Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Ham, son of Noah
Ham (חם, Standard Hebrew Ḥam, Tiberian Hebrew Ḥām: possibly "Warm; hot"), according to the Genealogies of Genesis, was a son of Noah and the father of Put, Mizraim, Canaan and Cush David Rohl has identified his nation with the Poeni of Punt.
Ham in the Bible
According to Genesis 9:20-24, Noah began to raise grapes after the flood, and got drunk one day. While he was drunk, he lay naked in his tent. Ham saw his father naked, and told his brothers Shem and Japheth about it. Shem and Japheth went into the tent with their faces away from him, and covered him. When Noah woke, he realized what had happened, and he cursed Caanan, the son of Ham, to be the servants of Shem and Japheth.
The meaning of this passage remains unclear but the most likely interpretation considers the nakedness of the patriarch as a great taboo, and the inaction of Ham (choosing instead to publicize and perhaps joke about the fact) led Noah to judge Ham's judgement as inferior to those of his more modest brothers. The interpretation of "cursed be Caanan" may likely be a prophetic statement by Noah about a fatefully undesirable trait of immodesty, which destined Ham's heir Caanan to be held lowly within society.
This curse was likely connected to the conquest of Canaan by Israel. From a Judeao-Christian standpoint the conquest of Canaan is an instance of fullfilled prophecy. From a secular point of view it is likely an example of later Hebrew writers attempting to justify the conquest of Canaan by retroactively cursing there progenitor.
Some argue that the curse is parallel to the blessing God grants to Abraham and his decendants in that the promised land which was to be delivered to the decendants of Abraham's grandson Jacob was to be taken away from the decendants of Ham's son Canaan.
Others have used the curse to justify racism against blacks claiming that Ham is the father of the black race and since he was the one who actually committed the sin all of his decendants (not just those of his son Canaan) were cursed.
Traditionally, it was believed that Ham was the son of Noah that moved southwest into Africa. The Bible refers to Egypt as "the land of Ham" throughout (Psalms 78:51; 105:23,27; 106:22; 1Ch 4:40). The traditional Arabic word for Egypt is Chem, possibly the origin of the word Alchemy, since alchemy originated in Egypt. The Hebrew word for Egypt was Mizraim, one of Ham's sons.
Some scholars of mythology hold that early civilization came to worship gods in the generations after the flood, because of the extraordinary longevity of the first few generations to leave the ark. Just as Japheth is often associated with the god Jupiter, Ham is often associated with the Egyptian deity Chem. Proponents of this idea argue that the common ancient Egyptian name of the country is written in hieroglyphics Kem, which was perhaps pronounced Chem. This name signifies, in the ancient language and in Coptic, "black," on account of the blackness of its alluvial soil, and some hold that Chem is the Egyptian equivalent of Ham.
Others argue that Chem is nothing but an erroneous 19th century transcription of the deity whose name is now known to be Min. There is no connection, therefore, with biblical Ham. Such scholars generally hold the Biblical genealogies and histories to be false.
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