My question deals with whether or not there is an extended prophecy about the other descendants of Ham by reason of the way Noah phrased and classified the servitude of Canaan.

It reads in Gen 9:25:

"A curse on the Canaanites, may they be the lowest of servants to the descendants of Shem and Japheth".


Does this imply that the other Hamites;

1) Cush=Black or Ethiopian,

2) Mizraim=Egypt, and other North African tribes

3) Phut=Berbers, Libyans, Amazingh and other North African tribes,

Does the use of the phrase "lowest of servants" (and not "lowest servant") indicate that these other sons would be servants of a higher order than Canaan? Or else why did Noah use the word "lowest" to describe Canaan's servitude? If there are servants higher than Canaan, is it sound exegetically to identify those higher order servants as Canaan's other brothers?

1 Answer 1


This is a source of debate among commentaries (I'm Jewish, so I generally quote Jewish commentaries, which I have studied and have easy access to).

Firstly, understanding the actual translation is important. The Hebrew term עבד עבדים is literally translated as "a servant [of] servants" or "a slave [of] slaves", and this is found in various Bible translations as well.

Kimchi and others say directly that the family of Ham will be servants to the other brothers, and Canaan will be servants of them (the rest of Ham's family). This understanding would parallel similar word usage in Deuteronomy 10:17 (Master/Lord of Masters/Lords).

Ibn Ezra and others disagree and say that if this was the case, it would have said a servant to the other servants, and this double emphasis implies the lowest of servants, or a very intense servitude. This understanding would parallel similar word usage in Exodus 26:33 (Most Holy).

  • Thanks for your answer +1. What baffles me is that it seems that only black Africa is being enslaved. But not all hamites were black skinned or were they. The people of tyre were Canaanites yet they were so rich and powerful even after the curse of Canaan had been fulfilled by Joshua, David and Solomon on the inhabitants of the main land.
    – user20490
    Dec 28, 2017 at 9:25
  • The Egyptians according to modern scholars were not a black skinned people. Yet they were also hamites and for thousands of years they dominated the world. Until YHVH intervened in Ezekiel 29:15 to decree that "Egypt shall no longer rule over the nations for I will diminish them". So going by all this, what has happened and is happening to black Africans is baffling. They are supposed to be Cushites and not Canaanites. So that's why I asked the question.
    – user20490
    Dec 28, 2017 at 9:28
  • Good points, I haven't studied and don't know the exact identification of each of Ham's offspring, so I can't comment on specific nations. I would suggest that the curse may not always apply equally to all children at all times throughout history. (I feel that even if just one son of Canaan was cursed, it would be a significant punishment for their family.) As you mentioned, it was fulfilled by Joshua/David/Solomon, (many commentaries point to Joshua 9 (specifically verse 23 has some similar terms), which discusses the Gibeonites who were slaves to Joshua and his men.)
    – user22655
    Dec 28, 2017 at 14:41
  • 2
    Perhaps what has happened to black Africans is not related to this curse?
    – user22655
    Dec 28, 2017 at 14:42
  • Ham=chamam in Arabic which means to be burnt or to be black. Ham in hebrew means hot or dusky. And Ham's first son was Cush which in hebrew means "Black", Canaan="down low" or "subjugated", Jer 13:23 says: "can the Cushite change the color of his skin". So all these proves the ancestry of black people is from Ham. Moreover Phut/Libya, Mizraim/Egypt and Ethiopia/cush are all African nations. So Africans are Hamitic people. Just look at what our fate has been throughout history. So that's what's baffling. Maybe Noah said other things concerning the other sons which Moses ignored. @רבותמחשבות
    – user20490
    Dec 28, 2017 at 17:57

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