[Originally published as part of Why Was Canaan Cursed?]
Abstract: Why did Noah curse his grandson Canaan? Genesis 9 records that the boy’s father, Ham, saw Noah’s nakedness, and as a result, Noah cursed his grandson Canaan. Then Canaan went on to become the patriarch of Israel’s long-standing enemies, the Canaanites. The story seems capricious on the surface, in contrast to so much reasonable history in Genesis. So a closer look is merited. A common biblical figure of speech appears in Canaan’s story, and when Christians reread the story understanding this figure, the message of this account becomes compelling. Ancient Hebrew commonly speaks of a man’s nakedness to refer to sexual intercourse with the man’s wife. As Moses wrote in Leviticus, “The man who lies with his father’s wife has uncovered his father’s nakedness”, that is, he has seen his father’s nakedness. Canaan lived a cursed life because he was conceived by incest. Thus the brief story twice reminds its ancient readers that Ham (not Noah) is the father of Canaan. So Noah’s curse of Canaan was not misdirected anger, nor a hex nor an evil spell, but a simple recognition of cause and effect. His father Ham reaped what was sown. And Canaan’s tragic circumstance became a warning to others against following in Ham’s wicked way of seeing his father’s nakedness. Genesis then presents an understandable origin for the conflict between the Jews and the Canaanites.
The Origin of the Worldwide Taboo Against Incest
Canaan’s true story shows the tragic reality of a child being set up to fail by the wickedness of his father. Thus Noah cursed Canaan as a statement of that reality, not as an evil spell or to jinx him, but as a warning to others against following in Ham’s wicked ways.
This account, at the very beginning of the repopulation of the earth, also helps to explain the world’s ubiquitous taboo of incest between parent and child, found by anthropologists to exist in virtually every known age and in virtually every known culture. The lesson was a harsh one to learn. Canaan was cursed inherently by being conceived through incest. The law of reaping and sowing inexorably applies to the children of fallen men.
Children are blessed when their parents obey God and cursed otherwise. These curses do not operate throughout the world daily through millions of supernatural micro-interventions but by the natural consequences of their parents’ behavior. For primarily, that is what blessing and cursing means. So a father’s alcoholism curses, that is, harms, his child, not by intervention fiat from God (nor Noah) but by the cause and effect that children suffer under bad parenting, which is an unavoidable part of man’s fallen existence until God ends this phase of human history.
So incest set the background for centuries of conflict between Noah’s Hamitic descendants, especially those through Canaan, against the descendants of Shem, the Semites, especially the Jews, to whom God promised the land of the Canaanites. While the story of Canaan’s curse follows the creation and flood accounts, rightly understood, it helps us to see that all throughout, Genesis is a rational book of history.
Canaan Scientific Prediction
A prediction about the worldwide distribution of human genetic sequencing is an outgrowth of the Bible study above, in that scientists will discover a genetic pattern resulting from not three but four sons of Noah’s wife. Relevant information also comes from mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), which is not part of any of our 46 chromosomes but resides outside of the nucleus. Consider first some genetic information about Jews and Arabs, Jewish priests, Eve, and Noah.
Jews and Arabs Biblical Ancestry:
Dr. Jonathan Sarfati quotes the director of the Human Genetics Program at New York University School of Medicine, Dr. Harry Ostrer, who said:
Jews and Arabs are all really children of Abraham … And all have preserved their Middle Eastern genetic roots over 4,000 years.
This familiar pattern of the latest science corroborating biblical history continues in Dr. Sarfati’s article, “Genesis correctly predicts Y-Chromosome pattern: Jews and Arabs shown to be descendants of one man!”
Jewish Priests Share Genetic Marker:
The journal Nature in its scientific correspondence published, “Y Chromosomes of Jewish Priests,” by scientists from the University of Arizona, Haifa (Isarel’s) Technical Institute, and University College of London, who wrote:
These Y-chromosome haplotype differences confirm a distinct paternal genealogy for Jewish priests.
The central historical claim of the cultic Book of Mormon is that American Indians are Jews. As expected, genetic science does not reinforce but rather contradicts that claim, which is also seen to be false culturally, religiously, and historically. Contrariwise, because the Judeo-Christian Scriptures are true, mountains of evidence corroborate their historic claims. Regarding Jewish priests, Dr. Sarfati adds to the above that, “These Jews have the name Cohen, the Hebrew for priest, or variants like Cohn, Kohn, Cowen, Kogan, Kagan, etc.” and that “even today, it is possible to identify the Levites, because they have names such as Levy, Levine, Levinson, Levental…”
As reported by Ann Gibbons in Science magazine’s article, “Calibrating the Mitochondrial Clock,” using actual measured mutation rates, if these rates have been constant, then “mitochondrial Eve… would be a mere 6000 years old.”
The first evolutionary estimates were that mtEve (a single female or a single female’s lineage) lived 200,000 years ago, but then in 1997, the journal Nature Genetics published, “A high observed substitution rate in the human mitochondrial DNA control region” reinforced by a paper in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology on “High mitochondrial mutation rates…” Actually, measured rapid mutation rates (now estimated at one every other generation) are what led to the recalibration of Eve’s age down to thousands, not hundreds of thousands of years.
From an anthropology professor’s popular article, “Analyses of the mitochondrial DNA of living humans from around the globe have shown that all are ultimately descended (if we trace exclusively through female links) from a common ancestress…” This evolutionary observation would also result, of course, if in fact, we have all descended from an original, created biblical Eve.
However, scientists quickly point out that their analysis doesn’t require a biblical Eve. For example, you and all your full siblings have your maternal grandmother’s mtDNA, and yet you are all also descended from another woman from her generation, your paternal grandmother. Yet this mtEve finding does falsify two evolutionary expectations, the first from an old minority view held by evolutionists like the discoverer of “Peking Man,” that humans evolved from parallel hominid groups.
Secondly, just as the discovery of soft tissue from a T. rex falsified the evolutionary expectation that we would never find original biological material from dinosaur fossils, the recent age of mitochondrial Eve falsifies the mainstream Darwinist expectation that she would have been much older. That expectation is falsified whether we use the 6,000-year date, which is based on exclusively human DNA and documented mutation rates, or even when evolutionists stretch that date by one or two orders of magnitude as they do by including chimp DNA in their data set (which is circular reasoning if used as evidence for an evolutionary time frame). Either way, this finding falsifies the evolutionary expectation that such an Eve would have lived much earlier.
Y-Chromosomal Adam (Really, Noah):
Further, scientists found genetic evidence that the human race descended from a single man. Surprisingly to evolutionists that is, the journal Science published, “Absence of polymorphism at the ZFY locus on the human Y-chromosome.” After mtEve was claimed to live about 200,000 years ago, Y-chromosomal Adam was claimed in leading journals to have lived 59,000 years ago.
The evolutionists, with their uber-flexible storytelling scientific method, immediately went to work explaining that Y-chromosomal Adam would be far younger than mtEve because of polygyny. (But like with Eve, the circular group-think dogma went to work recalibrating based on evolutionary assumptions, and by 2013, Y-chromosomal Adam was now comfortably claimed to be probably twice as old as Eve, polygamy becoming suddenly irrelevant.)
The discovery of Y-chromosomal Adam corroborates the genetic bottleneck of the global flood because all men alive have descended from one man who lived more recently than Adam and Eve. He was Noah. This all builds on the finding in the 1970s of evolutionist Maynard Smith and others that the human population must have passed through a period of drastically reduced size prior to the more recent rapid population increase.
About this, the journal Nature published a letter, “Noah’s Haemoglobin,” from Dr. Richard N. Harkins and others from the Oregon Health and Science University describing the
…reduction in the human population to eight individuals; Noah, his wife, their three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japeth, and the sons’ wives. It seems entirely plausible that this small population could be homogenous for haemoglobin genes. Thus the book of Genesis documents a series of human population changes which are consistent with changes required from consideration of amnio-acid sequences alone.
As Dr. Walt Brown summarizes all this, “Today, the world’s population is 7 billion people. Even if many women lived 6,000 years ago, on average, each female must have had many children. Whenever the average number of children per female exceeds two, the chance of only one of these many females having continuous female descendants today becomes highly improbable. A similar unlikely event must also happen for males. Having both improbable events happen concurrently is ridiculously improbable.”
Of course, the Lord referenced Noah as an actual historic person (Matt. 24:37–39), and regarding Adam and Eve, Jesus Christ reminded us that, “from the beginning of the creation [not after billions of years], God made them male and female” (Mark 10:6), as “Eve… was the mother of all” (Gen. 3:20).