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Archive for the ‘Theological Questions’ Category

https://hunterbeless.com/new-blog/2017/7/ep28-on-understanding-sexuality

I got to be a part of a great podcast a few days ago.  This expresses some of the roots – going WAAAAAYYYY back (in time and in philosophy) for the issues of sexual identity that we face as a culture today.  Check it out!

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Guest Post by Mark Legg

This is a great addition to the series about Christ and ancient myths.  What about how the ancient account of Gilgamesh overlaps with the account of Noah?

Though there are many accounts of a flood that extended back many thousands of years ago, the epic of Gilgamesh is remarkably like the flood narrative of Genesis in many ways. The mention of the flood begins as early as line 7-8 in tablet I. In introducing Gilgamesh, it compares him to people before the flood, and that his in his wisdom he knows many secrets of the world before it. Later, Gilgamesh hears the whole story from Utanapishtim (the Noah character), who possesses eternal life (tablet XI, 10-212). How do the stories differ, and how do they compare? Though the main narrative is similar, many details and the theology behind the story differ.

Utanapishtim’s story infers that the gods attempt to destroy mankind because of overpopulation and that population was also wicked and full of wrongdoers (XI, 185-200). Similarly, we see God’s judgment in the Bible. Genesis 6.1 begins with this sentiment: “When man began to multiply on the face of the land . . .” The text then explains that mankind has grown immoral and wicked (6.5-11). These are cited as reasons for the destruction of mankind in both cases. Also, in both instances the antagonist builds a boat at the command of a god (or the God). Both take the lives of other animals or people (XI, 27 and 6.20). Both come to rest on a mountain (of whose true identity we are unsure of) (144 and 8.4), and both offered sacrifices after arriving safely (160-165 and 8.20). Furthermore, we read a strangely similar detail in the story. To check the safety of the surroundings, they send out birds essentially as scouts (148-160 and 8.6-12). Furthermore, both generally speak of the absolute destruction and the terrible power of the flood.

However, many details differ between the two ancient accounts. The construction and dimensions of the Ark (48-75 and 6.14-22), the length of the flood (it is much shorter in Gilgamesh) (114-150 and 8.1-12)), and many other specifics contrast. More importantly, we see several theological differences. Utanapishtim’s story includes, naturally, multiple gods. All except for two wish to destroy the entire human race. We see the common attribution of gods the ancient times, that they are essentially overgrown people. They cower in fear, their “lips are parched”, and they infight (115-126, 180-200). In the Bible, God sees Noah’s righteousness and decides to save him unilaterally, since He is the only true God. Finally, Utanapishtim receives eternal life on earth (205-211). Though we can assume Noah similarly received eternal life in heaven, the two do differ in that regard (Heb. 11.7).

Though the messages are similar, the difference in deities and details pose a very interesting comparison. The overall stories do overlap in many ways, however. It could easily be theorized that the Babylonian epic drew from the real life events that transpired in Genesis 6-9.

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Does the Bible deal with the tough issues?  It does.  Christianity is neither merely a religion nor outdated.

People despair.  People struggle with mental illness.  People get trapped in the belief that there are only two choices – a long tortuous death or a quick release… but the problem is that there are almost always more than two choices.

https://southspring.org/teaching/suicide/

This sermon is near to my heart as we open up the Bible to understand the awful tragedy of suicide.   I hope it encourages you and gives you strength to face life and to help others do the same.

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Is the end of the world coming Saturday?

Well, I suppose… maybe.

I am sorry that the tone of this will, at times, be a little tongue-in-cheek.  As a rational Christian skeptic, I have a hard time taking faddish, panicky social media input very seriously.

The 2nd coming of Christ and the “Day of the Lord” concepts are very real and very serious and one of the things I long for.  As biblical and theological concepts, I take them super-seriously.  I fodder for memes and radical youtube videos, I can get pretty sarcastic.

Plus, since it is Wednesday, I guess I better publish this pretty quickly, if so.

However, I give little credence to most of the reasons that are being given for 9/23/17 being the date that represents the “Day of The Lord” or “The Rapture” or whichever day you might think is next.

It (whatever “it” might be exactly) might happen Saturday, but I am still planning to be prepared to preach Sunday.

As you examine all of the evidence that is thrown against the wall, please make sure and check basic facts before adding them as weight to one side or another.

Examples: The Temple To Ba’al going up in New York.

The facts seem to be that after Muslim terrorist destroyed an ancient temple in the region of Palmyra, Syria, archeologists in London and New York decided to erect a replica of the archway from that temple.

It seems that the Syrian building itself had been used a Church and as a Mosque over the years, before recently being destroyed.

It also seems that the New York project was scrapped, but the London one was built over a year ago. About a year ago, according to Snopes, the London one was on exhibit for a while in New York.

Clearly a reconstructed temple, even an ancient Ba’al temple (or Bel, according to some) that was finished a year ago probably has little impact on this Saturday as a significant day.

Secondly, evaluate the significance of the events in light of actual scripture.

Remember that there is nothing meaningful about the Gregorian calendar in regards to the Bible. The Bible is a distinctly Jewish book for which the canon was closed before 400 AD.   The Gregorian calendar was introduced in 1582. So the numbers 9,23, or 2017 aren’t likely to have special meaning from Jewish or early Christian prophecy, for example.

That being said, the Festival (Feast) of Trumpets has always been a significant time period when talking of the second coming for various reasons.   It is perhaps the only feast that hasn’t had a clear connection in the work of Christ, so it is, in some ways, still waiting to be fulfilled. And, of course, the first event of the second coming is a sounding trumpet.

This year, it looks like the Feast of Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah) is likely to be near 9/23. Most websites are placing it 9/21-9/22. The 23rd is going to be the Sabbath between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. It is the Sabbath of “returning” – taken from the instruction of Hosea 14:2 – to return to the Lord. Yom Kippur is the “Sabbath of Sabbaths” – the 10th day of the 7th month. On this day, the Jewish faith asks God for the forgiveness of sins.

These dates are certainly interesting… and they happen every year and have for , thousands of years. Will the eventual date be in this time period? I think it likely, personally. This year? Maybe. Does this year have any advantage over other years? Not much that I can see.  It would sure be cool!  I am hoping.

So, ignore any references to the Gregorian calendar. Look to the Jewish calendar instead. Intriguing, but not much more, in my mind.

So, what about Rev 12?

And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth.” Rev 12:1-2

According to some, this is going to be fulfilled astronomically (or actually, since it is what it is, “astrologically” on Saturday.

Well, maybe… kind of.

According to some, Virgo (remember, is a part of the Hellenist Zodiac, not an ancient Jewish one. The Jews later took on aspects of the Hellenist Zodiac, but the Bible does not reference it in any clear way, if at all. In fact, all through the Hebrew Scriptures, people are warned about the dangers of looking for something to worship in the heavens.)

Ok, anyway, Leo will be above Virgo. Leo has (according to astrologers, not astronomers) 9 stars in it and 3 planets. This adds up to 12. Leo is not going to be right above Virgo. If you are looking for something that looks like a crown of 12 stars, forget it.

Also, the sun will move through Virgo (this happens every year – and it why these are the signs of the Zodiac in the first place).

The moon will be beneath Virgo (this happens for 2-3 days every month). Keep in mind that this picture is the constellation “Virgo”.

 

Where exactly her feet are is a little unclear to me, but (am I going to say this?) I guess we will trust the Astrologists that it is supposed to look like this:

 

 

 

Or this:  

 

Or maybe this:

 

 

The feet aren’t too clear to me, but I am sure they are to God.

So, even if this works out

But also, Jupiter is supposed to be near this time. So, there’s that.

By the way, the last time this happened was 2005. It happens about every 12 years like this.

Sorry. Even in the biblical situation, it is tough for me to take Greek Zodiac stuff seriously.

Is this even what John intended?

Well, since the woman (notice that it is “woman” and not “virgin”) in this passage is pretty likely to be a representation of Israel (remember the dreams of Joseph? 12 stars, moon, sun?) and her giving birth to a son is likely to be John seeing the Messiah fulfillment playing out… in Jesus… Israel giving birth to the promised Christ.

But does the next section sound like a continuation of Astrology?

And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads seven diadems. His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she bore her child he might devour it. She gave birth to a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne, and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which she is to be nourished for 1,260 days. Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. Rev 12:3-9

If this is a passage about astrological signs, then how does Draco play into the stars on the 23rd? Or maybe this is a creative, revelatory way to tell the narrative of the Messiah come to save the world.

It could possibly be both, that happens in prophecy, but again, I am certainly not convinced. I think this is that narrative and likely not meant to be connected to the Greek Zodiac. By the way, I cannot, by any stretch, see any reason why Jupiter being in the vicinity of Virgo would have anything to do the Revelation 12 vision.

I think making the connection to Jupiter is stereotypical Astrological claptrap. Find something, give it false significance and then be amazed at how uncommon this mixture of events is – these arbitrarily connected events, mind you.

What about things from Newspaper headlines?

Crazy Tyrant likely to disrupt the world?

Hurricanes?

Earthquakes?

Racism?

These are not special to our day nor our era. They only seem to be worse because of the attention they get.

Tyrants. Not news. Proof of the continuing failure of humanism, but not a new problem.

Remember how these stars and planets lined up in 2005? Well, that was also the worst year for hurricanes, not 2017 (at least not yet) with 15 hurricanes!

The 1960’s saw the two worst Earthquakes in history.

If you define racism by the USA terms and make it a black-white thing (there has been much more deadly racism in the world, but just looking at the US examples), the post-Civil War era was filled with terror and murder. Look up 1919 and racism, if you want a tough one. Civil Rights, Jim Crow, much less Antebellum Slavery itself! I think we have seen worse expressions of racism.

Plus, with the exceptions of earthquakes, these aren’t listed as signs anyway.

It is always dangerous to think that the cataclysms of our own time are worse than those of the past. Often, they aren’t at all. We are just ignorant.

Finally, if you are a Christian… please keep this little tidbit in mind… the Day of the Lord, no matter what shape it takes is Good news!

Hello? If you are a Christian, no more doubts… the fulfillment of all we have worked and waited for? Please never again respond to the possibility of prophetic fulfillment with anything other than excitement and joy. Prophecy is there to give us comfort, not panic. Prepare reasonably for the future, but don’t fear the finality of it.  This is about Jesus, after all.

Will Jesus come back or the tribulation start or a rapture happen on Saturday? If it proves the prophecies of John correct, I hope so.

Even so, Lord, come quickly!

Now, I gotta get back to finishing a sermon before Sunday! Starting on Judges, BTW.  You will be able to find them at our church website soon.

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Intermarriage

There were multiple commands from God to the Jews not to intermarry with the Canaanites and other tribes they were conquering in the Promised Land.

“You shall not intermarry with them, giving your daughters to their sons or taking their daughters for your sons, for they would turn away your sons from following me, to serve other gods.” Dt 7:3-4

First off, though many of these people would be the offspring of Canaan, in some cases, like the Edomites and Assyrians, they would be other offspring of Shem! They wouldn’t even be a different race. I personally don’t think race was the main issue. The Persians (modern day Iranians) are descendants of Ishmael – another son of Abraham. Can these concerns be primarily about race? I don’t think so.

The evidence is in the passages themselves.

These instructions are found in Exodus 34, Joshua 23, and I Kings 11. Each time, the command is very implicitly connected to the warning that these people will turn them to other gods (except maybe in Joshua where it is still implied). The main concern in these passages seems to be that intermarriage with these other peoples will lead people away from Him!

This has a New Testament equivalent, too. Consider:

14 Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? 15 What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? 2 Cor 6:14-15

Paul warns that key relationships, like marriage, can be dangerous for living out the Christian life if entered into with a non-believer. Consider the ramifications for the intimacy of the marriage if THE MOST IMPORTANT thing in a person’s life is not shared with the spouse.

So, what does the Bible say to New Testament Christians about marrying people of a different “race”? I think that the answer is: marry another Christian; I see nothing in the Bible that a New Testament Christian could apply that would limit what “race” a person chooses to enter into a marriage covenant with (and it seems like that was never the real issue).

If people want to make an argument about races not intermarrying, fine (I guess)… but I would say that they cannot use the Bible at all to do so.

11 Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all. (Col 3:11)

*****

Are Ham, Shem & Japheth all welcome to the Cross?

Here is the cool surprise I told you about related to the Shem, Ham and Japheth concepts. In the middle of the Book – The Acts of the Apostles, there is an intriguing series of conversions… 3 of them to be precise.

In Acts 8:26-40, we see the miraculous (and seemingly non-sequitur) account of Philip the

Evangelist being led into the presence of a traveling Ethiopian (and what an Ethiopian, too – a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians! He was an African, just to be clear – and an exceptional example of an African!

 

 

In Acts 9:1-18, we experience the conversion of Paul. Paul is a Jew; a descendant of Abraham – and an exceptional one:

“…If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more:5

 

circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin,

 

a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.” (Phil 3:4-7)

In Acts 10:1-48, we are privy to the conversion of Cornelius, a Roman , and his whole family. He is a member of the Italian cohort – a child of Rome!

In other words, in Acts 8-10, Luke specifically recalls that in his research, he heard a very clear account of a descendent of Ham, a descendant of Shem and a descendant of Japheth all saved by the power of the gospel… and all three very defined by their nationality! And yet, the message of Jesus Christ and their faith in Him made them brothers.

This is the theology of race.

We may (or may not) be divided by nationality, race, economic status, etc… but we are all brothers under Christ. He is the elder brother and we are all the younger siblings by adoption – equal in the Kingdom as princes and princesses.

Proper Christian theology is that there is no superiority among races. None is superior to the other. Jew or Greek, Asian, African, Caucasian, Latin… when it comes to value and dignity, we are all created in the image of the same God.

My view on the Christian Response:

Theology is truth that naturally leads to a response – worship or ministry.

I urge you to walk in a manner worthy of calling in which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.  (Ephesians 4:1-3)

“Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Rom. 10:11-13).

Let us always seek to love one another. Prioritize faith and identity in Jesus Christ over any other source for identity. Other things may be descriptors, but only Jesus Christ can define us.

I am not saying the “race” (though I dislike that word, I mean the concept of race) does not exist. It exists; skin color exists; cultural differences exist; they are real and they are very important.

In order to love someone well, it is vital to care about and seek to understand their context and their narrative and their heart.

All I intend to say is that important as race is – or historical heritage – even family – or any other thing, the thing that defines us is what we believe about God.

When I recently taught this material across a few weeks to a very diverse staff at the Mentoring Alliance here in Tyler, one of the African American staff said that at some level, he had always felt like he was a member of the White Man’s Religion.  He was amazed to find out that his view was completely off!  (If any argument was to be made, and it was for many years, Christianity is the Jewish person’s religion! – thankfully, God desires His gospel to reach all people and that His gospel transform them into professional ministers of grace and reconciliation!

Now, I accede the last words to another author – one of the most brilliant authors of all times, whose words will transcend race:

If God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.

Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us.

God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world.

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.  We love because he first loved us.

(And the final stake in the heart of any “Christian” racial supremacist:)

If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not lovehis brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. – The Apostle John.

In the US in 2017, we are facing a crisis that stems from our poor theology of race – it has to do with the removal of monuments of different people in history.  How should Christians engage in this conversation?

I pretty much never comment on the photos I take from the internet (I try to always use them in good taste and as I think the original artist would intend)… but I wanted to comment on the last one with the man hugging the trooper.  That is a member of the “Free Hugs Project” by Ken E. Nwadike Jr.  I know pretty much nothing about him and therefore cannot therefore don’t know if I can recommend him, but I like his idea of fighting the anger and hatred with a simple act of love and affection.

How might these biblical and theological understandings begin to impact our cultural issues, like Confederate Monuments, etc?

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  1. Tower of Babel

The Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1-8,9)

The idea of a universal human language goes back at least to the Bible, in which humanity spoke a common tongue, but were punished with mutual unintelligibility after trying to build the Tower of Babel all the way to heaven. Now scientists have reconstructed words from such a language.

“Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth. And from there the Lord dispersed them over the face of all the earth.”

This passage, which is among the shortest and most obscure in the entire Bible to cover something so intense, would seem to indicate that language was the source, not of racial differences, but merely of the dispersal of humans to various parts of the globe.

I am going to approach these passages as having historical significance as well as biblical and theological significance.  I know that there are many, including serious Bible-believing Christians who think these are best understood as parables, not historical.  However, I am approaching them with their impact on racial thinking.

Of course, why would this have been across racial lines (by the Shem, Ham, Japheth theory)? Did God strike all the Shemites with all the same, or at least similar languages, and so they ended up lumping in together? None of the Hamites got those languages?

Again, as is always (or at least often) the case with deep and ancient passages of the Hebrew Scriptures, we scratch our head looking for good interpretation. It seems like these accounts explain two different things (racial development & division and language development & division) in two very different accounts that perhaps somehow overlap. Without a time machine, it is just not possible to interpret these with precision…

Now, certainly, this spreading out effect would work well with the idea of how genetic differences developed over time – evolution of the genetic structures over hundreds of generations of people isolated from one another would presumably begin to have phenotype differences as well.

As Noah’s descendants migrated from the Middle East after the Tower of Babel, their group numbers would have grown smaller as they extended further out. As the groups grew smaller, certain genes within the human gene pool became dominant, while others became recessive or even just latent.

The idea is that with time and generations, these genes produced the skin color, bone structure and other physical characteristics that made each group distinctive within its isolated geographical area.

Of course, what we know now is more complex than just “people who went North became white while people who went South became darker”… though there is a certain logic to nearness to the equator and sun requiring darker skin to survive, as we learn more about how early human migrated, intermarried, etc., we will continue to learn about the complexities.

That all being said, the theological concept buried here is that God was the impetus for man spreading out and forming into nations and eventually, what we call ethnic groups. Whether you take any of these as historical in nature, the vision for the ethnic diversity of the race of mankind rests with God.

In the simplest terms, all of the previous 9 chapters are summarized in Genesis 10:5

 “By these were the isles of the Gentiles divided in their lands; every one after his tongue, after their families, in their nations”.

The first chapters of Genesis are meant to tell us the Who and the Why of the creation and early development of the race of humans as moral creatures who develop cultivation, pottery, and language under His guiding hands.

Overall, the Old and New Testaments show that God does not assign any special significance to race.

God sees all people as one people called “man.” Physical characteristics are not a part of God’s evaluation of man “. . .for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart” (I Samuel l6:7).

God states clearly He is not a respecter of persons, and that includes race or nationality – though Israel had a special covenant from God, that was not because of anything special about them.   In the end, He revealed to Peter the truth about God’s opinion of nationalities:

So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, 35 but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.” (Acts 10:34-35)

Race, as defined by Webster’s Dictionary, is not really or clearly even a Biblical concept and nowhere can it be shown that physical characteristics of people are a reason or a guide to distinguish one from another that I can find.

God is not a respecter of race, nor sex, nor socio-economic status:

27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:27-28)

This is God’s view of humanity in regards to the diversity of humanity. In Christ, we are one.

One common application of bad theology of race has to do with intermarriage.  (**** link coming)

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  1. Shem, Ham, Japheth

A common Jewish tradition is that the three “races” were the progeny of Noah’s three sons, Shem, Japheth and Ham.

Gen 9:18-19

The sons of Noah who went forth from the ark were Shem, Ham, and Japheth. (Ham was the father of Canaan.) 19 These three were the sons of Noah, and from these the people of the whole earth were dispersed.”

Here is how they and their progeny theoretically became the various races of mankind.

1. Shem of the Mongoloid race:

The peoples of the Middle East and Southern Asia. (Gen. 10:21-32)

Eber: Abraham (the Jews) was the sixth generation of Eber who settled in Mesopotamia in the area of Ur of the Chaldees.

Elam:  The Elamites became a strong nation East of Babylonia.

Asshur:  The Assyrians of the headwaters of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers.

Lud:  The Lydians of Asia Minor.

Aram: The Aramaeans of Syria and Mesopotamia.

2.  Ham of the African race:

The Egyptians, Ethiopians, Libyans and Canaanites. (Gen. 10:6-20)

Cush: The peoples of central and Southern Arabia.

Mizraim: The Egyptians of upper and lower Nile River.

Phut: The North Africans & specifically Libyans.

Canaan: The Canaanites.

Sidon (Zidon): The people who inhabited the whole Phoenician coast.

3. Japheth is traditionally the father of the Western/Caucasian race:

The Indo-European of western Asia and of Europe. (Gen. 10:2-4)

Gomer:  The Cimmerians which are mentioned by Homer as the people of the far north.

Magog:  The Scythians of Southern Europe and the Tartars of Russia.

Madai:  The Medes who lived in area of Caspian Sea.

Javan: The Ionians (Greeks).

This is fine, I suppose, as a theory. I am not confident that the account of Noah is/was intended to be considered strictly historical, or if we even understand how it was intended by Moses (or whoever the original author of the account was).

I have no trouble with it being historical, if it is. I do think the language leaves a lot of margin for that conversation. However, this is probably still the most common biblical perspective for the division of races. I am concerned about building much in the way of theology from such a deeply ancient passage from the culture and literature that we understand with such uncertainty.

One of the things that is important to note about these biblical accounts is the curse of Canaan. (AKA by its misnomer, The Curse of Ham).

When I taught this material recently, I had an African American man ask me about “the Curse of Ham” which has apparently been used as an excuse to mistreat or diminish and even enslave people of African descent. I was a little stunned.

Here is the passage being referred to:

22 And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father and told his two brothers outside. 23 Then Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it on both their shoulders, and walked backward and covered the nakedness of their father. Their faces were turned backward, and they did not see their father’s nakedness. 24 When Noah awoke from his wine and knew what his youngest son had done to him, 25 he said,

                        “Cursed be Canaan;

a servant of servants shall he be to his brothers.”

26 He also said,

                        “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Shem;

and let Canaan be his servant.

                27      May God enlarge Japheth,

and let him dwell in the tents of Shem,

and let Canaan be his servant.” (Gen 9:22-27)

For the life of me, I do not see how this would be a curse of Ham. It is a curse of Canaan. Granted, I have no idea why Canaan is cursed;* clearly there is something we are missing here. However, it isn’t even that much of a curse of Canaan!

Canaan is going to be the “servant of servants” to his brothers, and apparently, his uncles.   Obviously, this is only, at its base level, about Canaan, personally. I know that it is taken as a curse that continues on through the generations, but that is certainly not clear in the passage. It just looks like Canaan is going to be on K.P. duty quite a bit for the rest of the family.

* A quick look at some of the various thoughts on why Noah would curse Canaan rather than Shem can be found here. I don’t know this website’s other material, but this seems as good a visitation of this topic as anything else… and any critical reader will see that anytime you are working with the deep Old Testament, there is as much guess work with an ancient culture that we honestly just don’t understand well.

So, even if you DID interpret this curse as somehow being something that is going to haunt Canaan’s descendent for time immemorial… it is still focused on Canaan and has no bearing whatsoever on the other sons of Ham that I can see! And, any remnant of that “race” would now be lost and intermixed with others and have no longer any kind of stand-alone culture. Soooo, there is no way to interpret the curse of Canaan as applying to people of African descent… and even if you did think this curse somehow made it ok or right to enslave the offspring of Canaan, that culture and race is long gone.  Any claim on slavery from this argument is off base.

So, what is the application to race from the theory of Shem, Ham, and Japheth? None, except that perhaps it would be further evidence that we are all one race and descend from a single couple somewhere in the past.

Not very divisive a view of race from where I stand… and even better, I have a little surprise for you at the end of this article that connects to this theory.

How about the Tower of Babel? That is next.

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