As a result of Ham's actions, Noah pronounced a curse on his grandson, Ham's fourth son:

When Noah awoke from his wine and knew what his youngest son had done to him, he said, “Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be to his brothers.”
(Genesis 9:24-25) [ESV]

Noah continues to speak prophetically about his sons Shem and Japheth and Canaan:

He also said, “Blessed be the LORD, the God of Shem; and let Canaan be his servant. May God enlarge Japheth, and let him dwell in the tents of Shem, and let Canaan be his servant.” (Genesis 9:26-27)

It seems when speaking of Shem, Noah is also saying Canaan will be a servant to the LORD, the God of Shem. In other words, Canaan will not only be a servant to his "brothers" Shem and Japheth, he will be a servant to the LORD, who is Shem's God. Looking to the future, Christ Jesus takes on the form of a servant (Philippians 2:5-8) and so that sense "a servant of servants" would include the LORD, the God of Shem.

Is Noah's curse on Canaan a prophecy the LORD would become, or take on the form of a servant?

Related question: who are the other “Servants” that Noah was referring to in Gen 9:25??

  • I cannot see that such a curse would be an allusion to the filial humility (to the Father) of the coming Lord.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Jan 2, 2021 at 19:58
  • 1
    @NigelJ It is not the curse which does this, rather the blessing of the LORD, the God of Shem, whom Canaan will [also] serve. Commented Jan 2, 2021 at 20:03

4 Answers 4


The curse and prophecy of Gen 9:25-27 contains three statements about Canaan (apparently a metaphoric reference to Ham):

  • (v25) a servant of servant to his brothers
  • (V26) a servant to Shem
  • (V27) a servant to Shem

The name of the LORD is used to amplify the blessing on Shem (v26). However, nothing here is either a reference to the coming Messiah, nor the characteristics of Messiah. The prophecy is purely about the future relationship of the three brothers (actually their descendants); specifically, that Canaan would be a servant to Shem.

Note the weighty instruction in 1 Cor 4:6 -

learn from us the meaning of the saying, "Do not go beyond what is written."

Is Noah's curse on Canaan a prophecy
the LORD would become, or take on the
form of a servant?

I hate assuming, but, it seems to me the question might be based on the premise that Jesus is descended from Ham.
This is clearly not the case, Jesus being plainly descended from Shem.

This is the account of Shem’s family line.

Genesis 11:10 NIV

Through the end of that chapter clearly describing Abraham's descent from Shem.

This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham ...

Matthew 1:1 NIV

Again through the rest of that chapter describing in detail that descent.

Thus there were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to the Messiah.

Matthew 1:17 NIV

Or by Joseph :

Now Jesus himself ... was the son, so it was thought, of Joseph ...

... the son of Shem ...

Luke 3:23,36 NIV


So no. The curse on Canaan doesn't bear directly.

Regardless, being a servant to all was part of the mandate.
Making an offering for sin, an acceptable offering, meant sacrifice.

Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins.

But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God ...

Hebrews 10:11-12 NIV

The mission of the messiah is to offer himself for everyone, including Canaan.

Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:7-8 NIV


In Luke 12, Jesus teaches that faithful servants are blessed, not cursed.

41Peter said, “Lord, are you telling this parable for us or for all?” 42And the Lord said, “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom his master will set over his household, to give them their portion of food at the proper time? 43 Blessed is that servanti whom his master will find so doing when he comes.

Other commentaries how Canaan was cursed.

Ellicott's Commentary

A servant of servants. That is, the most abject of slaves. This was fulfilled in the conquest of Canaau by Joshua

Pulpit Commentary

A servant of servants. ... "a most base and vile servant" (Ainsworth);

The works of Jesus as a servant were blessed and became blessings to others.

  • I am downvoting your answer because, it doesn't appear you addressed the question: does the passage in Genesis point to the LORD coming to earth as a servant? Two other points, (1) a "servant" in the OT could be a honored position, like a steward. (2) The NT is explicit, Jesus became a curse for us (Galatians 3:13). IOW the complete(d) works of Christ are both blessing and curse, just as in Noah's words. Commented Jan 2, 2021 at 18:45
  • Thanks for letting me know your reasons.
    – user35953
    Commented Jan 2, 2021 at 18:51
  • What I am trying to understand is whether Noah's prophecy also points to God coming to earth as a servant. In other words, "Blessed be the LORD, the God of Shem, [who will come as a servant] and let Canaan (a servant of servants) serve Him." Commented Jan 2, 2021 at 19:10
  • Up-voted +1. I, also, cannot see that such a curse could be an allusion to the coming Lord.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Jan 2, 2021 at 19:57

It is both a curse and prophecy, similar to the curses pronounced in prophetic literature.

According to Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible:

Significantly, the land of Canaan, historically, was never free and independent, but always dominated by the great world powers.

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