Psalm 105:23 (NKJV) Israel also came into Egypt, And Jacob dwelt in the land of Ham.

Psalm 106:22 (NKJV) Wondrous works in the land of Ham, Awesome things by the Red Sea.

Noah had three sons; Shem, Ham and Japheth. After Ham gazed at his father's nakedness, Noah retaliated by placing prophetic blessings on his other sons. These prophecies indicated that the Hamites would eventually become culturally and spiritually inferior to their Japhethic and Semitic relatives.

Yet Ham who was not blessed is the only one among the three sons who had a land called after his name in scripture.

Why is this the case?

  • Any ideas about how to improve the tags in this question would be appreciated.
    – user20490
    Dec 12, 2017 at 13:57
  • This question can be answered on the basis of the verses quoted and other OT verses without being "opinion-based". I therefore voted to leave open.
    – user17080
    Dec 12, 2017 at 15:57
  • See also Genesis 14:5. Also, compare Genesis 9:27 with Psalm 78:51, where tent or tabernacle seems to refer to territory.
    – Lucian
    Dec 13, 2017 at 20:17

4 Answers 4


The Psalms very often contain couplets that mean the same thing:

Then Israel came to Egypt;
Jacob sojourned in the land of Ham.

The second line is just a repetition of the same thing as the first line, but in poetic language (Israel and Jacob are the same person). It is not the actual name of the area. All the sons of Noah spread out and eventually settled in areas that were larger than a single country. The table of nations in Genesis 10 gives a better idea of that spread.

  • Thanks for your response Peter. But Jesus said "not one jot or title of the law will pass". This means that everything is relevant. There is a reason why the land occupied by Jews is still called "The land of Canaan". This is because "Abraham looked for another city whose builder and maker is God". So the land of Israel is still called the "land of Canaan" to indicate that God's promise to Abraham has not been fulfilled completely.
    – user20490
    Dec 12, 2017 at 18:43
  • Shem has no land called by his name in scripture even though scripture was written and compiled by Semites!! Japheth has no land called by his name in prophecy even though Noah prophesied his enlargement!! Ham was not blessed and Canaan his most illustrious son was cursed. Yet the land of Egypt in North Africa and the lands in Africa which are by the red sea (East Africa, Eritrea, Somalia, Djibouti etc) are called the land of Ham!!!
    – user20490
    Dec 12, 2017 at 18:46
  • @user20490 Poetry is still valid Scripture, and poetic language is just what it is, we don't have to find a separate meaning in every individual word. Jesus wasn't telling us to examine every dotted i and crossed t, he was talking about the permanence and immutability of the law. Dec 18, 2017 at 10:16
  • if God inspired a poet to call Egypt and the red sea areas of East Africa the land of Ham, then it indeed is the land of Ham. "your word is settled forever in heaven"
    – user20490
    Dec 18, 2017 at 11:05

Actually, it's Ham's sons that are associated with nations: Mizraim (Egypt), Phut (Libya), Khush/Gush (Sudan), and Canaan (the southern Levant). The Psalmist's reason for referring to Ham might have been expansive so as to to encompass all of these peoples, or some quality or characteristic of Ham, or perhaps there's a hidden meaning in the name itself.

We don't know much about Ham himself other than his disrespectful behavior toward his father.

The etymology of Ham is best described as obscure, having a number of theories and likely false cognates based on origin theories from Greek, Hebrew/Aramaic, or Egyptian. A good discussion of several etymological theories can be found here:




If true, Noah's actions and words do not sound Godly to me. Maybe because he cursed his son Ham for his own bad judgements, was Ham blessed by God. IDK, but that sounds abusive and not what Jesus or God is about.

  • Hello @Sara, the goal of this site is to describe what the scriptures are trying to say, with evidence and reasoned arguments. It is not to pronounce judgement on biblical characters, or engage in moral condemnation of various texts. Please edit your post to answer to the question, with evidence from scripture or original languages or other valid data.
    – Robert
    Jul 29, 2022 at 16:25

The phrase "land of X" describes some attribute of that place, which could be an ethnic group in terms of the table of nations, but it could also be a more abstract term ("land of milk and honey").

So this passage should be interpreted as describing the land, not giving some kind of award to Ham. And specifically describing Egypt as

  1. a cursed land, because Ham was cursed, and
  2. a multi-ethnic land, as opposed to "land of Canaan" or one of the descendants of Ham. Thus many different people groups, all stemming from Ham, are associated to Egypt.

Trying to interpret this passage not as a description of the land but as giving some kind of present to Ham is to misinterpret the scripture.

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