brother. Now let us turn our attention to Ham, the youngest brother.
In Genesis 9 there was an incident in which Noah made wine, became drunk, and fell asleep in his tent in a way that exposed his nakedness. Ham saw it and told his brothers, but Shem and Japheth showed respect for the patriarch by going into the tent backwards and placing a garment over him without looking.
When Noah learned what had happened, he did something that seems strange. He spoke a curse over Canaan, Ham’s youngest son.
Perhaps Canaan was involved in the incident, but there is no mention of it. The important thing to keep in mind is that Ham’s older three sons were not included in the curse. Noah – by prophesy – seemed to know that Canaan was not just a problem child. His descendants were going to be a problem for all nations:
So Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done to him. Then he said:
“Cursed be Canaan;
A servant of servants
He shall be to his brethren.”
And he said:
“Blessed be the Lord,
The God of Shem,
And may Canaan be his servant.
May God enlarge Japheth,
And may he dwell in the tents of Shem;
And may Canaan be his servant.”
-Genesis 9:24-27 NKJV
The language here reminds me of the Lord’s curse upon the serpent, because it prophesies conflict in the coming generations that will look back to this moment:
And I will put enmity
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her Seed
In a similar way, Noah prophesies that Canaan’s people will become enslaved by the descendants of Shem and Japheth. Jews believe it meant that Japheth’s descendants would one day come to the aid of Shem’s descendants (inhabiting the same tent) to prevent Canaan from rising up and overpowering them.
Noah’s curse upon Canaan divides the sons of Ham into two separate destinies. The older three sons settle Africa, while Canaan’s people will have an endless struggle over land the Lord promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Canaan feels justified, because he was there first. Abraham is justified because he goes to the land where the Lord sent him, and his descendants conquer it.
From the Bible’s perspective, Canaan’s conflict is not really with Abraham, it’s with Abraham’s God. The Lord allows Canaan to live in this land as a servant, but not as a citizen with inheritance.
Ham had four sons, fifteen named grandsons, two named greats, and one named great-great (Philistim), which Jews say is the people group from his father Caphtorim and not a separate nation. After this, nine nations of the Canaanites that inhabited Palestine in the time of Moses are listed. We obtain approximately 30 of the 70 nations from Ham.
Ham means Hot, Excitable, or Hot-headed. The second meaning is to surround or protect.
- Cush has no meaning in Hebrew, but in LXX Greek means Scorched + Countenance, and is considered identical with Ethiopian or Ethiopia. Numbers 12:1 speaks of the Cushite wife of Moses, and Acts 8:27 of the Eunuch emissary of the Cushite Queen, Candace. In Prophesy Ethiopia is usually listed first among Gentile nations the Lord will bless in the Kingdom Age
- Mizraim means Two Mounds, Two Lands, or Two Fortresses, and was interchangeable in Hebrew with Egypt, where his people settled. It was divided between Pathros, the Upper Kingdom further south, and Mazor, the Lower Kingdom surrounding the mouth of the Nile. Figuratively, the name also means a double-bind, e.g. between a rock and a hard place or between the Egyptian Army and the sea
- Phut means Give or Gift, or an Unstrung Bow, the symbol of the strength of their people. They became the Nubians, and were continually subject to Egypt. They inhabited lands west of the Nile Delta to the border of Libya, with a second population center in the south bordering Cush. They were skilled archers, a feared contingent in the Egyptian Army, and later served as mercenaries for the Navy of Tyre
- Canaan means Land of Purple, from a root word that means Merchant or Servant. Purple was a prized commodity for dying fabric, so expensive that wearing purple robes became symbolic of royalty. Canaan settled nearly anywhere except Africa. His descendants were probably the original inhabitants of Canaan, Mongolia, China, Southeast Asia, Australia, Indonesia, Micronesia, Polynesia, and the Americas
- Of Cush
- Seba, meaning Ethiopian or a Man, but sounds like Drunkard. The Sebaim settled along the Astasobas river in Ethiopia, a rich and proud race that associated with the Egyptians, Cushites, and Sabeans. The names of the first and second kings of the Ethiopian 25th dynasty were Shebek and Shebetek
- Havilah means Whirling, writhing in pain, or a circular movement or dance. They settled Colchis surrounding Kutaisi on the eastern coast of the Black Sea in today’s Georgia. Genesis 2:11 gives this land fame for its gold and precious stones
- Sabtah means Seventh or Sabbath. The Chatramotitae settled the southern coast of Arabia. Its metropolis was famed for having 60 temples and for ship building
- Raamah, the father of Sheba and Dedan, means Thundering, shuddering, or a horse’s mane. They settled the eastern shores of Arabia, west of the Strait of Hormuz (near Dubai), and traded spices with Tyre for other goods
- Of Raamah
- Sheba’s meaning is unknown, possibly Ethiopian for Man, or Arabic for Splinter. Sheba was an ancient city on Bharain Island in the Persian Gulf
- Dedan means to Sport, Foreplay, a Nipple or Breast. They made two settlements at either end of the caravan route from Arabia east of Hormuz to southern Palestine. Is. 21:13 identifies them as “traveling companies of Dedanim”
- …”And Cush begat” is listed separately because Nimrod was a giant in the LXX, making his natural patrimony suspect
- Nimrod means “We Rebel,” also called Amraphel in Genesis 14:9, meaning “He That Makes Men Fall.” There is a break in the narrative here as the writer informs us of the cities he ruled or founded: Babel, Erech, Accad, Calneh, along the Euphrates River except for Calneh. Nimrod was from Cush in Africa, but cast out. He invaded the middle parts of Shem’s land, setting up the typological struggle between Jerusalem, the city where YHVH placed his name, and Babylon, the city of man’s dominion
- Asshur is from Shem, but is included in this listing after Nimrod, possibly because he became a vassal. The name appears in various forms as Assyria, Astoreth, Ashera, Asherim, all referring to the worship of the Queen of Heaven or Fortuna – good fortune. The word itself means straight, level, flat, a plain, righteous, prosperity or blessed. He founded Nineveh, Rehoboth, Calneh, and Resen along the Tigress River – but Nimrod also takes credit for Calneh. Today the once powerful Assyrian empire is stateless. They are the Kurds of Northern Iraq and surrounding areas of Turkey, Syria, and Iran
- Of Mizraim
- Ludim means nativity or generation. The Lydians lived far west of Egypt. Is. 66:19 and Jer. 49:9 call them archers with Phut and Tarshish
- Anamim means Answer of the Waters. They were ancestors to the Kingdom of Garamantes in the Libyan Fezzan, in Sahara south of Tripoli
- Lehabim means Flames or Flaming. Called the Rebu or Lebu by Egypt, they were Proto-Lybians driven inland from the coast by Greek colonists
- Naphtuhim means to Open the ears or mouth, to hear, to speak, or engravers. This is the Coptic name for the country immediately west of the Nile
- Pathrusim means descendants of Mizraim. They settled Thebes in Upper Egypt. Is. 11:11 places Pathros between Mizraim and Cush. After Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem, Jewish colonists lived there
- Casluhim means Orion People, sounds like Fools. Used to mean making connections that aren’t there, like drawing constellations in the stars. Khemenu on the border between Upper and Lower Egypt means eight-town, after the eight deities they worshipped. The Greeks called it Hermopolis, because they worshipped a god of magic and of scribes called Thoth, who is similar to Hermes. Coptic tradition says this is where the Holy Family stayed in Egypt
- Of Casluhim
- Caphtorim means a Crown, or Capital Stone on a pillar. Capthor was probably on the Island of Cyprus
- Of Caphtorim
- Philistim (great-great grandson of Ham) means Mourners, one who rolls in the ashes of grief. They became the Philistines (today’s Palestinians) of Gaza, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Ziklag, and Gath. Jer. 47:4 they were expelled from Caphtor to Crete, then invaded Egypt and were eventually driven out to the coast of Canaan in large numbers. Nebuchadnezzar exiled them to Mesopotamia.
- Of Canaan
- Sidon means Fishery, to hunt or fish, the root is used in Stronghold. It was the original coastal city of the Phoenicians, and Mother City to Tyre in modern Lebanon. The city diety was Astoreth; 1 Ki. 16:31 Jezebel was Sidonian
- Heth means Terror, Dread, or Terrible. The Hittites lived around Hebron in Palestine’s Southern West Bank, but their empire centered in Anatolia – Central and Eastern Turkey of today. They briefly controlled trade in Syria, Egypt, and parts of Mesopotamia. Gen. 23 Abraham buys a tomb for Sarah from the sons of Heth in Hebron; Esau takes two wives from them, mingling the Edomites (or Idumaens) with Ham. King Herod came from this stock. The Sadducee Party accepted Idumaen converts as Jews, but the Pharisees never did.
- Canaanite Tribes
- Jebusite means either to Trample or to be Trodden Down, depending on how used. It can mean a ruin or foundation. David conquered Jebus and renamed it Jebu-Salem, or Jerusalem, meaning Foundation of Peace. Rabbinical sources say they were from Heth, or Hittite. 2 Sam. 5:6 Two bronze figures of a blind man (Isaac) and a lame man (Jacob) were on display in Jebus, with the words of Abraham’s covenant with the sons of Heth in their mouths. They dared David to defy it. He circumvented the covenant by offering a high position to whomever took the city for him.
- Amorite means Talkers, to Talk, Say, Promise, or Command. Akkadians inhabited all the lands to the West of the Euphrates, but their strongholds were in the mountains of Northern Syria. They eventually conquered Babylon. They harbored and were ruled by giants, both the Anakim and Zumzumim. They were depicted in Egyptian art as fair skinned with elongated heads, a characteristic of certain tribes of giants.
- Girgasite means agitating Strife repeatedly, provoking and withdrawing, or to incite dread from that tactic. It also means a temporary (uncertain) abode. These were Canaanites from West of the Jordan who left the land before the Israelites returned from Egypt.
- Hivite means to Lay Out, Prostrate, or a Serpent. The Gibeonites were Hivites who tricked Moses into a covenant of protection and were made slaves instead of being wiped out. A Hivite of Shechem raped Dinah, for which Simeon and Levi took vengeance, slaying all the men of the village and taking their families as slaves. Jacob was forced to move away and denied them the firstborn blessing after Reuben fell, so it went to Judah instead
- Arkite means Gnawers, or Fugitives. The city of Arka is in Northern Lebanon. 2 Sa. 15:32 David’s friend Hushai was an Arkite
- Sinite means Thorn Bush. Some say they inhabited the region south, towards Sinai, others that they migrated to the far east and became Chinese. The location of Sinai is disputed, probably in Arabia. The Chinese opinion has better linguistic support
- Arvadite means to Wander or Roam restlessly, a fugitive or wanderer. Arwad is an island three miles off the Mediterranean Coast of Syria, long inhabited by Phoenicians
- Zemarite means Wool or Wooly. They were the Phonecian inhabitants of Sumer, a coastal city of Syria
- Hamathite means of Ham, Hot-Headed, Anger, or Rage. They were the inhabitants of Hammath at the foot of Mt. Hermon, and led by giants.
Suppose we take a stab at listing the descendants of Ham in order with their names translated. Maybe it would go something like this:
The scorched face of the Two Lands
Gave the world merchants
From the land of purple
With no Sabbath rest
Thundering, shuddering, splintering, sporting
“We Rebel,” you say
Seeking Fortune from false gods
A generation asking for answers
From the Waters of Chaos
To the Flames of Hell
Open your eyes and ears
Ye descendants – Orion Fools
Wearing crowns of mourning
You hunt Me in dread
Trampling My commands
Like a serpent
Fugitives in sheep’s wool
Fleeing My anger
This name list leaves me speechless. In the next article we will turn our attention to Shem and his descendants, and their names.