Explanation Of Some Passages In Genesis -- By: R. D. C. Robbins

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 008:29 (Jan 1851)
Article: Explanation Of Some Passages In Genesis
Author: R. D. C. Robbins


Explanation Of Some Passages In Genesis

R. D. C. Robbins

I. Genesis, Ninth Chapter, Verses 25-27

And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren. And he said, Blessed be the Lord God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant. God shall enlarge Japheth; and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem, and Canaan shall be his servant.”

It will be recollected that these words follow the account of the planting of a vineyard by Noah, his yielding to the temptation to drink of the wine and consequent exposure, and which his son Ham, father of Canaan, not only beheld but reported to others, whilst Shem and Japheth thoughtfully took measures to screen it from view. This conduct brought upon the transgressor, the curse of the father, contained in the 25th verse, and more particularly explained in the following verses, by contrasting the fate of his posterity with that of his brothers. We should expect to find Ham in the place of Canaan in these verses, and some versions have substituted that name, or have translated, as if the text were חָם אֲבִי כְנַעַן, but without critical authority. The 22d verse, in which Ham is called the father of Canaan, prepares the way for this verse, and the simple meaning is: that Ham shall be cursed in his posterity, the son bearing the iniquity of the father. The crime of Ham, according to oriental notions, was not a trivial one. “No greater offence could have been committed against him (Noah) than Ham, who was himself a man of mature years and had sons, committed in this case.” The laws of filial reverence and modesty in domestic intercourse, were in that early age regarded as sacred. The transgression was a domestic one, and so the punishment. When the penalty was inflicted upon the father, depriving him of the right of a son, his children naturally and necessarily suffer with him. Herder Hebr. Poetry, I. 221. עֶבֵד עֲבְדִים, servant of servants, that is, the lowest servant, the opposite of מְלָכִים מָלָךְ, Comp. Heb. Gram. § 117. 2, and Ewald, § 488. — לְאֶחָיוּ, to his brothers, as is plain from what follows, Shem and Japheth.

In Shem and Japheth is plainly included their posterity, and hence the suffix pronoun לָמוֹ (to them) at the end of the 26th verse is used

instead of לוֹ, according to Grammar, § 101. 2. Expl. 1. Ewald, §421.

Noah does not proceed directly to the Messing that he is to pronounce upon Shem, but foreseeing his future prosperity, he more vividly portrays it, by breaking forth in a son...

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