Why did Noah say cursed be Canaan; servant shall he be unto his brethren?
Genesis 10:22 - 25
ESV - 22 The sons of Shem: Elam, Asshur, Arpachshad, Lud, and Aram. 23 The sons of Aram: Uz, Hul, Gether, and Mash.
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I would say that, even if Ham viewing his father's nakedness would be regarded as unintentional or an accident, he did nothing to alleviate or correct the situation on his own, with no one else even having to know about the situation. In addition, he then compounded Noah's embarrassment or disgrace (and also left himself open to a perception of disrespect) by telling his brothers about the situation. (The fact that Shem and Japheth purposely averted their eyes when covering Noah indicates to me that there was apparently a pre-existing prohibition or penalty (or at least a stigma) associated with the viewing of a parent's nakedness. As far as cursing Canaan (Ham's son), rather than Ham himself, although the Bible does not specifically indicate it, perhaps Canaan was somehow involved in the incident and shared Ham's guilt. Alternatively, perhaps it could be a precursor of later indications on multiple occasions in Scripture that God visits the iniquity of fathers upon their children to the third and fourth generation (Exodus 20:5; Numbers 14:18; Deuteronomy 5:9). (Also, perhaps the judgment pronounced upon Ham is somewhat mitigated or more narrowly focused by the fact that it included only Ham's youngest son Canaan, and not his other sons mentioned in Genesis (Cush, Mizraim, and Put). This might then be interpreted as a prophetic pronouncement, since the idolatry and wickedness of the Canaanites (whom the Israelites subsequently defeated and displaced in occupying the Promised Land) is dwelt on far more extensively in the Bible than any misdeeds done by the descendants of any of Ham's other sons.)
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